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ESPN Public Editor Admits Liberal Network's Future Has Never Been So Uncertain

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 23:11
<p>Ending two years as the public editor at ESPN, Jim Brady closed out his association with the Worldwide Leader in (Liberal) Sports with a review of the network's recent highs and lows. Brady bragged up the network, but did not spare it from criticism and declared its future has never been so uncertain.</p> <p> </p>

MSNBC Republicans Suffer Mind-Numbing Trump Meltdowns Over Porn, Russia, Trade

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 23:08
<p>One could say that it was late on a Friday afternoon, but then again, this is MSNBC’s <em>Deadline: White House</em> and liberal Republicans offering fear-mongering prognostications are nothing new. On the March 16 edition, host Nicolle Wallace led a band of MSNBC Republicans as each offered assessments ranging from bragging about smearing Sarah Palin to arguing the President’s tariffs will cause a depression to ironically complaining about having to discuss porn. </p>

How Do You Talk to Kids About God? Interview with Author Natasha Crain

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 23:00

With the popularity of her blog and books, Natasha Crain has exploded onto the scene as an important voice for raising children in the Christian faith. She gave me the opportunity to write the foreword for her second book, Talking with Your Kids about God. She not only offers answers to some of the toughest questions kids ask about God, she offers practical steps for how parents can teach biblical truths to their kids. Talking with Your Kids about God is one of the few books I consider a "must read" for parents.

Natasha answered a few of my questions about her life, ministry, and writing projects. Enjoy!

SEAN MCDOWELL: As a mom, what motivates you to care so much about reasons for confidence in the faith?

NATASHA CRAIN: When I first started blogging six years ago, I didn't know about apologetics, the field that studies these reasons. I just wanted to write about Christian parenting in general. But once people began sharing my posts online, my blog started attracting skeptics who wanted to challenge just about everything I said about Christianity. I had no idea how to respond. Honestly, I was taken aback. How could I have grown up in a Christian home, attended church all my life, and never heard these challenges? How could I not have any answers to offer?

How could I have grown up in a Christian home, attended church all my life, and never heard these challenges? How could I not have any answers to offer?

I started searching, and I learned what apologetics was. I buried myself in reading and fell in love with the beauty of all the evidence God has given us for the truth of Christianity.

In that process, though, I also learned for the first time that at least 60 percent of kids reject their Christian faith by their early 20s. That was an "aha" moment for me, for the research showed that kids were leaving their faith due to the same kinds of objections I was hearing from my blog commenters. I realized that there's a generational gap: Most parents are like I was before starting my blog -- they simply don't have any idea how powerful the faith challenges are today. Their kids are growing up in a completely different world than the one they grew up in. They have no idea much they need to adjust their discipleship accordingly.

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So, to answer the original question, I am passionate about apologetics because I've experienced the force of today's faith challenges firsthand through my blog, and I see what's happening behind all those statistics of kids leaving their faith. There's nothing more important to me than raising kids to know and love Jesus, and I'm convinced apologetics is a core part of that discipleship today. At the same time, I care about equipping other parents with this knowledge -- helping to close the generational gap. And that's why I spend the time to write my blog and books.

MCDOWELL: You’ve recently written your second book, Talking with Your Kids about God. What makes this different from your first book: Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side?

CRAIN: They have similar titles, but they're very different books!

Keeping Your Kids on God's Side is a broad survey book of 40 important questions across the big areas of God, truth and worldviews, Jesus, the Bible, and science. It's an "apologetics 101," written specifically for parents.

Talking with Your Kids about God starts a series of books that will dig more deeply into ONE of those big subjects at a time. Talking with Your Kids about God focuses on 30 conversations about God. My next one, Talking with Your Kids about Jesus, will focus on 30 conversations about Jesus.

There's nothing more important to me than raising kids to know and love Jesus, and I'm convinced apologetics is a core part of that discipleship today.

One valuable feature of this series is a conversation guide at the end of every chapter that walks parents step-by-step through questions to ask their kids. The idea there is to enable conversation on that chapter's content. The guides are adaptable for use with elementary through high school age kids. People have been using them for small groups, youth groups, Sunday schools, homeschools and family devotions! Talking with Your Kids about God is a natural next reading step for those who have already read Keeping Your Kids on God's Side. But those who haven't read my first book can jump straight into this new series with no problem. Both are written in an easy-to-understand, parent-to-parent voice, with chapters only about 5 pages each -- totally reasonable for even the busiest parent!

MCDOWELL: If you had to narrow it down, what are the top 2 subjects about God that we need to talk with our kids about today? And what are a few key points you make in these conversations?

CRAIN: Without a doubt, the most important question I think parents need to discuss with their kids today is, "What evidence is there for God's existence?" While atheists are still fewer than 10 percent of Americans, their numbers are growing quickly. Many atheists are quite vocal about their disdain for Christianity. I'd say an overwhelming majority of faith challenges encountered today are rooted in the fundamental question of whether or not God exists. Yet this is a question most parents don't know how to tackle with their kids, other than by sharing their own personal experiences. The first six chapters of Talking with Your Kids about God are devoted to this question.

