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Bandwagon Morality is Not Real Morality

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 13:18

It is the age of pretenders. Every day tweeters project moral outrage -- yet I can't help wondering. There are a whole lot of tweeters who look don't look exactly like the most serious moral thinkers. They don't look like the type who would post deeply-held, legitimate convictions. They look suspiciously like knee-jerk bandwagon jumpers instead.

Sports has always had bandwagon fans. The term is not a compliment. Bandwagon fans aren't "true" fans. They haven't been fans for long. They haven't followed the team through ups and downs; when it was easy to be a fan, and when it wasn't. They're fans only when the team experiences a wave of success or attention. Only then do they hop on the "fanwagon," as some call it. Usually they hop off again when things cool down and the joyride is over.

This is a good parallel to what we see in our culture now. Social media lends itself perfectly to this, with its immediacy and interconnectivity. Moral shifts happen en masse, like a school of minnows. One day a trend appears, prominent voices jump on board with it, and social media explodes with countless one-liners expressing shock and outrage. Why, it's almost as if it had been bothering everybody all along

Moral When it’s Popular

Remember all of the years when leading Hollywood personalities were voices of social conscience on the treatment of women? Remember how they beat the drum about the sexual exploitation of females in that industry? Hmm … neither do I.

But once the wire was tripped, all of Tinseltown rode forth as champions of the cause. Their abruptly-constructed bandwagon came racing through the Twittersphere, picking up throngs of passengers.

But we all know how long this had been going on, day after day, year after year. Everyone apparently knew about it, talked about it, sometimes joked about it. It wasn't trending, though, so they were silent and apathetic. No bandwagon. No guts. No moral heroes.

Like bandwagon sports fans, these bandwagon moral crusaders will lose interest and move on, once their newfound issue is no longer on a social winning streak.

I don't think I'm being cynical. It's reasonable to wonder about a brand new "fan" of a team that's just suddenly started winning. Isn't it equally reasonable to question a person's moral commitment when he only started talking about it as soon as it became popular?

Don't misread me here, though. I'm not suggesting that the new moral crusaders are dishonest when they say sexual harassment is wrong. What I doubt is whether they really care that much. It looks to me like they're putting on, while the world is paying attention. The camera has turned this direction for the moment, and they're mugging for it, "virtue signaling" while this particular virtue is popular.

Social Media Shouldn’t Rule Our Morals

This calls to mind the nation's shift, virtually overnight, on gender and sexuality. Social media and omnipresent entertainment media provide high octane fuel for the engines of groupthink. The speed at which they shape public opinion is astonishing. Now we see it again in the speed at which large groups of people have jumped from "Who cares?" to stern moral crusader -- on an issue that's been active for decades, yet they've never said a word about it until now.

True moral conviction doesn't rise and fall that way. It doesn't come and go with the whims of public sentiment. It isn't out to look pious on Twitter. It can't be fully expressed in mere one-liners. Above all, it isn't about popularity. History's true moral reformers were rarely praised when they began calling attention to wrongs.

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Like bandwagon sports fans, these bandwagon moral crusaders will lose interest and move on, once their newfound issue is no longer on a social winning streak. Some new moral issue will appear, it will gather momentum, and there will be a new bandwagon to jump on. Whichever team is on a current "hot streak," that's the team whose jerseys will sell.

Wisdom includes moral understanding and depth. We need to be people of real convictions, well-reasoned and firm. Social media shouldn't rule our moral beliefs. A bandwagon fan is no fan at all. Only a pretender.

Latest on @POTUS in Asia: Trump in Philippines, Meets Duterte

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 12:59

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is attending a gala in the Philippines celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (doo-TEHR’-tay) greeted Trump and other leaders one by one as they arrived at a convention center in Manila for the glitzy event.

Trump and Duterte shook hands twice and exchanged pleasantries before the leaders posed for a group photo and everyone filed into dinner.

Trump joined his fellow leaders in wearing Philippine formal attire -- the Barong Tagalog, or long-sleeved white shirt.

Duterte sat to Trump’s left at dinner and they engaged in conversation before the first course was served.

Trump and Duterte will hold more formal talks on Monday


5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in the Philippines to attend a pair of international summits and close his five-country tour of Asia.

Trump is slated to meet several times with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte has come under intense criticism from human rights advocates for overseeing a violent drug crackdown that includes extrajudicial killings. Trump has previously praised Duterte’s handling of his nation’s drug problems.

Trump was originally scheduled to depart Manila on Monday but he added a day to the visit so he could more fully participate in one of the summits.

He arrived in Manila on Sunday after a brief stop in Vietnam.

Trump also visited Japan, South Korea and China.

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4:20 p.m.

Questions about Russian meddling in the 2016 election have followed President Donald Trump to Asia.

Trump said during a news conference Sunday in Vietnam that he believes U.S. intelligence agencies, which have concluded Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

But Trump also says he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when Putin claims his country did no such thing.

Trump’s comments came shortly before he took off for the Philippines, the final stop of his five-country Asia trip.

Trump is slated to attend a pair of international summits and meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte has come under fierce criticism from human rights groups for overseeing a violent drug war complete with extrajudicial killings.


Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Texas Church Members to Gather for First Time Since Attack

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 12:45

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) -- Hundreds of people will gather in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday to worship with surviving members of a local church where a shooting rampage left more than two dozen people dead.

Members of the First Baptist Church will hold a church service for the first time since a gunman opened fire inside the small church a week earlier in the worst mass shooting in Texas history.

Initial plans called for gathering at a community center could house a few dozen people. But when organizers realized about 500 people were planning to attend, the service was moved outside to a baseball park.

Church representatives also plan to eventually open a public memorial inside the church, where 26 empty chairs have been placed. Authorities have put the official death toll at 26 victims because one of the 25 people killed was pregnant. Church officials have said the building will likely be demolished.

On Saturday, about 100 people gathered outside the town’s community center to commemorate Veterans Day and to honor the shooting victims, nearly half of whom had ties to the Air Force.

“Maybe this will start the healing process that will get Sutherland Springs and Wilson County to put this horrific tragedy behind us and look to the future,” county Judge Richard Jackson, his voice breaking, told the crowd, which included first responders and law enforcement officers.

Jackson, the county’s top administrator, thanked the first responders and others who rushed to First Baptist Church in the aftermath of last Sunday’s shooting, which also wounded about 20 people. What they saw there will affect them the rest of their lives, Jackson said.

