Donald, why don’t you tell us what you REALLY think about Mitch McConnell?

Trump released this statement today through his political action committee “Save America”:

The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political “leaders” like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.

In 2020, I received the most votes of any sitting President in history, almost 75,000,000. Every incumbent House Republican won for the first time in decades, and we flipped 15 seats, almost costing Nancy Pelosi her job. Republicans won majorities in at least 59 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers, and the Democrats failed to flip a single legislative chamber from red to blue. And in “Mitch’s Senate,” over the last two election cycles, I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats, more than eight in the 2020 cycle alone—and then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600. How does that work? It became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was. McConnell then put himself, one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, into the advertisements. Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race.

It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will.

My only regret is that McConnell “begged” for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him. He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets. Without my endorsement, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly. Now, his numbers are lower than ever before, he is destroying the Republican side of the Senate, and in so doing, seriously hurting our Country.

Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.

Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.

Prior to the pandemic, we produced the greatest economy and jobs numbers in the history of our Country, and likewise, our economic recovery after Covid was the best in the world. We cut taxes and regulations, rebuilt our military, took care of our Vets, became energy independent, built the wall and stopped the massive inflow of illegals into our Country, and so much more. And now, illegals are pouring in, pipelines are being stopped, taxes will be going up, and we will no longer be energy independent.

This is a big moment for our country, and we cannot let it pass by using third rate “leaders” to dictate our future!

Thoughts:

  1. This is a direct response to McConnell’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.
  2. In case you have already noticed, the GOP is engaged in a civil war. According to very recent polling, Trumpism seems to be winning.
  3. Trump is still bitter about Georgia turning blue. The state is currently investigating him for election fraud.
  4. Trump wants to be a kingmaker. He says he will back primary candidates against McConnell-style Republicans.
  5. McConnell could have put Trump away, or least dealt him a significant political blow last Saturday. Instead he hid behind a technicality. McConnell allowed the monster to live and now it is coming back to bite him.

CNN is reporting that the original version of this statement said McConnell “has too many chins and not enough brains.”

Mitch McConnell clarifies his vote to acquit Trump in a *Wall Street Journal* op-ed.

Mitch McConnell is a weasel. He is also a very crafty politician. In his mind, moral conviction always takes a back seat to his quest for political power. This was on display Saturday when he voted to acquit Donald Trump on a technicality. Trump incited an insurrection on the very branch of government over which he presides (or presided), but he still chose to hide behind a heavily contested interpretation of the impeachment clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Here is McConnell in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

Jan. 6 was a shameful day. A mob bloodied law enforcement and besieged the first branch of government. American citizens tried to use terrorism to stop a democratic proceeding they disliked.

There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone. His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.

I was as outraged as any member of Congress. But senators take our own oaths. Our job wasn’t to find some way, any way, to inflict a punishment. The Senate’s first and foundational duty was to protect the Constitution.

Some brilliant scholars believe the Senate can try and convict former officers. Others don’t. The text is unclear, and I don’t begrudge my colleagues their own conclusions. But after intense study, I concluded that Article II, Section 4 limits impeachment and conviction to current officers.

McConnell admits that the Constitution is not clear about whether the Senate can impeach a president after he has left office. It could have gone either way. But when in doubt, McConnell believes, always vote with the party. Maintain power. Since the “text is unclear,” McConnell could have used the ambiguity to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol. Instead he decided to go with power.

McConnell continues:

This selective disregard for rules and norms is a civic disease that is spreading through the political left. Senate Democrats relished the legislative filibuster and used it frequently when they were the minority party. Now only two of them pledge to respect it. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has threatened Supreme Court justices by name, and other Democrats submitted a brief demanding the court rule their way or be “restructured.” As recently as September, fewer than half of Democrats professed confidence that elections are free and fair. In November, that number shot up to more than 90%—because they liked the result.

The nation needs real constitutional champions, not fair-weather institutionalists. The Senate’s duty last week was clear. It wasn’t to guarantee a specific punishment at any cost. Our job was to defend the Constitution and respect its limits. That is what our acquittal delivered.

I wonder what would have happened if McConnell felt this way about Supreme Court nominations. Remember Merrick Garland?

Read the entire piece here.

Why did the GOP Senators voted to acquit Trump? Here is a cheat sheet:

Over the weekend we posted the statements of most of the U.S. senators (all Republicans) who voted to acquit Donald Trump on Saturday. You can read that post here. It is a long post, so we created a cheat sheet:

Marsha Blackburn (TN): The trial was unconstitutional, but it was also a “despicable” effort to take down Trump

Roy Blunt (MO): The trial was unconstitutional.

John Boozman (MT): Trump bears “some responsibility” for the attack on the Capitol, but the trial was unconstitutional.

Mike Braun (IN): The trial was unconstitutional

Shelley Moore Capito (WV): The trial was unconstitutional and Congress should not be focused on impeachment right now. Trump lost the election and Trump was responsible. History will “judge him harshly.”

John Cornyn (TX): The trial was unconstitutional

Tom Cotton (AR): Still no statement

Kevin Cramer (ND): Trump did not incite the insurrectionists and did not commit a “high crime and misdemeanor.” The House managers did not make their case.

Mike Crapo (ID): The trial was unconstitutional

Ted Cruz (TX): Trump did not incite the insurrectionists and the entire trial was a waste of time.

Steve Daines (MT): The trial was unconstitutional.

Joni Ernst (IA): The trial was unconstitutional.

Lindsey Graham (SC): Trump did not cite the insurrectionists and the entire trial was driven by partisan hatred of the former president.

Chuck Grassley (IA): The trial was unconstitutional. Trump “did not behave well” and should have accepted the election results. But the Democrats also don’t behave well.

John Hawley (MO: No statement yet.

John Hoeven (ND): The trial was unconstitutional. Trump “encouraged” the “protest” on January 6, 2021.

Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS): The trial was unconstitutional. The House managers failed to prove Trump incited the insurrection.

Jim Inhofe (OK): The trial was unconstitutional.

Ron Johnson (WI): The impeachment was trial was “divisive” and “vindictive” and it should have never taken place.

John Kennedy (LA): “The merits of the Democrats case was not even close.” The trial was unconstitutional.

James Lankford (OK): The trial was unconstitutional.

Mike Lee (UT): The House managers did not prove that Trump incited the insurrection. The trial was unconstitutional.

