Institutions That Don't Work (Book Reviews)
Watermelons: The Green Movement's True Colors by James Delingpole
(Publius Books, New York: 2011)
Capitol Punishment by Jack Abramoff
(WND Books, Washington, D. C.: 2011)
"The very bills designed to limit corruption and improve our system of government sometimes serve as vehicles for special interests. Like fugitives surreptitiously searching for an escape car in the dead of night, too many lobbyists prospect for reform bills in the hope of attaching their amendments. To my great shame, I was part of that group, too."
-Jack Abramoff (p. 205)
There is a way which seemed right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Saving the planet, if such a thing were possible, is a noble cause. Getting good people elected to high office, and protecting private companies and Indian tribes from being taxed out of existence-these, too, are noble causes. People involved in them are inclined to feel virtuous. And in the service of these overtly righteous enterprises, we find heaped up whole mountains of corruption.
Watermelons is James Delingpole's reflections on man-made global warming, exposed in the leaked "Climategate" emails of 2009 as the most ambitious and costliest hoax in human history. Capitol Punishment is the testimony of Jack Abramoff, who did a stint in federal prison after being nationally execrated as the most evil and corrupt Washington lobbyist ever.
What do these two narratives have in common?
They're both about corruption on a lavish scale.
They're both about institutions that no longer do what they were created to do.
And they both testify to a truth stated succinctly in the Bible: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it" (Ps. 127:1).
Big Science and the United States Congress have both become thoroughly godless enterprises, and exercises in failure and futility.
Green on the Outside ...
Delingpole's title, Watermelons, denotes "green on the outside, red on the inside." That is to say, the environmentalist concerns that supposedly motivate the Green Movement are only a disguise-a green skin, if you like-for the real business of imposing a socialist tyranny upon the unsuspecting nations of the world.
Green is also the color of money, and there is a staggering amount of money to be made in Global Warming. In fact, it very nicely illustrates the Biblical admonition, "For the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). The sale of "carbon credits" (a kind of indulgence, allowing the purchaser to pollute the planet to his heart's content); the potential to enrich government with vast new "carbon taxes"; public grants to climate scientists; the sale of new, "green" products, from solar panels to light bulbs filled with poisonous mercury vapor (Don't you dare break one!)-in all of these transactions, and many more, there are literally trillions of dollars waiting to be made by politicians, scientists, and industrialists. It is an understatement to say that the prospect of such fabulous enrichment motivates their commitment to Global Warming.
Quoting from the climate scientists' own emails and other communications, Delingpole lays bare the techniques used to create an imaginary Global Warming Crisis. He sums them up briefly on pages 17-19: manipulation of evidence; suppression of the scientists' own personal "private doubts about whether the world really is heating up"; suppression of evidence, including the deletion of really damning emails and the destruction of unwanted data; "[f]antasies of violence against prominent Climate Skeptic scientists"; "[a]ttempts to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period"; and "discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process." Delingpole goes on to give many examples of all of the above.
Is this how science gets "settled" nowadays-by telling lies, concealing information, and back-room politicking? Apparently yes. It would make for depressing reading, but Delingpole writes with a kind of gallows humor that encourages us to keep turning pages.
Once upon a time science rested on the observation of nature. But of course nature, God's creation, is inexhaustibly complex and has a perverse habit of seldom giving scientists the results they want to get. So, instead of observing nature, the climate scientists observe computer models of their own creation. The models are much more cooperative than the real thing. As Delingpole puts it, "That's the incredible thing about made-up speculation of an imaginary future based on nothing more than your passionate strength of feeling as to what ought to be true. (Yes, that means you, computer modelers.) Absolutely anything is possible!" (p. 184)
Invariably the computers come out with just the kind of scenarios the Global Warming crowd needs to justify huge money grants to climate scientists, the elevation of scientists to the rank of oracular advisers as to public policy, the granting of enormous new coercive powers to the statist politicians who fund the scientists-bigger and bigger science, bigger and bigger government.
Despite the fact that the whole world has known it is a scam since 2009, Global Warming continues to fascinate statists and humbug scientists alike. Because of its great potential to make them rich and powerful, they won't give it up without a long, hard fight.
Legislators and Lobbyists
Now let's look at another great enterprise powered by the love of money and operated with complete disregard to Biblical morality-the cozy interplay between the United States Congress and their lobbyists.
Since his boyhood, Jack Abramoff has tried (he says) to live as a religiously observant Jew. The whole time he was working as a lobbyist-activities that landed him in prison-Abramoff prayed, kept kosher, refrained from working on the Sabbath, and generously gave money to Jewish schools and other charities.
But isn't the Old Testament, the Jewish Torah, chock-full of divine commandments against "wresting judgment" (for instance, "Thou shalt not wrest judgment," Deuteronomy 16:19)? This is defined as the practice of giving a gift to a judge or some other public official, in return for which he is to render a decision favorable to the giver. It is better known as bribery; and an ordinary citizen caught offering a bribe to a judge, a building inspector, or a traffic cop will be charged with a felony.
Abramoff never saw himself as engaging in bribery. It's not clear, from his book, that he ever fully realized there was anything seriously immoral about what he was doing. "In prison, I had an epiphany," he writes. "Languishing at rock bottom, I was finally able to look up and examine myself. I wasn't the devil that the media were so quick to create but neither was I the saint I always hoped to become. I was somewhere in the middle ..." (p. 277). That doesn't sound like one of the world's great epiphanies.
