Sunday, February 18, 2018

Another Mentoring Moment - Christian Action Project (CAP) – Study 2 – Kingdom of God – The Parables

(Now we have arrived where the rubber meets the road.
As was announced two weeks ago-  http://crushlimbraw.blogspot.com/2018/02/is-it-time-for-mentors-to-step-up-new.html - we are re-posting some of the CAP Lessons to emphasize the importance of mentoring. Last week - https://crushlimbraw.blogspot.com/2018/02/a-mentoring-moment-christian-action.html - we posted the Introduction.
This begins with the question - Is the Kingdom of God real or just an ethereal never-never land? Needless to say, there are numerous opinions - but what does the bible teach - and specifically, what did Jesus teach? - CL)

Christian Action Project (CAP) – Study 2 – Kingdom of God – The Parables

As I stated in the Announcement of the CAP, this will be an ongoing ‘work in progress’, continually asking for feedback of any kind. Also, if I feel that something should be added or amended, we will do so as necessary. Since there is already a wealth of Godly wisdom written over the centuries, I will draw mostly upon what has already been written by both historic and/or current writers.
One of my favorite resources is a DVD set by Dr. Marshall Foster entitled “From Terror to Triumph”, which traces the history of Christian action to advance the Kingdom of God in the world for the last 2000 years.

His entire presentation is based on 3 premises:
1-God is reconciling the world to Himself.
2-God has clearly revealed His strategy in the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation, by the commission given to Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc., culminating in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.
3-All ‘terrors’ of history, whether perpetrated by ancient tyrants or various current ‘isms, are simply the result of various forms of paganism.

God’s Strategy:   Bottom Up – Generational – Exponential - Internal to External - Family Plan; Manifestation of Kingdom of God on earth through Civilization

5 Principles of God’s Strategy for Victory
1.  Redeeming Individuals
2.  Family Dynasty -   Deut. 7:9, Deut. 6:4-9 – Discipling
3.  The Church Commission as the keeper of the Sacraments - “The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against the church”
4.  Limited Civil Government – as a sphere of God’s authority
5.  Common Grace- the blessing for the whole of society due to Christianity

For purposes of overview, this gives us a pre-suppositional basis, as we work through Gary North’s “Unconditional Surrender” book.

This Study 2 – Kingdom of God – The Parables will cover:
·         Why begin at the parables?
·         Why did the parables confuse both the masses and the disciples?
·         What is the overriding lesson of the ‘wheat and the tares’ parable?

Additional comments: If you word search the term ‘Kingdom of God’ (or Kingdom of Heaven), you will have a multitude of hits. If you have a biblical concordance, you’ll see similar listings. Matthew alone has over 50 references. The Kingdom of God was prophesized by OT prophets, announced by John the Baptist, preached by Jesus constantly and taught by His apostles.
How often have you heard it preached lately?

Please read and check your own Bible for any listed references or those your own questions might raise.
We’ve only just begun!

(The following is from Gary North’s book - “Unconditional Surrender”.) 
The best place to begin a study of the kingdom of God is to go to the parables and analogies regarding the kingdom which Jesus gave to His disciples. Some of them are what we might call "pocketbook parables," dealing with economic analogies. The parable of the talents is an example (Matthew 25:14-30), or the parable of the clever steward (Luke 16:1-11), or the parable of the unjust servant (Matthew 18:23-35), or of the field in which a treasure is buried (Matthew13:44), or of the analogy of the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46). Others are "agricultural parables," such as the parable of the four soils (Matthew13:3-23), or the parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). But one of the most illuminating is the parable of the wheat and tares. "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn" (Matthew 13:24-30).
This parable confused His disciples. It was deliberately intended to confuse the masses who came to listen to Him, as He explained: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 13:34-35). When the disciples asked Him why He spoke always in parables, He told them: "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given" (Matthew 13:11). He spoke in parables, citing Isaiah 6:9-10, in order to keep the listeners in darkness: "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them" (Matthew 13:15).
There have always been people who haven't liked the idea that God deliberately hides the saving grace of the gospel from some rebellious men, but He does. Isaiah said so, Christ said so, and Paul said so (Acts 28:27).
So the disciples were confused by the parable of the wheat and tares. Christ explained it to them. “He
answered and said unto them,  He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man. The field is the world;
the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:37-42). And the crowning triumph: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 13:43).

