Kerry Excuses America’s Anti-Israel Policy

Kerry Excuses America’s Anti-Israel Policy

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Actions speak louder than words—or in this case, no action.

When the United States abstained from vetoing an anti-Israel United Nations Security Council resolution on December 23, there was no official explanation as to why. “[F]riends don’t take friends to the Security Council,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Five days later, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave the official explanation in a speech over an hour long: “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths.”

For Mr. Kerry, “the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy,” and the U.S. “could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.”

According to Secretary Kerry, the United States could not “stand in the way” of Resolution 2334, which declares Israeli homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal. But America also wasn’t bold enough to actually vote for it.

In his December 28 speech, Kerry tried making a moral equivalence between Palestinian violence and Israeli “settlements”:

The truth is that trends on the ground—violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation—they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

And yet with a decision to abstain—an obvious change in U.S. policy—in Orwellian doublespeak that is so familiar to U.S. citizens, Secretary Kerry argued there was no change: “The Obama administration has always defended Israel against any effort at the UN. … It didn’t change with this vote.”

But actions speak louder than words. Or in this case, no action. “In stark contrast … neither [Ronald] Reagan nor George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush would have ever countenanced a resolution like 2334,” wrote Caroline Glick, paraphrasing UN observer Claudia Rossett.

Even the United Kingdom, which itself believes the construction of settlements is illegal, distanced itself from Kerry’s speech. Mr. Kerry branded Israel’s coalition government as “the most right wing in Israeli history, with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.” British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said the UK government didn’t believe it was “appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically-elected government of an ally.” Especially when Israel’s the only true democracy in the Middle East.

Secretary Kerry did make sure to give the appearance of balance: “There is absolutely no justification for terrorism”; Hamas “refuse[s] to accept Israel’s very right to exist.” Prime Minister Netanyahu countered in his official response:

Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century.What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.

Israel will likely refuse to comply with the demands on its settlements as long as Netanyahu is prime minister, which means America’s support of Resolution 2334 is mostly symbolic. The method is familiar: Make a change, and say there is no change. Rinse and repeat. You can read more about this in the March 2015Trumpet article “What Inspires President Obama’s Relationship With Israel?

‘Fake News’ and the Shifting Media Landscape

‘Fake News’ and the Shifting Media Landscape

Julia Goddard/Trumpet

News-making in America is transforming in a way that often casts truth aside. But there is cause for hope.
From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

After it became suddenly clear on the evening of November 8 that Donald J. Trump had won the U.S. presidential election, many Americans suffered a great jolt. “I’m still having a hard time getting myself used to standing on this Earth right now,” said msnbc commentator Chris Matthews the next evening. “This is a different Earth today than it was 24 hours ago.”

Before the vote, Matthews and hundreds of thousands of others had existed inside a certain version of America. In that America, several things were clear: Mr. Trump was a racist, sexist individual who was equal parts monster and clown; he had no real chance of victory; and the political right was comprised mainly of white supremacists destined to be beaten into guilty submission by the unstoppable force of social justice warriors and other progressives.

But that was not the actual America. It wasn’t real.

It was a narrative, a fabricated version of the country. The fabrication was so pervasive, the narrative so elaborate and so carefully formed, that it deceived even many of those who were helping to weave it, such as Matthews.

For those living inside that version of America, the polls and surveys all agreed. So did all the news stories. All the posts they saw in their Facebook and Twitter feeds were in agreement too—save a handful from that embarrassing redneck cousin.

But it was a mass-shared illusion. And with Trump’s win, the news bubble they were living inside abruptly popped. That version of America was revealed to be false.

And the alarming thing is that this false reality and news bubble were created mostly by the mainstream media.

‘Madam President’

Rather than striving to discover the truth and objectively report it, most mainstream media outlets wanted to sell their preferred narrative, to win others over to believing it, and to suppress opponents into feeling like the hopelessly, righteously outnumbered, bigoted minority.

This was evident when the New York Times—the country’s leading paper— made no real effort to hide its switch from reporting to advocacy, and ceased offering even a pretense of impartiality. A stark example of this came on Aug. 7, 2016, when the self-styled “paper of record” ran a front-page story saying many journalists felt they had to sacrifice objectivity during the presidential race because they believe “dangerous” Trump is driven by “nationalistic tendencies.”

Two weeks later, when news broke of a major Clinton Foundation scandal— 85 of 154 individuals who had had an audience with Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State had previously donated to the foundation— the Times made no mention of it. This was evidence of “pay to play” at its worst by the Democratic Party candidate, but the Times had no use for the story among its 46 pages of “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” Michael Goodwin, who spent a decade writing for the Times, said that contrary to the publication’s “Fit to Print” slogan, “The truth is that only news that fits the party line gets printed” (FoxNews.com, Aug. 24, 2016).

Such news executives, seeing the world through a thick leftist lens, decided their obligation to truth, objectivity and fairness was outweighed by their bias against Trump. After Trump’s victory, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet admitted that the paper’s newsroom had to suddenly turn “on a dime.” Turn from what? From the relentless partisan bigotry that had skewed their election coverage.

Brent Bozell, president of the conservative Media Research Center, said, “All season long, the pro-Hillary press treated Trump’s followers with utter contempt. At the same time, the left-wing media were giving aid and comfort to Hillary Clinton, covering up her scandals when they could, spinning them in her favor when they couldn’t. … We documented it all season long.”

The media’s fixation with the narrative was also evident in the months and weeks leading up to the vote, when mainstream sources published and fixated on a flurry of polls saying Trump could not possibly accumulate enough support to win.