Some key points parents should learn to discuss are:

The objective evidence for God's existence (outside of our personal experiences). We aren't called to a blind faith or our best guess regarding ultimate reality. The relationship between science and God. Skeptics often pit science and God against each other and Christians believe they have to make a choice. This isn't the case at all, and it's an important area parents need to be able to speak to.

MCDOWELL: In terms of kids walking away from their faith, how important do you think apologetics is?

CRAIN: It's clear that intellectual questions drive many kids away from faith, not knowing answers to basic apologetics questions. It's truly a shame that many of them never had adults in their lives who could discuss those answers. But it's also true that many people reject Christianity for emotional reasons. They don't like what the Bible says about morality, they think Christians are too hypocritical, or they don't like the church. In those cases, a lack of apologetics understanding isn't necessarily the issue.

MCDOWELL: What practical advice do you have for busy parents and youth influencers who want to help kids learn to defend their faith?

CRAIN: Focus on helping kids learn the positive case for the truth of Christianity first. Then focus on helping them learn to defend its truth. Kids need to know why it's worth defending before they'll care. To that end, have a plan. Because we're all very busy, and teaching apologetics takes effort, if we don't have a strategy, we're unlikely to do much. But that doesn't have to mean doing something elaborate. With the help of my books, you can use the following four questions that make the case for Christianity. You could teach your kids even just one point each week in response to one of the questions -- in the car, over dinner, before bed, or any other time:

What evidence is there for God's existence? Do all religions point to the same truth? What evidence is there for Jesus' resurrection? How do we know the Bible is reliable?

After you've taught something in answer to each question (no matter how small!), start over with the first question again, and add another layer of understanding over the next few weeks. It doesn't take a lot of time, but it does take intentionality. That intentionality also assumes that the parent is committed to equipping him or herself with some of this basic knowledge in order to pass it on.


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:  

Adapted for The Stream with permission from

Trump’s Possible China Tariffs Bring Loud Protests — in US

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 22:44

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is considering sweeping tariffs on imports from China, with an announcement possible as early as next week. And that has industry groups and some lawmakers scrambling to prevent the next front in a potential trade war that could reverberate across the U.S. economy.

Early indications from the White House have officials braced for tariffs across a wide variety of consumer goods, from apparel to electronics, and even on imported parts for products made in the U.S. The size and scope remain under debate, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is warning that annual tariffs of as much as $60 billion on Chinese goods would be “devastating.”

Trump’s focus on China could be even more consequential, both at home and abroad, than the recently announced penalty tariffs on steel and aluminum. And amid the staff turmoil at the White House, it’s being read as a sign of rising influence for the administration’s populist economic aides, led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and adviser Peter Navarro.

Even Larry Kudlow -- an avowed free trader tapped to replace Gary Cohn as director of the White House National Economic Council -- has said that China deserves a “tough response” from the United States and its friends. He told CNBC this week, “The United States could lead a coalition of large trading partners and allies against China.”

But with these tariffs, the Trump administration appears so far to be content to go it alone.

On Friday, the National Retail Federation, which recently hosted industry groups to organize opposition to another round of tariffs, convened a conference call to update its members. “They’re all concerned about this,” said David French, vice president for government relations. “Tariffs are a tax on consumers and they’re best used sparingly as tools.”

Trade experts and economists say the tariffs could lead to rising prices for U.S. consumers and businesses without accomplishing one of the president’s stated goals: reducing last year’s trade imbalance of $566 billion.

China, the largest source of the trade imbalance, would likely respond to any tariffs by retaliating with higher import taxes on U.S. goods, among other possible restrictions.

“They signaled that they will aim at things that affect the United States politically as well as economically,” said Claude Barfield, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and former consultant with the U.S. trade representative.

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“The farmer in Kansas or Iowa could feel it,” he said. “U.S. high tech companies could feel it because the supply chains for iPhones go through China.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who have largely been shut out of administration deliberations, fear tariffs would stunt economic benefits in the U.S. that could be stemming from the GOP tax cuts.

Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, have urged the administration to target any proposed tariffs as narrowly as possible, away from U.S. allies and focused on countries engaged in over-production and product dumping.

Republicans in Congress largely opposed Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and are working with the administration on a process for allowing waivers or carve outs for certain countries or types of metals, beyond the exemption the White House is allowing for Canada and Mexico.

“We want to narrow this,” Brady, who has been in talks with Ross all week, said Friday on Fox. “Tariffs are taxes -- lower is better, zero is the best.”

The new tariffs on China would be tied to an investigation into the country’s failure to stop intellectual property theft, a probe that was launched in August as part of the rarely used Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Beyond the trade imbalance, the Trump administration hasn’t fully explained to the public which specific steps it wants China to take, creating a degree of uncertainty.

“Is the endgame just the tariffs or is this the beginning of negotiation?  It’s hard to know what the ultimate intent of the administration is,” said Rod Hunter, a lawyer at Baker & McKenzie who previously coordinated global economic policies during George W. Bush’s administration.

Already, the steel and aluminum tariffs have sparked a response from the European Union, which Friday released a list of U.S. products -- from whiskey and motorcycles to breakfast foods and batteries -- it plans to introduce duties on if the 28-nation bloc is not exempted.

Trump is considering adjustments but appears undeterred on trade.

