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Member's Hunt: Character Revealed

NRA Blog - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 15:00

Creating a New Version of Leviticus to Support Gay Sex

The Stream - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 14:19

What do you do when the biblical text is against your position, explicitly so? What do you do when not one single verse supports your viewpoint? It's simple. You create new verses out of thin air. You rewrite the Bible to your liking. That's exactly what biblical scholar Idan Dershowitz has done.

In his New York Times op-ed piece, Dr. Dershowitz summarizes his 2017 academic article published in the journal Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel. (Is it any surprise that the Times decided to publish his piece?)

Dr. Dershowitz claims that "Before Leviticus was composed, outright prohibitions against homosexual sex -- whether between men or women -- were practically unheard-of in the ancient world." And he believes that Leviticus was "created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer."

He then argues that "an earlier edition of Leviticus … may have been silent on the matter of sex between men." (Note carefully: He means a non-existent edition of Leviticus. A Leviticus that is the figment of his own imagination. A Leviticus without a shred of textual, manuscript support in any ancient language at any period of time.)

Not only so, but Dr. Dershowitz even claims that "there is good evidence that an earlier version of the laws in Leviticus 18 permitted sex between men."

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As someone trained in the same scholarly field as Dr. Dershowitz, I can say without equivocation that this is nothing more than scholarly fabrication. It should be rejected as complete and utter nonsense.

Homosexual Acts and Ancient Idolatrous Culture

Let's remember that:

1) There is not one positive word in the Bible about homosexual practice.

2) Every reference to homosexual practice in the Bible is categorically negative.

3) Every scriptural example of marriage and family is heterosexual.

How then does Dr. Dershowitz come to such outrageous conclusions?

He first observes that in the ancient Near Eastern world, "outright prohibitions against homosexual sex -- whether between men or women -- were practically unheard-of."

It is true that such prohibitions are largely lacking in the surrounding, ancient world. But there are some laws that prescribe harsh punishment for certain acts of male sodomy. So, this is an overstatement.

More importantly, it appears that homosexual acts were part of ancient Near Eastern idolatrous culture. In other words, they were part and parcel of the pagan culture which the Bible condemns. No wonder, then, that more emphasis was not put on prohibiting these acts. In fact, Leviticus confirms this, stating that sinful acts like these were widely practiced in the surrounding, ancient world. Israel was not to follow their example! (See Leviticus 18:1-3, 24-30.)

Dershowitz’s “Discovery”

But that is not the heart of Dr. Dershowitz's argument.

Using a "little detective work," he claims to have discovered that the alleged "original" text of Leviticus 18 only forbade homosexual incest. All other homosexual acts were permitted.

This argument entirely without textual support (something that needs to be repeated over and again). It’s also bizarre to argue that in ancient Israel, men could have sex with as many men as they desired, without penalty, so long as they were not close blood relatives. Yet they could only have sex with the woman (or, women) they were married to, and at that, with certain purity guidelines.

Being gay in ancient Israel made for quite the party life, and with God's alleged sanction, at that.

Homosexual practice is forbidden by God, but there is the possibility of forgiveness, redemption, and new life for all who put their trust in the Redeemer.

What, then, is the "discovery" that Dr. Dershowitz has made to support this claim?

He argues that in Leviticus 18:7 and 18:14, the specific wording of the Hebrew text masks the fact that, originally, the verses outlawed sex between a man and his father or mother (v. 7) and between a man and his uncle (v. 14). In the current version of Leviticus (again, the one and only version we have), he writes, "A law prohibiting sex with one's father fades away, and a law against sex with one's uncle is reinterpreted as a ban on sex with one's aunt."

As for Leviticus 18:22, which explicitly prohibits sex between two men (see also Leviticus 20:13), that was allegedly added at a later time in Israelite history. As Dr. Dershowitz writes, "In addition to having the prohibition against same-sex relations added to it, the earlier text, I believe, was revised in an attempt to obscure any implication that same-sex relations had once been permissible."

The Matter is Settled

Of course, same-sex relations had never been permissible in ancient Israel. (To say it once more, there is zero evidence to support the opposite position.) The two verses cited by Dr. Dershowitz do not support his thesis.

To respond briefly:

1) Because all homosexual relations were forbidden, there was no reason to forbid specific homosexual acts.

2) In contrast, because many heterosexual relations were permissible, it was important to single out which ones were forbidden, which is what Leviticus 18 does.

3) Leviticus 18:7 and 14 forbid sleeping with the wife of your father or the wife of your father's brother, acts which would also directly shame one's father. As rendered in the New Jewish Publication Society Version, respectively, "Your father’s nakedness, that is, the nakedness of your mother, you shall not uncover; she is your mother -- you shall not uncover her nakedness." And, "Do not uncover the nakedness of your father's brother: do not approach his wife; she is your aunt."

