Elitist Double Standards? You Tell Me!

The screen capture below (at the bottom, due to layout limitations) is from a rather ironic, public-domain web posting that is currently freely available online at the State Department, from 2012, when a particular employee worked there who since has resigned to pursue elected office.

In that light, I have three questions:

  1. 22 e-mails from a State Department employee’s personal, non-secured server are being declared “Top Secret” and withheld in full (not even in redacted form) from we the taxpayers. Since official classification is not just based on title or identification but on content, why is this declaration by the very same State Department for which the employee worked not sufficient by itself for prosecution?
  2. At least one of that State Department employee’s e-mails, placed on purpose on a non-secure personal server, contained information identified as “HCS-O,” which is the intelligence code for human spying. Since classification is not just based on content but on title or identification, why is this not sufficient by itself for prosecution?
  3. Who in State Department is going to be charged and jailed for contempt of court for open defiance of the Federal court order by releasing only a small minority (1,000 pages out of an 8,000-page batch) of that employee’s e-mails before the deadline?

Bonus question (phrased three ways…answer either or all):

I did not name the employee on purpose because that person’s name should not matter to the ostensibly celebrity-blind scales of justice. SO…

    a) What do you think would happen to any non-famous, low-level employee who conducted sensitive government business (including using classified-level content) on a non-secure, personal e-mail server with 1,300 messages taken all, or in part, from classified documents?

    b) Put another way, would/should that hypothetical grunt be given the exact same treatment, in strict equivalence, as the person now being investigated? Or

    c) Put another way, is/should there be a double standard for high-level, corporately funded managerial elites and ordinary government employees?

Destination Doom: The Trump Phenomenon in Conservatism

The attraction of Donald Trump to many on the right is utterly mortifying to this Christian, Constitutional, libertarian-oriented conservative. I know dozens upon dozens of conservatives, and perhaps two who are willing to admit they support Trump. Yet the polls supposedly have him topping the Republican field — a bizarre phenomenon that makes me wonder if these polls are rigged.

Why does the far-left “mainstream” media love to publicize him? Easy: Trump is a convenient caricature, a cartoonish villain straight out of Snidely Whiplash school, and more importantly, drives mouse clicks (and therefore ad revenue). In other words: greed trumps ideology (pun intended).

Sure he says a few things with which I agree, but so do more others on more issues. Trump is not a true conservative, in any way, shape or form, but instead an opportunistic, bellicose, vague, frighteningly ignorant celebrity pretending to be a meaningful presidential candidate. He is better-suited for a pro-wrestling charade or “reality show” than any sort of serious public office.

On the policy front, he offers no coherent, specific, detailed plans for any issue. In the debates he simply thumps, struts and preens his way around, taking policy criticism petulantly and overly personally, while offering hackneyed talking points and little of substance. On every issue he “discusses”, at least one of the other candidates has a more thoughtful, detailed, specific idea. His foreign-policy naivete, on a different end of the spectrum, is nearly as egregiously lacking as Obama’s. At home, there is no indication he will roll back the domestic spying, Big Brother machine of patently unconstitutional privacy invasion that has been assembled piecemeal under presidents of both parties, from Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon on through the Clintons and Bushes, and made worse than ever by Obama.

On the fiscal front, Trump is precisely the embodiment of the wealthy oligarchy the Tea Party ideal is supposed to mistrust…all while posing as some sort of “outsider” in your best interests. How can he help to pull our country out of crippling debt when he acts as bankrupted his own businesses? That’s a valid question and one he answers as if bankruptcy is not necessarily bad (yes it is, Donald…ever heard of prevention?). MarketWatch has rightly called him the most economically liberal Republican since Nixon. If you want someone who isn’t deeply steeped in uber-rich, wheeling-and-dealing, high-stakes hustles, Trump is the wrong choice. Other candidates exist who are far less wealthy, and far more genuine about the outsider mantle and rattling cages (Paul, Cruz, Carson). If you want a complete Washington outsider who has business acumen, Fiorina is a far better pick than Trump.

On the moral front, Trump’s behavior has been nothing short of deplorable. His bullying, threatening attitude is well-known and even legendary. Trump’s exaggerations and brazen dishonesty alone should disqualify him (as Hillary’s lies upon lies upon lies should disqualify her too, in fairness).

