The Greatest Mystery: Unlocked

The Greatest Mystery: Unlocked
Vol: 106 Issue: 31 Saturday, July 31, 2010

During His First Advent, the Lord Jesus unlocked many mysteries for the Church, not the least of which is what happens when we die.  The Old Testament doesn’t provide a lot in terms of specifics, since OT believers operated under the terms of a different Dispensation.

During the Dispensation of the Law, believers were not immediately whisked into the presence of the Lord at the moment of death.   The blood of bullocks and lambs was insufficient to cover their sin. 

Old Testament believers expected to stand in the Resurrection at the Last Day, but had no expectation of eternal life in the sense that the Church understands it.

“As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.” (Job 7:9)

“For in death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalms 6:5)

“For the grave cannot praise Thee, death can not celebrate Thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for Thy truth.” (Isaiah 38:18)

Until Jesus defeated death at His resurrection, death was still pretty much a mystery. The general understanding was that first a man dies, and then he awaits the resurrection of the dead at the last day.

The Book of Job, chronologically the oldest book in the Bible, spoke of the resurrection of the dead even before the time of Abraham, confidently saying;

“. . . all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. . . ” Job awaited the call of the trumpet at the Rapture, thousands of years before it was generally known as doctrine. “Thou shalt call . . .” (Job 14:14-15)

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)

The Lord Jesus filled in the missing details about death and the grave under the Dispensation of the Law when He told the story of the rich man and Lazarus.    I want you to note that Jesus did NOT say, “learn the parable of the rich man.”   He began with a definite statement of fact: “There was a certain rich man. . . ”

And Jesus says that there was a “certain” beggar named Lazarus.  The rich man and Lazarus were real people; this is not a parable or Jesus would have identified it as such.   

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.  And in hell, he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

 Let’s stop there for a second and examine this newly-revealed truth.   Until now, OT believers thought that when they died, they stayed in the grave until the Resurrection.   They had no expectation of continued consciousness – until Jesus revealed the truth to His Disciples.

Jesus told them that the rich man went immediately to hell.  Lazarus was immediately carried by the angels into a place called “Abraham’s bosom.”

 This was a totally new revelation.   The Lord revealed that hell was divided – there was a place of comfort for the righteous dead with Abraham on one side. 

In the middle was a great gulf or chasm, and on the other side was hell, a place of flames and torment and loneliness.  Moreover, the Lord reveals that those in hell could see across to Paradise. 

There are several other things we learn from Jesus about hell, and about those who are condemned to it. First, the rich man has no name, whereas Lazarus is addressed by name throughout the passage. The rich man needs no name. Nobody will ever call it again.

He is eternally separated from God; to all intents and purposes, he is ‘dead’ to God, and to everyone who ever knew him. He is only alive to himself. But the rich man is cognizant of his life, how he ended up in hell, and those he left behind. His memories of his earthly life are intact:

“Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16:22-28)

Jesus teaches us that those condemned to hell are; a) in fiery torment, b) are self-aware, c) are nameless and without hope of reprieve, d) are conscious of their situation, and, e) their memories of their earthly lives are intact.

The Book of the Revelation teaches that what we call ‘hell’ is more analogous to a county jail, where prisoners are held pending trial and conviction. Once a county jail inmate is convicted, he is transferred to a state penitentiary to serve out his sentence.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:13-14)

When John describes the judgment against the devil, he writes: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

Note two things. First, the beast and false prophet ‘are’ – present tense — in the lake of fire. They were not consumed. Secondly, it is a ‘lake of fire and brimstone’ and its inhabitants ‘shall be tormented day and night forever and ever’.

Thus is the fate of those we fail to reach in our effort to discharge our Great Commission.  It’s a sobering thought.

Jesus taught specifically and incontrovertibly that, when the moment of death comes, our conscious spirit lives on, AWAITING the resurrection of the dead, which is when our spirit is united with our new and improved physical bodies.

At the Cross, Jesus told the repentant thief, “Verily I say unto thee, TODAY shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

When Jesus descended into hell after His Crucifixion, He went to Paradise to “lead captivity captive”, the Scriptures say.   He went to Paradise to preach the Gospel and to present Himself as Savior and bring them from Paradise to Heaven.

Our spirits exist and have substance, and they are not only conscious after death, they are completely self-aware.  Death is not the end of our existence. 

Death does not, evidently, even impair our consciousness. 

Assessment:

During the Dispensation of the Church, the Apostle Paul noted that for believers to be ‘absent from the body’ meant to be ‘present with the Lord.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2nd Corinthians 5:10)

The Apostle Paul wrote of physical death as it pertains to believers, saying; “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13)

But yet we do sorrow when a loved one dies. Even when we know that our loved one is now safely resting in the arms of Jesus.  We know that our loved one’s race is run and their burdens have been lifted. 

They are now where we all wish to be – but that does little to dry our tears. It is one of the conundrums of Christianity – everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

Why do we sorrow when we know the truth?  Would we be sad if our loved one had won the lottery?  Of course not.  But Heaven is the ultimate winning ticket.   When your number comes up, you win. 

And all your family and friends cry. 

Why is that?  Does that mean that their faith is weak?   Are they really secret doubters?   Paul intended to offer words of comfort  — indeed, the chapter closes; “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Paul offers words of comfort because of the sorrow that comes with losing a loved one.  Being sorrowful at the loss of the loved one is not evidence of a lack of faith.   If you think about it, your sorrow isn’t because you have any doubt that your loved one is safe in the arms of Jesus.

You haven’t betrayed the faith.  You sorrow because they aren’t here.  Our loved ones are a gift from God given to us to make our sojourn on the Big Blue Marble bearable.   The gift is deliberately temporary, which is what gives it its value. 

When a loved one dies, we lose the gift of their companionship.  Even though we know loss is also temporary, which mitigates the tragedy – it does little to ease the pain of loss in this life. 

Our sorrow is not for our loved one – it is for ourselves. Their gain is our loss.  It’s just that simple.  

There’s nothing selfish in that – if one of my children got a fabulous job on the other side of the world I would be very happy for him – but personally devastated by the loss of his companionship. 

The fact that I know I would see him again would mitigate the sense of loss. But it wouldn’t keep me from missing him while he was gone.  Or wishing he was still here.  (Or make me feel guilty because I did.)

Death comes to us all – we know that.  But death doesn’t come to us once.  It comes to us all the time – death is the one certain part of this existence.   Our own death is simply the last one we have to endure. 