The tares and the wheat continue to grow together in the field. There is no rooting up of either tares or wheat until the final day of judgment. This is extremely significant as an insight into God's plan for history. History unfolds as a field planted with two kinds of seed. One seed grows unto righteousness, and the other seed grows unto perdition. But the two grow side by side in the world. Neither is rooted up before its time, and both are rooted up on that final day. Each seed works out its particular destiny, and each type of seed develops according to its inherent characteristics. This is a parable describing the continuity of history, on earth. There is no discontinuity in the development of the two kinds of seeds. There is no premature rooting up of the wheat. From seeds to full-grown plants, there is no break in the process. Then comes the day of harvest, which is the day of burning for the tares.
If anyone looks at the parables of the kingdom, he finds this concept of historical continuity repeated. The parable of the talents teaches that each man develops his capital, working out the implications of his faith, in responsible or irresponsible stewardship. Then comes the day when the Master returns. Again and again, the parables point to the continuity of history, with good men and bad men working side by side in the same world, until the return of God in final judgment. There is only one return. There is only one judgment. There is only one period of rewards and punishments. There is no great intermediate discontinuous break in the development of the two principles, good and evil. The evil seeds have no warning of the impending judgment. They witness no period in which the wheat is pulled up, and then is replanted after a period of time, which would testify to the tares of what is coming at the end of the age……
This is what the Bible teaches about the kingdom of God. For many of you, it will seem very peculiar. Perhaps the idea of the day of judgment sounds too impossible to believe, and you will point to the continuity of history to make your point. I can well understand this approach to such a message of the coming perdition. It's the same response the people of Noah's day made to Noah. But what astounds me is that there are literally millions of Christians who don't believe what these parables teach about the development of good and evil. They believe that there will be a massive discontinuous event, possibly more than one, in which Christ will come first for His people (the wheat), gather them up into the sky, and keep them suspended there for up to seven years. Then He will replant them, except that they will be fully grown and already harvested, right next to the tares, and to make things even more complicated, He will sow the field again with another batch of wheat seeds. How in the world could the tares miss the significance of events like these? What a warning of the radically discontinuous event to come, namely, the last day! Yet Christ pointed out that at that final day, people will go about their business as they did before the Flood in Noah's day not after the Flood, not after a great warning had been sounded, but before.
If a great historical discontinuity in between the planting of Christ's kingdom and the final harvest is actually coming, why didn't any of our Lord's parables or analogies so much as mention such an event or events to come? If we are to take the parables seriously, then we have to begin to think about the continuity of history in between Pentecost and the final judgment. If there is no great break coming which will divide this period into two or more segments, then whatever happens to the world, the flesh, the devil, and the church (institutional) must happen without direct, cataclysmic intervention, either from God or Satan. The process will be one of growth or decay. The process may be an ebb and flow, heading for victory for the church or defeat for the church, in time and on earth. But what cannot possibly be true is that the church's victory process or defeat process will be interrupted and reversed by the direct, visible physical intervention of Jesus Christ and His angels. No discontinuity of history which overcomes the very processes of history in one cataclysmic break will take place.
Christians must not base their hopes for collective or personal victory on a historically unprecedented event in history which is in fact the destruction of history. They will sink or swim, win or lose, in time and on earth, by means of the same sorts of processes as we see today, although the speed will increase or decrease in response to man's ethical conformity to God's law, or his rebellion against that law.
(Next we will study the Growth of the Kingdom of God.)


Vox Popoli: A clueless chief of staff (I love the last two paragraphs! - CL)

Reading this account of Reince Preibus's short-lived term as White House Chief of Staff, one does not wonder why Trump brought him on - it was an olive branch to the Republican Establishment - but how the guy ended up in charge of the RNC in the first place:
Priebus was hobbled by two other factors. A former Republican National Committee chairman from Kenosha, Wisconsin, he barely knew his new boss, and he was part of the establishment that Trump had vilified. Moreover, during the campaign, the two men had been known to feud. Trump had been especially resentful of Priebus’s reaction to the campaign’s existential crisis just a month before Election Day: the release of the tawdry Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump had made graphic misogynist comments that were caught by an open microphone.

