February 16, 2017
Olympia, Washington—The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that Christians can be compelled to participate in gay weddings. Baronelle Stutzman, a florist who declined to participate in a wedding involving long-time homosexual clients, has lost in Washington and will now take her case to the nation’s Supreme Court.
After being forced to pay all attorney’s fees as well as penalties, Stutzman’s life savings are jeopardy.
Mutterings: What rights, exactly? The right to force others to approve of your actions and legitimate them? And why do people think it’s a court’s job to determine who is “on the right side of history”?
February 14, 2017
Washington—Upon the request of President Donald Trump, national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday. The essential dismissal comes in the wake of revelations that he allegedly discussed economic sanctions with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December, prior to confirmation to his post. The White House Trump lost trust in Flynn because he denied to Vice President Mike Pence that sanctions or policy matters had been discussed with the ambassador.
February 09, 2017
San Francisco/Washington—The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Washington judge’s suspension of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. The administration’s options include appealing to the entire 9th Circuit, or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The appeals court acknowledged the weight of national security, but ruled that the U.S. government had not demonstrated national security concerns which would justify the ban, adding that no evidence had been given that anyone from the seven affected nations had committed any terrorist activity within the United States.
Mutterings: Trump’s ban may in fact be a terrible idea, but the courts are arguing on the wrong premise. The real question is who has constitutional authority to make foreign policy decisions of this nature. Weighing the pros and cons of Trump’s policies does not belong within the purview of the courts.
February 08, 2017
Washington—Alabama senator Jeff Sessions has been confirmed as the incoming administration’s Attorney General. The vote passed 52–47, largely along party lines.
The process, however, was bitter, as Elizabeth Warren attacked the nominee for alleged racist tendencies, ultimately getting booted from the discussion by way of a little-used measure.
February 05, 2017
Houston, TX—For two and a half quarters of football, the Atlanta Falcons looked unstoppable and the New England Patriots looked dispirited. But with the Falcons up 28–3, the Patriots began to chip away, ultimately piecing together far and away the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, winning 34–28 in overtime.
In what will go down as one of the most memorable games in NFL history, there were a number of historic firsts. Among them:
- First Super Bowl to be decided in overtime
- Quarterback Tom Brady became first four-time Super Bowl MVP
- Coach Bill Belicheck became first five-time Super Bowl winner
- First time any team has been down by more than 10 points and won
- Most passing yards by one quarterback: 466
- Most pass attempts by one quarterback: 62
- Most completions by one quarterback: 43
- Most points by a player: James White had 20 on three touchdowns and a two point conversion.
It was a particularly remarkable turnaround for Brady, who looked increasingly frustrated as the game wore on as the speedy Falcons were shredding his offensive line, leading to rushed plays and ultimately, the quarterback’s first ever pick-6 in postseason play. But when the tide turned it turned decisively; in the fourth quarter alone Brady amassed 196 yards through the air, ending with a total of 466.
While New England’s running game faltered for most of the game, running back James White emerged as Brady’s key aerial target late, amassing a Super Bowl record 14 receptions, and finishing with three touchdowns (two on the ground and one through the air).
February 04, 2017
Washington—A Seattle judge has blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven countries into the U.S. considered hotspots. Judge James Robart made the decision in a case that claimed the state had suffered harm from the ban. The State Department and Homeland Security both suspended enforcement of the ban in accordance with the ruling.
Trump said the judge’s opinion “is ridiculous and will be overturned,” and a White House statement assured, “the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order.”
Travelers are scrambling to reach the United States while the blockage is still in effect.
January 31, 2017
Washington—President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court of the United States.
The 49 year old Gorsuch, a graduate of Columbia, Harvard (where he was a 1991 classmate of Barack Obama) and Oxford, has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal in Colorado since 2006—a position for which he was voted unanimously.
Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby against Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. He has published both a book and a law journal article against assisted suicide laws. He is also known as a champion of small government, states rights, and the separation of powers. He is an originalist who believes judges should apply the law rather than create law.
However, Gorsuch apparently has not directly written on or spoken to the fateful Roe v. Wade case that opened the abortion floodgates in the United States in 1973, although statements in his book on assisted suicide appear to provide ample foundation for opposing that ruling. Abortion promotion group NARAL considers him pro-life.
A helpful profile on SCOTUS Blog suggests that of everyone on Trump’s list of suggested candidates, Gorsuch was the most natural and obvious successor to the late Antonin Scalia, whose place on the bench he has been nominated to fill.