“The president’s going to continue fighting for the American worker,” said Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “He’s also working with a number of individual countries and negotiating on areas of national security where we can work together, and there’s some flexibility there, and we’re continuing to have those conversations.”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a White House ally who spoke earlier this week with Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, said he has been talking with Trump on measured approaches toward using tariffs to remedy trade imbalances.

“His instincts are exactly right: We need a level playing field with the rest of the world,” Perdue said recently on Fox Business. “And I think we’ll see a measured approach going forward. This is not a guy that wants to create isolationism or a trade war.”


Associated Press writers Ken Thomas in Washington and Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed.

Follow Mascaro on Twitter at and Boak at


Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

News: Zinke Says 'Konnichiwa'; Not News: Zinke Staffer Assaulted

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:19
<p>Which is more harmful: Being given a friendly (but arguably distasteful and ill-timed) greeting or being knocked to the ground? The answer is obvious to anybody with common sense but, in the mainstream media, the former is currently being reported on with great outrage while the latter is ignored. Both events happened on Thursday during and just after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before a congressional committee.</p>

Republicans are wrong about Conor Lamb - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 21:08

Before voters in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district cast their ballots, Republicans cast the Democratic candidate, Conor Lamb, as a liberal. A Republican PAC ran an ad calling him a “liberal sheep” who would spend his term “voting the straight liberal party line for Pelosi’s extreme agenda.”

Once the votes were cast, Republicans changed their tune. Suddenly Lamb was, in Paul Ryan’s words, someone who “ran as a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-Nancy Pelosi conservative.” Lamb “ran as a Republican,” said one of Ryan’s colleagues.

What changed? Lamb won, or at least seemed to eke out a narrow victory on election night. Even if the Republican candidate, Rick Saccone, wins the seat once all the votes are counted — something most observers consider unlikely — Lamb performed very well considering that the district went heavily for President Donald Trump in 2016.

Before the election, Republicans wanted voters to think of Lamb as too liberal to support. Afterward, they wanted to buck up Republican morale by saying that he had run to the right.

The new spin is not grounded in reality. Lamb is not a conservative, and not a Republican in the wrong party. He ran against most of the Republican economic agenda, including the recently enacted corporate tax cuts and the reforms to Social Security and Medicare that Ryan has long advocated. (Lamb objects when Ryan, like much of the press, calls these programs, to which senior citizens are entitled by law, “entitlements.”) He’s for tweaking rather than replacing Obamacare.

Many Pennsylvania Democrats, especially in Lamb’s region of the state, have opposed abortion: Former Governor Robert Casey and former U.S. Representatives Frank Mascara and John Murtha are cases in point. But all three are now deceased, and today’s Pennsylvania Democrats aren’t cut from their mold. Lamb says he “believes life begins at conception,” but also thinks abortion should be legal even after the 20th week and disavows the label “pro-life.”

It’s true that Lamb is out of step with progressives on some issues. After the Parkland, Florida, massacre, he said new gun laws weren’t needed. His first campaign ad showed him shooting an AR-15, which many liberals would like to ban. He favors drilling for natural gas and wants to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, rather than the $15 an hour other Democrats want. And he did, as Ryan’s post-election remark suggested, distance himself from Pelosi.

Republicans should stop portraying Lamb as a conservative for several reasons. Above all, it’s false. It could also lead congressional Republicans and their allies to underestimate their challenge this year — making it more likely that they won’t meet it. And it allows the terms of political debate to drift leftward.

If someone who wants to keep abortion even late in pregnancy counts as “pro-life” and “conservative,” or even “moderate,” everyone who holds a position to the right of his starts to look like a right-wing extremist. Usually it is Democrats who wish to define mainstream Republican positions that way. That’s because it’s in their interests, and not the interests of Republicans.

But Ryan got one important thing right about Lamb: It is fair to call him “pro-gun.” In today’s Democratic Party it seems to be more acceptable to oppose gun control than to oppose late-term abortions. The party will give candidates more leeway on guns than on abortion in socially conservative parts of the country.

The difference in the Democrats’ treatment of these issues tells you something about their passions, but probably more about how it perceives the general-election risks. Democrats think that being anti-gun is more politically perilous than being pro-choice (or at least that a candidate can more easily muddy the abortion issue by declaring personal opposition).

Liberals have ample reason to savor Lamb’s victory. If they think that the politics of guns are changing in their favor, though, they should also view it as a caution.

Shep Smith Bashes His Fox ‘Opinion’ Colleagues; Hannity Retaliates

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:49
<p>Shepard Smith, a long-time anchor for the Fox News Channel, signed a new multi-year contract on Thursday, when he stated during an interview with Joe Concha, a media reporter for<em> The Hill</em> political website, that opinion programming on his network doesn't “really have rules” and exists “strictly to be entertaining.”</p>

Andrea Mitchell Fondly Recalls Dem Rep. Trying to Derail Clarence Thomas Confirmation

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:41
<p>While marking the death of longtime New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter on Friday, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell shared her favorite memory of the Democratic lawmaker – when Slaughter and several other liberal House members attempted to derail the 1991 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.</p>

The Food for Peace Modernization Act: legislation to make the world a better place - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:27

Earlier this month, the chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committee, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, introduced identical versions of the Food for Peace Modernization Act in the Senate and the House, along with co-sponsors Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Washington.

