Freedom….to tear down.

Normally, I write my own blog posts and if I feature someone else’s opinion, I print selected parts so my readers don’t get put off by too much verbiage. Usually. This time, however, I am reprinting almost the entire op-ed From Dennis Prager, because it’s worth it: “Today, we watch leftist mobs scream profanities at professors and deans, and shut down conservative and pro-Israel speakers at colleges. We routinely witness left-wing protesters block highways and bridges, scream in front of the homes of conservative business and political leaders, and surround conservatives’ tables at restaurants while shouting and chanting at them.

“Conservatives rarely if ever do these things. They don’t close highways, yell obscenities at left-wing politicians, work to ban left-wing speakers at colleges, smash the windows of businesses, etc. Why do leftists feel entitled do all these things? Because they have thoroughly rejected middle-class, bourgeois, and Judeo-Christian religious values. Leftists are the only source of their values. Leftists not only believe they know what is right—conservatives, too, believe they are right—but they also believe they are morally superior to all others. Leftists are Ubermenschen—people on such a high moral plane that they do not consider themselves bound by the normal conventions of civics and decency.

 

“In August 2017, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax wrote a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer in defense of middle-class values. She and her co-author cited a list of behavioral norms that, as Wax put it, “was almost universally endorsed between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s.” They were: “Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.” She later wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “The fact that the ‘bourgeois culture’ these norms embodied has broken down since the 1960s largely explains today’s social pathologies—and re-embracing that culture would go a long way toward addressing those pathologies.”

“For her left-wing colleagues at Penn Law School, this list was beyond the pale. About half of her fellow professors of law—33 of them—condemned her in an open letter. And Wax wrote in the Journal, “My law school dean recently asked me to take a leave of absence next year and to cease teaching a mandatory first-year course.” The Pennsylvania chapter of the left-wing National Lawyers Guild condemned her for espousing bourgeois values and questioned “whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course.”

“As regards traditional Jewish and Christian codes of conduct, just read the left’s contempt for Vice President Mike Pence’s religiosity. They fear him more than President Donald Trump solely for that reason. One would think that leftists, as sensitive as they are to sexual harassment of women, would admire Pence’s career-long policy of never dining alone with a woman other than his wife. On the contrary, they mock him for it.

“With such high self-esteem and no middle-class, bourgeois, or Judeo-Christian values to guide them, many leftists are particularly vicious people. The opening skit of “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend—Matt Damon’s mockery of Judge Brett Kavanaugh—provided a timely example. It is unimaginable that a prominent conservative group or individual would feature a skit mocking Kavanaugh’s accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Indeed, Kavanaugh noted his 10-year-old daughter’s prayer for his accuser, and a political cartoonist promptly drew a cartoon with her praying that God forgive her “angry, lying, alcoholic father for sexually assaulting Dr. Ford.”

“Is there an equally prominent conservative public figure on the right who has ever said “F— Obama!” on national television just as Robert De Niro shouted, “F— Trump!” at the recent Tony Awards? Now, why would De Niro feel he could shout an obscenity at the president of the United States with millions of young people watching him? Because he is not constrained by middle-class or Judeo-Christian moral values. In Nietzsche’s famous words, De Niro, like other leftists, is “beyond good and evil,” as Americans understood those terms until the 1960s.

“In 2016, at a Comedy Central roast of actor Rob Lowe, the butt of the jokes was Ann Coulter, not Lowe. They mostly mocked her looks, and if there is something crueler than publicly mocking a woman’s looks, it’s hard to identify. For example, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson said, “Ann Coulter, if you’re here, who’s scaring the crows away from our crops?”

“There surely are mean conservatives—witness some of the vile comments by anonymous conservative commenters on the internet. And it is a moral scandal that Ford has received death threats. The difference in left-wing meanness is the meanness of known—not anonymous—people on the left. They don’t hide behind anonymity because they do not feel bound by traditional notions of civility, for which they have contempt.