On Election Day, the New York Times said, “Hillary Clinton has an 85 percent chance to win.” The Huffington Post blog was even more optimistic, saying its presidential forecast model gave “Clinton a 98.2 percent chance of winning.” Newsweek took it a step further, sending out 125,000 copies of a commemorative magazine with Clinton’s smiling picture on the cover and the headline “Madam President.” After Trump’s victory was clear, the magazines were recalled, but you can buy copies on eBay for anywhere from $75 to $2,500 each.

How could polls, supposedly one of the more scientific and objective parts of the mainstream news, have gotten it so wrong? There are many theories, and it is impossible to pin down. But part of the reason was due to bullying behavior of many of those who supported Clinton, and who said Trump supporters were idiots at best and racists at worst. At one point in the campaign, Clinton herself demonstrated this by saying, “You can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”

These kinds of sentiments were echoed over and over by mainstream sources and left-leaning opinion leaders. But many Trump supporters didn’t agree with this assessment of themselves. Still, they didn’t want to be called racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic or deplorable, so instead of triggering the wrath of social justice warriors, they often kept quiet about who their vote would actually go to, thereby skewing some polling data.

At various points in the lead-up to the election, Mr. Trump’s team said those polls and projections that the media were so confident in were significantly understating his actual support in key states.

But several fact-checking organizations said these claims were false and that the polls were right. Time revealed that those polls were wrong. They were part of the fabrication. Part of the narrative.

So now that the thunderbolt has struck, and the mainstream media’s biases, partisanship and disinformation have come to light, how are these outlets reacting? Are they chastised, humbled, rending their garments, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes, trying to correct their imbalances? No. Instead, many are claiming victimhood, deflecting blame and doubling-down on the narrative.

‘It’s the Alternative Media’s Fault’

In 1996, powerful media moguls rejoiced when President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act that significantly boosted their power and influence. But in the years that followed, many such moguls recoiled at the rise of unexpected competition, in the form of alternative news sources, mostly via the Internet.

Many alternative sources have become quite powerful in their own right. For example, during October 2016, the conservative aggregation site Drudge Report received a total of 1.73 billion page views. That’s more than cnn’s 984 million, the New York Times’ 642 million and Reuters’ 85 million combined. And many of the stories Drudge highlighted during this pivotal pre-election month carried a pro-Trump message.

After the election upset, and after issuing a flaccid non-apology apology, the New York Times editorial board deflected blame for their biased coverage, saying a solution to the problem would be to censor nonmainstream news sources, and online platforms that disseminate their stories. “Most of the fake news stories are produced by scammers looking to make a quick buck,” it wrote. “The vast majority of them take far-right positions. But a big part of the responsibility for this scourge rests with Internet companies like Facebook and Google, which have made it possible for fake news to be shared nearly instantly with millions of users and have been slow to block it from their sites” (Nov. 19, 2016).

President Obama echoed these sentiments: “If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, and particularly in an age of social media when so many people are getting their information in sound bites and off their phones, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”

It is true that many sites exist only to peddle misinformation and propaganda for profit or for fun. The headlines are comical: “Obama Signs Order Banning Pledge of Allegiance,” “Hillary Team Conspires with George Soros to Give Donald Trump Cancer,” and “Trump Was Born in Pakistan and Not in America!”

It’s beyond dispute that such sites do a disservice to readers, particularly those too naïve to recognize their falsehoods. But, despite the mainstream media’s claims to the contrary, there weren’t nearly enough people who believed these kinds of patently false stories to throw the election to Trump. And it wasn’t fake news that inflated the media bubble whose abrupt popping jolted many left-leaning Americans.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the current fake news hype is the chance it gives to mainstream institutions who yearn for the days when their opinions went nearly unchallenged to harness it as a means of muzzling not just scammers trying to make a buck, but also their credible competitors who simply have a different viewpoint.

Who Determines What’s ‘Fake’?

No one would argue that sites engaged in fabrication of stories—such as the one about a pedophile ring operating out of a Clinton-linked pizzeria—are not peddling fake news. But the issue begins to become more complicated when news sites that are not mainstream, but which do strive for accuracy and truth, are targeted.

Writing for Townhall on December 10, John Hawkins said: “[L]iberals being liberals, they lump pretty much every conservative website that gives them a case of the ‘sads’ into the ‘fake news’ category. Breitbart? Fake news. Right -wing news? Fake news. Redstate? Fake news. What they really want is to use ‘fake news’ as an excuse to encourage social media platforms to censor conservatives.”

Writing for Forbes on November 17, Frank Miniter explained that many are attempting to harness the fake news scare in order to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, a principle that granted the U.S. government powers to determine what media content was neutral before President Ronald Reagan abolished it: “Many Democrats … think government is a fair arbitrator that can neutrally decide when someone can speak, even on a privately owned station; in fact, after the 2006 midterm elections, Democrats began pushing to allow government regulators to act again as censors by listening to broadcasts and fining those it doesn’t think presents both sides fairly. Now some are using the ‘fake news’ phenomena as an excuse to reinvite this kind of government control over First Amendment-protected speech or by asking Facebook and Twitter to become even bigger censors of certain views.”

Political activist Egberto Willies leans to the left but agrees that the trend has potential dangers. He wrote on November 28: “This new concern by the mainstream media for ‘fake news’ after the election is disingenuous. … They want to blame Americans’ ignorance on the misinformation they receive from Facebook and other social media, thus reducing the credulity of the medium with the expectation of gaining back the audience they’ve lost to social media. Unfortunately, what the mainstream media want you to ignore is that they were, in fact, the catalyst for misinformation” (Daily Kos).

