We are back from break. What happened?

Vacation is over. What did I miss? Here is a small taste of what has happened in American politics over the last ten days:

  • A bomb exploded in Nashville on Christmas morning. We are learning more every day about the suicide bomber. Fortunately, no one other than the bomber himself was killed. As far as I know, Trump did not comment publicly on the bombing. He played golf.
  • Trump refused to sign the Consolidated Appropriation Act. It included $900 billion for COVID-19 relief, including a $600 check for Americans making under $75,000 a year. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin negotiated the bill on the president’s behalf while Trump was busy trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s major problem with the bill was the $600 dollar COVID relief check for individual Americans. Trump wanted to give Americans $2000.
  • Trump eventually signed the Consolidated Appropriation Act on December 27. Because he signed it one week late, many Americans did not receive unemployment compensation during the final week of 2021. Why didn’t Trump sign it? It is hard to tell. But he was probably upset with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for declaring that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election. While Trump held his personal grudge, millions of Americans went without federal help during the Christmas holiday. The president played golf.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats and some Republicans supported Trump’s claim to raise the sum of the relief checks to $2000. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia GOP Senators fighting for their political lives in tomorrow’s Georgia run-off, supported the president. But McConnell did his best to make sure that the American people would only get $600
  • Just before we went on break, Trump vetoed the Defense Authorization Act. This bill, which is the standard act to fund the military, had bipartisan support. In fact, this bill has passed with bipartisan support since 1961. Trump vetoed the bill because it included provisions for renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders. He also claimed it protected social media companies. On December 28, the House of Representatives overturned Trump’s veto by a vote of veto 322-87. On January 1, 2021, the Senate overturned the veto 81-13. It was the first time in the Trump presidency that Congress overturned one of his vetoes.
  • On the same day the Senate overturned Trump’s veto on the Defense Authorization Act, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said that he would object to the 2020 Electoral College vote when the Senate meets to certify it on Wednesday. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, upon hearing about Hawley’s stunt, called it a “dangerous ploy” and added: “Let’s be clear here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage.” The next day, GOP senators Marcia Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun (IN), Ted Cruz (TX), Steve Daines (MT) Ron Johnson (WI), John Kennedy (LA), and James Lankford (OK) said they would join Hawley. So did Senators-Elect Bill Hagerty (TN), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), and Tommy Tuberville (AL). Cruz’s office issued a press release. Let’s be clear. This protest will not change the election results. Both houses of Congress will certify the votes of the Electoral College and Joe Biden will be inaugurated President of the United States on January 20, 2021. It will now just take a few additional hours. Read Peter Wehner’s recent article at The Atlantic if you want to understand what is really going on here.
  • If my calculations are correct, 22,715 people died of COVID-19 since my last blog post.
  • Yesterday, January 3, 2021, The Washington Post released part of a phone call between Trump and Brad Raffensberger, Georgia’s GOP secretary of state. The President urged Raffensberger to “find” 11,780 Trump votes in Georgia. Trump threatened Raffensberger by telling him that if he did not find the votes he might face “criminal” charges. Here is a clip from their one hour conversation:

Listen to the entire phone call here.

So what have Trump’s court evangelicals had to say over the holiday break? I will cover that in my next post, which will appear later this morning. Stay tuned.

COVID-19 is raging. Trump goes to Georgia. What are the court evangelicals saying?

Donald Trump was in Valdosta, Georgia this weekend trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The event was a rally for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the GOP candidates running for Senate in Georgia, but Trump turned it into an opportunity to whine and complain about voter fraud. He repeated more false and debunked claims about how the Democrats tried to steal the election.

Meanwhile, people in the United states are dying of COVID-19. Trump appears to be ignoring the virus, although he does seem to be aware that his election fraud lawyer Rudy Giuliani has contracted it.

So what did the court evangelicals, Christian leaders who claim to be committed to truth and compassion for the suffering, have to say this weekend.

The Washington D.C. Jericho March is coming-up.