At the Rapture, some believers will not yet have experienced death. They will be instantly changed into their incorruptible bodies. Those who have experienced physical death will be reunited with their bodies, which will be raised and changed.

But their spirits and consciousness are already awake and alive and in the presence of the Lord. Those who are ‘asleep’ in Christ are those who have experienced PHYSICAL, but not conscious death.

At the Rapture, the “Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise (physically incorruptible) first: Then we which are (physically) alive and remain (in our natural bodies) shall be caught up together with them (changed and incorruptible) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Our loved ones who have gone home to the Lord are ALREADY in His Presence, enjoying Heaven and its unimaginable joy and riches. They are NOT mouldering the grave, unconsciously awaiting the call of the Trumpet.

They are alive and aware and eagerly anticipating the opportunity to meet with us in the air and embrace us once more.   We will see them again.   We will recognize them and they will recognize us.

“. . .  and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:18)

The Fork in the Road

The Fork in the Road
Vol: 106 Issue: 30 Friday, July 30, 2010

On Wednesday a federal judge ruled that the federal government struck down most of the provisions of Arizona’s state immigration law, demonstrating that there is more than one way to get around the will of the people.   

Among other things, Judge Susan Bolton ruled that the State of Arizona could not make being an illegal alien a state crime or require aliens to carry proof of legal status.   She ruled that authorities cannot ask for verification or for immigration papers. 

She ruled that it is not illegal for an illegal alien to solicit for a job and finally, she implied that the law was nothing more than ‘a scheme’ to keep illegal aliens out of the workplace. 

Interestingly, she did NOT rule on either of the two bones of contention being advanced by the government – the evidently inherent racism of Arizona cops and the issue of federal supremacy.

United States Government lawyers argued that the federal government trumps state laws and that if Arizona’s law stands, then we’ll end up with a ‘patchwork’ of different laws, varying from state to state, and the federal government says that would be bad. 

To her credit, Judge Susan Bolton agreed at least a little bit with the state’s argument, allowing that part of Arizona law that prohibits ‘sanctuary cities’ to stand.  “Sanctuary cities” are cities that have done the same thing as Arizona, but in reverse.  

In 1996, Congress specifically banned sanctuary cities.  But Congress doesn’t have the authority it used to, evidently.   The real authority now rests in the hands of activist federal judges.

In sanctuary cities, law enforcement officers are forbidden to cooperate with state or federal officials in handling, processing or deporting illegal aliens.

In Arizona, that means Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler and Tucson can no longer thumb their noses at the law with impunity.

One of the other provisions Judge Bolton allowed to stand will allow legal residents of Arizona to sue any state official, agency or political subdivision that refuses to enforce immigration law to the full extent permitted under the law.

THIS is the only part of the Arizona law that actually was controversial.  Everything else that the judge threw out actually mirrored federal immigration law. 

But the right of individuals to sue government officials over issues of policy is virtually unheard of at the federal level and few states have left themselves vulnerable to such suits.   The fact Arizona’s legislature would create such a vulnerability underscores the desperation of Arizona lawmakers to fix the problem.

Judge Bolton also allowed the provisions that make transporting or harboring an illegal alien a state crime and permits the state to impound vehicles illegally transporting illegal aliens while in the process of committing another crime.  

That provision, specifically aimed at drug dealers, was opposed by the DoJ on the grounds that drug smuggling fell under the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission!     Noted Heather MacDonald in the National Review:

“You’d hardly know from reading U.S. v. Arizona that there was a single illegal alien in the country. Judge Bolton’s ruling, like the Justice Department’s brief, is couched exclusively in terms of how SB 1070 will affect legal aliens. But her reasoning in finding that SB 1070 would impermissibly burden legal immigrants, and would thus allegedly conflict with federal immigration law and policy, would make it impossible to ever enforce immigration law. It is her reasoning, not SB 1070, that conflicts with clear congressional mandates.”

A headline in the LA Times sort of summed up the problem when questioning the intent of the law:  “Arizona’s Immigration Law: Aimed at Criminals or at Workers?”  

The headline highlights the confusion.   What makes a foreign national inside the United States an ‘illegal alien’ isn’t his presence – it is living and working here without papers that is the crime.

Lawbreaking is what defines the lawbreaker as ‘criminal’.   

Assessment:

What makes this story important is the fact that it is the United States Federal Government that stands in opposition to Arizona’s enforcement of United States federal law.   I am trying to think of an equivalent absurdity.

The best I can come up with would be leasing you a furnished house, making you financially responsible for the contents in the written lease, but forbidding you verbally from installing a front door or otherwise securing the premises.   

Even that isn’t as absurd as the federal government suing the State of Arizona for enforcing a federal law.  It is a federal law.  Here’s how the separation of powers is supposed to work. 

The Congress (legislative) passes federal law, the Executive (administration) is required to enforce federal law and the judiciary (courts) are required to ensure federal law is enforced justly under the Constitution.   

America’s strength is rooted in the fact that America is a nation of laws and not men.   No individual is above the law.  No identifiable group is above the law.  The American system provides a process whereby unpopular laws can be changed, but there is NO legal way that any elected official can refuse to obey existing law.

When existing law is enforced according to popularity or politics rather than enforced according to the Constitution, then the law is whatever those in power say that the law is.  

For example, possession, use or sale of marijuana is illegal anywhere in the United States under federal law.  The Constitutional federal supremacy laws forbid states from passing laws in conflict with federal law. 

But in Venice Beach California, you can walk into a clinic next door to a medical marijuana shop on the boardwalk and get a prescription for pot for $150 and then go next door and buy yourself some weed in complete violation of existing federal law.

They seem like small violations in the grand scheme of things.  So San Francisco doesn’t mind footing the bill for their illegal alien population?   So what if California would prefer to tax pot instead of arresting pot smokers?   

The problem lies in accepting the premise that one need only obey certain laws and that other laws exist only to be broken.   Who decides?  

And that is where this is relevant to Bible prophecy.  According to the Bible, one of the hallmarks of the Tribulation Period will be that of lawlessness.   It was among the first signs, (after deception), that were outlined by Jesus when asked to give the signs of His coming at the end of the age.

“Because iniquity (anomia – lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many will wax cold” – Matthew 14:12)

The antichrist is called “the lawless one” because his administration will enforce laws arbitrarily based on whether or not someone is part of his religious and economic system.   He will come to power on the force of lawlessness, promising to change the laws and the seasons, otherwise disrespecting all that has gone on before him.

