I really like Carly Fiorina. She will bring zip and pop to Cruz's campaign. Her witty rebuttals to Donald Trump in the early debates were devastating. She can hold her own against Trump and expose him as the empty windbag that he is. She will give Hilary Clinton nightmares. Cruz made a wise move in selecting Carly at this early stage. Here is her acceptance speech.
The embattled governor of North Carolina says the anti-Christian Human Rights Campaign is more powerful than the National Rifle Association, which is arguably the most powerful issue group in the United States.
Republican Governor Pat McCrory tells NBC that the powerful gay group has “…millions of dollars, which makes me want overturn [Citizens] United, because I don’t know who their donors are, either. But they are putting on a lot of pressure, instead of having a good dialogue.”
McCrory said, “I don’t think the government should be telling the private sector what their restroom and shower law should be, to allow a man into a woman’s restroom or shower facility at a YMCA, for example.”
McCrory is under continued assault from a highly organized and very rich coterie of homosexual organizations and their friends in business and the entertainment world for his defense of women and girls who do not want biological men urinating and showering with them.
Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has "self-correcting mechanisms" that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken. [more. . .]
Robert Gagnon and Elizabeth Humphreys set the record straight. And it does indeed need to be set straight! In their article, "Stop Calling Ted Cruz a Dominionist," they address many misrepresentations of the man and his faith. They write:
Dominion theology and dominionism were terms coined in 1989 by sociologist Sara Diamond(Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right), referring to Christians who want to take over the government and six other facets of society (the media, business, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion), together known as the “Seven Mountains.” Diamond views this as “the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right.”
The term has become elastic, encompassing Christians who believe the United States was once a predominantly Christian nation as well as those who hold “right-wing” views. But as many writers have noted, this elastic sense has become a bogeyman. Jewish journalist Stanley Kurtzcalled it “conspiratorial nonsense,” while Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson declared: “Thin charges of dominionism are just another attempt to discredit opponents rather than answer them.” Even the liberal journalist Lisa Miller called the loose accusation of dominionism “the paranoid mot du jour” (On the dubious ways that this term is used, see also Joe Carter.)
Cruz, however, is not a dominionist. As a teenager he joined the Constitutional Corroborators, travelling throughout Texas reciting from memory the text of the Constitution up through the Bill of Rights. He was taught law at Princeton by Robert George, and at Harvard Law School byAlan Dershowitz. Dershowitz, who is Jewish, observed that he was “one of the brightest students we ever had.” Cruz, with his formidable knowledge of the Constitution, is a passionate proponent for a republican form of government with checks and balances, accessible to all.
Accordingly, he stands against those who would use the Constitution as a cipher for personal ideology. Liberal proponents of a “living Constitution” seek to amend the Constitution by the fiat of unelected liberal jurists, bypassing the constitutionally-prescribed process of amendment. As Abraham Lincoln said, if American citizens accepted the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, they would “have ceased to be their own rulers, having … practically resigned their government into the hands of that … tribunal.” Cruz’s view is consonant with two contemporary Catholic giants of jurisprudence: his professor, Robert George, and his mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. George wrote us:
The contemporary religious Left’s version of McCarthyist red-baiting is to smear opponents by labeling them “dominionists.” … Ted’s not a dominionist; he’s a constitutionalist. I’ve known Senator Cruz for more than half his life. I supervised his junior year independent project and senior thesis at Princeton, working with him closely on the Constitution’s protections of liberty by way of structural limitations on power. I’ve stayed closely in touch with him in the years since, sometimes discussing constitutional questions (especially those pertaining to religious freedom). In 31 years of teaching constitutional law and civil liberties, and 25 years of serving on various capacities in public life, never have I met a person whose fidelity to the Constitution was deeper than Senator Cruz’s.
When Ben Carson asserted he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation,”Cruz rejected that view: “The Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office, and I am a constitutionalist.” At a CNN Milwaukee Republican Presidential Town Hall discussion, Cruz responded to the concern that his Christian faith would interfere when “making decisions for all religions in the United States.” He replied, (more. . .)
The Obama presidency has brought us a world on fire, an $18 trillion debt, a sense of endless economic stagnation for millions of Americans, a major drop in the workforce participation rate, higher insurance premiums, riots in our cities, worsening race relations, the rise of ISIS, terror attacks on our soil, a functional defeat in Afghanistan, a tidal wave of refugees destabilizing and threatening Europe, and many other problems.
There's a world of difference between "freedom of religion" and "freedom of worship." Secularists and leftists have subtly substituted freedom of worship for freedom of religion. Today the Family Research Council notes a small victory in rectifying the matter with regard to the Department of Homeland Security. FRC writes:
For seven years, the White House seems to have done a virtual find/replace for every administration policy. Where “freedom of religion” used to be, a more restrictive “freedom of worship” is now -- including the text of the U.S. citizenship test. As part of the naturalization exam that prospective immigrants take, it seems Homeland Security made a few edits to the First Amendment. And Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) was not amused.
