Thursday, December 11, 2014

Partial Redemption: Three Elders from Coast Hills Coast Share Positive Impressions of Their Ex-Pastor

Last night, about 25 folks from Coast Hills Church met with three members of the board of elders at a private home in Laguna Niguel. They were there to justify their decision to fire pastor Ken Baugh. Ironically, they ended up releasing information regarding their own bylaw violations along with positive information that reinforced the case that they unjustly dismissed Baugh.  


The elders at the meeting included Greg Holmes, Bill Nixon and Rhoads Martin. One of those questions brought up the issue of term limits for elder board members. At Coast Hills Church, elders are limited to two (2) three (3) year terms. The elders indicated that they have not been following these common sense rules. The Coast Hills Church website, by the way, indicates that Gary Luke, a roofing contractor, has served as the Chairman of the Elder Board for at least 12 consecutive years.  

The good news for Baugh is that the elders saw absolutely nothing wrong with his service morally, ethically, or spiritually. In fact, they liked him so much that they even considered giving him a lower paying "teaching only" job. This is quite interesting since the Bible tells us that teaching is the primary skill required of church leaders. See, 1 Timothy 5:17 English Standard Version (ESV) which states:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
Another bit of good news for Baugh is he had surprised them with his performance in the job of senior pastor. Initially, the elders had only expected him to last two years on the job. This was due to the challenge of taking over church leadership from the charismatic Denny Bellisi. Apparently, Baugh's level of success as both a manager and teacher impressed them. They kept Baugh on for almost a decade. 
In general, the feedback I have received from those who attended this meeting is that they were still disappointed by the elder board's decision. For example, I received the following note from one of the attendees:
We are still stunned by the abrupt announcement and loss of an excellent pastor/teacher. Even after a meeting with three of the elders last night at our D-Group, (we) are not convinced of any solid basis for this decision. Trusting that God has better plans for Ken, and that we can continue to learn from his deep knowledge of the Word. In the meantime, I'm on Yelp looking for a new church that has similar substance to continue to inspire our Christian walk.
At the meeting, the grief over the loss of Baugh was painfully apparent. A number of people were openly crying. One lady expressed sorrow about Ken Baugh's absence, and said she only wished that she could have had a chance to say goodbye to him before he left. Among those who found solace in this gathering, I can report that they are grateful these three elder board members seemed to be open to new ideas and improved communications.  

For now, however, it is plain to me that the elder board does not understand that they made a devastating mistake. 

As a former business school professor, it strikes me that they are relying on magical thinking to distract themselves from the painful reality that they did immense damage by abruptly and recklessly dismissing Baugh. Through this decision, they humiliated a beloved pastor and permanently scarred his national reputation. They also gravely harmed Coast Hills Church as an institution. They sent an unfortunate message that they apparently have as little respect for their pastors as they do for their bylaws.


John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Not So Good: Thoughts on Resisting Arrest


I have been pondering how our society is supposed to be able to function in an environment where we teach young black boys and girls that it is okay to resist arrest. This seems like a crucial issue right now given the rioting and protests associated with two black fellows, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both of whom resisted lawful arrest.

It turns out that there is some constitutional law out there which defends our right to resist "unlawful" arrest. It is worth reading here.

Apparently, this is a real issue and a ton of African-Americans seem to think it is okay to resist arrest. For example, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did a study in 2008 and asserted that within the city of Seattle, "African-Americans were arrested for the sole crime of obstructing eight times as often as whites when population is taken into account." See, Nalder, Eric; Kamb, Lewis; Lathrop, Daniel (2008-02-28). "Blacks are arrested on 'contempt of cop' charge at higher rate". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 


According to the paper, they treated an obstructing arrest as "stand-alone" if that was the only charge or if all other charges were for closely related offenses, such as resisting arrest. By this standard, the number of black men who faced stand-alone obstructing charges during the six-year period reviewed was equal to nearly 2 percent of Seattle's black male population.

I think this pattern is the result of a dysfunctional culture in the African-American community that teaches it is okay, even right, to resist arrest. I'm afraid we are going to see a lot more stories along the lines of Michael Brown and Eric Garner unless we make significant efforts to change this culture so that it respects the authority of police officers.One place to start might be to change the way police officers are portrayed in rap or hip hop music.

Here's an incredible video of a black police officer who has apparently gotten caught up in gangsta culture. It is a striking indication of how deep this sickness in black culture goes.

If we are going to have an intelligent conversation about race in this country, then one of the top topics need to be how do we go about stopping cultural trends which make it acceptable to resist arrest.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Click, Click, BANG: Why Did Wilson's Gun Misfire?

Pictured above, a Sig 
Sauer P229 .40 caliber 
gun, the firearm used
by Darren Wilson.

A lot of liberal commentators seem to think that officer Darren Wilson was in an unfair fight with Micheal Brown simply because Brown was unarmed. Of course, officer Wilson could not assume Brown was unarmed. Even worse, it turns out that Wilson's gun was unreliable. This is a little known fact that crops up when you read the transcript of Wilson's testimony.