The proposed legislation directly or indirectly addresses three longstanding concerns about the largest of the three U.S. international food aid programs: the mandates to source almost all food aid from the United States, to ship at least 50 percent all such aid on U.S.-flagged ships under cargo preference law, and to sell at least 15 percent of food shipped under the main food aid program in markets in recipient countries to generate cash, a practice known as monetization.

Together, these three restrictions on the use of international food aid funds have been widely estimated to waste about 30 percent of current U.S. international food aid program funds, amounting to as much as $400 million a year. The Food for Peace Modernization Act’s reforms would expand the reach of those programs to millions more families and children in dire poverty whose lives have been devastated by extreme drought, violent conflicts and other catastrophic events.

The act would relax the U.S. sourcing mandate by requiring that not less than 25 percent of international food aid funds provided for the Food for Peace program be used to source food aid from the United States. This creates the flexibility to source up to 75 percent of food aid from local and regional markets much closer to where the populations in need actually live.

Local and regional sourcing is typically much cheaper — due to lower transport and administration costs — and, crucially, this practice speeds up delivery of the aid to the families who need it by nearly three months, on average. By reducing malnutrition and the risk of outright starvation in countries like Syria and South Sudan, increasing the speed with which food gets to the families in need is, quite simply, life saving for many children and their mothers.

Sourcing food aid from the United States is sometimes the cheapest and most efficient way of helping people. When catastrophes devastate Caribbean or Latin American countries like Haiti or Ecuador, or when highly processed products like vitamin-fortified vegetable oil are needed for nutritional reasons, the United States is often the nearest low-cost supplier; and for commodities like peas and lentils the United States may be the only viable source. So the 25 percent minimum U.S. sourcing requirement is not likely to waste scarce aid dollars.

Reduced U.S. sourcing would also effectively reduce the waste associated with cargo preference, a mandate that increases annual shipping costs 26 percent to 43 percent above rates available in the open commercial market. Contrary to shipping companies’ claims that U.S. sourcing for food aid plus cargo preference advances national defense, careful studies have consistently found those claims unfounded and emphasized the wasteful windfall profits generated by cargo preference, much of which accrues to foreign shipping lines with U.S. divisions.

Monetization gives funds to non-governmental organizations operating development programs in poor countries to buy food produced in the United States, ship that food to a distant country in which they have aid programs, and then re-sell it in local markets. Studies have shown that monetization wastes 30 percent to 50 percent of every dollar spent on unnecessary shipping and administrative costs.

In addition, selling food in local markets can and has depressed local food prices, harming local farmers and traders and ultimately undermining the food security of the country the aid is intended to help. In the few cases where monetization may be the best approach, U.S. food aid funds would remain available. But under this act, U.S. aid programs would no longer be required to waste scarce federal resources where it is not.

The Food for Peace Modernization Act proposes overdue changes that can make an immediate difference in multiple countries facing the real threat of famine. No wonder, then, that many leaders in Congress, in major farm organizations, and in humanitarian organizations are calling for U.S. international food aid program reforms. By increasing the effectiveness and timeliness of food aid programs, the United States can save more lives, stem forced migration, and generate goodwill around the globe, all without tangible cost to national security, American jobs, farmers’ incomes or taxpayers. The Senate and House agriculture committees, and the administration, would do well to embrace this long-needed bill.

Vincent H. Smith is the director of agricultural policy studies and a visiting scholar at American Enterprise Institute. He is also a professor of economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University. Ryan Nabil is a global macroeconomy and agricultural policy researcher at AEI. Also contributing to this are Christopher B. Barrett, a professor of economics at Cornell University; Stephanie Mercier, a principal at Agricultural Perspectives and former Senate Agricultural Committee chief economist; and Erin Lentz, an assistant professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

Lee Strobel Asks, “Are Miracles Real and Still Happening?”

The Stream - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:19

Lee Strobel is best known for his book The Case for Christ, which details his immense effort to prove Jesus was not the Son of God.

He failed. And he failed for the best reason there is: You cannot prove false that which is true. Strobel began his investigations as an atheist and ended as a convinced Christian.

Strobel has a new work, this time with the happy goal of providing evidence of the miraculous. The book is entitled (sticking with what works) The Case for Miracles. On Wednesday night, Strobel held a simulcast at the World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, launching the book.

He summarized his findings:

God is still in the miracle business; Miracles happen a lot more often than people think; Many miracles are far better documented than skeptics claim.

Strobel promised his audience that “by the end of tonight, you will witness a miracle.” More about this miracle (a real one) below.

What Miracles Are

He asked four important questions about the nature of miracles.

Question One: How to define miracle? There are varying opinions, but Strobel prefers the definition by philosopher Richard Purtill. “A miracle is an event brought about by the power of God that is a temporary exception to the ordinary course of nature for the purpose of showing that God has acted in history.”

Question Two: Aren’t miracles impossible because they violate the laws of nature? That’s what the (in)famous skeptic David Hume thought. Miracles are not, however, a violation of the laws of nature. They are instead interventions by God. Strobel used the analogy of him dropping an apple which you intercept before it hits the ground. You intervened. You did not violate the law of gravity.

Strobel also explained that whatever begins to exist has a cause. God, of course, never began: He always was and necessarily is. But there is certain scientific evidence that the universe started with the Big Bang; if so, this event was caused by God.