Cynthia Lummis (WY): The trial was unconstitutional.

Roger Marshall (KS): The trial was unconstitutional.

Mitch McConnell (KY): The trial was unconstitutional, but Trump was guilty.

Jerry Moran (KS): The president was “wrong” for not discouraging the insurrectionists, but the trial was unconstitutional.

Rand Paul (KY): The trial was unconstitutional.

Rob Portmann (OH): Trump incited the insurrectionists, but the trial was unconstitutional.

James Risch (ID): The trial was unconstitutional.

Mike Rounds (SD): The trial was unconstitutional.

Marco Rubio (FL): The trial was unconstitutional and was meant to “tar and feather” Trump supporters.

Rick Scott (FL): The trial was unconstitutional and a waste of time.

Tim Scott (SC): Trump was not guilty of inciting the insurrection

Richard Shelby (AL): The trial was unconstitutional.

Dan Sullivan (AK): Trump exercised “poor judgement” on January 6, 2021, but the trial was unconstitutional.

John Thune (SD):Trump’s behavior was “inexcusable,” but the trial was unconstitutional.

Thom Tillis (NC): The trial was unconstitutional and the House managers failed to make their case that Trump incited the riot.

Tommy Tuberville (AL): The trial was unconstitutional.

Robert Wicker (MS): The trial was unconsitutional.

Todd Young (IN): The trial was unconstitutional.

In the end, most of the Senators voted to acquit because they believed that the Constitution does not allow a former president to stand trial for impeachment.

A few Senators who believed the trial was unconstitutional also condemned Trump’s rhetoric. Mitch McConnell went the furthest on this front.

Some Senators did not believe the House managers made their case.

And then there were senators Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Ron Johnson, and Marco Rubio. They essentially agreed with Trump’s claim that this was a witch hunt. Three of these senators–Cruz, Graham, and Rubio–had some very harsh things to say about Trump when they ran for president against him in 2016.

Iowa senator Joni Ernst explains her pro-Trump vote today

Here she is:

Ernst, like many other GOP Senators, is hiding behind a contested interpretation of Article I, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, an interpretation that the Senate rejected four days ago. Mitch McConnell did the same thing today. But unlike McConnell, who made a clear statement of Trump’s guilt, Ernst says nothing about Trump’s role in inciting the riot.

She also implies that this was somehow an act of partisan revenge. Tell that to the GOP Senators–Sasse, Toomey, Collins, Murkowski, Cassidy, Burr, and Romney–who also voted to convict.

Trump evangelicals respond to his impeachment acquittal

If Mitch McConnell is right, the Democratic House managers proved that Donald Trump committed high crimes and misdemeanors. The former president survived his impeachment trial because forty-three senators, all Republicans, voted to acquit. Several of these senators, including Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, James Lankford, Tom Cotton, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Bill Hagerty, Marsha Blacburn, James Inhofe, John Thune, and Marco Rubio, are evangelical Christians.

Here is what some of Trump’s former court evangelicals are saying about the decision.

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center co-founder Charlie Kirk:

Another Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Jenna Ellis has also weighed-in:

In this video, Lance Wallnau responds to the acquittal news. He trashes the seven Republican senators who voted to convict. The acquittal, according to Wallnau, is an answer to prayer.

Here is what some of Wallnau’s followers said in the comments:

  • Kim clement said impeach impeach but it never occurred to me until yesterday that he had said it twice and they had tried to twice. But GOD said nay. Praise God!
  • Watch out dems, he’s coming back! And God is on his side!
  • The truth will prevail! Yes praise God for Trumps protection
  • Amen I had a dream early this morning Trump was not impeached and we were crying and praising God
  • These corrupt people are being judged in the courts of heaven this day
  • Wooo Hooo Dems are dopes😁 LOVE YOU PRESIDENT TRUMP & YOU ARE MY HERO!!! GOD BLESS YOU, YOUR FAMILY & GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!! TIME TO IMPEACH TO CRAZY PELOSI & GANG IN THE CAPITAL
  • THANK YOU JESUS CHRIST ♥️🙏🏽🕊🇺🇸 PRESIDENT TRUMP WON NO IMPEACHMENT ♥️🇺🇸🙏🏽🕊
  • Thankyou jesus for hearing our prayers for this miracle for Donald Trump
  • Now they need to find out who really was behind the Capital break in!!
  • Still believing TRUMP IS OUR PRESIDENT! a hope he is enjoying a brief vacation! 
  • GOD was in the mist 🙏I heard in the Spirit🤔 every single person in that house was being REBUKE !!!!!! They need to take heed!!!! It’s not over 🙏🙏🙏♥️♥️♥️♥️

I wonder if Ralph Reed still believes Mitch McConnell displayed “good judgment” after hearing the Republican leader’s speech today.

Here is Gary Bauer on his FB page: “The sham impeachment trial ends as we all knew it would — Trump acquitted again.”

Paula White makes sure her followers know which Republicans voted to convict:

“Finally” acquitted:

What did Mitch McConnell just say?

As I just posted, the U.S. Senate just acquitted Donald Trump by a vote of 57-43.

Watch Mitch McConnell:

A few things:

McConnell believes that Donald Trump is guilty of inciting the riot on the United States Capitol. He believes Trump committed what the U.S. Constitution calls a “high crime and misdemeanor.” He believes that Trump’s actions and words deserve impeachment and conviction. In other words, Mitch McConnell believes that Trump is responsible for the deaths that occurred on January 6, 20201 and is also responsible for the threat to the life of his own vice-president, Mike Pence. This speech could have been given by one of the Democratic House managers. McConnell believes the Democratic House managers proved their case.

Then why did McConnell vote to acquit?

McConnell voted to acquit Trump because he does not believe that the U.S. Constitution allows for a private citizen to be the defendant in an impeachment trial. (This is a disputed interpretation of the impeachment clause). But four days ago, the Senate voted that it was constitutional to hold the trial. McConnell is a leader of the Senate. His argument today suggests that United States Senators are not bound by the decisions of the United States Senate.

McConnell also noted that the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump is on the way.

Several pundits on Twitter have made good observations:

Several of the GOP Senators who voted to convict Trump have made statements.

