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Sunday, January 22, 2017


This being the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, some thought occurs about what it takes to be a great reformer.  Of course the Reformation was far more than 1517 and the nailing of 95 theses on a church door.  It was 1519 and the Luther-Eck debate that threw down the theological gauntlet to the Dominicans, the vernacular Bibles going back to Wycliff, the theology of Hus and Calvin, the preaching of Zwingli and a good deal of politics about things like German wanting out from under Italy and Netherlands wanting out from under the Hapsburgs and Sulieman wanting everyone under him.  Reformers have to be tough and lucky.  But above all, you must be Plainspoken. 

            Zwingli, the redfaced blonde Swiss preacher and Hus who did the same in Prague were plain-talking guys whom the masses understood, “preached in their language”.  Luther was the son of a guy who owned 7 mines and 2 smelters, who grew up loving the songs of the tavern, the work ethic of his entrepreneurial father and the simple language of the miners.  About the only people who could read and write were clergy who hired out to do technology, accounting, and architecture. To flaunt their position, they often used big words and wrote in Latin which only their peers could discern.  All the reformers could do this but chose to speak simply in a way that thrilled the ordinary people. Only perhaps Calvin, with his categorization of Christian teaching was more of an austere lawyer than a son of the soil.  But all the movements generated what is called Protestant work ethic. Some Reformation thinkers were left behind in the Catholic church to spur reform from within.  When Catholics met Protestants in America, they formed a pact of religious freedom and Lockean government. So resonate was Hus that his movement, though stamped out as he was burned at the stake, fled to the hills of Bohemia and lived on to this day as the Moravian church.  Zwingli and Calvin’s dogma spread widest. Luther transformed Germany to this day.  His love  of song, gave rise to half the great German composers of the Baroque/ Classical/Romantic era and lived in “the singing church” that continued Western music to the Beatles and to Christian Contemporary music.  Luther’s zeal for reading and writing spawned public schools and a German public that to this day publishes 6 times the printed volume per capita as the next country, USA. 

            So apply this to politics and we see the ultimate in plain-spokeness in Trump.  Where an intellectual reformer is just a dissendent, a true reformer gets things done.  FDR, Disraeli, Washington were like this.  Trump is a get ‘r done guy who communicates with the people.  All this would seem to say that we are seeing a revolution in a revamping of government—if he can get by the hurdles of Democrat obstructionism and Republican blankie clutching.  By the time it is over, it may not be entirely what you and I wanted, but it will be lasting in many ways.  This, not Obama’s executive orders, is what legacy is about.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Is Trump Legitimate?

Democrats have been arguing that Trump did not legitimately win. They argue 1. Electoral College win isn’t legitimate, 2. Russians cheated Hillary, 3. Comey did it.  But I think we should be able to devise some somewhat scientific tests and have the number tell us. 


First a few results.  Trump got 62.98M votes, Hillary got 65.84M, Others 7.80M.  136.63M cast.  Even though Hillary won, she won by 2% less margin in popular vote than Obama.  And this was a heavy turnout.  The population grew (320.1M from 312.1M in 2012) by 2.5% but turnout grew by 8.0%.  Only MS, IA,OH, and WI had slightly fewer voters than in 2012.

            Dem margins were down in 12 of 13 swing states.  Their margin was up in AZ but down in CO, FL, IA, ME, MN, MI, NV, NH, NC, OH, PA, and WI.  The shifts in IA and ME were 15.4% and 12.3% to the R-Pres., Trump.

            R’s were -3 in the House and -2 in Senate but picked up 6 state legislature houses where they now lead 69-30.

            So let’s take the first argument, that the Electoral College screwed Hillary.  Here, Trump won 30 states compared to her 20.  That’s +6 states more than Romney got (24, compared to 26 by Obama).  Clearly Hill lost the electoral vote and the flyover states.  Both Madison and Hamilton were clear in the Federalist Papers that they designed a constitution so that just a corner of the country couldn’t lord it over the rest.  They wanted majority of not just votes, but wide areas of representation.  Hence the electoral college compromise.  It was also thought, in those days, that electors were state leaders who would, with a clear head and with much study, vote for the right man for Pres.  We have a republic, not a democracy.  To seat Hillary would surely go against this reasoning.