The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being shot and chased by two men who heard gunfire from the church. Investigators have said the attack appeared to stem from a domestic dispute involving Kelley and his mother-in-law, who sometimes attended services at the church but wasn’t there the day of the shooting.

Kelley had a history of domestic violence: He was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force after pleading guilty to assaulting his first wife and stepson.

Sutherland Springs is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio and not far from several military posts, including Lackland Air Force Base. The Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, said 12 of those killed were either members of the Air Force or had family ties to it.

Among them were Scott and Karen Marshall, both 56, who had decided to retire in nearby La Vernia after meeting when they were in the service together more than 30 years ago. On Thursday, a military funeral was held for them at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

On Saturday, two silver hearses carried the bodies another couple, Therese and Richard Rodriguez, to a small cemetery on the edge of Sutherland Springs following a funeral.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer Mike Gonzales, who led Saturday’s Veterans Day ceremony, said many veterans choose to live in the San Antonio area because of its deep military ties, and families tend to migrate to the city’s surrounding rural areas.

“We come here to enjoy life, to get quiet and to raise our children,” he said. “We’ve been to war zones and seen that tragedy firsthand. Never did we think that tragedy would strike here.”

A steady stream of people also visited a makeshift memorial of crosses adorned with flowers, photographs, red hearts and white, purple and pink balloons. Among them was Jackie Lee, who traveled from San Antonio with several friends.

“It was on my heart since it happened,” she said. “I needed to come to show the community some support, to show these people some support.”



Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Military Photo of the Day: Thanksgiving Cake

Sun, 11/12/2017 - 08:00

THANKSGIVING CAKE -- Lt. Colonel W. W. Stickney, the commanding officer, cuts a Thanksgiving cake with a Japanese officer's sword at Guadalcanal, as hungry Leathernecks look on.

Marine Corps birthday. Guadalcanal, November ’42.

From the Thayer Soule Collection (COLL/2266) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

WATCH: MLK Jr.’s Daughter Gets Honest with Hispanic and White Pastors on Divided Church

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 23:30

"A divided church will never heal a broken nation," the Hispanic minister said. Seated next to him, the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., affirmed: "The trauma has to be healed."

As seen recently with incidents in Charlottesville and in St. Louis, racial tensions continue to divide America. This past week, Dr. Bernice King of The King Center in Atlanta discussed the state of race relations in an hour-long televised dialogue with two evangelical pastors.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez hosted the talk with King and Mike Hayes, who recently moved to Washington, D.C. after leading a Dallas church for decades. The three sought out common ground, believing Christians must lead the way in racial healing and justice. "We still see the absence of the church on these issues," said King.

She alluded to the Charlottesville riots on August 12, when a neo-Nazi activist drove his car into a crowd and killed one young woman. "I believe God allowed this season not only to position the church, but to wake up the church," said King. "If we don't take advantage of this hour, we're going to be dismissed as irrelevant and unnecessary."

Has History Been Ignored or Forgotten?

"A lot of people don't remember that Dr. King was a pastor, first and foremost," began Mike Hayes, who now leads the Center for National Renewal. "But the church didn't really hear his message, so he went to Washington."

The white pastor offered a unique view of the great civil rights leader, best known for leading the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "Government embraced him," Hayes continued. "They started changing laws, but you can't force love." Bernice King affirmed, "That's right!" as the diverse crowd listened.

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Hayes spoke of how schools, corporations and the military were all integrated in the 1960s. But he pointed to a missing piece of the puzzle, as King joined in the dialogue. "We never really dealt with the issue of racism," she said. "We kind of swept it under the rug after my father's assassination."

After speaking at a church in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down on April 3, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel. The site now serves as the National Civil Rights Museum, with the hotel preserved so visitors can memorialize that fateful day.

"The church was very silent during my father's time and that was his number one issue," said King. "What he called the 'moderate white Christians' were not getting involved in the struggle that he was in during the 50s and 60s."

When Stats and Stories Reveal the Full Picture

Recent studies of evangelical churches back up these leaders' concerns. LifeWay Research revealed that 86 percent of Protestant churches are predominantly of one racial group. The study also found that two thirds of Christians believe their church had done enough to reflect racial diversity.

The hour-long program produced by Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) includes short segments that illustrate how racism is still present in society today. A pastor related how cops often stop him solely because of his skin color. An investment banker in New York City tells how one client came to meet him after months working together. "This lady literally fainted," he said, when she found a black man had been managing her money. Others recount similar recent stories.

"If you haven't experienced all of this, it's very difficult to really understand it. It takes a lot more time, work and listening."

Asked why such attitudes persist, King answered, "If you haven't experienced all of this, it's very difficult to really understand it. It takes a lot more time, work and listening."

Rodriguez, who heads up the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, empathized with her grief. "I thought I was going to see Dr. King's dream be a reality in my generation," he said. "Yet I find myself looking at my kids, having to explain to them that we're back."

He observed how people tend to stay isolated along political lines, when the church is called to transcend those labels. "The idea of being either-or is wrong and it's not biblical," the Hispanic minister said.

"The Cross is both vertical and horizontal," Rodriguez began to preach. "It is both righteousness and justice, sanctification and service, holiness and humility, conviction and compassion! It is both Billy Graham and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.! It is both-and."

Becoming Agents of Healing

The three diverse leaders came to consensus, saying that fostering genuine love and respect across racial lines undergirded their efforts.

"We have tens of thousands of Christians who are not haters, but they're not yet healers."

Hayes recounted how his understanding of race issues has expanded. Years ago, he had to confront racist family members. It led him to a realization, he said: "We have tens of thousands of Christians who are not haters, but they're not yet healers."

Having preached at his Dallas church, King recognized Hayes for being unafraid to address difficult topics. "It takes people like him multiplied to reach out to other white pastors," she said. "What I'm hopeful about now more than ever is that more and more white people recognize the problem."

"There's never been an hour where we have a better opportunity as the Body of Christ to be the answer,"

She pointed to the Better Together initiative started by The King Center in April. Atlanta-area pastors who opt in are paired with a pastor of another race, to learn from each other's experience.

"It's more than just switching pulpits," she said. "It's a long thread and a long history [to understand.] You cannot separate slavery, the Jim Crow era and current racism… Our fuss is less about the hate, and more about the institutionalized racism. Before you can get your congregation there, you have to get there."

