Thursday, 30 April 2020
Local D.A. Crump says he won't prosecute violations of Tenn. governor's executive order
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by WTVC

Wednesday, April 29th 2020

McMINN COUNTY, Tenn. — Tennessee 10th Judicial District Attorney General Stephen Crump has announced that his office will not prosecute violators of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee's latest executive order.

The order, which goes into effect Wednesday and stays in effect through May 29th, says certain businesses, organizations, or venues that offer close-contact personal services will remain closed. That includes barbershops, hair salons, and nail salons, and other similar businesses.

The order also says entertainment, recreational, and certain other gathering venues will remain closed including bars, night clubs and live performance venues.
 

"While I have great respect for Governor Lee, I cannot in good conscience, and with fidelity to my oath, allow what I believe to be unconstitutional criminal proceedings to take place," Crump says in a release sent Wednesday morning.

Crump continued, "I do not believe that someone should be prosecuted in this district for trying to earn a living doing a job that is legal and “permitted” just a few miles up the road. Nor do I believe that the prosecution of twelve (12) friends eating dinner together in a home in two groups of six should be prosecuted, while if they did the same thing in a restaurant dining room, they would be free of criminal exposure."

Crump says the Tennessee Constitution compelled him to reach this decision.

(Editor's Note: Later Wednesday, Governor Lee said that salons and barber shops will be allowed to reopen on May 6th. Read more here.)

Read Crump's full statement below:

"The purpose of this release is to declare that the Office of the District Attorney General for the Tenth Judicial District will no longer enforce a criminal sanction or penalty against a citizen for a violation of one of the Executive Orders of Governor Bill Lee which were promulgated relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. While I have great respect for Governor Lee, I cannot in good conscience, and with fidelity to my oath, allow what I believe to be unconstitutional criminal proceedings to take place.

Executive Order 30, issued yesterday, April 28, 2020, continues the closure of “close contact personal services” and “entertainment, recreational, and certain other gathering venues.” It also still forbids “social or recreational gatherings of ten (10) or more people.” At the same time, under other orders, multiple businesses have been allowed to re-open, including restaurants dining rooms and gyms and fitness centers.

As it currently stands, Knox County is poised to open many businesses on Friday, May 1. Those same businesses will still be closed in the 10th Judicial District by the order of the governor. For example, a barber in Knox County can open on Friday, but the barbers in the counties and towns of this district will still be prohibited from working. The same would be true of many other “close contact personal services” and other businesses such as theaters and bowling alleys. Likewise, a restaurant can have half of their dining room filled, while a group of more than ten (10) friends cannot meet in a public park to eat together.

I do not believe that someone should be prosecuted in this district for trying to earn a living doing a job that is legal and “permitted” just a few miles up the road. Nor do I believe that the prosecution of twelve (12) friends eating dinner together in a home in two groups of six should be prosecuted, while if they did the same thing in a restaurant dining room, they would be free of criminal exposure.

The prosecution of a citizen by his government for a criminal act must engender the confidence of the defendant’s fellow citizens. That prosecution must be rooted in the belief that the powers of the government are limited and confined by the constitution. The District Attorney General is uniquely situated to ensure that both occur. In fact, the District Attorney General is required to demand both from the criminal justice system.

“He is to judge between the people and the government; he is to be the safeguard of the one and the advocate of the rights for the other; he ought not suffer the innocent to be oppressed or vexatiously harassed, any more than those who deserve prosecution to escape; he is to pursue guilt; he is to protect innocence; he is to judge the circumstances according to their true complexion, to combine the public welfare and the safety of the citizens, preserving both and not impairing either”

Catherine Foute v. State of Tenn. (1816)

If I am to hold fast to the oath I took, I cannot prosecute an individual under these executive orders. Indeed, the Tennessee Constitution demands that I not and oppose the prosecutions. “That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.” Tenn. Const. Art. I, 2. While I do not believe that Governor Lee intended to act in an arbitrary fashion, I do believe that the enforcement of the current orders would result in that very outcome. There is not a constitutionally sound cohesion between the acts allowed and the acts prohibited. That cannot be the foundation upon which a meaningful prosecution is built, and the institution of such a prosecution would undermine public confidence, rather than cultivate it. I cannot allow that to occur.