I don’t believe Barack Obama is the antichrist – at least not yet.   He fits perfectly in almost every respect, and for that reason alone I would have to withhold recognition.   He is too obvious.  And too soon.  

The antichrist works with a partner, The False Prophet.    We’ve no such candidate around today.  The antichrist presides over a lawless government, true enough, but he does so through his control of an economic system so centralized that no man can buy or sell without being a part of the system.

Obama is in the process of tearing down the system.  The main bone of contention are the illegal aliens that exist outside the system, buying and selling illegally with no way for the government to track (and tax) those transactions, including employment transactions.

Ultimately, the road we are on forks into two possible directions.  In the first, the system collapses and is replaced by a new system more in line with the needs of the coming antichrist.  In the second, the backlash will result in major efforts to fix the system.

The best way to fix illegal immigration, not to mention most drug crimes, is to eliminate the motive.  There is but one way to accomplish that in the 21st century.   Eliminate cash and replace it with easily trackable electronic funds transfer technology.

So before the system can be either be crashed and rebuilt or fixed in place, the problem of anonymous, untraceable cash transactions will have to be dealt with.  Illegal immigration and drug crime both scream for that exact solution.

So, too does the economic meltdown that the administration seems determined to make worse.The antichrist isn’t the one that creates the system – the system is already in place when he arrives on the scene.

It isn’t here yet – but it seems clear we’re well into the pre-construction/demolition phase already.  The only thing holding back the complete collapse is the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit through His indwelling presence in the Church.

And THAT barrier will be lifted in the ‘twinkle of an eye’.   I don’t know when.  But the signs seem to say soon. 

Very soon.

Note to the OL Family:

It is with both joy and sorrow that I share the news of the promotion of one of our OL family members to Glory.  I was informed that OL member Cindy Miller’s mom passed away last night after a battle with brain cancer.  Praise the Lord that her suffering is past and she is now safely Home. 

Faith Pauline Hass Wilkes passd away yesterday at aged 82 in Pasadena.  She is survived by Paul Wilkes, her husband of nearly 64 years.   While as Christians, we celebrate the passing of a saved loved one as a promotion to Glory for them,  for us that are left behind,  it is also a time of great sorrow. 

Especially when dealing with the loss of one’s spouse and lifelong companion.  My heart breaks for Mr Wilkes.

Please join me in prayer for Mr. Wilkes that the Lord will comfort him in his grief, and for the rest of Mrs. Wilkes’ family that the Lord will turn their sorrow to gladness.  

We cannot be dogmatically certain about the timing, but one thing we can be certain of is the comfort of the Promise. We will see our loved ones again.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore, comfort one another with these words. (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18)

May the Holy Spirit and the Word be a comfort to the Wilkes family as they go through their time of grief. 

Maranatha!

The God Who Wasn’t There?

The God Who Wasn’t There?
Vol: 106 Issue: 29 Thursday, July 29, 2010

I see a lot of ads in the course of a day’s work – so many that they barely register in my consciousness, but that’s not to say they don’t have a cumulative effect in the long run.    That’s the way advertising works. 

Propaganda is the father of modern advertising, so it stands to reason that it operates along the same principles; hyperbole, sensationalism, fear, but most of all, repetition.   You can also learn a lot from who advertises what.

Newsweek, the LATimes and the New York Times all raved about a movie called, “The God Who Wasn’t There” with Newsweek raving in its ad that the movie “irreverently lays out the case that Jesus Christ never existed.”

(I love the use of the word ‘irreverent’ – is there a reverent way to mock the God of the Universe?)

I followed the link to see what the filmmakers had to say about their project, which they termed a “taboo-shattering documentary.”   There they list some of the highlights of their case for the non-existence of Jesus.

  • The early founders of Christianity seem wholly unaware of the idea of a human Jesus
  • The Jesus of the Gospels bears a striking resemblance to other ancient heroes and the figureheads of pagan savior cults
  • Contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion
  • Fundamentalism is as strong today as it ever has been, with an alarming 44% of Americans believing that Jesus will return to earth in their lifetimes

Ummm, that’s it?  That’s their best case?  That the early founders seem unaware of a human Jesus?  Seem? The Roman/Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (c 37-101) wrote of a human Jesus.  Didn’t seem unaware of Him at all. 

One can say the same about Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Thallus, etc.  All were secular historians of the time, most were critical of Jesus’ Divinity, but none questioned His humanity.

That Jesus bears a resemblance to other “ancient heroes and figureheads of other pagan savior cults” is unsurprising to me.  God promised a Savior in the Garden of Eden.   That later pagan cults carried that ancestral memory is no more surprising that the universality among pagan religions of the story of the Flood.

To offer as ‘evidence’ that Jesus never existed that ‘contemporary Christians are largely ignorant of the origins of their religion’ is vacuous.  Half of all Americans in a recent survey were ignorant of what country America won independence from.   

Ignorance of the facts has no bearing on the facts themselves.  (Unless one has no facts upon which to rest one’s own argument. Then, ignorance becomes an ally). 

The last ‘startling factoid’ – that 44% of Americans believe the Lord will return in their lifetimes” fascinates me since it refutes the entire premise of their argument. 

Apart from being a breath-taking display of intellectual arrogance, it demands a willful ignorance of the obvious.

Their position is that Jesus absolutely, positively did not exist – a premise that is itself a demonstrably logical impossibility, since it is impossible to prove a negative.

Assessment:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)

Pretty much any of the militant-atheist evangelism videos now flooding the market feature the same superstars of the religion of nothing; Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris,  Christopher Hitchens, members of the Jesus Seminar etc.

Militant atheism is a source of never-ending mystery to me.  It offers nothing and takes everything.  If they are right, there is no accountability beyond this life.   One is answerable only to himself and to the law – but only if he gets caught.  

The militant atheist argues that atheism is reason and that religion is responsible for war.   Atheist Mao Tse Tung murdered 20 million Chinese; Pol Pot murdered 2 million Cambodians, Josef Stalin 50 million Russians, Adolf Hitler 12 million Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and other ‘untermenchen’.   

What does that prove?  It proves that men are responsible for war.  Not religion.  If not religion, it would be something else.  

Atheism posits that men are basically good, but cannot explain what ‘good’ means.   “Good” is a subjective term – it all depends on one’s perspective.

It takes a willful ignorance to hold to the position that man is basically good when one cannot define the basics of ‘good’ apart from the Word of God.  

