Archive for January 2016

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Open Book BH 2

The Open Book Blog Hop is talking to one another this week. We’re asking each other seven questions about ourselves. Join us.

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Posted January 31, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in #openbook

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Rock Solid Gospel   3 comments

I’m going to start where I told my arrogant and much loved challenger to start.

John 1. Let’s start by establishing that the Gospel according to John was written by the John who was Jesus’s best friend, who took care of Mary after Jesus’ death and who taught in Ephesus for many years before he was exiled by the Romans to a desolate island.

None of the Gospels authors are identified in the text of the Gospel, but we know certain things from history and from the clues within the manuscript. Historically, letters were written on scrolls that were wrapped in a covering and the author signed their name on that covering. There was generally no confusion within the early churches as to who wrote the gospels. Christians appear to have started immediately to call them the Gospel of John, Luke, etc. In other words, they had seen the covering, which was not preserved because it wasn’t needed. The gospels themselves were then copied for wider distribution as John’s Gospel or Luke’s Gospel.

Skeptics often criticize the Gospels as being legendary in nature rather than historical. They point to alleged contradictions between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They also maintain the Gospels were written centuries after the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses and then claim the late date of the writings allowed legends and exaggerations to proliferate.

The first challenge to account for the differences among the four Gospels. Each gospel is different in nature, content, and the facts they include or exclude. This is because each author wrote to a different audience and from his own unique perspective. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience to prove to them that Jesus is indeed their Messiah. That’s why Matthew includes many of the teachings of Christ and makes numerous references to Old Testament prophecies. Mark wrote to a Greek or Gentile audience to prove that Jesus is the Son of God. He makes his case by focusing on the events of Christ’s life and his gospel moves very quickly from one event to another, demonstrating Christ’s lordship over all creation. Scholars believe that he may have gotten his source material from Peter, with whom he traveled. Luke wrote to give an accurate historical account of Jesus’ life and there is textual evidence that he interviewed many of the people he highlighted in the text. John wrote after reflecting on his encounter with Christ for many years. With that insight, near the end of his life John sat down and wrote the most theological of all the Gospels.

We should expect some differences between four independent accounts. If they were identical, we should suspect collaboration among the writers. Because of their differences, the four Gospels actually give us a fuller and richer picture of Jesus.

Differences do not necessarily mean errors. Skeptics have made allegations of errors for centuries, yet the vast majority of charges have been answered. New Testament scholar, Dr. Craig Blomberg, writes, “Despite two centuries of skeptical onslaught, it is fair to say that all the alleged inconsistencies among the Gospels have received at least plausible resolutions.” (Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1987), page 10.)

You have to start with a presupposition of error to look at the textual evidence and find error.

Critics claim that the Gospels were written centuries after the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses. It is true that would allow for myths about Jesus’ life to proliferate. The historical facts make a strong case that they were written in the 1st century, by two eye witnesses and two journalists who knew eye witnesses.

Jesus’ ministry was from A.D. 27-30. Noted New Testament scholar, F.F. Bruce, gives strong evidence that the New Testament was completed by A.D. 100 ( F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 5th ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1983). Most writings of the New Testament works were completed twenty to forty years before this. Most of the letters predated the Gospels. Mark is believed to be the first gospel written around A.D. 60. Matthew and Luke followed between A.D. 60-70; John was written no later than AD 90 because scraps of a copy of the manuscript carbon date from AD 100.

The internal evidence supports these early dates. The first three Gospels prophesied the fall of the Jerusalem Temple which occurred in A.D. 70. However, the fulfillment is not mentioned. Why would Gospels that predict this major event not also record it happening. Why would Acts not record it? The most plausible explanation is that the fall of the Temple had not occurred by the time the New Testament writers were done writing.

In the book of Acts, the Temple plays a central role in the nation of Israel. Luke writes as if the Temple is an important part of Jewish life. He also ends Acts on a strange note: Paul living under house arrest. It is strange that Luke does not record the death of his two chief characters, Peter and Paul. The most plausible reason for this is that Luke finished writing Acts before Peter and Paul’s martyrdom in A.D. 64. A significant point to highlight is that the Gospel of Luke precedes Acts, further supporting the traditional dating of A.D. 60. Most scholars agree Mark precedes Luke, making Mark’s Gospel even earlier.