Where Miracles Happen

Question Three: How common are miracles today? Strobel discovered (by a poll) that nearly 40% of Americans said had they experiences that can only be explained as miracles from God. Suppose 99.9% of these accounts “are wrong and speak of merely coincidences.” That “still leaves nearly a million miracles in USA” alone.

Skeptic magazine said that “only the uneducated and the uncivilized believe in miracles.” But 55% of educated and civilized physicians say they have seen results that can only be described as miraculous.

Question Four: How can we know if a miracle is genuine? The placebo effect is real. Mistaken diagnoses happen. Fakery and fraud are ever with us; charlatans do exist. There are faulty memories and spontaneous remissions. But many healings are inexplicable except as miracles.

Some skeptics are dogmatic. They say “miracles are impossible. Period.” Other atheists, like Jerry Coyne, admit this is not a very scientific attitude and so allow the possibility of miracles. But Coyne insists on scientific evidence for miracles. Yet, “scientific experiments must be repeatable. So if someone comes back from the dead, what do you do, shoot them?”

And what about the “massive, well-documented and either replicated or independently corroborated evidence from multiple sources” about Jesus rising from the dead?

Get Up And Walk

Consider the case of Barbara Snyder, “one of most thoroughly documented cases” of modern miracles. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic diagnosed Snyder with multiple sclerosis, which she had had for many years.

Her surgeon described her as “one of the most hopelessly ill patients I ever saw.” She lost control of her bowels, had a tube in her stomach, only one working lung, hadn’t walked in seven years. Her legs atrophied. Her hands and feet withered and curled in on themselves.

Then a friend called a Christian radio program and asked the audience to pray. Many did.

Strobel showed a video clip of Snyder. She said she was lying in hospice when “all of a sudden I heard a booming loud authoritative voice, ‘My child, get up and walk!'”

She jumped up. She pulled the oxygen tube from her neck. Her feet straightened. Her hands opened. Her body took on flesh. She “started screaming and jumping up and down and thanking the Lord.”

Her doctor said what happened was “medically impossible. I have never witnessed anything like this before or since and consider it a privilege witnessing the hand of God performing a miracle.”

Speak, Lord

Strobel then produced his promised miracle.

Duane Miller was a pastor in Texas. He contracted a virus that destroyed his vocal cords, leaving him only a raspy small voice. He said there was always a hand on his throat. Sixty-three doctors, and many others at a prominent conference, examined Miller and said the nerves had been destroyed, leaving the cords covered in scar tissue. There was zero chance of recovery. He lost his job because he couldn’t speak long or well.

A friend later asked him to come speak briefly at his Sunday school. They would rig up a microphone to make it easy on him. He went. He read Psalm 103:3, [God] who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.

This is when Strobel pulled out his surprise. Miller’s lecture was recorded.

We hear his smoking-frog rasp as he continues to the next verse. And he redeems your life from the pit. He tells his audience, “We have all had pit experiences.”

By the end of that sentence his voice had been restored.

He struggled to continue, obviously overcome with emotion. “And I don’t understand this right now. … I’m not quite sure what to say or do. …” His astonishment and joy are obvious. “Sounds funny to say, a loss for words.”

He did his best to continue the psalm: so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The doctor who later examined him said the scar tissue was gone. The “hand” had been removed. Miller became pastor of a church again and now has a daily radio show in Dallas. “God didn’t just restore my life,” he said, “He amplified it.”

God Answers All Our Prayers

What about when prayer doesn’t seem to work, when no miracles or healings come?

Strobel reminds us of the most important answer. God took the worst thing in the universe, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and made it into the best thing in the universe. Imagine what he can do for you. And never forget, “Ultimately, all believers are healed.”

'Fact Checkers' at PolitiFact, Snopes Weirdly Defend Hillary's Trump-Voter Rant in India

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 20:11
<p>Hillary Clinton’s rant in India about Trump voters being motivated by racism, sexism, and loathing of Indian-Americans who succeed is being carefully protected by the “fact checkers” at PolitiFact and Despite topping their website with the question “Did Hillary Clinton call Wisconsin ‘backwards?," PolitiFact failed to issue a “Truth-o-Meter” ruling. It reported Gov. Scott Walker tried to shame Wisconsin Democrats when Hillary suggested that she won the forward-looking states and Trump won the “backward” ones. Tom Kertscher of PolitiFact Wisconsin wrote an article called “In Context, our periodic feature that fleshes out sound bites that attract attention.”</p>

NIFLA Prez Explains ‘Pro-Abortion Effort’ in New SCOTUS Case

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 19:47
<p>Pregnancy centers are routinely attacked by both the abortion industry and the media. But one man involved in an upcoming Supreme Court case concerning pregnancy centers is encouraging the media to “really look at this case carefully.”</p>

The Bear Stearns bailout didn’t avert the financial crisis, it was the crisis - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 19:24

Almost exactly ten years ago, the federal government rescued Bear Stearns, a large Wall Street investment bank that was sinking under the weight of its subprime mortgage holdings. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the Bear rescue turned out to be only a temporary measure and did not prevent the financial crisis that occurred six months later. But rather than an unsuccessful effort to avert a crisis, the Bear Stearns bailout was actually a principal cause of the disastrous panic that hit the markets six months later.

