Intermezzo Guest Blog: Will Vaccine Passports Control Your Daily Life?

Former Clinton Adviser: Mandatory Vaccine Passport Could Lead to ‘End of Human Liberty in the West’ – by Jack Phillips  March 29, 2021

Former Clinton adviser Naomi Wolf said that mandatory COVID-19 vaccine passports that have been proposed in recent days would be the “end of human liberty in the West if this plan unfolds as planned.”

“‘Vaccine passport’ sounds like a fine thing if you don’t understand what those platforms can do. I’m [the] CEO of a tech company, I understand what this platform does,” Wolf, who’s also an author, told Fox News on March 28. “It is not about the vaccine, it’s not about the virus, it’s about your data. Once this rolls out, you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all.”

Wolf said such data can be “merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency,” adding that “Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans.”

Wolf noted that it happened in Israel, “and six months later, we’re hearing from activists that it’s a two-tiered society and that basically, activists are ostracized and surveilled continually. It is the end of civil society, and they are trying to roll it out around the world.”

“It is absolutely so much more than a vaccine pass, it is — I can not stress enough that it has the power to turn off your life, or to turn on your life, to let you engage in society or be marginalized.”

Going a step further, Wolf likened such plans to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance of its population and promotion of a “social credit score.”

2021-04-02 Vaccine PassportsA handout image shows the Excelsior Pass, a platform that lets New Yorkers present proof of COVID-19 vaccination at events. (Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo)

“How does [the CCP] keep a billion people under the thumb of a totalitarian regime?” she asked. “The CCP can find any dissident within five minutes, and that can happen here literally within months.”

Wolf referred to reports about Biden administration officials proposing the idea. The Washington Post and CNN — citing anonymous, unconfirmed sources — have suggested that the administration is working toward developing a national vaccine passport standard. New York state has proposed its own “Excelsior Pass” that would be used in large-scale venues such as Madison Square Garden. The plan has been lambasted by civil liberties groups and proponents.

On March 29, White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed the claims, saying the administration doesn’t see a federal mandate for vaccine passports. “We believe it will be driven by the private sector,” she told reporters.

In other countries, such passports have already been created. Israel set one up in February to grant people access to gyms and hotels, Iceland now uses a passport to allow foreign travel, and Saudi Arabia has an app-based passport for people who are inoculated.

“The thing underpinning all of this is, what are you going to use it for?” said Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Is it for international travel? Is it for getting a job? Is it for buying milk?”

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Science, Politics, and COVID: Will Truth Prevail?

This is a rather lengthy guest blog, over 3000 words, compared to my usual blogs of about 1000, but Dr. Atlas is well worth a little extra time to read.
by Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 18, 2021, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona.

Corona VirusThe COVID pandemic has been a tragedy, no doubt. But it has exposed profound issues in America that threaten the principles of freedom and order that we Americans often take for granted.

First, I have been shocked at the unprecedented exertion of power by the government since last March — issuing unilateral decrees, ordering the closure of businesses, churches, and schools, restricting personal movement, mandating behavior, and suspending indefinitely basic freedoms. Second, I was and remain stunned — almost frightened — at the acquiescence of the American people to such destructive, arbitrary, and wholly unscientific rules, restrictions, and mandates.

The pandemic also brought to the forefront things we have known existed and have tolerated for years: media bias, the decline of academic freedom on campuses, the heavy hand of Big Tech, and — now more obviously than ever — the politicization of science. Ultimately, the freedom of Americans to seek and state what they believe to be the truth is at risk.

Let me say at the outset that I, like all of us, acknowledge that the consequences of the COVID pandemic and its management have been enormous. Over 500,000 American deaths have been attributed to the virus; more will follow. Even after almost a year, the pandemic still paralyzes our country. And despite all efforts, there has been an undeniable failure to stop cases from escalating and to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

But there is also an unacknowledged reality: almost every state and major city in the U.S., with a handful of exceptions, have implemented severe restrictions for many months, including closures of businesses and in-person schools, mobility restrictions and curfews, quarantines, limits on group gatherings, and mask mandates dating back to at least last summer. And despite any myths to the contrary, social mobility tracking of Americans and data from Gallup, YouGov, the COVID-19 Consortium, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have all shown significant reductions of movement as well as a consistently high percentage of mask-wearing since the late summer, similar to the extent seen in Western Europe and approaching the extent seen in Asia.

With what results?
All legitimate policy scholars today should be reexamining the policies that have severely harmed America’s children and families, while failing to save the elderly. Numerous studies, including one from Stanford University’s infectious disease scientists and epidemiologists Benavid, Oh, Bhattacharya, and Ioannides have shown that the mitigating impact of the extraordinary measures used in almost every state was small at best — and usually harmful. President Biden himself openly admitted the lack of efficacy of these measures in his January 22 speech to the nation: “There is nothing we can do,” he said, “to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”

Bizarrely, though, many want to blame those who opposed lockdowns and mandates for the failure of the very lockdowns and mandates that were widely implemented.

Besides their limited value in containing the virus, lockdown policies have been extraordinarily harmful. The harms to children of suspending in-person schooling are dramatic, including poor learning, school dropouts, social isolation, and suicidal ideation, most of which are far worse for lower income groups. A recent study confirms that up to 78 percent of cancers were never detected due to missed screening over a three-month period. If one extrapolates to the entire country, 750,000 to over a million new cancer cases over a nine-month period will have gone undetected. That health disaster adds to missed critical surgeries, delayed presentations of pediatric illnesses, heart attack and stroke patients too afraid to go to the hospital, and others — all well documented.

Beyond hospital care, the CDC reported four-fold increases in depression, three-fold increases in anxiety symptoms, and a doubling of suicidal ideation, particularly among young adults after the first few months of lockdowns, echoing American Medical Association reports of drug overdoses and suicides. Domestic and child abuse have been skyrocketing due to the isolation and loss of jobs. Given that many schools have been closed, hundreds of thousands of abuse cases have gone unreported, since schools are commonly where abuse is noticed. Finally, the unemployment shock from lockdowns, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study, will generate a three percent increase in the mortality rate and a 0.5 percent drop in life expectancy over the next 15 years, disproportionately affecting African-Americans and women. That translates into what the study refers to as a “staggering” 890,000 additional U.S. deaths.

We know we have not yet seen the full extent of the damage from the lockdowns, because the effects will continue to be felt for decades. Perhaps that is why lockdowns were not recommended in previous pandemic response analyses, even for diseases with far higher death rates.