            Second Dems say the Russians hacked them and spread false stories, thus causing polls to soar for Trump at the last minute.  Here’s the math problems.  We had record turnout amid record disapprovals of both candidates.  Maybe people were casting votes "against".  So then why didn't 3rd party guys get big votes? Thus, this must have been a lesser effect.  Polls all had Hillary +7 to +10 the week, even days, before the election. For an October Surprse to create this much change would be historically unprecedented.  [For a similar experiment, look at George H.W.Bush who went from perhaps -1% to -2% the last week when Leonard Walsh brought forth the Iran-Contra charges which supposedly implicated Bush.]  Nor did 2016 polls discover a big turnout, which clearly happened nationwide. Why did they miss it?  Answer: Apparently people weren’t telling pollsters(any pollster!) the real story. Hence it was a large unknown turnout of R-votes that scuttled Hillary.  Doubt this?  Then look at state results.  R Congressmen and Senators were returned to seats. (Senate R’s defended 25 out of 33 seats!)  R’s gained state legislatures. Had this been a last minute poll shift for Trump, it wouldn’t have shown up in all these other offices. Another measure of the fact that voters were telling pollsters to leave them alone were the exit polls which also showed Hill ahead by+5.  But that wasn’t the actual vote! Trump voters weren't answering polls, but registering their vote.

 Certainly the Russians hacked but were they effective in drawing down her votes?  At  the same time as Wikileaks-Russia the FBI was releasing files, more damaging than Wikileaks.  So were the allegations of O’Keefe who caused several Democrat personel to be fired. The hacking seems to have been just an auxillary story.  And as yet, we don’t hear any Dems saying this or that allegation was false. Were all thes stories true? The lack of protest of specifics would say so.  But does that implicate Comey’s investigation?

ND a tiny poulation state with a big Intel presence went more negative for Hillary than Obama. But another small but heavily Intel-dominated state, UT, swing was muddied by a third party candidate. Mixed result. But again the misfire of polls shows that any October surprise was minimal in effect.  It was the voters coming out of the woodwork to vote Trump that killed her campaign.  Surprising big vote, nationwide, big loss of Obama margins, rest of races bearing results out.
You can’t argue with Math.     

Sunday, January 8, 2017

English politics

            We often discuss American History & Revolutionary War but miss the broader main points of the British experience and how it made the colonies think.  In 1776 practically all the Americans thought of themselves as good British subjects willing to do what came natural in throwing off an English king.

            Kings of England were a subset of the feudal order, where a strong tribal leader doles out privileges and land to his best warriors, then has a contract with them to solicit soldiers and money to defend the realm.  It was all about war and defense.  The best warriors were called dukes (counts in France from which we get “county”) and the soldiers were knights, a class of men who trained from age 7 in warfare.  Few could read.  Only the church and monasteries had literate personnel. If you wanted an accountant or a guy to design castles, get someone from the church.  And nobody lived very long.  A cut turned into gangrene, small pox killed 1/3 of it’s victims, women died often in childbirth.  So kings had a problem with succession and heirs.  1/3 died without a filial heir.  That caused a war of succession among claimants, often generations later as well.  Marriages were arranged for alliances, so a French king’s daughter at age 2 might be pledged to a dashing crown prince from England, age 18. But by the time she was marriageable, he may have had a dozen mistresses and be a drunken old coot with war wounds.  Or a king’s queen might be put away for her affair to a rival for the throne, never to see her children, who in turn grow up loathing their father (George II, mid-1700s). 

            All that baloney about the romance of being a princess that young girls adore never happened.  A queen had to be the manager of warring dukes.  She’d be expected to marry quickly, with good political alliance, to provide an heir. A contender to the throne was sure to challenge, since women weren’t warriors. (Men have about 3X the muscular mass of women and when it comes to swinging swords and jousting, have unchallenged ability.) Thusthe beloved Elizabeth I, was beset by Protestants vs. Catholics, suitors from all over Europe, challenges to her status, parliament’s funding, decided never to marry but to marry England instead. But within the girl was the heart of an emperor. She brought England to tears on the eve of the Armada’s invasion and again when she opened Parliament the last year of her life, “Although God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my crown, that I have reigned with your loves…though you have had many mightier and wiser princes sitting in this seat, yet you have never had, nor shall have, any that love you better.”

