Tag Archives: civil unrest

If civil unrest breaks out this summer, should Christians join the fight?

The US Is Becoming A Failed State:

How Do We Turn This Around?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

change1

RFK

The United States of America, if I may risk pointing out the obvious, is failing. Failing to adequately tackle the systemic problems in our economic system. Failing to reflect on the deep flaws in our system of government. Failing to repair our damaged image abroad. Failing to adequately protect its citizens from violence at home (the plague of murders by rogue police officers across the US is only one example of many). Failing in education, in health care, in human rights, in religious tolerance, and even with regard to incarceration of its citizens, as the overcrowded and dangerous US prison system attests to. In fact, we look a lot like the USSR in 1990 – except with a lot more big-screen TV’s. And we all know what happened to the USSR during the 1990’s.

Of course, you may well take issue with my central contention. You may say that we are prosperous because our GDP is so large, or because America is the richest country in the world. Or that our government works properly (pardon me for a second while I LOL), or even that we have a great health care system (laughing even harder), and that since most of us are Christians anyway, who do we have to tolerate? I respect your right to those opinions – freedom of expression is one of the few things our country hasn’t managed to screw up in the last couple of hundred years. But in every case, the data backs me up. I will try and substantiate my claims first, before putting forth a few solutions of my own.

The first problem is the economy. For example, in 2009 alone 131 banks failed. The 2008 TARP bailout granted hundreds of billions of dollars – with strings attached – to private companies who then used the money to short-sell the market, make countless billions more, hand the government back its money (removing the strings) and pay out lavish bonuses while Americans lost their jobs, savings, houses and cars. America’s national debt threatens to exceed one year’s Gross Domestic Product. While this is occurring, a record number of laid off workers are leaving the US workforce forever due to a complete lack of opportunity to better themselves. One in four US workers who are long-term unemployed and over age 50 will never work again. I know this to be true from personal experience because I was one of those most unfortunate individuals. To this day people find themselves struggling financially to keep their heads above water. Meanwhile, the median family income is less today than it was a decade ago. Our government, as everybody knows, is no longer run by competing ideologies but by corporate interests (I include both parties in this category since both are moneymaking enterprises). There are good Republicans who would prefer that your cancer-stricken child had health insurance. There are responsible Democrats who are horrified by our country’s spend-now pay-later approach to finance. But since they are beholden to a higher power – money – they have to vote with their wallets, not with their hearts. At the Federal level, AT&T and Goldman Sachs have contributed over $75M over the last 20 years, and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, plus the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers aren’t far behind.

Across the world our reputation is tarnished, perhaps irrevocably. We are seen as an economic and religious bully, and we don’t seem to care. We vilify our political enemies for their human rights records while we import cheap goods from countries that we know exploits child labor, while America has more people incarcerated than all the other countries of the world combined. We are, to much of the world, intolerable hypocrites! Is it any wonder that they see us this way? When it comes to medical care, health care apologists will continue to defend our system at all costs, claiming that so-called “socialist” states such as England, France and Sweden kill their citizens at will in order to save money, or they may make you wait up to thirty years for a kidney transplant. When our kids can’t even get health care, that should be a major ‘red flag’ indicating that something is terribly wrong. Any anthropologist will tell you that we took care of our young much better when we were Neanderthals – so what’s changed? For one in four kids to be dependent on food stamps at some point in their formative years – and 25% of them are – is a social injustice of the highest order to the point that it foments much outrage. As such I think that this issue should have people out in the streets protesting and being disruptive against the whole darn system! Why it isn’t happening hardly at all is a complete mystery to me. Is everyone asleep or drunk? Wake up already and smell the coffee! Revolution is in the air, can’t you feel it? The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign is only the tip of the iceberg, my dear readers. I am so glad that those exciting but perilous days of insurrection will soon be upon us. I can’t tell anyone exactly when, but it will happen in the near future, you can count on it. Violence in the streets will be a sure bet if both outsider candidates get forced out at the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer and the American people are only left with the status quo.

Why do I think so? We deny basic human rights to our own people, and Americans of good conscience everywhere are fed up to their eyeballs about it. Women still make 79 cents for every dollar a man earns in the workplace. The overwhelming majority of those who are incarcerated are people of color. Moreover, whom anyone chooses to marry is not a matter for the government, it is a matter for the individual as well as for the churches. Speaking as a mature Christian man and Web evangelist, although I am not in favor of gay marriage personally, I adamantly refuse to judge same-sex couples for getting married (that’s between them and God, or it had better be). Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian doctrine, and it is central to the self-identity of every true believer. As to what religion to follow, since I am a full-time ambassador for Jesus Christ, I will lead any and all toward Christ who want to go, and often with plenty of encouragement along the way. Although some may not like or agree with the choices others make, they are inalienable rights of choice, and you should be free to exercise them as you will because that is the law of the land (see the 1st Amendment in the US Constitution).