To determine the best path forward, shouldn’t policymakers objectively consider the impact both of the virus and of anti-virus policies to date? This points to the importance of health policy, my own particular field, which requires a broader scope than that of epidemiologists and basic scientists. In the case of COVID, it requires taking into account the fact that lockdowns and other significant restrictions on individuals have been extraordinarily harmful — even deadly — especially for the working class and the poor.

“There is a land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am.” — Mad Hatter
Optimistically, we should be seeing the light at the end of the long tunnel with the rollout of vaccines, now being administered at a rate of one million to 1.5 million per day. On the other hand, using logic that would appeal to Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter, in many states the vaccines were initially administered more frequently to healthier and younger people than to those at greatest risk from the virus. The argument was made that children should be among the first to be vaccinated, although children are at extremely low risk from the virus and are proven not to be significant spreaders to adults. Likewise, we heard the Kafka-esque idea promoted that teachers must be vaccinated before teaching in person, when schools are one of the lowest risk environments and the vast majority of teachers are not high risk.

Worse, we hear so-called experts on TV warning that social distancing, masks, and other restrictions will still be necessary after people are vaccinated! All indications are that those in power have no intention of allowing Americans to live normally — which for Americans means to live freely — again.

And sadly, just as in Galileo’s time, the root of our problem lies in “the experts” and vested academic interests. At many universities — which are supposed to be America’s centers for critical thinking — those with views contrary to those of “the experts” currently in power find themselves intimidated. Many have become afraid to speak up.

But the suppression of academic freedom is not the extent of the problem on America’s campuses.

To take Stanford, where I work, as an example, some professors have resorted to toxic smears in opinion pieces and organized rebukes aimed at those of us who criticized the failed health policies of the past year and who dared to serve our country under a president they despised — the latter apparently being the ultimate transgression.

Defamatory attacks with malicious intent based on straw-man arguments and out-of-context distortions are not acceptable in American society, let alone in our universities. There has been an attempt to intimidate and discredit me using falsifications and misrepresentations. This violates Stanford’s Code of Conduct, damages the Stanford name, and abuses the trust that parents and society place in educators.

It is understandable that most Stanford professors are not experts in the field of health policy and are ignorant of the data about the COVID pandemic. But that does not excuse the fact that some called recommendations that I made “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science.” That was a lie, and no matter how often lies are repeated by politically-driven accusers, and regardless of how often those lies are echoed in biased media, lies will never be true.

We all must pray to God that the infamous claim attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels — “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” — never becomes operative in the United States of America.

All of the policies I recommended to President Trump were designed to reduce both the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable and the economic, health, and social harms of anti-COVID policies for those impacted the most — small businesses, the working class, and the poor. I was one of the first to push for increasing protections for those most at risk, particularly the elderly. At the same time, almost a year ago, I recognized that we must also consider the enormous harms to physical and mental health, as well as the deaths attributable to the draconian policies implemented to contain the infection. That is the goal of public health policy — to minimize all harms, not simply to stop a virus at all costs.

The claim in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) opinion piece by three Stanford professors that “nearly all public health experts were concerned that [Scott Atlas’s] recommendations could lead to tens of thousands (or more) of unnecessary deaths in the U.S. alone” is patently false and absurd on its face. As pointed out by Dr. Joel Zinberg in National Review, the Great Barrington Declaration — a proposal co-authored by medical scientists and epidemiologists from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford — “is closer to the one condemned in the JAMA article than anything Atlas said.” Yet the Great Barrington Declaration has already been signed by over 50,000 medical and public health practitioners.

When critics display such ignorance about the scope of views held by experts, it exposes their bias and disqualifies their authority on these issues. Indeed, it is almost beyond parody that these same critics wrote that “professionalism demands honesty about what [experts] know and do not know.”

I have explained the fact that younger people have little risk from this infection, and I have explained the biological fact of herd immunity — just like Harvard epidemiologist Katherine Yih did. That is very different from proposing that people be deliberately exposed and infected — which I have never suggested, although I have been accused of doing so.

I have also been accused of “argu[ing] that many public health orders aimed at increasing social distancing could be forgone without ill effects.” To the contrary, I have repeatedly called for mitigation measures, including extra sanitization, social distancing, masks, group limits, testing, and other increased protections to limit the spread and damage from the coronavirus. I explicitly called for augmenting protection of those at risk—in dozens of on-the-record presentations, interviews, and written pieces.

My accusers have ignored my explicit, emphatic public denials about supporting the spread of the infection unchecked to achieve herd immunity — denials quoted widely in the media. Perhaps this is because my views are not the real object of their criticism. Perhaps it is because their true motive is to “cancel” anyone who accepted the call to serve America in the Trump administration.

For many months, I have been vilified after calling for opening in-person schools — in line with Harvard Professors Martin Kulldorf and Katherine Yih and Stanford Professor Jay Bhattacharya — but my policy recommendation has been corroborated repeatedly by the literature. The compelling case to open schools is now admitted even in publications like The Atlantic, which has noted: “Research from around the world has, since the beginning of the pandemic, indicated that people under 18, and especially younger kids, are less susceptible to infection, less likely to experience severe symptoms, and far less likely to be hospitalized or die.” The subhead of the article was even clearer: “We’ve known for months that young children are less susceptible to serious infection and less likely to transmit the coronavirus.”

When the JAMA accusers wrote that I “disputed the need for masks,” they misrepresented my words. My advice on mask usage has been consistent: “Wear a mask when you cannot socially distance.” At the time, this matched the published recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). This past December, the WHO modified its recommendation: “In areas where the virus is circulating, masks should be worn when you’re in crowded settings, where you can’t be at least one meter [roughly three feet] from others, and in rooms with poor or unknown ventilation”—in other words, not at all times by everyone. This also matches the recommendation of the National Institutes of Health document Prevention and Prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 Infection: “When consistent distancing is not possible, face coverings may further reduce the spread of infectious droplets from individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection to others.”

Regarding universal masks, 38 states have implemented mask mandates, most of them since at least the summer, with almost all the rest having mandates in their major cities. Widespread, general population mask usage has shown little empirical utility in terms of preventing cases, even though citing or describing evidence against their utility has been censored. Denmark also performed a randomized controlled study that showed that widespread mask usage had only minimal impact.

This is the reality.
Those who insist that universal mask usage has absolutely proven effective at controlling the spread of the COVID virus and is universally recommended according to “the science” are deliberately ignoring the evidence to the contrary. It is they who are propagating false and misleading information.