The morning after the video surfaced, Trump’s candidacy had been pronounced all but dead in the media. In response, the beleaguered nominee’s top aides—campaign C.E.O. Stephen Bannon, former New York mayor Rudy Giu­liani, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump—gathered at Trump Tower for a war council to advise the candidate on whether he should stay in the race or quit.

The nominee, sleep-deprived, surly, his jaw clenched, posed the crucial question: in light of the videotape, what were his chances of winning? Priebus went first: “If you decide to stay in, you will lose in the biggest landslide in American political history.” One by one, Trump’s other advisers danced around the question—until finally it was Bannon’s turn. “One hundred percent,” he declared. “One hundred percent you’re going to win this thing. Metaphysical.” (Priebus recalled things differently, saying no one was that emphatic.)

Trump, of course, pulled off an astonishing upset. And a month later, McDonough met his successor as chief of staff in the West Wing lobby and escorted him to his office. As the former chiefs went around the table, giving Priebus advice, they were unanimous about one thing: Trump would be unable to govern unless Priebus was empowered as first among equals in the West Wing. Trump’s incoming chief dutifully took notes on a yellow pad.

Suddenly there was a commotion; Barack Obama was entering the room. Everyone stood and shook hands, then Obama motioned for them to sit. The 44th president’s own chiefs—Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, Jack Lew, McDonough, and Pete Rouse (who served unofficially)—were all pres­ent, and Obama nodded toward them. “Every one of these guys at different times told me something that pissed me off,” Obama said, flashing his familiar grin. “They weren’t always right; sometimes I was. But they were right to do that because they knew they had to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear.” Obama looked at Priebus. “That’s the most important function of a chief of staff. Presidents need that. And I hope you will do that for President Trump.” With that, Obama said his good-byes and departed.

Why would you ever listen to what someone said after he had demonstrated such a complete inability to read the electorate or predict the future? I'm astonished that Trump even pretended to take the guy's opinion seriously at all.

We have a tendency to believe that those who are around the positions of power must be smarter or more astute than the average individual in some way. We are endlessly lectured on the importance of their gravitas, their credentials, their educations, and their comportment. But the truth is more often than not that they simply happen to have had access to money, power, or influence. It's not just the USA, almost every democracy is run by people who are no more intelligent, and have no better judgment, than those annoying kids that were on your high school student council.

Except the kids you knew on your student council were less arrogant, less sheltered, and less corrupt than the average politico.



An 18th-Century Hero versus the Deep State - By Mike Konrad (How much of the history you know - ain't so?)