Back in June, Lankford sent a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson calling on the agency to correct the error. “The freedom of religion is much more than just the freedom of worship,” he argues. “Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs -- it is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all.” It may seem like a minor change, but it’s had major consequences on Christian businesses, charities, service members, athletes, celebrities, teachers and othershurt by this narrow understanding of our First Freedom. Under the president’s term, the administration would have us pack up our Christian symbols, our biblical beliefs, and our free speech, and stash them in the church, where they could be quarantined. Senator Lankford thinks America should embrace the proud tradition of religious expression -- not suppress it. And fortunately, DHS finally agrees.
On Thursday, ten months after the Oklahoma leader’s first request, DHS issued a notice to the public that they’re updating their material -- including the test -- to reflect the “freedom of religion.” It was a rare victory in two terms of frustration over America’s freedom to believe.
“I applaud the Department of Homeland Security for listening to me and deciding to change their material to reflect our First Amendment right of freedom of religion,” Senator Lankford said. “The ‘freedom of religion’ language reflects our right to live a life of faith at all times, while the ‘freedom of worship’ reflects a right simply confined to a particular space and location. We live in a great nation that allows individuals to live out their faith, or have no faith at all. To protect freedom and diversity, we must carefully articulate this right throughout the federal government.”
Hats off to Senator Lankford for making religious freedom the priority it should be!
After this week, PayPal may need a pal! After pulling the plug on a major expansion in Charlotte, the money transfer business is getting hammered over their political posturing that is clearly inconsistent with their corporate actions and policies. CEO Dan Schulman kicked off the controversy when he announced earlier this week that he was so outraged by North Carolina’s H.B. 2 that he was scrapping plans for their Charlotte office. Why? Because the state won’t force businesses to let men in the women’s restroom. Like most Americans, Governor Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) thinks that decision belongs in the hands of individual companies -- not imposed on them by the government’s heavy hand.
Unfortunately, Schulman must not have read the bill he’s blasting because he made the knee-jerk reaction to pull out of the state over a measure that actually empowers businesses to operate their way. Executives like Schulman now have the right to set their own bathroom policy (which PayPal apparently has -- and not in favor of the agenda they supposedly support). But that’s just the first of many duplicities reporters say. “Becoming an employer in North Carolina,” Schulman argued earlier this week, “where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable. The new law perpetuates discrimination, and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.”
That’s interesting, Congressman Robert Pittenger (R) points out, considering that PayPal has no trouble doing business with more than 25 countries where homosexual behavior is illegal “including five where the penalty is death. Yet, they object to the North Carolina legislature overturning a misguided ordinance about letting men into the women’s bathroom?” North Carolina hasn’t outlawed homosexuality or discriminated against anyone. It hasn’t even barred men from women’s restrooms. All it did was guarantee that businesses have the freedom to set those policies themselves!
Unfortunately, Big Business, like the cultural bullies it reports to, is too busy complaining about the phony speck in someone else’s eye to realize the plank in its own. While Apple, Google, Home Depot, Facebook, and others sink their companies’ time and money fighting laws they think are “anti-gay,” their own companies are partnering with countries that actually are! How is it that PayPal can take conservatives to task for protecting business’s autonomy, when they consistently turn a blind eye to international partners that stone or jail the very population they claim to support? No wonder Rev. Franklin Graham is calling PayPal the “hypocrite of the year.” “PayPal operates in countries including Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Yemen for pete’s sake. Just last month PayPal announced they would be expanding in Cuba, a country in which people who identify as homosexual and transgendered have been imprisoned, tortured, and executed. PayPal only agreed to come to Charlotte in the first place after holding out for millions in corporate incentives. And under the current law that they are so strongly protesting, PayPal could have chosen their own corporate bathroom policies.”
As if that weren’t embarrassing enough, Erick Erickson reminded readers that Schulman’s group is already in plenty of hot water for violating U.S. sanctions. According to the Wall Street Journal, PayPal was processing payments for blacklisted countries like Cuba, Sudan, and Iran -- as well as a man operating a nuclear weapons black market. “In all, nearly 500 PayPal transactions, worth almost $44,000, potentially violated U.S. sanctions, according to the Treasury Department.” Who is PayPal to lecture anyone on business ethics? While Schulman gets on his moral high horse, his own company is forking over more than $7.7 million in fines for helping to arm America’s enemies! So maybe, when it comes to common sense local laws, PayPal should do what North Carolina’s law suggests -- and mind its own business.
The movie "Risen" is quite good and definitely worth seeing. A positive review and helpful reflection on Christian faith and "Christian movies" can be found in the following article: "Risen and What Makes a Good Christian Film"
A friend of mine recently wrote me and included a link to the First Things review of Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups. He saw it shortly thereafter and wrote:
I thought the movie, Knight of Cups ... phenomenal. I think Malick is attempting to express profound truths about life, God, and relationships through film like no one else. I can understand why some don't have the patience for his films - they are like visual poems, very beautiful but demanding. Certainly high art.
I am grateful for this introduction to Terrence Malick's work.
. . . As an empirical matter . . . Obama is the most divisive president since Eisenhower, because that's when Gallup began measuring such things: By the pollster's reckoning, the partisan gap in Obama's 2012 approval rating is a yawning, historic 76 points. Remember how divisive the Bush years were? The Obama years have been worse. And it's not just a partisan divide. In 2014, a Washington Post/ABC News poll asked respondents if they viewed Obama as more of a divider or uniter. It wasn't even close among independ-ents, 59 percent of whom said he's been a divider.