Those who say it is unethical, even dangerous, to question broad population mask mandates must also explain why many top infectious disease scientists and public health organizations question the efficacy of general population masking. Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, for instance, wrote that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.” Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta says there is no need for masks unless one is elderly or high risk. Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya has said that “mask mandates are not supported by the scientific data. . . . There is no scientific evidence that mask mandates work to slow the spread of the disease.”

Throughout this pandemic, the WHO’s “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19” has included the following statement: “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” The CDC, in a review of influenza pandemics in May 2020, “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.” And until the WHO removed it on October 21, 2020 — soon after Twitter censored a tweet of mine highlighting the quote — the WHO had published the fact that “the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider.”

My advice on masks all along has been based on scientific data and matched the advice of many of the top scientists and public health organizations throughout the world.

The Politicization of the Search For Truth
At this point, one could make a reasonable case that those who continue to push societal restrictions without acknowledging their failures and the serious harms they caused are themselves putting forth dangerous misinformation. Despite that, I will not call for their official rebuke or punishment. I will not try to cancel them. I will not try to extinguish their opinions. And I will not lie to distort their words and defame them. To do so would repeat the shameful stifling of discourse that is critical to educating the public and arriving at the scientific truths we desperately need.

If this shameful behavior continues, university mottos like Harvard’s “Truth, Stanford’s “The Winds of Freedom Blow,” and Yale’s “Light and Truth” will need major revision.

Big Tech has piled on with its own heavy hand to help eliminate discussion of conflicting evidence. Without permitting open debate and admission of errors, we might never be able to respond effectively to any future crisis. Indeed, open debate should be more than permitted — it should be encouraged.

As a health policy scholar for over 15 years and as a professor at elite universities for 30 years, I am shocked and dismayed that so many faculty members at these universities are now dangerously intolerant of opinions contrary to their favored narrative. Some even go further, distorting and misrepresenting words to delegitimize and even punish those of us willing to serve the country in the administration of a president they loathe. It is their own behavior, to quote the Stanford professors who have attacked me, that “violates the core values of [Stanford] faculty and the expectations under the Stanford Code of Conduct, which states that we all ‘are responsible for sustaining the high ethical standards of this institution.’” In addition to violating standards of ethical behavior among colleagues, this behavior falls short of simple human decency.

If academic leaders fail to renounce such unethical conduct, increasing numbers of academics will be unwilling to serve their country in contentious times. As educators, as parents, as fellow citizens, that would be the worst possible legacy to leave to our children.

I also fear that the idea of science as a search for truth — a search utilizing the empirical scientific method — has been seriously damaged. Even the world’s leading scientific journals — The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Science, and Nature — have been contaminated by politics. What is more concerning, many in the public and in the scientific community have become fatigued by the arguments — and fatigue will allow fallacy to triumph over truth.

With social media acting as the arbiter of allowable discussion, and with continued censorship and cancellation of those with views challenging the “accepted narrative,” the United States is on the verge of losing its cherished freedoms. It is not at all clear whether our democratic republic will survive — but it is clear it will not survive unless more people begin to step up in defense of freedom of thought and speech.
____________________________

2021-03-09 Dr. Scott AtlasScott W. Atlas is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served for 14 years as professor and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center. He earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and his M.D. from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. An ad hoc member of the Nominating Committee for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, he was a senior health care advisor to a number of presidential candidates in 2008, 2012, and 2016. From July to December 2020, he served as Special Advisor to President Trump and as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He is the editor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain and Spine, now in its fifth edition, and is the author of several books, including Restoring Quality Health Care.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Dr. Victor Hanson on Biden’s Amerika

2021-02-15 Bidens AmerikaRazor wire and fences still surround the U.S. Capitol at sunrise. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

2021-02-15 Victor Davis HansonThe World Goes On While America Sleeps
Victor Davis Hanson /
/
Dr. Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.  You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com
.

The Democrat-controlled Senate spends thousands of collective hours conducting an impeachment trial against a citizen who is no longer president.  The acquittal is predetermined, as in the first impeachment effort a year ago — and known to be so to the Democratic prosecutors.  The constitutionally mandated presiding judge — the chief justice of the Supreme Court — refused to show up.  Chief Justice John Roberts apparently believes an impeachment trial of a private citizen is either a waste of time or unconstitutional — or both.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is busy ferreting out purportedly extremist Republican House members.  For the first time in memory, one party now removes committee members of the other.  Yet for each Republican outlier, there is a corresponding Democratic firebrand member who has either called for violence or voiced anti-Semitic slurs — and yet will not be removed from House committees.  So the asymmetrical tit-for-tat continues.

The subtext to this madness is that the Democratic Congress, the new administration, the administrative state, and the political left are obsessed with dismembering the presidential corpse of now citizen Donald Trump.  Apparently they fear that one day he will rise from the infernal regions to wreak his revenge.  Meanwhile, life in America goes on.

Yet few of our leaders are very worried about the existential crises left unaddressed by their obsessions with the ghost of Trump.  Take the debt.  It is now nearly $28 trillion, and it is growing by almost $2 trillion a year.  No one in Washington talks about reducing the annual budget deficit.  Nor do officials find ways to balance the budget.  The idea of paying off the monstrous debt remains a fantasy.  Instead, our elected representatives argue over whether to borrow another $1 trillion, or more likely $2 trillion, without worry of where it comes from or how it will be repaid.

But money is not completely a construct.  We will eventually pay for our profligacy either with steeper taxes, higher inflation, 1970s-like stagflation, or permanent zero interest.  Or eventually America will renounce its debt and destroy the credibility of the U.S. government.  Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless hours of once-productive labor are diverted to unproductive ideological censorship, career canceling, and indoctrination.

Our allies, such as democratic France, warn America that it is cannibalizing itself — and becoming dangerous to others.  Our enemies, such as the totalitarian Chinese, are delighted with our suicidal wokeness.  The cost is not just the expense of cleaning up the billions of dollars of destruction from the summer riots, the thousands of memorials and statues destroyed and defaced, and the hundreds of schools and buildings to be renamed.

Far more consequential is the suppression of creative thinking — from humanistic study to scientific research.  The Islamic world, as the historian Bernard Lewis once observed, stagnated in the 19th and 20th centuries once radical Islamists began squelching all free inquiry.  Humanities and science were perverted from 1932 to 1945 in Germany by the pollution of Nazi racial censors.  What was written or advanced in communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is largely discredited, given that commissar hacks determined the rules of publication and research.  Something similarly frightening is now occurring in the United States.