I have always prided myself on being an amateur historian, knowing far more than most people.  So you can imagine my surprise when I found out, about ten years ago, that I knew nothing about one of the most important battles in world history, whose ramifications echo down to this day.
This is the Battle of Cartagena de los Indias, fought between the Spanish and British empires off the coast of present-day Colombia in 1741.  It was part of the War of Jenkin's Ear, a war where Britain's ultimate aim was to break the Spanish empire and impose a British hegemony over the Western hemisphere.
The war went poorly for the British and is usually considered a bit of a draw – with a reversion to the status quo ante.  Actually, the British were forced to make concessions to the Spanish, including the loss of slave trading rights (called the Asiento) in Latin America.
How often do we hear about Latin victories in America, where it is usually assumed that the English or Americans always won such engagements?
However, when examined more closely, the War of Jenkin's Ear was a complete disaster for Britain.  Britain suffered casualties two to three times greater than the Spanish, with a loss of over twice as many ships.  Moreover, the British Navy was humiliated, which had great ramifications for European affairs.
The signal event in the war was the British attack on Cartagena, South America, where the British launched a fleet even larger than the Armada that Spain had hurled against Britain a century and a half earlier. In fact, it would be the largest naval armada in history until the Normandy invasion.
After Great Britain declared war on Spain in 1739, Cartagena quickly became the British forces' top target.  [Vice] Admiral Edward Vernon soon embarked with what was then the largest transatlantic amphibious fleet ever assembled: a massive train eventually totaling some 150 ships, carrying 8,000 British soldiers and 4,000 reinforcements from the American colonies, the largest contingent the colonies ever had sent from the mainland.
Actually, the National Geographic figures are low.  They do not include other British forces.  The British were so sure of their upcoming conquest that they struck medals celebrating their anticipated victory.
The British outnumbered the Spanish roughly five to one or more, depending on which source is used.  Wikipedia lists the British forces to include:
27,400-30,000 men
29 ships of the line
22 frigates
71 sloops-of-war
80 troop ships
50 merchant ships
Against the British were:
2,700 Spanish regulars
400 Spanish marines
600 sailors
300 militia
600 native archers
6 ships of the line
numerous shore-based guns
Other sources give similar numbers (as this video).  What is clear is that the Spanish stood no chance.
Worse yet, the commander of the Spanish forces was Blas de Lezo, a Basque with one leg, one arm, and one eye, due to wounds he had received in wars, often against the British.
But de Lezo, who had lost his leg to British cannon in 1704, was prepared.
To shorten a long story, de Lezo sank the few ships he had to prevent the British from entering the port harbor.  He dug a zigzagged trench around Cartagena to withstand British fire.  He sent out two Spanish soldiers to feign a surrender and give false information to the British troops.  De Lezo then sent out Spanish troops to sneak attack at night.  (Click here for a short video.)
British forces made it to the outer defenses of Cartagena before disease and poor supplies took their inevitable toll.  The British were forced to retreat.  Amazingly, de Lezo had won.  One can get a sense of de Lezo's life and the disaster that befell the British from this video.
The fighting had lasted 68 days, ended with the British Royal Navy withdrawing in defeat, after losing 9,500 dead, 7,500 wounded, 1.500 [sic] guns and 50 ships either sank [sic] or badly damaged by enemy fire or disabled or just abandoned for lack of crews.  There were nineteen ships of the line damaged, four frigates and twenty-seven transports lost. Of the 3,600 American Minuteman [sic], who had volunteered lured by promises of land and pillage of mountains of gold, only 300 returned; most died of yellow fever, dysentery, and outright starvation.  Lawrence Washington, George's brother, was a privileged one who returned back home to renamed [sic] his Virginia plantation Mount Vernon, after Admiral Vernon.
The Spanish casualties were: 800 dead, 1,200 wounded, 6 ships lost.  The forts and castles of Bocachica, Castillo Grande Castle and Manzanillo battery were completely destroyed.
This was horrific for the English, they were completely humiliated. The largest operation of the Royal Navy so far resulted in the greatest defeat of her history.
Vice Admiral Vernon would go on to recapitulate this defeat with a subsequent botched conquest of Cuba.