I also do not believe that our citizens will stand for such an outcome. Many of our citizens are about to simply go back to work to save their livelihoods, their homes and their economic existence. They are about to ignore the executive orders. Therefore, I will not criminally enforce the executive orders on that basis. There cannot be two standards of criminal justice in this state. It is not constitutional, nor is it just. An act that is legal in Knox County cannot be a criminal act in Bradley, Polk, McMinn or Monroe County. Due process, equal protection and fundamental fairness require that the citizens of this district not be penalized simply due to geography.

Every citizen should act responsibly and do everything in their power to prevent the spread of this virus. We must all use extreme care to protect the vulnerable. We must use common sense and do our best to act as one community. Business owners who open in spite of the executive orders may encounter licensing issues or other serious consequences that arise from their actions, but they should not face criminal charges. Therefore, I will exercise the discretion I am granted under the Tennessee and United States Constitution and in this district, they will not."

NewsChannel 9 has reached out to Governor Lee's office for comment.

At least one hair salon in D.A. Crump's district Rouge Beauty Lounge & Salon, said in a Facebook post that in light of the ruling, and in light of the fact that they may still face licensing issues if they violate the order, they will remain closed:

The post says, "We feel as a group that it’s in our best interest and our clients best interest to abide my the most recent Order set in place by our governor. We feel it’s irresponsible and puts us at a greater personal liability to disregard the order and Open for business."

This is a developing story. Depend on us to bring you updates as we get them.

https://newschannel9.com/news/local/local-da-crump-says-he-wont-prosecute-violations-of-tenn-governors-executive-order?fbclid=IwAR3RLHRr-0mAG2TvBTyHLXKIymhGQ89sR3w89qe1_kebMIXBb4UoEphaN4g

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Posted on 04/30/2020 6:45 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Our Dress Rehearsal for a Police State
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Dennis Prager Posted: Apr 28, 2020 12:01 AM

 

All my life, I have dismissed paranoids on the right ("America is headed to communism") and the left ("It can happen here" -- referring to fascism). It's not that I've ever believed liberty was guaranteed. Being familiar with history and a pessimist regarding the human condition, I never believed that.

But the ease with which police state tactics have been employed and the equal ease with which most Americans have accepted them have been breathtaking.

People will argue that a temporary police state has been justified because of the allegedly unique threat to life posed by the new coronavirus. I do not believe the data will bear that out. Regardless, let us at least agree that we are closer to a police state than ever in American history.

"Police state" does not mean totalitarian state. America is not a totalitarian state; we still have many freedoms. In a totalitarian state, this article could not be legally published, and if it were illegally published, I would be imprisoned and/or executed. But we are presently living with all four of the key hallmarks of a police state:

No. 1: Draconian laws depriving citizens of elementary civil rights.

The federal, state, county and city governments are now restricting almost every freedom except those of travel and speech. Americans have been banned from going to work (and thereby earning a living), meeting in groups (both indoors and outdoors), meeting in their cars in church parking lots to pray and entering state-owned properties such as beaches and parks -- among many other prohibitions.

No. 2: A mass media supportive of the state's messaging and deprivation of rights.

The New York Times, CNN and every other mainstream mass medium -- except Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (editorial and opinion pages only) and talk radio -- have served the cause of state control over individual Americans' lives just as Pravda served the Soviet government. In fact, there is almost no more dissent in The New York Times than there was in Pravda. And the Big Tech platforms are removing posts about the virus and potential treatments they deem "misinformation."

No. 3: Use of police.

Police departments throughout America have agreed to enforce these laws and edicts with what can only be described as frightening alacrity. After hearing me describe police giving summonses to, or even arresting, people for playing baseball with their children on a beach, jogging alone without a mask, or worshipping on Easter while sitting isolated in their cars in a church parking lot, a police officer called my show. He explained that the police have no choice. They must respond to every dispatch they receive.

"And why are they dispatched to a person jogging on a beach or sitting alone in a park?" I asked.

Because the department was informed about these lawbreakers.

"And who told the police about these lawbreakers?" I asked.

His answer brings us to the fourth characteristic of a police state:

No. 4: Snitches.