Over on Parler, the new social media outlet for conservatives, Eric Metaxas is quoting Jesus in Luke 8:17: “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light.”

Jim Garlow’s “Election Integrity” prayer meetings continue.

On the Liberty University Falkirk Center front:

Jenna Ellis, spokesperson for the Falkirk Center and Trump lawyer, is quoting Bible verses:

Ellis remains optimistic:

She will move forward without Giuliani:

Future historians will try to reconcile the evangelical support of Trump’s election fraud claims with these kinds of tweets:

Charlie Kirk, the co-founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, tweets with no evidence or source:

In Political Science 101 you learn that elections are decided by votes, not counties:

Kirk does not seem to know much about the character of the Kingdom in which Jesus serves as king. Jesus is was not a populist culture warrior. His Kingdom is not of this world and his followers do not seek worldly power.

In the midst of COVID-19 deaths and unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, the Falkirk Center at Liberty University is posting about truth:

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center promotes a speaker who connects “fear of COVID” to socialism:

The Liberty University Falkirk Center is still pushing election fraud. It looks like a Liberty University law professor is involved as well:

And in other court evangelical news:

Here is Lance Wallnau:

If you watch this whole video, Wallnau offers his listeners “sanctified gossip” about Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue’s failure to support the president. He describes a “Christian populist movement” of 40 million voters who will lead the “backlash” against GOP governors in swing states who will not support Trump’s voter fraud claims. This video has over 200K views and 13K comments.

Demonic forces are preventing American expansion:

Court evangelical journalist David Brody interviewed Pennsylvania state legislator Doug Mastriano:

Hard hitting journalism from Brody:

And this:

I love how Brody distinguishes Fox “dayside” from conspiracy theorists like Hannity, Ingraham, and Carlson who appear in the evening.

This USPS worker seems to be making the rounds on pro-Trump media:

Jack Hibbs believes the republic is at stake.:

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil. – Psalms 36:1 -4

As the battle continues regarding our Nations’s future during this attack by the wicked to overthrow and undermine our election, I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s challenge to the American people, when at the conclusion of our Founding Father’s Constitutional Convention, Franklin was asked by a woman waiting in the crowd outside – “What kind of government have you given us Dr. Franklin?” Franklin answered with both a challenge and a rebuke when he said “A Republic if you can keep it.”

Most people (thank the LORD not all) in the United States today are so civically ignorant of their Constitutional Rights and Biblical calling that they have no vision nor understanding of what to do with them. They are willfully blind to the truth and have resigned themselves to 15-second bites taught by the blind themselves.

“Facts are stubborn things” said John Adams but we the people have become too distracted to care. Sadly, many people in this Nation have rendered themselves unworthy of the very freedoms they enjoy in this (God-given) Republic.

Freedom, like the Gospel, must be preached and practiced, or else it will grow old a wither away like a flower. Truth is active and the pursuit of it is a vigorous ethos.

During these days, I have dedicated my morning hours to be in intercessory prayer for the Nation that God has given me. As I teach and preach that Jesus Christ could return at any moment for His church in His Blessed Hope of the Rapture (Titus 2:13) – I must occupy in this world until He comes. So then I must be busy about my Father’s business in all things.

As my Nation today is literally under attack by enemies both foreign and domestic, I am called to stand on the truth and be obedient to live it out now.

In the next several weeks your life and mine is about to be changed forever. The persecution and violence that is coming can only be met with a resolve to preserve our liberty and freedom for our children and our children’s children.

Be ready Christian to defend your faith, family, and freedom. To that end, Psalm 36:1-4 speaks to me about the horrible people who are boldly and brazenly committing acts of deception, lying, cover-ups, and fraud as they have been exposed as political jihadists.Someday our children will ask us “What kind of government have you given us” may our answer be to them;”A Republic if you can keep it.”

