The Gorsuch Pick

President Trump’s choice of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court fulfills one of his campaign promises. Gorsuch, from all accounts I’ve read, will be a superb replacement for Antonin Scalia.

Those who know him praise his keen mind and devotion to following the Constitution and not making up rights that don’t really exist.

His record as a judge is stellar on issues of religious liberty. His explanations for his opinions (often as dissents to the prevailing liberal majority in his district) point to a clear understanding of how our system ought to work.

He has offered judicial opinions in favor of Hobby Lobby and The Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious liberty of a prisoner, and against the American Atheists organization when it successfully sued for removal of cross-shaped roadside memorials in Utah.

In that case, specifically, he disagreed with his fellow justices who, he said, mistakenly viewed the memorials through the eyes of a so-called “reasonable observer” who was “biased” against religion, “full of foibles and misinformation,” “prone to mistake,” and burdened with “selective and feeble eyesight.”

In his career he clerked for two Supreme Court justices: Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. The latter was very impressed with him and, I’m sure, would welcome him on the Court. Perhaps that respect might sway Kennedy over to the right side on upcoming cases.

The Democrats in the Senate have already begun the smear campaign against him. As many have noted, the slogans and accusations were already prepared ahead of time to be used against whoever was nominated. All they were waiting for was to fill in the blank where the name goes. Let’s be clear: they would be making the same accusations no matter whom the nominee was going to be. It’s a template they follow regardless of the individual.

As long as all Republicans remain firm, there should be no problem putting Gorsuch on the Court, even if it means abolishing the Senate rule for a 60-vote supermajority to allow the actual vote for confirmation to go forward.

Prepare for more hysterics from the perpetually peeved and perturbed:

Give Trump credit for one more good decision, but stay alert. You never know what he might do after this.

Trump’s Questionable Picks

My previous post was full of praise for a good number of Trump’s cabinet nominations. Proper analysis, though, requires honest scrutiny of picks who may not be as praiseworthy. There are a few.

It took a while for Trump to make a choice for secretary of state, and everyone was waiting for that crucial decision. The job is always considered one of the most significant, as it bears the responsibility of representing the administration to other countries.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, has been chosen to be the next secretary of state. That nomination, though, has already come under fire. The biggest concern for many is the close ties Tillerson has developed with Vladimir Putin.

Russia, in the Putin era, has not been America’s friend. It is an ally of Iran, which has lately reconfirmed its desire to wipe Israel off the map. Russia also has been the most visible backer of Syria’s despotic leader Bashar Assad.

With accusations of Russia’s attempted interference in our presidential election (pretty well established, but not necessarily something that influenced the outcome), Tillerson is a controversial pick.

I have that concern as well. Yet my concerns run deeper.

As head of the Boy Scouts of America, Tillerson led the charge to open the organization not only to boys who claim to be homosexual but to homosexual leaders, thereby changing the entire direction of the Boy Scouts. ExxonMobil also is a prominent donor to Planned Parenthood, apparently unfazed by the 300,000-plus babies who are murdered each year with the help of that organization.

I was gratified to see Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, come out firmly opposed to Tillerson’s nomination. Perkins had visibly lined up the FRC in favor of Trump during the election.

Some will say that those criticisms shouldn’t be part of this process, that the job of secretary of state won’t get Tillerson involved in those issues. That’s not necessarily so. When dealing with other nations, all kinds of policies may be on the table. I don’t want someone with Tillerson’s views representing this nation.

Less controversial, but also questionable, are the nominations of Steve Mnuchin for secretary of the treasury and Wilbur Ross for secretary of commerce.

Mnuchin was Trump’s national finance director for the campaign. He is a lifelong Democrat who spent seventeen years at Goldman Sachs, eventually becoming a partner in the firm.

What’s amazing to me is that for many of Trump’s most fervent backers, Goldman Sachs is the epitome of all evil. Trump himself attacked the firm during the campaign and loved to link Ted Cruz to it because Cruz’s wife, Heidi, used to work there.

Yet I hear crickets now from those who think Goldman Sachs is the focus of evil in the modern world. Trump wants a former Goldman Sachs partner running the treasury department and no one who vilified the firm earlier has publicly criticized the move.

Let’s be honest. Trump never really believed Goldman Sachs was all that bad. He was merely manufacturing outrage to get votes.

What bothers me most about this is the propensity of the most dedicated Trump backers to give him a pass for things they would loudly condemn if others did them. This is close to a cult of personality. Haven’t we had enough of that these past eight years?

Mnuchin may be a fine secretary of the treasury. I will give the benefit of the doubt, but his record certainly bears scrutiny.

Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce designee, is another lifelong Democrat who is an outspoken critic of free trade, which is Trump’s position also. Personally, I favor free trade, so I’m at odds with Trump’s views on that from the start.

As someone who has spent his career buying up and restructuring failing companies, Ross does have vital experience to offer if he truly knows how to bolster commerce in that way. But Trump has another reason for choosing him.