Richard Burr of North Carolina took a very different approach to the one taken by McConnell. He believed that after the Senate voted to declare the trial constitutional he was then required to abide by the Senate ruling and consider the case on its merits. He writes:

When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office. I still believe that to be the case. However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with this trial, the question of constitutionality is now established precedent. As an impartial juror, my role is now to determine whether House managers have sufficiently made the case for the article of impeachment against President Trump.

“I have listened to the arguments presented by both sides and considered the facts. The facts are clear.

“The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.

“As I said on January 6th, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of high Crimes and Misdemeanors. Therefore, I have voted to convict.

“I do not make this decision lightly, but I believe it is necessary. 

“By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Ben Sasse of Nebraska wonders what Trump’s acquittal means for our constitutional democracy:

If Congress cannot forcefully respond to an intimidation attack on Article I instigated by the head of Article II, our constitutional balance will be permanently tilted. A weak and timid Congress will increasingly submit to an emboldened and empowered presidency. That’s unacceptable. This institution needs to respect itself enough to tell the executive that some lines cannot be crossed. 

As I wrote in my last post, I am embarrassed to be an American today.

Tony Perkins finds “cancel culture” in the Bible (and other Trump evangelical news, including Eric Metaxas’s book launch)

In the last several days we have seen the Republican Party get closer to the breaking point. Trumpism in the form of Marjorie Greene and her enablers is pitted in a war for control of the party against the likes of Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger, and Mitch McConnell.

Meanwhile the nation mourns the unnecessary death of Brian Sicknick, the U.S. Capitol police officer killed in the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

We are less than a week away from Trump’s second impeachment trial and we now have a good idea how the Democrats will prosecute their case against the former president. Whether or not Trump specifically incited the riot during his speech on January 6, it is fair to say that the riot happened because Americans elected him president in 2016. If Donald Trump was not president of the United States, and did not spend four years fanning the flames of white supremacy, Christian nationalism, and conspiracy theories, Brian Sicknick would still be alive. (So would tens of thousands of other Americans who died of COVID-19).

What have Trump’s most diehard Christian supporters said over the course of the last few days? These lost cause evangelicals are complaining about the 2020 election, impeachment, free speech, and religious liberty. They are trying to sell books. They are finding “cancel culture” and conspiracy theories in the Bible. They are worried about their “Christian nation” under the Biden administration. Let’s check in on them:

Franklin Graham continues to foment division. For all his talk of unity and coming together, he is still driving the wedge.

Who is James Robison talking about here? Marjorie Greene? Andrew McCarthy? Lindsey Graham?

Tony Perkins found a new way to interpret the Old Testament prophetic books. In a recent video he used Jeremiah 11 to give his followers a lecture on “cancel culture.” Perkins says that “Jeremiah revealed the conspiracy and they responded by wanting to silence him.” Translation: “Tony Perkins revealed Democratic voter fraud and the Left wants to silence him.”

It looks like YouTube let Eric Metaxas back on its platform. In this clip from his show, he talks about the book launch of his memoir, Fish Out of Water. He tells people to write positive reviews on Amazon (because “the haters” will write negative reviews without reading the book). He then urges people to buy the book this week because “it makes a big, big difference.” (Translation: He wants it to be on best-seller lists). Metaxas suggests that his book simply chronicles “what happened” in his life. I am sure it will be completely objective with no interpretation or spin whatsoever. 🙂 This entire fifteen minute video is a combination of self-promotion (buy my book!) and victimization (social media and the “anti-American Left” are after me so please, please buy my book before it gets canceled).

In this video, Metaxas’s producer interviews him about his memoir.

In this video, Dinesh D’Souza interviews Metaxas. Notice how Metaxas seamlessly connects his own autobiography to his evangelical Trumpism.

Last night Metaxas did a Q&A as part of his book launch. If you paid $99.00 you could ask Metaxas a question. Watch it here. During this session Metaxas continues to spread the “big lie” about election fraud. He refuses to admit that Biden won the election and calls the GOP a “sham” for not defending the former president with greater vigor. As he has done several times in the past, Metaxas compares himself to Bonhoeffer: “God is telling us we need to fight.” He adds: “God put the Bonhoeffer’s story in my life” for “such a time as this.” He also compares advocates of critical race theory and systemic racism to the Nazis. He knows that CRT and systemic racism are errors because his Black friends tell him so and he once wrote a book about William Wilberforce. Finally, Metaxas tells people that they need to “raise hell” against the Left.

“Raise hell.”

Metaxas seems to believe that God has been preparing him his entire life–through his book on Bonhoeffer, his Greek-American upbringing, and his media platforms– for the moment when he would enlist as an officer in Trump’s populist army.

Again, let’s get the facts straight. Multiple courts, including the Supreme Court and Donald Trump’s attorney general. said that there was no election fraud. The Democrats did not steal the 2020 presidential election. Metaxas is a conspiracy theorist and may even be delusional. Every now and then he suggests that God told him (or God told one of Metaxas’s favorite charismatic prophets, such as Dutch Sheets) that the Democrats stole the election. If this is true, then Metaxas is a perfect illustration of why the founding fathers built this nation on the Enlightenment, not Christianity. The Enlightenment requires citizens to base their public proclamations and engagement in the political arena on reason, evidence, and verifiable truth rather than on direct, extra-biblical revelation or prophecy. In America one cannot argue that an election was fraudulent because so-called “prophets” said that it was fraudulent. This is why we have the separation of church and state.

Let’s move on:

Charlie Kirk believes churches who defy COVID-19 restrictions are heroes for Christ:

Lance Wallnau retweets Marco Rubio:

Here’s a question for the Falkirk Center at Liberty University: Where does it say in the Bible that we have the “right to bear arms?”

Let’s make sure we protect our freedoms, like the right to be on Twitter and other social media platforms:

I am not sure what this means:

The House will impeach Trump, but will the Senate convict?

If you asked me this question twenty four hours ago I would have answered, “probably not.” But now I am not so sure.

Today we learned that Mitch McConnell, the outgoing Senate majority leader, said that Donald Trump did commit an impeachable offense by inciting the January 6, 2021 insurrection. He is pleased that the House will impeach (again) the president tomorrow. But will he allow a trial to take place?

Here is The New York Times;

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, has told associates that he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses and that he is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach him, believing that it will make it easier to purge him from the party, according to people familiar with his thinking. The House is voting on Wednesday to formally charge Mr. Trump with inciting violence against the country.

Read the rest here. Or at CNN.

