Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MLK's Beautiful Christian Dream

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a beautiful dream of a colorblind society in which people are judged based on important things like what they do and in which unimportant details, like skin tone, are irrelevant to how we interact with each other. This is a distinctively Christian vision. One of the great innovations of the Christian religion is that it is a religion for all. The world had long known societies that accepted all gods. But the Christians may have been the first to see their God as accepting all people.
The Apostle Paul had to fight hard for that. The first Christians were Jews who believed that Yahweh was the God of the Jews. So to follow the Christian God, you had to become a Jew. But Paul, with the direct intervention of a divine vision, erased this error at the Council of Jerusalem. As Paul powerfully explained in Galatians 3:28, in Christ, "[t]here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." This is true equality. This is unity. This is love. This is the vision of MLK, a world, but especially a Church, in which irrelevancies, like skin color, are irrelevant.
Unfortunately, Satan has successfully transmogrified Dr. King's beautiful dream into a dystopian nightmare. Now our elites insist that we see first the color of our skin so that we can properly categorize each other and practice "diversity," and "tolerance," and "inclusion." Racists focus on race so they can exclude. The elites focus on race so they can include. Neither of these is MLK's dream, and neither is Christian.
As a Christian, when I see another man, I shouldn't see a white man or a black man to be excluded or included. I should see a fellow bearer of the image of God, and, if he's a Christian, I should see a Christian brother. The color of his skin is no more relevant than the color of his shoes. Where Christianity demands unity, the elites substitute diversity. Where Christianity demands love, the elites substitute tolerance. If you've accepted what the elites are peddling, you've accepted a sorry substitute for Christianity and a sorry substitute for MLK's beautiful dream.
In honor of the vision of MLK, I determine to spend this entire day ignoring the color of the skin of my fellow divine image bearers. Going forward, I vow to oppose any movement that seeks to force me to see my fellow humans, and especially fellow Christians, first as a skin color.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween and the Reversal of the Great Commission

Everyone is free to read this, but this is particularly addressed to Christians.

One of my adult daughters and I took my ten-year-old son out trick-or-treating yesterday evening while his mother manned the candy bowl at home. As we wandered around the streets with many of our neighbors whom we rarely see and knocked on many doors that are never otherwise opened to us, I was struck by how many more points of contact we had with our neighbors than we have on any other day or even any other month. Seeing all of my neighbors smiling and opening their doors (as we were doing the same), it was hard to imagine that many evangelical Christians struggle with how we might reach our neighbors with the gospel.

Reflecting on those ideas made me afraid. I fear we evangelical Christians may be reversing the Great Commission. Jesus commanded His disciples to “go” and teach and make disciples. But I am afraid that we evangelical Christians have developed a tendency to “stay” in our churches and invite the world to come in. I fear that this reversal of the Great Commission from “go” to “stay and invite” is not good for evangelism and is not good for edification within the church.

Peter gave us a blueprint for outreach in 1 Peter 2. He begged his readers as “strangers and pilgrims” to remain “honorable” in their “conduct” so that when unbelievers speak against them (not if, but when), those unbelievers may see their good deeds and glorify God. And how did Peter follow up this exhortation to glorify God through good deeds before unbelievers? Did he say “invite them to your solemn assemblies” so they can see your good works? No. Take note, Peter told his readers to submit to “every human institution.” The word translated “institution” is quite broad. The examples given relate to human government, but the exhortation is broader. Peter goes on to say that “so is the will of God, that with well doing you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Then Peter sums up with “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Here’s why that passage came to me last night. We came to one house that had a long table set up in the driveway with several bowls of candy, each with an address in front of it. One of the adults standing there explained, “When you come to some of these houses on the street with their lights off, they’re not being ‘jerks’ (his word), we’ve just combined in this one spot.” (Others of our neighbors also had gathered together in the street to pass out candy together.) Then it hit me. Do they think people who don’t participate in trick-or-treat are “jerks”? What about all my evangelical Christian brethren who are trunk-or-treating at their churches right now? Is their testimony sullied? Is Halloween a “human institution” to which we must submit for the sake of our testimony?

Note the question marks at the end of that paragraph. I’m not being dogmatic about participating in Halloween. I know some in good conscience cannot participate, and to violate conscience is neither wise nor safe. But I am saying that when we withdraw from ordinary human institutions we run the risk of running afoul of 1 Peter 2. Peter (and Jesus) told us to go into human society and live the gospel, not retreat into our churches and invite unbelievers to come in. I know that there are things we simply cannot do with unbelievers. But there also are things we can do, and we should do. What message does it send when we isolate ourselves in our Christian enclaves?