How do the police dispatchers learn of lawbreakers such as families playing softball in a public park, lone joggers without face masks, etc.? From their fellow citizens snitching on them. The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, set up a "snitch line," whereby New Yorkers were told to send authorities photos of fellow New Yorkers violating any of the quarantine laws. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti similarly encouraged snitching, unabashedly using the term.

It is said that about 1 in every 100 East German citizens were informers for the Stasi, the East German secret police, as superbly portrayed in the film "The Lives of Others." It would be interesting, and, I think, important, to know what percentage of New Yorkers informed on their fellow citizens. Now, again, you may think such a comparison is not morally valid, that de Blasio's call to New Yorkers to serve a Stasi-like role was morally justified given the coronavirus pandemic. But you cannot deny it is Stasi-like or that, other than identifying spies during World War II, this is unprecedented in American history at anywhere near this level.

This past Friday night, I gathered with six others for a Shabbat dinner with friends in Santa Monica, California. On my Friday radio show, I announced I would be doing that, and if I was arrested, it would be worth it. In my most pessimistic dreams, I never imagined that in America, having dinner at a friend's house would be an act of civil disobedience, perhaps even a criminal act. But that is precisely what happens in a police state.

The reason I believe this is a dress rehearsal is that too many Americans appear untroubled by it; the dominant force in America, the left, supports it, and one of the two major political parties has been taken over by the left. Democrats and their supporters have, in effect, announced they will use state power to enforce any law they can to combat the even greater "existential" crisis of global warming.

On the CNN website this weekend, in one of the most frightening and fanatical articles in an era of fanaticism, Bill Weir, CNN chief climate correspondent, wrote an open letter to his newborn son. In it, he wrote of his idealized future for America: "completely new forms of power, food, construction, transportation, economics and politics."

You cannot get there without a police state.

If you love liberty, you must see that it is jeopardized more than at any time since America's founding. And that means, among other things, that at this time, a vote for any Democrat is a vote to end liberty.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is "The Rational Bible," a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, "No Safe Spaces," came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.

 

https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2020/04/28/our-dress-rehearsal-for-a-police-state-n2567744?fbclid=IwAR0sCz2ZgCVkS1L2cXIWvNn5YRv8N2SDmm0U4J-Tk2EE2fsCjaKBpCwKLc0

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Posted on 04/29/2020 3:45 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Monday, 27 April 2020
Rep. Dan Crenshaw and GOP Senator Tom Cotton want to strike back at China’s wallet
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The legislators, both combat vets, have an idea on how to make the Chicoms pay for their virus duplicity.

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GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas is a combat-decorated former Navy SEAL. GOP Senator Tom Cotton is a decorated Army combat vet. They both are on the short list for 2024, along with Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, John Thune, Kristi Noem, and Greg Abbott.

But Crenshaw and Cotton have given themselves some leg room by coming up with a plan to sate a particular American thirst right now. They know how to make the Chinese pay a big price for what they have done to this country over the coronavirus. Simply, both men want people to be able to sue the Chinese in court. Absurd? Would it mean a flood of lawsuits that would be so big the court system couldn’t respond? Hear them out…

From an op-ed Crenshaw and Cotton wrote for Fox News: “It’s clear the Chinese Communist Party is to blame for the coronavirus pandemic that’s killing thousands of our fellow citizens every day. Late last week we introduced legislation that would hold the party accountable for the physical and economic injury it has inflicted on millions of Americans. Our legislation is simple but effective. It would allow Americans to sue China in U.S. federal courts in order to ‘recover damages for death, injury, and economic harm caused’ by China’s reckless and reprehensible response to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

They continue, “Americans are currently barred from filing such claims under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which forbids lawsuits against foreign sovereign nations, save in rare instances. Our legislation would carve out a limited exception for physical and economic injuries resulting from COVID-19 and acts ‘intended to deliberately conceal or distort the nature or existence of COVID-19.’”

What about the claim the courts would be sunk under the burden of all the lawsuits?

