February 17, 2017
Washington—After perennially challenging the EPA, Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt has been put in charge of it. Pruitt had filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA in his six years as the state position, which he resigned today. [MORE]
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 15, 2017
Syria—A U.S. Central Command spokesman has confirmed that the military used depleted uranium weapons in strikes against ISIS in Syria in 2015, despite earlier vows not to use the ammunition. Although studies on depleted uranium are not complete, it is thought to cause cancer and an array of health and environmental problems, and is considered officially by the EPA as a radiation health hazard inside the body. It is not, however, banned by U.N. conventions. Its density helps ammunition to penetrate armored vehicles such as tanks, but the 2015 instances are puzzling because they primarily targeted unarmored oil tankers.
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
Both Virginia houses have passed bills that would protect religious organizations and their representatives from being forced to perform same-sex “marriages.” Democrat governor Terry McAuliffe, who signed an executive order requiring LGBT compliance from all state contractors and employees, has vowed to veto.
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 07, 2017
San Francisco/Washington—The Trump administration is making its case to a U.S. appeals court in San Francisco, seeking to re-engage an executive order for a travel ban from seven majority Muslim countries. The executive order was blocked Friday by a Seattle court. [MORE]
Washington—Two Republican senators voted with the opposition today, creating a deadlock, but Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie in favor of confirming Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Critics complained that DeVos has neither the experience nor knowledge to run the federal Department of Education, [MORE]
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 a Monday reorganization memorandum, President Donald Trump shook up his National Security Council. The shakeup brings top advisor Steve Bannon into the Council, and pares the Council’s size. [MORE]
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 announced via Twitter today that he would launch a “major investigation” into voter fraud, targeting people voting in multiple states and those not legal to vote, as well as use of deceased people in balloting. [MORE]
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
Washington—South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has received overwhelming Senate support for confirmation as ambassador to the United Nations. The vote passed 96–4, [MORE]
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
Bismarck, North Dakota—The Army has announced intent to launch a full environmental study regarding the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. While pipeline is currently blocked, a full study could delay construction for up to two years. [MORE]
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 17, 2017
Washington—In one of his final acts of office, President Obama has commuted the sentence of Bradley Manning. Manning, who goes by the name Chelsea, was an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when he provided WikiLeaks with diplomatic cables and battlefield details. [MORE]
January 16, 2017
San Francisco—FBI say they have arrested Noor Salman, wife of the gunman who killed 49 in a gay nightclub in Orlando last year. She has been charged with obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting. [MORE]
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.