Scholars, journalists, artists, and educators feel they must mouth politically correct platitudes.  They constantly hedge their public discourse in fear of career cancellation.  They strain to synchronize their research with some approved woke ideology to save their livelihoods.  When professors must write “diversity statements” and hire, promote, and fire on the basis of race, the model is not the U.S. Constitution, but something out of contemporary China.

No one pays much attention that our capital is now weaponized with soldiers in camouflage and barbed wire.  Not since the Civil War has Washington resembled such a vast police state.  Ex-military officers who once warned Trump not to deploy federal troops to ensure the safety of the White House from Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators now are silent about a veritable army deployed in Washington.

President Joe Biden has signaled that all new pipeline construction is over.  Fracking on public lands is taboo.  The border is to become wide open.  Federal immigration law is now effectively nullified.  Americans may soon have to be tested for COVID-19 before flying into or out of the country.  But illegal immigrants will not be COVID-19-certified when — illegally — they cross the border.  Iran is bankrupt, isolated and roundly despised by most of the countries in the Middle East.  Now America is doing its best to resuscitate the most radical and anti-American regime in the world — at the expense of our allies in the Arab world, Israel, and America’s own interests.  While we are busy devouring each other, China is smiling because once-feared American capitalists have become laughable Keystone Cops.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com.

Intermezzo Blog: Prophetic Word for President Biden from Jonathan Cahn

An apology to my email followers: the other day I erroneously reposted the blog of January 21.  My old brain just seems to slip a cog every now and then, and it is too easy to click buttons on the computer.  But once the reposting went to your email there was no way to retract it.  This was the blog I intended to send.

2021-02-10 Jonathan CahnJonathan Cahn leads Hope of the World, a service to Gentiles and Jews examining issues of prophecy and end-time events.  While somewhat flamboyant (his website is a little ‘busy’ for my tastes), he is impressive as a Bible teacher in that he does not go beyond what the scripture says; no predictions of dates or even seasons; no announcements of “Look here is the Christ in the inner room!” (Matthew 24:23).  And he is very thorough and discreet in his exposition of what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus.

If you have 35 minutes, you may want to check out his YouTube of the Inaugural Prayer Breakfast for Barack Obama on March 11, 2013.  I suspect someone in the president’s staff thought, “Okay, here’s a Jewish rabbi who is also an evangelical Christian; we can kill two birds with one stone and have him speak, appealing to voters from both camps.”  Boy, did he get an education! 😄

Joking aside, this is Rabbi Cahn’s recent message to our new president, who we must acknowledge is in the position because of God’s will.  I, along with any other Christ-followers, am praying FOR President Biden that he will recognize Father’s voice when He speaks and respond appropriately to the grace of Jesus, winning for himself and our nation a reprieve from the disasters that the current divisions in our county portend.

Guest Blog: Elva Craig Shows How To Live Forever

Elva, July, 2017

Anita, as a new international student, met Elva Craig back in 1984 at the University of Iowa.  Meeting with friends for a weekly Bible study, Elva led Anita in understanding that following Jesus was not just a “Western religion,” but a matter for every heart in the world.  And as they say, the rest is history.

Now Elva is facing the time we all will come to someday, some of us sooner than others.  But there is no escaping that we will all come face to face with our mortality.  Last week’s blog shared the decision we each must make before that moment, What will you do with Jesus, called the Christ?

Last week I asked Elva’s permission to share her latest newsletter with my blog, to show what it is like when you are walking with Jesus and facing what most people fear most.  I added links for your convenience.  What a delight, what a joy, what a hope those who know Jesus have!  Death has lost its sting; the grave has lost its victory!  Because He lives, we will live also!!  Enjoy reading Elva’s testimony.
_________________________________
From:
 Elva Craig
Sent: Sun 1/31/2021 9:54 PM
To:
Subject:
Feb. 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,
I know I haven’t written for a while,but I kept waiting until I had something definite to tell you.

2020 is almost over and most are very thankful.  Many things have happened since the beginning of the year.  Retirement has not been good to me.  In early January I had spine surgery.  My lower disks were deteriorating and squeezing a nerve that caused pain in my hip and leg.  They put four small titanium rods in my spine to keep the disks from squeezing the nerve.

One Saturday night I had a seizure, but I did not know what it was.  I contacted my co-worker (a nurse), and after she brought me to the hospital, the doctors saw something that looked like tiny tumors.  It was at this time we started the nation-wide quarantine.

Because I had a seizure I could not drive for six months and then another seizure took away all hopes for driving.  As a result of both of those things I stayed home lot.  I made a lot of cards to send to church people and others I knew who were also home alone.

In April the hospital took another MRI and determined that I had three small tumors in my brain, in the optic area.  Two were close together in the front and one in the back.  On April 24 I had brain surgery, where they actually drilled a hole in my head and took out a piece of one of the tumors to see what kind they were.  The tumors are what they call glioblastoma, a kind that cannot be killed.  I began taking chemo (pill) and radiation therapies.  The chemo was every night and radiation was five times each week.

Then I signed up to help out with a research project to see how large doses of vitamin C might effect the brain tumors.  For this they put a port put in my chest so they would not have to stick me with needles every other day.  The vitamin C infusions were three times each week.  It is a slow drip that takes 2-½ hours.

In between all these I met with doctors, had MRI’s, x-rays, and stayed away from people.  This all went on for six and a half weeks.  Actually the vitamin C part goes on much longer, but I have a month break.

On top of all that, came the covid virus when everyone stayed home.  The tumors have affected my eyes so I cannot see small letters or numbers when they are close together (e.g., telephone numbers, check books, etc).  Also I have trouble writing things clearly as well as memory problems.  So if there are problems with spelling or grammar, forgive me. [very few, but c.a. fixed these.😉] After going through all these things, the doctors told me they had done every thing they could for me and it was now up to God, but he did not think it would be much longer before I went Home (not his way of saying it).

Now on to the brighter side of things. Through all of this, God has been very good to me in many ways, as He has promised.  Ann, my co-worker, went to many of my early appointments and helped me understand what they were saying in plain English, not medical terminology.  She also arranged for me to have rides to the hospital every day with different ladies from our church.  I thank the Lord that so far I have not had any reactions or pain from chemo or radiation.  I do get a little unsteady and tired.  Also, now I have more time at home to enjoy longer devotional times.  Because of my musical background, God somehow puts a song in my head, out of the blue, which usually stays with me all day.  Two that I really enjoy are “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Take My Hand Precious Lord.”

In regard to CBF (Campus Bible Fellowship), we know things will be different at all the universities because of the virus.  We did not have our Furniture GiveAway this past year and we do not know where we will get new contacts.  I am having my own GiveAway, trying to give away most of my things.  If you were here you would be welcome to them.

