Is Trump ultimately harming Christianity?

Conservative Christian Rod Dreher [who’s written extensively about the “Benedict Option”] opines in the NYT:

Is there anything Donald Trump can do to alienate evangelicals and other conservative Christians who support him? By now, it’s hard to think of what that might be. These are people who would never let men with the morals and the mouths of Mr. Trump and Mr. Scaramucci date their own daughters. And yet, Team Trump has no more slavishly loyal constituency.

This is not only wrong, but tragically so. The most pressing problem Christianity faces is not in politics. It’s in parishes. It’s with the pastors. Most of all, it’s among an increasingly faithless people.

The truth is, Christianity is declining in the United States. As a theologically conservative believer, I take no pleasure in saying that. In fact, the waning of Christianity will be not only a catastrophe for the church but also a calamity for civil society in ways secular Americans do not appreciate.

Is Dreher correct? Though Trump garnered Evangelical support, does his Administration bode well for Christian dominion [no pun intended] over the religious landscape of America?

 

 

On Charlie Gard

This is what happens when we allow the CITIZEN to be related to a caste lower than the State. I have almost no words for how tyrannical this is.

I had to get my thoughts together to try and figure out the best way to write about this tragic little boy, who was sentenced to die by the European Court of Human rights. The court ruled that Charlie, who was born with a rare genetic condition called infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, will be allowed to “die with dignity” regardless of the wishes of his parents, who wanted to take him to the United States for one last attempt to save him with a highly experimental therapy.

His care, their trip over to the United States, and the experimental therapy would have cost British taxpayers nothing. So why did this court assert its authority over this family?

There’s a larger issue here than Charlie’s life. It’s about parental rights. It’s about a group of black-robed jerks wielding their authority over parents. It’s about a court preventing parents from doing everything possible to save their child.

Let’s put the issue of the sanctity of life aside for a moment. Let’s set aside the court’s lack of respect for the life of a little boy. Let’s put aside the fact that this court literally decided to force these parents to stand by and do nothing while their child is killed.

What bothers me is this court’s “authority” to sentence this child to die despite the wishes of his parents.

What bothers me is the hospital’s claim that it somehow has the authority to prevent Charlie’s parents from taking him not just to the United States for one last shot at life, but home to die.

How can a hospital claim that right, and how can a court that claims to be a court of justice affirm it?

This decision literally have the state greater authority over the life of a child than his parents.

This decision took away the right of Chris Gard and Connie Yates to act in their son’s best interest and to fight for his life.

Source: On Charlie Gard

Please read the rest at The Liberty Zone……

Updated – Peeling back the Trump-Russia Onion

A long read, posted at Just Security……but worth it, to get at the multiple ties and circumstances of Trump financial dealings with Russian entities. Ties that must be taken into consideration given the House, Senate and FBI investigations of potential Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

While names like Carter Page, Roger Stone and Michael Flynn dominate headlines amidst allegations of possible collusion with Russia, there’s another angle to Donald Trump’s connections to the former Soviet Union that’s only beginning to receive the attention it deserves. This is the series of murky financial dealings that often make little business sense. Taken on their own, many of these transactions appear perfectly legal. Viewed together, they show patterns suspicious enough that they should qualify for investigation under U.S. laws aimed at combatting money laundering, tax evasion, and other hard to track financial misdeeds. One particularly good example of this pattern involves Trump’s billionaire Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, and his former role as vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus. His case is just one piece of the puzzle that may be reflective of other dealings that warrant much closer scrutiny.

Read the rest here: https://www.justsecurity.org/39409/money-russia-cyprus-trump-teams-odd-business-dealings/

Another article speaking to the same set of issues, at War is Boring: https://warisboring.com/trump-aides-and-russian-mobsters-pulled-strings-in-putins-massive-ukraine-gas-scheme-2ec3e6cef803

Before Donald Trump was president or a candidate, and when he was hurting for investors as Wall Street had all but shut down loaning operations to him, his businesses established extensive ties to Russian oligarchs, including some allegedly affiliated with organized crime.

At the same time, associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian government and future associates of Trump — most notably Paul Manafort, his future campaign chairman — were allegedly involved in a massive Eurasian natural gas and money laundering scheme worth billions of dollars, and part of Putin’s grand plan to control Ukraine.

At best, Trump may have had no knowledge of this scheme and these ties, but even this scenario highlights serious deficiencies in Trump’s judgment in terms of who he did business and politics with — and it is of urgent interest to the American people as Trump manages the nation as president.

 

Kellyanne whines….

Trump surrogate/advisor took to the Sunday talk show circuit and ironically called for her bosses dismissal……she just did’t realize it.

“Not one network person has been let go. Not one silly political analyst and pundit who talked smack all day long about Donald Trump has been let go,” Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m too polite to mention their names, but they know who they are, and they are all wondering who will be the first to go. The election was three months ago. None of them have been let go.”