Still, words are nothing compared with Obama's actions: He rammed Obamacare through without a single Republican vote. And when he couldn't find even a bare majority of votes for his immigration reform or gun control bills, he simply proceeded via executive decree.
When no one on the left was asking for it, Obama pursued the narrowest-possible reading of religious liberty, resulting in Supreme Court showdowns with a Lutheran school, which wanted to be free to hire its own ministers without government interference, and with the Little Sisters of the Poor, who didn't want to be forced to pay for abortifacients. There was no reason for Obama to pursue these policies except as an exercise in premeditated divisiveness. On the question of religious liberty, Obama has sought to undo a national consensus and foment conflict. In doing so, he set in motion a slow-rolling constitutional and cultural collision that is likely to end badly. The only reason this chaos isn't apparent to the general public is because Lutherans and nuns don't riot.
Then there's race relations. Obama was elected in large part because of his promise to heal racial wounds. It hasn't worked out that way. In 2001, Gallup found that 70 percent of blacks and 62 percent of whites thought race relations in America were somewhat or very good. By the time Obama was inaugurated those numbers had flipped, with 61 percent of blacks and 70 percent of whites (having just absolved themselves by voting for Obama, one suspects) rating race relations as good. During Obama's tenure, both numbers have been in freefall. Today, only 51 percent of blacks and 45 percent of whites think relations between the races are good.
What happened? First came Obama's decision not to prosecute two members of the New Black Panthers who had been charged with voter intimidation for their actions outside a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day in 2008. (In case you think the New Black Panthers are just a bunch of scamps, in 2014 two other members of the group were arrested for plotting to kill the chief of police in Ferguson, Mo.)
Then came Obama's penchant for wading into every racial police controversy that reached the front page of the New York Times. He took sides against the Cambridge cops in their arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. The police in this case were almost certainly in the wrong; but no one needed the president of the United States preening about it. He did the same with the death of Trayvon Martin, showing up unscheduled at a press availability to talk about the case the week after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting. Did Obama come before the cameras to reassure the public and vouch for the rule of law? No. He stoked the fires, telling America, "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago." This was a ridiculous exaggeration. Martin was (to put it charitably) a troubled teen with a history of problematic behavior; 35 years before, Barack Obama had been a promising student at an elite private school. By likening himself to Martin, Obama was viewing the episode through the most reductive and demagogic lens possible.
When the Michael Brown shooting turned Ferguson into a powder keg, Obama was ready for the cameras, calling it "heartbreaking" and sending his Justice Department in to ferret out wrongdoing. (They found none.) In a world full of real police abuses — such as the killing of Eric Garner in New York and the shooting of Walter Scott in Charleston — Obama seems to have a knack for tying himself to the cases where the police were actually in the right. It's enough to make one wonder if Obama can't tell the difference between proper and improper police conduct — or if he just doesn't care.
All of which lead to Obama's semi-embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement. As Heather Mac Donald has documented, Black Lives Matter is not an innocent college protest movement. It is an ugly strain of anarchic racialism that has led not just to the defense of looting but to the killing of police officers. Obama does not merely refuse to condemn Black Lives Matter — he attempts to rationalize it, explaining, "There is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that's not happening in other communities."
To his credit, President Obama has never offered to pay the legal fees of supporters who assault protesters or warned/promised violent riots should he not get his way. Donald Trump may be Obama's heir, but Trump has raised the stakes.
But it's important to understand that Trump is Obama's heir—or, at the very least, the man who wants to inherit the world Obama made. Part of the reason we have Trump today is that Obama set the table by dividing the country so completely; maneuvering so as to pit Americans against one another.
One of the hallmarks of the great dividers, of course, is that they never shut up about how hard they're really trying to unite everyone. Two weeks ago, as violence broke out in a series of incidents at his rallies, Trump insisted, against all evidence, "I'm a uniter."
And back in 2012, as he was accusing the Republican party of waging a "war on women," Obama insisted, "I don't think . . . anybody who's been watching the campaign would say that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We've always tried to bring the country together."
If you listen to Trump’s answers to almost any question about how he will fix a problem, he uses up the first 95 percent of his time explaining, re-explaining and demagoguing about how bad the problem is. (That is, if he’s not talking about polls.) Then in the last few seconds, he says we’ll fix the problem by being really smart or by winning or by hiring the best people. In other words, he has no idea how to fix it.
Goldberg despairs over the anti-anti-Trump conservatives for whom he has had great esteem in the past (e.g. Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett) but who now make excuses for Trump saying he may be okay after all. (Read the whole piece)
Stepen Prothero: He [Trump] has not hypnotized evangelicals into forgetting the foundations of their faith. He is simply revealing the fact that their faith is now more political than theological. The white evangelicals who flock to his rallies like their parents once did to Billy Graham revivals know that he lives a life comically at odds with teachings of the Bible and the examples of the saints. But his political theology resonates powerfully with their narrative of decline and revival. Classically that narrative ran from sin in the Garden of Eden to redemption on the cross. Today it takes place in an America that has fallen from its founding glory yet will, by God’s grace and Trump’s hand, be made great again.