Meanwhile, John Katko of New York became the first Republican to announce that he will vote for Trump’s impeachment tomorrow. Liz Cheney is the second Republican. CNN is reporting this as I type.

Trump still thinks he did nothing wrong. Today he doubled-down.

CNN and other outlets are reporting that congressmen Paul Gosar (AZ), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Mo Brooks (AL) worked closely with Ali Alexander, one of the organizers of the event that led to the protest.

Stay tuned.

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.

You don’t congratulate someone who just robbed a bank (and other court evangelical news)

Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally acknowledged that Joe Biden was the “President-elect of the United States of America. He also warned GOP senators to stop contesting the election.

Meanwhile, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has not said a word.

Trump continues to raise millions on his election fraud claims through his Trump Make America Great Again Committee. 75% of the money he raises can be used for his own political activity, including rallies, travel, and supporting other candidates. In other words, Trump is is building the infrastructure of a shadow presidency.

So what are the court evangelicals saying today?

The Liberty University Falkirk Center crowd is still fighting:

Interesting tweet from a Trump-supporting “think tank.” Truth?:

So far the Falkirk Center has yet to acknowledge Joe Biden as President-elect.

Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Jenna Ellis is not going down without a fight:

But she also seems to have been less than truthful about how things ended at a previous job.

Ellis also retweeted Trump. “Tremendous evidence”:

She also retweeted Hershel Walker:

And of course she is quoting scripture:

Charlie Kirk criticized Mitch McConnell for congratulating Joe Biden:

In this tweet, Kirk claims to care about “unity & healing”:

More on “congratulating” Joe Biden:

And in other court evangelical news:

Lance Wallnau believes Mitch McConnell is now part of the “deep state.” He says that God is doing an “autopsy” on this election and if evangelicals keep praying we will all see that Trump won.

Court evangelical journalist David Brody interviewed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the author of the recently dismissed Texas voter fraud lawsuit.

Jim Garlow is still holding “election integrity” prayer meetings.

Ralph Reed is rallying pastors in Georgia:

Tony Perkins is also focused on Georgia:

The people have spoken. The Electoral College voted. Who will be the first court evangelical to acknowledge publicly that Joe Biden is the next President of the United States?

What Matthew 4 REALLY says about Christians and power

Recently an evangelical pastor who was a college of classmate of mine wrote to me praising Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement on the Supreme Court. He seemed very excited about the nomination and was surprised when I was not as excited as he was.

As I have argued, I think what McConnell did was wrong in 2016 when he refused to give Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing and a vote in the Senate. As many of you recall, McConnell claimed that since it was an election year the American people, through the ballot box, should decide who would replace the late Antonin Scalia on the bench. Trump won in 2016 and he nominated Neil Gorsuch. The GOP-controlled Senate confirmed him.

2020 is an election year. In fact, the election will take place in about a month. McConnell now seems to have no problem with confirming a Supreme Court justice in an election year. He is hard at work pushing Barrett through the system.

This evangelical pastor friend did not see any problem with McConnell’s blatant hypocrisy. Actually, I don’t even think he understands what McConnell did as a form of hypocrisy. As my old college acquaintance put it in his note to me, we now have a Republican president and a Republican Senate and “elections have consequences.”

Based on other exchanges I have had with this pastor, I highly doubt he would have said “elections have consequences” if the same thing happened with a Democratic president’s nominee and a Democratic-controlled Senate. He would instead be making an appeal to the Constitution or perhaps the scriptures. But I digress.

The GOP is licking its chops to confirm Barrett. Its members thus need some kind of argument to save face and explain that they are not hypocrites. Most of these GOP Senators and pundits believe that the Constitution should be interpreted based upon the original intent of the framers. But they are not consistent in this belief. They only claim original intent when it meets their needs. There is nothing in the Constitution that says a Supreme Court nominee in an election year can only get a Senate hearing if the president making the nomination is of the same political party as the party controlling the Senate. The GOP just made this up.

And if the GOP really believes the original intent of the founders is important, they should be talking about how the founders would be appalled at the rank partisanship driving this whole nomination and confirmation process.

But perhaps most revealing is the way this pastor reconciles 2016 (Obama and Garland) and 2020 (Trump and Barrett) with an appeal to raw power. Again, notice that he did not appeal to the Constitution, the Bible, or some other moral code to defend McConnell’s decision. The exact words he used to justify Barrett’s nomination were “Republicans in power. Elections have consequences.” In a single sentence he confirmed a major part of my argument in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.

Of course Jesus had a chance to obtain worldly power as well.

I recall that passage in Matthew 4 when Satan offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” if he would just bow down and worship him. When Jesus turned down Satan’s offer (“away from me Satan!”) God sent angels to attend to him. Jesus rejected worldly power and God was there to offer comfort and assurance in the form of the angels. The rest of the Gospel story, of course, is God showing how he would carry out his plan in another way–The Way–a way that did not require the kind of earthly power Satan was offering to Jesus.

But most people don’t know that in the 1980s Jerry Falwell Sr., while conducting a Moral Majority Holy Land tour, discovered early manuscripts of the Matthew 4 that show Jesus actually taking Satan’s deal. According to these ancient manuscripts, Jesus drove a hard bargain with Satan. In this manuscript Jesus specifically defined the “kingdoms of the world” as the future United States and demanded that Satan bring “splendor” to this kingdom by one day raising-up a morally bankrupt pagan leader (similar to King Cyrus of old) who would have the opportunity to appoint three Supreme Court justices. Satan agreed to deal, but fitting with his cunning spirit, took over 2000 years to fulfill his promise to Jesus.

What? You’ve never heard this before? It’s all there in the Lynchburg scrolls. The reason people don’t know about these scrolls is because the fake media won’t report on them.

🙂

The court evangelicals get another chance to execute their political playbook

For many American evangelicals, Christian witness in the political sphere comes down to overturning Roe v. Wade. This is why the court evangelicals are so gleeful about Trump getting another Supreme Court nomination. This is also why they say virtually nothing about the president’s mishandling of COVID-19 (nearly 200,000 dead), his separation of families at the Mexican border, his environmental policies that will one day make the planet incapable of sustaining life, and his racism. Look for yourself. The silence is deafening. Start your research with these names:

Franklin Graham, James Robison, James Dobson, Jenetzen Franklin, Jack Graham, Paula White, Greg Laurie, John Hagee, Tony Perkins, Gary Bauer, Johnnie Moore, Ralph Reed, Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas, Jim Garlow, Jack Hibbs, Harry Jackson Jr., Luke Barnett, Richard Land, Jim Bakker, David Barton, Steve Strang, Samuel Rodriguez, Charlie Kirk, Lance Wallnau, and Jenna Ellis.