To many on Wall Street and elsewhere in 2008, the rescue of Bear established a policy that the government was going to rescue all the large financial institutions. Otherwise, the bailout made no logical sense.

Bear was the smallest of the five large Wall Street investment banks, a group that also included Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers. Lehman, the next smallest, was 50% larger than Bear. It was reasonable to believe that if the government was going to rescue the smallest of these firms, it would certainly rescue those that were larger.

So the immediate result of the Bear rescue was moral hazard—a change in the psychology and actions in the market based on an assumption about government policies. This had several effects that ultimately led to the financial crisis.

Normally, during financially troubled times, the managements of financial companies would seek to reassure creditors by shoring up the firm’s equity position. This, however, did not seem necessary after the Bear rescue. If the government was going to bail out all creditors—as it did in the case of Bear—the creditors of even larger firms would now see no reason to run. If the worst happened, they too would be bailed out.

This analysis fit well with management’s interests. The stock market had fallen by almost 50% as the number of mortgage failures multiplied in 2007 and 2008, so managements had little appetite for diluting their shareholders by selling additional equity. The smart course seemed to be riding out the storm by becoming as liquid as possible, without issuing large numbers of new shares.

Accordingly, after the rescue of Bear, the financial market settled down, even as conditions in the mortgage market grew worse.

On September 7, the Treasury Department declared that the two massive government-backed mortgage companies—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—were insolvent, and placed them in a government conservatorship in which they remain today.

This shocked investors. Fannie and Freddie had always been known for buying only prime mortgages. If they were insolvent, investors reasoned, the mortgage crisis was not solely a problem of subprime loans. Very few understood at the time that both companies—in complying with a regulatory system known as the affordable housing goals—had acquired more than $1.5 trillion in subprime and other risky mortgages.

The insolvency of Fannie and Freddie re-ignited fear in the financial markets. During the succeeding week, Lehman Brothers, the other investment bank—in addition to Bear Stearns—most heavily invested in mortgages, could not raise new financing to replace short term funds that were not being rolled over.

The moral hazard created by the Bear rescue now had its disastrous effect. As Lehman slid toward bankruptcy during the following week, the Treasury and Fed did nothing. In later accounts, both Fed chair Bernanke and New York Fed President Tim Geithner, said that Treasury Secretary Paulson had told them he was being called “Mr. Bailout” and would not rescue Lehman.

When the Treasury and the Fed—seemingly for no reason—failed to rescue Lehman, requiring it to file for bankruptcy on September 15, investors panicked. Not expecting a major failure, and now uncertain whether any investment was safe, they wanted cash or government securities. Liquidity for private firms—even those previously thought to be financially strong—dried up, putting many of them in jeopardy of failing. It was now clear that once the government had rescued Bear Stearns, it was a massive mistake not to rescue Lehman. The question, then, was whether the Treasury and Fed should have rescued Bear in the first place.

Some might contend that if Bear had been allowed to fail, the same panic would have occurred in March instead of the following September. Although we’ll never know for sure, this seems unlikely. Bear was a much smaller firm than Lehman, and had been on its way to failure for several months; no one would have been shocked when it went under. In addition, no large nonbank firm had ever before been rescued with a government bailout, so the market had no expectation that Bear would be rescued. Finally, even though Lehman’s collapse was a complete surprise, and fell on an unprepared market, no other large firms failed because of interconnections with Lehman. So the fear that the failure of one large firm would drag down others—the reason that Bear had been rescued—was wrong.

In other words, if Bear had been allowed to fail, there would have been losses, but not the panic that followed Lehman’s unexpected collapse; other firms, even Lehman, would at that point have rushed to shore up their equity positions. Under these circumstances, it is likely that the 2008 financial crisis would never have occurred.

Peter J. Wallison is the Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Financial Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. His latest book is Hidden In Plain Sight: How the U.S. Government’s Housing Policies Caused the Financial Crisis and Why It Can Happen Again (Encounter Books, 2015).

Betsy DeVos is transforming her office, but she needs a messaging do-over - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 18:30

Although Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made news last week because of her appearance on “60 Minutes,” which underwhelmed many observers, those who track education policy (and federalism) should take note of a speech she gave a week earlier.

Speaking to the association of chief state school officers (e.g. state education commissioners, superintendents, secretaries), DeVos revealed an important — and welcome — departure from her recent predecessors’ approach to the job. The secretary appears to be trying to transform her office from one of hard power to one of soft power and to significantly decentralize authority. Unfortunately, she may have inadvertently undermined her own case by seeming to question the judgment and energy of those to whom she would devolve power.

The good news for the secretary’s supporters is that the conceptual shift she’s attempting to bring to the office could, with persistence and discipline, last beyond her tenure. And she could bolster her case by showing a bit more public appreciation for the work of state and local education officials.
Over the course of the two previous administrations there was too little daylight between what federal officials wanted to happen and what they felt empowered to advance through federal policy. This was a problem for those who believe in a limited federal role in K-12 education. Just about all education leaders have a vision for how schools, districts, and states should behave. But understanding the dangers of empowering Uncle Sam in this realm separates an education secretary’s desires and dictates.

