You no doubt heard about the nation-wide school walkouts on March 14 and April 20 to protest gun violence and to demand gun control.  Those got lots of press and had the co-operation of school faculties and administrators, who let out classes and encouraged students to support the cause.  There was another school walkout on April 11 , which also protested violence against children on an even larger scale, but the major media ignored that one and the schools did not make it easy for participants.  That was a walkout protesting abortion.

My friend, Rev. Todd Peperkorn, a Lutheran pastor in California, wrote about this one in The Federalist.  From Why The Pro-Life School Walkout Left Me With More Questions Than Answers:

Yesterday morning, roughly 30 students walk out of their classes at our local high school for 17 minutes, just like it happened a month ago against gun violence. This time, it was to object to the violence done to unborn children through abortion. But unlike the previous event, this one did not have any big media presence.

There was no TV station filming. You did not have hundreds, or even dozens of people supporting the students who chose to walk out. There were perhaps 30 supportive adults just off campus property. Some had American flags. Others had what I would call typical pro-life signs. Other simply stood by and watched. Unless I am very much mistaken, I was the only pastor there. There was perhaps one other parent.

We were not allowed on campus, because this was during the school day. We watched from the fringes. Occasionally we saw a student walking out, and gave some cheers or chants about free speech, or life, or against abortion. All this was from the adults, mind you. Mostly it was quiet, with an occasional Our Father or Hail Mary tossed in for seasoning.

I was there because two of our daughters attend the school. Whether they chose to walk out of class was their decision, and their mother and I told them we would support them. I did, however, want to see what would happen.

[Keep reading. . .]

Read this for more background on the pro-life walkout and how it was opposed by school administrations.

How do you account for the double standard?  Some protests are praised; others aren’t allowed.  Killing children with guns is bad; killing children by abortion is good.  The former must be condemned; the latter dare not be condemned (as opposed to condemning them both).

 

Photo, National School Walkout Day, by Lorie Shaull from Washington, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

HT:  Mary Moerbe

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has run the numbers, finding, as expected, that the combination of a $1.5 trillion tax cuts and the $1.3 trillion spending bill will send the national debt soaring.  How bad is it going to be?  The CBO estimates that in 2028, ten years from now, the national debt will be 96% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Investopedia defines the Gross Domestic Product as “the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period.”   The “GDP includes all private and public consumption, government outlays, investments, private inventories, paid-in construction costs and the foreign balance of trade (exports are added, imports are subtracted).”

National Debt is not the total of what everyone in the nation owes, with all of their mortgages, installment payments, and credit cards.  It’s just what the government owes.

So, if I am understanding this correctly, in 10 years, the accumulated debt of the federal government will come within a hair of  equalling the entire value of the entire nation’s economic activity.  Put another way, if we agreed to pay off the national debt in 2018, it would take every penny you and every other American earned.  The profits of Apple, Google, General Motors, and every other company; the year’s take in every pizza parlor and mom-and-pop business; the high-dollar investments on Wall Street; the cost of new homes and office buildings; our entire agricultural output in all of the fields of this vast land–all of this would be necessary to pay off what our government owes.  With 4% change.

Am I getting this right?  I realize that the federal debt is different from personal debt, that it can’t be paid off in one year because it is in bonds that mature over different time spans, etc., etc.  But still, the scale is staggering.

The CBO agrees that the tax cut will boost the economy, growing the economy by 3.3% this year, with an average of 0.7% growth  and adding 1.1 million jobs over the next decade.

But the CBO also believes that the budget deficits will crowd out private investments, with such a vast amount of money going into Treasury Bills instead of into the private economy.  This, in turn, will put a damper on the economy.

For these numbers, see Ylan Mui, The GOP tax plan means short-term gains for the economy, but federal debt is primed to explode, CBO analysis says, which concludes with the following statements:

“Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and for the nation,” the CBO report stated.

Republicans have been fending off criticism from fiscal hawks for passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut late last year and following it up with a $1.3 trillion government spending deal with Democrats signed last month. The CBO estimates that annual deficits will reach $1 trillion in 2020, buttressing similar warnings from private forecasters.

“We now are facing trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see — a terrible path, made even worse by the fact that this comes amidst a strong economy and is the self-inflicted result of irresponsible policy choices,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “Hopefully it will serve as a wake-up call for our political leaders who have become frighteningly comfortable with deficit denial.”

 

Illustration by Tumisu via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons

According to Australian journalist David Adler, the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists for attacking Israelis.  Using a sliding scale that rewards terrorism the more deadly it is, terrorists who are imprisoned are given as much as $3,500 per month.  The Palestinian Authority’s budget for subsidizing terrorism amounts to 50% of its foreign aid.

From David Adler, Aussie Tax Slayer, The Spectator Australia:

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, Australia will contribute $43.8 million to the ‘Palestinian Territories’ in 2017-18. DFAT explains ‘Australia seeks to align its support with the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) objectives’.