I imagine (again, I only imagine) that some of these people were on a conference call the moment Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. They no doubt started the session with prayer for the Ginsburg’s family and perhaps even threw-out a prayer or two for those suffering through COVID-19. And then, when the pleasantries were done, they got down to strategizing about how to best support the president’s forthcoming Supreme Court nomination and the most effective ways of spinning their 2016 claims that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee–Merrick Garland–did not deserve a hearing in the Senate because it was an election year.

As I wrote yesterday, Robert Jeffress said that COVID-19 is mere “background noise” now that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead and Trump can appoint another conservative justice. Background noise? Tell that to the families who lost lives from COVID. What kind of world do we live in where a Christian pastor can say that the loss of 200,000 lives is unimportant and get virtually no push-back from his followers, all men and women who name the name of Jesus Christ?

Here is what the court evangelicals have been saying about the Supreme Court story:

Let’s start with Franklin Graham. Let’s remember that Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland about eight months before the 2016 election:

And now Graham says the country is at a “boiling point” and needs prayer. He has no clue that he is partly responsible for the divisions in the nation and the church.

Southern Baptist seminary president Al Mohler tries to defend Mitch McConnell’s decision to reject Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016. There is no reference to the Constitution or its interpretation. Mohler’s argument is weak, especially coming from a self-professed Constitutional originalist. I would like to see him defend this argument through a close reading of the Constitution as opposed to the weak reference to 1880 that he offers here. Mohler, who prides himself as an intellectual driven by logic, begins with the assumption that we need another conservative justice and then searches for an argument–any argument–to justify his political desires.

There is no doubt that President Trump will make a nomination to fill the vacancy, and there is now no doubt, thanks to a statement released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, that the Senate will move forward on a confirmation process once the nomination is announced. Indeed, Senator McConnell stated, “In the last midterm election, before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year. By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018, because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Ecclesiastes 10:1. Interesting choice of verse by Tony Perkins:

Here is Gary Bauer. It’s all about the Christian Right playbook. He actually believes that overturning Roe v. Wade will end abortion in the United States. As long as he keeps sticking to this playbook, the lives of unborn babies will remain a political football.

Hey Ralph Reed, why weren’t you making this argument in 2016?

Charlie Kirk of the Falkirk Center at Liberty University does not even want hearings for Trump’s new justice:

Kirk criticizes Ilhan Omar for being a “starter of fires” fueled by religion and skin color. Hmm…

For many evangelicals the 2020 election represents a simple choice: Trump will defend the pro-life movement, Joe Biden is pro-choice; Trump promises to appoint Supreme Court justices who will challenge–perhaps even overturn —Roe v. Wade, and Joe Biden will not. When it comes to dealing with the problem of abortion, the court evangelicals have been reading from the same political playbook for more than four decades. It teaches them that the best way to bring an end to abortion in America is to elect the right president, who, in turn, will support the right justices. Thus far, things seem to be going well: not only has Trump appointed pro-life justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanuagh, but he has appointed dozens of conservative judges to federal district courts across the country. Now, he will most likely get to appoint another conservative justice.

Still, it is not exactly clear how this strategy will bring an end to abortion in America. Chief Justice John Roberts, himself a devout Catholic, has called Roe v. Wade “settled as the law of the land.” Amy Coney Barrett, who appears to be Trump’s top pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has said publicly that it is likely Roe v. Wade will not be overturned.

And even if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court, the issue will be sent back to the states. Abortion is very likely to remain legal in the so-called blue states, including California and New York, and illegal in many of the so-called red states, especially in the deep South.

State legislatures will need to decide how they will handle the abortion issue in the remaining states, but a significant number of them will probably allow abortion in some form. To put it simply, overturning Roe v. Wade will not end abortion in America. It may curtail the number of abortions, but it will bring our culture no closer to welcoming the children who are born and supporting their mothers.

The taking of a human life in the womb via the practice of abortion is a horrific practice. Modern technology shows us that a baby in the womb, especially in the last trimester, is alive. Christians should be working hard to reduce the number of abortions that take place in the United States–even working to eliminate the practice entirely.

But we have been under Roe v. Wade for long enough that several generations of Americans now believe that they have a right to an abortion. Such a belief is not going to change anytime soon. Conservative evangelicals and other pro-life advocates spend billions of dollars to get the right candidates elected because they believe that the Supreme Court is the only way to solve the problem of abortion in our society. Yet, most of these conservatives oppose “big government” and want to address social concerns through churches and other institutions of civil society. Imagine if all the money spent to support pro-life candidates was poured into these institutions.

How did we get to this place. Learn more here:

What the Christian Right, court evangelicals, and GOP said about Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland

In a previous post on whether Trump should pick the next Supreme Court justice I wrote:

Politics is not about integrity, ethics, or standing by one’s word. It is about power. And let’s not pretend that the Democrats wouldn’t do the same thing if they were in the GOP’s shoes right now. Plague on all their houses!

In 2016, the Senate would not allow Merrick Garland, president Barack Obama’s SCOTUS pick, a hearing and vote because the GOP members in the Senate, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, believed that the next president should choose the next justice.

What did the court evangelicals say about McConnell’s decision in 2016?

Ralph Reed and his Faith & Freedom Coalition issued a statement on March 21, 2016:

We strongly oppose Judge Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.  We urge the U.S. Senate to await the final judgment of the American people rendered in the 2016 election before acting on any nomination to the highest court.  We will undertake a muscular and ambitious grassroots effort in the states of key U.S. Senators to defeat the Garland nomination and prevent President Obama from shifting the balance of the court for a generation.”