And here’s the other, equally disturbing, side of the isolationist coin. When we withdraw from society, we still know that we have an obligation to reach the world with the gospel. So what do we do? We invite the world to come into our churches. Well what unbeliever wants to sit through a careful exposition of Scripture? What unbeliever will want to participate in a deep and meaningful song service? No problem, we’ll just add flashing lights, smoke machines, electric guitars, and simple, repetitive lyrics. That will make the song service tolerable. As for those expository sermons, we’ll just tell moral stories instead. We’ll work in “biblical principles.” We’ll make the sermons both entertaining AND good moral teaching. Then unbelievers will tolerate them. This is the way of the “seeker friendly” church.

What is sacrificed? The full-orbed worship and teaching of Scripture that we need as believers. We sacrifice our own edification to make our churches tolerable for unbelievers. The writer of Hebrews tells us that we must assemble together to inspire each other to love and good deeds. Our assembly is for our edification, not for outreach. The Bible doesn’t tell us to make our churches comfortable for “seekers” – we’re supposed to be the “seekers,” going out into the world and living lives before them that are above reproach. When we bring the world into the church, the unbelievers aren’t reached (no matter how entertaining, church can never compete with HBO), and we’re not edified. The church becomes stagnant and ineffectual.

Here’s what I’ve concluded. When it comes to evangelism, I need to consciously keep myself in the world whenever possible. I might have to withdraw sometimes, but my prejudice should be to hang in there and live the gospel. (Even writing that is convicting.) But I must come apart from the world from time to time for mutual edification and support with my believing brethren. I must do both, go and withdraw. I shouldn’t blur them together, because then I’m doing neither. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Death to the False Dichotomy!

The false dichotomy is a menace. According to Google, a false dichotomy is a [binary division] that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap), or that is possibly neither. In other words, one form of the false dichotomy presents only two options when in reality there are more.

Many of us were bludgeoned with the false dichotomy during the last election cycle: “Failing to vote for X is a vote for Y.” Because I swim in conservative waters, I was assaulted with “If you don’t vote for Trump, it’s a vote for Hillary.” That’s a false dichotomy. I had other options. I didn’t have to choose between a corrupt candidate and a debased candidate, despite what my Facebook friends kept trying to tell me. I proved the dichotomy false in the voting booth when I cast my vote for a third party, and neither of the supposedly binary options got my vote.

Now the false dichotomy is rearing its ugly head again. I’m being told that if I condemn Antifa, then I’m supporting neo Nazis. I have to remain silent about the lawlessness and violence to which Antifa is committed, or I’m branded a white supremacist. Well, I didn’t fall for that fallacy in the election, and I’m not falling for it now. There’s a third option – I can condemn both groups as evil and dangerous. I don’t have to choose between the vile, hateful racists and the violent, lawless criminals. I can (and do) say “A pox on both your houses.” I don’t have to take sides in the raging uncivil war between armed camps of extremists.

Here’s why I hate this particular false dichotomy: If people are pushed to believe that they must choose sides here, some people will. Some borderline racists, who might otherwise keep their mouths shut, will be pushed into the waiting arms of the white supremacists. And some gullible students steeped for four years of college in the propaganda of the extreme left will decide to join Antifa. After all, who wants to support neo Nazis? And if you don’t support Antifa, then you’re supporting the white supremacists, or so some would have us believe.

This is a dangerous game our elites, especially in the media, are playing. In trying to stamp out the false idea of white supremacy, they’re refusing to condemn lawlessness and violence on the extreme left. Worse, they’re trying to bully the rest of us into taking sides and supporting the criminal enterprise that is Antifa. Well, I’m not buying it. Say what you like, but I’m not taking sides between these two tiny camps of despicable extremists. I reject them both, and I won’t be cowed into remaining silent. Even though I did not vote for President Trump, I’m glad that he has condemned in explicit terms both the hateful white supremacists and the violent criminals on the extreme left who clashed in Charlottesville and temporarily turned that quiet college town into a killing field. Both sides deserve condemnation, and both will have it from me. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Partial Response to Professor Kevin Lee

This is an incomplete response to an essay posted  to ssrn by Professor Kevin Lee.