Osama bin Laden is a ‘good’ Muslim, if one is a Wahabbi jihadist.   Sitting Bull was a ‘good’ Indian, if one was a Plains Indian hoping to drive off the invading white man.    

Santa Ana was a ‘good’ general, if one were a member of the Mexican Army at the Alamo. Adolf Eichmann was a ‘good’ Nazi – if one were a member of Hitler’s inner circle. 

The basic prohibition against killing is rooted in the fact that God grants life and only God has the right to take it.  Remove the God of the Bible, and life is only worth what the prevailing society values it at.

Iran recently reversed a decision to stone a young mother of two to death for adultery.  Bowing to international pressure, they’ve decided to hang her instead. That is what life is worth there.

In China, babies are routinely drowned by local authorities when couples exceed China’s ‘one-child’ policy without permission. That is what life is worth there. One could go around the world pointing out similar examples.

For “good” to exist, there must also be a corresponding evil against which to measure it.  Good and evil are not atheist terms, they are religious terms.  

In an atheist society, they are defined on a sliding scale, so what would be considered ‘good’ to an American atheist, such as freedom of speech would be exceeding evil to a dedicated atheist Communist.

When there is no benchmark definition for ‘good’ an atheist can argue that it is ‘good’ that a woman can choose to kill her baby rather than raise it because that way the baby won’t grow up in poverty.   

To a Christian, taking an innocent life for any reason is always an act of unjustifiable evil.   

Finally, there is the whole ‘scoffing’ issue. The word ‘scoffers’ empaiktes can also be translated, ‘mockers’ — and that is the part I find most intriguing about the whole atheist worldview.

An atheist claims to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that which is a logical impossibility to know, and from that position, mock those who hold the only remaining logical position, which is that it is impossible to KNOW, except by faith.

Apart from faith, I do not KNOW that Jesus existed any more than I KNOW that Abraham Lincoln existed.  After all, I haven’t met either of them.

But I have faith that Lincoln’s biographers and the eyewitness accounts of his life and times are based in historical fact.  If Lincoln did not exist, the entire flow of history would be interrupted.

I have faith that Jesus Christ existed for all the same reasons.  And just as I believe that Lincoln freed the slaves of the Confederacy, I believe that Jesus freed the slaves to sin, myself included.

As I said at the outset, advertising has a cumulative effect on the brain.  The more one repeats the same lie, the more believable it becomes.   The proof is in the pudding.   The fastest growing religion today, according to the CIA World Factbook, isn’t Christianity, Judaism or even Islam.

The fastest growing religion in America today is atheism.  In 1990, about six percent of Americans self-identified as ‘unaffiliated’ or ‘none’.  In 2010, that number is 18% and rising.   

In the 1990s, the largest problems facing America were how best to spend the so-called ‘peace dividend’ and whether or not the President of the United States was allowed to lie about sex.

Today, it’s about whether or not America’s economy can survive the next decade and whether or not it matters if the President is even Constitutionally eligible.   

“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalms 14:1, 53:1)

The proof is in the pudding.

Too Late to Unring the Bell

Too Late to Unring the Bell
Vol: 106 Issue: 28 Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When I first heard of the Wikileaks classified document dump, I was horrified.  The leaking of wartime classified documents while the nation is still at war is treasonous.  

Of course, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks isn’t an American, but an Australian, so treason does not apply to him.  

But somebody inside the government leaked the documents to Assange, and right now the government is looking at a 22 year-old Army Private First Class named Bradley Manning.  Manning is charged with unlawfully obtaining more than 150,000 diplomatic cables from the State Department.

The first set of charges accuse him of “wrongfully” moving classified information to his personal computer and “wrongfully adding” unauthorized software to a secure computer, both in alleged violation of Article 92 of the UCMJ.

Article 92 says anyone who “violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation” can be punished by a court-martial.

The second set of charges stem from Manning’s alleged transfers of classified information, including the July 12, 2007 Apache video and a State Department cable titled “Reykjavik 13” to an unnamed third parties.

Those transfers violate Article 134 of the UCMJ, the military says, which is a general-purpose prohibition punishing “crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty.”

One of those alleged crimes includes a violation of the Espionage Act, which makes it illegal for anyone with unauthorized possession of information relating to the national defense to share it with anyone else. Another alleges a violation of computer hacking laws. 

And then there is the whole ‘treason’ thing — but somehow, ‘treason’ doesn’t seem to be as horrendous a charge as it used to be.  If working against the nation’s best interests during time of war were still considered treasonous, half the Congress would be in prison.

Manning Bradley is a kid – but one no doubt brought up in the American liberal tradition of believing everything America does is evil.  That is not an excuse.

But given the anti-war rhetoric of the past decade, the only thing that is really surprising is that there haven’t been more traitors within the ranks than there have been already.

Julian Assange is a liberal anti-war activist — and like all liberal anti-war activists, Assange has no moral compunction about releasing information that will get other people killed, provided it serves the ‘greater good’ as he sees it.

So in point of fact, there is zero difference between Assange’s position that sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the cause of freedom and the same position held by a loyal US soldier – with one exception. 

To the soldier, one of the sacrifices that may be necessary is that of his own life.  Assange doesn’t even risk arrest — as long as he doesn’t come to the US.

In the world of liberal antiwarriors like Assange, the sacrificial lamb is always somebody else.   Not just PFC Bradley, who will pay for his involvement in prison, but also the Afghani informants who will pay for their involvement with their lives.

Then there is the entire war effort itself.  Suppose you are an Afghani that truly loathes the Taliban and wants a better life.   You know where the Taliban are hiding.   You also know the Americans will be pulling out for good next year. 

And NOW you know that your name could turn up on the internet if you cooperate with the Americans.

So even if you are pro-American, loathe the Taliban and hope to see America win, are you going to warn the Americans that they are walking into an ambush?  

Are you going to let the Americans get cut to pieces?  Or will you risk your family and take the chance of a midnight visit by the Taliban?

The military on the ground and the US intelligence community both say that the amount of damage done to the war effort by the Wikileaks document dump is ‘incalculable’ – and I believe them.

As I said, I was initially horrified about the leaking of wartime secrets to the public because the intended purpose for the leak is to make the US look bad.   And there is no pretty or sanitary or publicly-acceptable way to wage war.

Wars are ugly. Weapons are massive.   Targets are elusive.  Mistakes are made. Innocent people die.   We know that, but we don’t want to know the details. 