“Others may argue that our bill would inundate federal courts with claims. This is a reasonable concern, insofar as millions of Americans have been harmed by the Chinese Communist Party’s actions. This is why our legislation channels all associated claims to just four federal district courts and one federal appellate court that have proven they are capable of managing large caseloads. Limiting jurisdiction in this way will ensure more consistent adjudication across the board, relieve potential pressure on state courts, and avoid a ‘patchwork’ of outcomes that favor some plaintiffs while disadvantaging others.”

It is an idea whose time has come. Watch for a debate on it (with Democrats opposing) coming up soon.

 

https://www.lifezette.com/2020/04/rep-dan-crenshaw-and-gop-senator-tom-cotton-want-to-strike-back-at-chinas-wallet/?utm_source=activeengage&utm_medium=email

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Posted on 04/27/2020 5:16 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Friday, 24 April 2020
Potential for Fraud Is Why Mail-In Elections Should Be Dead Letter
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Apr 10th, 2020 6 min read

COMMENTARY BY

Hans A. von Spakovsky@HvonSpakovsky

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The president is right to be worried about elections conducted entirely by mail.  

Going entirely to by-mail elections would unwisely endanger the security and integrity of the election process.

States should be doing everything they can to help everyone who is eligible to vote. But that doesn’t mean casting aside the safeguards in place.

Twice the usual number of suspects, including CNN’s combative Jim Acosta, have been criticizing President Donald Trump for the concerns he has raised about elections conducted entirely by mail.  

As the president said in a tweet, we do need absentee ballots for “many senior citizens, military, and others who can’t get to the polls on Election Day.” But the president is right to be worried about elections conducted entirely by mail.  

Absentee ballots are the tools of choice of election fraudsters because they are voted outside the supervision of election officials, making it easier to steal, forge, or alter them, as well as to intimidate voters. 

Going entirely to by-mail elections would unwisely endanger the security and integrity of the election process, particularly if officials automatically mail absentee ballots to all registered voters without a signed, authenticated request from each voter.  

Voter registration rolls are notoriously inaccurate and out of date, containing the names of voters who are deceased, have moved, or otherwise have become ineligible.  

Having thousands of ballots arriving in the mail for individuals who no longer reside at a registered address risks those ballots being stolen and voted.  

Yet many liberals are pushing that very process.

The coronavirus bill that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tried to pass would have forced states to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters, rather than allowing states to require a signed, absentee ballot request form that can be authenticated by election officials before a ballot is sent to the voter.  

Opportunity for Fraud

The problem (and opportunity for fraud) this could cause is illustrated by something the president talked about at one of his news conferences; namely, the settlement that Judicial Watch obtained from Los Angeles and the state of California over their failure to maintain the accuracy of their voter registration rolls.  

The state and LA agreed to remove from the rolls 1.5 million individuals who remained registered even though they no longer were eligible to vote. Imagine what would have happened if 1.5 million ballots were simply mailed out to all of those individuals to addresses where they no longer live.

Ballots are a valuable commodity. How many would have been voted anyway by fraudsters or vote harvesters collecting absentee ballots in neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles?  

Just look at what happened in North Carolina in 2018 in the 9th Congressional District race, in which the result was overturned by the state election board because of illegal vote harvesting that included altering and forging absentee ballots.

All-mail jurisdictions such as Oregon like to brag about the supposed “security” of their systems, which consists of almost nothing other than a rapid, superficial signature comparison. 

As Melody Rose, an assistant professor of political science at Portland State University, told the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t have much faith in that process. I can forge my husband’s signature perfectly.”

Rose conducted a survey of one county, Washington County, outside Portland. Five percent of registered voters admitted that other people marked their ballots, and 2.4% said someone else signed their ballots.  

Rose suspected the actual number was higher, given that most people would not want to admit to being “party to a crime.” That would mean that tens of thousands of mail-in ballots are being cast in Oregon by individuals other than the registered voter.

Voter ID as Security

Trump was also right when he said we need voter ID laws as a basic security measure in voting. As for those who say there is no election fraud in the U.S. that we need be concerned about, they are wrong and the president is right.  

As the U.S. Supreme Court said in 2008 when it upheld Indiana’s voter ID law:

flagrant examples of such fraud … have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists [including] Indiana’s own experience with fraudulent voting in the 2003 Democratic primary for East Chicago Mayor … demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real, but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.

The Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud Database documents almost 1,300 proven instances of fraud, including numerous cases of absentee ballot fraud. That fraud often targets the most vulnerable voters, including the elderly and the poor.  

The most recent batch of cases added to the database emphasize that the president’s concern over election integrity is not misplaced.

For example, Richard Davis was convicted of a felony in California after registering his four dogs to vote as Democrats over a four-year period. Davis said his goal was to draw attention to the flawed voter registration system in his state, and he did notify the local district attorney’s office of what he was doing. 

Disregarding several warnings to stop those false registrations, and after registering his deceased father, too, Davis was charged and pleaded guilty to voter registration fraud.  

He never submitted a fraudulent vote, but he could have done so easily using absentee ballots if he hadn’t told officials what he was doing, since his “signature” for his dogs would have been a match on all of the forms.

Or take Gustavo Araujo Lerma, an illegal alien from Mexico. He voted multiple times in elections in Sacramento, California, under a false identity. 

Protecting the Marginalized

Another case out of California demonstrates how voter fraud often hurts the most marginalized individuals in communities.  

Norman Hall was involved in a scheme with eight other individuals involving the homeless on Skid Row. According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, they “solicited hundreds of false and/or forged signatures on state ballot petitions and voter registration forms by offering homeless people $1 and/or cigarettes for their participation.” 

The ballot petitions for which Hall and others gathered fraudulent signatures included calling for reducing jail time, changing the authority of the sheriff’s office, and increasing taxes on millionaires and other business owners. 

Two other cases out of California include two individuals, Jentry and Bradley Jasperson, who forged the signatures of voters for a referendum initiative. They were each paid $5 per signature.  

Another case from our newest batch features Frank Rabia, a City Council candidate in Hoboken, New Jersey, who bribed voters with $50 payments for mail-in ballots to support his candidacy. 

Heritage’s Election Fraud Database has more than 60 instances of vote buying. Attempting to buy votes or signatures is entirely repugnant to the republic that America is so lucky to maintain. But purchasing votes is much easier with absentee or mail-in ballots.  

The purchaser—such as Rabia—can see the voter’s absentee ballot in the voter’s home and ensure he is getting what he paid for. A purchaser can’t do that when a voter goes into the privacy of a voting booth. 

Another new case we added to our database arises out of Espanola, New Mexico, where Laura Seeds and Dyon Herrera falsified absentee ballots in favor of Seeds’ husband, a Democratic candidate for City Council. 

This is the same state where a lawsuit has been filed to require election officials to automatically mail absentee ballots to all registered voters in the upcoming election.  

The Public Interest Legal Foundation pointed out in an amicus brief that it found more than 3,000 individuals registered multiple times in New Mexico; almost 1,700 registrants who are dead; 1,500 voters aged 100 or above (64 of whom are over 120 years old); and almost 200 individuals registered at commercial rather than residential addresses. All of these supposed voters would receive ballots automatically if the lawsuit were  successful.

These cases demonstrate that election fraud does occur and can compromise the integrity of the election process.   

Not even the coronavirus can stop the upcoming presidential election, with the 2020 primaries already well underway. Soon enough, the general election will be upon us.

States should be doing everything they can to help everyone who is eligible to vote. But that doesn’t mean casting aside the safeguards in place to prevent elections from being stolen or compromised by administrative errors and fraud.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal

 

 

https://www.heritage.org/election-integrity/commentary/potential-fraud-why-mail-elections-should-be-dead-letter?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=thf-fb&fbclid=IwAR2uM4m4iirf2fBz_V-rkWNddo6a4P7rHUkRe5DZGWho1wpLfHLNDY2LuZ8

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Posted on 04/24/2020 6:59 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Wednesday, 22 April 2020
Why Christian parents need to be extra careful about what shows their kids in quarantine watch
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Much of the storytelling is designed to push a worldview directly hostile to the Christian faith.’

Fri Apr 17, 2020 - 3:46 pm EST

April 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – As many of the COVID-19 lockdowns enter their second month and patience begins to run thin, some conservatives have taken to making wry, half-serious, silver lining observations. Hey, at least kids are home with their parents and Drag Queen Story hours are cancelled, is one common sentiment. And I get the drift: If churches are shut down, at least there is small solace in the fact that the sexual revolutionaries have been confined to their homes along with the rest of us.