The key phrase “Culture of Death” in the title of Professor Lee’s essay was popularized by Pope John Paul II in his important 1995 encyclical, EvangeliumVitae (“The Gospel of Life”).  The encyclical is divided into four chapters.  Sections 7-28 comprise the first chapter, “The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood Cries to Me from the Ground.”  After a review of the Biblical account of the first murder of Abel by Cain in sections 7-10, John Paul catalogues in section ten several contemporary attacks on life on which attacks his encyclical expressly does not concentrate:  threats from nature exacerbated by human indifference; results of violence, hatred, and conflicting interests; poverty, malnutrition, and hunger because of unjust distribution of resources; armed conflict; reckless tampering with ecological balance; criminal spread of drugs; and promotion of sexual activities involving grave risks to life.  On none of these does John Paul concentrate.  

Rather, beginning in section eleven, John Paul focuses his attention on a particular form of attack on life:  attacks affecting life at its most vulnerable, earliest and final stages.  John Paul writes of abortion and euthanasia.  These attacks on life are all the more serious because they “are carried out in the very heart of and with the complicity of the family—the family which by its nature is called to be the ‘sanctuary of life.’”  John Paul then turns his attention to the causes of this situation including moral uncertainty fostered by many and serious social problems, which leads to section twelve of the encyclical, the section in which John Paul introduces the phrase “culture of death,” providing Professor Lee with a catchy title for his essay.

In section twelve, John Paul identifies a structure of sin that spawns the emergence of a “culture of death.”  The problem is a “society excessively concerned with efficiency.”  This “culture of death” amounts to a “war of the powerful against the weak.”  The lives of the very young and the very old, lives that “require greater acceptance, love and care” are “held to be an intolerable burden.”  The “culture of death” is a culture that values life only so long as it can “contribute to the bottom line.”  If a particular life demands more of human society than it can give back, then that life has no net value and must be eliminated.  This is the “culture of death” of which John Paul wrote. 

The phrase “culture of death” appears eleven more times in Evangelium Vitae, most of those recurring in the first chapter.  The phrase appears for the second time in section nineteen, which addresses the roots of a “remarkable contradiction” between contemporary global proclamations of human rights and the practice that the “very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.”  John Paul identifies one of those roots as “a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of ‘the strong’ against the weak who have no choice but to submit.”  This concept of freedom supports a “culture of death”:  “the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages.”  Section twenty-one seeks “the deepest roots” of “the culture of death” and finds “a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism” that “produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence.”  John Paul argues in section twenty-four that this darkening of the moral conscience of a society that “encourages the ‘culture of death’ is exacerbated by the media that confuses “between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life.”

In section twenty-six, John Paul notes “signs which point to” the ultimate victory of life over death.  These signs appear even in societies that are “marked” by the “culture of death.”  The phrase “culture of death” appears twice in section twenty-eight, the final section of the first chapter, in which John Paul sums up the “clash” between the “’culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’” and emphasizes our duty to choose between the “’culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death.’”

The phrase “culture of death” appears once at the end of chapter two, “I Came That They May Have Life,” which reflects “on the Christian message about life.”  In section fifty, John Paul analogizes the “dramatic conflict between the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’” to the “cosmic disturbances” experienced at the Cross on Good Friday.  The phrase “culture of death” appears once in chapter three, “You Shall Not Kill — God’s Holy Law.”  In section sixty-four, John Paul focuses on end of life issues.  John Paul identifies “one of the more alarming symptoms of the ‘culture of death,’" which is “an attitude of excessive preoccupation with efficiency . . . which sees the growing number of elderly and disabled people as intolerable and too burdensome.”

The three final uses of the phrase “culture of death” are in the final chapter four, ““You Did It to Me — for a New Culture of Human Life.”  In section eighty-seven John Paul stresses the need for the “service of charity” as “the ‘culture of death’ so forcefully opposes the ‘culture of life.’"  In section ninety-five, John Paul again stresses the “dramatic struggle between the ‘culture of life’ and the ‘culture of death,’” which presses the “need to develop a deep critical sense, capable of discerning true values and authentic needs.”  The final use of the phrase appears in section 100 in which John Paul acknowledges that “[t]here is certainly an enormous disparity between the powerful resources available to the forces promoting the ‘culture of death’ and the means at the disposal of those working for a ‘culture of life and love.’"