I told one of the social workers here at Iowa that we work a lot with international students.  Some of the ones I worked with have gone back to their home countries.  I have many contacts from the International Women’s Club where I taught English.  I do not know if they will meet this coming semester.  Our CBF group was so small, that losing some to graduation and jobs, we do not have much to work with.  We do not even know if groups will be allowed to meet on campus.  This semester we met by Zoom so we could see and talk to everyone.

I will close with another thing that has been very special. The doctors do not know how much longer I might live on earth.  I have been able to live my life serving the Lord, so now when I think of dying, all I can think of is seeing my Savior and my whole immediate family.  What a joy that will be!  Every time I think about it I tear up.

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and provision of salvation so we have no fear of dying.  I said that to a social worker and she said, ”Are you thinking of committing suicide?”😄  I have been able to talk to some of the nurses about the promises God has given us.  And I am looking forward to the Lord’s return.  Here is a song that I sang with one of the ladies from church.  It seems to fit the situation.

Chorus:
He leadeth me, He leadeth me! By His own hand He leadeth me!
His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me!

1.He leadeth me O blessed tho’t! O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

2.Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine, Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see, Since ‘tis my God that leadeth me!

3.And when my task on earth is done, When by Thy grace, the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God thro’ Jordan leadeth me.

Please keep praying for me, that I will remain strong.
Looking forward to meeting you all in heaven.  Hope to see you there.
Elva Craig

Intermezzo Guest Blog: The Legacy Coalition

Dear friends,
I have no affiliate engagements from which I receive remuneration and my guest blogs are just that: guests who have information which you may find valuable.  This is from a gentleman and personal friend who has been a pastor and servant of Jesus Christ for many years.  He recently changed venues for service to the Kingdom of God and is now with an organization called The Legacy Coalition.  Cool stuff!
Brent’s invitation to us is extended to any in the US and as online anywhere in the world.
(Sorry, but if you want him to travel to foreign countries in Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia or California
[😂], you’ll have to arrange for that! 😉

yours and His,
c.a.

2021-02-02 The Legacy Coalition

Dear C.A. and Anita,
It is likely that you have some grandparents among your blogging community.  So I want you to know more about “intentional Christian grandparenting,” which you may want to share in a blog.  Here is an ongoing, online resource each Monday night at 7 PM CST.  Each session is archived for one week, so it can be viewed throughout the week after.
There is no charge to register to watch and no financial info is requested.
Check out the February schedule and the topics below, beginning this coming Monday.

I would be glad to be a resource to your church to start a conversation about a grandparenting ministry!
Yours truly,
Brent Nelson
Legacy Coalition, Pastors Division, U.S.
615-415-1432 cell
brentn@legacycoalition.com

Image preview
To register: 
www.legacycoalition.com/events/

February 1: Understanding the H.E.A.R.T. of Grandparenting
Presenter: Ken Canfield, President of the National Association for Grandparenting
Here is a 4.26-minute video for Ken Canfield:
https://www.facebook.com/thelegacycoalition/videos/2614992578791820

Dr. Canfield has written, The HEART of Grandparenting as well as numerous other books.  His book synthesizes a theology of grandparenting, examining passages in the Old and New Testament like descendants, generations, your children’s children, grandchildren and many others.
His presentation will summarize those findings including current research and contemporary applications for grandparents to consider in strengthening their grandparenting and developing a grandparenting plan.

February 8: Faith in an Anxious World – What Grandparents Need to Know About the Mental Health of Young People
Presenter: Kara Powell

February 15: Four Essentials for Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
Presenter: Larry Fowler

February 22: Praying for Your Grandchildren: the Why’s and How’s
Presenters: Cavin Harper and Sherry Schumann

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Petr Svab; Experts’ Warning

This is a rather long piece compared to my usual blogs of ~1000 words, but well worth reading.  C.S. Lewis once wrote: “A tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.  The robber baron’s cruelty may sometime be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment without end for they do so with the approval of their conscience[s].”  Read on and pray for the USA.  This article has minor formatting and grammatical edits from the original.

Ideological Alignment Pushing America Toward Totalitarianism

2021-01-21 Intermezzo Blog by Petr Svah
The US Flag at half-mast in front of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

Concerns about the nexus of big tech, big media, and big government.
By Petr Svab  January 20, 2021; Updated: January 21, 2021

The formation of a totalitarian state is just about complete in America as the most powerful public and private sector actors unify behind the idea that actions to stamp out dissent can be justified, according to several experts on modern totalitarian ideologies.

While many have warned about the rise of fascism or socialism in “the land of the free,” the ideas have largely been vague or fragmented, focusing on individual events or actors.  Recent events, however, indicate that seemingly unconnected pieces of the oppression puzzle are fitting together to form a comprehensive system, according to Michael Rectenwald, a retired liberal arts professor at New York University.

But many Americans, it appears, have been caught off guard or are not even aware of the newly forming regime, as the idea of elected officials, government bureaucrats, large corporations, the establishment academia, think tanks and nonprofits, the legacy media, and even seemingly grassroot movements all working in concert toward some evil purpose seems preposterous.  Is a large portion of the country in on a conspiracy?

The reality now emerges that no massive conspiracy was in fact needed — merely an ideological alignment and some informal coordination, Rectenwald argues.  “Despite the lack of formal overarching organization, the American socialist regime is indeed totalitarian, as the root of its ideology requires politically motivated coercion,” he told The Epoch Times.  The power of the regime is not yet absolute, but it is becoming increasingly effective as it erodes the values, checks, and balances against tyranny established by traditional beliefs and enshrined in the American founding.

The effects can be seen throughout society. Americans, regardless of their income, demographics, or social stature are being fired from jobs, getting stripped of access to basic services such as banking and social media, or having their businesses crippled for voicing political opinions and belonging to a designated political underclass.  Access to sources of information unsanctioned by the regime is becoming increasingly difficult.  Some figures of power and influence are sketching the next step, labelling large segments of society as “extremists” and potential terrorists who need to be “deprogrammed.”

While the onset of the regime appears tied to events of recent years — the presidency of Donald Trump, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, the Capitol intrusion of January  6 — its roots go back decades.

Is It Really Totalitarian?
Totalitarian regimes are commonly understood as constituting a government headed by a dictator that regiments the economy, censors the media, and quells dissent by force.  That is not the case in America, but it is also a misunderstanding of how such regimes function, literature on totalitarianism indicates.