When news of the gigantic British defeat got back to Europe, Britain was humiliated.  Suddenly, Britain's enemies during the War of Austrian Succession were given a respite.  Eventually, the British had to accept a rough draw.
British plans for the conquest of Spanish America were thwarted.  Lawrence Washington – George's older half-brother – was one of the few colonial troops to survive.  Lawrence had to have brought back to the colonies that news that Britain was not as invincible as formerly thought.  This no doubt must have consoled George Washington in his darker moments during the Revolution.
It is claimed – and also disputed – that King George II prohibited the publishing of the British defeat, and therein may be a story about the 18th-century British Deep State.  The losing naval commander, Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, was treated as a hero and later promoted to a full admiral, while finally being given full burial honors at Westminster Cathedral, with this engraved on his tomb:
He subdued Chagre, and at Carthagena conquered as far as naval forces could carry victory[.]
With such a denial of history, one has to wonder if Edward Vernon was a progenitor of some Democratic politicians.
On the other side, de Lezo would succumb to typhus a few months later.  Unbelievably, the Spanish government blamed him for sinking his ships without engaging the English Navy directly.  Apparently, humiliating the British was not enough.
De Lezo's grave would be forgotten and lost.
The victory secured American trade to Spain over 60 years.  Britain never returned, neither [sic] appeared in front of Cartagena de Indias Bay.  Spanish rule of the seas was so hegemonic that not only the Caribbean Sea but the Atlantic Ocean itself became a Spanish lake again.  The Spanish could freely fly their flag on the Atlantic Ocean for 60 years.
This would not be the same after Trafalgar, when the British became the Lords of the Sea.
But victors write history, and the British who were ascendant in the 18th and later 19th century must have made little note of the battle – as demonstrated by Vernon's tomb.  The British Deep State – which had worked to suppress the news – had won.  This is why few Americans know of it.
Blas de Lezo's forces, who should go down in history as the equivalent of the men at the Alamo or the Spartans at Thermopylae – even more so, as they won the battle – are barely known outside Colombia.  Again, this is no doubt due to British ascendancy in the 19th century.
A similar effect can be seen regarding present American histories of the Napoleonic Wars, where American historians seem to adopt the British view of Napoleon rather than understanding him from the contemporary American viewpoint, which was to view Napoleon with disdain but to remember that Britain, not France, was the enemy.
The Spanish gave de Lezo begrudging recognition over time.  His son inherited a peerage.  A bust of de Lezo was raised in San Sebastián in the Basque country, and a frigate was named after him.  However, it was only in 2014 that Madrid finally gave de Lezo the honor that was due him with a full statue in the Plaza Colón.
What brought de Lezo's memory back was the internet.  Videos started appearing, and the world rediscovered the incredible triumph of this preternatural Basque.  Slowly, the word is getting out.
Do not kid yourself: de Lezo's victory weakened the British, and probably distantly contributed to the American victory in the Revolution.  It also contributed to the failure of the British to lay a full claim on the Falkland Islands until the 19th century, which is why Argentina counter-claims the islands.  The British were famous for grabbing major ports on every continent, except South America, where all they got was the backwater of British Guiana...thanks to Blas de Lezo.
What is more important is how we allow official sources to control our view of history and of the world.  Since American Thinker readers are an educated lot, I have to assume that some of you knew of Blas de Lezo, but I also have to assume that for some of you, this is the first time you have heard of him.  So it was for me, a few years earlier.
This should not be so.  Blas de Lezo is actually a giant of history, who was almost forgotten, thanks to Deep States in both Britain and Spain.  Consider what else is being hidden from you!
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish better in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He runs a website about the Arab community in South America at http://latinarabia.com and a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.
https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/02/an_18thcentury_hero_versus_the_deep_state.html