Thus, the “culture of death” discussed by John Paul in Evangelium Vitae relates entirely to abortion and euthanasia.  What does all of this have to do with firearms?  Perhaps nothing – firearms are used neither to abort babies nor to euthanize the elderly or infirm, at least not commonly.  This is not to say that John Paul was not concerned about gun violence, it is rather to say that he did not express that concern in his “culture of death” discussion in Evangelium Vitae.

Professor Lee looks at three aspects of firearms.  The first is their intrinsic nature.  Professor Lee offers the opinion that the “firearm is, in its essence, a weapon.  It is intrinsically violent since it is brought into existence . . . to bring about the potential of a violent act.”  It certainly is the case that firearms make especially effective weapons of violence, but that is a particular use, not necessarily inherent to their essence.  Firearms are inherently high-velocity projectiles.  Many, but not all, high velocity projectile machines are very useful as destructive weapons.  For example, very low caliber firearms are not very effective as destructive weapons.  Of course, people probably have always used projectiles as weapons.  Likewise, people probably have always used projectiles for sport.  There is a fine line between throwing a rock as a weapon and throwing a baseball for sport.  The same physics that permit a catapult to be used as a weapon permit the lacrosse player to use a stick for sport.  Likewise, firearms can be used in war and can be used for target shooting.  “Destructive force” is not inherent to the firearm.  It is incidental.  The power that permits high velocity and accuracy at great distance also makes many firearms dangerously destructive, but not inherently so.  Of course, a particular firearm can be designed, more or less, for destruction, which actually makes the point that destruction is not inherent to the firearm.

Professor Lee reports that the firing of a firearm is pleasurable precisely because of its potential for destructive impact.  I certainly am in no position to deny Professor Lee’s personal experience.  I can only describe my own.  I would compare my pleasure at striking a target at distance with a firearm to the pleasure of “shooting” (pun intended) a basketball through a hoop at distance.  In both cases, the level of the pleasure is directly proportional to the distance.  Of course, the firearm provides the unique opportunity of hitting very, very small targets at very great distances.  I cannot think of anything that compares to this.  Professor Lee relates the “widely reported sensation” of “a satisfying feeling of the power one gains over the weapon and the target.” Professor Lee expressly declines to cite much in his essay, but I would find at least one citation in support of this widely reported sensation to be helpful to my understanding. He says that this feeling is intrinsic to the firearm.  This is the firearm “fulfilling its purpose.” As I have suggested, this experience of the inherent purpose of the firearm is not universal.

Finally, it may be beneficial to consider this subject based on a balanced view of the facts.  Professor Lee’s essay indicates that gun slayings in the United States are growing.  But gun slayings in the United States actually are on the decline.  Most homicides in the United States are committed with handguns.  Such homicides are at historically low levels.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Obamacare: What Might Have Been

This is my attempt to learn some hopefully non-partisan lessons from the Obamacare fiasco.  The overarching lesson is of such long standing in our culture as to have become almost a cliché, but it is true – that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. 

We all know that, and yet with Obamacare, political expediency was allowed to trump any and all other concerns.  To enact Obamacare, recent presidential campaign promises of transparency, public comment periods, and televised debates were slain in their cradles and replaced by secrecy, backroom deals, and midnight votes.  Zero buy in was sought from the other side of the aisle, and none was given.  The predictable product of this process was an unworkable hash of legislation, public response ranging from ignorance to outrage, and political opposition, especially when the inevitable difficulties arose,  ranging from schadenfreude to scorched-earth warfare. 

We will never know what might have come of Obamacare if things had been done well.  Would the public have been more accepting?  Would the political opposition have been more willing to reform rather than insisting on repeal?  I’m sure Obamacare’s sponsors console themselves with the belief that things would have been no different, but we’ll never know because they, even while they held all the cards, chose the quick way rather than the right way. 

I do see a hopeful contrast in Marco Rubio’s approach to immigration reform.  If he wanted to, he might be able to take a page from the President’s playbook and ram something through Congress (with an assist from Democrats).  But he’s so far refusing to do that.  He’s smart.  He knows that if his reform proposal is to succeed in the long run, he will need bi-partisan buy in.  He not only is giving a respectful hearing to the opposition, he is slowing things down and taking time to assure that all concerns are addressed.  He firmly believes that our immigration system needs reform, but he knows that bad, rushed reform is worse than no reform at all. 