Rodriguez praised a similar effort by two members of Congress. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and James Lankford (R-OK) have been promoting what they call "Solution Sundays" over the past year. "We challenge each family to give one Sunday lunch or dinner for building relationships across race, to literally be part of the solution in America," the two Senators wrote in a joint op-ed last year.

The leaders see hope ahead. Mike Hayes noted many pastors in various Christian streams are starting to preach on race issues. "There's never been an hour where we have a better opportunity as the Body of Christ to be the answer," he concluded.

Watch the entire TBN program, "Race Relations: Understanding and Reconciliation"

Is Christian Intolerance a Good Reason to Reject the Faith?

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 22:29

Guilty as charged. Christianity has its fair share of judgmental and intolerant people. I have no interest in covering up the misbehavior of Christians. But before you are tempted to dismiss the evidence for the Christian faith because of Christian intolerance, keep something in mind:

When Christians act in an arrogant, judgmental way towards others, they are not following Scriptural teachings. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins (Prov. 6:16, 17). It's an evil that comes from the heart (Mark 7:21-23). I apologize for judgmental Christians.

Remember, though, when Christians act "holier than thou," they act inconsistently with what Christianity itself requires. True Christians aim to be at peace with others (Heb. 12:14). They build relationships with people regardless of creed, race, nationality or sex (John 4:1-42; Luke 9:1-10). They're called to be humble and gentle (Eph. 4:2).

Behavior vs. the Message

We must distinguish between Christians' behavior and genuine Christianity. To condemn the entire faith because off some Christians' actions is another way to commit the "genetic fallacy," which is dismissing a claim because you think there is some fault in where it came from.

Yes, Christians often express judgment and intolerance of a sort that fails to follow the example and teachings of Jesus. But even if Christians were kind and gracious in their attitudes, the critic might claim, wouldn't they still be intolerant for condemning the beliefs of others? My friend Mark Mittelberg, an author and speaker, offers an wise response:

What's fascinating is that the people who condemn Christians for acting as if they're right and others are wrong are, in that very action, acting as if they themselves are right and Christians are wrong. So they are at that moment doing the very thing they say is wrong. When you think about it, it's pretty silly to condemn people for thinking they are right -- because aren't you simultaneously thinking you are right in saying they are wrong?

Mittelberg continues,

Or, broadening the point a bit, who in their right mind doesn't consistently think that they are right? … I mean, really, do you ever think you're wrong while you're in the midst of thinking that very thought? I don't think so; I think as soon as you start to realize your thinking is wrong you change your belief and start thinking differently! Therefore, for two reasons no one should condemn Christians just for thinking they're right and others are wrong: (1) everybody else does the same thing, and (2) Christians might really be right, after all.

A Distorted View of Tolerance

Those who accuse Christians of being intolerant have a distorted view of what the word really means. Rather than saying "all views are equally valid," true tolerance means we respect others when we don't approve of their values, beliefs and practices.

After all, we don't use the word "tolerate" for what we enjoy or approve of -- such as steak or good movies.

When Christians act in an arrogant, judgmental way towards others, they are not following Scriptural teachings.

There is a close connection between tolerance and truth, too. That is, we only tolerate what we find to be false or mistaken in some capacity. If we all agreed, we wouldn't need tolerance. Only when people genuinely disagree does tolerance become necessary. Claiming that someone is wrong for holding a different viewpoint, then, isn't itself intolerant. The attitude that accompanies the claim may be, however. But to disagree charitably and kindly can be an act of genuine tolerance.

Jesus Was An Apologist

This is what Jesus did. He was an apologist who advanced arguments for his Messiahship. And yet he treated his opponents with charity and respect.

And this is how the American founders viewed tolerance as well. The founders saw tolerance as strongly disagreeing with people, and yet still treating them with dignity and respect. Strong religious convictions on religious matters, according to the founders, is not incompatible with tolerance. In fact, one of the leading proponents of early modern tolerance, John Locke, was an outspoken apologist for the Christian faith.

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So Christian intolerance really isn't a bad reason to reject the faith. In fact, disagreement is actually one of the highest honors we can give someone. If you have been tempted to dismiss Christianity because of the intolerance of Christians, I hope you will think again. Maybe now is the time to consider the evidence for Christ.


Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

Challenge: Atheist Ethics Are Better Because Atheists Do Good ‘For Nothing’

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 20:00

This challenge came my way in a  Stream comment not long ago. “They say integrity is doing the right thing when nobody's watching,” the critic began.

But mythologists believe that's never the case. I'll take the integrity of the rational good, who do the right thing without being coerced by the delusion they're being watched by an imaginary overseer.

Christians (“mythologists”) expect a reward for being good. We think Someone’s always watching us and we want to impress him. Atheists do good "for nothing." They do it just because it’s good. (That's not "good for nothing," by the way. There's a difference!) 

In other words, according to my critic, Christians only do good to get what we want. We do good out of self-interest. If that were true, he’d have a point. But it isn’t. We do good for a reason he doesn’t even begin to see.

Christians Don’t Do Good to Get to Heaven

Most non-believers think we're trying to be good so we can get to heaven. That would be true of some religions, but not Christianity. Christianity teaches that it's not our goodness that gains us life, but the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Eternal life is about being in relationship with God through belief in Him, not works. That's what John 3:16 is about.

The reward really isn't eternal life. It isn't walking on "streets of gold." It's fellowship with God. What we really want in heaven is fellowship with the ones we love, especially with the greatest of them all, Jesus Christ.

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I have that relationship with Christ, through faith in Him. It’s secure. I don’t need to do good to keep it safe.

Doing good flows from my desire to follow Jesus Christ -- because He is worthy of being followed.

For the Christian, doing the right thing isn’t about getting to heaven. I’ve already got what I want as I look ahead to eternity. No, doing good flows from my desire to follow Jesus Christ because He is worthy of being followed. I do good because I want to be like Him. Jesus is perfect and He makes me want to be like Him.

An Earthly Example

We do good because we want to please the God who loves us, not to get to heaven. My atheist critic doesn’t understand Christianity at all. So naturally he puts us down.

Let me give an earthly example. I like to wash the dishes at home when my wife is away. I do it with the hope and expectation that I'll get a big smile from her when she gets home. Sara has the world's greatest smile.

