Move the Dakota Access Pipeline!

It’s rare that I agree with liberals on anything.  I’m a conservative Christian with libertarian leanings.  On environmental issues, I rarely agree with the left-wing environmental whackos who believe humans are an invasive species and are causing global warming.  I believe our natural resources should be used in a responsible manner.  Take care of the environment, but develop our natural resources for the benefit of all.  However, there is an environmental issue that’s been under the radar of the mainstream media where I’m finding myself on the opposite side of the fence from where I usually stand.

Near the small town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, activists have been protesting the construction of a crude oil pipeline which they say threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and others downstream.  The protests, which began with a few members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe back in April, has grown to an estimated 2000+ people from dozens of tribes across the nation as well as non-Native supporters.  The occupation and protests have been extremely peaceful, with only a handful of arrests for minor incidents.  The rhetoric on social media from non-Native people has been extremely vulgar and racist, and the mainstream media has either demonized the protestors or ignored the protests completely.  The state of North Dakota has blocked off access to the protestor’s camp and removed water tanks.

What’s the Dakota Access Pipeline?

pipeline mapThe Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a new approximately 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline currently under construction which would carry crude oil from production areas in northwestern North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry the oil to the Gulf Coast refineries.  The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., a Texas-based company.

Why Are People Protesting?

There are a number of reasons why protestors are fighting construction of the DAPL:

  • The proposed pipeline crosses under the Missouri River just a few hundred yards upstream from the Standing Rock Reservation, and a leak would potentially destroy the main water source for the Reservation.
  • A leak would also affect the water supply of millions of people further downstream.
  • The pipeline would disturb ancestral sites that the Sioux hold sacred.
  • The pipeline would violate provisions of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
  • They believe the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it approved the project.

Historical Context

By Kmusser - self-made, using National Atlas data and original treaty descriptions.

Map by Kmusser from Wikipedia

In 1868, the Treaty of Fort Laramie established the Great Sioux Reservation, which covered the western half of South Dakota and parts of North Dakota and Nebraska.  This treaty was almost immediately broken by the United States Government.  The United States has subsequently used legislation and force to steal the majority of the land, leaving the various Sioux tribes with ever shrinking reservations.  The Sioux were stripped of their culture, their lands, and their language.  Their children were forced to attend government and church run boarding schools, often hundreds of miles from their families, where they were further stripped of their customs, language, and religion.

Conditions today on the Sioux Reservations are deplorable.  Reservations in North and South Dakota are among the poorest places in the United States.  The Standing Rock Reservation has an unemployment rate of over 80%.  Alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide are rampant.  Most housing is extremely substandard and would be condemned anywhere else.  Only about a third of students graduate from high school.  The tribe lacks basic medical care, infrastructure, and economic development.  There are very few resources to change any of these conditions.

In this context, for the United States government to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline along a route that threatens the primary water source for the Standing Rock Reservation is reprehensible.  The government has already stripped them of almost everything they had, and now threatens to destroy what little they have left.  This is morally unacceptable!

The Solution?  Move the Pipeline!

While many of the protestors want to do away with the pipeline altogether, the best solution I see is to move the pipeline further east to avoid having to cross the Missouri River.  The pipeline could be routed along the boundary between the Missouri River and James River watersheds, minimizing dangers to water supplies and avoiding culturally sensitive areas.  Another option would be to route the pipeline east to the existing Keystone Pipeline, either connecting with the existing pipeline, or building a new pipeline parallel with it.  Both of these two options would cost the developers more than the current proposed route, but would reduce the potential environmental impact and avoid the ancestral sites the Sioux hold sacred.  The oil companies would get their pipeline, and the Sioux would have their clean water source.

Litigation

The Standing Rock Tribe has sued developers over the DAPL, and developers have counter-sued the tribe.  A federal judge is expected to rule by September 9.

How Can I Support the Protestors?

Contact your representatives in Congress.

The protestor’s camp has a gofundme page:  https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp

Legal defense fund:  https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf

 

Over the Edge, Plunging Toward Destruction

I used to think that the United States was teetering at the edge of disaster.  I no longer believe this; we’ve deliberately jumped off the edge and are plunging toward destruction at the bottom.