As far back as 2005, statistics showed that hate crimes against Muslims were increasing 50% year-on-year. Even so, the FBI reported that in 2015 hate crimes against homosexuals had increased 9% from 2014, and those motivated by religion had risen by 12%. This is discouraging to say the least. The track we have taken over the last fifty years has been the wrong one. We have let corruption, greed, fame, intolerance and a stubborn refusal to acknowledge our problems almost ruin our nation. We are failing to live the American Dream, and if we don’t start now our children will never even know what it was.

I have eight common-sense but fairly radical ideas, and I’m sure you have some of your own. I have chosen not to expound on what I personally think the consequences of these actions would be, as I would be diving headlong into speculation that could easily (and should be) challenged.

[1]. Immediately and totally stop all corporations from giving money to political parties.

[2]. Acknowledge that, when it comes to government, politics and religion do not mix.

[3]. Make a promise to our children: you will be well-educated, and you will be well-treated when you are sick.

[4]. Change the game. Capitalism is a debt-based economic system combined with a federal republic system of government. It is a system that has run its course for all practical intents and purposes. So much debt has accumulated throughout the world that there isn’t anywhere nearly enough money in the entire world – all the combined world economies – to pay it off. At some point in the near future, more and more countries are going to find themselves insolvent. When no one can pay back their debts, the whole thing comes crashing down, and that includes the USA. Are you prepared?

[5]. Take a leaf out of the Bible and just treat everyone else with dignity and respect. “Love your neighbor as yourself”. If it was good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for you. Leave the gays alone because you’re a sinner too, you just commit different sexual sins than they do. Leave the Blacks and Latinos alone, because racism has no place in church, and because equality is scriptural. Leave the Muslims, the Jews and the Christians alone. When respect departs, lawlessness is the next train along.

[6]. Pay for it. Child labor is inexcusable. If it costs an extra ten bucks, or extra hundred bucks, to buy something that was made by willing workers, pay it. And the same goes for government. You want health care? Pay for it. More troops? Pay for them. Tax breaks for corporations? Ditto. If you have to raise taxes to pay for it, raise taxes. Stop acting like giddy schoolkids with mom’s credit card, and pay for what you consume!

[7]. Form coalitions based on issues, not parties. Not every NRA member is anti-abortion. Not every tree-hugging hippie thinks that owning a gun is wrong. When a party tells you how you should think, and what issues should be thrown together into what bucket, you’re a lot closer to communism or fascism than you think you are.

[8]. Buy American products whenever possible. From what I can tell, the great empires of yore – from Egypt to Rome to England – were ‘first-to-market’ with some manufacturing innovation or other, that led to more innovations, and greater strides, that in turn led to them becoming the largest producers of goods in their region. This happened to the USA from the dawn of the twentieth century until the ‘fifties. Then we began to transform into a service economy, just as those others did. Producing goods is what is making China become a world powerhouse, and if we are to compete, we must produce our own. American isn’t always the best, and it’s almost never the cheapest, but if we are to reinstate our status as the world’s greatest country, we need to start by supporting our own businesses and workers. To refuse to do so is to commit an injustice. Enough said!

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Law enforcement misconduct has become a foul stench in God’s nostrils

Once Again, the Government Sins Against the People

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

There was a headline just a few days ago on the Internet mainstream media that was all over the national news on my old rabbit-eared TV and CNN’s website. The FBI, our nation’s top law enforcement agency (at least up to now), has been giving false testimony about forensic samples obtained from alleged crime scenes. Fully 95% or more of all federal criminal prosecutions in the last ten years – those we know about so far – were engineered by way of apparently bogus testimony! Allow me to quote a short excerpt from this article:

FBI admits it fudged forensic hair matches in nearly all criminal trials for decades

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beforeitsnews.com

WASHINGTON — “The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 per cent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions. The FBI errors alone do not mean there was not other evidence of a convicts guilt. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors in 46 states and the District of Columbia are being notified to determine whether there are grounds for appeals. Four defendants were previously exonerated. The admissions mark a watershed in one of the country’s largest forensic scandals, highlighting the failure of the U.S. courts for decades to keep bogus scientific information from juries, legal analysts said. The question now, they said, is how state authorities and the courts will respond to findings that confirm long-suspected problems with subjective, pattern-based forensic techniques — like hair and bite-mark comparisons — that have contributed to wrongful convictions in more than one-quarter of 329 DNA-exoneration cases since 1989. In a statement, the FBI and Justice Department vowed to continue to devote resources to address all cases and said they “are committed to ensuring that affected defendants are notified of past errors and that justice is done in every instance. The Department and the FBI are also committed to ensuring the accuracy of future hair analysis, as well as the application of all disciplines of forensic science….”