During the Bush-Obama era, federal preferences related to testing, accountability, teacher evaluation, discipline and more made their way into federal policy. The No Child Left Behind Act and its implementation forced the hands of states. President Obama’s Department of Education took it further by using administrative tools like incentives, waivers, and guidance documents to advance its agenda.

Betsy DeVos, however, is differentiating what she believes from what she is willing to compel. She seems to be bifurcating the role of secretary into a policy job (which she views as limited in scope) and an advocacy job (which she views as robust).

In last week’s speech, DeVos argued that the nation’s primary K-12 education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), represented a new era in education and that it “was born of a recognition that federal overreach had failed.” She reminded the crowd that her department was initially charged by Congress to “prohibit federal control of education.” Accordingly, her team reviewed states’ accountability plans (which are required by ESSA) with an eye toward whether those plans met the letter of the law and with a narrow interpretation of the secretary’s authority. For example, although she has strong views on school choice and personalized learning, she did not force states to adopt her priorities. “The Department is not the national school board,” she announced.

But then she used the bully pulpit of her office to dispense some “tough love,” prodding states to go farther than they had. Although she was limited to judging state plans based on the law’s specific requirements, “Just because a plan complies with the law doesn’t mean it does what’s best for students.” She criticized states for not fully utilizing the law’s flexibility on testing and the use of funds. She chided some plans for not being transparent enough about student performance, and she cited governors who had were unhappy with their own states’ plans.

In total, this represents an appropriate use of the secretary’s authority: implement a federal statute consistent with congressional intent, don’t inflate the power of the office in order to force your will upon states, but do use your platform to advocate for reforms you deem important. DeVos’s approach shows that a conservative’s skepticism about Uncle Sam’s meddling needn’t translate into a cabinet official’s sitting on her hands. It can, instead, mean empowering others to act and then encouraging them to do so.

The problem, however, is that the secretary seemed to imply that state education leaders are lacking the energy, vision, or courage to do what America’s schools need. It is a strange sales job for federalism that publicly questions the capacity of those to whom power would be handed.

In her speech, DeVos said, “For too long, many of you have operated — and in many cases, been forced to operate — as if your work was only accountable to folks in my office.” Here the secretary used an unfortunate and inaccurate trope about state education leaders, suggesting that they sit around waiting for direction from Washington. In truth, state superintendents and state board members are constantly dealing with a vast array of challenges, from improving funding formulas and teacher-preparation programs to reforming school-discipline policies and data systems, to managing delicate relationships with governors, legislators, local districts, advocacy groups, and more. All of this is done by state leaders who are passionate about helping students.

Elsewhere in the speech, DeVos asked, “What are you going to do to serve students in your state?” giving the impression that this wasn’t already their driving force. She also asked, “So, don’t you think it’s time to do something different? To try something new that enhances student achievement?” and argued that state leaders shouldn’t launch a “PR push” to defend their plans. Again, intentionally or not, the secretary implied unflattering things about state leaders — that they aren’t trying to do things differently and that they focus on optics.

Not only does this undermine the case for decentralizing power, it also serves to possibly alienate potential allies. State-level education leaders could be strong advocates for her push for K-12 federalism. This isn’t the first time DeVos’s comments have rankled those on the ground. Early in her tenure the secretary said teachers seemed to be “on receive mode;” and that “They’re waiting to be told what they have to do.” This charge of passivity frustrates essential players in America’s school system and can make others wonder why a decentralized approach to education would be wise.

The secretary deserves kudos for trying to redefine her office as one primarily focused on advocacy and the empowerment of others. Hopefully, in the future, her comments, while containing the “tough love” necessary, will build stronger relationships with and inspire more public confidence in those working in states and schools.

‘America’s Conscience’: Kimmel Hopes for Trump Sex Tape, Promotes Stormy Daniels’ Legal Fund

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 18:23
<p>During his political-centric monologue on Thursday night, “America’s Conscience” and ABC’s late night host Jimmy Kimmel quipped that he’s “never wanted to see and not see anything more than I either do or do not want to see” a Donald Trump-Stormy Daniels sex tape and lobbied for donations to her legal defense fund so any sex tape(s) and/or explicit photo(s) can be made public.</p>

‘View’ Touts Porn Star Suing Trump as Feminist Hero: ‘Refuses to Be Shut Up, Refuses to Be Silent!'

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 18:04
<p>The media’s embarrassing adoration for the porn star who is suing President Trump seemingly has no end in sight, with another shameless display on Friday's <em>The View</em>, where the liberal hosts gushed over Stormy Daniels as some sort of feminist hero.</p> <div> </div>

Let’s get real: It’s time to move on from the Putin-dominated UN - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 17:43

The United Nations has once again lost its power to act. Russian President Vladimir Putin has brought back Cold War-era paralysis to the Security Council.

Putin’s determination to oppose the U.S. and its allies at the U.N. on almost every issue, large or small, means that virtually no meaningful resolution can pass. When a resolution does pass – as with the Security Council-mandated ceasefire in Syria – Putin simply ignores it if he chooses.

The West must come to terms with this new reality and accept that it will now have to act directly in its own interests – without the cover or support of the U.N.

For a while, things were different. The U.N. played an important role in several conflicts over the past three decades. Its resolutions authorized action in 1991 to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s invasion. The U.N. then imposed a strong weapons inspections regime on Iraq, backed by the authorization to use military force, throughout the 1990s.

