The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the category “President”

Marx, Emanuel, and Obama, Oh My!

* Matt Bianco is an elder in the PCA. He is a married, homeschooling father of three. 

Karl Marx had a certain theory of ideas, one that we see in play even today. Well, Marx had a lot of ideas and theories that we see being enacted and lived out today, but one specifically I want to consider in this post.

Karl Marx believed that ideas resulted from our experiences, specifically the situations we faced in life. What is he saying? Well, first, what is he not saying? Marx is not just saying that there are ideas, norms, that make up life–that allow us to make sense out of life–whose interpretation and application are simply colored by our experiences. For example, as a postmillennialist, I believe that history is heading in a certain direction, to wit, a positive direction in which the rule of Jesus Christ will be experienced and known in history. I believe this; it is a norm in my life, but my interpretation and application of it can be colored by my experiences. If my life goes fairly well, I have a successful career and a Godly, happy family, I see these as the fruits of history heading in that direction. If my life is a bit rougher, and I experience the pain and suffering of sickness and death in my family, then I see these as the crosses by which the Kingdom will be made manifest. In both cases, I continue believing in the norm of a postmillennial future. In the former case, I see that happening without too many hiccups, while in the latter case, I emphasize the cross as the means to that future. This, however, is not what Karl Marx is describing.

Read more…

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“Gay Marriage”… A Closer Look at the Rhetoric, Part 1

Guest Post by Ben Rossell
We need to reverse these outdated and unfair laws! My sister steals things because she is a clepto. She was born a clepto and she will die one. For her it’s the same as being tall or fair-skinned. For her, NOT stealing would be unnatural … even borderline immoral! Calling her theft “wrong” is naive, judgmental, and cleptophobic! Why don’t these people understand this! Our nation’s laws and our societal stigmas have persecuted robbers for far too long! I stand on the side of love and equality with my sister and every burglar like her! Stop the ignorance and stop the hatred!

This Holy Week*, our Supreme Court is considering whether sexual acts performed between two people of the same gender is something that the United States has an interest in endorsing so much so that it should officially overturn four centuries of legal precedent on this continent, not to mention millennia of cultural norms and moral consciousness as well as to contradict the uniform historic testimony of each of the three major monotheistic faiths.

It is here we see the chink in Libertarianism’s armor .   Read more…

Whither the Wicker?

Guest Post by Rob Hadding

I’ve been watching politics since I was about ten. My earliest political recollections are of the 1972 Republican and Democratic conventions. I was captivated by the theater of it all. The speeches were full of pathos, the nominating process was full of drama, and it seemed like everyone was full of enthusiasm for the possibilities that lay ahead if their man (or woman – Shirley Chisholm ran that year) won the day. It all seemed so important. I’ve watched coverage of almost every political convention since, if with significantly less awe.  Somewhere along the way since 1972, I began to see what every other informed observer of American politics sees. To say that I’ve grown cynical is to say a true thing.

My political cynicism found an easy friend in the hell-in-a-handbasket eschatology of Dispensationalism, and quicker than you could name the next candidate for antichrist, I was a full-blown pessimist. But over time, I found pessimism to be exhausting – there was never a payoff. When things just keep going from bad to worse to worser, the only thing there is to feel good about is the destruction of the universe, and, frankly, that kind of a downer.

Imagine my relief, then, when I was introduced to a more hopeful eschatology. It took me a long time to sort out, but once I finally did it was like I had been given permission to feel good about the creation that God called good in the first place. He isn’t just going to blow it to smithereens; he is going to put it all back together again, but this time more glorious than ever. In fact, new creation had already begun in the resurrection of Christ. Antichrist, meet Jesus Christ. You lose.

But in a sense, this just caused me further consternation. I had abandoned the theological titanic that is Dispensationalism, but my political cynicism had only grown. Speeches, conventions, elections, and bad leaders accumulated, and things only appear to grow worse. How can someone remain optimistic when the handbasket is moving so fast?