In other words, there are thousands of criminal convictions that were falsely obtained, meaning there are literally hundreds of thousands of people in the federal prison system who aren’t supposed to be there in the first place. To call this outrageous would be a gross understatement, to call it a miscarriage of justice would in my view still be insufficient. The best description I can think of – and I can think of a few I can’t print here – is “completely over the top”!

Wikipedia has this to say about incarceration in America: “The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate, behind Seychelles (which has a total prison population of 786 out of a population of 90,024). In 2012, there were 707 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2011 – about 0.94% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,814,200 adults at year-end 2011 were on probation or on parole. In total, 6,977,700 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2011 – about 2.9% of adults in the U.S. resident population.” Of that 2.26 million incarcerated individuals in state and federal prisons, that number is pretty much divided down the middle between the two. So, if there are 1.13 million people in federal prison, and 95% of them are there due to what amounts to perjured testimony, the FBI just lost every ounce of its credibility. Plus, a crime of the highest order has been committed in America due to false imprisonment and perjury – both felony offenses – and, people’s civil rights have been violated because 3 out of 4 prisoners are black. The uproar over this should have been deafening, but the story came and went in 24 hours or less. Without a doubt the majority of people do not yet know about this report, which is why I am going to great lengths to bring this topic back up again.

What does the Bible say about this? Quite a lot, actually, so let me quote just a handful of verses, which should be sufficient for me to make my point. In Exodus chapter 20, verse 16 says, “You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor.” No doubt you will recognize this as being one of the ten commandments. Exodus chapter 23 says in verse one, “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.” Proverbs chapter nineteen, verse five says, “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who pours out lies will not go free.” Psalm 119, verse 163 says, “I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love the law.” It says in Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 25, “Therefore each one of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body”. And finally, Jesus himself said in Luke chapter 3, verse 14, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay”. What’s the 21st century version of that truism? Don’t be greedy! Sorry, Gordon Gecko and Wall St., greed is most definitely not good, not even a little. Greed is counterproductive, it is self-centered and therefore childish, and often times it can be criminal in nature.

As our planet becomes more and more populated, working for the greater good instead of one’s personal needs and desires will become the preferable way of life. Fewer resources for more people seems to be the order of the day. As such, hoarding money, food, investments such as houses, or other commodities like gold and silver, is becoming the old way of doing things. People are finally starting to figure out that we can either coexist together peacefully, or we can annihilate each other in war. Which do we choose? As for me, since I worship the Prince of Peace, I choose to live in His peace, and harmoniously with those around me to the best of my ability. But when people are falsely imprisoned, that’s where I draw the line. When people are railroaded into prison after being nearly defenseless in court based on false testimony, that is where I draw the line. When people’s civil rights are being viciously violated up one side and down the other, that is where I draw the line! This grotesque miscarriage of justice has just over a million people falsely imprisoned, and that’s the federal system alone. The other 50 states are undoubtedly just as bad, if not worse.

What can we do about this? There can be no question that law enforcement and the criminal court system are utterly corrupt, all one has to do is watch the news on TV or the Web. The latest death of yet another unarmed black man in Baltimore, Maryland is the most current example as I write this. It seems this poor guy suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody. Naturally, nobody in the department knows anything about it, not one little bit. Evidently the police in Baltimore expect us to believe this gentleman broke his back accidentally. How ridiculous!! This was a case of cold-hearted murder, pure and simple. If a civilian did this to another, at the minimum they would be charged with second degree murder, or at least manslaughter, depending on the jury. But if it’s the police, they will almost always get off scott free. Why? Because the cops lie on the witness stand to convict people just like the FBI agents I wrote about at the beginning of this posting. And, as you have read, God hates false testimony and He hates liars.

Is it any wonder that more and more people are becoming afraid of the police? When I’m out in public and see a cop, I refuse to even so much as make eye contact with them. You see, a long time ago, back in the early ’90’s, I found myself convicted of a weapons charge over an altercation in traffic. Another driver was repeatedly cutting into my lane and slamming on his brakes right in front of me. After the altercation, I left the scene, nor do I make an apology for that because I regarded it as justifiable self-defense, and I still do. A year and a half later, when the case came up in court (I had posted bond and gotten out of jail), I found out that the man who started the whole thing was an off-duty cop. He was driving in his civilian car wearing civilian clothes, and I had no idea this guy was a police officer. The bottom line was that I was convicted of 2 felonies because the off-duty cop who started the whole thing got up on the witness stand and told one lie on top of another (naturally, this time he was in uniform). My only consolation was that I got probation and a fine instead of jail time. So I know what it’s like to be falsely convicted of a crime. And that’s exactly why I side with the protesters, and I always will. And I am convinced that this police and courtroom misconduct will eventually deteriorate into massive civil unrest, which is something I’ve been predicting in my books for years. The summer of 2015 could get very interesting. Only time will tell.

 

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