Well, the PA’s objectives include providing incentive payments to terrorists who injure and kill innocent Israeli civilians. In the event that the terrorist is caught and convicted, there is a sliding scale based on the length of the jail term – the more serious the terror crime, the more money paid. Alternatively, if the terrorist dies during his/her act of terror or is subsequently killed by the Israeli Defense Force, police or by an armed civilian, then there is also a Palestinian Authority Martyrs’ Fund to pay a lifetime benefit to families of dead terrorists.

The programs have been labelled as ‘Slay for Pay’ by critics. The PA announced on March 5 that it would increase payments under these programs for terrorism from US$350 million in 2017 to US$403 million in 2018!

In 2017 the amount paid by the PA to terrorists and their families equated to about 50 per cent of total foreign aid received. The unit payments are relatively enormous. According Palestinian Media Watch, convicted terrorists in prison can receive 12,000 shekels per month plus bonuses of 300 shekels per wife, 50 shekels per child and extra for being resident in Israel and Jerusalem. This can amount to about US$3,500 per month. By contrast, a teacher employed by the PA receives roughly $615 per month.

[Keep reading. . .]

The United States is the Palestinian Authority’s  biggest donor at $600 million per year.

HT:  Adam Hensley

 

Photo by Israel Defense Forces (Palestinian Rioters in El-Arrub) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pro-abortion advocates wrap themselves in the mantle of “the woman’s right to choose.”  But many women don’t choose to get abortions.  Their husbands, boyfriends, or other men pressure them to do so.  Pro-abortion advocates make abortion a hallmark of feminism.  But they don’t say much about the large-scale “gendercide” taking place in many parts of the world, in which girl babies are systematically aborted because the parents prefer sons.

Lutherans for Life of Australia is circulating a brilliant, hard-hitting article from a few years ago by legal professor Augusto Zimmerman, published in the Australian intellectual journal Quadrant, entitled Feminism and Gendercide.  A sample:

A major four-stage research project carried out in Australia concluded that 60 per cent of all abortions taking place here are done under male coercion.[32] Such coercion against pregnant women, forcing them to abort their unborn babies, comes from their boyfriends, doctors and parents—including their boyfriends’ parents. In fact, the male partner plays a central role in the abortion decision in 95 per cent of cases, even although 70 per cent of Australian women believe that having an abortion is morally wrong.[33]

Regardless of this, feminists around the world have continued to fight for the right of women to “choose” ending their pregnancy. Ironically, non-Western women have used such a right and chosen not to give births to girls. Indeed, one of the greatest ironies of feminism is that all its ideological advocacy of abortion has unintentionally sanctioned the elimination of unwanted girls across the globe. “Son preference” is overwhelming among women in some non-Western countries such as Pakistan and Yemen, who say they want only sons, not daughters, by margins of ten to one.[34] The situation is not restricted to Muslim-majority countries. According to the Economist, distorted sex ratios constitute a reality in all East Asian countries, including Taiwan and Singapore, as well as former communist states in the western Balkans and the Caucasus, and even among entire sections of the American population (Chinese- and Japanese-Americans, for example).[35]

[Keep reading. . .]

Go to the link for the references.

Photo by Irene Scott/AusAID [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

HT:  Joanna Hensley

 

 

Sweden and Finland are not members of NATO.  But they are on Russia’s doorstep.  During the Cold War, they developed plans for “total defense,” in which the whole population would be mobilized to resist an invasion.  After the Soviet Union collapsed, Sweden let their mobilization plans lapse, though Finland kept theirs going.  Now with Russia throwing its weight around again, Sweden is implementing a new “total defense” plan.

The Second Amendment, with its “well-regulated militia” clause, arguably calls for a “total defense” plan, in which armed citizens can be mobilized to defend their communities (as in Indian attacks) and their country as a whole (as in the state and local regiments that fought in the Civil War), an arrangement the founders preferred to a standing army.  Is any of that still feasible for the United States?

First read about this modern plan that Sweden is developing.  From Aaron Mehta, Fortress Sweden: Inside the plan to mobilize Swedish society against Russia,in Defense News:

A landmark commission formed in early 2017 is laying the groundwork to revitalize Sweden’s “total defense” concept, which would see the country ready to use all aspects of Swedish life to push back an invasion from an unspecified foreign adversary — but one that sounds suspiciously like Europe’s biggest bogeyman in Moscow.

In an exclusive interview with Defense News during a recent visit to Washington, Defence Commission head Bjorn von Sydow and commission secretariat chief Tommy Akesson explained their vision for revitalizing Sweden’s defense infrastructure — one they believe must enable the country to hold out against a major invasion for three months.

“When we say civil defense, we mean all civil activities in society, including medical care, including shelters of course, including private companies, everything. Local communities and all their obligations,” Akesson said. “It’s a total mobilization of the country and planning for how to put all forces in society in the direction of solving, in the worst case, a military attack.”. . .