Oops. Sorry We Destroyed Your Country in Error - By Eric Margolis

A gathering of rich oil Arabs pledged $30 billion this week at a meeting in Kuwait to start rebuilding war-shattered Iraq.  Sounds nice but these kinds of conclaves are notorious for offering big but delivering little.
The event was billed as helping Iraq repair war damage caused by ISIS.  In fact, most of the damage from that short-lived conflict was caused by US bombing and a few Russian air strikes.   ISIS, as this column has long been crying in the wilderness, was largely a paper tiger confected by the US, Britain and France to justify their military re-entry into Syria.
Iraq’s government says it needs at least $88 billion to rebuild war damage.  What the US-imposed client regime in Baghdad won’t or can’t say is that the damage to Iraq is far greater than $88 billion and was largely inflicted by US air power in 1990-1991 and 2003.
Iraq was ravaged, as I saw myself while covering the wars.  This small nation of 23-25 million souls, a third of whom were in permanent revolt against the Baghdad government, was pounded into rubble by US air power and cruise missiles.  First in 1990-1991, then in 2003, everything of value was blown to bits:  hospitals, schools, food factories, chemical plants making insecticide, bridges, and communications.  In short, all the attributes of a modern state.
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Most shocking to me, was the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants by US air strikes.
Their destruction resulted in epidemics of cholera and other water-born diseases.  Children were the primary victims.  The UN asserted that over 550,000 Iraqi children died as a result of contaminated water.  US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later notoriously asserted that these deaths were ‘a price worth paying.’  I call them a war crime.
In 2003, 900,000 US-directed troops massed in Kuwait, invaded Iraq to finish off, it was claimed, the ‘work that the first president Bush failed to achieve,’ the overthrow and lynching of Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.  If Saddam had any nuclear or broad-area biological weapons, the invader’s buildup in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would have been a dream target.
But Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons, contrary to US and British claims.  I discovered in Baghdad a group of British scientific technicians who had been sent by the UK Ministry of Defense to build outlawed biological weapons at Salman Pak.  These included deadly anthrax and Q-fever – but only for use against Iran if a second Iraq-Iran War erupted.
It is now widely accepted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction pointed at the West, as George Bush and Tony Blair incessantly claimed.  But this was the excuse for going to war against Iraq and destroying it.  When no such weapons were found, the story from Washington and London was changed to ‘oops, it was an intelligence failure.  Sorry about that.’
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Journalists like myself who asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were fired or marginalized.  I was blacklisted at CNN after the White House told the network to fire me at once.  All the ‘presstitutes’, who acted as government boosters for the war, were promoted and lauded.  Welcome to the new Soviet media.
Since Iraq, one if the Arab world’s most developed countries, was laid waste by US bombing, and since the war was deemed a big mistake, who is responsible for trying to repair Iraq to its pre-war condition?  The money offered last week in Baghdad by the Gulf Arabs was a drop in the bucket and designed to bring Iraq into the forming anti-Iran alliance.
If this war crime was being properly litigated, Washington would likely end up being assessed something like $100 billion in damages just to replace physical infrastructure destroyed in the two wars, never mind the deaths of so many Iraqi civilians.  Iran would also have a claim against Iraq’s western and Arab backers for Baghdad’s 1980-1988 war of aggression against Iran that caused an estimated one million Iranian casualties.
‘Oops, I’m sorry we destroyed your country and children’ is not a sufficient mea culpa.  The western leaders who engineered this criminal war against Iraq deserve to be brought to book. So far, they have gotten off scot free.  In fact, the same terrible fate has since befallen Syria, Yemen and parts of Somalia.  Were these disasters also mistakes due to faulty intelligence?
Copyright © 2018 Eric Margolis
Previous article by Eric Margolis: Make Sports, Not War