Trump owes Ross a lot. His relationship with Trump goes back decades. Ross helped Trump keep control of his failing Taj Mahal casino in the 1990s by persuading investors not to push out the real estate mogul.

What? Trump, the expert businessman who is great at all he does, needed to be bailed out? Balloon punctured.

Those are the most questionable of Trump’s cabinet picks. All of the ones I’ve highlighted, both positive and negative, over these last two posts, require Senate confirmation. Tillerson, in particular, may face some rough sledding, but Senate Republicans may feel like they have to give Trump what he wants at this point.

There are other appointments Trump has made that don’t have go through the Senate confirmation process. I will deal with those in another post.

Antonin Scalia: A Tribute

Every time famous people die, cartoonists depict them entering into heaven. I’m usually put off by those cartoons because of the underlying assumption that heaven is everyone’s destination after death, which is categorically untrue.

I’ve made exceptions in the past: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher come to mind. I loved what cartoonists did with their entrance into heaven because of my assurance that they had a genuine faith.

I feel the same with the passing of Antonin Scalia, a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. From all I’ve heard, his faith was the cornerstone of his life, and that is what informed his views as a Supreme Court justice. Therefore, I have no problem seeing the two connected in a cartoon such as this:

We the People

Scalia was famous for his dissenting opinions, so I thought this was appropriately humorous:

Dissent

Back here on earth, there is now a battle for when to replace him.

Oral Arguments

I have no problem with President Obama putting forward a nominee. I also have no problem with the Senate saying “no” to that nominee. The president can propose all he wants, but the final word belongs to the Senate. It is under no obligation to accept another of his radical appointments. In fact, placing another of Obama’s people on the Court would undermine the legacy of Antonin Scalia. May the Republicans stand firm against that.

I am grateful for faithful Christians who have carried out their civic responsibilities with integrity. That’s why I will always be grateful for the contribution Justice Scalia made to our nation, which is supposed to be a nation under God and operating by the rule of law.

May God grant us another Scalia, so badly needed on the Court at this time.

American Original

Iran & Proper Perspective

Congress hasn’t given up entirely on standing up to the Iran deal. The House voted its disapproval and now the Senate leadership (?) promises to have another vote. Most believe it will come to nothing because even if they reach the 60 votes to stop the filibuster, there is no way they can make it to 67 to override Obama’s veto.

As I said in a previous posting, the sad part of all this is the Senate’s acquiescence to the terms of the debate, accepting the idea of finding 2/3 opposed to it rather than handling it as a treaty—as the Constitution requires—that needed 2/3 approval. Under those conditions, it never would have passed.

Constitutional President

If only the first scenario had played out.

This puts the Obama administration and the Democrat party in a strange position, trusting in an Iranian leadership that has publicly stated its desire to destroy Israel and seeks to eventually do the same to America:

Jolly Good Mullah

 

We’re told, of course, not to worry—this will keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons for a few years, even as news breaks that Iran has “unexpectedly” discovered new uranium sources within its boundaries that they didn’t know were there before. If you believe that . . .

But neither America nor Israel have a real reason to be concerned, right?

Relax

Well, maybe it just depends on one’s perspective. That perspective can be sharpened, though, by events:

Perspective

President Obama tells us we are safer now. There are others who don’t see it that way:

Patience

As someone who lived through the Reagan years and saw him deal with other nations through strength, what I’m witnessing now is a truly sad spectacle:

Great Nation

The difference couldn’t be more stark.

On This New 9/11

Today is another 9/11, potentially worse than the one we experienced in 2001. What do I mean? As I write this, no one has yet died in a massive terrorist attack. We fervently hope the day will pass with no repeat of that horrific act.

Yet yesterday, on the eve of this new 9/11, the United States Senate, in effect, voted to give $150 billion and a clear path to the development of nuclear weapons to the world’s most aggressive terrorist state.

By doing so, we may be ushering in a future 9/11 that will make the one in 2001 pale in comparison.

Brighter Tomorrow

Acceptance of this Iran deal never should have happened. Republicans started us down the wrong path when they passed a bill that didn’t call for the deal to be handled as a treaty, as the Constitution clearly specifies it should be. If they had stayed true to our founding document, it would have taken 67 senators to allow the deal to be ratified.

Instead, they accepted the Obama administration’s ground rule that it wasn’t a treaty, and that it would now take 60 senators to stop it and then 67 to override the president’s veto. They did everything backwards, thereby assuring Obama would get his way.

So the Democrats, who have overwhelmingly lined up with Obama, simply had to filibuster the bill, which they did effectively, and the Republican leadership couldn’t muster the 60 votes needed to move to a vote on the measure.

Despite a personal plea from Benjamin Netanyahu and the prescient warnings of many that this will lead to all-out nuclear weapons development, not only by Iran, but by other nations in the Middle East, Democrats put the interest of their party ahead of the national security of the United States.