Finally, the majority of New Testament scholars believe that Paul’s epistles are written from A.D. 48-60. Paul’s outline of the life of Jesus matches that of the Gospels. 1 Corinthians is one of the least disputed books regarding its dating and Pauline authorship. In chapter 15, Paul summarizes the gospel and reinforces the premise that this is the same gospel preached by the apostles. Paul quotes from Luke’s Gospel in 1 Timothy 5:18, showing us that Luke’s Gospel was already completed in Paul’s lifetime. This would move up the time of the completion of Luke’s Gospel and make Mark and Matthew even earlier.

The internal evidence presents a strong case for the early dating of the Gospels, but external evidence also exists to support a 1st century date.

Contrary to popular misconception, New Testament scholars posses an enormous amount of ancient manuscript evidence. The documentary evidence for the New Testament far surpasses any other work of its time. There are over 5000 manuscripts, and many carbon date to within a few years of their authors’ lives.

  • Chester Beatty Papyri. It contains most of the N.T. writings, and is dated around A.D. 250.
  • The Bodmer Papyri contains most of John, and dates to A.D. 200.
  • Rylands Papyri that was found in Egypt that contains a fragment of John, and dates to A.D. 130. From this fragment we can conclude that John was completed well before A.D. 130 because, not only did the gospel have to be written, it had to be hand copied and make its way down from Greece to Egypt. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, we can affirm its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance.

A final piece of evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in A.D. 50. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after A.D. 50. (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2002), page 530).

The writings of the church fathers, who lived in the 2nd century, also gives us a line of evidence.

  • Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in A.D. 95. in which he quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the New Testament.
  • Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in A.D. 115, quoting all the Gospels and some of the New Testamentletters.
  • Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in A.D. 120 and quoted from the Gospels and New Testament letters.
  • Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) quotes John 3.

Clearly church fathers of the early 2nd century were familiar with the apostles’ writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture.

Early dating is important for two reasons. The closer a historical record is to the date of the event, the more likely the record is accurate. Early dating allows for eyewitnesses to still be alive when the Gospels were circulating to attest to their accuracy. The apostles often appeal to the witness of the hostile crowd, pointing to their knowledge of the facts (Acts 2:22, 26:26). They were asking for accountability, as if positive that the time was too short for legends to develop. Historians agree it takes about two generations, or eighty years, for legendary accounts to establish themselves.

From the evidence, we can conclude the Gospels were indeed written by the authors they are attributed to.

Despite this early dating, there is a time gap of several years between the ascension of Jesus and the writing of the Gospels. There is a period during which the gospel accounts were committed to memory by the disciples and transmitted orally. The question we must answer is, Was the oral tradition memorized and passed on accurately? Skeptics assert that memory and oral tradition cannot accurately preserve accounts from person to person for many years.

In oral cultures where memory has been trained for generations, oral memory can accurately preserve and pass on large amounts of information. I know a Mennonite who can quote the entire book of Isaiah and another who can do the same with Jeremiah. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 reveals to us how important oral instruction and memory of divine teaching was stressed in Jewish culture. It is a well-known fact that the rabbis had the Old Testament and much of the oral law committed to memory. The Jews placed a high value on memorizing whatever writing reflected inspired Scripture and the wisdom of God. A friend who is a professor of Greek had the Gospels memorized in their entirety. In a culture where oral memorization was practiced, memorization skills were far advanced compared to ours today.

Rainer Reisner presents six key reasons why oral tradition accurately preserved Jesus’ teachings.  (Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, pages 27-28). First, Jesus used the Old Testament prophets’ practice of proclaiming the word of God which demanded accurate preservation of inspired teaching. Second, Jesus’ presentations of Himself as Messiah would reinforce among His followers the need to preserve His words accurately. Third, ninety percent of Jesus’ teachings and sayings use mnemonic methods similar to those used in Hebrew poetry. Fourth, Jesus trained His disciples to teach His lessons even while He was on earth. Fifth, Jewish boys were educated until they were twelve, so the disciples likely knew how to read and write. Finally, just as Jewish and Greek teachers gathered disciples, Jesus gathered and trained His to carry on after His death.

When you study the teachings of Jesus, you realize that His teachings and illustrations are easy to memorize. People throughout the world recognize immediately the story of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Lord’s Prayer.

We also know that the church preserved the teachings of Christ in the form of hymns which were likewise easy to memorize. Paul’s summary of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 is a good example of this.

We can have confidence then that the oral tradition accurately preserved the teachings and the events of Jesus’ life till they were written down just a few years later.