4) There is no textual evidence -- not the slightest linguistic clue of any kind -- that Leviticus 18:22 was added later to this chapter.

5) What we call "the Bible" today is based on the texts that we have. In other words, the Hebrew and Aramaic and Greek texts that have been passed down through the generations. It is not based on some reconstructed texts created out of thin air.

That means that for all those who hold these texts to be God's Word, the matter has long been settled. Homosexual practice is forbidden by God, but there is the possibility of forgiveness, redemption, and new life for all who put their trust in the Redeemer.


Michael Brown earned his Ph.D. from New York University in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, and has published Old Testament and Semitic articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as contributed to major academic works and authored scholarly monographs on Old Testament subjects.

Man Firing Into Toronto Cafés Shoots 14 People, Killing 2

The Stream - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 13:56

TORONTO (AP) -- A man walked along a Toronto street firing a handgun into restaurants and cafes, shooting 14 people and killing two before dying after an exchange of gunfire with police.

Police Chief Mark Saunders did not rule out terrorism as a motive, though officials did not immediately identify the attacker, other than to say he was 29 years old.

Toronto police spokesman Meaghan Gray said early Monday that a second victim had died, though there were no further details.

Saunders earlier said that a young woman had died in Sunday’s shootings and that a girl aged 8 or 9 was in critical condition. The condition of the other victims was not known yet, police spokesman Mark Pugash said.

A video from one witness shows a man dressed in black clothes and a black hat walking quickly and firing three shots from the sidewalk into at least one shop or restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown, a lively residential area with crowded Greek restaurants and cafes.

Witnesses heard many shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants and cafes and patios on both sides of the street and firing into them.

John Tulloch said he and his brother had just gotten out of their car when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots.

“We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran,” he said.

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Tanya Wilson was closing her tattoo shop on the street when a mother and a son ran into her store with gunshot wounds to their legs

“They said they were walking and a man told them to get the h*** out his way and he just shot them,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she tied and elevated their wounds and tried to keep them calm while they waited for paramedics. She locked the door and shut off the lights, not knowing what was happening outside.

An army of police, paramedics and other first responders descended on the scene, while people, some in their pajamas, emerged from their homes to see what was happening.

Toronto Councilor Paula Fletcher told CP24 television that “it’s not gang related. It looks like someone who is very disturbed.”

Mass shootings are rare in Canada’s largest city.

“We were so use to living in a city where these things didn’t happen,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said. “But there are things that happen nowadays and they are just unspeakable.”

This past weekend Toronto police deployed dozens of additional officers to deal with a recent spike in gun violence in the city.

“Guns are too readily available to too many people,” Tory said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that his thoughts were with everyone affected.

“The people of Toronto are strong, resilient and brave -- and we’ll be there to support you through this difficult time,” Trudeau tweeted.

The mass shooting comes a few months after a driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people and injuring 14. Authorities have not disclosed a motive. But they have said the arrested driver, Alek Minasyan, posted a message on social media referencing a misogynistic online community before the attack.


This story has been corrected to show that Saunders said the wounded girl was 8 or 9, not that she was 9.


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

Senate Set to Confirm Wilkie for Veterans Affairs Secretary

The Stream - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 12:11

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After months of tumult, Pentagon official Robert Wilkie is expected to become secretary of Veterans Affairs when the Senate votes Monday to confirm him, taking on the task of fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector.

Wilkie is Trump’s third pick for the job in 18 months. The long-time public official says he will “shake up complacency” at VA, which has struggled with long waits in providing medical treatment to millions of veterans.

He is expected to easily win confirmation after a Senate panel approved his nomination earlier this month. Only Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at the time voted “no,” citing concerns the Trump administration would “privatize” VA.

If confirmed, Wilkie, 55, was expected to be sworn into office quickly, the White House has told some veterans groups, possibly joining Trump at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention Tuesday in Kansas City. VFW has left a slot open for the “VA secretary” to speak before Trump addresses the convention.

Trump selected Wilkie for the post in May after firing his first VA secretary, David Shulkin, amid ethics charges and internal rebellion at the department over the role of private care for veterans. Trump’s initial replacement choice, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdrew after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced.

Wilkie, a former assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, has received mostly positive reviews from veterans’ groups for his management experience, but the extent of his willingness to expand private care as an alternative to government-run VA care remains largely unknown.

During his confirmation hearing, the Air Force and Navy veteran insisted he would not privatize the government’s second-largest agency of 360,000 employees and would make sure VA health care is “fully funded.” When pressed by Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the panel, if he would be willing to disagree with Trump, Wilkie responded “yes.”

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“I have been privileged to work for some of the most high-powered people in this town,” said Wilkie, currently a Pentagon undersecretary for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “They pay me for their opinions, and I give those to them.”