On days like Super Tuesday, it is hard to remember that there are still born-again Christians who take their marching orders from the Bible rather than from the Republican platform. . .
Drudge backs Trump. That's no secret. Drudge pushes live-streaming Trump events in red ink -- even ordinary campaign stops-- and he posts whatever he can that is negative about Ted Cruz. For that he uses huge letters and headlines. Michelle Malkin calls him out in the following video. In it she accuses Drudge of a double standard. He posts Ted Cruz being prayed over, but not Donald Trump (who also has been prayed over).
Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, and one of the world's most articulate and thoughtful Christian communicators, here offers a helpful consideration of "hope." It's is all the more interesting given his audience and the occasional interweaving of his reflections on Buddhism. Keller is the author of The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism among a number of other books.
The "Faith and Global Engagement" group at the University of Hong Kong offers a number of past lectures and presentations online which I will want to explore in the near future.
The narrative that "evangelicals support Trump in large numbers" needs closer analysis. The Family Research Council offers the following perspective." (Bolding is my own)
Very few people have been able to wrap their heads around the "bizarre" relationship between Donald and evangelicals. Part of the reason for the unusual alliance, Peter Wehner speculates in yesterday's New York Times, "is that many evangelicals feel increasingly powerless, beaten down, aggrieved and under attack." But there may be a better explanation for Trump's popularity with this bloc, the Barna Group points out, which is that some of these "evangelicals" aren't evangelicals at all!
If you want to understand where true evangelicals stand, they argue, ask the churchgoers. "Most polls are based on self-identification," the Group has found, "instead of what people do or believe... Reuters and others have found that church attendance distinctly decreases evangelical support for Trump, who has the least-religious supporters among the GOP candidates."
Barna's definition of evangelical is more "rigorous." To qualify, voters have to meet nine key faith criteria ranging from a personal commitment to Jesus Christ to agreement on who God is. Using that filter, true evangelicals, the Group notes, "whose faith hinges on obedience to God's commands, are far more interested in the character of candidates than any other segment." Looking at the election through Barna's lens, the mirage of Trump's broad evangelical support begins to fall away.
"Overall, far more evangelicals view Trump as 'very unfavorable' than 'very favorable," the survey notes. "Researchers found a 38 percentage point difference between the extreme ends of Trump's favorability spectrum... When Barna asked its 869 survey respondents to choose their favorite candidate, evangelicals who identified as Republicans split between Cruz (38%) and Carson (35%), trailed by Rubio (14%) and Trump (11%). Practicing Christians also chose Cruz first (30%), followed by Carson (20%), Trump (18%), and Rubio (15%)."
The liberal media would love to perpetuate the story that evangelicals are abandoning their morals to vote for someone with questionable character. The liberal media would love to perpetuate the story that evangelicals are abandoning their morals. And perhaps some are. But Barna's research makes it clear -- true evangelicals haven't lost faith in their core values.And perhaps so
As I've stated before, I regard Andrew C. McCarthy as the sharpest and most reliable mind around when it comes to Islam and terrorism. Here, in his recent address at Hillsdale College, he summarizes the facts as they exist and as they are ignored by the politically correct Obama administration.
Update 3/19/16 - Hillsdale College has published a slightly edited version of Andrew McCarthy's speech in its February 2016 Imprimus issue. It is titled "Islam -- Facts or Dreams?" and begins by offering McCarthy's biography:
Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute. A graduate of Columbia College, he received his J.D. at New York Law School. For 18 years, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and from 1993-95 he led the terrorism prosecution against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks. Following the 9/11 attacks, he supervised the Justice Department’s command post near Ground Zero. He has also served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense and an adjunct professor at Fordham University’s School of Law and New York Law School. He writes widely for newspapers and journals including National Review, PJ Media, and The New Criterion, and is the author of several books, including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad and Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotages America.
McCarthy begins his speech thusly:
In 1993 I was a seasoned federal prosecutor, but I only knew as much about Islam as the average American with a reasonably good education—which is to say, not much. Consequently, when I was assigned to lead the prosecution of a terrorist cell that had bombed the World Trade Center and was plotting an even more devastating strike—simultaneous attacks on the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, the United Nations complex on the East River, and the FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters—I had no trouble believing what our government was saying: that we should read nothing into the fact that all the men in this terrorist cell were Muslims; that their actions were not representative of any religion or belief system; and that to the extent they were explaining their atrocities by citing Islamic scripture, they were twisting and perverting one of the world’s great religions, a religion that encourages peace.
Unlike commentators and government press secretaries, I had to examine these claims. Prosecutors don’t get to base their cases on assertions. They have to prove things to commonsense Americans who must be satisfied about not only what happened but why it happened before they will convict people of serious crimes. And in examining the claims, I found them false.
The anti-Trump forces that still make up the majority of the Republican coalition must begin an expedited Manhattan Project, the sole aim of which is to bring down the front-runner piece by unpleasant piece. “If not us, who?” Ronald Reagan asked in the heat of the 1981 budget battle. “If not now, when?” Time to go nuclear, chaps.
I love John Lennox for his clarity of thought, genial personality, and forthright evidence-based Christian faith. The video below is not of the best quality, but if it proves too bothersome, one can just listen without watching. I have blogged about Lennox before with other (and better quality) videos on various topics.
