Special Report

Special Report

Transparent Tyranny

By 11.19.14

Anxieties within the GOP over a possible government shutdown in the wake of Obama’s promise to push amnesty by unconstitutional executive order continue to grow. Those anxieties don’t show much confidence in the American voter.

The fear appears to be that voters will punish the GOP in two years for opposing Obama’s open tyranny. In other words, GOP leaders think the American people prefer unconstitutional government to a limited government shutdown aimed at stopping it. If that is true, American democracy is as degraded as Jonathan Gruber’s infamous remarks suggest.

In a healthy democracy, politicians wouldn’t even debate whether or not to fund an unconstitutional order. They would automatically defund it. That GOP leaders turn to pollsters and image consultants before deliberating on such a fundamental issue is already a bad sign. By saying in effect that they will lose their power if they defend the Constitution, they reveal the emptiness of that power.

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Special Report

Protestants Should Heed the Pope This Week

By 11.18.14

Pope Francis has offered counsel over the last week that culturally adrift Protestants and Evangelicals especially should heed the timeless truths regarding human life intrinsic to Christian faith and organic to nature itself, not based on Christian scripture exclusively but available to all creation.

Yesterday November 17, the Pope, at an interfaith convo at the Vatican on the family called “Humanum,” robustly affirmed the divinely created “complementarity” of male and female, the unchanging definition of natural marriage, the family as an “anthropological fact,” and the “right” of children to “grow up in a family with a father and mother.”

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The Biggest Loser of Them All

By 11.12.14

Andrew Romano, a California-based writer for Yahoo News, spilled a lot of ink in recent weeks explaining why Latinos were not ditching the Democrats in this election (they moved toward the GOP by six percent overall, and more in some tight key races), why Mark Udall might “still have a shot in Colorado” (he didn’t), and why Republican governors were “flailing” in their quests for re-election (four of the five he named won, and the one who lost, the extremely unpopular Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, had long been a fifteen to twenty point underdog).

So he’s not exactly a credible pundit when he pens his newest morsel of Democratic hope-over-reality naïveté: that the big winner of the 2014 midterms was Hillary Clinton.

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IRS Didn’t Find Missing Emails Because They Didn’t Look

By 11.12.14

In June, the IRS announced that a critical two-year segment of Lois Lerner’s emails were lost in a hard drive crash. Conveniently, these emails perfectly corresponded with the time when Tea Party groups were being targeted for extra scrutiny and possible criminal prosecution.

Since the IRS is a government agency, many reasonable people were convinced there had to be other places to look for records. Especially since the IRS expects us to live like hoarders, meticulously keeping every receipt to avoid running afoul of their agency. Now, five months later, the IRS admits that it still hasn’t searched any of its backup systems.

Judicial Watch published last week an update of its pending Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the agency:

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The Downfall of the Muscular Christian Pastor Mark Driscoll

By 11.12.14

Famous Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll’s recent resignation from his Mars Hill megachurch and empire of church satellites is maybe vindicating to some of his many critics, who denounced his brash, hyper-masculine Calvinism. He was accused of plagiarism and inflating his book sales, but his downfall seems more related to a brusque, often obnoxious demeanor that ultimately turned many associates against him.

Driscoll, age 44, has been a successful pastor and religious celebrity for 18 years, and perhaps he rose too far too fast, without sufficient time to mature into his fame and responsibility. He is a dynamic preacher with an artful stage presence. And his creation of a robustly conservative and once thriving evangelical church network in the secular northwest, especially appealing to much vaunted hipster, often tattooed Millennials, showcased both his own skill and the Gospel’s capacity to appeal even in difficult terrain.

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Dropping in on the Veteran Down the Street

By 11.11.14

A few weeks ago, I dropped in on a fellow named Russ Post, an 89-year-old veteran of World War II and Korea, who just happens to live on my street. Another guy on our street, Deven, closer to my age, had been suggested I meet with Russ. We finally did. What followed was one of the more interesting and entertaining Saturday afternoons I’ve experienced in quite a while.

Russ took my teenage son and me on a roller-coaster ride from his youth in Western Pennsylvania to the Pacific theater to the Korea War, and rarely in a perfectly straight line. His vivid diversionary descriptions of some of his, shall we say, extra-curricular activities in the military and throughout his upbringing were rather raw, particularly his candidly expressed encounters with the opposite sex. That wasn’t what my son (who blushed) and I had come to hear, but it certainly made for a spirited conversation that easily kept our attention for two-plus hours. Not all the reminiscences seemed relevant or appropriate, but, hey, anyone who got shot up like Russ has earned the right to speak (and boast) as he pleases. It was his house and his life.

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Meanwhile, Europe Is (Still) Burning

By 11.7.14

In case anyone missed it, the sick man of the global economy is getting much sicker. And it’s not just “peripheral” economies like Greece asunder in a sea of stagnation. Some of the European Union’s biggest players are in serious economic trouble. What’s especially striking, however, is so many European governments’ continued inability, and often unwillingness, to respond appropriately.

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Obamacare as Permanent Welfare

By 11.6.14

President Reagan gauged the success of a welfare program by how quickly people were able to move off government assistance and into remunerative work. Yet President Obama, the White House, and their allies are measuring the success of Obamacare by how many people can be enrolled in their new government entitlement programs.

The president celebrated the law’s “success” in getting seven million people enrolled in Medicaid and eight million (or so) people enrolled in exchange coverage, 87 percent of whom are receiving government subsidies for their insurance. And he hopes to lure another five million people onto Obamacare programs starting with the November 15 enrollment period. There is no expectation that participation in these government programs will be a temporary boost but rather that they will become a permanent fixture in people’s lives.

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Pre- and Post-Election Lessons

By 11.4.14

Two large cross-currents in American political opinion will be the driving forces in today’s elections: A general dissatisfaction with government and politicians and a specific dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama.

These trends reinforce each other where a Republican candidate is challenging a Democratic incumbent but work against each other where the incumbent is a Republican. Overall, the dissatisfaction with Obama will be a stronger force in national elections, but on the state level incumbents of both parties will go into Tuesday night with trepidation.

Of course, candidates matter and just being not-a-Democrat will not always be enough for the GOP to knock off Democratic senators and congressmen for whom there remains some modest offsetting benefit of incumbency.

The good news for Republicans is that they do seem capable of learning: with a few exceptions such as the very weak Terry Lynn Land in Michigan, the party nominated electable candidates while mostly avoiding disasters like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock who harmed the entire Republican message and brand.

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About Those Cheating Tarheels

By 10.30.14

Right up until Wednesday, it was still possible for the University of North Carolina faithful to believe that the worst accusations against their school were little better than insinuation. The critics were just connecting dots, they’d tell themselves, even as it became abundantly clear to the disinterested observer that there was precious little space between those multitudinous dots. Now denial is no longer possible: all the lines have been penciled in, and the picture that has emerged is of the biggest scandal in college athletics history.

Over the last two decades, some 3,100 students, half of them athletes, have been taking phony classes in the African and Afro-American Studies department at UNC. There have been uglier scandals elsewhere involving drugs, violence, or money, but none that has so thoroughly undermined both the university’s purpose and the ideal of the student-athlete.

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