Wilkie would be charged with carrying out a newly signed law by Trump to ease access to private health providers. That law gives the VA secretary wide authority to decide when veterans can bypass the VA, based on whether they receive “quality” care. Major veterans’ groups see VA medical centers as best-suited to veterans’ specialized needs, such as treatment for post-traumatic stress.

Wilkie also would have more power under a new accountability law to fire VA employees. Lawmakers from both parties have recently raised questions about the law’s implementation, including how whistleblower complaints are handled.

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, praises Wilkie as “eminently qualified,” saying he will “bring stability and leadership” to VA.

Wilkie served as acting VA secretary after Shulkin’s firing in March, before returning to his role as Pentagon undersecretary.

If confirmed, he would replace current acting VA secretary Peter O’Rourke. Since taking over the acting role in late May, O’Rourke has clashed with the VA inspector general, initially refusing to release documents relating to VA whistleblower complaints and casting the independent watchdog as an underling who must “act accordingly.” Under pressure from Congress, the VA agreed last week to provide documents to the IG.


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

Shooter’s Log: Action Pistol

NRA Blog - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 12:00

White Birth Privilege

The Stream - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 11:00

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about white male privilege. In fact, just this week a feminist named Lucy got upset with me for using my "white male privilege" to decry abortion in several of my posts on social media. Specifically, she was concerned that I was trying to "use (my) privilege to control women's bodies." But Lucy fails to understand that she is also a beneficiary of a special privilege. I call it White Birth Privilege, by which I am specifically referring to:

The fact that white people are less likely to be aborted and therefore have greater access to society’s legal and political institutions.

White Birth Privilege

The thing that hypocritical pro-abortion leftists like Lucy fail to understand is that Roe v. Wade has wiped out 22 percent of the unborn population since it enshrined abortion in the constitution back in 1973. As an entitled millennial, she is fortunate to be among the 78 percent of people in her generation who have survived Roe v. Wade. So she should not be lecturing other people on their privilege, given the fact that she is a beneficiary of the greatest possible privilege -- a privilege without which she would have no ability to deliver condescending lectures on any topic whatsoever.

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Lucy's birth privilege is compounded by the fact that she is white. Although so-called non-Hispanic whites are over 60 percent of the population, they make up only about half of those aborted. In contrast, blacks are only about 12 percent of the population but account for around 38 percent of those aborted in America.

A Racist Position

So how does Lucy use her white birth privilege? She uses it by going out on social media and speaking in favor of a practice that results in the disproportionate execution of those who lack her privilege. In the process of exercising this privilege, she is inadvertently joining hands with her political adversaries -- including those who oppose open borders and the so-called browning of America. She may well favor open borders immigration policies in the name tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. But her position on abortion is decidedly racist.

Institutional Racism

Unfortunately for Lucy, she is no longer in a position where she can credibly deny her racism. Her fellow leftists have long abandoned the concept of individual racism and placed an emphasis on so-called institutional racism. The reason for that is obvious:

As time goes by, there are fewer and fewer actual individual racists in America. Thus, the definition of racism has to be changed in order to help Democrats win votes and help "woke" millennials win friends on social media.

And, make no mistake about the fact that abortion is an example of institutional racism. For those unfamiliar with the term, here is a succinct definition:

Institutional racism refers to the ways in which political, cultural and social institutions impact people differently depending on their race.

Proving Intent

Leftists have long referred to the disproportionate arrest of blacks as an example of institutional racism. Blacks are only 12 percent of the population but make up over one-third of all arrests. And according to the definition of institutional racism, proving intent is not necessary to prove racism.

If leftists have any desire to be intellectually honest, they must begin to refer to the disproportionate abortion of blacks as another example of institutional racism. As I mentioned previously, blacks are only 12 percent of the population but make up well over one-third of all abortions. And once again, according to the definition of institutional racism, proving intent is not necessary to prove racism.

Since institutional racism is a term that has been growing in popularity for about fifty years, I prefer using something more modern to describe specific examples of the phenomenon. That is why I decided to coin the term White Birth Privilege. I sincerely hope it catches on.

White Feminist Privilege

In a future column, I will also explore White Feminist Privilege. This concept explains why Democrats adopt policies favored by women even though they decimate black communities in far greater numbers than the KKK decimated them during their post-Woodrow Wilson revival.

In the meantime, please join together with pro-lifers and use your birth privilege to negate the unintended racism of so-called pro-choice progressives. In other words, show the world that you are more tolerant, inclusive, and "woke" than sanctimonious hypocrites like Lucy.


Copyright 2018. Originally published at The Daily Wire. Republished with permission.