While actual fake news truly is destructive, the sudden hysteria surrounding it is partly an attempt by mainstream media to deflect blame for their own transgressions and to disparage their competition. It is not difficult to see how the drive to kill fake news could be expanded to include legitimate nonmainstream sources. It isn’t difficult to see how such a crusade could be used to silence dissent and unpopular opinions—even when that dissent and those opinions are truthful.

‘Truth Is Fallen’

In today’s media world, both mainstream and alternative news sources have moved away from objectively reporting the truth in favor of more biased, opinion-based messages. Truth simply isn’t valued as it once was.

The Bible—the same Bible our magazine bases its forecasts on—foretold a time when media and society would not value truth: “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. … And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth …” (Isaiah 59:4, 14-15).

Does this landscape in which “truth is fallen in the street” and “truth fails” sound like an apt description of today’s narrative-driven media? God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to write this passage more than 2,700 years ago, but it is describing the situation in America today. (To prove this for yourself, please request our free booklet Isaiah’s End-Time Vision.)

The shift we are witnessing toward a “post-truth” media landscape in which “truth fails” is sobering. But there is great cause for hope. The Bible makes clear that God’s love “rejoices in the truth,” and that the “truth will set you free” (1 Corinthians 13:6; John 8:32).

A time is rapidly approaching when truth will be universally prized. The entire world will rejoice in truth and appropriately value it. Pure truth will be proclaimed to all people. Through Isaiah, God said: “[T]he earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).

World-renowned educator Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about this rapidly approaching, truth-filled future era in his booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like. He wrote: [I]f everyone told the truth—everyone’s word were good—everyone were honest …—what a happy world we would have!” Mr. Armstrong explained that we will soon have that truth-loving and happy world, under the reign of Jesus Christ. “The only hope of justice—of peace—of truth—of right solutions to all this world’s problems, is the coming in power and glory of Christ to set up world government. Right government. The government of God! … Light will replace darkness—truth will replace error. Understanding will replace crass materialism. True knowledge will replace intellectual ignorance.”

Truth is precious beyond words. And we can be filled with hope knowing that it will soon saturate all media.

Great Again

Great Again

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America is going to become great again, but not the way millions of Americans think.
From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

I just promoted my new booklet Great Again on television for the first time. This booklet was published in the summer of 2016. President-elect Donald Trump published a book with the same title at about the same time! When my new booklet went to press, I knew nothing about Mr. Trump’s book. It was originally titled Crippled America. He changed the name to Great Again.

Is this scenario just coincidence? I don’t think so.

People need to compare the two books. Both are about America becoming great again. But they are polar opposites in how that will be achieved.

America is now faced with a choice. My booklet is based on Bible prophecy. It is the only message that can and will prevail—and you can prove it. God has set before us a choice between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:19). My booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation proves that this scripture is prophecy for today.

A few writers and commentators are beginning to see something is dreadfully wrong with America.

In her last Wall Street Journal column before voters went to the polls in the 2016 presidential election, Peggy Noonan wrote, “A closing thought: God is in charge of history. He asks us to work, to try, to pour ourselves out to make things better. But He is an actor in history also. He chastises and rescues; He intervenes in ways seen and unseen. Or chooses not to. 2016 looks to me like a chastisement. He’s trying to get our attention. We have candidates we can’t be proud of. We must choose among the embarrassments. What might we be doing as a nation and a people that would have earned this moment?” (Nov. 3, 2016; emphasis mine throughout).

This writer works for one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world.

Peggy Noonan does not believe Donald Trump will make America great again. She thinks he is some kind of strong correction from God!

She believes that God “chastises” for our sins.

We can all see that Mr. Trump has promised to deal with some serious problems in America. Millions of Americans are excited about that. And they have a right to be.

After the election, Ms. Noonan softened her view and expressed some optimism about a Trump presidency.

But she was correct before: Mr. Trump is going to turn Americans even more away from God. She was also right in saying that we have brought this chastisement upon ourselves—by looking to men instead of God and His Bible.

However, she did not explain how or why. My new booklet explains how God’s chastisement is going to play a major role in making America great again! In fact, America is soon to become greater than it ever has been in the past—by far!

Ms. Noonan also said that God istrying to get our attention.” The Bible relates how God has done that throughout history. But it takes more than just being chastised to get our attention. We must know that God teaches us why we are chastised—what kind of changes are required. And most important of all, we must see it’s coming from a loving God. He also warns us before He chastises, telling us how to avoid being chastised.

That is precisely what our new booklet—Great Again—explains. (Request a copy. All of our literature is free.)

God has led us to warn America, Britain and the Jewish nation for over 80 years. He has given us ample new revelation from the Bible that you can prove.

God is trying to get these nations’ attention through this new booklet and all of our messages. That is the only way God will keep us from being chastised as no other people on Earth ever have been.

Here is a short excerpt from our Great Again booklet:

America has been the world’s only superpower for decades now. After World War ii, it assumed the mantle of the greatest power on Earth from Great Britain. The time that these two nations have been preeminent in the world has been remarkably peaceful. As historian Andrew Roberts wrote, “War has been the almost constant lot of mankind since the days of Rome, yet the English-speaking peoples have presided over a longer period of peace between the Great Powers than at any time since the Dark Ages” (A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900). Winston Churchill said in 1938, “It is the English-speaking nations who, almost alone, keep alight the torch of freedom.”

In the second half of the 20th century, Britain fell from being a globe-girdling empire to being an isolated, middle-rate power. Now, America is following the same course. Darkness is descending on the long, historically extraordinary Anglo-American age.

History teaches that world orders don’t last. They come and they go.