I do the work for my own benefit (I like a clean house), but I do it more happily knowing it's going to make her happy. Does that mean my motives are impure -- that I’m doing the work so I can feel happy about making her happier?

We do good because we want to please the God who loves us. My atheist critic doesn’t understand this. Naturally he puts us down.

I don't think so. I think it's a sign of a normal loving relationship. If I didn't enjoy the thought of her being happy, I'd be a monstrous sort of husband. If I didn't enjoy making her happy, I'd be a louse. So I do good -- the dishes have to be washed -- partly because doing that makes my wife happy and that makes me happy. Similarly, my love for Christ leads me to enjoy that idea that I'm pleasing him by doing good.

That's the way love works. That’s what the atheist doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand love.


Adapted from an article at Thinking Christian. Used by permission.

A Christian Response to the Allegations Against Judge Roy Moore

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 16:00

How should we respond to the charges against Alabama senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore? In light of the recent flood of sexual scandals, it's easy to understand why many Republicans want to distance themselves from Moore. God forbid they seem to be indifferent to serious sexual indiscretions, especially when a 14-year-old is the alleged victim. Yet, Moore has many political enemies. And these allegations are just now surfacing after 40 years. Could it be a political hit job?

This is an especially tough question for Christian conservatives.

On the one hand, we have taken enough heat for helping to elect President Trump, as if his own sexual misconduct was not that big of an issue to us. Will we look the other way with Roy Moore too? If so, can we fault those who question our moral integrity?

Questioning Our Integrity

A headline on reads, "Why Evangelical Christians Stand Behind Accused Sexual Predators. Principles have given way to raw, ugly partisanship." Over on the conservative, National Review site, Katherine Timpf declares, "If You Refuse to Condemn Predators because of Politics, You're Disgusting."

If Moore is guilty of the charges, we should not support him and he should drop out of the race.

Timpf is certainly right. If Moore is guilty of the charges, we should not support him and he should drop out of the race. This is not only because of what he allegedly did, but because he is lying about it today, forcefully denying the ugliest of the charges. As Timpf writes, "The allegations against Roy Moore are disgusting -- and if you find yourself reluctant to say so because of your politics, then you're pretty gross, too."

But herein lies the problem. These charges remain only allegations. There are valid reasons to question their truth.

Yet, Why Now?

Why are they only surfacing now? Is it because women are now feeling empowered to come forward and call out their accusers? Or is it a political ruse? And how did Moore survive being vetted for the Supreme Court of Alabama, ultimately becoming Chief Justice, without any of this alleged immoral and illegal behavior being discovered? How did he even survive the tens of millions of dollars spent to defeat him in the recent primaries without this surfacing?

Or perhaps this is nothing more than a politically motivated attack, coming just when he was poised to win the election.

Think back to the Ted Cruz campaign for president, when 5 women accused him of having sexual relations with them. These were charges he flatly denied. Do we have any good reason today to believe they were true? (Note also that the National Enquirer was their main source.) Perhaps it is the same with Roy Moore. Perhaps this is nothing more than a politically motivated attack, coming just when he was poised to win the election.

What About “Innocent Until Proven Guilty”?

Former Governor Mitt Romney, now considering a run for Senate, tweeted, "Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside."

But is this a godly response? I understand that Romney is convicting Moore already based on Corfman's testimony, in light of which he says, "Moore is unfit for office and should step aside." Yet is this the response Romney would want (or any of us) would want if he (or we) were falsely accused?

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I was never a supporter of President Obama (or candidate Obama). But when I read all kinds of allegations against him or his wife, Michelle, my response was always, "He's innocent until proven guilty."

And when it came to President Trump, we knew in advance his long history of immoral behavior. The audio tape of his vile and gross comments from more than a decade earlier only confirmed what we already knew. Our hopes were that he had made some changes in recent years. And despite our concerns, we preferred him to Hillary Clinton.

A Straightforward Christian Response 

When it comes to Roy Moore, he is being supported as an overtly Christian, staunchly conservative candidate with high moral principles. Should he by lying now about his ugly past, he would not be worthy of our support.

So, we hold our standards high but we do not condemn without evidence. This seems quite straightforward to me.

We simply don't know at the moment whether the charges are true. So I agree with President Trump's sentiments, expressed through press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. He believes that if the "allegations are true" Moore will "do the right thing and step aside."

I have appreciated many of the stands Judge Moore has taken over the years. So I truly hope the charges are not true and he will be vindicated before the elections. On the other hand, if they are true, he isn’t just guilty of serious misconduct 40 years ago. He is lying about it today, in which case he is obviously not fit for office.

In light of this, I believe an ethically consistent, conservative Christian position looks like this. 1) We agree that if the charges are true, he should step aside, regardless of the political ramifications. But: 2) We view him as innocent until proven guilty. We hope and pray the truth will come to light in before it's time to vote.

So, we hold our standards high but we do not condemn without evidence. This seems quite straightforward to me.

Former Male Model Accuses Star Trek Star George Takei Of Sexual Assault

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 14:25

A former model accused former Star Trek star George Takei of sexual assault in 1981 after the author and activist ripped actor Kevin Spacey earlier this month for allegedly groping and harassing several people more than three decades ago.

Scott Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, told reporters Friday night that Takei took advantage of him after during a difficult time in his life. Brunton felt compelled to disclose the incident after Takei, an LGBT advocate, came out against actor Kevin Spacey over allegations he groped several people.

Brunton was reportedly living in Hollywood and beginning a career as a commercial actor and model when he met Takei, who was in his mid-40s at the time. One evening at Greg's Blue Dot bar, they exchanged contact information and talked infrequently as well as bumped into each other at clubs from time to time, Brunton noted.

They went out one night for drinks and later back to the actor's condo for a nightcap. Brunton said Takei offered him a couple of drinks, which left him disoriented and dizzy -- Brunton allegedly passed out shortly afterward and woke to find Takei kneeling beside him.

"The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear," Brunton said.

Brunton continued: "He (Takei) said, 'You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.' And I said, 'No. I don't want to do this.' And I pushed him off and he said, 'OK, fine.' And I said I am going to go and he said, 'If you feel you must. You're in no condition to drive.' I said, 'I don't care, I want to go.' So I managed to get my pants up and compose myself and I was just shocked. I walked out and went to my car until I felt well enough to drive home, and that was that."