Photograph by Eric Pickersgill from his series ‘Removed,’ in which he shows his subjects’ attachment to their cell phones and other handheld devices by asking them to ‘hold their stare and posture’ as he removes the devices from their hands and then takes their portrait. - Click through to see a series of photos!!
Original post: What a shock and blow it was when I learned yesterday that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had passed away. Three and a half years ago Peter Robinson interviewed Justice Scalia, an interview which offers a good window into Scalia's mind and judicial philosophy.
Rod Dreher cites Scalia's dissent in Obergfell, an opinion which illustrates his approach to the Constitution and democratic governance.
I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy. The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance.
Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776:the freedom to govern themselves.
Last night's debate went out of control. Trump acted like a town drunk, the audience high schoolish, and the moderators like hapless parents unable to control unruly children. As far as analysis goes, David French offered as good a summary as I have seen (below). [Photo above is of a moment of silent prayer on the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Does Trump ever bow his head?] French:
I’m done. Until the fundamental dynamic of the GOP primary race changes, I’m done with parsing debate winners and losers. So long as Donald Trump dominates an overly-large field of ambitious, fratricidal competitors, we will continue to see absurdities like the following:
1. Trump — the Republican front-runner, no less — borrowing language from MoveOn.org and Daily Kos to advance the absurd “Bush lied, people died” Iraq War narrative, attacking his fellow Republicans with far more fury than even Hillary Clinton can muster.
2. Trump repeatedly and loudly holding George Bush responsible for 9/11 and the fall of the World Trade Center.
3. An extended GOP defense of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, courtesy of Ohio’s extraordinarily sanctimonious John Kasich. Using talking points that Democrats would envy, he cloaked his embrace of an inferior, third-class government insurance program in the language of compassion and fiscal responsibility. In an ordinary race, Kasich would be long gone — shoved aside by genuine conservatives and an afterthought even in moderate New Hampshire.
4. Trump (yes, him again) actually extolling the virtues of Planned Parenthood on a GOP debate stage. As a businessman who built a “world-class company,” surely he understands that injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into a business helps the entire enterprise stay afloat. That’s what taxpayer subsidies for Planned Parenthood do for the nation’s largest abortion provider, even if taxpayer dollars don’t “directly” subsidize abortion.
The Western Press does a poor job keeping up with Muslim atrocities around the world. Raymond Ibrahim reports on what happened in December.
Islamic hostility for Christmas was on full display as documented here: on Christmas Day, Muslims in Bethlehem set a Christmas tree on fire and greeted the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem with a hail of stones; Muslim “refugees” set fire to a public Christmas tree in Belgium; Muslim jihadis attacked churches during Christmas mass killing at least 16 in Nigeria; Muslim jihadis in the Philippines slaughtered 10 Christians on Christmas Eve to “make a statement”; three Muslim countries—Somalia, Tajikistan, and Brunei—formally banned any Christmas celebrations; due to assassination attempts on pastors and death threats to Christians, churches skipped Christmas mass in Bangladesh and were on “high alert” in Indonesia, with 150,000 security personnel patrolling; in Iran, Christians celebrating Christmas in homes were arrested. [ more . . . ]
Dennis Prager has provided us an invaluable service in reporting what Obama actually said at the Baltimore mosque. The media gets an "F" for not reporting even 5% of what Prager comments on below. Prager's article is MUST READING. He writes:
If you seek to understand Barack Obama and his views, the best place to go is his speeches. But you have to read them in their entirety, not rely on hearing them or on the media's summary of them. When you do, you realize how often what Obama says is morally and intellectually confused and even untrue.
The most recent example was his speech last week at a mosque in Baltimore. In addition to reassuring Muslim Americans that they are as American as Americans of every other faith -- – a point that any president, Republican or Democrat, would and should make – President Obama spoke a lot of nonsense, some of it dangerous.
President Obama: "So let's start with this fact: For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam's message of peace. And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam -- peace."
Why did Obama say this? Even Muslim websites acknowledge that "Islam" means "submission" [to Allah], that it comes from the Arabic root "aslama" meaning submission, and that "Islam" is in the command form of that verb.
That's why "Muslim" means "One who submits," not "One who is peaceful."
Obama: "Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Quran."
The reason Jefferson had a copy of the Quran was to try to understand it in light of what the Muslim ambassador from Tripoli had told him and John Adams. When asked why Tripoli pirates were attacking American ships and enslaving Americans, the Muslim ambassador explained that Muslims are commanded to do so by the Quran: "It was written in their Quran that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman [Muslim] who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to Paradise."
That's why Jefferson and Adams had Qurans.
Obama: "And how do we move forward together? ... It can't be just a burden on the Muslim community -- although the Muslim community has to play a role."
Most Americans would say that the American Muslim community has to play "the" role, not "a" role in preventing violent Islam from capturing the minds of American Muslims, and in helping authorities identify extremist Muslims.
The scandal du jour, from the ignorant, anti-Christian sectors of the Left, comes courtesy of a brief excerpt of a radio interview with Heidi Cruz, Ted Cruz’s wife:
For those who don’t have 92 seconds to listen, here are the quotes that caused Ken Meyer at Mediaite to call Cruz’s statements a bizarre rant:
We are at a cultural crossroads in our country, and if we can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve — this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.