            Kings got warriors from feudal dukes but money and supplies were problems. They had to get it from Parliament who could tax. Kings did fees. King John was an ass, and the dukes ganged up on him to get concessions in Magna Carta.  John signed but got the pope to nullify.  But then he suddenly died and his boy heir, Henry III, had a power vacuum and the Magna Carta was re-instated   It provided for an advisory council (“Parliament” from the French word for talk, parlez).  These barons, every time there was a weak king of a tyrant, would make limits and demands and the Parliament became a unique feature of England. Eventually the Magna Carta rights were deemed apply to all English, not just the nobles.  (3 classes in middle ages—nobles, clergy, and commoners.  Nobles thought themselves literally superior to the subhuman common people.  This began to change about 1500.)

            Edward III 1327-77, had a legitimate claim to the French throne and started a war to win it.  But the Black Death and his long reign that outlived his sons, threw a rock into the cogwheels.  A dearth of people developed and survivor guilt caused a religious revival of Christian principles.  The grandsons of Ed divided into factions and it led to civil war, War of Roses. When a guy took the throne, he would kill the families of rivals.  Who gets their land?  King does.  This led to more abuse when Henry VIII took over monastic lands after declaring Protestant. Parliament passed a law against Bills of Attainder—you can’t just pass a law against one person or family with the designs on killing them and taking their land. It’s evil.  Bottom line: If a king wants money or powers he has to ask for it.  Chaos of English successions caused Parliaments to assert themselves.  Then Henry VIII not only muddled the succession, but brought on religious strife pertaining to it.  Parliament, trying to get control of the army in 1640 ran afoul of Charles I, the pretty boy who chased good-looking Catholic women from the Continent.  That was the other problem with kings.  They had a limited stock of acceptable girls.  And Parliament went to war against Charles, defeated him, and sent his French wife back to France in exile.  Her boys were raised Catholic.  After the Interregnum, when Parliament unsuccessfully ruled, they invited Charles II to be king, but he was AINO, Anglican In Name Only, and believed in divine right of kings like the French. His brother, James II was far worse.  In 1688, English went shopping for a new King and Queen—William and Mary. 

            This all occurred in early American colonial times, before 1700.  One rationale of the English was that the king James II had violated the “social contract” with the people, an idea of John Locke.  Locke’s ideas didn’t have much popularity in England but they caught on with the clergy in America, who, after the religious revival of Great Awakening, 1740-42, became big spokesmen of communities.  Thus 19 of the 56 people who signed the Declaration were pastors. And the English originally mistook the colonial revolt for a bunch of radical Presbyterian ministers.

            Meanwhile after William and Mary and then Queen Anne, the throne was filled by a German prince, George I, because he was the only available Protestant heir.  He spoke no English and left Parliament to do most business. He caught his wife having an affair and banished her to a castle, never to see her children again. Thus his son, George II loathed his father.  The ideal of the Americans was that a leader should be moral, communicative, and a servant of people, is much a reaction to the dysfunctional Georges. George II, because of his lonely childhood could never have close relationships, and became a macho soldier with many mistresses. Same deal with his son Frederick. How would Americans see this, people who had come here dearly wanting to worship as they saw fit?  And George II kept getting into wars.  Eventually, the Seven Years War led to such broken finances that for the first time, the British treasury began to tax all people, not just nobles, and colonists, who, by Act weren’t supposed to be. George III continued taxation and Parliament passed a number of martial law acts that killed freedom in the colonies.  In 1773, a Philadelphia printer named Benjamin Franklin reprinted Two Treatises on Government by John Locke and it ignited the colonists.