Harvey Weinstein and Takei's response to various high profile celebrities accused of sexual misconduct ultimately prompted Brunton to come forward with what he knew.

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"For Anthony Rapp, he has had to live with the memory of this experience of decades ago," Takei said in a statement about Spacey's accuser, actor Anthony Rapp. "For Kevin Spacey, who claims not to remember the incident, he was the older, dominant one who had his way. Men who improperly harass or assault do not do so because they are gay or straight -- that is a deflection. They do so because they have the power, and they choose to abuse it."

"I don't want anything from him but an apology," Brunton said.

Follow Chris White on Facebook and Twitter. 


Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

How GOP’s Tax Deal Could End Gov. Brown’s Anti-Fossil Fuel Fantasies

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 13:51

Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown's mission to eliminate the state's gas-powered vehicles could come screeching to a halt if President Donald Trump's tax proposal passes through Congress unscathed.

The tax bill would zero out the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit, a program giving a $7,500 tax credit to people who purchase Teslas and other electric vehicles. California provides a $2,500 state rebate for such customers -- they act in tandem to reduce Tesla prices by nearly $10,000.

But the legislation, which seeks to slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and reduce the number of income tax brackets, would likely dash Brown's hopes of keeping the anti-gas vehicle crusade on the straight and narrow. Reports show the bill could destroy the push.

Data show that the elimination of the tax credit could be a death knell for the budding green energy industry, especially for automakers that can't mass produce electric vehicles at the scale necessary to replace gas guzzlers in the market. Tesla relies heavily on the credit for survival.

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A July 10 data analysis from The Wall Street Journal, for instance, shows that there were no new Tesla Model S sedans and Model X SUVs registered in Hong Kong the month after that country revoked the tax credit.

There were 2,939 Tesla vehicles registered in March before the April 1 redaction of the credit, according to WSJ, and nearly 3,700 entering the department's books for the first quarter of 2017. The end of the tax break was announced in February.

The bulk of Tesla's fleet of vehicles were sold in California in 2015, according to Edmunds, a group that researchers automotive sales in the U.S. California citizens made up nearly 50 percent of Tesla's customers that year. The next nine states made up nearly 33 percent, while the remaining 40 states combined were below 22 percent of Tesla's overall market.

A bill nixing the federal tax credit could bring dark days for Brown, who has staked out a claim as one of the country's most ardent anti-Trump activists. He has gone so far as to initiate a campaign designed to push states into undermining the president's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Brown leaned heavily on the federal electric car tax credit to push his climate policy agenda. He set a goal in 2012 of having 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2025. The move included a call to banish gas powered vehicles altogether.

"Governor Jerry Brown has expressed an interest in barring the sale of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines," Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, told reporters in September about what Brown might have in store for the state.

He advocated and eventually passed a massive gas tax earlier this year to prompt motorists to make the switch -- a decision that could ultimately come back to bite him and California if Republicans move forward on eliminating the credits.

California leap-frogged Pennsylvania to become the state with the largest gas tax -- Pennsylvania's tax settles in at 50 cents per gallon, with New York at 42 cpg following closely behind. The Golden State's gas tax, meanwhile, increased from 40 to 52 cpg.

Gas taxes are supposed to provide revenue for road construction, maintenance, repair and improvements, but states typically divert much of the money to other sources. In 2013, gas taxes and motor vehicle license fees paid for 40 percent of state and local road spending.

Californians signed petitions shortly after the tax passed on a recall effort against Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman for his vote in favor of the bill, and another lawmaker is moving forward on an initiative to repeal the unpopular gas tax.

Three Southern California radio talk show hosts embarked on the recall campaign targeting Newman, a first-term Democratic legislator who barely edged out his Republican opponent in November. Democratic lawmakers eventually passed a procedure making it more difficult to recall senators.

"That's the only thing that works, is to take one of their team members out, politically," Ken Chiampou, co-host of "John and Ken" on KFI-AM in Los Angeles, told reporters Thursday. "If there's no consequence, no punishment, then they're going to keep right on doing this crap."

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Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Putin Says He Didn’t Meddle In The Election, And Trump Says He Believes Him

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 13:37

President Donald Trump, in contrast with the assessments of American intelligence agencies, says that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims that he did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

The two world leaders met briefly Saturday at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam. In the aftermath, reporters were quick to question the president about election meddling.

"He said he didn't meddle. He said he didn't meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times," Trump said, adding "Every time he sees me, he says, 'I didn't do that.' And I believe, I really believe, that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, 'I didn't do that.’"

The president explained that Putin appears "insulted" by such accusations and stressed that he would rather not argue with the man, arguing that there is more to gain from cooperation.

"I can't stand there and argue with him, I would rather have him get out of Syria, I would rather get to work with him on the Ukraine," Trump told reporters, adding, "If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact it would be a great thing, not a bad thing."

"We could really be helped a lot with Russia having to do with North Korea. You know you are talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn't baby stuff, this is the real deal. And if Russia helped us in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster," the president asserted.

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It is unclear whether the president actually believes Russia's denials or is simply trying to clear away the debris to forge stronger ties to Russia to address issues like North Korea, which Trump called "our single biggest problem right now." There is increasing evidence that the Russians are filling in for the Chinese as the bilateral relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang breaks down.

The intelligence community's assessment, according to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, is that Russian meddling did occur, but it did not impact the outcome of the election.

"The intelligence community's assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election," Pompeo declared at a recent event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Left-wing media, however, have consistently claiming that Trump and his team colluded with the Russians, an accusation that remains unfounded.

Trump repeatedly told reporters that the whole thing is being orchestrated by the Democrats.

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Marine Drill Instructor Gets 10 Years for Abusing Recruits

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 13:11

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- A Marine Corps drill instructor has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars after being convicted of tormenting and abusing young recruits, especially Muslim-Americans, including one who later killed himself.

A military jury also ordered Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, a 34-year-old Iraq veteran, to forfeit all pay, be demoted to private and given a dishonorable discharge.

Friday’s sentencing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, came after Felix begged for forgiveness before the eight-member jury, which a day earlier convicted him of abusing more than a dozen trainees at the Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Felix was convicted of dozens of criminal violations as the jury on Thursday found he taunted three Muslim recruits as “terrorists” or “ISIS” and ordered two of them to climb into an industrial clothes dryer, spinning one of them around in the scorching machine until he renounced his faith.