Robert Jeffress is still praising the Supreme Court’s religious liberty decision and Donald Trump’s appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. Jeffress seems to only understand these issues through the grid of “rights” and politics. Evangelical Christian Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, has a different opinion. Jeffress also defends Trump’s case for voter fraud

Ralph Reed continues to focus on Georgia:

Gary Bauer:

“Life has risks.” I wonder if Tony is attending face-to-face church these days?

More fearmongering from Perkins. This time it’s a socialist takeover:

Franklin Graham:

Interesting:

One overlooked part of Franklin Graham’s brand of politics is how he loves merging Christian Right talking points with celebrities:

Trump may be giving the Democrats a fighting chance in the Georgia Senate race

On January 5, Georgia will hold two run-off elections to decide who will fill the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Incumbent David Perdue (R) is running against Jon Ossoff (D) in one race. Incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) is running against Rafael Warnock (D) in the other race. Perdue and Loeffler got the most votes in their races on November 3, but neither candidate got 50% of the vote. Georgia law states that if a candidate does not get a majority of the votes a run-off takes place between the top two candidates.

This election is so important because if Ossoff and Warnock can upset their GOP opponents the Democratic Party will gain control of the United States Senate, giving Biden’s party control of both houses of Congress.

Republicans are getting nervous and it has everything to do with Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election. Here is Andrew Desiderio and Marianne Levine at Politico:

…Republicans are increasingly seeing Trump’s posture as not just rhetoric. They view it as a self-serving quest that could imperil the GOP’s grip on the Senate by depressing turnout in two runoffs races that will decide which party controls the upper chamber. And they are publicly hoping he will refrain from pushing his false fraud claims when he visits the Peach State this week to campaign for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

Even as Trump urges his supporters to vote for Perdue and Loeffler, he is continuing to hammer Georgia’s secretary of state and governor — both Republicans — for what he calls a “fraudulent” result in favor of Biden. Trump even said he was “ashamed” of his endorsement of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in 2018, and on Monday called him “hapless.”

Republicans in Georgia are exasperated with his rhetoric, and they’re publicly urging the president to avoid talking about the Nov. 3 election.

“It’s time for this to be over,” said former Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who previously held Perdue’s seat. “When he comes he needs to not be talking about his race, he needs to be showing his support for the two candidates in Georgia and put to rest anybody who makes any comment about the fact or has any idea about not voting because they might think these two candidates aren’t doing enough to question the election.”

Read the entire piece.

The people of Georgia will decide if the Senate remains in Republican hands

Two January 2021 run-off elections in Georgia will decide whether Republicans will remain in control of the Senate. Amber Phillips explains at The Washington Post:

Here’s what’s happening.

Georgia election rules set up a runoff between the top two vote-getters if no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote. There’s a special election Senate race that was already certain to go to a runoff. It will feature the incumbent, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), and Democrat and first-time candidate and pastor Raphael Warnock.

Georgia’s original 2020 Senate election with Sen. David Perdue (R) trying for a second term has suddenly come back online for Democrats. Perdue had more than 50 percent of the vote after initial votes were counted, but that’s steadily and slowly narrowed as Georgia finishes counting its ballots. With 99 percent of the vote in, Perdue has 49.8 percent. Democrat Jon Ossoff is exactly two points behind, 47.8 percent.

Which means Ossoff and Warnock will get another chance to unseat these two Senate Republicans in a little under two months.

But if you look at the data from November’s election, you’d rather be the Republicans than Democrats in these next round of races.

Let’s start with the special election. Warnock actually got the majority of the vote of any candidate, winning with nearly 33 percent to Loeffler’s 26 percent. But Loeffler wasn’t the only major Republican in this crowded race; she beat Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R). When you add in Collins’s votes into the general Republican tally, you get 46 percent voting for a Republican senator, a full 13 points more than Warnock.

Read the rest here.

What They Knew and When They Knew It

Burr and Loeffler

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia sat next to each other during the Donald Trump Senate impeachment trial. Burr is currently using this sketch as his Twitter profile picture.

We now know that both Burr, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Loeffler, whose husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, sold millions of dollars in stocks before the economic downturn precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is a taste of Robert Faturechi’s and Derek Willis’s reporting at ProPublica:

Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions.