I think that’s something that this country really needs to be reminded of, is that Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution. And Ted is uniquely able to deliver on that combination of the law and religion.
Thomas Jefferson envisioned a wall of separation between Church and State. Ted Cruz envisions that wall being torn down entirely. He’s not judging, he just thinks people who disagree are wrong and bad.
In reality, Heidi Cruz’s comment represents a standard (and accurate) expression not just of Evangelical beliefs, but also of American history. Christians aspire to “show the face of God” in all that we do — by imitating as much as we can our Savior, Jesus Christ. We fail often, but we’re better for the effort. As for Cruz’s statement that our nation was built on “Judeo-Christian values,”
Here is the assessment of the apparently bindfolded and spacewalking David Brooks, this morning:
The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free. Think of the way Iran-contra or the Lewinsky scandals swallowed years from Reagan and Clinton. We’ve had very little of that from Obama. He and his staff have generally behaved with basic rectitude.
We should be alarmed at the vigor with which animal personhood is being promoted in professional journals in the august fields of law, politics, science, and bioethics. So what, you say? Let radicals bloviate. Animal personhood will never be adopted through democratic means.
That’s almost surely true, and animal rights activists know it. That is why they are seeking to attain their goal by court fiat. [more...]
I recently drew attention to the BBC six-part production of tenant farmers living on a monastery farm in Tudor England, circa 1500. Since then I have discovered that the BBC has also produced a 6-part series on Victorian Farm Life circa 1880, plus a 12-part series on Edwardian Farm life around 1901-1914.
The Victorian Farm series "recreates everyday life on a small farm in Shropshire, using authentic replica equipment and clothing, original recipes and reconstructed building techniques." The first of six episodes may be enjoyed below. Wikipedia offers verbal synopses of all six episodes.
Below you can enjoy the first of the 12-part Edwardian farm series as well. Wikipedia helpfully offers synopses of these programs also. The series was filmed at Morwellham Quay, an historic quay in Devon.
"Sen. Marco Rubio's passionate profession of faith before a meeting of Iowa pastors last Fall played a big role in his surprisingly strong showing in the Iowa Caucus Monday night."
As I have written previously, I personally support Ted Cruz, but I see much to praise and admire in Marco Rubio. Rubio's response to a question in this video is utterly unique. Watch the video and be amazed. Rubio has a genuine gift of preaching. (See also my earlier blog post on Rubio's response to an atheist who challenged him at a town meeting.)
CBN News reports further on Rubio's unexpectedly good showing in the Iowa caucus:
Few expected Rubio would do so well, but he capitalized on a last-minute surge in the polls and stumped hard in the final days of the campaign.
Members of the Rubio team believe the groundswell began in November, kicked off by his stirring explanation of the Gospel and the influence of Jesus Christ in his life before dozens of Iowa pastors.
Chief Political Correspondent David Brody said a senior adviser to the Rubio campaign told him CBN's exclusive coverage of the pastors event was a "game-changer" for the campaign.
In order to form an opinion of Ted Cruz, one needs to discover as best one can his distinguishing characteristics both as a person and as a candidate.
- Andrew McCarthy points out Cruz's uniqueness: (my boldings)
The most significant aspect of this [Cruz's victory] is that Ted is a conservative running as a conservative – not in the modern mold of a Republican who thinks he can make big government work more efficiently, but in the Reaganite mold that sees government as the problem. . . .
More than any outsider, though, Senator Cruz is attempting to move the public to our principles – even if it means taking on ethanol in the den of ethanol – because those principles can improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of group identity. In a time when progressivism is failing us, spectacularly, in government, the economy, the international arena, and the culture, Ted is campaigning to defeat it, not to fix it. [See Cruz's earnest conversation with an irate Iowa farmer - video]
- A journalist (Erica Greider) who met Ted Cruz before he ran for any public office and has followed him since, has listed and amplified The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Ted Cruz. Here is the list, but you have to read the article (insightful, and well worth reading) to get the meat on the bone.
1) Ted Cruz is not a fire-breathing extremist.
2) Cruz is also not a wild-eyed maniac.
3) He has nerves of steel.
4) Cruz is smarter than us.
5) He may even be too smart for his own good.
6) Cruz is very serious about strategy.
7) Cruz is meticulous with his words.
8) Cruz is a mainstream conservative from the Texas Republican establishment.
How many of us know what farm life was like for ordinary folk in 1500? The BBC has produced an amazing six-part series, each an hour long, which takes us right back to see what life was like. What a wonderful way to absorb history! I have listened to the first two programs and recommend them highly. Here is the first. For more click here. For background to the series, click here. (See Update below the video)
Last night we watched on YouTube the second episode of Tudor Monastery Farm, the BBC reality/documentary series in which two archeologists and a historian live out the daily lives of tenant farmers on a monastery farm in Tudor England, circa 1500. The kids love the show as much as we do, and it’s fun to watch as a family.
Last night’s episode focused on the sheep as the center of Tudor-era farm life, and the English economy. What stood out about the era was how incredibly hard life was, but also how ingenious people were in inventing techniques and technology to make their lives easier.