But I do want to warn parents to be cautious. It is easy to think that with kids at home, they are more protected—after all, they’re not getting poisoned by public school sex-ed designed to confuse them about gender or being exposed to whatever our schools had planned for Pride Month. But keep in mind that the vast majority of children are first exposed to sexually explicit material by finding digital pornography on one of the innumerable devices that now litter our homes—and if parents are not vigilant, this time at home could be dangerous. (For those who don’t think this is a primary concern, check out the 23 reasons I gave in a column last month on why you should stay away from porn, ending with an interview with Kirsten Jenson of Protect Young Minds on how parents can porn-proof their homes.)

It’s not just Disney, either. PBS’ famous Arthur cartoon series (which once featured Steven Crowder as the voice of The Brain) decided to have the teacher Mr. Ratburn come out as gay and marry his male partner in an episode titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone.” (There was an uproar after broadcasters in Alabama declined to televise the episode.) Despite some protest at this, PBS is doubling down, having decided earlier this year to reboot their Clifford the Big Red Dog series—but adding lesbian moms to the story to give children exposure to alternative family arrangements. A reboot of Cinderella will also feature a cross-dressing Billy Porter as the Fairy Godmother.

This is all to say that if parents wish to protect their children from the influences of the Sexual Revolution, they can take nothing for granted. Netflix is packed with shows for teens featuring LGBT material (not to mention extraordinarily pornographic and sexually violent content), but also features LGBT cartoon characters intended for children. LGBT content is becoming the norm in children’s entertainment, with USA Today reporting that the radical activist group GLAAD is often called in by networks to review children’s storylines. Parents who allow their children to watch the cartoon network on TV or surf the children’s section on Netflix are, whether they realize it or not, giving the LGBT movement access to the minds of their children. 

Not so very long ago, it was possible to assume that the culture was not actively working to subvert the Christian worldview, especially as it pertains to sexuality. This is no longer the case. Parents cannot assume that their children will not be exposed to sexual themes and practices they morally oppose at an early age, even if they are keeping so-called “adult entertainment” or even entertainment created for teens away from them. The truth is that today, parents have to consciously opt out of nearly all of mainstream culture in the knowledge that much of the storytelling is designed to push a worldview directly hostile to the Christian faith. 

Many parents do not realize this, but it is essential that we educate ourselves on this. I know many are tempted, as quarantine drags on, to put their children in front of screens and play kids’ cartoons or animated stories in order to get some household chores done or just distract them for a moment. But be very careful about which storytellers you are giving access to your children, and be aware of the fact that your children are growing up in a very different world than the one you grew up in. 

 

https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/why-christian-parents-need-to-be-extra-careful-about-what-shows-their-kids-in-quarantinewatch?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_campaign=b7967973bb-ProFam_4_21_2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_12387f0e3e-b7967973bb-405293425&mc_cid=b7967973bb&mc_eid=d96de22057

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Posted on 04/22/2020 6:25 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Zoom Use Skyrockets During Coronavirus Pandemic, Prompting Wave of Problems for Schools
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Erin Honeycutt, the principal of Lamar Elementary School in Meridian, Miss., sets up a “Zoom” class for 1st through 5th graders to run an art lesson online. —Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star via AP

 

                When using Zoom - beware of Zoombombing

 

 

By Mark Lieberman

April 3, 2020 | Updated: April 6, 2020

 

For many K-12 educators, Zoom only entered the lexicon a few weeks ago, as the coronavirus outbreak shut down schools nationwide. Already, it’s taken on a lot of baggage.

 

Schools across the country are evaluating their engagement with Zoom, with decisions varying from place to place. Some districts have discouraged teachers from using it, or banned it altogether. Others are taking a more cautious approach, exploring its potential while sticking with tools they had already vetted more thoroughly prior to the nationwide shutdown.

 

The videoconferencing platform allows teachers to communicate with students and collaborate with colleagues virtually and in large groups. It’s proved enticing in many workplaces and homes across the country, and the company’s CEO last month lifted the 40-minute conference time limits for its free service to all K-12 schools.