How much better off we all would be if we had that kind of mature, reflective judgment, be it Democrat or Republican, in the White House.  I appeal to both parties to be careful in your selection of candidates for 2016.  Please pick someone who understands that American public life is more than political power.  Pick someone who understands that we all must live together and that the political opposition is a brother with a different point of view to be considered, not an obstacle to be hurdled or an enemy to be vanquished.  If two such candidates are nominated for 2016, then come 2017, we’ll all be better off than we are right now, no matter how the next election turns out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why are Rich People so Bad?

I had a bit of an epiphany this morning.  But before I tell you what it was, first let me explain a little about my background so that you can understand how striking this flash of insight was to me.  I am a Christian. Many would call me a "fundamentalist."  I am one of those many.  (You might have to think about that one for a second.)  I have been in fundamentalist churches for so long now that I am fairly steeped in certain Christian doctrines, probably none more than the doctrine of the depravity of man.  Like a drumbeat, I've heard (and read) for the almost forty years of my Christian life that mankind is fallen. The most common proof text for this sad proposition is Isaiah 64:6.  But that's far from the only biblical text that focuses on mankind's shortcomings -- from the third chapter of the Bible (Genesis 3) on, it's pretty much all sin, all the time.

I may be a bit more tuned into mankind's sinfulness than most -- memorizing Paul's epistle to the Romans as a teenager was quite formative for me. That first part of the "Romans Road," that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," locked in pretty early with me.  Plus there's my personal experience.  I might just be more sinful than most.  That brings me to another point -- I didn't really need the Bible to tell me that people are less than perfect (to put it mildly).  Everything about my existence told me that people are bad. We lock our doors at night; as children, we're told not to talk to strangers; these days, we take extraordinary efforts to "safeguard our personal information" -- all of which is smart because people are indeed unreliable at best, and downright nasty at worst.  Of course, not all people are bad all the time, but some people are bad pretty much all the time, and all people are bad at least some of the time.

So it does not surprise me when people behave badly.  But here's the epiphany that struck me this morning: "Poor people are fallen, too."  Let that sink in for a second.  I don't even know how I thought of it.  The controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins had me reflecting on whether it was merely another faux controversy created by political correctness run amok, and somehow that line of thinking led me to political correctness in general, which got me thinking about certain groups of people whom we're not allowed to criticize, and suddenly I realized that poor people are one of those groups.  But this post isn't about political correctness.  It's about how I had to be surprised to find that poor people fit the universal definition of mankind that I have had drummed into my brain for decades.  After all, I've never had to remind myself that rich people are sinners. As I reflected on my own surprise at this realization that poor people aren't sinless saints, I remembered a time when I articulated my own bias against the rich.  I was a newly-minted lawyer, and my wife and I were buying our first modest house.    That is a dangerous combination.  I kept trying to amend the form contract documents, and the real estate agent with whom I was working finally boiled over with frustration and swore at me.  Eventually cooler heads prevailed, and I joked with her about how if it was this hard to sell a small house, I can't imagine how much trouble she must have when a million dollars are on the line.  Her unexpected answer:  "You'd be surprised how gracious rich people can be." And now that I think of it, that's been almost universally true in my own life, too.  Pretty much all the rich people I've known have been okay, no worse than the rest of the lot anyway.

So why did I, of all people, assume that rich people would be harder to work with than someone of modest means like myself?  Well, the idea that "rich = bad" is drummed into us by the popular culture.  In any movie we watch, particularly including Disney films, if a wealthy character pops up, we can pretty much mark him down as a "bad guy."  If a character's poverty is noteworthy, then that character will likely have some nobility about her.  This anti-wealth current has become so strong in our society, that one apparently effective way to run against a political candidate these days is to point out that he's rich.  And so in the last presidential election cycle, we had President Obama spending millions of Hollywood's money to convince us that Mitt Romney was rich, which we already knew.  And this message stuck even though everybody who actually knew Mr. Romney seemed convinced that he was exceptionally kind and generous, as far as people go. And I apparently bought it, too, as reflected by my response to the real estate agent more than twenty years ago.

So what's the point?  I think the point is that when we make public policy, we should do so keeping in mind that all people, including poor people, are fallen and will behave badly, especially if not properly incentivized. We adopt public policy today as though poor people have some kind of inherent nobility that prevents them from engaging in anti-social conduct, even when we make it exceptionally easy for them to fail.  For example, giving Obamacare subsidies without income verification.  Are you kidding me?