Any Trump pick will have a gauntlet to run, with Senate Republicans outnumbering Democrats only 52–48, which leaves the process open to filibuster unless Gorsuch can pick up the support of at least 8 Democrats. While some Democrats may retaliate against Republicans’ refusal to bring Obama’s SCOTUS pick, Merrick Garland, to the table, other Democrats outside the Senate have expressed apparent enthusiasm for the nominee.
Mutterings: Let’s be honest and frank: The possibilities for the Court are precisely the reason why a great many conservatives held their noses and voted Trump. There are currently three Supreme Court justices who are 78 and over (at least one of whom is widely expected to retire within the next year or two); Trump has a possible opportunity to reload the Court with judges who are constitutionalists.
January 30, 2017
Washington—In the face of protests, the Trump administration continues to back up the President’s recent executive orders relating to immigration. Monday, Trump fired Sally Yates, the federal government’s top lawyer, for defying his immigration policies and instructing the Justice Department not to defend travel restrictions targeting seven volatile nations. Yates was in any case about to be replaced by incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions, provided he gains Senate confirmation.
Meanwhile, although an executive order has imposed a blanket suspension of refugee entry for 120 days, the Trump administration has granted waivers this week for the entry of 872 previously-vetted refugees who were already in transit.
While Trump’s orders have occasioned the questioning of nearly 400 legal permanent residents, the Department of Homeland Security indicated such green card holders will be permitted to board U.S.-bound flights, but can expect “additional scrutiny.” DHS also said that some exceptions are being made on a case-by-case basis to allow entry from the seven banned nations.
While critics complain of the ban as anti-Muslim, the President responds that the order is not anti-Muslim, but anti-terrorism. “This is not about religion—this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
January 27, 2017
Washington—The 2017 March for Life drew massive numbers Friday, as hundreds of thousands marched to voice support for protection of the preborn, and to mourn the millions lost to abortion.
The 2017 March featured prominent members of the new administration, with both Vice President Mike Pence and key counselor Kellyanne Conway speaking. President Donald Trump also posted twice on Twitter, affirming his full support and stressing the importance of the March. On Wednesday, in an interview with ABC News, Trump had castigated the media for largely ignoring the March for Life.
Some 58 million babies have been aborted in the USA since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that invented a “right to privacy” which essentially forbade the federal government from outlawing abortion.
At this time, no numerical estimates are available, but a time lapse video (below) of the march event shows something of the massive number of participants. The 2013 March, perhaps the largest ever, was estimated to have drawn 500,000–650,000.
January 25, 2017
Washington—President Donald Trump today ordered go-ahead on his promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He also ordered punitive measures for so-called “sanctuary cities.” In addition, he is expected to sign an executive order in the next few days that would block entry of refugees from Syria, and temporarily suspend immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Punishment of sanctuary cities would involve removal of federal funding. Trump’s directives also increased powers granted immigration agents.
January 24, 2017
In another action bound to anger environmental activists, the Trump administration reportedly has instructed the EPA to remove a page on climate change from its web site.
January 23, 2017
Washington—On President Donald Trump’s first full working day in office, he took a page out of President Obama’s playbook and started signing executive orders and presidential memoranda. Three significant actions:
- Reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which bans federal funds from going to international non-government organizations (NGOs) that promote or provide abortion
- Imposing a hiring freeze on all non-military workers
- Withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal
January 21, 2017
Washington—The much-reported Women’s March on Washington is slated for today, with media outlets suggesting hundreds of thousands of participants. The march is heavily tilted toward the pro-abortion message (pro-life groups have been blocked from participating) and generally reflects opposition to new President Donald Trump. Its self-described mission revolves around “diversity” regarding immigration, sexual orientation and gender identification. A major 2017 is “Women’s rights are human rights.”
While today’s event is drawing massive media attention, most news outlets will largely ignore or downplay the annual March for Life, which draws hundreds of thousands of participants nearly every year. (According to some estimates, the 2013 March drew 650,000.) The 2017 March is slated for January 27, with Trump senior counselor Kellyanne Conway one of the keynote speakers.
January 20, 2017
Washington—So it’s official. Donald John Trump is now the 45th President of the United States.
The ceremony was largely devoid of superstar celebrities. In my opinion, that’s a good thing; I don’t think an event like this is the appropriate place for showcasing superstars, but of course in this case, it’s largely because a lot of celebrities wanted nothing to do with the affair.
The benedictions and so on were largely good, despite the interesting mix of someone like Paula White in there with the others. Franklin Graham had an excellent choice of passage for his short reflections (1 Timothy 2).
Trump’s speech itself had some good points (if we’re genuinely patriotic, there is no room for prejudice, and similar sentiments), but on the whole it will be characterized by other things, none of them particularly good.