Why did Abramoff believe-at the time, at least-that he was doing nothing wrong?
God's law specifies that accepting a bribe is always wrong: for instance, Exodus 23:8, "And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous." R. J. Rushdoony wrote, "The sin of bribery is thus cited in Scripture as the offense, not of the giver, but of the taker." "What the Bible condemns," added Gary North, "is the taking of bribes, since it is assumed that godly men will enforce God's law without payoffs."
It is Chalcedon's position that there are times when the authority of Scripture permits the Christian to offer a bribe-e.g., to deter a corrupt official from committing an unjust act, or to persuade him to do something right that he would not normally do-and that the Bible provides us with the necessary guidance for knowing those occasions when they arise. For Jack Abramoff, however, every occasion was the right time for offering a gift to an official: he made it his whole way of life, and he cannot show that every one of those occasions was the right occasion (for instance, to keep an Indian tribe's casino operating without competition).
The gift-giving and gift-taking that goes on all day in Washington, D. C., is not considered bribery. Somehow Senators and Congressmen can receive no end of really nice gifts from lobbyists without being guilty of accepting bribes. If you offer a policeman $20 not to write you a ticket, you're probably going to get into trouble. But if you drop $75,000 into a senator's re-election campaign, and fly him across the Atlantic in a private jet to play a round of golf at St. Andrew's, you're just doing business as it's done in Washington.
Jack Abramoff overdid it. He pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and corruption. "I have profound regret and sorrow for the multitude of mistakes and harm I have caused," he told the court (p. 243). But he writes, "The worst part for me was the hypocrisy of the whole thing. Most of these senators"-the ones loudly and publicly vilifying him on the floor of the Senate-"had taken boatloads of cash and prizes from my team and our clients" (p. 233).
There is a metaphor which runs throughout this book. Abramoff explains: "In politics, and later in lobbying, there was a shorthand expression for someone who needed no coaching: ‘He got the joke.' That meant that the person needed no explanations, no reasons and no amplifications" (p. 17).
See? All that wheeling and dealing in Washington is just a joke. All the lobbyists and legislators are in on it. If you listen, you can almost hear them laughing. But the joke is definitely on the American people, who are not in on it and who certainly don't get it. All we do is pay for it-the season tickets and the luxury sky-boxes; the free dinners at the swankiest restaurants in town; the golf junkets, gold watches, Caribbean cruises, beach houses, the celebrity luncheons-and we pay, and pay, and pay.
An Epidemic of Lawlessness
"Without love for neighbor that causes us to look out for the interests and welfare of each other, the civil government will not be able to protect us. Along with neighborly love, there must be true love for the living God and His order for our lives. We must be devoted to it. We must endeavor to preserve it.
"Without self-government, love for neighbor, and love for God and His revealed order, the state will not be able to stop crime." [emphasis added]
So scientists lie, suppress evidence, work behind the scenes to destroy other scientists' careers, and do all of these things to gain power and money.
In our nation's capital, everything and everyone is up for sale, and tax dollars are wrung out of our paychecks to enrich special interests and keep our legislators perpetually entertained in royal style. That the United States is going broke, literally, seems to make no impression on Washington at all.
In a nation that has lost its fear of God, whose people ignore God's laws and teach others to do the same, what else can we expect?
We are hard put to name an institution that functions as it should. Big Science and Big Government are corrupt, as we have seen from these two books-but is Big Education any better? If you think it might be, visit the Chalcedon website (www.chalcedon.edu) and read our reports on the latest trends in public education.
Does our free press work to keep the public well-informed? Or does it rather take sides politically, suppress news that would discredit a favored cause or leader, and overplay stories that serve its own agenda?
How about our churches? Are they functioning as they should? Are they teaching their congregations how to live according to God's laws? Are they advancing the Kingdom of Christ? Or are they compromising with a godless world and selling out the Scriptures verse by verse?
There are even credible reports that pharmaceutical companies knowingly sold drugs to doctors, who knowingly prescribed them to their patients, despite strong evidence that those drugs might harm or even kill the patient. Again the motive is the lust for money.
These corrupt scientists, lawless law-makers and lobbyists, wicked teachers, lying journalists, unfaithful churchmen and negligent physicians were not beamed down to us from another planet. They were born and raised right here, among us. They are us. An evil tree can only bear evil fruit.
Society's institutions will not function with integrity unless the society does. Books like Watermelons and Capitol Punishment should scare us straight. And going straight must begin with national repentance.
God says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14).
There's no doubt our land needs healing, and no doubt that without God, it cannot be healed. And if we humble ourselves in repentance, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways ... He will heal us.
 R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Phillipsburg, NJ: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973), 535.
 Ibid., 842.
 For more on the Bible's teachings about bribery, see Gary North's essay, "In Defense of Biblical Bribery" found in The Institutes of Biblical Law on pages 837-846.
Joseph Morecraft III, With Liberty and Justice for All, (Cumming, GA: Chalcedon Media Ministries, 2006), 69.
 See Blood Feud by Kathleen Sharp (New York: Dutton, 2011). This book reports the abuse by drug salesmen and physicians of a drug called "Procrit." It makes for horrifying reading.
Topics: Culture , Government, Statism, Theology