As I read through the transcript of Officer Wilson's statement to the Ferguson Grand Jury, I was shocked to learn that his gun misfired at least (3) three times while he was still trapped in his vehicle by Michael Brown. I feel like such an amateur, but I was sincerely startled that a police officer would have that much trouble with a gun. I have fired my father's semi-automatic pistol and it worked flawlessly. I sort of assumed guns only misfired in movies like Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven.

It turns out that Wikipedia has an article that lists a sobering number things that can happen to make a gun malfunction. It looks to me like the key to reliable use is keeping the gun clean. According to John A. Dreyer: "A dirty gun is the cause of possibly 90% of mechanical function problems." As friend on Twitter pointed out: "Lots of cops don't take care of their guns - being a cop doesn't make you a gun guy." Firing rounds causes gunk to build up in the weapon and that can take a toll on performance. You can also have problems with your ammunition. 

I would be curious to learn more about what went wrong when Wilson first sought to fire his weapon to scare Brown away from his vehicle. The story, from Wilson's perspective, sounds pretty alarming. According to Wilson's testimony, he says:


Like I said, I was just so focused on getting the gun out of me. When I did get it up to this point, he is still holding on to it and I pulled the trigger and nothing happens, it just clicked. I pull it again, it just clicked again.
At this point I’m like: why isn’t this working, this guy is trying to kill me if he gets a hold of his gun. I pulled a third time, it goes off. When it went off, it shot through my door and my window was down and glass flew out of my door panel. I think that kind of startled him and me at the same time. When I see the glass come up, it comes, a chunk about that big comes across my right hand and then I notice I have blood on the back on my hand.
After seeing the blood on my hand, I looked at him and he was, this is my car door, he was here and he kind of stepped back and went like this. And then after he did that, he looked up at the and had the most intense aggressive face.
The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon. That’s how angry he looked.
He comes back towards me again with his hands up. At this point I just went like this, I tried to pull the trigger again, click, nothing happened.
To me, this information is significant. I have not noticed anyone in the news or anywhere else talking about how officer Wilson's gun malfunctioned. 

Thanks to the folks who have added comments below, it looks like there is another highly plausible theory for explaining the failure of officer Wilson's gun. It is clear from Wilson's testimony that he and Brown were struggling over the officer's Sig Sauer P229. If Brown grabbed a hold of the gun, then he would move the sliding mechanism on top of the gun into a position that interfered with the ability of the gun eject a spent bullet casing. This would cause the gun to simply click rather than fire. Technically, a gun in this state is referred to as out-of-battery. The comical video below explains this rather serious topic. What I like most about it is the way it illustrates what it takes to knock a Sig out-of-battery and the exact sound the gun makes under these circumstances. 




This explanation seems kinder to officer Wilson since the malfunction would not be traced to the officer's failure to properly clean his gun. If the misfires were due to the gun being pushed out-of-battery, then we have more evidence that Brown was fighting for the gun and had physical control over it. I am guessing that officer Wilson is unaware of how easy it was for Brown to push the Sig out-of-battery. His testimony seems to indicate that he was baffled by the failure of his gun to fire.   

To me the larger issue is that the three misfires that officer Wilson experienced help explain the officer's alarm, and even justify the number of times he pulled the trigger to stop Brown's menacing advance. As a police officer protecting the public, Wilson is not a character in a movie. He is a real life person working in an imperfect world, a world where he could not depend on his weapon to protect himself. I think the more people learn about the misfires of Wilson's gun, the more sympathy they will have for the decisions he made as he was literally fighting for his life.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's the Popularity Stupid: My Common Sense Take on Republican Victories in 2014

As a political scientist, I think the reasons for Obama's unpopularity are straightforward. He messed up his Obamacare website, screwed up with ISIS/Ebola, and left us with an economy with stagnant wage growth and low workforce participation. Things suck right now and the voters were right to blame Obama.

Basically, he is an incompetent, affirmative action president, incapable of doing the daily tasks necessary to succeed as president. He should have moderated his policies, parked his ideology, met regularly with congressional leaders, and spent less time on the golf course.

This was all quite predictable. He had no relevant job experience as a manager or as a leader of a large organization, much less an executive position in the federal bureaucracy. My take is that he surrounded himself with sycophants who played in to his enormous ego and allowed him to be lazy about the job of learning how to be president.

I met Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental College and it never occurred to me that he had what it took to be president, much less be a successful president. He was lazy, into parties, intellectually frail, and a somewhat passive observer of life. He seemed like an average white guy to me. I'm not surprised to see that he has lost more congressional seats than any recent president, a casual review of his resume would lead any objective observer to think his time in office would be a train wreck.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Imagine That: It's the Politics of Photoshop

I am always amazed at the people who manage to think up these sort of slogans. In a world of hyperactive communications, it seems to me that a pithy statement ends up carrying a lot more influence than one would normally expect. The photo below appears to be the result of a Photoshop exercise that turned a "Hands Up - Don't Shoot" display into something entirely different. (Notice the extra space between Don't and Loot as well as the lack of foreshortening in the P and T in pants.)



Nevertheless, I was inspired when I stumbled over this photo while reviewing my @augustine25 twitter account. This seems like a particularly important message given the news that forensic studies are confirming the version of events recounted by police officer Darren Wilson. Apparently, there was residue from gun powder on Michael Brown's hand, a result that verifies Wilson's story that Brown had tried to grab his gun from him. 

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.