Bush and Obama are not what caused this; they are merely symptoms.  And neither Trump nor Clinton can save us.

The United States was founded on Biblical principles.  For the most part, we followed Jesus Christ and built our values around the Word of God.  Although evil has always existed in America, we knew it was evil, and most of us worked to get rid of the evil.

Today, we’ve mostly rejected Jesus Christ.  We follow whatever we want to follow, and embrace evil as “diversity” or “protecting our rights.”  The American Church, for the most part, embraces behavior that the Bible clearly labels as sin, and claims it’s the only “loving” thing to do.

Although the prophet Isaiah was talking about Israel, he pretty much nails the situation in America today:  “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

As it was in Israel, so I believe it will be in the United States:

Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people;
He has stretched out His hand against them
And stricken them,
And the hills trembled.
Their carcasses as refuse in the midst of the streets.  (Isaiah 5:24-25).

This year’s Presidential election only confirms my belief.  We the people have selected the two most corrupt, evil candidates in American history as our Democratic and Republican nominees.  It doesn’t matter which one is elected; either way, we’re putting an evil person into the highest office in the land.  Many Christians are saying, “Yes, Hillary’s evil, but at least she’s not Trump,” or “Yes, Trump’s evil, but at least he’s not Hillary.”  And they’ll go on to talk about what will happen to the Supreme Court and Congress if their candidate isn’t elected.

I’ve got a news flash for you, Christian:  Either way, we put evil into the White House.  Either way, God is judging us for our lack of faith in Him.  Either way, we are plunging to our destruction.  And either way, nothing will stop the destruction other than repenting, and once again turning to Jesus Christ, rather than trusting in ourselves.

This election is not about whether Trump can save us from Hillary, or Hillary can save us from Trump.  It’s about whether we continue trusting our politicians to save us, or once again turn to Jesus Christ for salvation.

I fear America is about to crash and burn.  Then, out of the rubble, God can make us His people again, if we so choose.

The Sinking Ship

Listing Ship

Once upon a time, a passenger ship struck a reef and tore a hole in its hull.

As the ship began to sink, it listed to the starboard (right) side.  The passengers on the left side were unhappy.  They got rid of the captain, and replaced him with a new captain who turned the ship so that it listed to the port (left) side.

The people on the right side were now unhappy, so they got rid of that captain.  They replaced him with a captain who turned the ship so that in now listed to the right again.

The passengers on the left and the passengers on the right began to argue over whether the ship would sink faster listing to the right, or listing to the left.  Each side would get rid of the opposite-leaning captain, and replace him with one that would turn the ship to their side.  Each time the direction of the ship changed, it listed further and further to either the left or right.  As the ship swung further to the right, then the left, the passengers on each side became angrier and angrier.  Each side became convinced the ship was sinking because it was the other side’s fault.

Eventually the ship sank, not because it was listing, but because everyone ignored the gaping hole in its hull.

The sinking ship is the United States.  And we’re sinking fast.

 

The problem is not that we have swung too far to the liberal left or the conservative right.  The problem is that we have a gaping hole in our foundation that neither side is willing to recognize and address.

The United States was founded on biblical principles.  The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were based on biblical concepts.  Granted, we have never completely followed those principles in actual practice – we did allow slavery and we did exterminate millions of indigenous people, among other things.  Nevertheless, we generally acknowledged right and wrong based on biblical principles, even though we often failed to follow those principles.  Our foundation was based on God’s truth, even if we didn’t always follow the truth.  God blessed us as a nation, because we acknowledged Him.

Somewhere along the way, we began to reject the truth.  Cracks appeared in our foundation, and God’s blessing began to diminish.

We swung to the left under F.D.R. and Truman.  We swung back to the right under Eisenhower.

A little further to the left under Kennedy and Johnson.  Back to the right under Nixon and Ford.

Hard swing left under Carter, with an ever harder swing to the right under Reagan and Bush 1.

Clinton swung us left again, Bush 2 back to the right.

Obama has nearly capsized us to the left.