Well, last week something happened that sparked hope. Now, it’s only a spark, and the kind of hope it inspires is not in any sense ultimate, but it was like nothing I’ve seen in some time. On the floor of the United States Senate, the junior senator from Kentucky stood for thirteen without a pee break on principle. In accordance with Senate rules, and armed with the conviction to stand up and say, “Hell no,” Rand Paul hijacked the Senate for the day to make a point. The filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation to the job of CIA Director was not to block Mr. Brennan’s appointment (he admitted at the outset that he did not have the votes to succeed in doing so), but to call attention to the use of drones against American citizens, both on and off American soil, without benefit of due process. Specifically, Mr. Paul was calling out President Barack Obama and his chief lawyer, Eric Holder, to give a clear answer on whether they understood it was within the president’s power to order a hit on an American without a trial to establish guilt. Up to this point a clear answer had not come, though the question was clearly asked.

This moment is probably not in itself a tide turner. Even though it seems that Mr. Paul did get a clear, yet terse, response from Mr. Holder the following day, and even though Mr. Paul raised awareness on the issue of drones – both of which were his stated objectives – this event does not in itself change the course of the nation, or usher in a new age of openness in government, or make the president any less likely to do everything he can to drive the America Bus into oncoming traffic.

But something very real happened on that day that gives me reason to think that the handbasket could take another direction. This is evident in the way the day unfolded. At the beginning, it looked like Rand Paul, a chip off the nutty ol’ Paul block, was going to make a long-winded speech. It would be well reasoned, of course, and would score some points with the Tea Party crowd, but would accomplish just north of nothing. But as the day progressed, a swell of tweets and status updates formed. A website emerged to clock his filibuster. Activity in the Senate Chamber increased. Other senators rose, requesting time to ask questions without asking Senator Paul to yield the floor as a show of support and to give him a moment to rest his voice. C-SPAN 2’s existence was justified. I went to bed that night before he had finished. I said to my wife as I turned out the bedroom light, “I hope he’s still going in the morning.” But by the time the day had ended, Mr. Paul had done something that hadn’t been done in a long time – he captured the imagination of the political right, and gave them something to be excited about.

In just thirteen hours – which is a long time to stand without peeing, but not so long if you’re talking about the history of the world – a freshman senator breathed life into his party and into those of us who had lost all confidence in the Republican Party after the nomination of Mitt Romney. In a single moment of political theater one began to think that all just might not be lost.

Let me be clear: I don’t think the answer to our ills is political (in the common sense of the term). I don’t think that Rand Paul is the great hope of the nation, or even of the Republican Party. I am not sure he would make a great president. But on the day of the filibuster, he lit a match in the political darkness, and it may be that that match touches a candlewick – or a fuse. One thing is certain: Rand Paul stock went up that day, and he may just be the leader conservatives have been looking for.

But what really strikes me about the whole thing is something more hopeful. That is, as fast as that things can change. Even though things look like they are hurtling toward certain disaster, in just a moment things can change. Who knows what the effects of this event will be? It could be the beginning of a massive re-framing of the conversation about the economy, morality, and so on. It might not be. But for me, it has persuaded me that good things can happen, and I am free to be optimistic even in the face of what appear to be overwhelmingly bad circumstances. It can all change quickly.

Rob Hadding is the Senior Pastor of Christ Church in Pace, Fl.

Rand Paul Is Still My Senator

In early 2009, I was a fairly new fan of Congressman Ron Paul, having learned of him during the 2008 presidential election. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that his son, Rand Paul, was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate. When I found out he would be representing Kentucky – my home state – it was that much more invigorating. I knew immediately that I would do everything I could in my local community to raise support for Rand.