I love hot dogs. So I don’t wanna know what’s in them. I love freedom.  I only want to know that our forces are protecting our freedom.  How is above my pay grade.   But even knowing what I know about the carnage and brutality of war doesn’t cushion details about innocent civilian collateral damage. 

It is said that “war is hell” so nobody should be surprised at how hellish it is, but somehow, we always are.  It is clear that Assange and his crew hoped that the document dump would continue to dampen public support for the war.  

But the effort may have the opposite effect.

Assessment:

The public has been hearing rumors for years that Iran has been harboring, training and equipping Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters inside Iran and then sending them back to Afghanistan to kill American forces.  

And we’ve been reporting on that Pakistan’s ISI has been secretly working with the Taliban (while collecting US aid for helping with the war effort) since early 2002.  But somehow, knowing that to be the case puts a different face on it.

The Wikileaks dump establishes that not only have we been fighting Iran by proxy, but that the Obama administration KNOWS it – and continued to press the case for normalizing relations with the Islamic Republic anyway.  

And that the government KNOWS that our tax dollars being sent to Pakistan are being used to finance attacks against our own military forces.

Former Acting Director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, understated the case just a wee bit saying in an interview that the revelations of Pakistan’s role as double-agent “just may add an element of tension that is not a welcome addition at this time.”  

No kidding.  If the war logs are to be believed, Iranian involvement in Afghanistan has steadily widened from 2004 to today, amid record levels of military and civilian casualties and spreading violence.

A threat report originated by Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) headquarters in February 2005, covering Regional Command South, classified secret, says for example that Taliban leaders and former officials of the Taliban government toppled by the US in 2001 outlined a series of attacks in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces.

“This joint group currently resides in Iran. The group consists of eight main leaders, all of whom travel with seven bodyguards,” the report says. “The leaders travel into Afghanistan to recruit soldiers … Initially, the joint group will attack NGOs and GOA [government of Afghanistan] officials … If these attacks are successful, they will start to attack US forces. The group will use hit-and-run tactics using AK-47 assault rifles and IEDs.”

In January 2005 it was reported that Iranian intelligence has delivered 10 million Afghanis ($212,000) to a location on Iran’s border. In the language of the war logs, “Iranian intelligence” usually appears to be a reference to Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enghelab-e Islami – the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

In April, 2008, the Taliban received Iranian-made parts for 20 remote-controlled IEDs to be used against the British in Sangin.  Iranian subversion also extended to alleged plans to slip poison into the tea of Afghan government officials instead of using the messier and harder to replace suicide bombers.

The above are just a few samples at random out of more than 90,000 secret classified cables.  But the portrait they paint is disturbing.

If the Wikileaks document dump has a silver lining, it is in the revelation that the United States is engaged in a war it cannot win because it is fighting the wrong enemy.

By way of analogy, if this were WWII we’d be pursuing diplomatic relations with Germany while sending foreign aid to Italy with an eye towards winning the war by defeating pro-Axis Abyssinian guerillas. (And it would be 1952.)

The Obama administration can argue that it ‘inherited’ the war in Afghanistan, but that only underscores how fruitless and brain-dead Obama’s aspirations to charm Iran into the civilized world was, when the leaked documents show that HE KNEW at that time that Iran was fighting a proxy war with us in Afghanistan.

So in a sense, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange did America a back-handed favor, despite the undoubtedly brutal retaliation he exposed US intelligence sources in the region to from the Taliban.   Iran’s involvement is out there on the table where everybody can see it – the Obama charm offensive with Iran is over.

Neither can Obama continue to pour American blood and treasure into an empty pit in Afghanistan with no hope of victory as long as Iran can conduct operations against the US with impunity.  Something will have to give.

The document release only leaves a couple of workable options for the Obama administration.  Either it pulls out completely and turns it over to the Taliban.   Or it widens the war to eliminate the Iranian threat.

The one option that it has relied on so far – shrugging its collective shoulders and blaming it on the Bush administration – that one won’t fly anymore.   There is an old Persian proverb that lays out the problem for both Obama and Ahmadinejad.

He who knows he who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool, shun him;
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child, teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep, wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise, follow him

Iran knows that we know that Obama knows.  The only question remaining — from Iran’s perspective — is whether Obama is a fool, a child, asleep or wise. The curtain is drawn back.  We can’t unring the bell. 

And neither can Iran.

The Cross and The Sickle

The Cross and The Sickle
Vol: 106 Issue: 27 Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The People’s Republic of China was formally established in 1949 as an officially atheist state. Under Chairman Mao, houses of worship were converted for secular use. 

Over the past thirty years, China, although still officially atheist, has relaxed its opposition to organized religion.  Since Party membership is a necessity if one wants to advance in Chinese society, many religious Chinese hide their religious affiliations, so hard numbers are difficult to come by.  

So no one knows exactly how many Christians there are among China’s population of 1.3 billion. But there are a lot more Christians in China than most of us ever dreamed there were.

The last 30 years of economic reform have seen an explosion of religious belief inside China. China’s government officially recognizes five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and Daoism.

The biggest boom of all has been in Christianity, which the government has struggled to control, according to a NPR report, by establishing government-sanctioned churches.

The official church is part of what’s called the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the state-sanctioned Protestant organization.

Three-Self refers to the strategy launched in the 1950s of removing foreign influences from Chinese churches — self-governance, self-support, self-propagation.

There are an estimated 21 million members of the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic movement, but nobody knows how many Protestants worship in unregistered house churches.  Some recent surveys have calculated there could be as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants.

That would mean that China has more Christians than Communist Party members, which now number 75 million.

The city of Wenzhou, home to more than 1,000 Christian churches has been nicknamed, “China’s Jerusalem.”  Unsurprisingly, the most Christian city in China is also the richest.  In Wenzhou private enterprise is booming and the wealthiest man in town is a born-again Christian named Zheng Shengtao.

Shengtao was arrested in 1983 on charges of speculation and profiteering when he started his first capitalist venture, delivering goods on a bicycle.  Shengtao told his story to NPR;

“I stayed in prison for 69 days,” Zheng says. “There was a charge of speculation and profiteering. I hadn’t thought about Jesus much before. But I started to think about Him all day long. It wasn’t that I believed in Him. I just prayed He would get me out as soon as possible.”

Soon after his release from prison, Zheng turned his life over to Christ.   After China relaxed its rules prohibiting private enterprise, Zheng Shengtao became one of the richest men in China.  He is ranked by Forbes as the 395th richest man in China  — with assets totalling over $400 million. 