What Do We Do about the Biased and Incompetent FBI? | Roger L. Simon

It's bad enough for a law enforcement agency to be biased. It's even worse for it to be biased and incompetent.
But the latter seems to be an apt characterization of our Federal Bureau of Investigation in the wake of the killings in Parkland, Florida, where, by their own admission, the organization overlooked warnings about the killer that could have saved seventeen students and teachers from mass murder. This is no mere bureaucratic slip-up and the demand by Governor Scott for the resignation of FBI Director Wray is understandable considering the number of dead children in his state.
The incompetence, moreover, is not just restricted to Parkland. It pervades an institution that—frequently blinded by the most rote political correctness—interviewed and then released terrorists who ultimately perpetrated horrific attacks from the Boston Marathon to the Orlando nightclub massacre. (There are several more.)
Those, to be kind, oversights demonstrate aspects of bias mixed with incompetence, but that lethal combination became yet more apparent throughout the Russian collusion investigation. For the last few weeks we have been digesting the nauseating probability that the FBI used a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and ginned up by an assembly of creepy political hatchet men and women (Blumenthal, Shearer, Steele, two Ohrs, etc.) with input from various "friends of the Kremlin" in order to spy on an American citizen and, undoubtedly, Donald Trump, before and after he became president.
In other words, the FBI displayed the behavior of a Banana Republic in its bias (well, it's a lot more than that, sadly ) at the same time it demonstrated its incompetence by doing so in a manner that would so easily—despite their myriad redactions—finally be uncovered. Many have stated they felt they could do this—play fast and loose—because Clinton's victory was assured, but even that was no guarantee. Documents exist. Did they think Tom Fitton and Judicial Watch would stop their FOIA requests? Eventually, the truth gets known. Whether anyone does anything about it is another matter.
This  "biased incompetence" has not gone away. It showed up again Friday in the supposedly momentous announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies have been indicted for monkeying with our 2016 election via social media. Two of them even came to the U.S. to do it.  Aiming to wreak havoc with our system, they are alleged to have done everything from exploiting minority groups (in the grand Soviet tradition)  to instigating pro and con Donald Trump demonstrations on the same day.
Disinformation, as most intelligence officials know, or should, has been a hallmark of Russian intelligence since the czars. (Remember The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?) These particular Russkies began their disinformation campaign back in 2014, two years before the election.
Wait... 2014?
Where was the FBI? Why did it take them so long to unmask a fairly paltry one million dollar Internet campaign using the most old-style Soviet front groups, although throwing them up online this time? Could it be because this all got started under Obama and he was the one who famously excoriated Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential debates for daring to point out that Russia was still a serious threat? Obama (busy cozying up to and ultimately enriching Iran) accused Mitt of being back in the eighties. The Cold War had been over for twenty years. No wonder the FBI wasn't paying much attention to Putin & Co.
Evidently it took the Trump-Russia gambit to get them off their duffs to discover this giant espionage ring—this even though Rosenstein admitted during his press conference it had no impact on the election and did not involve a single willing U.S. citizen. At certain levels, it seemed almost like a practical joke.
Incompetence, indeed. It's worth remembering that the FBI has a history of missing out on Russian threats. Back in 1940, Whittaker Chambers also famously came forward to warn them about the Ware Group of Soviet spies, including Alger Hiss, that had infiltrated the highest levels of the U.S. government—something far more serious than we have today—but his warnings were dismissed by the feds. Chambers was right, of course. At least the excuse at that point was that the FBI was more worried about the Nazis than the communists. Nowadays, the excuse seems to be Donald Trump.
No, our FBI is not the stuff of legend, if it ever was, although, obviously, good, hard-working people work there. But it doesn't seem to be doing its job. In fact, it seems to be doing the wrong job. The bias and incompetence have infected each other to a degree that is indeed lethal. They are a bureaucratic organization gone rotten.
The solution isn't that complicated but it's painful.  Since the fish rots from the top, cut it off.  All of it.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn't Already.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Vox Popoli: Italia in revolt

Regime change is coming soon to Italy.

A fortnight tomorrow, Italians will go to the polls in an election that was ill-tempered enough before the horror show in Macerata.

The EU’s failed migration policies and the arrival of hundreds of thousands of African migrants on the Italian coast had already made immigration one of the two big issues in the election on March 4. The other is Italy’s dismal economy, currently buried under £2 trillion of national debt. Macerata has raised the stakes even higher.

Most Italians I meet blame their politicians for ineptitude and the EU for abandoning them. They are in a vengeful mood.... Berlusconi’s coalition partners are the hard-Right League or ‘Lega’ (previously the breakaway Northern League) and the even-more-Right-wing neo-fascist Brothers of Italy. Despite the name, they are led by a woman and their candidates include Rachele Mussolini, granddaughter of the wartime dictator.

As for the Left, things are looking bleak. Italy’s centre-Left Democratic Party (PD) is the only one sharing the vision of ever-closer European union peddled by France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel. But Italians want less Europe, not more.

Even diehard supporters of the PD admit this is not their year. Their great hope, the shiny Macron-style Matteo Renzi, was prime minister for five minutes, but destroyed his career with a botched referendum on the constitution in 2016 and had to be replaced by a caretaker PM.

Once the country has voted a fortnight hence, Italy seems likely to join the EU’s anti-Brussels nationalist awkward squad of Poland, Austria, Hungary and others.

There is, though, little appetite for a Brexit-style break with Europe — there will be no ‘Quitaly’ just yet — largely because the country could not stand the economic shock.

But Brussels is viewed with utter contempt. And politicians across the board are now capitalising on the Macerata situation. Berlusconi himself has warned of a ‘social bomb’ as a result and says that just 5 per cent of Italy’s 600,000 migrants are legitimate refugees who should be allowed to stay.