She added that the networks should be “cleaning house,” firing “these people who said things that just weren’t true.”

So……lying should get one fired, right? I’ll welcome President Pence then.

Creepy Patriotism

From Reason:

Politicians have no business directing or defining patriotism, especially when their rhetoric sounds like 1950s-era Soviet sloganeering.

It was creepy when former President Barack Obama declared his first Inauguration Day as “National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation” and called upon us to find “common purpose of remaking this nation for our new century.” And it’s creepy when President Donald Trump declares his Inauguration Day as “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” one in which “a new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart.”

This kind of self-aggrandizement is what you see under cults of personality, not American republicanism. Far be it from me to lecture anyone on how to love their country, but if your devotion to America is contingent upon the party or the person in office, you’re probably not doing it quite like the Founding Fathers envisioned. It’s bad enough that these inaugurations are treated as coronations. It can’t be patriotic to treat politicians like quasi-religious figures. Moreover, this kind of devotional ties patriotism—either implicitly or in some cases rather explicitly—to a preferred set of policy initiatives or a political office.

Each major party treats it candidate/nominee like a combination of pop star/life coach/spiritual mentor. I don’t get it. POTUS gets interviewed [in an excruciatingly long and costly process] to be hired to manage the nation, in the People’s name. Why do we pledge such salivating fealty to a man [or woman]….who is in almost every case….nothing more than a facade of the ideals they espouse during their campaign?

Now, to be fair…Trump probably breaks this mold….being every bit as petulant in office as was a candidate….though there have been some marked improvements in policy since his inauguration, so far.

This cult of personality wouldn’t be quite as creepy, were it not for the rank hypocrisy exhibited by their supporters and surrogates when one Administration switches to another.

Is it that difficult to be better than this???

 

 

Our National Honor

It’s no surprise to any who know me, that I don’t care for Trump’s character, demeanor or rhetoric….and I don’t hold much hope for the sanctity of our Constitution, given Trump’s very own narrative and apparent ignorance of our civil liberties.

That said, I hope his assembled team can keep him blissfully distracted with trite and meaningless trivia…allowing Pence and the other adults the latitude to manage the nations affairs as they should be.

On this Inauguration Day, I’m reminded [thanks to War on the Rocks] of James Monroe’s inauguration speech, where he eloquently states: We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished.

My Leftist Governor unintentionally supports the 2A

From Reason Magazine:

Four months later, the governor grandly announced that he was restoring the voting rights of 206,000 felons. Republican heads exploded, and the ensuing debate eventually had to be settled by the Virginia Supreme Court, which struck down McAuliffe’s order, requiring him to continue making restorations on a case-by-case basis.

In the meantime, though, a question arose: What about gun rights? Although McAuliffe’s order stipulated that “nothing in this Order restores the right to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms,” the governor’s order made it much easier for a felon to get his gun rights back. Formerly, an offender first had to petition for restoration of his civil rights, and once they were restored, go to court to retrieve his gun rights. McAuliffe’s order eliminated the first step.

That was purely unintentional. “My actions were about giving you the right to vote, to serve on a jury and run for political office,” McAuliffe admitted. “My action, I didn’t think it had anything to do with gun rights. I stayed away from that.”

Since the Supreme Court decision, the governor has continued to restore felons’ rights on an individual basis; he’s up to 140,000 now. And lawmakers are introducing bills to make the process automatic. Along similar lines, Republican Del. Greg Habeeb has introduced a measure to automatically restore gun rights to nonviolent felons.

Anybody who supports restoring voting rights will be hard-pressed to produce a persuasive argument against Habeeb’s bill. Both voting and gun ownership are constitutionally protected, fundamental rights. The rationales that support restoring voting rights (e.g., the offender has paid his debt in full, African-Americans are disproportionately affected, the restriction has a sordid racial history, and so forth) apply with equal force to restoring gun rights.

Politicians of all stripes appear to have a deficit in foreseeing 2nd and 3rd order effects of their legislation. This time at least, the deficit is in favor of the Citizen.

Self Congratulatory, Political Masturbation

The interwebz are awash in virtual high-fives, chest bumps and back-slapping on the right…..and bemoaning, wailing and confused sobbing on the left.

While the bedwetting Statists who placed their hopes and dreams in Hillary are protesting, threatening to march and wearing safety pins [to hold up their diapers?]…….Republicans are trafficking the usual internet memes and lists…that purportedly detail the myriad of reasons that Conservatism triumphed over Statism.

Except.

Much of these ill-conceived lists don’t point to Conservative values at all, or aren’t a solely a hallmark of Liberalism whatsoever, or just don’t make any damn sense.