The first order of business was to bring Rand to my city for a live speaking event. If he decided to run I knew he would be going up against establishment candidates in both the primary and general elections Read more…

The Religious Motive Behind Rand Paul’s Filibuster

Paul Leaves the Floor, Refuses to Yield Values

As the thirteen-hour filibuster ended, Rand Paul left the floor to a roar of applause. He took the floor alone, but now the entire twittersphere and even the Republican leadership joined his crusade against the Obama administration’s drone policy. In one day’s time he has reached the name recognition of his father for standing for the same sort of issues. Again, like his father, he has forced the Republican establishment to join him as cobelligerants for the cause of liberty.

The past three decades of American politics have been blessed with two generations of men who are unafraid to be political game-changers. Ron and Rand are Leaders seemingly incapable of “relinquishing” their values. Rand’s thirteen-hour filibuster is a good tribute to his father’s legacy of refusing to “yield” to politics as usual.

One has to ask what creates such men?

The answer may be a surprise to many. Presbyterianism.

Read more…

Bush, War, Conservatives, and the Search for Consistency

One of the perplexing dilemmas we face as those who oppose the over-reach of the Federal Government is the inconsistency we see in such movements. While on the one hand, we opine viciously in opposition to all forms of welfarism, on the other hand, we support and encourage our military efforts ( a form of international welfarism).
In his essay for The American Conservative, Ivan Eland discusses this inconsistency and warns conservatives that they can’t have it both ways:

“Conservatives should be leery of jumping into wars not only because American powers may become overextended—especially in a time of fiscal crisis—but because war makes government expand rapidly at home, even in areas of national security.”[1]

It is also fair to say that the Conservative mood has changed drastically in these last few years. Just as Democrats are quick to oppose a policy under a Republican governance, so too are they quick to support that same policy under a Democratic presidency.[2] I would like to think Republicans have learned their lessons, but they are just as prone to falling into the cycle of political hypocrisy. On a positive note, I have heard growing opposition to Obama’s Drone Strikes’ Policy from Republicans. Much of this opposition stems from the non-hawkish Senator, Rand Paul.

In his 2007 book, A Tragic Legacy, Glenn Greenwald details many of the former Bush supporters who have now come to see the light on America’s endless wars. Among them is Rod Dreher, a former contributor to National Review. In 2001, Dreher declared, “Thank God we have a Republican in the White House.”[3] Dreher later describes his regret for supporting Bush’s policies:

I see that I was the fool…the consequences of his (Bush’s) failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.

These political transformations are the results of a long line of unintended consequences, or what Chalmers Johnson referred to as Blowback.

I am convinced that serious minded Republicans are willing to count the cost, and the cost has been high. The U.S accounts for more than 50% of the world’s military spending[4] and with all that might it has left the Middle East desolate and unstable. The eloquent “No Nation-Building ” answer given by then candidate George Bush should be our policy. It is costing us too much. And as Eland observes, once warfare starts, taxes and spending continue:

Conservatives should not fail to recognize that war is the most prominent cause of the massive welfare state that has been erected in the United State.

Hopefully, consistency will return to small-government conservatives. We cannot continue to stay on budget at home, while distributing our credit cards abroad.


[1] The American Conservative, January/February 2013

[3] Greenwald, Glenn, A Tragic Legacy: How Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, 34-35.

[4] Ibid. 3

The American Presidents BEFORE George Washington

Presidents Before The Constitution

The American Revolution was a counter-revolution against the encroachment of the British Parliament. The independence movement released the thirteen colonies from foreign control. It is important to remember the American Revolution was a battle between Britain and the thirteen individually sovereign states, each with their own state governments. During the War, the state legislatures granted enumerated portions of their own limited sovereignty to an entity called the Continental Congress.

A congressman was elected by the other delegates to serve as this body’s President-his role was largely as an impartial moderator. Later in the war, the States transferred more responsibilities to the central government in the Articles of Confederation (1781). This stood as the nation’s first established constitution until the Constitutional Convention ratified the current U.S. Constitution in 1788.