Here is Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

In the end, the Senate’s position isn’t about the person — it’s about the principle. “The only reason that they’re complaining about a hearing on the nominee is because they want to make the process as political as possible,” Grassley said. “And that goes to the heart of the matter. We’re not going to politicize this process in the middle of a presidential election year.” The other 10 GOP members of his committee have already made up their minds. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) couldn’t have been clearer when he said, “We’re not going to confirm anyone. Period.” But America’s law professor-in-chief still insists: “In putting forward a nominee today, I am fulfilling my constitutional duty. I’m doing my job. I hope that our senators will do their jobs, and move quickly to consider my nominee. That’s what the Constitution dictates…”

Wrong again. As scholars like Noah Feldman remind him, “Here’s what the Constitution says about filling Supreme Court vacancies: nothing.” Yet, as they’ve done with abortion and same-sex marriage, liberals are quite content to point to its invisible ink to suit their narrative. The reality is, President Obama has the right to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, just as the Senate has a right to ignore it. This is exactly what the Americans people wanted when it elected a GOP majority: a Senate that would rein in the president’s unchecked powers. Now they have it. And on the biggest decision in a generation, we can all be grateful its leaders are doing their part.

I am sure, based on the above statement, Perkins sees no hypocrisy in McConnell’s decision to give Trump’s nominee a hearing in an election year.

Let’s see if Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse will meet with Trump’s appointee. He refused to meet with Garland in 2016. And what about all those “principled constitutionalists” (like Ted Cruz) who would not give Garland a hearing in 2016, but will support Trump’s nominee?

The Huffington Post has collected the comments of several GOP senators in 2016 about Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland. Here are some of those comments:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa: “Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, we believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in on whom they trust to nominate the next person for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: “As I have repeatedly stated, the election cycle is well underway, and the precedent of the Senate is not to confirm a nominee at this stage in the process. I strongly support giving the American people a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court nominee by electing a new president.” 

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina: “It is essential to the institution of the Senate and to the very health of our republic to not launch our nation into a partisan, divisive confirmation battle during the very same time the American people are casting their ballots to elect our next president.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida: “I don’t think we should be moving forward with a nominee in the last year of this president’s term. I would say that even if it was a Republican president.”

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado: “I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah: “We think that the American people need a chance to weigh in on this issue, on who will fill that seat. They’ll have that chance this November, and they ought to have that chance.” 

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania: “With the U.S. Supreme Court’s balance at stake, and with the presidential election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice.”

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota: “Since the next presidential election is already underway, the next president should make this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”

Trump’s Supreme Court appointee should get a hearing and a vote

Article II of the United States Constitution states that the President:

…shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President nominates Supreme Court justices and the Senate advises and consents. That’s how it works.

When Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Barack Obama did his constitutional duty and nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. The Senate, under the leadership of Mitch McConnell, refused to give Garland a hearing. He said that it was inappropriate for Obama to nominate a new justice in an election year. The next Supreme Court nomination, McConnell argued, should thus be left up to the new President. Trump won the November election and appointed Neil Gorsuch.

We are now 43 days away from an election and the recent death of justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has reignited the same debate about the right of a president to appoint a new justice during an election year. The Republicans in all their hypocrisy are now demanding that Trump should appoint Ginsburg’s successor. Here is Lindsey Graham, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 2016:

Graham is now suggesting that Trump should get to pick the next justice.

Of course this should not surprise us. Politics is not about integrity, ethics, or standing by one’s word. It is about power. And let’s not pretend that the Democrats wouldn’t do the same thing if they were in the GOP’s shoes right now. Plague on all their houses!

Two wrongs do not make a right. McConnell was wrong in 2016. Merrick Garland should have received a hearing and an up or down vote. In 2020, Trump’s appointee should receive a hearing and get an up or down vote. If the Senators believe that it is in the best interest of the country to let the next president choose a justice, then they can vote accordingly.

In March 2016, I wrote a Fox News piece on the whole Garland mess while I was in residence at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Read it here.

Liberty University’s Falkirk Center meets all expectations at its “Get Louder” event

Yesterday, Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, the culture war wing of the largest Christian university in the world, held a 1-day conference titled “Get Louder: Faith Summit 2020.” Evangelical Trump supporters were encouraged to yell and scream more, fight more, and make sure that they were active on every social media platform. This is how the Kingdom of God will advance and Christian America will be saved because in the minds of the speakers, and probably most of those in attendance, there is little difference between the two. There was virtually nothing said about civility, humility, empathy, peace, compassion, the common good, or justice for people of color or the poor.

If there is any doubt that the Falkirk Center, with its angry and bitter political rhetoric and unswerving support of Donald Trump, represents Liberty University, those doubts were put to rest in the first fifteen minutes of the event. The day began with a video from the late Jerry Falwell Sr.:

This was followed by a welcome from Liberty University Provost Scott Hicks. Scott Lamb, Liberty’s Vice President for Communications, also welcomed the audience and praised the work of the Falkirk Center.

Falkirk Center director Ryan Helfenbein introduced the day’s festivities:

The first plenary speaker was former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. He started-off with a real “historical” whopper:

Much of Huckabee’s speech confused identity politics with “collectivism.” It was an ideological mess. The real socialist collectivists in America are no fan of identity politics.

And it wouldn’t be a Huckabee speech without some fearmongering:

Huckabee is disappointed with students on “evangelical campuses”:

Next came Ralph Reed, one of the primary architects of the Christian Right playbook. Reed sings one note:

The “Great Awakening” was ubiquitous at this event:

We’ve written about the “Black-Robed Brigade here.

Falkirk Center’s co-founder Charlie Kirk’s pastor spoke:

A general observation about the day:

And then Eric Metaxas showed-up:

I compared this session on the “Christian mind” to Bruce Springsteen’s convocation address last night at another Christian college–Jesuit-run Boston College:

Next-up, court evangelical Greg Locke:

Next-up, the anti-social justice crowd:

At the end of a long day Eric Metaxas came back for a solo speech:

Please read my recent Religion News Service piece in this context of these texts.

Sunday in Trumpland

 

Trump Barry

Things seem to be business as usual in Trumpland.

Last night we learned that Donald Trump’s sister, retired federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, had some choice things to say about her brother. Let’s be clear. She didn’t say anything that we didn’t already know about this president.

Readers of this blog might be interested in Maryanne Barry’s comments about the president’s political base: “All he wants to do is appeal to his base. He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.”

The White House released a statement regarding the comments made by the president’s sister. It read: “Every day it’s something else, who cares. I miss my brother, and I’ll continue to work hard for the American people. Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before.”

It is the eve of the Republican National Convention and the convention website has very little information about what is going to happen. We do, however, finally have a list of speakers. The Trump family will be filling a significant number of speaking slots.