Defense attorney Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bridges declined a request to comment on the conviction and sentencing.

Felix was a central figure among a group of abusive drill instructors at Parris Island, the jury was told. After the March 2016 suicide at the base, a hazing investigation led to charges against Felix, five other drill instructors and the training battalion’s commanding officer. Eleven others faced lesser discipline.

Abusive drill instructors have long been stock characters in books and movies such as “Full Metal Jacket,” a 1987 film set during the Vietnam War. Yet the Felix trial shows that the Marines have since drawn clearer lines between what instructors can and cannot do, said Michael Hanzel, a former Navy attorney who attended the proceedings at Camp Lejeune.

“This generation now, there’s things that I think that we’re much more focused on … in this trial, it’s calling people names based on their religion and targeting people based on their religion,” said Hanzel, now a private attorney specializing in military law. “I don’t think anyone would say that was acceptable ever, but it probably was not prosecuted in the past the way it would be now.”

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The charges against Felix included commanding recruits to choke each other; ordering them to drink chocolate milk and then training them until they vomited; and punching recruits in the face or kicking them to the ground.

“He wasn’t making Marines. He was breaking Marines,” prosecutor Lt. Col. John Norman told the jury on Wednesday. He called Felix a bully who heaped special abuse on three Muslim recruits because of their faith.

One of them, Raheel Siddiqui, a 20-year-old Pakistani-American from Taylor, Michigan, hurled himself to his death after what the jury decided was mistreatment by Felix that included slapping Siddiqui and calling him a terrorist. Siddiqui’s family sued the Marine Corps last month for $100 million.

The government did not charge Felix with any crime directly related to Siddiqui’s death. The judge, Lt. Col. Michael Libretto, did not allow testimony about whether Felix’s actions were responsible for the recruit’s suicide.

Felix also was convicted of ordering Lance Cpl. Ameer Bourmeche into a dryer, which then was turned on as Felix demanded, “Are you still Muslim?” Bourmeche testified that he twice affirmed his faith and Felix and another drill instructor twice sent him for a bruising, scorching tumble inside the machine.

After a third spin, Bourmeche said, he feared for his life and renounced his religion. The drill instructors then let him out, he said.

Felix also was found guilty of ordering Bourmeche to simulate chopping off the head of a fellow Marine while reciting “God is great” in Arabic.

The jury decided Felix also ordered Rekan Hawez, a native of Iraqi Kurdistan, to climb into the dryer. The machine was never turned on.

Felix was also convicted of rousing nearly two dozen recruits from their sleep, ordering them to lie on the floor, and then walking on them along with two other drill instructors.


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Community to Honor Church Attack Victims on Veterans Day

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 13:00

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) -- Veterans Day has special meaning this year in the small South Texas community where a church massacre occurred last weekend. Nearly half of the victims had ties to the U.S. Air Force.

The church attack victims with military backgrounds will receive a full military salute Saturday on the grounds of the community hall in Sutherland Springs as Veterans Day is observed, said Alice Garcia, president of the Sutherland Springs Community Association.

Her husband and the association’s vice president, Oscar Garcia, said they want to “honor those that have fallen, people killed in a moment after putting in years of military service.” Speakers will include U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar.

Devin Patrick Kelley killed more than two dozen people in a shooting Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Kelley died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the massacre.

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Kelley had ties to the Air Force as well. The former airman was given a bad conduct discharge after pleading guilty to assaulting his then-wife and her son.

The Air Force chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, has said that 12 of those killed at the church had direct connections to the Air Force, “either members or with family ties.”

That includes a couple who had decided to retire in nearby La Vernia after meeting when they were in the service together more than 30 years ago. On Thursday a military funeral was held for Scott and Karen Marshall, both 56, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

Kelley shot and killed 26 people at the church.


Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or republished.

Getting a Grip and Remembering: Every Game Isn’t Everything

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 12:28

Today’s a big day. Today my college, the Michigan State Spartans, takes on the Ohio State Buckeyes in a game that's expected to determine who will win the Big Ten East Division.

This is a Big Deal Football Game.

It's a Big Deal Game especially since two weeks ago everyone thought Penn State had a lock on it. The Spartans were out of it for sure. Then Penn State lost two games -- tragically for them, I'm sure, but fine for both the Spartans and the Buckeyes — the two teams that beat them.

It's also a Big Deal Game because I live in Enemy Territory these days, in Ohio. I'm going to have to face Buckeye fans in church on Sunday morning. Will I come in showing off my green and white? Or clothed in colors of mourning?


It’s set for broadcast on FOX, which has been telling us in their ads, "Every game is everything." But surely this can't be true. Not every game is the Spartans roaring up out of nowhere to take on the Buckeyes for a division championship. Other games don’t mean much. This game might be everything.

Or maybe I need a better perspective.

Other games don’t mean much. This game might be everything. Or maybe I need a better perspective.

My family might think so. There have been times when I’ve been so ticked off at something stupid the Spartans did, I ruined the whole family’s day. That was quite a while ago. I’ve learned to leave the living room, maybe even get away from home. It’s better just to hear the disappointing final score when it’s over than to suffer through it while it’s happening. 

Perspective From a Spartan Dad

Even that was out of perspective, but my dad has helped me see reality. Now, you have to understand, we're a Spartan family. My two big sisters were practically born on campus, while Dad was attending there as a recent WWII Army vet. The other three of us siblings all graduated from MSU.

Dad and Mom held season tickets to MSU football for more than 25 years, driving 90 miles and climbing high into the upper deck for nearly every home game all those years. Twice I've struggled into my old Spartan Marching Band jacket to wear it to major bowl games, the 1988 Rose Bowl and the 2000 Citrus Bowl, courtesy of Mom and Dad's season ticket privileges.

And what did Dad tell me about my perspective? Simple as can be: "I've lived long enough to realize it's just a game." It's a lesson I think I'm finally learning, too. That FOX Sports slogan? Think about it. What word really belongs in the blank: "Every ____ is everything." Game? Hardly. A game is, by definition (I'll stick with the obvious here) a game. It's for fun.

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And unless your scholarship or athletic career depends on it -- or the money you've got riding on a bet, which is really not well advised -- a game doesn't mean much more than that.

Remembering What’s Really Everything

Which seems plain enough, yet when the score is close and the clock is winding down, it's still easy enough to forget. But here's what helps me even more than, "It's just a game." It's remembering what really belongs in that blank; what really is everything.