Where do those funds go [4.5 billion krona per year]? A lot will go toward infrastructure, such as building new shelters and depots. Other funds will go toward developing new technologies needed to defend the homeland. And part of it will be spent on training to resist propaganda efforts and fake news spread via social media. That latter point is something von Sydow said was important because part of the commission’s requirement is not just to defend the homeland, but to defend the democratic principles that are vital to the nation.

“Ultimately the protection of democracy and political process is viewed as a core national interest,” said Erik Brattberg with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “That is part of defense and total defense. It’s not just about making sure people have electricity and food. It’s also about making sure societal values, principles and norms” exist.

 Finland, whose citizens have a high rate of gun ownership largely for this purpose, never dismantled its total defense plan.  The article, above, quotes a Finnish official:  “It’s not going to be an easy walk to try and invade us,” [Defense Minister Janne] Kuusela said. “Any potential aggressor has to think about that twice before entering Finland.”  Russia tried that once, with disastrous results.
Does the “well-regulated militia” clause of the Second Amendment make it a Constitutional requirement that the United States have something like this?  It certainly doesn’t change the individual’s right to keep and bear arms, as gun-control activists say, since a militia required that individuals have weapons in their possession.  The militia reference does, however, make it clear that the Second Amendment is not primarily about hunting!
The United States does have a “National Guard” organized by states, with part-time citizen soldiers, as well as part-time “reserve” military units.  I don’t think those constitute a “militia” as the founders understood it.
But do you think citizen militias, such as they had in the 18th century, are obsolete?  Surely, war has become more high-tech, requiring professionals with far more training and skills than could be expected of ordinary citizens. And a citizen army could hardly stand up against a modern enemy force.
On the other hand, most of our recent wars–in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan–were against relatively low-tech opponents, whose guerilla tactics often stymied our technologically-sophisticated military.  “Total defense,” as I understand it in the Scandinavian countries, would include citizens being trained in guerilla tactics.  Should Americans have that too?
Or is America too big and divided for this sort of thing, so that such training–which creates a sense of national unity in other countries–would simply empower insurrectionists and extremist groups?
What if we had a “well-regulated militia” combined with a much-smaller standing army?  The latter would have the best in military technology, but would be much cheaper, due to the smaller number of professionals that it employed.  The militia–an all-volunteer force, trained and “well-regulated”–would consist of citizens who are unpaid, except for training periods and when they are deployed, and who would live and work in their regular communities.  (OK, we’ll no doubt still need a navy.)
Notice one consequence of this system:  The bulk of our military would be defensive.  We could not project our military presence around the world.  We could not easily engage in large-scale military interventions abroad.  The standing military could still send special forces and conduct quick strikes as necessary.  And, in event of a world war, the militias could be mobilized, but this would take legislative action and a genuinely broad-based national commitment.
Photo:  Finns fighting the Russians in the Winter War (1940) by Finnish official photographer [Public domain, Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We have been following the case of Judge Ruth Neely, a Wyoming magistrate who lost her job for refusing to perform gay weddings because of her Christian convictions.  (She is a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.)  There was a similar case in North Carolina, in which Magistrate Gayle Myrick, a Baptist, was forced to resign for the same reason.  But a federal judge has ruled in her favor.

Bre Payton (a former student of mine!) wrote about the case in The Federalist in an article entitled Forced To Resign For Her Faith, This Magistrate Sued The State And Won.

Judge Myrick frequently performed weddings, but when gay marriage was legalized in North Carolina in 2014, she realized that she could not in good conscience, because of her faith, conduct court-house ceremonies for same-sex couples.

So she consulted with her colleagues and immediate supervisor and came up with a solution:  Weddings were held at certain regular times during the week.  She would alter her schedule so that she wouldn’t perform any weddings.

But not performing weddings at all, thereby not discriminating against anyone, was not good enough for her supervising judge.  So she was instructed to resign.  This happened just two months before she would have been eligible for retirement.

She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that her resignation was involuntary and that she was being discriminated against for her religious beliefs.  The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty took up the case.  Here is the outcome, according to Bre Payton (whose article goes into much more detail):

A federal judge, Michael Devine, ruled in Gayle’s favor. He found that the state of North Carolina broke the law when it rejected reasonable solutions to accommodate Gayle’s religious beliefs. He also found that Gayle’s subsequent resignation was not voluntary, as she was told she would face disciplinary action, civil penalties, or even criminal prosecution unless she agreed too perform same-sex marriages. She was awarded more than $300,000 from the state in lost pay, attorney’s fees, and her retirement benefits in an agreement finalized late last month.

That’s a very important point in religious liberty cases, as judicial precent makes clear:  Efforts must be made to accommodate religious beliefs, when possible.

In this instance, a simple schedule change would have prevented both the possibility of discrimination and the violation of religious liberty.

Such conflicts cannot always be resolved in a “win-win” fashion, but sometimes they can.  The court ruled that reasonable accommodations to religious belief should be pursued.

In Judge Neely’s case, the Wyoming Supreme Court censured her, but allowed her to keep her job as a municipal judge, though she will not be allowed to perform any weddings of any kind.

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