Now we’re fighting over whether to allow Hillary to push us further left, or whether to have Trump jerk us completely over to the right again.

The problem is, the cracks in our foundation have become gaping holes, and we’re too blind to see it.  And, we’re reaping the consequences.

Americans no longer have a biblical foundation for their worldviews.  Both the left and the right openly defy God.  The left openly mocks biblical truth regarding sex and marriage.  The right has abandoned biblical truth regarding the poor and greed.  Although many on both sides give lip service to God, the vast majority of our leaders and most of the population live as though God is irrelevant.  Because we have rejected God, we are reaping what we have sown.  We are reaping terrorism, racism, hatred, and fear.

America is sinking fast.  Unless we repent and turn back to Jesus Christ, we will destroy ourselves.  We must plug the gaping hole in our national foundation.  It won’t matter if we capsize to the left, or to the right.  The result will be the same.  We will be destroyed, unless we turn back to God before it’s too late.

Who Can Save America?

The United States of America is more divided than at any time I can remember.  We are divided by politics.  We are divided by income.  We are divided by religion.  We are divided by ethnicity.

The current campaigns for the Presidency exemplify this division.   Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has used the most divisive political rhetoric I’ve ever heard, and has drawn protests and threats from many different groups, from far-left liberals to far-right conservatives.  Other candidates are exploiting Trump’s rhetoric to further divide Americans.  It seems that all of the candidates are seeking to divide Americans into “us” versus “them,” although most do it far more subtly than Mr. Trump.  From Bernie Sanders, it’s the “have nots” versus the “haves.”  From Hillary Clinton, it’s women versus men and the white majority versus racial minorities.  From Donald Trump, it’s anyone who disagrees with him versus those who don’t.  And, from Ted Cruz, it’s anyone who supports the Democrats or Trump versus conservatism.  We have candidates who want to make us into a socialist state, who are being sued for fraud, and who are facing possible FBI indictment.  There have been protests, some with violence; threats against candidates’ families; and threats of more violence.

Trump-Protests

America is a mess.  The police have been accused of racially motivated killings.  Police officers have been assassinated.  Protests are becoming more frequent and more violent.  Terrorism and mass murders are becoming common.  The average household is becoming poorer, while the rich are becoming richer.  Abortion, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, and sex outside marriage are widely accepted, and pedophilia, polygamy, and bestiality are gaining acceptance.  Greed and power are considered to be virtues, and caring for others is considered less important than taking care of self.

Who can save America?

Depending on who is asked, the answer varies.  Many point to Trump, Sanders, Clinton, Cruz, or Kasich.  Others point to third-party candidates from the Libertarian, Green, or other parties.  Many point to ideologies, such as conservatism, liberalism, democratic socialism, or libertarianism.  Some point to the government; others point to the free enterprise system.  Others say that no one can save America, that the decline has become too great ever to overcome.

trump-clinton-sanders-cruz

In order to answer the question of who can save America, we need to look at what made America great in the past, and what changed to cause America to decline.

I contend that what made America great in the past was following Biblical principles, and what has caused its decline has been the rejection of those principles.

adultery_BibleThe United States was never a “Christian Nation,” whatever that means.  We were, however, a nation built on Biblical principles.  The Constitution and Bill of Rights were based on the Bible.  The vast majority of Americans were Christians, or, at least had a respect for Christianity and Biblical principles.  The principles found in the Ten Commandments and Sermon on the Mount were the foundation for American ethics and law.   We were never perfect; we allowed slavery, and we tried to exterminate indigenous peoples.  However, the opposition to both was led by Christians who decried the practices on Biblical grounds.  The concepts of individual responsibility and caring for others were both embraced.   And God blessed the United States because of our respect for Him and our commitment to Biblical principles of morality and law.