If you’ve ever spoken to a Mormon or a Muslim, you probably have come to a point in the discussion where it is clear the Bible contradicts their position. Almost always, they will claim, as many skeptics do, that the Bible has not been accurately transmitted and has been corrupted by the church. After all, it was in the hands of the Catholic Church for a long time.

Previously, we showed that the Gospels were written in the first century, within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. These eyewitnesses, both friendly and hostile, scrutinized the accounts for accuracy. There’s strong evidence the original writings were accurate. However, we do not have the original manuscripts. What we have are copies of copies of copies. How do we know the message was tampered with?

The answer is kind of obvious. I am not trying to talk down to anyone who doesn’t get this point right away, but it is pretty obviousl. We have 5000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. When you include the quotes from the church fathers, manuscripts from other early translations like the Latin Vulgate, the Ethiopic text, and others, the total comes out to over 24,000 ancient texts. With so many ancient texts, significant alterations should be easy to spot. However, those who accuse the New Testament of being corrupted have not produced much evidence for their claim. It should be easy to do with so many available manuscripts available, but the large number of manuscripts actually confirm the accurate preservation and transmission of the New Testament writings.

Although we can be confident in an accurate copy, we do have textual discrepancies. There are some passages with variant readings that we are not sure of. However, the differences are minor and do not affect any major theological doctrine. Most have to do with sentence structure, vocabulary, and grammar. These in no way affect any major doctrine.

Here is one example. Mark 16:9-20 is debated as to whether it was part of the original writings. Although I personally do not believe this passage was part of the original text, its inclusion does not affect any major teaching of Christianity. It states that Christ was resurrected, appeared to the disciples, and commissioned them to preach the gospel. This is taught elsewhere.

The other discrepancies are similar in nature. Greek scholars agree we have a copy that is 99% accurate to the original. Both the authenticity and general integrity of the books of the New Testament are well established.

The Gospels were written by eyewitnesses to the events of the life of Christ. Early dating shows eyewitnesses were alive when Gospels were circulating and could attest to their accuracy. Apostles often appeal to the witness of the hostile crowd, pointing out their knowledge of the facts as well (Acts 2:22, Acts 26:26). Therefore, if there were any exaggerations or stories being told about Christ that were not true, the eyewitnesses could have easily discredited the apostles’ accounts when they began preaching in Israel in the very cities and during the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses. The Jews were careful to record accurate historical accounts. Many enemies of the early church were looking for ways to discredit the apostles’ teaching. If what the apostles were saying was not true, the enemies would have cried foul, and the Gospels would not have earned much credibility.

Yes, the skeptics remain unconvinced, but I suspect that if Jesus Himself appeared before them and showed them the nail prints in His hands, they would find a way to remain skeptics.
Some people just don’t want to know the truth because it doesn’t fit their presuppositions.

Challenging My Presuppositions   Leave a comment

Ever have one of those nights when someone you care a great deal about challenges your spiritual presuppositions?

Yeah. So this person accused me of not knowing what the Bible says and not actually believing God. She’s one of those who believes that the voice of her own self-will is far more wise than the words of the Bible. The only words of the Bible she accepts are the ones Jesus said. There’s nothing right in the Old Testament and mostly nothing right in the New Testament. It’s all just mean old men writing things she disagrees with.

Since I care about this person a lot, I’m still trying to stop crying. I love her so much and she has hurt me so deeply, but more …

I am grieving because there are a handful of people that I really want to spend eternity with and I thought she would be one of them.

And maybe she’s just an arrogant young lady who will change her mind as she mellows and reacquaint herself with the Holy Spirit some time down the road. Her Christian walk does not have to look like my walk, but — DAMN IT! — it has to look like God’s definition of Christianity. She has accepted syncretism as the pathway to God and that leads out into a muskeg from which it is incredibly hard to escape.

When my presuppositions are challenged, I go to the Source. And, because I have this blog, I get to share my mental meanderings with those willing to read them.

Just a head’s up — I’m still sort of on the “in the world, not of it” line, but I’m about to launch out into a Bible study or two. Maybe while I’m at it, I’ll talk about how that applies to today.

Posted January 30, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Issues Voting   Leave a comment

I don’t think progressives are evil. I believe they mean well, but I also think they are foolish, possibly misinformed, and apt to vote emotionally rather than rationally. I don’t think they fully think through the inevitable results of their policies and when those results become visible, they refuse to admit that they were wrong.