“Now you can understand why the left hates Pence, a man who has, by all accounts, led a thoroughly honorable life. He—and other evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews—tries to live by a code that is higher than him. That ethic is what Ubermenschen seek to destroy. They are succeeding.”

Investigations redux: advise and consent?

A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” Deuteronomy 19. “Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” 2 Corinthians 13. “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” 1 Timothy 5. “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Hebrews 10. It seems the Bible has a “thing” about 2 or 3 witnesses, eye-witnesses that is. These quotes include offenses like undefined sin, slander, offenses that are crimes and violating the “law of Moses”, akin in our secular world to violating the Constitution, plus penalties from rebuke to death. Accusers had to meet this rigorous standard. How about the accused? We can clearly see that the presumption of innocence is a very long-lasting standard. Even bringing a charge required two or three witnesses, in order to be established.
Presumption of innocence–putting the legal burden of proof on the prosecution, or in this case the accuser–is not the only legal principle we Americans embrace automatically, and it isn’t uniquely American either. It was part of Roman law under the Justinian Codes, English Common law, even Islamic law. Other cherished legal principles are the right of the accused to face their accuser, due process under the law, impartiality of judges and juries, the validity of accusations based on the evidence rather than emotions or believability of (i. e. sympathy for) the accuser. As a father of three daughters, I absolutely HATE HATE HATE sexual assault, sexual innuendo, abuse of authority for sexual power or gratification, HATE HATE HATE that daughters are reluctant to confide in their fathers about sexual abuses they have suffered (and if the father was the abuser, death is too good for him). The Biblical role of a father was to protect; stoning was the preferred method of dealing with that failure. I also hate any kind of satirizing or even minimizing the trauma that these women experienced. 
BUT, how I feel as a father is irrelevant to the larger issue. If we continue to let feelings carry the day, say goodbye to due process and to your own liberty! Once again, I give you Daniel Henniger, writing for the Wall St. Journal: “Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to replace Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court is a watershed event that will define America’s politics for years. If the Kavanaugh nomination fails because of the accusations made against him by Christine Blasey Ford and others, America’s system of politics, indeed its everyday social relations, will be conducted in the future on the Kavanaugh Standard. It will deepen the country’s divisions for a generation. The Kavanaugh Standard will hold that any decision requiring a deliberative consideration of contested positions can and should be decided on just one thing: belief. Belief is sufficient. Nothing else matters.
Rape is already a prosecutable crime. Definitions of sexual harassment are undergoing a reconsideration that may yet produce new legal standards to determine liability or suitability for employment. Right now, we are not close to a consensus. Once the decades-old accusations had been made against Judge Kavanaugh, with no corroboration available or likely, the Senate Judiciary Committee had no practical or formal basis for enlarging the discussion about his nomination. For everyone, the way forward was into a fog.
Then something new happened. Half of the Senate Judiciary Committee created this standard: “I believe Christine.”
It is an inescapable irony that the Kavanaugh Standard—“I believe”—is being established inside the context of a nomination to the highest U.S. court. This new standard for court nominees (and surely others in and outside politics) would be that judgment can be rendered in the absence of substantive argument or any legal standard relating to corroboration, cross-examination or presumption of innocence. The new, operative standard, assuming two Republican senators abandon Judge Kavanaugh, will come down to a leap of faith.
I have been wondering what the rest of the nation’s sitting judges are making of the Kavanaugh proceedings. Looking at what has happened recently to university professors accused and then abandoned by their schools and colleagues for alleged racial offenses, or at the spectrum of proof in #MeToo incidents, it is clear that the political and academic left are contesting centuries-old standards of evidence. Liberal jurisprudence and its arguments with conservatives, for example over Fourth Amendment search cases, is being displaced by a Democratic left—there is no other way to describe it—that prefers rough justice.
Professors at Yale Law School canceled classes this week so that much of the student body could travel to Washington to support Ms. Ford’s allegations, which suggests that the most popular class at Yale these days must be “Legal Principles from the Stone Age to the 10th Century.” It’s not a joke.
In a more conciliatory atmosphere, one might say that even if the claims of a high-school offense were true, surely there is a case in adulthood for forgiveness. But these are unforgiving times, and that virtue is out the window. The question is whether the Senate’s advice and consent for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court should be reduced to simple secular belief. More important is that the entire country is watching now, and we’ll find out soon what the American system of law is going to look like for the next 25 years.”
So, dear readers, you might be saying “I believe whomever” in these confirmation hearings, and you think that matters. What matters more are the principles by which we are governed and protected from over-governing. I enumerated some of those principles above. While the “advise and consent” function of the Senate is hardly a criminal trial, the standards established will slop over into our entire legal system. If you really think it matters in the long run whom you believe, rather than assuming the innocence of the accused and putting the burden of proof on the accuser, pray to God that you are never the accused, neither justly nor unjustly! Oh, by the way, the penalty in ancient Israel for false accusation was for the punishment intended had the accused been guilty, to fall on the accuser. Maybe we should bring that one back.