Anyway, this is a tough subject to write about, as you can tell from the title of this post.  I thought about a candid title like "Poor People are Fallen, Too," but I thought "who'd read that?"  So I titled this post as you can see.  Apologies for the "bait and switch" -- I'm not perfect, either.  This topic seemed so problematic to me that I had decided not to write about it, until I read this story about food stamp recipients stealing so much food that they cleaned out a Wal-mart in Louisiana when the EBT system temporarily went down.  Apparently the limits on those EBT cards are absolutely essential.  After my reflection today, I've decided to try to control within myself the societal bias against the rich.  I've also decided to remind myself that all of us, rich and poor alike, must be constrained by law to prevent us from taking advantage of our fellows.  Bummer.  We live in a fallen world, a universally fallen world.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unseemly Republican Begging

We humans seem to be natural beggars.  We don't need to teach our children to beg.  We already know how to beg when we learn to talk:  "Please can I stay up one more hour?  Please, please, please will you buy me the toy I want?"  When it comes to begging, children have no shame.  Sometimes we even think it's "cute." But there's usually nothing cute about adult beggars.  You know, like the guy who begs his girlfriend to take him back after she dumped him?  We're tempted to say "have some dignity, and move on, man!" Well that's what I want to say to Republicans.

They keep begging the Democrats to talk to them, mostly about the budget.  The Republicans dutifully pass a budget every year.  They used to try to engage the Democrats in budget talks.  But the Democrats, in the person of Harry Reid, have just said "talk to the hand."  The Republican budgets end up right where all of the other legislation they pass ends up, on the scrapheap of Harry Reid's ignoring.

It's easy to see why the Democrats don't like to talk to the Republicans about the budget (or anything else). The Democrats know that it will not be an easy conversation -- the Republicans will want to cut spending. They might even want to balance the budget (eventually).  To say the least, that would not be easy.  It might even be quite unpleasant.  Better just to ignore the budget process altogether (which is why the Reid Senate usually does not even bother with passing a budget) and fund current levels of spending through a "continuing resolution."

So what do the Republicans do?  Do they say, "No, let's stick with the orderly budget process -- you Democrats pass a budget and we'll work our differences out in conference"?  No. The Republicans acquiesce, as they always do.  If the Democrats want to scrap the budget process and fund the government by continuing resolution, so be it!  At least the Democrats will have to talk about the continuing resolution!

That's where you're wrong, oh you groveling Republicans.  When it comes to the continuing resolution, the Democrats say it's "non-negotiable."  You Republicans just agree to fund present spending levels or "talk to the hand."  So what do the Republicans do?  They beg. In recent days, they've  passed four continuing resolutions to fund the government, each one requiring successively smaller concessions from the Democrats. Most humiliatingly, the Republicans' latest version would require the Democrats to talk with them.  Seriously, look it up.  The Republicans just proposed a law begging the Democrats to talk to them in a special conference committee.  What do the Democrats say to all this?  "Talk to the hand."  They've already declared it dead on arrival.

Now perhaps I'm being a bit too hard on the begging Republicans.  I can see why they feel vulnerable and weak.  They repeatedly try to compromise to fund the federal government.  The Democrats repeatedly say "talk to the hand," and what does the mainstream media say?  They say "the Republicans are shutting down the government!"  And so the Republicans beg to avoid blame.  They seem not to understand that the begging is pointless. It's pointless because the Obama administration and the Democrats in the Senate doing his bidding wanted the government "shutdown."  They knew that CNN would "blame" the Republicans, so the Democrats were going to shut down the government unless they got a "clean" (i.e. everything they wanted and nothing they didn't) continuing resolution, and that's what they did.

Well, hopefully the embarrassing begging is over now, Republicans.  Your worst fears have been realized. The Democrats have ignored you and shut down the government.  CNN and MSNBC are blaming you and will continue to blame you.  You can't change that now, and you never could.  So, please, have some personal dignity.  Get up off your knees.

The Democrats have done their worst to you. That's a fact. That can't be changed.  So get up, and move on. Why not try this -- how about playing the cards you've been dealt?  Pass a series of funding bills, funding various parts of the government, not necessarily at current levels, but at whatever levels you think appropriate.  Let those bills pile up on Harry Reid's desk.  If CNN squawks about some side effect of the "shutdown," just point to the bill that would fund that part of the government and say you've already solved that problem.  It won't be long before the Democrats will be anxious to talk to you.

You see, you earn the respect and cooperation of opponents, not by begging and appeasement, but by saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and standing on principle.  Try it, you'll like it.  But whatever you do, PLEASE stop begging!