U.S. Senators speaking include Tim Scott, Rand Paul, Marsha Blackburn, Joni Ernst, Mitch McConnell, and Tom Cotton. Some GOP Senators with national reputations will not be speaking. This list includes Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Chuck Grassley, Josh Hawley, Jim Inhofe, James Lankford, Mike Lee, John Kennedy, Kelly Loeffler, Martha McSally, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, and Rick Scott.

Speakers from the House of Representatives include Steve Scalise, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Dan Crenshaw, Elise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin, Kevin McCarthy, and Jeff Van Drew.

Others noteworthy speakers include former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend (and former Fox News pundit) Kimberly Guilfoyle, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Trump staffer Kellyanne Conway, Eric Trump’s wife Lana Trump, and Rudy Giuliani.

There are also several speakers who represent our nation’s ongoing culture wars. They include court evangelical Franklin Graham, Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandman, court evangelical Charlie Kirk, and the St. Louis’s gun wielding couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey.

Trump is still tweeting about God.

He is still obsessed with the pledge of allegiance:

For a full treatment of what happened read this post from yesterday.

Trump had another tweet today about God:

This tweet, of course, is a blatant attempt to win the votes of evangelicals in November. But it also tells us what Trump really thinks about evangelicals. He believes that we will gravitate to any political candidate who mentions the name of God. We will blindly follow the sound of the “We want God” mantra–like zombies–into the voting booth. Sadly, this may actually be the case for many of my fellow evangelicals.

The court evangelicals seem to welcome Trump’s appeal to his base. This morning a megachurch pastor in California turned his pulpit over to Charlie Kirk of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center:

I wonder what Kirk will say. Perhaps some of his most recent tweets (last 24 hours) will make it into his Lord’s Day sermon:

Liberty University Falkirk Center fellow Jenna Ellis loves Trump’s tweet about God:

Self-pointed prophet Lance Wallnau is still talking about Kamala Harris as a “Jezebel” (and hawking a book).

 

Court evangelical journalist David Brody believes Trump is the only biblical candidate:

I am curious about what Brody means by “traditional biblical policy positions.” Most evangelicals didn’t really see abortion as a political issue until the mid-1970s.

Robert Jeffress was on Fox News this morning.

First, he seems to believe that one can “remove God” from public life. It this theological possible? I think most evangelicals, myself included, believe God is bigger that this.

Second, Jeffress also ignores the fact that the Pledge of Allegiance was recited every night at the DNC convention with the phrase “under God” included. But why would the pastor bring this up when he can twist the truth for political advantage?

Third, Jeffress implies that people of faith in the Democratic Party are not true Christians.

Fourth, Jeffress continues to promote this idea that abortion is the only political issue evangelicals should be concerned about. Perhaps he should read conservative evangelical David French’s column today in which he challenges this idea.

Watch:

Stay tuned. Classes start this week at Messiah University, but I still hope there is time to watch the GOP convention and write a few words.

Court Evangelicals gather in Georgia

Paula White Georgia

This weekend court evangelical Paula White hosted a face-to-face event in Alpharetta, Georgia as part of the “Evangelicals for Trump” wing of the Trump 2020 campaign. Watch it here.

Speakers included Jenetzen Franklin, Harry Jackson, Ralph Reed, Alveda King, Richard Lee, and White.

Jenetzen Franklin says that evangelicals who believe in the Bible, the sacredness of life, supporting Israel, and law and justice “must “speak now or forever hold your peace, you won’t have another chance.” If Trump does not get elected, Franklin says, Christians will not have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. This line got a standing ovation. Franklin says that we only have three months (November) to save America. This is evangelical fear-mongering 101.

Harry Jackson calls for racial healing in the country. The applause is a lot more tepid than the applause Franklin received. No one seems to think that his support for Confederate flag-loving Donald Trump might contradict this message.

Ralph Reed starts by thanking the “God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians” of the state of Georgia for making sure Stacy Abrams did not win the governorship in 2018. Instead of Abrams, the people of Georgia got this.

Reed calls Abrams the “most radical, extreme, far-Left, governor” in the history of the South. It is worth remembering that Abrams would have been the third Black governor in the history of South and the first woman. Since the Civil War, the former Confederacy has had only two Black governors. P.B.S. Pinchback was governor of Louisiana for about a month (December 9, 1872 to January 13, 1873) and Douglas Wilder was governor of Virginia from 2005-2009. Only about 11% of white evangelicals in Georgia voted for Abrams. Reed, of course, knows how to appeal to the Trump base.

Reed also says that he senses “God’s anointed in this place.” He speaks with an arrogant certainty about the will of God and claims to know that God is on Trump’s side. Reed sees through a glass clearly.

Reed tells a story about how “thunderstruck” and upset he was when Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. He thought God had abandoned the country by allowing Scalia do die so close to the presidential election. But when Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said that he would not give the Obama nominee Merrick Garland a hearing, and would wait until after the 2016 election to start Senate proceedings on Scalia’s replacement, Reed knew God had intervened in human history and had answered the prayers of all true Christians. This story speaks volumes about the political playbook of the Christian Right. Trump said he can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still win in 2016. I think Trump can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still have conservative evangelical support in 2020 as long as he appoints conservative justices.

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., read some scriptures. I am not sure what she was trying to say, but she is Alveda King’s niece and she supports Trump.

Richard Lee, the author of the The American Patriot’s Bible, spoke next. He praised Trump for trying (unsuccessfully) to repeal the Johnson Amendment. I doubt that he ever considered that the Johnson Amendment is actually good for the church.

Lee says we should vote for Donald Trump because he is a “man’s man.” (Later today I am interviewing historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez about her new book Jesus and John Wayne so this kind of tough-guy masculinity is fresh on my mind right now).

In response to mayors and governors who are trying to protect people from the coronavirus, Lee says: “Get your hands off the church of Jesus Christ. Don’t tell me what to do. Don’t you tell my congregation what to do. You think we’re idiots. You don’t think we know to protect ourselves?” He tells evangelical pastors that they should be “scared to the core” because “they’re gonna come for ya!” He even tells them to whistle the theme song to the television show COPS:

White evangelicals have believed that “they” (Thomas Jefferson, the Illuminati, abolitionists, modernists, the Supreme Court, “big government,” the Clintons, Obama) have been “coming for them” for a long time.