First, much of his speech was an implicit diatribe against most of the people sharing the platform. They may deserve it, but this was not the time and place, and moreover, he’s still going to need to work with a lot of these people.
Second, Trump took promise-making to euphoric heights, claiming, “I will never let you down” and a lot more along those lines. Standard in terms of the way he campaigned, but absolutely impossible to fulfill.
Third, continued harping on his pet protectionist themes, which his people love—but unfortunately, they are bad economics. Real economists know that protectionism positively affects a handful of people, but inevitably damages the economy as a whole. I wish Trump and his faithful would read Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics and get a fundamental bit of understanding regarding how economies work on a broader level. You don’t need to be a globalist to recognize the problems with nationalistic protectionism.
In the end, Trump will not be as good of president as he promises to be—but then again, nobody could. Only Jesus is that great of King.
On the other hand, I have reason to believe that he will be heaps better than his predecessor in a whole lot of ways—an apparent commitment to appointing a real constitutionalist to the Supreme Court, a stated intention to back off foreign interference, and a variety of other things. It remains to be seen whether he will make other mistakes that will counterbalance those positives.
As always, the President of the United States should be held accountable. And above all, prayed for.
Washington—Today by noon, Donald Trump is to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in the midst of unprecedented opposition and a tight schedule.
Various leftist thug groups have attempted to block access to the ceremony. In addition, about 30 groups have obtained permits for public protests, according to Reuters.
The largest protest, however is expected tomorrow, with the Women’s March on Washington—an event that has excluded pro-life groups.
January 18, 2017
Richmond, Virginia—The U.S. Department of Justice is telling Virginia how to get around federal rules on spending money gained from asset forfeiture. The rules prohibit assets being used for certain things, such as pay increases. To get around that, the DOJ is advising using the seized funds for other purposes, and then reallocating other budgeted money to matters of pay.
Asset forfeiture is highly controversial because it allows law enforcement to grab assets even without an indictment or criminal evidence.
Mutterings: The workaround is of course an illusion, something like Planned Parenthood’s claims that federal money doesn’t go to fund abortions. Essentially it’s taking money from an imaginary stack of funds in one place to add it to an imaginary stack of funds in another. Asset forfeiture should never occur apart from a conviction, if at all.
January 16, 2017
Frankfurt—President-elect Donald Trump, continuing his pattern of trade protectionism, has told a German newspaper that German automakers can expect a 35% import tax on their cars. In his interview with Bild for its Monday edition, Trump criticized companies such as BMW, Daimler and VW for not producing more cars in the U.S.
As has been the case with similar comments, shares in the German automakers dropped slightly following Trump’s remarks.
January 13, 2017
Washington—Congress passed a bill directing committees to draft legislation repealing Obamacare Friday. The vote carried 227–198, with 9 Republicans and all Democrats voting against the bill.
Critics complain that no serious replacement legislation is ready.
January 11, 2017
Washington—President-elect Donald Trump denies recent reports that Russia has a dossier of “compromising” information on him, blowing angry steam at intelligence agencies leaking the notion to the press. He charged the agencies engaging a propaganda campaign similar to Nazi Germany and called the reports “fake news.”
Both Trump and Moscow denied that Russia has attempted to use leverage over the President-elect. Trump tweeted, “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”
Moscow scoffed the claims of a compromising dossier, calling them a “hoax” aimed at harming relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, an active member of 4Chan claims to have created one of the most salacious parts of the alleged dossier as a “fanfiction” hoax.
January 10, 2017
President-elect Donald Trump has asked Robert Kennedy Jr. to chair a panel tasked with reviewing vaccine safety and science, according to Kennedy. Kennedy is widely considered a vaccination skeptic, but he said today that Trump is “very pro-vaccine, as am I.”
Trump previously has publicly expressed reservations about giving drug cocktail shots to infants, recommending instead to space the same vaccinations out over time. Both Trump and Kennedy have indicated a belief that at least some vaccination practices are linked to autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to insist that there is no evidence that mercury-based thimerosal causes harm.
January 06, 2017
Fort Lauderdale—A veteran of the Iraq war is the suspect in a brutal shooting in Fort Lauderdale. Esteban Santiago is in custody after he allegedly took his gun out of checked luggage and fired in a baggage claim area, killing five people. He surrendered without incident to police after running out of ammunition.
Investigators have not yet ruled out terrorism as a possible motive, but Santiago also behaved erratically at an FBI office in November, when he told agents a U.S. intelligence agency was controlling his mind, making him watch ISIS videos.
Santiago was deployed in Iraq from 2010–2011.