This is a fault of progressives in both parties. A corporate crony Republican is no more likely to admit that corporations are raping the country and overwhelming the rest of the economy than a liberal Democrat likely to admit that you can’t give everyone everything for free without driving the “rich” to leave the country, leaving the middle class to foot the bill, which will eventually lead to economic ruin.

Neither stance is healthy for a nation. To the extent that I still believe that the United States can be saved — if it is even worth being saved — I will vote in the 2016 Presidential elections. I don’t expect my vote to make a difference and, for the most part, I don’t care.

In the posts linked below, I’ve analyzed many of the candidates in the race and considered why I would vote for them or not.

Hillary Clinton is disqualified in my analysis because she wants to be queen. She thinks her relationship with former-President Bill Clinton entitles her to the Oval office now. What she is attempting to do is what our founders got rid of in the 1770s. We should learn from them. But then there’s her actions while as Secretary of State. Benghazi appears to have been a black flag operation that got away from the State Department. Of greater concern was her disregard for the email security measures that were standard at the State Department. Her private server was hacked. We ordinarily hold lesser members of the government responsible for that sort of breech of security. It shows us exactly what sort of monarch she would be. Ultimately, though, she could have great policies that I fully agree with and I would reject her because of the nepotism. We do not need dynastic rule in the US.

Jeb Bush is also disqualified in my analysis because he wants to be king. He thinks his relationship with former-Presidents Bush 1 & 2 entitles him to the Oval office now. What he is attempting to do is what our founders got rid of in the 1770s. We should learn from them. Moreover, though I didn’t deal with it, he’s a progressive business-class elite who is way too cozy with corporations. Ultimately, though, he could have great policies that I fully agree with and I would reject him because of the nepotism. We do not need dynastic rule in the US.

Bernie Sanders is a socialist who believes we can give everyone everything for free, soak the rich to pay for it, and life will be wonderful. That theory has been disproven by history on multiple occasions. He’s anti-corporations, which is commendable, but there are other candidates in the race who meet that standard and could pass a classical economics exam, which Sanders cannot. Just because he would allow people to vote to take away the civil rights and economic freedoms of the totality of society does not mean he isn’t a tyrant.

I then looked at the current field of the GOP. Trump is a misogynist egotist who thinks the Presidency is a popularity contest. I suspect he’s working for the Democrats. I did not seriously consider his policies because I cannot seriously consider the man. His support of single-payer health insurance puts him with Sanders in the loony-socialists-who-cannot-pass-an-economics-exam camp. He’s more of a fascist socialist, but they basically end up in the same place — a loss of freedom for the people in order to fulfill a government agenda.

I went through some of the GOP candidates and showed where I agreed with them and where I didn’t and why I might vote for them or might not. Some got higher marks than others, but ultimately, I rejected most of them on foreign policy aggression. I’m not dove. I believe in a strong defense and in a strong counter-strike capability, but I believe we should be pulling back our military empire to focus on protecting our own country. Yeah, that’s sort of isolationism … if one were to define isolationism by today’s insane standards. Ten years ago, I thought bases around the world were necessary for our defense. I have since thought on the subject and studied it and I have adjusted my thinking. We should have diplomatic relationships with all countries, be a porcupine defensively and not much more. We can’t afford it anymore and it ultimately makes Americans less safe worldwide and at home. I looked at Carly Fiorino, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz — I found things to like about all of them and ultimately said I probably wouldn’t vote for any of them.

I’m voting for Rand Paul in the primary because I mostly agree with him on the issues. No, he’s not sexy or flashy, but he’s for liberty, entitlement reform, a reduction in taxes and a pulling back of some of our foreign empire. He probably won’t win the nomination, and I’m okay with that.

So, in November, that means I have a choice — vote for whomever the GOP nominee is, vote for whomever the Democratic nominee is, or vote for someone else. I’m not a Libertarian. I hold libertarian (small “l” deliberate) principles. But I will likely be voting for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in November. I have issues with his platform, but I have issues with almost every candidate.

The very fact that a super-voter (I have voted in every election since I was 18 years old) is going to vote for someone most of the nation’s voters have never heard of should be a red flag for folks.

The ballot box has failed. I will continue to exercise the soap box and the jury box (as I have opportunity), but I suspect those will fail as well until after the progressives have tried to exercise the bullet box and forced a confrontation. Then I hope people will turn to my efforts on the soap box to find some guidance as to how to fix the mess they’ve made.