Americans no longer have this ideological foundation.  By and large, Americans have rejected Biblical principles.  We no longer accept individual responsibility for our actions, nor do we accept our responsibility to help the less fortunate.  God and the Bible are openly mocked; those who hold to Biblical morality are ridiculed and hated.  The laws are changing to permit and encourage sexual immorality, greed, and other ungodly practices, while penalizing those who follow Jesus Christ.  As in the days of the judges of Israel, everyone does what is “right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

Even the Church has largely rejected Biblical principles.  We pick and choose those bits of the Bible we like, while ignoring the rest.  Most of mainstream Protestantism and Roman Catholicism did this many years ago, but now, even much of Evangelical Christianity is doing the same.  The goats are leading the sheep (Matthew 25:31-46); we have become the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14-22).  And God has cursed us (Galatians 1:6-9).

churchconstruction

Because we once respected and largely obeyed God, He blessed us; and because we have now rejected what we once knew to be the truth, God has now removed His blessing.  America is in decline, because we have rejected that which made us great in the first place – God’s blessing for obedience and respect.

Who can save America?  Not Obama, nor Trump, nor Sanders, nor Clinton, nor Cruz or Kasich.  No political leader can save us.  Only Jesus Christ can save America; and He will not save us unless we repent and turn to Him once more.

10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Psalm 33:10-12

 

 

 

Muslims and Terrorism

Muslims and Terrorism

Thoughts on Islamic Terrorism

From recent News reports:

  • September 25, 2014, Moore, OK – a Sharia Law activist beheads a woman.
  • October 23, 2014, New York City – Zaim Farouq Abdul-Malik attacked four policemen in the subway with a hatchet.
  • May 3, 2015, Garland, TX – Two gunmen attacked the Curtis Culwell Center.
  • July 16, 2015, Chattanooga, TN – A Muslim extremist stages a suicide attack on a recruiting center at a strip mall and a naval center, leaving five dead.
  • November 13, 2015, Paris, France – A series of Islamic terrorist attacks kill 137 and wound 368.
  • December 2, 2015 – San Bernardino, CA – Two Muslim terrorists shoot up a Christmas party, leaving fourteen dead.

Around the world, there have been over 100 terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in 2015. Many American liberals are calling for strict gun control to curb the violence. Many American conservatives have called for bans on travel to the U.S. for all Muslims. Politicians and media seem to be completely caught in the echo chambers of their political ideologies, and the United States is more divided than ever.

There are two key issues that seem to be lost in the arguing over what to do about Islamic terrorism. The first is that the militant Islamists have declared war on the United States. The second is that Islam is not a single, unified ideology.

We Are At War, Whether We Like It or Not

isis_flagThe United States is already in a war. ISIS and al-Qaeda are two of the leading Islamic groups that have declared jihad, or a “Holy War,” on Americans and their allies. They are tied to numerous attacks on the United States, including the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the recent San Bernardino shootings. Yet, the President has been unwilling to acknowledge that war has been declared on the United States. We’ve sent a few token bombs into ISIS territory, killing a few leaders, only to have new leaders spring up immediately.   Until the American government comprehends that war has been declared, and starts to act like we’re at war, ISIS and their ilk will continue to gain strength and continue to attack the United States and their allies, creating more refugees in the process. There is no jihadist group in the Middle East that could stand a chance if the United States military went in with full force. ISIS would be gone within weeks. But, our Commander-in-Chief is determined that there will not be a war on his watch, so he continues to ignore the fact that we are already in a war, and does nothing of consequence. And ISIS continues to grow, continues to create more refugees, and continues to expand on American soil.

What Is Islam?

Some people say that Islam is a religion of peace; others say it is a radical political movement disguised as a religion seeking world domination.

Both are correct.

Muslim womanIn fact, Islam is not a single worldview. Islam encompasses a tremendous range of beliefs. There are “cultural Muslims” who call themselves Muslim for cultural reasons, but don’t actually believe or practice any of it. There are Muslims who reject the parts of the Qur’an that call for jihad, or interpret those passages so that they don’t apply to today’s society. There are also Muslims who take those same jihadist passages very literally, and have declared war on all non-Muslims. Anyone who states that “Muslims believe X,” or “Islam teaches Y,” doesn’t know what they’re talking about. There are only a handful of beliefs that are universally held by all Muslims, or at least nearly so.