To claim power, the regimes do not initially need to control every aspect of society through government.  Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Workers Party in Nazi Germany, used various means to control the economy, including gaining compliance of industry leaders voluntarily, or through intimidation, or through replacing the executives with party loyalists.

Similarly, the regime rearing its head in America relies on corporate executives to implement its agenda voluntarily but also through intimidation by online brigades of activists and journalists who take initiative to launch negative PR campaigns and boycotts to progress their preferred societal structure.

Also, Hitler initially did not control the spread of information via government censorship but rather through his brigades of street thugs, the “brown shirts,” who would intimidate and physically prevent his opponents from speaking publicly.  The tactic parallels the often successful efforts to “cancel” and “shut down” public speakers by activists and violent actors, such as Antifa.  Dissenting media in America have not been silenced by the government directly as of yet. 

But they are stymied in other ways.  In the digital age, media largely rely on reaching and growing their audience through social media and web search engines, which are dominated by Facebook and Google.  Both companies have in place mechanisms to crack down on dissenting media.  Google gives preference in its search results to sources it deems “authoritative.”  Search results indicate the company tends to consider media ideologically close to it to be more authoritative.  Such media can then produce hit pieces on their competitors, giving Google justification to slash the “authoritativeness” of the dissenters.  Facebook employs third-party fact checkers who have the discretion to label content as “false” and thus reduce the audience on its platform.  Virtually all the fact checkers focused on American content are ideologically aligned with Facebook.

Attempts to set up alternative social media have run into yet more fundamental obstacles, as demonstrated by Parler, whose mobile app was terminated by Google and Apple, while the company was kicked off Amazon’s servers.

To the degree that a totalitarian regime requires a police state, there is as yet no law in America targeting dissenters explicitly.  But there are troubling signs of selective, politically motivated enforcement.  Indicators go back to the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party groups or the difference in treatment received by former Trump adviser Lt. Gen Michael Flynn and former FBI deputy Director Andrew McCabe — both allegedly lying to investigators but only one getting prosecuted.  The situation may get still worse as the restrictions tied to the CCP virus see broad swaths of ordinary human behavior being considered “illegal,” opening the door to nearly universal political targeting.

“I think the means by which a police state is being set up is the demonization of Trump supporters and the likely use of medical passports to institute the effective equivalent of social credit scores,” Rectenwald said.  While loyalty to the government and to a specific political party plays a major role, it is the allegiance to the ideological root of totalitarianism that gives it its foot soldiers, literature on the subject indicates.

Totalitarian Ideology
The element “that holds totalitarianism together as a composite of intellectual elements” is the ambition of fundamentally reimagining society — “the intention to create a ‘New Man,’” explained author Richard Shorten in Modernism and Totalitarianism: Rethinking the Intellectual Sources of Nazism and Stalinism, 1945 to the Present.

Various ideologies have framed the ambition differently, based on what they posited as the key to the transformation.  Karl Marx, co-author of the Communist Manifesto, viewed the control of the economy as primary, describing socialism as “socialized man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature,” in Das Kapital.

Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist Workers Party in Nazi Germany, viewed race as primary.  People would become “socialized” — that is transformed and perfected — by removing Jews and other supposedly “lesser” races from society, he claimed.

The most dominant among the current ideologies stem from the so-called “critical theories,” where the perfected society is defined by “equity,” meaning elimination of differences in outcomes for people in demographic categories deemed historically marginalized.  The goal is to be achieved by eliminating the ever-present “white supremacy,” however the ideologues currently define it.

While such ideologies commonly prescribe collectivism, calling for national or even international unification behind their agenda, they are elitist and dictatorial in practice as they find mankind never “woke” enough to follow their agenda voluntarily.  In Marx’s prophecies, the revolution was supposed to occur spontaneously.  Yet it never did, leading Vladimir Lenin, the first head of the Soviet Union, to conclude that the revolution will need leadership after all.

“The idea is that you have some enlightened party … who understand the problem of the proletariat better than the proletariat does and is going to shepherd them through the revolution that they need to have for the greater good,” explained James Lindsay, author of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity — and Why This Harms Everybody.”

Elements of this intellectual foundation can be found in ideologies of many current political forces, from neo-nazis and anarcho-communists, through to progressives and to some extent even neoliberals and neoconservatives, Lindsay acknowledged.  “This is why you see so many people today saying that the only possible answers are a full return to classical liberalism or a complete rejection of liberalism entirely as fatally disposed to create progressivism, neoliberalism, etc.,” he said.

That is not to say these ideologies are openly advocating totalitarianism but rather that they inevitably lead to it.  The roadmap could be summarized as follows:

  1. There is something fundamentally and intolerably wrong with current reality.
  2. There is a plan to fix it requiring a whole society buy-in.
  3. People opposing the plan need to be educated about the plan so they accept it.
  4. People who resist the persuasion need to be reeducated, even against their will.
  5. People who will not accept the plan no matter what need to be removed from society.

“I think that is the general thrust,” Lindsay said. “We can make the world the way we want it to be if we all just get on the same page and same project. It is a disaster, frankly.”

Points Four and Five Now Appear To Be In Progress.
Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos recently labeled the widespread questioning of the 2020 election results as “violent extremism,” which social media companies should eradicate the same way they countered online recruitment content from the ISIS terrorist group.  The “core issue,” he said, “is that we have given a lot of leeway, both in traditional media and on social media, to people to have a very broad range of political views” and this has led to the emergence of “more and more radical” alternative media like OAN and Newsmax.

Stamos then mused about how to reform Americans who have tuned into the dissenters.  “How do you bring those people back into the mainstream of fact-based reporting and try to get us all back into the same consensus reality?” he asked in a CNN interview.
“And can you? Is that possible?” CNN host Brian Stelter added.

The logic goes as follows: Trump claimed the election was stolen through fraud and other illegalities.  That has not been proven in court and is thus false.  People who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and managed to break inside and disrupt the electoral vote counting did so because they believed the election was stolen.  Therefore, anybody who questions the legitimacy of the election results is an extremist and potentially a terrorist.

With tens of thousands of troops assembled to guard the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) recently told CNN that all guard members who voted for Trump belong to a “suspect group” that “might want to do something,” alluding to past leaders of other countries who were “killed by their own people.”

Former FBI Director James Comey recently said the Republican party needs to be “burned down or changed.”

“They want a one party state,” commented conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in a recent podcast.  “That is not to say they do not want an opposition.  They want a token opposition.  They want Republicans where they get to say what kind of Republican is okay.”

Just as Marx blamed the ills of the world on capitalists and Hitler on Jews, the current regime tends to blame various permutations of “white supremacy.”