Power = Lust + Pride.

For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:16-17. I am writing this blog on October 1st, 2018 in the state of Washington in the nation called the United States with the hope that it will be read in the distant (100 years?) future, and that the United States will still exist at that time. The quote I began with was from a letter that John the Apostle wrote in the Bible. He was not writing to a specific Church like most of the other Biblical letters, but writing to Christians in general. Part of the letter was an explanation of what a true Christian Life should consist of, and that was three parts: brotherly love, obedience to Jesus’ words, and rejection of what he called the “world system”. The world system, which he says is not of God, consists of three things: the “lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”

Currently, we are coming to the end of the hearings on the Brett Kavanagh nomination for Supreme Court Justice. These hearings, not too dissimilar to the gladiator battles that both inflamed and pacified the citizens of Rome during the reigns of their most perverse emperors, have brought to our conscious awareness a similar level of lust for power. The Roman Games, which we now call “bread and circuses”, existed to keep the populace from looking too closely at how they were ruled, and gave spectators a false sense of power by allowing them to choose the fate of the losing gladiator. Thumbs up meant life, thumbs down meant death. So too does media coverage and pontificating on both sides of the trial give us a false sense of power, as they and their spectators–us–give our “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to our favored combatants. Everyone seems to want power. But for what purpose? Is power an end in itself–a primary pleasure–or does power lead to primary pleasures? I believe the answer is in John’s epistle, in which he names the three components of the world system. Lust and pride are what power is seeking to satisfy. What is lust? It is more than just a sexual drive. John D Rockefeller, once the world’s richest man, was asked how much he would need to be happy. His answer was “just a little bit more.” That is lust, never being satisfied, always wanting more. What about Pride? Pride, the root of all other sins, is the desire to be glorified above everyone else, the false glory of “king over all.”

I continue to say, when friends ask, who was your favorite President, George Washington. Why? Because he was the only president who didn’t want the job. He was virtually forced by popular acclaim into both the military and political Commander in Chief positions, and many wanted him to become King after his country won the war for independence. He wanted only to return quietly to his farm and family. He was both the first leader of his country, and the last to want acclaim. Would that we had others like him. We have gone downhill since. It seems every politician wants power. Today there are many in the world who believe some secret, monolithic cabal is running the world. For some its communism/socialism, for others it’s multi-national corporations or a clique of super wealthy individuals all in cahoots. Maybe so, maybe not. But the larger question is, “who or what is behind these material manifestations of lust and pride?” Who runs the world system? You, dear readers, each have your own cherished shibboleths, but bear in mind, the ones you choose may have more to do with your own history and inputs than reality. You may pooh-pooh the idea of spiritual warfare, while malevolent unseen foes manipulate your strings. Be not hasty to say “it only exists if I can see or hear or touch it”, while it whispers to you thoughts that are not your own. Clean up your own opinions by being aware of your own pride and lust. “What me, prideful and lustful?” Yes, all of us. If you have to ask such a question, perhaps it already has snared you.