The show is helping me in my research for the Benedict Option book, believe it or not. One of the presenters of the program, a self-described atheist named Ruth Goodman, marvels in the second episode, as she did in the first one, over how religion suffused the lives of medieval people. She says that the calendar people lived by was not like our calendar, but rather was ordered around the feast days of saints, and other religious holidays. I mean, they had the same calendar we did, but they related to it in a very different way than we do. These people lived in a cosmos; we live in a universe. Very big difference. I’ll explain below.
Charles Taylor begins his magisterial bookA Secular Ageby asking why it was almost impossible not to believe in God in 1500, but in 2000, believing in God is seen as something you do with difficulty, if at all. Taylor says that it’s because the late medievals were heirs to a belief system that regarded the world as enchanted. God was everywhere, and ordered all things to Himself. All of Creation — and it was “Creation,” not yet “Nature” — was a sign pointing to its Creator. You really feel this in Tudor Monastery Farm, and the feeling is important, because, says Taylor, what really matters are the things that everybody takes for granted. It is an anachronistic mistake to think that our late medieval ancestors regarded the world as we do, except with a belief in God added to it. They did not. God and things divine were far more present in the imaginations of the people, who looked around them and saw Him. They lived in a cosmos — a universe ordered by God, pregnant with meaning and divine purpose.
In the video below, Bill Kristol interviews Christina Hoff Sommers, a self-described "moderate feminist," former college professor, and now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is a critic of the radicalization of feminism over the last few decades. I first gained knowledge of her (and the commotion she stirred up) when she published her first book, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (1995). Since then she has written other books including The War Against Boys(2001) and Freedom Feminism (2013). She currently hosts a weekly YouTube series, The Factual Feminist, in which she addresses feminist myths in short five minute segments. If you watch the interview, be sure not to miss the segment on "The War Against Boys" at the 42:29 - 49:09 spot)
On the notion that gender is a total social construction, Sommers argues for the reality of masculinity and femininity. She responds to a Kristol question saying: (my emphases)
It’s [gender] obviously a complicated mix of biology and culture, but, you know, there’s no society in the entire anthropological record where you find the men are the nurturers and the women are the, you know, soldiers. They don’t exist.
Again and again, we see that it’s real. There’s something, femininity and masculinity are real and most people, not all, but most people, many of the stereotypes are true. That women do tend to be more nurturing and risk-adverse and have usually a richer emotional vocabulary, and men tend to be a little less explicit about their emotions, emotionally flattened – we’ll say, stoical to be nice. More stoical, more competitive and they do engage in a lot of risky behavior, for better or worse. Men tend to show up at the extremes of success and failure more than women because they are sometimes more – single-minded in the pursuit of, more obsessive pursuits – more likely to do that than women.
Tony Perkins, who heads up the Family Research Council, last night endorsed Ted Cruz as his personal choice for President of the United States. (He was not speaking on behalf of the FRC organization). What he says (below) about the next president bearing responsibility to appoint at least two or three new Supreme Court justices should sober all voters. Here is Perkins' statement from his Facebook page:
I am personally endorsing Ted Cruz for President of the United States. Here is why:
Ted is a constitutional conservative who will fight for faith, family and freedom. He will defend our right to believe and live according to those beliefs. Our families will be protected and freedom will once again mean something in America.
I trust Ted to fight to pull America out of the political and cultural tailspin that President Obama’s policies have put us in. This is no normal election; this election is about the very survival of our Constitution and our republic.
The next president will likely appoint two or three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will impact our nation for decades to come. Unfortunately, previous Republican presidents have either been unable to identify liberal jurists in conservative clothing or have been unwilling to fight for true conservative nominees.
Abedini, held in Iranian prisons for 3 1/2 years, here reunites with his mother, father and sister in North Carolina. A most touching scene! I love Saeed's worshipful prayer as he embraces his family and Franklin Graham.
While Americans debate their immigration policies, the people of the Czech Republic have just welcomed some Iraqi Christian asylum seekers into their country.
The first of a group of 153 Iraqi Christians arrived in Prague on Sunday. Among them was Kurdish Christian Majeed Kurdi and his family.
"So we have come here first to provide a secure life for our families, and secondly, to get a job and do something here in order to serve society as well as to take care of our families," Kurdi told CBN News.
Kurdi is well known to this reporter and others from CBN. In a story aired in September 2014, Kurdi assisted CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell on his visit to Iraqi Kurdistan.
He told Mitchell that ISIS gave the Christians of Mosul three choices.
"They are not allowed to open their churches and even if they are opened, they are going to burn the churches and also the Christians are being asked to pay the tax [jizya, tax for non-Muslims under Sharia law]. If not they can leave Nineveh…and if they didn't pay the tax, they should give their heads," he explained at the time.
Two years ago Bill Kristol interviewed Amy and Leon Kass, wise and well-read leaders of Great Books discussion-type courses at the University of Chicago and elsewhere. I found the conversation below worth my time listening to. (I just discovered that Bill Kristol has a whole list of interesting conversations available for viewing). Back in 2001 I remember President Bush chose Leon Kass to head up his Presidential Council on Bioethics. I greatly respected Leon Kass' high regard for human life and therefore his out-of-favor position on embryonic stem cell research. Consequently he has always loomed in my mind as one of the "good guys" of the modern era. (A few years ago I was intrigued to see that he published a "big book" onThe Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis(2006) in which he adopts a philosophical rather than a theological approach to Genesis. I am finding it rewarding as I make my way through it).