Trump definitely gives the Clintons a run for the immorality prize — maybe not as acutely focused as Bill Clinton in terms of the latter’s specific, longstanding problem involving sexual predation of relatively powerless women, but instead, disturbingly diversified in his shameless personal and corporate promotion of moral sewage. The guy has opened and operated giant gambling casinos (and tried to open others before lying about it), has had suspicious dealings with mobsters, has had three trophy-wife marriages and at least one adulterous affair, and has contributed money to known adulterers, and other sexual deviants, and subsidized to the tune of millions those who advocate the murder of unborn babies (many Democrats, below).

With regard to conservative principles, surely heavy monetary support for Democrats for years isn’t part of the ideal. He only draws upon the Bible and Christianity when convenient. He panders to shortsighted, flavor-of-the-moment, celebrity-obsessed foamers with ten-second attention spans. [Yes, such an audience does exist on the political right, as well as what we already take for granted amongst liberals.] I have seen no evidence yet of genuine repentance either. That’s not judgmental in a Biblical sense, it’s just the plain truth. Show me…don’t tell me. Actions peak louder than words.

If you like Trump, you tell me: In light of what I have stated above, why does someone like that appeal to you–someone who is basically a loud, bombastic, garrulous, ill-informed, two-faced, half-coherent, selectively moral, hotheaded huckster, showman, poser, and circus clown, a power-mad blowhard who will say and do whatever it takes, and who (like Hillary) will try to trample anything and anyone who stands in his way? Because he says what you want to hear? Because Palin endorsed him? Neither of those mean he is a true conservative; in fact, his real-life actions resoundingly prove otherwise. At least in that context I can understand the appeal he apparently has to many self-proclaimed Democrats (even including liberal Democrats). Given his past behavior, including historically chummy relations with the Clintons, I (like others) truly have wondered if he is a left-wing plant.

Some liberals like to complain about conservatives “voting against their own self-interests“. What’s the problem with that? Self-interest is not what voting is supposed to be about. We really need more of that, putting country first before the selfishness of, “what’s in it for me”. Whatever Trump is promising, his dishonest track record means he cannot be trusted to deliver. Fellow conservatives, wake up! Get away from the Kool-Aid. Stop this Trump nonsense before you damage the cause for decades.

There’s still time for Republican voters to switch over to an authentically conservative, strongly principled, serious candidate with a proven track record, who is well-educated, with specific and detailed ideas, the intellectual acuity to rout Hillary or Bernie in a one-on-one debate, and a resolute willingness to make tough decisions that might not be immediately popular. That candidate is Rand Paul. Ted Cruz isn’t a bad second option in those regards either. Alas, I’m afraid the majority of the body of voters in this nation isn’t ready for someone as smart as Rand Paul yet. From all I can see, the electorate is not mature, unselfish, aware, investigative, and forward-thinking enough. Hence Paul’s low poll numbers and Cruz’s lag behind Trump…

We are screwed if the ultimate contest is between Trump and either the Clintons or Bernie. Yes, I said “the Clintons”, because with them it always has been a two-evils-for-one deal. Put them back in the White House and you get hypocritical, power-mad, dishonest, conniving, corrupt, manipulative snakes who likewise will squash anyone who dares challenge them, from the highest levels of government down to the next female intern or aide subjugated into performing after-hours “favors” for an aging ex-president. All while the debt grows deeper, still more practitioners of moral depravity (e.g., polygamists, the incestuous and robot-humpers) get “marriage” licenses in their turn, millions more unborn babies are slaughtered for convenience, Israel is left to the jihadist wolves, Russia takes over much of the Middle East and eastern Europe (again), our own physical and virtual sovereignty disappears, the Chinese continue to hack every electronic device we have and steal all our secrets with no consequence at all, and low-skilled workers and welfare parasites pour into the USA, to the detriment of our economy, and the physical danger to our women increases from combat-age male products of oppressively misogynistic cultures.