As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.

A week after Burr’s sales, the stock market began a sharp decline and has lost about 30% since.

On Thursday, Burr came under fire after NPR obtained a secret recording from Feb. 27, in which the lawmaker gave a VIP group at an exclusive social club a much more dire preview of the economic impact of the coronavirus than what he had told the public.

Read the entire piece here.

Here is Lachlan Markay, William Brederman, and Sam Brodey of The Daily Beast:

The Senate’s newest member sold off seven figures worth of stock holdings in the days and weeks after a private, all-senators meeting on the novel coronavirus that subsequently hammered U.S. equities.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) reported the first sale of stock jointly owned by her and her husband on Jan. 24, the very day that her committee, the Senate Health Committee, hosted a private, all-senators briefing from administration officials, including the CDC director and Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Health of the United States, on the coronavirus. 

“Appreciate today’s briefing from the President’s top health officials on the novel coronavirus outbreak,” she tweeted about the briefing at the time.

That first transaction was a sale of stock in the company Resideo Technologies worth between $50,001 and $100,000. The company’s stock price has fallen by more than half since then, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average overall has shed approximately 10,000 points, dropping about a third of its value.

It was the first of 29 stock transactions that Loeffler and her husband made through mid-February, all but two of which were sales. One of Loeffler’s two purchases was stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and which has seen a small bump in its stock price since Loeffler bought in as a result of coronavirus-induced market turmoil.

Loeffler’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the transactions and whether they were prompted or informed by information shared at that late January briefing. It’s illegal for members of Congress to trade on non-public information gleaned through their official duties. 

In the weeks after her spate of stock trades, Loeffler sought to downplay the public health and financial threats posed by the coronavirus. 

“Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on #Coronavirus readiness,” she tweeted on February 28. “Here’s the truth: @realDonaldTrump & his administration are doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy & safe.”

Read the entire piece here.

Both of these Senators knew things about the coronavirus that the general public did not.  They did not tell us. And they profited (or at least avoided an economic hit) based on what they knew.

At a time when we need to sacrifice self-interest for the common good, these two Senators seem to be taking care of themselves first.

Here is the author (Hamilton or Madison) of Federalist 62:

The qualifications proposed for senators, as distinguished from those of representatives, consist in a more advanced age and a longer period of citizenship. A senator must be thirty years of age at least; as a representative must be twenty-five. And the former must have been a citizen nine years; as seven years are required for the latter. The propriety of these distinctions is explained by the nature of the senatorial trust, which, requiring greater extent of information and stability of character, requires at the same time that the senator should have reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages

Here is John Jay in Federalist 64:

As the select assemblies for choosing the President, as well as the State legislatures who appoint the senators, will in general be composed of the most enlightened and respectable citizens, there is reason to presume that their attention and their votes will be directed to those men only who have become the most distinguished by their abilities and virtue, and in whom the people perceive just grounds for confidence. The Constitution manifests very particular attention to this object. By excluding men under thirty-five from the first office, and those under thirty from the second, it confines the electors to men of whom the people have had time to form a judgment, and with respect to whom they will not be liable to be deceived by those brilliant appearances of genius and patriotism, which, like transient meteors, sometimes mislead as well as dazzle. If the observation be well founded, that wise kings will always be served by able ministers, it is fair to argue, that as an assembly of select electors possess, in a greater degree than kings, the means of extensive and accurate information relative to men and characters, so will their appointments bear at least equal marks of discretion and discernment. The inference which naturally results from these considerations is this, that the President and senators so chosen will always be of the number of those who best understand our national interests, whether considered in relation to the several States or to foreign nations, who are best able to promote those interests, and whose reputation for integrity inspires and merits confidence. With such men the power of making treaties may be safely lodged.

And Madison in Federalist #10:

The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended.

The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.

ADDENDUM (Friday, March 21, 2020 at 2:08pm): Since I wrote this post, we have also learned that Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-Okla) have also dumped stock.