He grew his wealth through a consortium he founded and named, “the Shenli Group” — which translates literally as “God’s Power”. 

As noted earlier there are now five officially recognized state religions in China.  And all Christian churches must be licensed and approved by the state.    But there is a growing ‘unofficial church’ movement of believers who choose to follow the Bible and not the government, according to the NPR report.

I found the following paragraphs to be especially interesting . . .

“Although leaders of some larger unofficial churches have been harassed and persecuted, the authorities largely turn a blind eye, unwilling — or perhaps unable — to deal with this explosion of faith. Now, there is public discussion about whether these gatherings should be legitimized. Recently the state-run media has been running pieces featuring these “house churches,” raising expectations they may be recognized.”

China’s Christians are pushing back the boundaries, and the authorities don’t seem to know how to respond.

Assessment:

It is easy here in the West, with Biblical Christianity under attack, the Bible outlawed in public places, Christian doctrine being labeled ‘hate speech’ etc., to think that the Church is dying off in the face of increasingly militant secularism to the point that if the Lord doesn’t return for it  soon, there won’t be anyone left to Rapture.

We look around at the conditions of the Church and what we see is what Paul foretold as the social and moral conditions of the last days’ Church.

We see perilous times on all fronts.  We live in exactly the society Paul described. 

Lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God who have a form of godliness while denying it has any real power. . .

That describes the worldview of the elected officials that pass our laws and that of the mainstream media that informs the public worldview, so it isn’t that surprising to see it reflected by the decline of Western Christianity.

The Scriptures offer a pretty bleak assessment of the Laodicean Church Age.  The Lord rebuked it as neither hot nor cold, but disgustingly lukewarm, rich, seemingly in need of nothing, unaware that we are spiritually poor, blind, miserable and naked.  

But as the light dims on this side of the world, it is growing brighter on the other.   All the secular futurists predict America will soon be eclipsed as the world’s leading economic power by China. 

I’ve often wondered what Jesus meant when He told the Laodiceans, “Because thou art lukewarm, I will spue you out of My mouth.”  Since He is addressing an entire Church epoch, it can’t refer to condemning those He paid so much to save. 

But He is clearly addressing a society richly blessed with material goods that the Lord says has blinded them to their true spiritual condition. 

It is increasingly obvious, to me at least, that the Lord’s Hand of blessing is being abruptly withdrawn from the West as nations compete to see who can demonstrate the least Christian character.  

Suddenly, the reference to being spued from His mouth doesn’t seem that obscure. . .

As the White House continues to deny America’s Christian heritage, America is learning what it is like to live out from under the Lord’s umbrella of blessing.    

The further America distances itself from Israel, the more catastrophes we find ourselves having to deal with.  

The secular world is fond of describing China’s rising economic status as “China’s economic miracle” – an ironic choice of words given that secularists don’t believe in miracles. 

At the same time, China’s economy is booming, its standard of living is on the rise, and from the perspective of some 100 million Chinese Christians, the blessings are falling like rain.  

I don’t believe in coincidences.   But I do believe in object lessons.  

The Forgotten People

The Forgotten People
Vol: 106 Issue: 26 Monday, July 26, 2010

It is doubtful that there is anybody on earth who has not heard the sad tale of the Palestinian people.  Heartbreaking, really.  Offered statehood in 1947 by the UN Partition Plan, they rejected it out-of-hand because the plan also provided for a Jewish state.

The Palestinians didn’t want a state beside Israel — they wanted a state instead of Israel.   Israel turned Gaza over to them in 2005. They didn’t use their freedom from Israeli control to build a homeland. They used it to build a terrorist base fom which to attack Israel.

Despite their refusal to consider peace, their rejection of any offer that doesn’t include Israel’s destruction, their policy of murdering anyone who doesn’t share their vision, the world celebrates their culture of death even as it condemns Israel’s culture of life.

Whenever the international community is forced to take a position concerning the Palestinian terrorists that now control the territory surrounding Israel, the international community’s position is static.

Whatever the event, whether it be Hamas rocketeers shelling Israeli villages or Palestinian schoolboys strapped with bombs sent to kill Israeli civilians, the world community holds Israel responsible for the violence.  

In today’s Jerusalem Post is a story about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for direct talks with the Palestinian side.  Elsewhere in the same paper, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas was quoted saying “The entire world is asking for us to go for direct negotiations.”

So if the Israelis are ready for direct talks and the Palestinians are for direct talks and “the whole world” is for direct talks, then why aren’t they talking directly?   They are waiting for permission from the Arab League.   Quoting the JPost,

“The Arab League meeting is expected to rule on whether or not the Palestinians should hold direct talks with Israel.”

So it is obvious to anybody that this isn’t between Israel and the Palestinians — it is between Israel and the Arab League.  

Any interaction between Israel and the Palestinians themselves is just for show.

Assessment:

When Palestinian terrorists attack Israel, the world immediately and unquestioningly focuses its attention on the plight of the Palestinian Arabs under Israeli ‘occupation’ and its demand that Israel lift its ‘occupation’ in spite of the fact that there is no ‘occupation’.

Turkey, Syria and Iran have led the global protests against Israel’s embargo of the Gaza Strip,claiming that the Israelis are depriving the residents of Gaza of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies.  In reality, the Israelis have embargoed weapons and dual-use material that can be used as weapons.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Saddam claimed he was simply reclaiming what he called “Province 19” arguing that the British carved Kuwait out of Mesopotamia at the San Remo Conference in 1920.  

It is important to remember that Iraq was both ‘Mesopotamia’ and ‘Palestine’ until the British created the modern state Iraq, carving it out of a number of different Arab ‘provinces’ – there were no countries, just provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

The British completely forgot to draw borders for Kurdistan. Kurdistan is ancient Nineveh of the Book of Jonah. It occupies the bulk of the land mass with the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, the Caspian Sea to the east and the Arabian Sea to the south.

The Kurds (not the Palestinians) are the fourth largest ethnicity in the Middle East.   According to the CIA Factbook,  Kurds make up 20% of the Turkish population.   (In Israel, Palestinians make up 20% of the Israeli population).

Kurdistan is ancient Nineveh, who repented after Jonah’s preaching and were spared by God from judgment.  The ancient Ninevites eventually merged with the Gutti tribe, forming the Medes, who, together with the Persians, made up the Medo-Perisan Empire that replaced the Babylonian Empire.

That is how old the Kurdish people are as an ethnic nation. The Kurds can trace their ancestry back to the dawn of civilization. They played a major role in shaping the dawn of human civilization.