“Expel the Republican members of Congress who incited the white supremacist attempted coup,” said Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) in a recent tweet, garnering some 300,000 likes.  She was referring to the Republican lawmakers who raised objections on Jan. 6 to election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.  Their objections were voted down.

“Can U.S. Spy Agencies Stop White Terror?” Daily Beast’s Jeff Stein asked in a recent headline, concluding that a call for “secret police” to sniff out “extremist” Americans “may well get renewed attention.”  Under the regime, allegations of election fraud — de facto questioning the legitimacy of the leader — have become incitement of terrorism.  YouTube (owned by Google), Facebook, and Twitter have either banned content that claims the election was rigged or are furnishing it with warning labels.  Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey was recently recorded as saying that banning the president’s account was just the beginning.  This approach closely mirrors that of the Chinese communist regime, which commonly targets dissidents for “subverting” the state or “spreading rumors.”

What Is The Alternative?
If calls for radically reorganizing the world are inherently totalitarian, how is the world to avoid them?  The question appears to be its own answer.  If totalitarianism inherently requires allegiance to its ideology, it cannot exist in a society with a lack of such allegiance.

The United States were founded on the idea that individual rights are God-given and unalienable.  The idea, rooted in traditional beliefs that human morality is of divine origin, stands a bulwark against any attempt to assail people’s rights even for their own good.

“If you are not a believer in actual God, you can posit a God’s ideal on the matter … We have to posit some arbiter who is above and beyond our own prejudices and biases in order to ensure these kinds of rights. … Because otherwise you have this infinitely malleable situation in which people with power and coercive potential can eliminate and rationalize the elimination of rights willy-nilly,” Rectenwald said.

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Leninism 4.0

The Woke Movement is Leninism 4.0: Political Commentator Dr. James Lindsay
By Gary Du and Jan Jekielek

Dr. James Lindsay, an American-born author and political commentator, called the “woke” movement promoted by Black Lives Matter and other left-wing activists Leninism 4.0. Lindsay, author of six books on subjects ranging from religion, the philosophy of science, and postmodern theory, said he’s not a Trump fan or right-wing, but strives to uphold liberty.

“Now we have the attempt to apply Leninism to the American context, using corporations as part of the toolset, for example. And so we call this movement the ‘woke’ movement. We talked about woke capital with all the corporations … the woke movement is Leninism 4.0,” Lindsay told Jan Jekielek, host of The Epoch Times’ American Thoughts Leaders program on Jan. 13.

Lindsay explained that the first three versions or flavors of Leninism through Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, each tried to fix the problems from the previous version. The “woke” movement that has evolved today focuses on the issues of social and racial justice and has become a catchword used by Black Lives Matter activists on the streets.

Lindsay described the movement as “the idea is that you have some enlightened party of people who are probably part of what Marx would have identified as the bourgeoisie, who understand the problem of the proletariat better than the proletariat does and is going to shepherd them through the revolution that they need to have that’s for the greater good or in their best interest.”

For people on the left, being “woke” means siding with social justice advocates focused on contemporary political concerns, but for people on the right, it is often interpreted as an aspect of “political correctness” or “cancel culture.” Lindsay said he’s been studying “woke” culture and its historical and philosophical antecedents for a number of years.

“At present, what’s happening in the United States [is] we have ‘repressive tolerance’ at the end of a narrative, which is a significant difference [of] 4.0 versus 1.0. So we should point that out, at least for the moment, that the way that they are, you know, Lenin went around and killed dissidents, they are instead canceling dissidents here,” he said.

But he noted that there are some encouraging positive developments. “We’ve had attorneys general already file antitrust suits against these big tech companies. We’ve seen people pushing back in big legal ways that might have a significant impact to scare these big tech companies into rethinking the way that they’re operating,” Lindsay added.

The January 6th Incident
Lindsay said the people who broke into the Capitol building on January 6 might have had the “intention of some kind of insurrection,” but that video footage showed that they were “wandering around being interviewed by journalists” and did not have a plan of action. He doesn’t think President Donald Trump incited violence there and that the narrative that he did does not add up.

He warned against the “consensus view” built up on what happened at the Capitol and a “pseudo-reality” that misleads people. “Why is everything so fractured? Why is everything so polarized? We actually live in a world, at the moment, where we have two consensus views,” Lindsay said.

Lindsay also called out hypocrisy from the left as they try to get “sharp prison sentences threatened on these people [who broke into the Capitol]” and make them unemployable, even calling on Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to be removed from their offices. “You see Cori Bush calling for them to be removed and then we compare that to what we saw with Kamala Harris saying: here’s the link to bail people out of jail for the riots in June. We see Ocasia-Cortez saying repeatedly that the summer riots are necessary,” he said.

Lindsay offered advice to people who may feel confused about the current rapidly-changing narratives surrounding politics: “take a bit of a step back from the news. Try to regain your perspective. Try to regain your calm and then start asking questions. Be more skeptical. Start to perceive that maybe the thing you’re being shown is something that people want you to see rather than something that is actually happening.”

Note from c.a.: the Twitter link to one of the authors was here, but thanx to Twitter’s “cancel culture” attitude, I have left Twitter in the dust, and encourage everyone else to do so, unless there is a significant change of heart on Dorsey’s part. “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”  Benjamin Franklin

Intermezzo: Guest Blog by Jarrett Stepman

We Must Heed Lincoln’s Warning About Mob Rule

2021-01-07 Intermezzo JSby Jarrett Stepman @JarrettStepman / January 06, 2021 /
Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the new book, “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past.”

Abraham Lincoln warned us: Mob rule begets mob rule.
On Wednesday, as Congress convened to certify an Electoral College vote of the 2020 presidential election, a mass of people broke into the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  They climbed the building, smashed windows, entered offices, and even entered the House and Senate chambers.  It was a bizarre scene, to say the least.

2021-01-07 Intermezzo 1

Taking selfies and engaging in photo ops from the House speaker’s chair certainly puts a modern twist on this 21st-century reenactment of the Vandals’ sack of Rome in 455 A.D.  But it wasn’t just window-smashing and photo ops.  The intrusion also turned deadly.  A woman was shot and killed.

There will also be questions as to how a group of people, no matter how large, was able to push their way inside the Capitol and stay inside for several hours.  So, what’s to be made of all this?

2021-01-07 Intermezzo 2

The right to peacefully assemble and protest is an essential one guaranteed by the Constitution.  Breaking into and vandalizing federal property — for whatever cause — is not.  Regardless of the original message of the protests, those who orchestrated the break-in to federal property deserve condemnation.  It’s a violation of the rule of law, not to mention a federal crime.