The newspaper La Repubblica has carried a pre-Macerata opinion poll showing that 40 per cent of Italians ‘strongly or very strongly’ agree that migrants represent ‘a danger to public order and personal safety’.

Here in Macerata, 150 miles north of Rome, I find zero appetite for greater European integration — and this is a Left-wing university town.

Historically, it would have been firmly behind the liberal consensus.

Not any more. Even the liberals talk like Ukip, while those on the Right talk of mass deportations.

I'm definitely pro-Lega and pro-Salvini. Berlusconi is getting all the attention, of course, but Salvini is the much more serious player and he's going to be around a lot longer than Silvio. I don't think Italy is psychologically ready to shed the burden of the EU yet, but people dislike it a LOT more than they did back when it was Euros flooding into Italy instead of Africans.

But again, notice the difference between the strength of the reaction and the numbers involved. The European nations will defend themselves before it is too late and they will survive.


Why Government Schools Are Unsustainable - By Teresa Mull

I have a handful of friends who are teachers.  Gathering with them over the weekend and hearing about their experiences was eye-opening.
One of my friends teaches at a traditional public school in an impoverished area.  He makes a better than average salary but is completely disenchanted by the experience and plans to quit the profession altogether after this school year.  He has raised his students' proficiency rate to 90 percent – a remarkable accomplishment made possible by his dedication and hard work.  Yet he receives little support from his principal and barely any backup from the students' parents, and his day is so consumed by paperwork and bureaucratic nonsense that he's overwhelmed, frazzled, and exhausted much of the time.
Another friend teaches at a private Catholic school.  Though he teaches almost twice as many classes as the public school teacher I know and earns about half his salary, the private school teacher enjoys his work much more.  His principal is supportive, his fellow teachers are enthusiastic, and the parents and students are engaged in the educational process.  It's a positive, rewarding workplace environment.
Then there are the charter schools.  My Catholic schoolteacher friend told me many people he knows prefer to send their children to their local parochial schools for a religious education, but since quality charter schools are available in the area, they go with the free option instead.
The private school-charter school debate is complex, but it's obvious that the traditional government school system is broken.  The very way it has been set up makes its demise inevitable.  Its doom is a matter of not "if," but "when."  How many students have to suffer and fail before its ultimate downfall becomes reality?
My friend who teaches at the public told me about a truly heartbreaking situation in his classroom.  A 13-year-old he instructs in the 5th grade (5th-graders are usually 10 or 11 years old) can't read a single word.  He was held back one year, then passed out of protocol and on through to higher grades, despite having to sign his name with an "X" because he is almost completely illiterate.  My friend told me that failing a student once is all that's allowed at his government-run school.  And as the boy's teacher, he'll have to give the student a 70 grade and pass him, even though the student does none of the class or homework assignments.
What will become of this student? I shudder to think.  His life, at best, will likely be made up of minimum-wage jobs.  At worst, homelessness and crime.  My teacher friend doesn't know what to do about such an extreme case, and the school district doesn't care.
This circumstance is just one of thousands of similar cases taking place all across the country every day.  The "pass 'em through" mentality of many education administrators who care more about getting funding for their own interest than they do about students results in illiterate 13-year-olds in the 5th grade, many of whom then end up perpetuating a cycle of poverty and crime.  The disheartened, frustrated teachers see their efforts to make a difference fail at the hands of a defective system, and fewer qualified people are attracted to the profession.  What we're left with is the dregs of the education community, who don't care about teaching, do a poor job at it, and continue producing generations of uneducated children who often contribute little, if anything, to their communities.
It can't continue.  Sooner or later, the public school teaching profession will be empty.  No one will be crazy enough to want to step into a classroom environment that is effectively set up for failure.  So few students will be armed with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the real world that the future taxpayer base will dry up, and there will be no one left to fund the welfare state on which they'll all depend.  Or perhaps parents will become so fed up with the current dysfunctional system that lawmakers will have no choice but to hear and respond to families' cries for education freedom.
I pray it's the latter.
Teresa Mull (tmull@heartland.org) is a research fellow in education policy at the Heartland Institute.
https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/02/why_government_schools_are_unsustainable.html