  3 comments

Gary Johnson may well be my general election presidential vote for 2016 since I don’t really expect the GOP to nominate Rand Paul as their candidate even if he were to perform strongly in the primaries.

As with every candidate I’ve examined, I don’t wholly agree with him and that’s okay. His abortion stance is similar to the stance I held before I had children — that abortion is acceptable until viability and that nobody should be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion, even if it is through taxation. I now consider convenience abortions at all stages to be murder. But I’ve said, I don’t choose a candidate on a single issue and the fact that he wouldn’t force me to pay for someone else’s abortion is acceptable to me.

I agree with him that the government should keep its hands off the economy. I agree with him on cutting entitlements and defense. He supports gay marriage, which I strongly oppose, but he wants government out of marriage entirely, which I can accept.

I oppose corporations having crony relationships with government, but I believe we need to lower, eliminate the corporate income tax in order to create real jobs. Cut government spending so taxes can be lowered on everyone and the economy will recover and pay down the debt without government assistance. We were almost debt free as a nation in 2000 using a compromised version of this ideal.

We are in philosophical agreement on crime and the legalization of marijuana, though we disagree on some details.

We agree that education is best if it is at the state or local level and that the federal government ought to get out of it altogether.

We largely agree on energy issues. He would turn environmental issues over to the states. YES! That was what the authorizing act of the EPA says should be done, by the way.

We agree on foreign policy. The US can no longer afford to shell out billions that are not in US interests.

He would eliminate tariffs and trade restrictions, but also eliminate corporatism. He would let businesses make their own decisions. He is strong on government reform, term limits, and states’ rights. He is actually find with unlimited corporate campaign donations, but with full disclosure. I need to think about that, but it’s not a deal breaker. We agree that gun control is completely ineffective at saving lives and unconstitutional.

Government-managed healthcare is insanity and ACA is unconstitutional!

He would end spying on US citizens, questions our troop investment in Europe, and abolish the TSA. Yay!

He’s an open borders guy and I will struggle with that because I think people have a right not to be invaded.

He’s right that governments do not create jobs, businesses do. We largely agree on entitlement reform, though I would only means test if those who are considered above means have their actual investment returned to them.

I’m not sure how I feel about a 23% national sales tax to eliminate the IRS and income tax. More thought would be required on my party.

I mostly agree with him on military issues and his opposition to nation building resonates with me.

So I might vote for him in November … or it is possible I’ll just write in Rand Paul.

 

Principles in Voting   3 comments

I was raised in a politically divided home. Dad was a old-style Democrat union member who would be shocked at how far left the Democratic Party has drifted (and would probably vote Republican these days) and Mom was a nonpartisan conservative feminist who would wonder why modern conservatives keep voting with the Republican Party when it is clearly not a conservative political party. She’d be voting Libertarian now, but probably still not be a party member.

They thought it was healthy to discuss politics with us growing up and we were expected to study the issues from both perspectives and form opinions. They liked it when we argued with them. I have never been a member of a political party. Alaska allows me to register as a nonpartisan, so that has been my party affiliation since my 18th birthday. I took a test in a political science course my freshman year of college that said I was a moderate. I found that a while ago tucked inside an old textbook. I was for abortion, women’s rights, free speech, freedom of religion, private enterprise, and civil rights, but also for welfare and “progressive” taxation. I was skeptical of environmental regulations and strongly opposed to Carter’s D2 land grab in Alaska. The test tried to illicit a rejection of the 2nd amendment, but I checked that I supported the 2nd amendment and my comment was “stop messing with the constitution”. I also said I was voting for Carter, which I did in 1980, because – my comment again — “Reagan is an actor, not qualified”.
Something remarkable happened as I looked over that test. I decided to answer the questions as if seeing it for the first time in 2015. Remarkably, I found I didn’t answer most of the questions any differently … except for abortion and voting for Carter, I’ve only changed my position on welfare and “progressive” taxation. I understand better now what free speech and freedom of religion means, my view on women’s rights and civil rights have evolved with changes in our society. By the matrix of that particular test, by the way, I’m still considered a moderate.

If I’m honest with myself, I allowed my classmates and professors to influence my vote on the 1980 Presidential election. If I’d actually studied the issues (we didn’t have the Internet in those days, so it was harder), I would have probably not have dismissed Reagan out of hand. Twenty-year-olds are really not that bright, but they are (as I was then) completely convinced they got it going on.