Life in Christ is everything. 

Life in Christ is everything. (What follows here flows from that.)

My relationship with my wife is everything.

My family is everything.

My outreach in Christ's name to others is everything.

My maintaining a heart and mind of love and wisdom is everything.

Other people's flourishing in Christ is everything.

Those are the sorts of things that belong in that blank.

And here's where that perspective really helps: when I'm not watching a football game, but I'm getting mixed up over something else that seems like "everything." Like when I think, "Getting that next speaking gig is everything." No, actually it isn't. Or, "Getting an iPhone X is everything." Nope, not even close. (Not even the S8, if you prefer that route.)

Because it isn't just sports that can confuse us over what really counts. I'm sure you could fill in this blank for yourself: "Every ____ wants to tell me it's everything -- but it isn't!" We all need to remember that these things really aren’t everything after all.

Now, That’s Everything!

The apostle Paul had his perspective straight. As he wrote to the Philippians, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Phil. 1:21


I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:8-11)

Now, that's everything.

Military Photo of the Day: Cheering for the Team

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 08:00

11 November 1930: Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC, Cheerleader at a football game at Franklin Field, where American Legion versus U.S. Marines at football.

From the Smedley D. Butler Collection (COLL/3124) at the Marine Corps Archives and Special Collections

Dogma Lives Loudly Within One — What Amy Barrett Can Teach Us

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 01:35

Dianne Feinstein is co-author of Nine and Counting, signed by "the Women of the Senate" at the time (106th Congress, 2001), which had partners including the Girl Scouts of America. It belongs in a library of much advice to women from women in politics, including a 2009 book addressed to America's daughters by Nancy Pelosi, who was then the Speaker of the House. I found these recently in my office alongside an exclamation point of sorts: a Barbie for President doll (as in the actual Mattel figure), sent to me some years ago by a group dedicated to electing a woman for president (and we know how that mission has gone of late).

I also found a sticker someone had handed me when I emceed a "Women for Roberts" press conference in what seems like a lifetime ago, when John Roberts was being opposed by the some of the same groups who recently opposed Amy Coney Barrett for nomination as a federal judge. With that last time-machine entry, I was reminded of the freshman senator who wrote to President George W. Bush in 2005 in protest because Bush had the audacity to look to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court with a man. The senator complained:

You and I both have two daughters. The profound message we should be giving to them is that their gender creates no limitations for them to live up to their God-given potential. Yet, I fear that with the loss of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor from the United States Supreme Court, we are sending the opposite message.

On that kind of logic, those who make a vocation of insisting they are champions of women in Washington should have been cheerleading for Barrett's confirmation by Congress to the judiciary. Instead, you may have heard -- or seen some portion of it emblazoned on a T-shirt by now -- Senator Feinstein's attack on Barrett during her September confirmation hearing:

Dogma and law are two different things. And, I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that's of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for, for years in this country. . . . You would be a no vote on Roe.

Of course, for a person who believe what the Catholic Church teaches, the observation that the dogma "live loudly" within one would not be an insult, but a complement -- or at least encouragement that one might be answering the call of the baptized.

During a press conference in defense of Barrett's nomination, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out that Amy Barrett's faith is important to her and she's spoken freely about it. "She's allowed to do that in this country, by the way," he added. Mark Rienzi -- a law professor at the Catholic University of America and a lawyer with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty (which defended Muslim congressman Keith Ellison's right to be sworn in to Congress with his hand on a Koran) -- noted that "religious tests . . . are wrong and unconstitutional" and are "terrible echoes of tired and bigoted arguments."

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Religious tests are wrong for another reason as well: We ought to want people of faith in our midst, because we need them.

We Want People of Faith

We ought to want people of faith in our midst, because we need them. In her book It's Dangerous to Believe, which is a plea to secular liberals to realize the illiberalism behind their hostility to people of faith in the public square, Mary Eberstadt argues that the new "Inquisitors" are unintentionally harming "good works." She writes: The alliance arrayed against traditionalist Christians claims to be on the side of the poor and the marginalized. But its soft persecution of those same Christians jeopardizes charities that help the poor and marginalized." She goes on to address the attacks on Christian charities, which, for instance, are being run out of the adoption business because of the insistence that they place children with same-sex couples:

What's happening to Christian charities affirms the seismic changes in contemporary cultural reality. What best explains the incessant attacks by progressive activists on Christian charities is that the activists are behaving not like rational actors seeking the public good but like quasi-religious zealots. Motivated not just by spite and malic but by a quasi-religious doctrine all their own, they are seeking to spread their gospel in the world for its betterment -- including to quasi-heathens, that is, traditionalist Christians who have yet to conform to the commandments of the sexual revolution.

You can easily extend that, or unpack that further, as applying to women. Amy Barrett didn't need or probably want, say, help from NARAL Pro-Choice America. But the group, supposedly a bastion of women's rights, repeatedly attacked Barrett -- and members of the House and Senate who voted for her -- even after her confirmation, including with misleading claims that she wanted to essentially turn the judiciary into a theocracy.

Father John Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame, wrote to Senator Feinstein to protest her opposition to Barrett; the dogma-test talk from her was "chilling," he said. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, made the further point -- unpacking what the religious test looks like in current application -- that government should never get involved with pressing religious folks on whether they really believe what they profess to believe, disqualifying them if they do.

The truth of the matter is that people living, say, the Beatitudes loudly in the world -- which they tend to do softly but earnestly, behind the scenes, not made for photo-ops -- are a win for everyone, something that people of all faiths, including the secular liberal one, can welcome. And let's debate the issues we actually disagree on out in the open, without euphemisms such as "Pro-Choice America." That is, unless your ideology is stifling your magnanimity and true devotion to the common good.


Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and an editor-at-large of National Review.

West Point Glee Club Pays Tribute to Vets With Musical Flash Mob at O’Hare

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 20:00

Travelers passing through Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Thursday morning got an early and awesome start to this weekend’s Veteran’s Day commemorations. The USO of Illinois had organized a surprise performance by West Point – The U.S. Military Academy's Glee Club. The cadets emerged flash mob style to run through a medley of songs honoring those who have served.

The acoustics, incidentally, were fantastic.

We join these future military officers in commemorating all the men and women who have put on our uniform to keep our nation free.