January 05, 2017
New York—A Toyota plan for a Mexico factory has triggered a verbal interchange with President-elect Donald Trump, who has been strongly characterized by heavily protectionist policies throughout his campaign and transition period.
Toyota, however, said the plant will not affect any U.S. jobs; the new plant will shift production to Mexico from Canada.
January 02, 2017
Pastor Andrew Brunson has been denied an appeal of his imprisonment in Turkey for alleged “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” North Carolina native Brunson, who has been in ministry in Turkey for 23 years, was detained in October and imprisoned Dec 9. Turkey has been widely criticized for arbitrarily linking undesirables to Muslim activist Fethullah Gülen (blamed for a failed coup in Turkey in summer 2016) without evidence.
The American Center for Law and Justice noted that it is still possible to appeal to a higher court, but expressed uncertainty regarding the result.
December 31, 2016
2016. What a year.
Death, surprises, and the rise of alternative media.
What a year for Death. And I’m not just talking about the Democratic Party or the credibility of the mainstream media.
Who can remember a year with the death of so many icons?
Among many others, Prince, George Michael, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey in the pop/rock world. Not to mention “Hallelujah” Leonard Cohen.
Country giants Guy Clark and Merle Haggard.
Onscreen, goodbye to Snape and Princess Leia (Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher), as well as Gene Wilder and many other beloved faces.
Monumental novelists Harper Lee, Umberto Eco and Richard Adams.
Sports legends Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe and Arnold Palmer.
What a year for Surprises.
Primarily, the stunning political success of one Donald Trump. He was never expected to make it through the Republican primaries, and of all the Republicans in the field, was thought least likely to defeat Hillary Clinton in a general election. But for a lot of reasons, he managed both.
The UK’s Brexit vote likewise caught many people off guard. In many ways, Brexit and the Trump story are similar, as in both cases more and more people swung from the false promises of globalism to the false promises of nationalism.
What a year for Alt Media.
And no, I don’t mean “fake news,” of which the mainstream spread as much as anyone.
The primary example of which I am thinking is Wikileaks. Even while the mainstream media news outlets studiously avoided reporting any of the actual Wikileaks content and focused on who allegedly hacked and why, more and more real people paid attention to the stuff in all those emails.
We’ve still got a long way to go in learning how to handle all of this. There is no such thing as “objective news.” But hopefully, in 2017 more of us will learn how to be discerning in the way we handle information thrown at us by governments and by news outlets. We’ll continue to ask questions regarding why Saudi Arabia is reported one way and Syria another, for example.
In the meantime, here’s to 2017. As in 2016, beyond all the smoke and haze, we know one thing: Jesus the Messiah is still King of kings and Lord of lords.
December 29, 2016
Washington—The outgoing administration of President Barack Obama has struck back at the alleged Russian spying role in the recent U.S. elections. He ordered expulsion of some 35 suspected Russian spies, announced sanctions against two Russian agencies as well as three Russian companies, and authorized closure of two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland.
Obama also stressed that the moves “are not the sum total of our response,” and that the U.S. government would carry out additional measures “at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.”
President-elect Donald Trump did not sound impressed, saying, “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things.” He also indicated he would meet soon with intelligence officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan, however, called the sanctions overdue.
The expelled Russians were given 72 hours to leave the country; access by Russian officials to the closed compounds will be halted at Friday noon.
December 27, 2016
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese leader to make a public memorial visit to Pearl Harbor, the site of a surprise attack that occasioned the entry of the United States into World War II on December 7, 1941.
Abe attended a public memorial alongside outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama. Along with laying a wreath to honor the dead, he also spoke for several minutes, calling the loss of life there was a “solemn reality” by which “I am rendered entirely speechless.”
In August, Obama had visited Hiroshima and expressed similar regrets for the U.S. nuclear attack near the end of World War II.
December 25, 2016
He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection.
December 24, 2016
Among targets named is a large list of churches.
December 23, 2016
Putin had said that Russia’s military was “stronger than any potential aggressor” on Thursday, which led to State Department comments about U.S. military strength. The Russian president brushed that aside, saying that he did not regard the U.S. as a potential aggressor, and that he had in mind nations that might launch an attack. He also indicated that Russia has no interest in an arms race with the U.S.; “We will never spend resources on an arms race we can’t afford.”
Putin also spoke derisively about the U.S. Democrats, saying the party “has clearly forgotten the original meaning of its own name,” and called them sore losers.
December 22, 2016
The comment was delivered via Twitter without elaboration, but Trump spokesman Jason Miller interpreted it as referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation, especially “among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes.” Russian President Vladimir Putin had commented earlier Thursday that Russia needed to “strengthen the military potential of strategic nuclear forces.”