            Oh, did I mention that when Scotland and England united, 1707, English gentry bought up and bankrupted Scots and turned their land into sheep ranches for the blooming wool trade—thereby exiling Scots to Ireland and America? That kings liked Catholicism and Anglicanism because they could appoint bishops as a power grab.  Or that lack of free land in England led many to emigrate? (And they came up with a term “American Dream”, meaning the Lockean right to have a relationship with God, own land, and do as you saw fit.)

Dangerous Men


College men’s studies often start with the conclusion they desire which is effeminate men--passive, non-aggressive, slow to make decisions, asexual, and above all, liberal.  John Eldredge’s “Wild at Heart” series of books disagrees.  He notes 6 essential stages in men’s lives and how each one builds upon the former, while never completely relinquishing learning along any of them.  Let me summarize how real men are wild at heart, bearing the image of a God so wild He dared to come to earth to rescue mankind.  And his view explains why so many men don’t see themselves as valiant and dangerous, but see themselves as lustful, angry and fearful.  Without a great battle to fight, they don’t engage. They fear someon will foind out they really aren’t a man. Here’s the stages that must occur.

1.      Beloved son.  A young boy has to realize that he is prized and beloved by parents.  If you don’t get this, you’ll be forever risk-averse as well as unable to show love to others. The prime age for beloved son is through about age six.

2.     Cowboy.  You gotta do crazy daring things to find you limits.  A group of boys will stimulate each other to do big stuff or stupid stuff.  It is all part of hero worship and learning what a brave hero is.  If you are deprived of this you’ll not attempt to be brave, noble and strong or will do it in the wrong way. You won’t know the limits of real life. Six through mid teens.

3.     Warrior.  A warrior is an accomplished skilled man. How does he know he is skilled?  Only through the acclaim of other men.  Only dad or a male role model or a group of accomplished men can tell you have done well and you measure up.  Women by definition cannot do this since they aren’t men.  For thousands of years, men have honed skills and taught them to their sons.  If a kid relies on a group of peers to tell him he measures up, you have the dangerous, unlearned advise of a gang with it’s lack of knowledge about limits of behavior and moral code.  The age for warriors is late teens and early twenties.

4.     Lover. Once you realize you have well-taught skills, you also realize the world is too big to conquer alone.  You need a partner—a real close partner, who can fill in the gaps of what skill you lack.  She.  If a man doesn’t get to the point of warrior, he mistreats women and considers them sex servants.  Real men want an accomplished and reliable woman.  Age for this stage is 20-something or 30s. 

5.     King.  King is a man at the top of his game with a rich and noble heart.   He’s doing things and fulfilling his destiny, walks in humility and fought for people—immensely kind, generous and just.  But he’s also able to spin off more ideas and projects than he can do by himself.  So he seeks to train the young men coming up under him. Yet you cannot master enough principles to know how to handle everything. Thus a close walk with God is needed or you never have a true king, but a tyrant in some way.  This is the age of dads.

6.     Sage.  The heart of a Sage is to make his last years count.  Instead of shuffleboard, he speaks from experience, a vast reservoir of self-discovery. He retires from a career but his influence grows as he works with his heirs.

If a man never had the Cowboy, he’ll spend too much time at golf or adventure or a sports car.  If never a Warrior, he’ll wield power in anger or try to get the feeling of power, making mountains out of molehills.  If he’s never a Lover, he’ll get a trophy wife or somebody on the internet. If an uncertain King, he’ll dismiss the Sages around him and do foolish attempts on his own.

            The wild at heart guy is like Joseph.  Doesn’t matter if he’s not appreciated mush.  Mary, a young girl he’s engaged to, turns up pregnant with a wild story about bearing God’s Son. Hurt and confused, Joe still is honorable and won’t have her stoned.  It takes and angel to tell him the truth, but hey, this is going to cost him.  He will forever be the butt of jokes and ridicule.  He’ll lose clients and people won’t trust his judgment. They’ll transfer their distrust to his son, “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” Does Joe flinch and withhold? Nope. Offers Mary his strength.  Steps between her and the mess.  Raises Jesus faithfully.  God found his man for stepfather.  Together they made His Son.

            Wild at Heart and Way of the Wild at Heart, John Eldredge, Thomas Nelson Publications