Bernie at least is honest and sincere and true to his stated worldviews; if I were a leftist, he would have my vote, no question. But his worldviews are serious bad news: governmentally heavy-handed, authoritarian, pie-in-sky, anything-goes, Utopian, and admittedly socialist policies would divide, bankrupt and demolish our nation and its societal fabric once and for all, in many of the same ways as Hillary’s presidency would (see above). The main difference would be in the outward friendliness of the White House occupant as our nation crumbles regardless.

This election could be a choice between that heinous Trojan horse Trump and either of the ultra-radical, Alinskyan, Cloward-Piven schooled leftists at the top of the “D” ticket. If so, I might just fill in the rest of the ballot, leave the top part empty, file it, go outside, and retch in the grass. [In Oklahoma we don’t have write-ins, unfortunately.] This has the distinct potential to be the election that permanently dooms America to what would, in that event, be a deserved fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Your best hope, if Trump is elected in a lesser-of-monster-evils fight with Hillary*, is that: 1) his itchy hands are kept off the nuclear switch somehow, and 2) that he will be convinced by someone (who?) to appoint legitimate conservatives to positions of influence throughout the administration, and to the Supreme Court. Don’t count on it. I don’t trust that casino-mogul shyster any more than any of the Democrats. Think of an even less-capable Jerry Jones/Jesse Ventura personality as President…and God help us all.

Or…vote Rand Paul and get everyone you know to do the same.

* Unless of course the security-breaching e-mail evidence against her becomes so overwhelming that not even the radical-left inJustice Department now in power can resist indicting her for numerous felonies. Then Bernie backs into the nomination by default. Again, God help us all…

Rebirth Within: The Meaning of “Born Again” in a Hostile World

When most people think “born again”, I reckon they imagine some fat ladies acting as intrusive small-town busybodies while singing glory hymns to a swaying flock at a Southern tent revival, a hypocrite who claims and feigns piety yet gets caught in some terrible public act of crime or scandal, a pious-acting pseudo-Christian who pretends to have a perfect life and perfect marriage (in denial of his/her own deep swims in pools of adulterous salaciousness), or a TV preacher begging for money to subsidize his mansion, his trophy wife’s diamonds, and a private jet supposedly immune from demons.

All such events and people have existed, no argument–albeit in exceedingly small quantities compared to the total Christian population. Yet when revealed, they disproportionately are publicized by the attack dogs of dogma on the anti-Christian left and portrayed as wholly representative of the churchgoing flocks. “Look at these hypocrites! See, I told you religion is evil and should be eliminated from the world forever.”

Those are mere stereotypes of course, little capsules of culture-concocted hate-poison used against an entire category of people, and manifestations of the cynicism of the human world acting to generalize caricatures into weapons of rejection. The hateful rage, naturally enough, arises from many of the same ones who preach love and tolerance. Read any website or post of anti-Christian vitriol online and you’ll see examples of those same human flaws wielded over and over, in exhausting and unoriginal redundancy, as weapons against the religion. The “Christian” hypocrites (regardless if real or perceived) make convenient fodder for intellectually lazy anti-Christian trolls aiming to discredit the faith itself through selfishly self-satisfying vituperation on the imperfections of real or pretend practitioners.

Who is behaving as such a troll? The resentful and/or envious and/or jealous and/or cynical and/or mean-spirited anti-Christian bigot, of course, who stands willing and ready at the hair-trigger to cite all manifestations of imperfection and hypocrisy, major or minor, old or new, portrayed falsely as products of belief in God. Of course, such actions are precisely the opposite–the direct spawn of sinful thought on the part of non-divine humans (i.e., everyone who isn’t Jesus) who choose their bad behaviors out of free will! Every single sin is an act against God’s will, not an act on his behalf, regardless of how it is portrayed.

Rebirth and authentic, personal belief don’t involve perfection, nor pretending piety, nor even failing to sin again. The latter is not possible. No living human fully achieves Jesus’ direction to “sin no more”. Instead, to use a mathematical analogy, freedom from sin is a goal that we only can hope to approach asymptotically in this life, and only if we put forth conscious effort. I still do things I shouldn’t, and that’s the truth, even if the trend line seems to be headed the right way in fits and spurts. That’s not an excuse to do bad things, just an acknowledgment of hard reality.

Does my imperfection disqualify me as Christian? Absolutely, positively, resolutely not! And neither does it render the faith illegitimate.