Fourteen Presidents Before George Washington

George Washington was the first President to be elected under the 1788 Constitution Model. While many know of George Washington, the Presidents under the Continental Congress are largely unknown to modern Americans. They were men of great moral vigor, who stood strong for liberty, and held at the center of their ambition the glory of God.

Below is a list of the pre-constitution Presidents, along with inspiring quotes from these men who did not shy away from leadership when times were trying.

First Continental Congress

Peyton Randolph, Virginia (Sept 1774 – Oct 1774)

Often called the “father of our country,” the courageous Peyton Randolph led the charge against the Stamp Act as one of the most revolutionary Patriots. He also intitated the practice of prayer before conducting of government business.

In a letter to British General Thomas Cage, Randolph protests his occupation of Boston,

“Your Excellency cannot be a stranger to the sentiments of America with respect to the Acts of Parliament, under the execution of which those unhappy people are oppressed, the approbation universally expressed of their conduct, and the determined resolution of the Colonies, for the preservation of their common rights to unite in their opposition to those Acts. In consequence of these sentiments, they have appointed us the guardians of their rights and liberties…” [1]

Henry Middleton, South Carolina (October 1774)

Only serving four days, Middleton resigned in opposition to independence to Great Britian. He was succeeded in Congress by his son, Arthur Middleton (1742–1787), who was more radical than his father and became a signer of the Declaration of Independence.[2] Middleton’s first official act, was to execute a letter as President supporting the efforts of oppressed colonists. In the letter Middleton wrote,

“So rapidly violent and unjust has been the late conduct of the British Administration against the colonies, that either a base and slavish submission, under the loss of their ancient, just, and constitutional liberty, must quickly take place, or an adequate opposition be formed.” [3]

Second Continental Congress

John Hancock, Massachusetts (May 1775 – October 1777)

Hancock was President of the Congress when the Declaration of Independence was prepared. He was the first to sign what most men understood to be a note of their own death. The Declaration was received as treasonous by the British, making the signers traitors to the crown.

“In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as Men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent Measure should be taken to ward off the impending Judgements….All confidence must be withheld from the Means we use; and reposed only on that GOD who rules in the Armies of Heaven, and without whose Blessing the best human Counsels are but Foolishness–and all created Power Vanity…” [4]

Henry Laurens, South Carolina (November  1777 – December 1778) Read more…

Jeb Bush as the New Lyndon Johnson

Lyndon Johnson had a dream. Following Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Johnson moved speedily to embody Kennedy’s vision for the country. After Roosevelt’s New Deal, Johnson’s vision for a post-Kennedy country was as ambitious as FDR’s. With only 11 months before the elections of 1964, Johnson had to prove to the country that his presidency wasn’t just due to Kennedy’s departure, but that he also deserved a chance by his own merits to lead the country for four more years. Johnson wooed Congress to pass his agenda. He continued JFK’s vision for a Civil Right’s Act, which was passed. Johnson also instituted a vision for a Great Society, which included a War on Poverty. At that moment, Liberalism’s goal to crown the Federal Government as the giver of life was achieved in a way Roosevelt could not.

Under Johnson’s presidency, Liberalism gained a powerful ally. The following agenda reveals the genesis of some of our current woes:

  • The Wilderness Protection Act saved 9.1 million acres of forestland from industrial development.
  • The Elementary and Secondary Education Act provided major funding for American public school.
  • The Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests and other discriminatory methods of denying suffrage to African Americans.
  • Medicare was created to offset the costs of health care for the nation’s elderly.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities used public money to fund artists and galleries.
  • The Immigration Act ended discriminatory quotas based on ethnic origin.
  • An Omnibus Housing Act provided funds to construct low-income housing.
  • Congress tightened pollution controls with stronger Air and Water Quality Acts.
  • Standards were raised for safety in consumer products.

Vietnam, of course, shattered Johnson’s vision for a New Heaven and Earth. Now the attention of a nation was drawn to the disastrous Vietnam War.