Many people are celebrating America’s loss of power. But the world is about to find out what kind of nightmares occur when other, more violent nations fill the void that America is leaving behind. This planet is about to experience a short, shocking period of unimaginable brutality and barbarism.

In September 2006, President George W. Bush tried to get the world’s most powerful leaders to sign a document condemning Iran (and its puppet Syria) for causing the current Middle East conflict. The whole world knows that Iran is the primary sponsor of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. But Russia, China and other nations said there was no evidence to support such a view!

Russia and China are America’s enemies. Will we ever stop believing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words and judge him by his actions? Do we ever practice the biblical statement “by their fruits you shall know them”? If we don’t know our enemies by their deeds, our nation is in grave danger.

History also thunders that message.

Mr. Trump and the Russian Trap

The new American president has expressed a fondness for Vladimir Putin. Mr. Trump also believes he can work with him. Barack Obama had similar views, and he was humiliated and shown to be an extremely weak spectacle before the world for eight years.

Did Mr. Trump learn anything from that wretched history?

Putin is setting a deadly trap for President Trump, just as he did for Barack Obama.

Charles Krauthammer, one of America’s outstanding foreign-policy analysts, wrote on Dec. 1, 2016: “The autocracies are back and rising; democracy is on the defensive; the U.S. is in retreat. Look no further than Aleppo. A Western-backed resistance to a local tyrant—he backed by a resurgent Russia, an expanding Iran and an array of proxy Shiite militias—is on the brink of annihilation. Russia drops bombs; America issues statements [as groups of little children beg for their lives!].

“What better symbol for the end of that heady liberal-democratic historical moment. The West is turning inward and going home, leaving the field to the rising authoritarians—Russia, China and Iran. …

“As for China, the other great challenger to the post-Cold War order, the administration’s ‘pivot’ has turned into an abject failure. The Philippines openly defected to the Chinese side. Malaysia then followed. And the rest of our Asian allies are beginning to hedge their bets. …

“The West’s retreat began with Obama, who reacted to (perceived) post-9/11 overreach by abandoning Iraq, offering appeasement (‘reset’) to Russia, and accommodating Iran. In 2009, he refused even rhetorical support to the popular revolt against the rule of the ayatollahs.

Donald Trump wants to continue the pullback, though for entirely different reasons.”

Charles Krauthammer doesn’t think Mr. Trump is going to make America great again. He believes just the opposite.

My new booklet has chapters illustrating why Russia is so devious and dangerous. It has been planning America’s destruction for over 70 years. It is clearly documented history that is painful to read. That is especially true because our people are ignorant of that history.

Secretary of State—Putin’s Friend

Several U.S. senators are deeply concerned about Mr. Trump’s selection for secretary of state, Exxon Mobil ceo Rex Tillerson.

Here is a press release from Sen. Marco Rubio’s office regarding the choice: “While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination. The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America’s interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America’s foreign-policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage” (Dec. 13, 2016).

What are these foreign-policy goals going to be? Will America know who its real enemies are and take a strong stand against them?

The secretary of state will be giving the U.S. president direct information from other world leaders. Sen. Lindsey Graham believes that Trump and Tillerson are naive about Russia.

“Mr. Tillerson is a talented businessman with a great deal of international business experience,” Senator Graham said. “Based upon his extensive business dealings with the Putin government and his previous opposition of efforts to impose sanctions on the Russian government [which had been put in place because of its violent conquering of other countries], there are many questions which must be answered. I expect the U.S.-Russian relationship to be front and center in his confirmation process” (Politico, Dec. 13, 2016).

Sen. John McCain is also concerned, raising questions about Mr. Tillerson’s ties to Putin. “I have concerns about what kind of business we do with a butcher, a murderer and a thug, which is exactly what Vladimir Putin is,” he told National Public Radio (Dec. 13, 2016).

Senator McCain talked about Putin’s “outrageous” actions in Syria, supporting dictator Bashar Assad. “What’s really egregious is now the precision strikes that Russian aircraft are dropping—precision weapons on hospitals in Aleppo. [T]here is no depth that these people won’t plummet,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2011, Tillerson negotiated an energy partnership with President Putin that Putin said could be worth as much as $500 billion. Soon after, Tillerson received the Russian Order of Friendship, one of the highest awards Russia gives to foreign nationals.

Vladimir Putin is indeed a butcher. He is not only a murderer but a mass murderer! He is responsible for the deaths of many thousands in his own country, the former Soviet Union and Syria.

Putin has killed thousands of innocent women and children in Syria. He has also been a major player in creating millions of refugees from that area. He is totally unconcerned about the massive and intense suffering!

Have you noticed how China and Russia have extremely close ties with terrorist-sponsoring nations? Iran is the number one terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world by far! Russia is fighting beside Iran in the Middle East and helping it build a nuclear bomb.

Syria is considered the number two terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world. Russia is Syria’s greatest protector now.

How can we ever hope to be friends with Putin as he supports the worst terrorist sponsors in the world?

We have the illusion that negotiations can solve any problem. Negotiation will never solve our problems with Vladimir Putin!

America should not even be negotiating with Putin until he stops fighting alongside the world’s worst terrorists. These terrorists are dedicated most of all to destroying America, the Jewish state and anybody else who gets in their way.

The Bible states that we have lost our “natural affection” for human rights and true freedom. If we have any morality left, how can we cozy up to such murderous monsters?

The fact that we do, speaks volumes about America and its values!

God commissioned America, Britain and the Jewish state to be champions for freedom throughout the world. That is the Bible’s message. How many of America’s leaders ever bring God and His Bible message into the picture—as our forefathers did?

Therein lies our only hope.

