A blow-by-blow account of the Trinity Lutheran arguments

512px-USSupremeCourtWestFacadeThe London Economist, of all sources, has published a description of the arguments in the Supreme Court in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church vs. Pauley (and the State of Missouri).

The report said that the argument seemed to go in the church’s favor, with even liberal justices expressing skepticism about the state of Missouri’s reasoning in refusing to allow the church to participate in a grant for shredded tires to use for  playground padding for its preschool.

The justices asked the state’s attorney if providing a church police and fire protection would also violate its church-state separation law.  The attorney reportedly couldn’t come up with a good answer.

The new guy on the court, Justice Gorsuch, also seemed sympathetic to the LCMS institution.

Read the description of the arguments after the jump.

Photo of Supreme Court building by UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Tensions growing with North Korea

Kim_Jong-Un_Photorealistic-SketchPresident Trump has been threatening military action against North Korea, and no one thinks he’s bluffing.

Three U.S. aircraft carrier groups are headed to the Korean peninsula.  Vice President Pence is in Seoul, co-ordinating with the South Korean government.

North Korea remains defiant.  An earlier missile test–that they were told not to try–was a failure, but officials vow to conduct more tests every week.  The foreign minister said that any military response from the U.S. would result in nuclear war “on the Korean peninsula,” evidently a threat to strike South Korea. [Read more…]

Where your taxes go

shakedown-1340048_640Tomorrow taxes are due.  So it’s fitting to contemplate where your tax money goes.

To make it easier to comprehend, the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget looked at a representative $100 paid in taxes.  Of that, 8 cents goes to national parks, $15 goes for Medicare, $21 goes for defense, $50 goes for Social Security and health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, etc., etc.

One observer said that the data supports the view that the United States is “a giant insurance company with an army.”  See details after the jump.


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Our superlegislature

Supreme_Court_of_the_United_StatesNeil Gorsuch was sworn in, informally, and has joined the Supreme Court.  A more ceremonial swearing in will take place later.  But he is already on the job, in time to hear some important cases.

In a column on the “nuclear option,” Charles Krauthammer observes that the Supreme Court has been turned into a “superlegislature.”  Liberals especially are looking to the court to achieve their political ends.

Liberal judicial theory says that the courts should honor “evolving social norms.”  But surely, Krauthammer says, elected representatives are in a better position to reflect evolving social norms.  Constitutionally, the judicial branch should instead be keeping all of these evolving social norms within the parameters of the Constitution. [Read more…]

Syria strike disillusions some Trump supporters 

Ann_Coulter_2012_ShankbonePresident Trump’s cruise missile strike on Syria, responding to Assad’s chemical weapons atrocity, is getting good reviews from much of the world.  After all, Barack Obama did nothing when Assad did this before, a display of American weakness that may have encouraged Assad and other bad actors that they could act with impunity.

Russia, though, is Syria’s staunch ally, and Vladimir Putin is furious with Trump.  (If the Russians put him in office, as some are charging, they didn’t get much for their trouble.  As one commenter here put it, why would Putin want Trump in office, when the Democrats were letting him take over any country he wanted?  [There is an answer to that:  Putin needs the economic sanctions lifted.])

But closer to home, many of Trump’s most devoted fans are turning against him. Attacking Syria, they say, is an idealistic foreign involvement like neo-conservatives always want to do.  They thought Trump was different.

Even Ann Coulter, author of In Trump We Trust:  E Pluribus Awesome!, is now bad-mouthing him.

Are any of you Trump supporters now, in the words of one former fan, “officially off the Trump train”?  Are any of you doubters now thinking that he might become a good president? [Read more…]

Trump attacks Syria


UPDATE:  President Trump pulled the trigger on attacking Syria.  Some 59 cruise missiles hit an airfield suspected of storing chemical weapons.  The President  called on “all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

“We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world,” he continued. “We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed and we hope that as long as America stands for justice then peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”


Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched chemical weapons on his rebellious citizens, killing 70 men, women, children, and babies.  Now President Trump is considering an attack on Syria.

Would you consider this a violation of his campaign pledge to keep us out of foreign wars?  Or does the heinous nature of Assad’s atrocity justify an exception?  A few air strikes would be short of a war.  Would you support that response?

At any rate, Trump is now denouncing Assad and supporting regime change.  That also has him opposing Vladimir Putin, the Russians being Assad’s major ally.

Trump is also rattling the saber over North Korea, threatening to take action on our own in response to its ballistic missile testa, if China does not intervene.  Other presidents have ignored Kim Jong-un’s threats, saying he is a madman.  As if it were some kind of consolation to consider that a dictator armed with nuclear weapons is insane.

 Then again, Trump also campaigned that he would reverse American “weakness.”  Should America throw its weight around a little more overseas, assuming its traditional role as world leader and quasi-policeman?  Or do you think Trump is starting to embrace neo-conservativism, which believes in promoting democracy around the world through American power?

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