Below at the 43:50 to 1:19 spot one can listen in on a discussion of Amy and Leon's course on "courtship" They subsequently produced a collection of readings related to the course titled Wing to Wing; Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying(2000). It cemented in my mind the important role literature plays in the education of the sentiments.
“Reading this book is the next best thing to gaining a coveted seat in one of the University of Chicago seminars taught by Amy and Leon Kass. In an era when fashionable opinion speaks of courting and marrying in ironic tones or not at all, the Kasses do something unfashionable. They put us in touch with thinkers, past and present, who treat the task of finding and winning a marriage mate for what it is: a pursuit central to human life and happiness. At a time when young people are floundering and failing in their search for the right person to marry, this splendid selection of readings comes not a minute too soon.” —Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, author of The Divorce Culture: Rethinking Our Commitments to Marriage and the Family (1997)
Buckley: "He (David Niven) told the engrossing story (I had never heard it) of a single episode in the chaotic flight from France after Dunkirk in 1940. One motley assembly, 'Royal Air Force ground personnel who were trapped, Red Cross workers, women, ambulance drivers, and, finally, the embassy staff from Paris with their children -- by the time they got to St. Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire, there were over three thousand of them and the British government sent an old liner called the Lancastria to come and take them away, with three destroyers to guard her. They were just pulling up the anchor when three dive bombers came. The destroyers did what they could, but one bomb hit, went down the funnel and blew a huge hole in the side, and she quickly took on a terrible list.
Kathryn Jean Lopez interviews David Limbaugh (Rush Limbaugh's brother) and a writer of no mean consequence) whose latest book is The Emmaus Code. Limbaugh tells Lopez:
"This is the book I wish I’d had when I first became a Christian and was eager to read everything I could on the Bible and theology to accelerate my learning curve and make up for lost time. It is an Old Testament primer of sorts, with an emphasis on its Christ-centeredness. It summarizes every book of the Old Testament and shows how each one specifically points to Christ."
The Supreme Court's ruling is so broad and absolute, it would appear to create a positive right to be killed if one has a diagnosable medical condition -- a very broad category -- that causes irremediable suffering, a determination solely in the view of the patient, even if he refuses alleviating treatment.
Topping it off, euthanasia will be a free service paid for by the government under Canada's single payer health plan. That works really well for socialized medicine as there is no cheaper "medical treatment" than a lethal injection.
Evidence that the court pushed a right to ask into an actual right to die is seen again in its just released ruling granting the government four extra months to write legislation implementing its original decision. Note the language I put in italics:
During the four-month During extension period, we grant an exemption to those who wish to exercise their rights so that they may apply to the superior court for the relief of their jurisdiction in according [in accordance to the terms of the original decision].
The question deserves serious consideration. To what extent is "science" shackled by dogma, a refusal to publish research that "goes against the grain"? And if fresh research never gets published, how can science advance? Dr. Hugh Henry considers the question. Some excerpts:
In today's society, we often look to science as an unbiased source of truth, regulated by the peer review process. Unfortunately, the phenomenon of publication bias—well-documented in the scientific literature—permeates a variety of scientific studies. To put it one way, certain points of view are more likely to be published than others for reasons other than the quality of research.
For example, the authors of a 2015 meta-analysis of US National Institutes of Health trials pinpointed publication bias as the reason why we overestimate the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Another 2015 meta-analysis of the social cost of carbon (a concept related to global warming) found that contrary data was often suppressed which "might create an upward bias in the literature."1 The authors of the study also found that "the evidence for selective reporting is stronger for studies published in peer-reviewed journals than for unpublished papers."
. . . Science recently published the results of a massive study with more than 250 coauthors "estimating the reproducibility of psychological science."4 After conducting replications of 100 studies that were published in three psychology journals, the researchers found only 39 percent of the effects replicated the original result. Reproducibility is one of the three pillars of science.5 An experiment repeated under the same conditions should produce similar results; if it doesn't, then it's back to the drawing board. Yet it appears 61 percent of psychology studies fail this test. These data support an earlier analysis that found a strong publication bias in favor of human-caused global warming in articles published in Science and Nature.2
The peer review process is supposed to pick up errors like these, but instead it seems complicit. And the problem appears much broader than just these examples. [more . . .]
Jewish immigration to Israel from western Europe has reached an all-time high as a result of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks, a leading nonprofit group said Thursday, as France's beleaguered Jewish community grapples with whether to refrain from donning Jewish skull caps for their own safety.
The Jewish Agency, which works closely with the Israeli government and acts as a link to Jews around the world, told The Associated Press that 9,880 western European Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015 — the highest annual number ever. The figure is more than 10 percent over the previous year and over double the 2013 level.
The vast majority, close to 8,000, came from France, where a rise in anti-Semitic attacks has shattered the sense of security of the world's third-largest Jewish population . . . Close to 800 Jews emigrated from Britain in 2015. Italy and Belgium were next on the list. . . [more . . .]