There is no exact figure to the Kurdish population because each state has tended to downplay the number of Kurds within its own borders. Nevertheless, according to various estimates, the Kurdish population is estimated to range between 25 to 30 million.

Out of an estimated six thousand different human languages, Kurdish ranks 40th in importance.  The capital of Turkey is home to the world’s largest Kurdish population.

Several large scale Kurdish revolts in 1925, 1930 and 1938 were suppressed by the Turkish government and more than one million Kurds were forcibly relocated between 1925 and 1938. The use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law until 1946.

 The Ararat revolt, which reached its apex in 1930, was only suppressed after a massive military campaign including destruction of many villages and their populations. In quelling the revolt, Turkey was assisted by the close cooperation of its neighboring states such as Soviet Union, Iran and Iraq, which also exist on large portions of historical Kurdistan.

In 1993 and 1994 roving bands of officially-sanctioned Turkish “death squads” were tasked with ‘disappearing’ some 3,200 Turkish Kurds in what became known as the “mystery killings.”

Leyla Zana was the first Kurdish MP to be elected to the Turkish Parliament.   During her swearing-in ceremony, she added the following sentence to her oath of office in 1994.

“I take this oath for the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples.”

In 1995, Zana’s parliamentary immunity was lifted so she could be sentenced to fifteen years in jail but was released in 2004 after the EU warned that jailing elected members of Parliament might damage the Turkish effort to join the EU.

Kurdish politicians, human-rights activists, journalists, teachers and other members of intelligentsia were among the victims.  None of the perpetrators were investigated or punished.  

The Kurds are the largest minorities in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Armenia and Afghanistan.  They have been persecuted and murdered wholesale since the sixth century.   Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, the Allies created the country of Kurdistan, along with Armenia.  

When Kemal Attaturk ordered his forces to wipe out the Kurds and Armenians, the Allies renegotiated the Treaty of Lausanne making Kurdistan part of Turkey.

It would appear that God isn’t done with the Ninevites either.   Back in 2007, we noted that Nancy Pelosi pushed Turkey to the brink of war by insisting that Congress declare the Turkish massacre of millions of Armenian Kurds in 1915 to be a‘genocide’.

We noted that this constituted a violation of the Law of Unintended Consequences which pushed the Turks over the brink, driving Turkey into the waiting arms of its fellow “occupiers” of Kurdistan in Russia and Iran. 

The West’s alliance with the Turks is precarious because it is politically unnatural for either side to sustain. The biggest threat to the Turkish regime comes from Kurdish separatists within Turkey collaborating with those in Iran and Iran. 

Turkey’s natural allies would be Iran and an independent Iraq, whose regimes are similarly threatened by their own Kurdish separatist movements.

The problem is, America’s natural allies in the region are the Kurds in both Iraq and Iran. At the same time, because of our alliance with the Turks, we are forced to be on both sides at once.

 Last month, the Turkish military bombed targets in Northern Iraq in retaliation for a PPK (Kurdish Separatist Party) attack on a Turkish military base.   Note two things. 

First, the PPK didn’t attack Turkish civilian targets, schools and markets — they attacked a Turkish military target.   Secondly, the Turks launched a military attack against targets inside another country, to wit: Iraq.

Where is the outrage?  Where are the flotillas aimed at helping the Kurds regain their ancestral homeland, stolen from them by the British and given to Turks, the Iranians and the Iraqis, the way the British ‘stole’ the Palestinian ‘ancestral homeland’ and ‘gave’ it to the Jews?

The outrage is reserved for Israel.  It is like a mirror-image of reality.  But nobody seems to notice.  Nobody seems to care.   It’s not natural. Which leaves only one alternative explanation.

It’s supernatural. 

Another History Rhyme

Another History Rhyme
Vol: 106 Issue: 24 Saturday, July 24, 2010

In our discussion of NYTimes’ columnist Walter Lippmann’s role as the father of modern propaganda, we noted that Lippmann’s work was in great demand following the First World War. 

In his youth, Lippmann was an ardent socialist who founded the Harvard Socialist Club.  

Later, he remade himself as a Progressive and became a supporter of Theodore Roosevelt and later Woodrow Wilson.  Lippmann later went on to become a Pulitzer-Prize winning NYTimes columnist whose dispatches from the 1920’s Soviet Union painted the socialist republic as a worker’s paradise. 

But in 1917 Lippmann was appointed an assistant to Secretary of War Newton Baker. Lippman worked with Woodrow Wilson and Colonel Edward Mandel House in drafting Wilson’s famous “Fourteen Points Peace Program” that led to the creation of the League of Nations.

(Wisely, the US Senate refused to ratify the League of Nations Treaty, saying it was an unconstitutional abrogation of US sovereignty so the US never joined the organization).

In 1919, Lippmann attended the Paris Peace Conference with Wilson, House, Paul Warburg, etc.  It was at the Paris Peace Conference that Warburg, first Governor of the Federal Reserve, hammered out the crippling war reparations to be imposed on the Germans.

Warburg’s brother Max, head of Germany’s wartime secret service, was at the Conference with the German delegation.   

Negotiation committees headed by the two brothers concluded that the transfers should be overseen by neutral Switzerland’s Bank of International Settlements – headed by a third Warburg brother, Fritz.

(Thanks to Walter Lippmann, the “world’s most respected journalist” the Warburg story never became more than an interesting historical footnote.)

Socialists world-wide became ardent students of Lippman and Bernays. Lippmann’s techniques were studied, cited and often quoted by leaders of the German National Socialist Party (NASDAP – Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – or Nazi).

Already one of the world’s most influential journalists by 1933, Lippmann was himself an early admirer of Hitler, writing in a review of one of Hitler’s speeches;

“We have heard once more, through the fog and the din, the hysteria and the animal passions of a great revolution, the authentic voice of a genuinely civilized people.”

Goebbels was particularly influenced by a book published in 1929 by Lippmann’s wartime partner, Edward Bernays, entitled “Propaganda.”  In it, Bernays explained the principle of “engineering consent” using the “invisible government” that is the “true ruling power of our country.”

Expanding on the techniques developed by Lippmann and Bernays,  by 1930 the Nazis had developed the basic institutional framework necessary so when Hitler seized power in 1933, it was simply a matter of pulling it all together under the umbrella of a government ministry under his control.

In an early 1933 address, Goebbels decreed that the government was “placing the radio in the service of our ideology,” and that “no other ideology will find expression here.”   Any broadcaster or newspaper journalist that didn’t parrot the Party Line was unemployed by mid 1933.