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Madagascar Suffers ‘Unusually Severe’ Outbreak of Plague

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 19:37

Madagascar has an “unusually severe” outbreak of the plague this year. It’s already killed more people than previous outbreaks -- with five months still to go in the plague season. Worse, most cases are the highly contageous pneumonic kind, not the traditional bubonic plague.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1800 “suspected, probable or confirmed” plague cases were reported from August to October. 127 victims died. The island country normally has about 400 cases of the plague each year. It’s one of the few countries of the world where plague is still a serious public health problem.

The Plague

The plague is not what it once was. The “black death” that killed 100 million during the 14th century can now be cured with antibiotics if diagnosed within the first 24 hours.

The plague is a bacterial infection that is usually spread through flea bites. An infected patient will have a high fever and swollen lymph nodes noticeable 2 to 6 days after the bite.

If left untreated, it can reach the lungs and become pneumonic plague. This type is the most contagious, because it’s the most easily transmitted from person to person through coughing.

In the U.S., 15 people got plague and 4 died in 2015.

“This outbreak is the worst for 50 years or more,” a professor at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the Daily Mail.

Possible Causes

“Plague is curable if detected in time,” said Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO representative in Madagascar. “Our teams are working to ensure that everyone at risk has access to protection and treatment. The faster we move, the more lives we save.”

Both WHO and the nation’s government said the outbreak is beginning to decline. However, the International Red Cross’s team leader said it may still be spreading. This year’s outbreak is “truly unprecedented” and is “not the plague as usual.” Even if it is declining now, it may increase again, he said.

One explanation for the increase of cases is the weather, reports the Daily Mail. The “Godzilla” El Nino increased the rural rat population. Then forest fires drove many of those rats into urban areas. Heavy rains and flooding are also said to have encouraged the spread of the disease.

 The Red Cross team leader, Panu Saaristo, noted that cultural practices may be affecting this as well. Many won’t see a doctor because they tie “hospitals to death,” he said. 

The Response

In response to the outbreak, the WHO has delivered about 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and sent $1.5 million dollars in emergency funds to Madagascar. The WHO estimates that the doses are enough to treat up to 5000 people and protect up to 100,000 people who may have been exposed to the plague.

The government of Madagascar responded by closing schools and preventing public gatherings, as well as having inspectors test people on buses and in cities for fever. They also sprayed insecticide to kill fleas. 

A Crazy Leftist Idea to Change the Constitution

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 19:00

Sometimes you need to be careful what you're worried about.

Ibram X. Kendi, professor of history at the University of Florida, has proposed a new constitutional amendment that would create a federal agency to "investigate institutional racism, sexism, and every other type of inequality."

Meghan Hamilton, writing for The Humanist, thinks it's a great idea. "Humanists are dedicated to the equal treatment of all people," she says. "Equality is a vital humanist value, so naturally a constitutional amendment on equality is something we can get behind."

In Kendi's own words, writing in a Washington Post op-ed,

The amendment would make group inequity illegal and ban the incitement of bigotry, as the incitement of anti-Semitism is banned in Germany. Claims that inequity is evidence of a group's dysfunction or inferiority would be outlawed. The amendment would establish equality as a human right and inequality as anti-American and anti-human.


It would disastrous for such nonsense to finds its way into our Constitution. Politically, the idea is dead from the get-go. What’s really worrisome is the level of nonsense it displays. It isn't just a bad idea. It's incoherent, even idiotic.

Think about it: Kendi wants to enforce a ban on inequality. Really? What if skinheads claimed its protections? Why not? They're a group, too!

Kendi’s very notion is self-contradictory. You can't enforce equal treatment of "every group," when some groups exist for the purpose of creating unequal treatment. It's impossible. It's irrational even to suggest it.

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It’s worrisome that a major university professor, whose own website touts him as "one of the nation's leading scholars of racism," is proposing such nonsense. And that a major newspaper and an organization -- founded, they say, to promote reason -- is standing behind it, too.

Crazy Blind?

Is there any conceivable explanation for this? Maybe.

Perhaps some people are trying so hard to solve one problem, social inequity, that it's the only problem their eyes can see. They're blind to lesser things (in their minds) like, for example, the impossibility of the solutions they propose.

If we've got people like that in positions of high influence, we're all in trouble.

Or Crazy Power-Hungry?

Or perhaps my friend Dr. Tim McGrew, professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University, has put his finger on it.

The incoherence is deliberate, and in two ways. It sounds expansive enough to persuade many people who view themselves as victims that it is in their interest. And it is malleable enough that it can be used -- selectively -- to justify anything the people in charge want to do.

His assessment of the technique: "In a twisted sort of way, that’s brilliant."

In other words, it's a fogging device. It sounds good. It sounds like the kind of thing that would help bring about justice -- at least to those who see themselves as victims. But it would really be a hammer that people in power could use to pound anything they wanted to.

As Kendi says, "The Anti-Bigotry Amendment would permanently establish a federal agency that investigates inequities and punishes institutional and individual discriminators."

Goodbye, freedom; hello, tyranny.

Goodbye, freedom; hello, tyranny.

And hello, arbitrary power. A constitutional amendment that's too incoherent to mean anything could mean anything for the people in power to wield it.

Our Best Defense

Don’t worry about the amendment. It'll never pass. Worry instead about professors and influential media who gun for an idea that's incoherent on the front end, and headed toward tyranny on the back. With people like that in charge, we're in trouble. They may never pass an amendment like Kendi's, but they're positioned to foist all kinds of other craziness on us.

Our best defense, besides prayer, is to think clearly at all times so we can call out these inconsistencies. We've got to stay sharp. Sharper than we have been. Or the craziness will keep on coming. Which, in this case, is what we really ought to be worried about.

3 Injured in France When Car Rams Into Group of Students

Fri, 11/10/2017 - 18:11

PARIS (AP) -- A French prosecutor says a car that rammed into a group of students in the city of Blagnac was driven by a man known to have “psychiatric” problems.

Toulouse prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau told France’s BFM television that three students were injured on Friday when the motorist drove into the group. Couilleau says the driver claimed he acted deliberately and has been arrested.

BFM television reports that the three people hurt are Chinese students and none of their injuries are considered life-threatening.

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The prosecutor says the driver was known to police for about 10 minor crimes and not listed on a French register of people suspected of being radicalized by extremists.

The case has not been referred to France’s counterterrorism prosecutors.


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