Cartoon of the Liberal BrainI’m definitely not a moderate by today’s standards. I’m a conservative libertarian with anarchist leanings. But I haven’t changed that much. I’ve evolved as life as taught me lessons. Welfare reform worked and people didn’t die. I now know small business people and others who make a good living and I see that taxation is always regressive because it takes from the productive to give jobs to government employees and programs to people who are less productive (or non-productive) whose lives would be so much better if they went out and got a job. I’ve come to understand that government cannot protect our civil rights, it can only choose who gets to exercise them this decade. Rights are inherent in us, so we don’t need government to tell us what they are. I knew that instinctively as a 19-year-old. Now I’ve thought it out and can articulate my reasoning.

Cartoon of the Conservative BrainSo, if I didn’t change (much), why am I no longer a moderate? Could it be that the political parties have changed? The Democratic Party has moved WAY leftward. If a Democratic professor today were to administer that test, the matrix would be different and I wouldn’t/couldn’t be a moderate. If a Republican professor were to administer that test today … who am I kidding — there may be a Republic professor in the School of Engineering, but not in the Political Science Department. You can compare Carter’s platform to Hillary’s and Bernie’s for yourself and you’ll see the only Democrat in the race who could have run as Democrat in 1980 is Malcolm O’Malley — and he probably would have won. Reagan won in 1980 and I voted for his reelection in 1984, but since then, the GOP has pretty consistently given us pro-corporation progressives as presidential nominees. With the exception of the Freedom Caucus, the GOP hasn’t really changed that much from before Reagan and that is fine for them — they represent business interests who are not necessarily interested in lower taxes on citizens or personal liberty. Like a lot of conservatives, I’ve woken up to the fact that the GOP is not representative of my values. I’ve perhaps come early to the decision I’m done voting for people who do not reflect my values, but I don’t think I’m alone. If there are any presidential elections after 2016, I think you’ll see more conservatives bailing from the GOP. If that means a progressive like Clinton or, worse, a socialist like Sanders wins, I’m accepting that as the price of having principles.

Chart of liberal and conservative beliefsUltimately, the idea that you can give everyone everything for free by taxing the rich will destroy the economy. When I say destroy, I don’t mean the Recession of 2008 or even the Depression of the 1930s. I mean — destroy. We’re $19 trillion in debt, $10 trillion of that to other countries, some of whom with the power to demand repayment. Worse, the other $9 trillion is in government securities — i.e., people’s retirement accounts. We cannot afford to make a mistake going forward and “free for everyone and rape the rich” is a huge mistake. But unlike a lot of conservatives, I’m not so afraid of that anymore. The destruction of the American economy will result in regime change and that is an opportunity for us to go back to our founding principles … or devolve into a fascist dictatorship, which should soften people up to embrace liberty when they get the opportunity.

This series will have one final post which will be the hub of the whole thing. I’m doing it last as an experiment.

Vote for the GOP Libertarian   1 comment

Rand Paul is a curious guy. He has espoused some very libertarian ideas, but he has also compromised those ideals to get along in the Republican Party, which in the minds of many libertarians, disqualifies him for their vote. I like his dad’s philosophies, but didn’t vote for him for President.

So I’m a libertarian (small l intended). Does Rand match up with my principles?

He would fund community health centers instead of Planned Parenthood (not a very libertarian concept, but better than PP). He is right that we have coarsened our culture with 50 million murdered unborn babies.

He wants to audit the Fed and provide actual oversight of it. Gotta love that idea! The government should audit the national bank on a regular basis and the Fed has never been audited in its almost 100-year existence. More, he wants to audit all of the federal agencies, another thing that has never been done in whole.

“America needs Adam Smith, not Robin Hood.” He would reduce spending on both domestic and military programs. He filibustered raising the debt limit and wants to roll back federal spending to 2008 levels. That’s a start and a refreshing change from the idea of just slowing future spending growth down.

His stand on civil rights is refreshing. He doesn’t believe the government should be involved in your rights. Stay out of marriage … women are no longer downtrodden — let states decide … make government truly color-blind. Yes! Finally, someone who actually believes in getting rid of special interest groups.

He views corporations as welfare cheats and wants both the individual and the corporate cheats removed from the system. He was insulted by Obama’s “You didn’t build that” speech.