Lee concludes that the church should be a “shock force” for a “moral revolution” in this country. Something tells me that this is not the kind of moral revolution that Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and others are preaching.

The last speaker is Paula White. She tells about her history with Trump and praises the moral character of the entire Trump family. She calls Biden a “trojan horse” who will bring the “radical left” into the mainstream of America. At this point she gets pretty fired-up and starts ripping through Christian Right talking points.

It is hard to get a good look at the crowd, but I do not see many masks. The only person on the stage wearing a mask during the final prayer is Alveda King.

What about all those Confederate statues in the U.S. Capitol?

eb4c8-united_states_capitol_-_west_front

Here is a taste of William Hogeland‘s piece at Boston Review:

Eleven statues of Confederate officers, including Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, stand in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. In response to House Democrats’ recent effort to fast-track their removal, Senator Mitch McConnell and other rearguard cultural defenders have said that to do so would erase history.

Many Americans are startled to learn that Confederate statues are in the Capitol at all. On Twitter, this surprise has often taken the form of a question: “Why in the hell are there Confederate statues in the Capital?” “Wait—there’s a statue of Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens and nine other confederates in the US Capitol building?” “Good Lord, what are they doing there?”

Good questions. Amid the widespread defacings, topplings, and official removals of statuary representing not only enslavers but also racist leaders of many kinds, the presence there of Confederate monuments—not in former slave states but in the seat of the government that the Confederacy fought—seems bizarre indeed. People who remember, as I do, seeing the statues on childhood visits to the Capitol will be less surprised, but I suspect that even we have thought little about the National Statuary Hall Collection’s contents, or even its existence. A large, oddball batch of mostly old memorials, the collection is centered in the National Statuary Hall, beside the Rotunda, and scattered about in other rooms; many of its subjects are at best obscure. At first glance, the collection might seem, aside from the outrageous presence of the Confederacy, innocuous enough, if a bit antique.

But the stark reality is that the U.S. government’s peculiar relationship to the Civil War made those Confederate statues a defining feature of the whole National Statuary Hall Collection—a fulfillment, even, of what became its purpose. What Confederate figures are doing in the collection is worth knowing, because it bears on larger, even more unsettling political and cultural processes that have marked U.S. public discourse regarding race and racism in the past three centuries.

Read the rest here.

Mitch McConnell: Trump’s “Enabler-In-Chief”

mitch-mcconnell-trump

Check out  Here is a taste of Jane Mayer‘s profile of Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It is titled “How Mitch McConnell Became Trump’s Enabler-In-Chief“:

On McConnell’s family:

McConnell also appears to have lost the political support of his three daughters. The youngest, Porter, is a progressive activist who is the campaign director for Take On Wall Street, a coalition of labor unions and nonprofit groups which advocates against the “predatory economic power” of “banks and billionaires.” One of its targets has been Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Blackstone Group, who, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has, since 2016, donated nearly thirty million dollars to campaigns and super pacs aligned with McConnell. Last year, Take On Wall Street condemned Blackstone’s “detrimental behavior” and argued that the company’s campaign donations “cast a pall on candidates’ ethics.”

Porter McConnell has also publicly criticized the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh, which her father considers one of his greatest achievements. On Twitter, she accused Kavanaugh’s supporters of misogyny, and retweeted a post from StandWithBlaseyFord, a Web site supporting Christine Blasey Ford, one of Kavanaugh’s accusers. The husband of McConnell’s middle daughter, Claire, has also criticized Kavanaugh online, and McConnell’s eldest daughter, Eleanor, is a registered Democrat.

On Obama:

McConnell’s opposition to Obama was relentless. In 2010, the Senate Majority Leader famously said, when asked about his goals, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.” Carroll, the Courier-Journal reporter, was dumbstruck by McConnell’s attitude when the Senator allowed him to listen in one day as he took a phone call from Obama, on the condition that Carroll not write about it. “McConnell said a couple of words, like ‘Yup,’ ‘O.K.,’ and ‘Bye,’ but he never said, ‘Mr. President,’ ” Carroll recalls. “There was just a total lack of respect even for the office.” McConnell preferred to deal with Obama’s Vice-President, Joe Biden. (In his autobiography, McConnell mocks Biden’s “incessant chatter” but also says, “We could talk to each other.”)

On Russian interference in the 2016 election:

In the closing weeks of the campaign, McConnell gave more assistance to Trump than many knew. In the summer of 2016, while the Senate was in recess, Obama’s C.I.A. director, John Brennan, tried to contact McConnell about an urgent threat to national security. The agency had strong evidence that President Vladimir Putin of Russia was trying to interfere in the U.S. election, possibly to hinder Hillary Clinton and help Trump. But, for “four or five weeks,” a former White House national-security official told me, McConnell deflected Brennan’s requests to brief him. Susan Rice, Obama’s former national-security adviser, said, “It’s just crazy.” McConnell had told Brennan that “he wouldn’t be available until Labor Day.”

When the men finally spoke, McConnell expressed skepticism about the intelligence. He later warned officials “not to get involved” in elections, telling them that “they were touching something very dangerous,” the former national-security official recounted. If Obama spoke out publicly about Russia, McConnell threatened, he would label it a partisan political move, knowing that Obama was determined to avoid that.

Read the entire piece here.

“You Don’t Have the Votes”

In case you’ve missed it, Mitch McConnell does not have the votes to block impeachment witnesses.

Here is Fox News:

The White House’s plans for a speedy impeachment trial were thrown into doubt Tuesday with Senate Republicans floating competing proposals on how to deal with new explosive revelations from ex-national security adviser John Bolton — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling Republicans he doesn’t yet have enough votes to block the calling of impeachment witnesses.

GOP senators were all over the map on Tuesday as President Trump’s defense team called Bolton’s manuscript “inadmissible” and warned against opening the door to new wild-card information in the ongoing trial. Democrats have repeatedly called for Bolton to testify.

A source with knowledge of McConnell’s comments confirmed to Fox Business that the Kentucky Republican told people in a private meeting Tuesday that the GOP did not have the votes to block impeachment witnesses. A second source stressed that McConnell said he didn’t yet have the votes, with other sources saying Senate GOP leadership didn’t think the fight was over, and conversations were ongoing. The Wall Street Journal first reported McConnell’s comments.

Read the rest here.