Jeb Bush’s Vision

In some ways, Democrats have attempted to continue the Johnson legacy. They have succeeded. $16.5 Trillion in debt reveals that the Democratic leaders paid careful attention to Johnson’s blueprint for the nation. But we have come to expect this type of consistent ideology from Democrats.

Enters Jeb Bush.

The former Governor has been deeply engaged in talks about a 2016 run. In comments made towards immigration Reform, the former Governor of Florida extolled Johnson’s skills as a legislator. Breitbart quotes Bush’s assessment of Johnson:

“He went and he cajoled, he begged, he threatened, he loved, he hugged, he did what leaders do, which is they personally get engaged to make something happen,’’ Bush said of Johnson.

To be fair, Bush did not praise Johnson’s Great Society or War on Poverty, but Bush’s invoking of Johnson positively in any way reminds Conservatives and Moral Libertarians of the misdirected attempts of healing the nation through unconstitutional means. It prompts us to ask, “what keeps Bush from incarnating Johnson’s presidency not only in the immigration issue, but other important matters as well? ”

Of course, the best read of this situation is that he is arguing for a hands-on presidency (like Johnson’s) in an attempt to discredit Obama’s hands-off presidency. But forgive the political pessimism from my perspective, but I seem to have a general distrust of the Bush brand of political reform.

Obama’s State of the Union, Green Ribbon, Sandy Hook, and the Wizard of Oz.

State of the Union Obama Money Wizard Green Ribbon

President Obama outlined plans Tuesday night at his State of the Union address. His speech was mostly the same old thing, continuing to play heavily on support for the middle class while proposing regressive taxes that directly attack middle class incomes. Unique to tonight’s speech was the presence of green ribbons worn on the lapels of guests and members of Congress. This green ribbon was meant to memorialize the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. NPR commentators noted that the green ribbons were particularly important because of the President’s push for gun control legislation.  It was also noted that while Vice President Joe Biden was wearing a ribbon, Speaker of the House John Boehner was not.State of the Union Green Ribbons Obama Biden Boehner

What happened at Sandy Hook was a tragedy, and nothing should take away from our sympathy for the families who lost their loved ones. But at the same time, this sort of political manipulation because of a real tragedy is simply disgraceful. The ribbons and children they represent are being used as tools to bolster the President’s anti-2nd Amendment agenda.

The State of the Union address is a particularly troubling event. Thomas Jefferson stopped the practice of giving presidential speeches to Congress because he felt that it made the president out to be an imperial figure. He instead would send a written note about the current affairs of the country to those who needed it. The presentation this year makes it clear that it is only about political posturing. Members seek out aisle seats hours before the event, hopeful that they may get a picture hugging the president or shaking his hand, hoping to pander to the constituents who might be watching.

Many came adorned with green ribbons to hear lofty promises about how our President is going to put our nation back on track. It was very appropriate that all this posturing was represented with green. You may remember L. Frank Baum’s famous Emerald City of Green deception: Oz. Obama’s America is a new Oz.

“Even with eyes protected by the green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful City … There were many people – men, women, and children – walking about, and these were all dressed in green clothes and had greenish skins. They looked at Dorothy and her strangely assorted company with wondering eyes, and the children all ran away and hid behind their mothers when they saw the Lion; but no one spoke to them. Many shops stood in the street, and Dorothy saw that everything in them was green. Green candy and green pop corn were offered for sale, as well as green shoes, green hats, and green clothes of all sorts. At one place a man was selling green lemonade, and when the children bought it Dorothy could see that they paid for it with green pennies.”

And the new Oz has a new wizard, President Obama. A fool’s magician, yet  just as all  the good citizens of the Emerald City were forbidden to remove their green-tinted glasses, each American watches the state of the union through the comfort of a pair of their own colored glasses.