He is a vociferous advocate of equal rights under the law — seal non-violence criminal records from employers, defend trial by jury, get rid of laws that cannot show criminal intent, stop locking up so many people. YES!

He would apply the 10th amendment to many issues, including education. Devolve to the states, reduce the power of the Federal government. Return to a more federalist governmental system, more in keeping with the Constitution.

He is a strong civil rights advocate and a defender of the Constitution.

He is almost as much of a dove as Bernie Sanders. He believes in a strong defense at home, but thinks other countries don’t really need our help.

He is very free market and does not feel that environmental regulations do what they claim they do.

He wants to see a return to the checks-and-balances of the Constitution. He opposes Presidential executive orders. He doesn’t think the government needs to regulate us on everything. “Liberty thrives when government is small.” He wants to end the career politician profession with term limits, which would infuse Congress with new ideas and make it much more difficult to continue a Beltway elite. He supports early voting, but also believes voters ought to show ID. He encourages conservatives to criticize the GOP when they grow government. He wants to link every new congressional bill with the Constitution and those that cannot justify their existence from the Constitution would be automatically eliminated.

He’s strong on gun rights, but he recognizes something that the other candidates don’t appear to — the 2nd amendment is only as good as the 4th amendment. If your privacy isn’t protected, confiscation of guns is an extremely simple matter. He would end the surveillance of American citizens.

He opposes the ACA and, as a doctor (you knew that, right?), he actually knows what he’s talking about. This is not a political issue for him as it is for, say, Hillary. He actually recognizes the impacts. He sees the ACA as a wrong-headed response to a health care system that was already messed up because of over-regulation. It limits our medical care and medical insurance choices. I agree with him that the Supreme Court has signed off on unconstitutional laws before (Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, Social Security) and it signed off on the ACA despite its clear violation of the Constitution.

Some people view him as weak on Homeland Security, but I think he’s just thought it through. Iran is no different than the Soviet Union during the Cold War, so why do we act like they’re the Big Bad and we need to threaten their sovereignty every few months? He believes in talking with them rather than bombing them. On the other hand, he opposed Obama’s treaty with them because of the lack of transparency. He sees what a lot of people suspect — the US has been funding allies of ISIS. National defense should be unemcumbered by nation building. We have over-militarized our foreign policy and that is harming us both abroad and at home. The US military should be second to none, which is why he wants to audit the Pentagon. National defense is important, but that doesn’t mean the military should get a blank check. His view on corporation extends to military contractors. He filibustered against drone strikes on Americans accused of terrorism.

So then we come to immigration. I didn’t vote for his father because Ron is a pretty open borders kind of guy and I find that incapable with the idea of private property. If I have a right to control access to my property for my personal benefit, to my mind, the community also has a right to control its borders for the benefit of the people who have contributed to that society.

Rand is much more of a realist on the immigration issue. He wants a Supreme Court case on birthright citizenship — there has never been one. He would secure the border with Mexico and do away with sanctuary cities. He wants legal status for illegal immigrants after we secure the border. He would replace pathway to citizenship with work visas. He does not favor amnesty because he feels it engenders a disrespect for all other laws.

His views on entitlement programs are largely my own. They mostly were never constitutional, but even if they were, they are unsustainable under current configuration. Private retirement works and there’s actual money in those accounts instead of the promise of funds like Social Security.

I agree with him on the flat tax and disagree with him on VAT tax. He would apply free market principles to the US economy and let people figure out how to make things better rather than having the government pick winners and losers.

 

 

I think you can tell that I’ve decided he’s who I am going to vote for in the GOP primary. I know he’s at 6% in the polls, but I don’t care anymore. I don’t think our votes count anyway. The GOP will pick who it wants regardless of our votes. I’m voting maybe to prove that to myself.

If Rand were to win the primaries and the GOP actually nominated him, I would vote for him in the general.

Currently, to be perfectly honest, I am planning to vote for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in the general because as far as I can see, the GOP is not a conservative political party and they fully intend to give us another progressive like McCain and Romney again. I cast a protest vote in 2012 and I will do it again this year if needed. If that means the Democrat wins … okay, because I fully believe that progressives are the termites in our woodshed. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Democratic progressive or a GOP progressive … both grow government and suppress liberties.

It’s time we chose to change our system of leadership in Washington. I’ve decided how I’m going to do my small part toward that goal. Have you?

 

Sherry Parnell

Author of "Let the Willows Weep"

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