In addition, the U.N. imposed increasingly harsh sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, helping drive Tehran to accept the nuclear deal offered by the Obama administration in 2014. President Obama’s wisdom or folly in signing that deal does not reduce the fact that U.N. sanctions hurt Iran badly enough to help force it to the table.

Those days are gone. The U.N.’s relative effectiveness depended on the willingness of Russia to support or at least accede to Western actions against former Russian clients (such as Iraq in 1990-1992) and potential allies (like Iran in 2006-10, when the sanctions regime expanded dramatically).

Putin has now taken a position of outright opposition to the West, however, and will no longer accept such actions. He will not permit the Security Council to punish his ally, Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, for despicable war crimes against his own people. In fact, Russian air forces may well have collaborated in some of those war crimes.

Putin also will not allow the U.N. to pressure Iran to stop the expansion of its own military and proxy forces throughout the Middle East. And he will prevent the world body from taking meaningful action in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon that Iran deems harmful.

An example of this is Russia’s recent veto of an effort to condemn obvious Iranian violations of sanctions preventing weapons transfers to Yemen’s Houthi rebel movement. This effectively removes the U.N. from a theater in which concerted international action is urgently needed. Millions are suffering as a result.

The U.N. has one tooth left with regard to Iran that Putin cannot easily remove – snap-back sanctions linked to the Iranian nuclear program. The Security Council resolution implementing the nuclear deal provides that sanctions automatically return if a signatory to the deal asserts that another party has violated it unless the Security Council passes a new resolution extending the sanctions relief.

Since the U.S. (as well as France and Britain) could veto any such resolution, Putin cannot prevent the reimposition of the full force of pre-deal international sanctions on Iran. This is a strong card the U.S. can threaten to play in addressing the nuclear deal’s many defects.

Russian aggression toward its own neighbors offers the clearest proof that the days of U.N. authority are gone. Putin invaded Georgia in 2008, has occupied and even annexed portions of it to the Russian Federation – and the U.N. took no meaningful action.

Putin invaded and annexed Crimea from Ukraine – and the U.N. took no meaningful action. Russia invaded and still supports militarily proxy forces in eastern Ukraine – and the U.N. took no meaningful action.

And Putin could invade the rest of Ukraine tomorrow, or the Baltics or any other state – and the U.N. would likely take no action because Putin would veto any effort to do otherwise.

The sooner Western leaders and elites come to terms with this reality, the better. The U.N. can no longer provide the legitimacy for action against aggression that many look for. It cannot effectively mediate disputes between permanent members of the Security Council. Its resolutions cannot be the litmus test for the legality of actions in defense of international norms or even law in most cases.

Those who oppose aggression and oppression must turn to their own interests and consciences to determine their actions. They must form their own coalitions and rely on their own strength. We can and should aspire to end the enmity that has created this situation, but we can have little hope of succeeding any time soon.

The weakening of the U.N. increases the need for strong alliances. NATO and the bilateral alliances America has with Japan, South Korea, Australia, and its other Asian partners become more vital than ever as the world order frays.

Collective action for the foreseeable future will mean alliance action, not U.N. action. The White House and leaders on both sides of the U.S. political aisle must make every effort now to strengthen and expand alliances rather than allowing economic, social or other disagreements to weaken them.

The worst possible situation for America is a world in which the U.N. is paralyzed and our allies alienated. The world does not need another impotent League of Nations and an isolated America.

Lessons from Chile’s transition to free college - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 17:41

Executive Summary

Supporters of free college proposals in the U.S. often look to Europe for case studies, but Chile may actually provide a better comparative study. Tuition-free higher education emerged in Chile as a popular idea in the wake of the massive student protests in 2011 in response to what students argued was unaffordable tuition, high student debt, and large concentration of enrollments in private higher education institutions. Chilean lawmakers ultimately adopted a tuition-free policy in 2016, or “gratuidad” in Spanish. This policy is not as sweeping as it may seem. Policymakers included a number of features to limit its cost and scope. Not all colleges and universities are eligible to participate and others opted not to; the benefit is restricted to students with low and middle incomes; and many students eligible for gratuidad already had access to generous amounts of government-issued grants and scholarships. Notably, more low-income students gained access to government aid under gratuidad because the program does not require students to meet a test-score cutoff, unlike the system of grants and loans it partially replaced. Public universities, which must offer free tuition under gratuidad, argue that government appropriations are not sufficient to make up for the lost tuition revenue and cover the costs of educating students. Empirical evidence suggests that absent a large increase in capacity at Chilean universities, gratuidad is likely to crowd out low-income students.

Read the PDF.

Parkland Kids Release 1st Single, Miley Cyrus Impressed

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 17:34
<p>A day after Wednesday’s nationwide school walkout for gun reform, the child-activists of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school have released an official tribute song. The new song, titled “Shine” will be streaming from all major platforms, and has received praise and support from celebrities, notably Miley Cyrus.</p>

Truth to Power: Terry Crews Compares Corrupt Hollywood to a ‘Slave Plantation’

NewsBusters - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 17:12
<p>After the nauseating rounds of awards season in Hollywood, it’s nice to see someone who can call TinselTown what it is: truly awful.</p> <p> </p>


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