The Nazis employed three main policies aimed at gradually coordinating Nazi control over the German media.  Note that it was a gradual effort — much like the effort now ongoing here.  

First, the Party publishing house gradually acquired the bulk of the German media. The Nazis had already introduced their own form of ‘political correctness’ and then, as now, journalists who wanted to keep their jobs had to keep their editors happy, so self-censorship became a matter of economic necessity.

Some news organizations tried to prevent a completed Nazi takeover by voluntarily ridding themselves of “all politically obnoxious” members, replacing them with loyal Party members.  The Reich Association of the German Press (a sort of German ‘Journolist’ group) purged their own ranks as well.

Nazi Press Chief Otto Dietrich announced a “new standard of racial and political reliability” before passing the Nazi “Editor’s Law” in October 1933.

The law made all editors responsible for the “intellectual content” and “stance” of all texts in the publication. The word “public” is used repeatedly, referring to the “public professional duties of an editor,” the “public good,” and the “public” status that the Reich Association was granted by the law.

Furthermore, Goebbels was appointed President of the Association, so he had  control over who was admitted into it and who wasn’t.

With a law passed in September 1933, a Reich Chamber of the Press was created, along with Reich Chambers of literature, radio, theatre, music, and creative arts. Anyone who maintained a profession in any of these spheres of culture had to join these new organizations.

Think of it as a kind of journalist’s union under a kind of Nazi ‘card check’ law.  You can’t be a journalist without joining the union and you can’t join the union unless you agree to the rules.

Assessment:

Many philosophers have noted history’s pattern of repeating itself.  Mark Twain probably got it closer to right with his observation that “history doesn’t repeat itself — but it rhymes.”

One of the very first targets of the Obama administration’s ‘fundamental transformation’ was — and still is — what Obama’s FCC calls, “the reinvention of journalism.”  

In the FCC’s talking points memo, it concluded that nobody every made money publishing the news and argued that the federal government should subside “legitimate news organizations.”

“History in the United States shows that readers of the news have never paid anywhere close to the full cost of providing the news. Rather, journalism always has been subsidized to a large extent by, for example, the federal government, political parties, or advertising.”

Lippmann and Bernays might recognize this technique.  They called it “argumentium ad nauseum” — Hitler called it the “Big Lie.”  Hitler theorized that the more obvious the lie, the more likely the public is to buy into it on the premise nobody would dare to tell such an obvious lie — so it must be true.

“Readers of the news have never paid anywhere close to the full cost of providing the news”  so that justifies a government takeover?  

How many ‘publishing empires’ exist in the United States?   Why do we have so darned many ‘newspaper heiresses?’  (I’m a bit worried about how poor Rupert Murdoch will make ends meet.  Or Ted Turner)

Am I just a bit too paranoid? An article published last week in the American Thinker also looked at what the government has in mind as part of its campaign to control the media.

Discussions underway at the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission point toward a dangerous new effort to regulate what Americans read and hear. The takeover under discussion would apply across the board to print media, radio and television, and the internet. The result of proposed regulations would be nothing less than an end to free speech in America.

Under the proposed changes, government would have the right to impose taxes on selected media (including internet service providers and internet sites) and redistribute funds to traditional liberal news media. Government could impose a fairness doctrine on the internet as well as on radio — thus forcing conservative media to “balance” their programming by including liberal commentary. Government would also be granted a wide range of options for subsidizing liberal media, including perpetual grants of taxpayer money to left-leaning publications like the New York Times and to increase funding for “progressive” media such as National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. No wonder the Nation magazine has lavished praise on the FTC and FCC proposals: Based on its longstanding liberal bias, the Nation might qualify for a generous handout.

For years, there has been an unwritten rule among journalists about making comparisons to Adolf Hitler.  Called “Godwin’s Law” it was intended as a humorous jab.  Godwin’s Law states that, given enough time, all discussions eventually end up making comparisons to Hitler and the Nazis.

But what does it say about the situation when that is the only comparison that is relevant?  When it comes to the Obama administration, even the Atlantic Monthly piece had no choice but to defy Godwin’s Law to make its point about Obama’s obsession with the media.

“A crucial aspect of Hitler’s rise to power was control of the media. During the run-up to the March 5, 1933 elections — the last truly legitimate elections to be held until after the war — Goebbels employed every means of propaganda to ensure Hitler’s success. Mass meetings, prominently reported in the print media and dramatically broadcast on radio, were planned for maximum impact.”

America’s mainstream news organizations are already consolidated in the hands of just five mega-corporations.  We warned back in 2003 of the dangers associated with putting too much power into the hands of so few.

Viacom owns CBS, UPN, MTV, Nickelodeon, Showtime,Sundance Channel, VH-1, King World Productions, Infinity Broadcasting and Comedy Central. Viacom’s holdings also include Blockbuster Video, the world’s largest video rental chain, and Blockbuster Music; book publishing, including Simon & Schuster, Scribners and Macmillan; film, video and television production, including Paramount Pictures; a 50 percent interest in United Cinemas International, one of the world’s largest movie theater companies.

General Electric owns NBC, CNBC and MSNBC and GE’s CEO, Jeffery Immelt, is one of Obama’s closest advisors.

Obama has declared war on Fox News and in particular, on Glenn Beck. His obsession with Fox News was amply demonstrated when the administration fired Shirley Sherrod because she “was going to be on Glenn Beck at 5.” (She wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the administration from repeating the falsehood at every opportunity.)

And it also gave the administration and its propaganda corps a new chance to call for a “new standard of racial and political reliability” as part of the administration’s effort to “reinvent journalism” in America.

In April, a three-judge panel in Washington threw out the FCC’s attempt to impose “net neutrality” regulations on the internet, ruling the FCC does not have the power to do so. The FCC responded in a statement saying the decision did not “close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.”

In May, President Obama announced “technology threatens freedom” arguing before the graduating class of Hampton University that “too much information is a distraction”.    As he told the students;

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter.”

Can you imagine an American president saying out loud, let alone in public, that “being exposed to all kinds of arguments” threatens democracy?  Or that the government should be the ones in charge of the ‘truth meter’?    

I bet that some German thinker living in 1933 Germany probably asked himself that same question about his own newly-elected leadership. 

No doubt he told himself the same thing we’ve been telling ourselves, even as we witness the whole rhyming episode unfold.  “It can’t happen here.” 

He was wrong, too.   Yes. It can.