One of Trump’s first policy remarks since winning the Electoral vote last Tuesday,  referred to keeping much of the ACA [“Obamacare”], rather than repealing it, as he promised. Regardless of what the Roberts court surmised….there is no enumerated power in the Constitution, allowing the Federal government to administer a mandated, national healthcare program, with fees and fines. None.

The post-election rhetoric that most people engage in, serves to assuage their ego’s, or console their emotional state…..but it’s theater. It’s a shame we’re no better than that. This is why we neither still have a Republic [in practice]…..nor do we deserve one.

Irony at the DNC

The most prolific nanny-stater on the Left utters the following incredulous words at the Democratic national Circus”

“We can only solve our biggest problems if we come together and embrace the freedoms that our Founding Fathers established right here in Philadelphia,” – Michael Bloomberg

Dear Gun Control Industry, facts are our friends

In my travels around the blogosphere, I’m still astonish at how many in the gun control industry still attempt to proffer the argument that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms was ever only meant to be in conjunction wth active militia service. On one site in particular, I had responded to what I thought was going to be a reasoned debate, but the proprietor has a tactic of not only moderating comments, but not approving any she does not have a response for. Such is the respect she has for her readers. So merely for my own self-interest, I’ll post my unapproved reply here, along with a couple of gems from the astute commenters at Reason Magazine.

After a summary reading of the pages linked, I would counter that while he puts a great deal of effort into his case, he ultimately editorializes to the detriment of his position. “Reasonable gun restrictions” are in the mind of the beholder, no? Much like what constitutes “common sense”. The author appears to inextricably link the right to keep and bear arms to active service in a militia, as his basis for his opposition to Heller; further, while he liberally uses Miller and Heller court transcripts and the verbiage of the Amendment, he seems to exclude the texts of the Founders from the debates leading to the drafting of the Amendment, which seem to refute his position pretty clearly…though in his favor he does not rely the standard gun control definition of “well regulated”, but rather the meaning of the founding era.

I’d say he further “goes off the rails” with his self derived definition of an “assault weapon”; as he describes it, it now refers generally, to any firearm ever invented. His conversational narrative and lack of primary sources makes his writings interesting to me…but hardly persuasive. But nonetheless, I appreciate the exposure to his series on the 2nd Amendment, as it strengthens my position.

I would refute his premise in a single summary:

“To deny that the right protected is one enforceable by individuals the following set of propositions must be accepted: (1) when the first Congress drafted the Bill of Rights it used “right of the people”” in the first amendment to denote a right of individuals (assembly); (2) then, some sixteen words later, it used the same phrase in the second amendment to denote a right belonging exclusively to the states; (3) but then, forty-six words later, the fourth amendment’s “right of the people” had reverted to its normal individual right meaning; (4) “right of the people” was again used in its natural sense in the ninth amendment; and (5) finally, in the tenth amendment the first Congress specifically distinguished “the states” from “the people,” although it had failed to do so in the second amendment.” – Don B. Kates, Jr., Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment , 82 Mich. L. Rev. 204 (1983), note 16, at 218

Now, though biased in favor of primary sources and facts as I am, were I a ‘gun-control nut’…..I couldn’t mount a rebuttal to Mr. Kates’ excerpt either…..but the failure to make visible the reply is a testament to the character we find amongst the gun control lobby writ large….so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Today, Reason Magazine has a good piece on how former Justice Stevens continues to be incorrect in his analysis of SCOTUS decisions from the recent past. Suffice to say, Reason’s Damon Root does an admirable job at dissecting Stevens from the Libertarian standpoint, but a couple of the commenters really hit the points home, where it regards the 2nd Amendment:

“Monty Crisco” – From Charles C. W. Cooke:

“Consider: In order to argue with a straight face that the right to keep and bear arms is inextricably linked with “service in an organized and sanctioned militia,” you would have to believe the following unbelievable things: 1) that the Founders’ intent in codifying the Second Amendment was to protect the right of individuals to join an organization over which the federal government has constitutionally granted plenary power; 2) that unlike every other provision in the Bill of Rights — and every other constitutional measure that is wrapped in the “right of the people” formulation — the Second Amendment denotes something other than an individual right that can be asserted against the state; and 3) that every major judicial figure of the era was mistaken as to its meaning — among them, Joseph Story, William Rawle, St. George Tucker, Timothy Farrar, and Tench Coxe, all of whom explained the Second Amendment perfectly clearly — whereas a few judges and politicians in the 20th century have been bang on in their comprehension.”

And, “Masturbatin’ Pete”

You also have to believe that the intent of the 2A was to give Americans *fewer* rights to possess weapons than they had when they were subjects of King George III. Under the Bill of Rights of 1689, the colonists, as free Englishmen, had the right to possess weapons for self-defense. So then those colonists stage a rebellion against their government with those weapons, and we’re expected to believe that those same colonists decided that they now have *fewer* rights to their weapons.

Thanks fellas….home run.