As Peggy Noonan said, God chastises. That is a lesson taught throughout the Bible. So brace yourselves.

In spite of all this, our new booklet shows that there is an awe-inspiring end to all of these terrifying problems.

Focus on Important

Focus on Important

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Don’t fritter your most valuable asset on nonsense.
From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

What if you somehow learned that you would die in a week? If you were given just seven days to think back over your life, what would be your assessment? How satisfied would you be with what you have accomplished? What would you regret having left undone?

Are you spending your life on things that make a difference? Are the truly important matters getting enough of your attention? What draws you away from these things?

Moses was contemplating these types of questions when he wrote Psalm 90: “[W]e spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (verses 9-10).

Then he drew this poignant conclusion, beseeching God: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (verse 12). Recognize the brevity of your life, and you gain sharp clarity of thinking.

Honestly evaluate how you are using your days, your hours, your minutes. Are you just marking time—or are you truly numbering your days so you can apply your heart to wisdom? Are you devoting enough energy to the significant things? Are you prodding yourself and aiming to truly use your life, fulfilling your God-given potential?

A successful life demands being purposeful and driven. Your time, which is your life, is your most valuable asset. You don’t even know how much or little you have, all you know for certain is that supply is limited.

The devil knows your time is limited. He has built modern society specifically to consume your attention with trivialities, to draw you away from what matters. If you just do what comes naturally and what is easiest, you will be swept up in a torrent of distraction taking you far from anywhere you want to be.

Don’t get trapped in trivial, quickly forgotten busyness. Establish your priorities and trudge toward them, step by step, against resistance, daily, hourly. Regularly evaluate your progress and make frequent course corrections to stay on track. Do not let your priorities fade and disappear, then replace them with new priorities that you also let fade and disappear. Once you establish your priorities, led by God, sprint, lumber, clamber, scrap, fight and crawl toward them until you have achieved them.

Look at your daily tasks and ask yourself tough questions about each one: Is this really important? How will this further a long-term goal? Will its impact last beyond this week or this month? Does this advance my real purpose in life? Is it diffusing my energy and preventing me from accomplishing what I need to? If so, can I delegate it or cut it?

With your goals and priorities firmly in mind, you can far more readily avoid getting caught up in unessential things, and you can intentionally do specific things each day to advance your goals. Devote as much time as possible to work of lasting value. Focus on what is truly important. Focus will determine your success in achieving it more than anything else. If you can’t focus on something, you won’t accomplish it. If you can, you will.

For fruit trees to reach maximum yield, they must be regularly pruned. Jesus Christ said growth in your life also requires continual pruning. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [the Father] takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2; New King James Version).

Unwanted, unhelpful growth is natural. Extra obligations, diversions, projects and preoccupations bud and blossom all the time. That is why pruning is so critical, and why it must be continual. “Our life is frittered away by detail,” Henry David Thoreau wrote. “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.”

Stop and ask: What am I doing right now? Is it really what I need to be doing? Busyness is not the same as productivity. And productivity is not the same as fruitfulness. Look at the fruit. Is what you are doing producing results? Are they good results? Are they meaningful? Are they building your family? Are they helping others? Are they advancing God’s cause? Are you putting the resources He has entrusted to you to their best use? God wants to help you answer these questions.

You cannot afford to waste time. Prune whatever is stealing your minutes and not producing good fruit. To focus on the important things, the less you think about other things, the better. Set limits on what you consume and do. Eliminate the unessential. Cross off what’s not really important. Postpone things that don’t need to be done right away. Keep your focus locked on what is really important and prune everything else.

This is a continual process. Prune, then prune again, then again. Prune monthly, weekly, even daily.

This is how to maximize your time and energy. If you are doing something important, then you are moving in the right direction, even if slowly. As Earl Nightingale said, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

Japan’s Abe Visits Pearl Harbor in Historic First

Japan’s Abe Visits Pearl Harbor in Historic First

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit to Pearl Harbor on December 27, where he expressed his “sincere and everlasting condolences” for the 2,403 Americans and the 64 Japanese killed during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack.

“We must never repeat the horrors of war again,” Abe said, “this is the solemn vow the people of Japan have taken.”

Prime Minister Abe was accompanied by United States President Barack Obama, in what will likely be Mr. Obama’s final visit with a foreign leader as president. Mr. Abe praised the U.S. for its postwar work to rehabilitate Japan, calling the resultant relationship between the two nations an “alliance of hope.”

Abe’s visit follows President Obama’s historic trip in May to Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb in 1945 in hopes of bringing an end to Japan’s military fanaticism.

While Abe’s visit to Pearl Harbor is being widely celebrated as a victory for diplomacy and for the U.S.-Japan alliance, it is noteworthy that Mr. Abe’s statement was not an actual apology. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry that our government killed these people,” he basically said, “I’m sorry that these people—both the Americans and the Japanese—died.” His failure to ascribe the blame to Japan hollowed his statements.

Abe’s carefully chosen words allow him to demonstrate to the increasingly belligerent China that the U.S.-Japan alliance remains robust, while also allowing him to avoid upsetting hawkish factions of Japanese society who believe Japan has nothing to apologize for.

Among such factions is Hiromichi Moteki, the acting chairman for Japan’s Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. Moteki said he was “relieved” that Abe did not apologize. “Why should Abe apologize? For the prime minister to apologize would be a distortion of history, because Japan’s view of history is still strongly influenced by the outcome of the Tokyo War Trials, that Japan was the aggressor and in the wrong.”