If being practiced by imperfect people is reason to discredit a faith, then being practiced by imperfect scientists is reason to discredit science. Being practiced by imperfect physicians is justification to invalidate medicine. Being practiced by imperfect athletes is cause to dismiss athletics. Being practiced by imperfect writers is grounds to besmirch authorship…and so forth. Ridiculous!

This also is reality: Rebirth happens within each single individual, in a very real and meaningful way, and only when we’re fully open to it in a mode of self-denial. By that, I mean turning off and tuning out all distractions, pushing aside all the diversions of life just long enough to experience a moment outside oneself. It’s hard to find, but unmistakable once we do. There’s a mountainous obstacle to that around or over which one must navigate: culture, a.k.a. “the world”.

We live in a world intrinsically infested with materialism, greed and self-glorification. That reaches us via cultural bombardment with incoming messages from celebrities, media, Internet, peers, and even family, promoting the selfish ideals (and idols!) of:

  1. deserving instead of offering,
  2. gaudiness instead of modesty,
  3. appearances instead of authenticity,
  4. evasion instead of directness,
  5. deception instead of honesty,
  6. portraying instead of being, and of course,
  7. taking instead of giving.

The din of all that spiritually numbing noise offers a level of disruption and distraction that takes nearly inhuman levels of willpower to silence, unless we just step away. Yet it happens if we allow, often in a quiet moment of solitude, or in mutual reinforcement with spiritually mature and strong people we can trust.

It happens for me often with my wife Elke, someone who isn’t perfect either, but who is a spiritual giant residing inside her authentically quiet, unassuming persona. It happens in the inflow to a powerhouse tornadic supercell, or beholding one of those Great Plains sunsets that paint a neon sky from horizon to horizon. It deeply happens when I experiencing those things with Elke. Moments of spiritual oneness outside self–these are marvelous antidotes to the toxicity of hostile culture and human failings, and expressions of love from Above that say, “I am bigger than all the hate directed at you, and I will prevail in your life if you choose!” So I accept that I will be hated for my beliefs, even as I choose guerrilla battles to wage against said hate.

Rebirth can be a one-time big event, thousands of little steps or reminders, and everything in between. It can be that “booming voice from the heavens” for some folks, but more often it seems to be epitomized by the following reassurance, found in Paul’s letter to Christ’s followers in Ephesus: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around, but by working within us–his spirit deeply and gently within us.”

That’s the essence of rebirth: we must want it, invite it, open up to it. Maybe it’s gradual (as with me, still a “work in progress”). Maybe it’s sudden. Either way the result is as individual as each of us, customized to and for each of us according to our uniqueness. It can be manifest as simply as fullest appreciation of the smile of a beloved spouse, the dog wagging its tail and looking at you with unadulterated loyalty and affection, or the purr of one’s ecstatic cat in a quiet room. It’s as complex as the sky and everything in it, or as all the facets of love itself.

Such rebirth, especially if experienced with a loved one or good friend, also makes us more accountable, more aware than ever before of our own imperfections and relative smallness, more willing to set ego aside and apologize for mistakes we invariably will make. Accountability is so important to everyone, fulfilling instead of restricting when properly considered, is a vanishing concept in the era of “me, myself and I”.

Rebirth also makes us more attentive to the awesome things happening all around that we missed before, or at least, didn’t appreciate so fully. This ability, which still manifests far too seldom in me compared to the connection with God that I desire, leads one directly away from cultural pollution and toward glory and grace. Documenting such moments in the atmosphere with photography, for me, is a small way to show off the beauty and amazement of Another’s creation more than any skill of my own. [In other words, He makes the picture; I just try my best not to screw it up too much.]

And those who have experienced rebirth still have personalities and quirks and flaws and failings. You bet I belch, fart, hack snot, wear casual clothes everywhere including church, blast forth uncouth words sometimes, and even get pissed off and do crazy shit that I shouldn’t. [Whoa, did a Christian just write that? Damn straight, he did!] Yes, I am also a Christian, fully devoted. It’s who I am. Those are not contradictions.

And yet the rebirth has happened, and is ongoing–a lifelong process. I’d rather take that journey than the other forks branching off life’s highway.

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