Some conservatives have called for a “war on Islam.” That’s just plain ignorant. We need to wage war against terrorism and war on jihadists, but not on an entire range of people who identify themselves as “Muslim.” Could some “moderate” Muslims become “radicalized?” Sure, they could; some “moderate” non-Muslims have also been “radicalized.” Yes, we need to understand that jihadists base their ideology on a particular interpretation of the Qur’an; they are absolutely Islamic. But, we need to differentiate between jihadist terrorists and other Muslims, and recognize that not all terrorists are religious at all.

How should the United States Respond to Jihadist Terrorism?

Her are my current thoughts on how to effectively combat jihadism in the United States.

  1. Acknowledge that we are already in a war, and begin to act like it.
  2. Correctly identify the enemy. Political correctness and bigotry are both counter-productive and immoral. The enemy is Islamic jihadists, not all Muslims.
  3. Quit the political posturing and political exploitation of the crisis. It’s not about guns or global warming. It’s about jihadist ideology.
  4. Build alliances with other countries to create a coalition to defeat jihadists.
  5. Use the full might of the United States military to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaeda strongholds in Syria, Iraq, and wherever else they rear their ugly heads.
  6. Set up refugee camps in the Middle East, and work to reintegrate refugees into their own homelands as soon as the region is stable.
  7. Maintain a permanent military and humanitarian presence in the Middle East, much like we did at the end of World War II in Germany and Japan. Use these initially to prevent jihadists from reestablishing power in the region, to stabilize the region, then to build long-term alliances.
  8. Secure our borders. Temporarily stop the influx of people into the United States from the Middle East. Countries that are at war generally keep people from the regions they are at war with out. Deliberately bringing in immigrants from ISIS strongholds is a serious security risk. Create effective ways to properly vet immigrants and those on visas before reopening the United States to them.
  9. Use the full force of the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies to root out domestic terrorists, bring charges, and through due process, lock up terrorists of all ideologies, both domestic and foreign, before they have a chance to strike. We already have laws in place – enforce them!

Why I’m a Climate Change Skeptic

The question of whether or not human beings are changing the climate is a critical issue in today’s world. If it is indeed true, then steps must be taken to reduce human impact on climate. If is not true, but is a hoax being perpetrated for political gain, then it needs to be refuted and put behind us.

ClimateChangePersonally, I am highly skeptical that human activity is significantly changing the climate, because I can’t find any actual evidence to support the theory. What I find is a lot of spin. I see claims without any supporting evidence. I see politicians appealing to global warming as the cause for the rise of ISIS. I see laws being enacted to reduce our “carbon footprint” without any evidence to support the need to do so. I see pseudo-science being sold as fact to support political ideology. What I can’t seem to find is actual observational evidence that man-made global warming actually exists.

In order to establish that man-made global warming is fact, two questions must be answered: Is the climate changing? And if so, is humanity responsible?

Is the climate changing? Yes, the climate is changing, but, that’s what climate does. There have been warming and cooling trends throughout recorded history, as well as evidence that climate has always changed. The question is, is there any statistically significant difference between recent changes in climate and changes that have occurred in the past? From what I have been able to find, there is no credible evidence that the climate changes today are any greater than climate changes in the past; in fact, from what I can tell, recent changes have been very minor when compared to historical data.

polarbearAre humans responsible for the changes we see? Again, I can’t seem to find any actual evidence supporting the claim that human activity significantly changes climate. There is evidence that carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere is slightly higher today than it was in the recent past. What’s missing is direct evidence showing that this slight rise is due to human activity rather than natural causes, and that this rise has had any effect on climate. The evidence I find is that water vapor is the greenhouse gas most responsible for climate variation, not carbon dioxide, and that variations in solar intensity account for the majority of changes in climate.

Here’s a challenge to those who believe man-made climate change is real:

  1. Show me the evidence that recent changes in climate show a statistically significant difference from historical data.
  2. Show me the evidence that humans are responsible for these changes, ruling out all natural causes.

Don’t show me scientific opinions, political spin, or pictures of polar bears. Show me the empirical evidence. Don’t show me biased interpretations of the evidence, and don’t show me polls telling me what people believe. Show me the actual facts.