Moteki is among the conservative Japanese who insist that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was not a “sneak attack,” nor was it the beginning of the war between the U.S. and Japan, since it was preceded by America imposing economic sanctions on Imperial Japan. He also insists that China instigated the Sino-Japanese War, and denies both the Nanjing Massacre and the Japanese Imperial Army’s use of “comfort women” during the war.

Moteki and many other Japanese conservatives deny any Japanese wrongdoing in the lead up to and during World War ii. Abe’s reluctance to confront such dangerous historical revisionists exposes the worrying underpinnings of his leadership.

To understand more about the dangers of this leadership, read “Why the Trumpet Monitors Japan’s March Away From Pacifism Toward Militarism.”

Democracy Is Dying

Democracy Is Dying

Melissa Barreiro/Trumpet

What will take its place?
From the February 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Across the world, democracy is dying. Self-government—once viewed as the ideal of freedom and the only way to fairly administer a country—to the younger generation has become “meh.”

In the United States, only 30 percent of those born in the 1980s say it is “essential” to live in a democracy, according to data from the World Values Survey (1995–2014). Only 19 percent of them say a military takeover, in the case of the government being incompetent or failing to do its job, is not legitimate in a democracy. Only one third of them say civil rights are “absolutely essential.” In 2015, one in six said they were fine with a military coup. (In 1995, that number was one in 16.) A 2011 survey found that nearly a quarter of young people thought democracy was a “bad” or “very bad” way to run the country.

“Three decades ago, most scholars simply assumed that the Soviet Union would remain stable,” wrote Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk—the academics who compiled these statistics—in the Journal of Democracy. “This assumption was suddenly proven false. Today, we have even greater confidence in the durability of the world’s affluent, consolidated democracies. But do we have good grounds for our democratic self-confidence?” (July 2016).

“What we find is deeply concerning,” they warned. “Citizens in a number of supposedly consolidated democracies in North America and Western Europe have not only grown more critical of their political leaders. Rather, they have also become more cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives. The crisis of democratic legitimacy extends across a much wider set of indicators than previously appreciated.”

Similar data shows the same trend forming in Sweden, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The death of democracy has already gone beyond the theoretical. It is affecting ballot boxes across the world. Everywhere you look, you clearly see early warning signs of the death of democracy. And biblical prophecy strongly indicates that this trend is going to accelerate.

Pirates

Since World War ii, the Western world has come to a consensus on what a democracy should look like: a system of government that has been termed liberal democracy. The West dreamed of spreading this enlightened ideal of representative self-government around the world, pushing back socialism, communism and/or dictatorships and tyrannies and giving everyone worldwide the freedom to govern themselves.

But not only has the West failed to export its prized product, it is rotting on its own shelves. Democracy in Britain, Europe, America and beyond is crumbling. This has been visible in decade-long trends and in recent elections. And it is more than a rejection of certain politicians or parties. It shows a world no longer happy with the way government works, even in free societies. It shows a world where voters are so dissatisfied with democracy that they are willing to conduct live experiments on themselves with alternative and even radical forms of government.

One alternative is the pirates. On Oct. 29, 2016, pirates came close to taking over Iceland. These were not literal pirates, but the Icelandic Pirate Party.

The pirate movement is one of the newest in politics. It morphed from a protest against restrictive online copyright enforcement to a political movement, promoting the right to privacy, government transparency and free speech.

The party was founded just four years ago, but in October it won 15 percent of the vote, making it the third most popular party in Iceland. That’s explosive growth.

Like almost everywhere else in the world, it’s easy to see why Icelandic voters have so forcefully rejected politics as usual. Earlier in 2016, the Panama papers revealed massive corruption at the top of Iceland’s government, leading to the resignation of the prime minister.

A key platform of the pirate parties in Iceland and across Europe—and the biggest way they reject “liberal democracy”—is their support for direct democracy. Just about all of the West’s liberal democracies are representative democracies. The people choose a representative; the representative is charged with lawmaking, judging or administering the way that he thinks best within the constitution; and if voters disagree, they vote him out at the end of his term—if not sooner.

But when elected representatives are as corrupt as the Panama papers, Wikileaks and other leaks reveal, it’s easy to see why voters want something different. Under direct democracy, citizens vote directly on the policies themselves, cutting out the middleman.

Beppe Grillo, the former comedian who is looking more and more like the future prime minister of Italy, leads a direct democracy group: the Five Star Movement. The Netherlands passed a law last year that allows petitions to trigger referenda on legislation.

Peasants

At the same time the pirates assaulted Iceland, a farmers’ party stormed to power in Lithuania in two rounds of elections, held on October 9 and 23. Before the election, the Peasant and Greens Union held just one seat in parliament. Now it is the largest party, with 54.

Once again there is a new party; once again people are fed up with politics as usual. But instead of giving the people more power, this coalition wants to give them less. One of the core policies of the Peasant and Greens Union is to create a technocratic government. Because elected politicians have made a big mess, it reasons, Lithuania needs to appoint experts to deal with it.

This too is an idea that has spread far and is gaining more popularity after America’s presidential election. “The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States may have signaled the death of the closest thing we have to a religion in politics,” wrote former British Conservative mp Matthew Parris. “On both sides of the Atlantic, democracy risks being knocked from the high altar as an unmitigated and unquestioned good” (Spectator, Nov. 9, 2016).

Jason Brennan, a political philosopher at Georgetown University, has just written a book called Against Democracy. He advocates instead for an epistocracy—meaning rule by the knowledgeable. “Trump’s victory is the victory of the uninformed,” he wrote in Foreign Policy. “But, to be fair, Clinton’s victory would also have been. Democracy is the rule of the people, but the people are in many ways unfit to rule” (Nov. 10, 2016).