Certainly, many on both the left and right came out quickly to condemn the violence.  It would, however, be a mistake to see what happened in isolation.

2021-01-07 Intermezzo 3
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Let’s not forget that Washington, D.C. — as with many other cities across the country — had already been beset last year by mobs and waves of violent riots.  When rioters lit fires, smashed windows, toppled statues, and physically and verbally assaulted political opponents in the name of Black Lives Matter this summer, the result was that a street was named for the movement in front of the White House.

2021-01-07 Intermezzo 7

The violence wasn’t limited to just Washington.  Around the country, large swaths of cities were set ablaze as police departments became overwhelmed, and politicians did little to stop it.  A lawless “autonomous” zone was created in the middle of downtown Seattle, which led to widespread property damage and several deaths.  Many hopped aboard calls to defund the police, rather than defending the police while they were besieged.  And more than a few turned down federal aid when it was clear that things had spun out of control.

2021-01-07 Intermezzo 8

Portland, Oregon, had the highest spike of violent crime in the entire country — impressive given the nearly unprecedented national surge in violent crime.  That is the consequence of rampant lawlessness.

When Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., dared to suggest in an op-ed in the pages of The New York Times that overwhelmed police departments should have the ability to request aid from the military, the Times newsroom rebelled, and he was called an authoritarian.  Yet, Cotton aptly called the lawless riots what they were: mob rule.

Mob rule, whether conducted by members of Black Lives Matter or people wearing MAGA hats, is a threat to law and order.  Not only that, it’s a threat to liberty, too.  It violates the very essence of the Constitution, of the belief that the people ultimately rule.  And as Abraham Lincoln warned in his famed 1838 Lyceum Address, mob law when left unchecked begets more mob law.  When portions of the population think that violence is the path to victory, where the rules of the system don’t have to be followed, it is only natural for others to think that mob law is the law.  Under mobocracy, even those inclined to follow the law may eventually lose faith in the government.

Lincoln warned:
Good men, men who love tranquility, who desire to abide by the laws, and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country; seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a government that offers them no protection; and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed.

Even if we believe that our system has become corrupted, that injustice rather than justice has prevailed, it is still the wiser course to appeal to ballots, protest, and petition rather than violence.  The American Revolution, which ultimately ended in war and the overthrow of British rule, was for the most part an orderly affair.  Even within a system that did not provide representative government, the Founders appealed to law and negotiation first, second, and third before resorting to violence.  And once committed to revolution, they knew there was no going back.

We shouldn’t forget that the storming of the Bastille, as grave as the depredations of the French monarchy had sometimes been, led to mass violence and tyranny, not ordered liberty.

Most Americans understand this.  But make no mistake, unlike this summer’s riots — which countless media outlets distorted and misrepresented to excuse and minimize — there will absolutely be efforts to portray every Trump supporter as a violent insurrectionist.  And politicians will use that to justify curtailing the God-given rights of citizens who disagree with them.

Many have condemned the intrusion and vandalizing of the Capitol Building, as they should, but we should also not forget the fact that mob rule and lawlessness have destroyed the lives of countless Americans over the past year and has eroded our country’s attachment to the rule of law.  This should have always been unacceptable.

Lincoln’s warning in 1838 was ignored, and a generation of Americans paid a terrible price in blood for it. Let us learn from the past instead of tearing it down.  Regardless of the corruption of our institutions, the better path forward is to support the rule of law, reform old institutions or build new ones, and plan for the long term of sustaining this federal republic that we would surely like to keep.

Guest Blog: Christmas In Mongolia

Cup of Cold Water Ministries has servants who represent Jesus in ten countries, around the world, including Bolivia, Ghana, Thailand and Mongolia.  This terrific organization, though small, supplies a niche service to international workers, most of whom are doing “tent-making” and combining social services along with Gospel presentation; living out Jesus’ instruction, “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Recently, they began facilitating the ministry of Tuvsho whom my wife and I met when we taught at The Mongolian International University in 2013.  We saw first hand the change in the environment of Ulaanbataar (Ulan Bator) from the early autumn to the wintry pollution when temps reach down to -30F (-34C) and residents burn almost anything to stay warm in their gers (yurts) and unheated houses. Below are pictures of Ulaanbataar in summer and winter, and of the ger districts. The city, originally planned for a population of about 200,000, now houses 1,500,000, over a third of them living in urban areas with inadequate solid waste management, limited water supply, and no utilities other than electricity.

But the largest challenge is the young people who often seem to have no hope of a viable future in Ulaanbataar. That is where Tuvsho and Quinnie come in with a HoME, a Heart of Mentoring. They have a team, a Board of Directors and a system of accountability to do the work to which Father has called them.  You can find out more about them and the service they are providing to at-risk youth in Ulaanbataar at https://www.ccwm.org/tuvsho.

I encourage you to consider a tax-deductible Christmas gift to HoME this year so that Tuvsho and her team can complete construction of the post-“orphanage” residence she is building, and the provisions for guidance and job-skill development for children as they grow too old to stay in the social-welfare system.
____________________

christmas Dec 9
Written By Tuvsho

It is a custom in Mongolian families to decorate a Christmas tree as a symbol of a New Year celebration. Because we are a post-Soviet nation, Christmas, which is considered a religious holiday, is not something many celebrate.

I used to have a “New Year Tree” too, and it was always the most exciting time of the year to put the tree up, decorate it with ornaments and see its lights glitter and shine with different colors.  Guests would come and put some money on the tree as a gift and we would collect them when we took the tree down after New Year.

Now I call my tree a Christmas Tree.  Most of my family has not yet chosen to follow Jesus but they all know that I have.  This year I found my six year old nephew praying to the tree and making his wishes right after we finished putting it up and turning on its lights on.  Although I knew his prayers to a tree were pointless, I sensed a genuine prayer full of pure joy and hope, and that was not pointless.  I believe God hears those prayers.  I remember when I was a young girl praying out to anything or anyone that would hear me saying, “God, Buddha, Jesus, Mohamed…whoever is the real God please listen!”  I know that the real God, the true Creator, heard my prayers.

Something about that tree caused my nephew to want to pray.  I believe it is the message behind it all, the true Redeemer who has come for all of us.  My Christmas tree and the star on the top brings my family and many others together just like that star, the star of Bethlehem, brought people to Jesus.  May many little hearts be guided by the message of the star and even the excitement of Christmas to find Jesus in this New Year.

tuvsho