‘Pig Book’ Spotlights 232 Earmarks Amid Pork That Wastes Taxpayers’ Money

The Stream - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 09:00

All but a relative few farmers and other rural residents have had electricity and telephone service for a generation, but the U.S. government devoted $10 million in the current budget to a duplicative Rural Utilities Service program designed to help pay for energy costs.  

Taxpayers continue to finance the program even though then-President Barack Obama tried to eliminate the High Energy Costs Program in 2013 because it duplicated the U.S. Electric Loan Program.

The program buried in the Agriculture Department budget is brought to the surface in the 2018 Congressional Pig Book compiled by Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog that has put together the catalog of pork, earmarks, and other questionable federal spending since 1991.

"Earmark spending, deficits, and debt all grow when the lights are turned off -- all grow when attention is focused somewhere else," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Wednesday at the organization's press conference announcing the new edition.

"What earmark spending, deficits, and debt loathe more than anything is sunshine, is being revealed," Cruz said. "Because that sunshine has a disinfectant effect."

The 2018 #PigBook has been released! Find out why this little pink book makes Washington squirm... https://t.co/Fiwzzvv0w6

— Citizens Against Government Waste (@GovWaste) July 18, 2018

The 2018 edition of the Congressional Pig Book exposes 232 earmarks of taxpayers' money totaling $14.7 billion, doubling the 2017 tally, Thomas A. Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told reporters.

At this rate, within two years, lawmakers will pass their $29 billion record in earmark spending set in 2006, Schatz said.

Some of the more egregious spending included in the new Pig Book:

-- $2.7 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter program to add 20 F-35 fighter jets. The program, in place for 17 years and seven years behind schedule, so far has cost more than $406 billion, close to double an initial estimate of $233 billion.

"An April 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report noted that the lifetime operation and maintenance costs of the most expensive weapon system in history will total approximately $1 trillion," the Pig Book states.

-- $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which the White House found was "not optimally targeted" and favored "certain species and geographic areas over others."

Lawmakers should direct funds to programs and projects with "the greatest need or potential benefit," the Pig Book says.

-- $13 million to the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures grants program, created to preserve historic landmarks, art, and publications.

Obama called for the program's elimination in his fiscal 2011 budget, and it had not received earmarks from 2010 to 2016. But, Schatz said, it got $5 million in fiscal 2017 and nearly three times that in fiscal 2018.

-- $663,000 for a program to eradicate the brown tree snake in the island territory of Guam. "The snakes are native to northern Australia, Indonesia, and many of the islands in Melanesia," the Pig Book states, "but have caused damage to the ecosystem of Guam, where they were likely introduced by the U.S. military following World War II."

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"The annual Pig Book has been described as the most unpopular book in Washington," said Cruz, congratulating Citizens Against Government Waste for revealing "some of the worst pork spending" in the federal budget over the years.

"With some politicians, I guess that might make it tied with the U.S. Constitution and third-grade arithmetic, all of which they hope to be able to disregard," Cruz quipped.

"But for those of us who fight every day for fiscal sanity, who are trying to bring some order to government spending and to stop the pattern we have seen decade after decade of bankrupting the next generation, the Pig Book is an invaluable tool and resource," the Texas Republican said.

In some cases, lawmakers offer "fewer details, less transparency, and more secrecy" about surviving earmark spending, Schatz said, as has been the case since fiscal 2011, when they supposedly placed a moratorium on new earmarks in the budget.

In publishing its annual expose on "egregious" pork barrel spending, Citizens Against Government Waste highlights spending that was requested by only one chamber of Congress, wasn't the subject of hearings, or serves only a local or special interest, among other criteria.

"What we hope to accomplish is a permanent ban on earmarks," Curtis Kalin, the group's director of communications, told The Daily Signal in an email.

Romina Boccia, deputy director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, said Congress' Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform is wrong to consider bringing back earmarks.

Some lawmakers want to do this to "grease the wheels" for more bipartisan compromise on spending fights, Boccia said in an email to The Daily Signal.

"Since Congress banned earmarks, lawmakers have still found ways to sneak their pet projects through the broken federal budget process, to the detriment of current and future taxpayers," she said, adding:

Earmarks are a vehicle of cronyism and political favors, lining the pockets of corrupt politicians, while feeding a swamp that is undermining American families' ability to achieve their version of the American dream. ... Looking the other way when waste and cronyism are rampant in federal spending is both morally and ethically wrong. 

.@RepJimBanks: It's laughable that DC insiders say that bringing back earmarks is the only solution to gridlock. #PigBook

— Citizens Against Government Waste (@GovWaste) July 18, 2018


Katherine Rohloff is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Copyright 2018 The Daily Signal

Military Photo of the Day: F-22 Raptor Flies Over Alaska

The Stream - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 07:00

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor performs aerial maneuvers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska on June 30, 2018.

Have a great week, everyone!


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