Clearly, it’s not just young people souring on democracy. Many of the elites have too.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are really part of this same movement. The European Union has followed this approach for decades. In America, politicians from both sides of the aisle have allowed the number of unelected bureaucrats in America to grow to the point that over 2.5 million non-military personnel now work in the executive branch. They are appointed, not elected. Yet this sprawling mass of bureaucrats includes myriad agencies that have the power to pass laws, try cases and enforce punishments. They call these laws “regulations.” And the average citizen has little to no recourse against this bureaucratic state.

The more control these bureaucrats have, the less control the people have. The natural allies of bureaucrats, technocrats, epistocrats and their related synonyms are leftists, because they all want the same solution: big government.

‘Illiberal Democracy’

But not everyone is happy about big government. And the fight-back is leading to another movement: “illiberal democracy.” This was a term used by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to describe those who, like himself and Donald Trump, are democratic but reject many of the norms of the modern Western state. They do things that some consider beyond the pale, things that democratic leaders should never do, no matter how strong their mandate.

These “illiberal” democracies tend to be built around strongmen: leaders who are democratically elected but who greatly emphasize their personal power to solve their nation’s problems.

In many ways, this is the hardest trend to describe, because so much is distorted. The left has gained control of many of the levers of power in liberal democracy. It has used the bureaucracies, the judiciaries, the media, the schools and even central banks to move nations to the left. When leaders on the right want to change their country’s direction, they can only do so by “interfering” with the leftist policies of these bureaucracies, judiciaries, government-owned broadcasters, etc. When they do this, the left screams blue murder.

But all this crying wolf is dangerous. It makes it hard to see where leaders are just pushing back against leftist control, and where they are genuinely altering the government toward illiberalism or oppression. Hungary and Poland are two governments singled out as being “illiberal democracies.” Are they truly illiberal? There is certainly some concerning news. But with all the heated rhetoric, it’s hard to tell what is really going on. A person is not a Nazi because he criticizes the decision-making of a central bank or because he wants to see an out-of-control supreme court reined in. The left’s smears against Poland, Hungary and the Trump administration make it harder to detect if and when these governments do, in fact, take actions that are genuinely dangerous.

Escalation

These movements all feed off each other. The more the elites take power, the more people are determined to take it back, and vice versa.

Italy was forced into a technocratic government from 2011 to 2013. During that time, the direct democracy-supporting Five Star Movement exploded in popularity in a major reaction against technocracy. The first time the Dutch used their new powers of direct democracy, it was to strike down an EU treaty with Ukraine—a strike aimed at the technocrats in the EU. However, the technocrats quickly began working on a method they hope the Dutch government will use to ignore the vote.

Many in Britain hate the EU for its anti-democratic nature and elitism. And when Britain voted to leave in a rare instance reminiscent of direct democracy, this only proved to the elites that the people do not deserve and cannot handle the power to govern themselves.

Direct democracy and illiberal democracy have some common ground. One wants to give power directly to the people, whereas the other trusts a single individual to smash the status quo. But both are quickly opposed by the elites. The elites oppose the “illiberals” or “the people” grabbing power, so they seek to grab more power back—and must become more extreme in order to do so.

These countries are just examples from the most recent elections. They are not rare. A new political party winning support in a European nation has become so common that it barely makes the news. Greece, Lithuania, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden are all major examples of this trend. That represents a lot of people who are dangerously dissatisfied with the status quo of modern democracy.

It is important to recognize that one can make legitimately strong criticisms about all these alternatives. America’s founders rejected direct democracy for good reasons. Rule by elites concentrates power in the hands of the few; the best-laid plans of expert bureaucrats gang aft agley—go often askew. As F. A. Hayek put it, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” Strongmen can, and often have, become strong dictators.

Still, none of these movements are Nazis. All are supported by well-meaning people, most of whom would protest any suggestion that they are anti-democratic. But their support all rises from some kind of sense that the system is broken, and that we need to make big changes to the way we’re doing things. They share many views of the 25 percent of young people who believe that democracy is “bad,” even if they might reject that conclusion. They are all symptoms of the deep dissatisfaction with the way Western government works, and the sense that democracy has let us down.

Once even a significant minority starts to lose hope in democracy, the trend is hard to stop. It creates its own vicious cycle. In the 1930s, upstart parties rose with similar speed to those that are rising today. Their rise meant the established parties no longer held enough votes to form governments, and the regular coalitions no longer worked. Democracies became even more dysfunctional, more people became convinced of the need for something else, and the spiral worsened.

Furthermore, the problems building in today’s world will only get worse. Europe’s economic crisis continues to rumble on with no sign of a solution. Parts of Europe are stagnating, with Great Depression levels of unemployment. Even Germany, Europe’s engine of growth, seems likely to encounter an economic crisis. America is swimming in debt and is poised for disaster.

If masses are rejecting the system now, how much worse will the situation get when millions more find themselves without work? When millions of families have real worries about whether they’ll be able to keep their home?

Returning to the academics we started with, Public Radio International reported on an interview with Yascha Mounk, writing, “Mounk believes at least part of the explanation for the disenchantment with democracy is economic. Most citizens of established liberal democracies have been contending with stagnant or falling incomes for the past 20 or 30 years. They may believe the system has failed them, while their children face an even more uncertain future” (Nov. 29, 2016).

An economic crash would make that future radically less certain. And the sense that the system has failed would explode into chaos or anarchy.

Why Governments Fail

The global dissatisfaction ties in with a great many forecasts that the Trumpet and the Plain Truth have made for decades: the breakdown of the political order in the United States; the rise of strongmen in Asia; Europe’s turn toward nationalism; the creation of a new, undemocratic European superstate.