When will America discover that her President is no better than the false Wizard of Oz? Baum’s imperial ventriloquist is too much like our own head of state. What we need now is not more speeches from this talking head, but we need the brainless, the cowardly, the heartless, and those who are lost to break down the wizard’s chambers to discover the man behind the curtain and demand that he stop misleading the citizens. Back in Oz it went like this:

“You must keep your promises to us!” exclaimed Dorothy.
The Lion thought it might be as well to frighten the Wizard, so he gave a large, loud roar, which was so fierce and dreadful that Toto jumped away from him in alarm and tipped over the screen that stood in a corner. As it fell with a crash they looked that way, and the next moment all of them were filled with wonder. For they saw, standing in just the spot the screen had hidden, a little old man, with a bald head and a wrinkled face, who seemed to be as much surprised as they were. The Tin Woodman, raising his axe, rushed toward the little man and cried out, “Who are you?”
“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible,” said the little man, in a trembling voice. “But don’t strike me – please don’t – and I’ll do anything you want me to.”
Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.
“I thought Oz was a great Head,” said Dorothy.
“And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady,” said the Scarecrow.
“And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast,” said the Tin Woodman.
“And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire,” exclaimed the Lion.
“No, you are all wrong,” said the little man meekly. “I have been making believe.”
“Making believe!” cried Dorothy. “Are you not a Great Wizard?”
“Hush, my dear,” he said. “Don’t speak so loud, or you will be overheard – and I should be ruined. I’m supposed to be a Great Wizard.”
“And aren’t you?” she asked.
“Not a bit of it, my dear; I’m just a common man.”
“You’re more than that,” said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; “you’re a humbug.”
“Exactly so!” declared the little man, rubbing his hands together as if it pleased him. “I am a humbug.”

One day we will realize that Obama, our Wizard, and the Government, our Oz, offer no solution to our needs. The true solutions are but “make believe.” The government exists at the expense of the Munchkins. Our presidential Wizard squanders the national wealth and starts unjust wars against foreign peoples who are not doing us any harm. It wrecks our families, tramples on our rights, invades our communities, and steals from our bank accounts. It skews the culture toward decadence and trash. It tells lie after lie. The president is not a powerful wizard, but a conniving liar who has tricked us into submission.

It is the obligation of every patriot to denounce the Obama humbug. The federal government has overstepped its boundaries, making promises it cannot keep. When will Americans awaken and realize that the president is not the magician he claims to be? He has no solutions for the economy, for crimes, for gun violence, for peace, for any of those things he campaigns for. The president, like the Wizard, is after one thing: expanding the power of his office and maintaining his great and powerful image. Once the wizard is exposed, the power is gone.

Let’s look behind the curtain, exposing the man behind the smoke and mirrors, sending him off in his own balloon full of the hot air he so much enjoys billowing.

Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a link is given.

The President and the Killing of Americans

It is abundantly clear to most folks by now that President Barack Obama has claimed the authority to kill American citizens without a trial. One of the qualifications for such a determination is that the person have posed “an imminent threat” to the United States. The same Department of Justice (leaked) document that exposed all of this also says that the government is not required to “have clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

Some have responded by noting that this just makes it more important to elect the right president in future elections. Surely we want to elect someone who won’t decide that WE are an imminent threat!

This just misses the real point, though, doesn’t it? Responding in this way simply concedes that the government has the authority to make such declarations and judgments. It makes the Executive Branch not just judge, jury, and executioner, but also legislator. The point is not to vote in the person who will do the least harm with authority he shouldn’t have, but to elect someone who will acknowledge and give up the supposed authority the office had previously claimed.

The point, moreover, is that the Church and the Christians who constitute her need to speak prophetically to such abuses of power and false claims on authority that only the Triune God can exercise and delegate. And, we must do these things regardless of whether the Supreme Court–which sits comfortably in the pocket of the Executive–says the Executive has this right Constitutionally or not.

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