Pledge Allegiance

Money will now flow to the Iranian terrorist regime, which, by the terms of this agreement, will now do its own inspections of its nuclear program, a provision that reaches a new low in diplomacy:

Works for Us

This is Obama’s Neville Chamberlain moment, as he declares peace in our time and the Iranians prepare to start the countdown to Armageddon:

Arms Race

But all that matters to our president is his so-called legacy. He believes he now has attained the prestige of a visionary world leader. He wanted a historic document. Well, it’s historic, to be sure. It’s the end product of all his failed policies toward terrorism.

Citizen of the World

I’m always cautious about using Biblical prophecy as a lens through which to see every political action. In my lifetime, there have been many individuals that some have called the Antichrist—Henry Kissinger and Mikhail Gorbachev, to name just two. All such pronouncements eventually cause embarrassment when their foolishness is exposed.

There’s also much ambiguity and disagreement about how to interpret the book of Revelation, so I hold back from being definitive about some act being the harbinger of the end times.

But if any development might be called the next step toward the end of all things, we may have just witnessed it.

The Senate & Planned Parenthood

The Senate’s vote on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood went the way most people expected. Fifty-three senators, mostly Republicans, voted to end the debate and move to a straight up-and-down vote on the funding. That’s a majority. But, according to Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to get past the debate stage. A grand total of two Democrats voted to go on to the vote.

Two.

Senate Chamber

Now, some of my conservative friends will spend all their time critiquing the Republicans for this. Please know that I’m aware of how the politics of this works. Not all of those Republicans who voted in favor of taking the vote are really on board in their hearts. They knew this strategy wouldn’t work, but they are now free to tell their constituents they voted in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. It helps keep them in office.

Same for those two Democrats who come from more conservative states—Indiana and West Virginia. They can now boast of their conservative credentials and win reelection.

I also know that Mitch McConnell, supposed leader of Senate Republicans, denied having the defunding effort attached to another bill, which would have made it far easier to pass. Did you know that his wife, Elaine Chao, is on the board of the Bloomberg Foundation, which is stridently pro-abortion and sends millions to Planned Parenthood? (By the way, Jeb Bush was on the board of that same organization until he started his run for the presidency—more on that in a later post).

Yes, I know all of this. Yet there still is a significant difference between Republicans and Democrats on issues like this. And this vote is better than the one held in 2011, when the Democrats controlled the Senate and only 42 senators voted for defunding.

Why all the ire toward Republicans when only two Democrats, for political reasons, voted against Planned Parenthood? Put the onus for this failure squarely where it belongs.

Besides their worldview ideology, some Democrats don’t want the campaign financing they get from Planned Parenthood to end. I have no problem saying at this point that the Democrat Party is in bed with pure evil.

All the Services

By the way, the bill wouldn’t have cut a single dime from what is sometimes euphemistically called “women’s health.” All it would have done is shift the money to other organizations that don’t perform abortions. So the real reason here for opposing the bill is not “women’s health” but false ideology and financial ties to Planned Parenthood.

Just remember what this organization really does:

Good Price

On Second Thought

Of course, it’s not the politicians only who are downplaying the ghastly, grisly, and ghoulish practices revealed in the latest videos. They have their helpers:

Nothing to See

So this current attempt to move our society a step closer to sanity has failed. But I am not in despair. I think the cause has been aided by all the attention brought to it, despite the efforts of evil men and women to distort, falsify, and deceive the public. Now is not the time to fold our tents and go away. Now is the time to push forward with even greater boldness.

The New Congress

Bill CassidyThe 2014 Senate elections are now complete. On Saturday, Republican Bill Cassidy defeated incumbent Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu 56-44%. Landrieu had served as a senator for eighteen years; now she will have to find out what the private sector is like, pretty much for the first time in her life. Don’t feel too sorry for her, though; she comes from a political family with deep ties to the corridors of power. She won’t exactly go hungry.

Cassidy, who is currently a congressman and who is a medical doctor, in an interview yesterday, said his top priority was to do something about Obamacare, which he believes is a complete failure. His addition to the Senate now puts the new Senate, which will be seated in January, at 54 Republicans and 46 Democrats, a stark reversal of the last eight years.

Martha McSallyOne House seat remains to be called. In Arizona, Republican challenger Martha McSally is leading incumbent Democrat Ron Barber by a mere 161 votes, so a recount is underway. Barring any political shenanigans, it appears McSally, a retired Air Force pilot, will win. That would give the Republicans the greatest majority they’ve had in the House since the 1928 election.

Now, the real question: What will Republicans do with control of both houses of Congress? Will they stand firm on principle or cave? Will they show the nation they can lead in a new direction or will they go along with the occupant of the White House just to get along?

I never expect everything to go the way I think it should politically, but I do expect improvement after this last round of elections. Pray for wisdom and stiff spines.