Underlying all this is a simple cause: Man simply has no good way of ruling over man. He does not have the capacity. None of man’s governments has created or can create peace, stability and order. We are now seeing the latest round of men deciding that yesterday’s perfect ideal of a system has failed, and scurrying around to find tomorrow’s new ideal.

It is a failure not of politics but of human nature. No system eliminates greed and selfishness.

But that doesn’t mean that all systems of government are equally bad. Some do a much better job than others of restraining selfish human nature.

A simple understanding of history should warn of the dangers in rejecting liberal democracy and embracing alternatives. Looking at the broad sweep of history, most people in the West have never had it so good. The vast majority of mankind for the vast majority of history has lacked the freedoms that most of us take for granted.

As Winston Churchill put it, “Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

America’s Founding Fathers knew some of the problems with human nature. They designed a system of government that would restrain it. Government in the rest of the English-speaking world and beyond grew out of a similar tradition. After World War ii, many of the rest of the world’s democracies were founded on similar principles.

All these alternatives to liberal democracy fail to protect from the dangers of human nature. Illiberal democracy concentrates power in one strongman and frees him of checks and balances. That’s great if that man has little of the selfish, greedy, corrupt human nature. And what if that power corrupts him? It always does. And what about his successor? Technocracy gives power to a few elites, again, with few checks or balances. They become a gang of heavyweights that is almost impossible to rein in—without resorting to a strongman. Yet these experts still have the same human nature that has given liberal democracy such a bad rap.

Direct democracy is the least tried of all the alternatives. Its experiment in ancient Greece was an absolute disaster. Direct democracy—mob rule—has proven dangerous and volatile. Regardless of how it would work in practice in a modern setting, it certainly would not solve the problems caused by human nature.

History and human nature, then, warn us to beware. Bible prophecy gives us an even more specific reason.

A Dangerous Ending

The Bible prophesied the rise to global power of Britain and America. God promised that these nations would become “the head, and not the tail”; that He would make them “above only, and thou shalt not be beneath” (Deuteronomy 28:13).

That is exactly what history has witnessed. The last two centuries have been Anglo-American centuries. The form of government championed by these nations—a form of government that has at its heart some important biblical principles—has spread throughout the Western world.

But the Bible also says that this time of Pax Britannica, followed by Pax Americana, would end—and that is happening now. The same God who put Britain and America on top is now reversing that. He prophesied that if Britain and America did not obey Him, then strangers would be the head, “and thou shalt be the tail” (verse 44).

This global falling out with the Anglo-American method of government is in tandem with the decline of Britain and America.

Now we are heading for an age of strongmen. All the major power blocs prophesied in the Bible are ruled by strong leaders. Russia will be led by a “Prince of Rosh,” Vladimir Putin. Europe will be led by a “king of fierce countenance,” who rules as part of an old-fashioned Holy Roman Empire church-state combine. Even America’s government is in dire trouble, and possibly deteriorating into the rule of a strongman.

The Bible describes these as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). It is a time of unrestrained human nature. Without the trappings of liberal democracies, the constitution or international norms, as Thucydides put it, “the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.”

As these strongmen discard representative democracy, the Bible says they will bring the world to the brink of destruction.

But the good news is that man is close to finally learning the lesson God wants him to learn from history.

Right at the beginning of human history, man rejected God’s rule over him. Therefore God evicted him from the Garden of Eden, and told man, in effect, “Form your own concepts of what is god, your own religions, your own governments, your own lifestyles and forms of society and civilization” (Herbert W. Armstrong, Mystery of the Ages). Now, we are witnessing the final failures of these man-devised governments. Human experiments in government have ultimately failed, every single time. And today’s radical experiments on live patients in a world full of terror and weapons of mass destruction will culminate in the ultimate lesson: Human beings actually are incapable of governing themselves.

This final failure will force us to accept that fact. The rise of pirates, peasants and Donald Trump shows that we are desperate for alternatives. We are not yet desperate enough to consider the government of God as an alternative. But when this experiment finally ends, we will be.

A Successful Government

At that point, a new government will be established on Earth—under the perfect rule of the King of kings! Herbert W. Armstrong explained it in his booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like: “Now notice just how the new world government will function! It will not be so-called democracy. It will not be socialism. It will not be communism or fascism. It will not be human monarchy, oligarchy, or plutocracy. It will not be man’s government over man. Man has proven his utter incapability of ruling himself.

“It will be divine government—the government of God. It will not be government from the bottom up. The people will have no votes. It will not be government of or by the people—but it will be government for the people. It will be government from the top (God Almighty) down.

“There will be no election campaigns. No campaign fund-raising dinners. No dirty political campaigns, where each candidate attempts to put himself forward in the most favorable light, defaming, denouncing, discrediting his opponents. No time will be wasted in mudslinging campaigns in the lust for power.

“No human will be given any government office. All in government service will then be divine spirit beings, in the Kingdom of God—the God Family.

“All officials will be appointed—and by the divine Christ, who reads and knows men’s hearts, their inner character, and abilities or lack of ability. …

“In short, under the New Covenant which Christ is coming to usher in, what we shall see on Earth is happiness, peace, abundance and justice for all. Did you ever read just what this New Covenant will consist of? Did you suppose it will do away with God’s law? Exactly the opposite. ‘For this is the covenant [that Christ is coming to establish, you’ll read in Hebrews 8:10]; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts ….’

“When God’s laws are in our hearts—when we love God’s ways, and in our hearts want to live by them, human nature will be put under subjection—people will want to live the way that is the cause of peace, happiness, abundance, joyful well-being!”