Are U.S. spies staging a “soft coup” against the Trump administration?

6357759479_0d038eded2_oPresident Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn lost his job because someone leaked records from his phone being monitored, recording him telling the Russian ambassador that sanctions against his country would be eased.  Such phone intercepts are the work of U.S. intelligence agencies or possibly the FBI.  They are top secret.  It’s a crime to release bugging transcripts.  Nevertheless, someone in the intelligence bureaucracy gave them to a reporter.  Something similar evidently happened with the President of the United States, no less, with the leak of phone conversations between Donald Trump and world leaders, such as the embarrassing account of his spat with the Prime Minister of Australia.

Evidently, our national intelligence agency–or at least some individuals that work for it–are working to undermine our elected president and his administration.

Whatever you think of Donald Trump, this is dangerous.  At least two reports have come out on the subject, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Eli Lake calls what happened to Michael Flynn a “political assassination.”  He says that while the FBI might have been tapping his phone as part of the larger investigation of the Russian connection with Trump’s administration, Flynn was planning to reform the intelligence bureaucracy, which would be a motive for trying to get rid of him.  Damon Linker, who opposes both Trump and Flynn, nevertheless is highly concerned about the usurpation of an elected government by our shadowy spy world, accusing it of trying to stage a “soft coup” that is a threat to our democracy. [Read more…]

Should tax-exempt churches be allowed to preach politics?

37_Lyndon_Johnson_3x4In 1954, President Lyndon Baines Johnson pushed through a law that would revoke the tax-exempt status of churches and other non-profit organizations if they get involved with politics.  President Donald Trump wants to get rid of that law.

What do you think?  Granted that an overtly political focus can make a church this-worldly instead of attending to the Kingdom of Heaven.  But shouldn’t churches have the right to teach whatever they please as a matter of religious liberty?  And doesn’t political speech deserve special protection from the Constitution?  But can you foresee problems if the Johnson amendment were to be thrown out (such as churches being used to launder political contributions)?

 

Photo of Lyndon Baines Johnson by Arnold Newman, White House Press Office (WHPO) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Trump will retain Obama’s LGBT policy

White_House_rainbow_colors_to_celebrate_June_2015_SCOTUS_same-sex_marriage_ruling.jpegAs conservatives are giddy and liberals are panic-stricken over various policies put into place by the new administration, President Trump reminds us that the conventional political lines don’t apply to him.  He has announced that he is keeping in place President Obama’s non-discriminatory policy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals.

In a statement to that effect, the White House said that “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights,” pledging “to protect the community from violence and oppression.” [Read more…]

The anti-Trump “resistance”

Members_of_the_Maquis_in_La_Tresorerie

French Resistance fighters, 1944

Democrats have gone into full resistance mode, with Democratic Senators boycotting confirmation hearings to prevent a vote on President Trump’s candidates.  (Republicans suspended the rules and approved Treasury Secretary candidate Steven Mnuchin and HHS Secretary candidate Tom Price anyway.  See this.)

Meanwhile, a self-described “alternative left” has emerged that is pressuring Democratic elected officials not to co-operate with the Republicans.  Notice how the use of the term “the resistance” is taken from what the underground movements that opposed Hitler was called.  See a manifesto after the jump. [Read more…]

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

Neil_Gorsuch_10th_CircuitPresident Donald Trump has nominated Colorado appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia.  Reportedly, Judge Gorsuch is from that same mold:  eloquent, learned, articulate, and an “originalist” when it comes to interpreting the Constitution.

He is the author of a book against euthanasia and supported Hobby Lobby in its suit against the Obamacare birth control mandate.  An Anglican, he would be the only Protestant on the bench, joining the 5 Catholics and 3 Jews currently serving.  He is only 49, which means he would be on the court for a good long time.

Democrats began planning their opposition tactics before they even knew who was the nominee.  Some are urging that that Senate Democrats filibuster the nomination.  Republicans are saying that if that happens, they would take the “nuclear option” of voting to change the rules to limit filibusters, changing the Senate’s time-honored tradition of unlimited debate. [Read more…]

The new culture war

Jackson_inauguration_cropThe old culture war was about morality and was informed by religion.  The new culture war, signaled by the election of Donald Trump, is about nationalism vs. multiculturalism and “the people” vs. the elites.  Trump has little interest in the old culture wars, with the important exception of being pro-life.  But the new culture war is just as emotional, with pretty much the same people on either side.  So says Rich Lowry in a piece excerpted and linked after the jump.

So where does that leave Christians and others who are still concerned about morality and religion?

If those issues are taken off the table, Christians have other interests–jobs, security, liberty–that could align them with this alleged new culture war.  Many are members of what Lowry calls “Jacksonian America,” those ordinary citizens scorned by the elite as “vulgar masses,” like those championed by Andrew Jackson (and who trashed the White House when he invited them in).

Other Christians may be on the elite side, a faction often championed by traditional conservatives.  Just as populism used to be central to the ideology of the Democratic party.

If this analysis is correct, isn’t there going to be tension between a catholic religion like Christianity (“from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” [Rev. 7:9]) and nationalism?

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