 

But the rapid increase of users has also led to increased scrutiny of the privacy and security limitations that come with using the platform, especially without taking necessary precautions. The relatively new phenomenon of Zoombombing—in which a hacker infiltrates a chat and shares offensive or harmful content— has exposed many classrooms and school board meetings to unwelcome and offensive content.

 

The company has attracted ire from privacy advocates as well as public officials, including U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and several state attorneys general, who wrote letters to the Zoom CEO requesting details on information the company stores and steps it’s taken to minimize risks to users. One user filed a class-action lawsuit on Monday over the company’s alleged data-sharing with Facebook

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Zoom has in recent days updated its privacy policy and suspended all engineering efforts on new products to focus on addressing issues raised by the surge of new users, including 90,000 schools in 20 countries. The company’s customer service team has been overwhelmed by requests for support, according to the Wall Street Journal.

 

The FBI has even gotten involved, issuing a warning after a hacker infiltrated a Massachusetts high school Zoom meeting shouting profanities and the teacher’s home address, and another Massachusetts school reported a classroom meeting interrupted by a person displaying swastika tattoos.

 

‘We Shut It Down Pretty Quick’

 

Fairfax County public schools in Virginia has existing contracts with Google’s education suite and Blackboard Collaborate, both of which include videoconference platforms. As a result, the district has not approved Zoom for teachers or staff to use, said Maribeth Luftglass, chief information officer and assistant superintendent of information technology.

 

Some teachers started using it anyway amid the chaos of the pandemic. “We shut it down pretty quick when we found out about it,” Luftglass said—though some teachers were frustrated because they had already gotten comfortable with it.

 

Without a Zoom contract, the district can’t ensure that students’ data won’t be sold or shared improperly. Streamlining the number of new tech platforms also reduces the strain on the district’s IT help desk, which has already had to field a few Zoom questions.

 

In response, Luftglass has been circulating a two-minute video tutorial for Blackboard Collaborate. “We don’t just say, OK, use whatever you want,” Luftglass said. “We say, ‘We’re happy to train you, here’s a quick tutorial, feel free to sign up for a more indepth class if you want to.’”

Sticking to district-sanctioned platforms could be critical: Law enforcement officials in Orange County, Fla., are investigating a case of a man who exposed himself after hacking into an online public school class conducted on Zoom, an application not supported by the district, according to the Associated Press.

 

When it comes to videoconferencing, many educators are starting from scratch. The Sitka school district, which stretches 14 miles on an island near the water in Alaska, had never had a need for virtual conferences—all of its schools are within five minutes of each other, said Mary Wegner, the district’s superintendent.

 

Her district has a subscription to Microsoft Teams, though individual teachers tested other platforms at first, Wegner said. She reeled them in by hosting a 177-member staff meeting on Teams during the spring break week before instruction was set to resume.

“That turned out to be a real saving grace for us, because otherwise people would have been only using Zoom,” Wegner said. A recent school board meeting got interrupted by a Zoombombing instance, and she’s wary of the platform after reading media reports of privacy concerns.

 

Zoom Responds With Safety Tips

 

Zoombombing takes place when an uninvited person infiltrates a group video chat, often via a link that’s been shared publicly, and shares offensive content, such as racist imagery, pornography, and hate speech, as well as some disruptive but inoffensive jokes. Some instances are part of a coordinated effort among online trolls, including teenagers, trying to sow chaos, according to reports in the New York Times and Inside Higher Ed.

 

According to the Times report, in one online chat, “a middle school’s class schedule, including Zoom links for each class, was shared with hundreds of members who stated their intent to harass the students and their teachers.” One 16-year-old hacker told the Times, “Part of the reason we do it is a lot of teachers give us a lot of work right now.”

 

blog post on Zoom’s website recommends generating new meeting ID numbers for each new session, and creating “waiting rooms” that allow conference hosts to approve attendees who request access. Users can also set up two-factor authentication, disable private chat, and lock meetings when they start, just as you would “your front door.”

 

In at least a few cases, hacking issues have led to schools prohibiting Zoom. Clark County public schools in Nevada “made the decision to disable access to Zoom out of an abundance of caution” in response to hacking incidents in virtual classrooms, a district spokesperson said. The district is “looking at options to strengthen security precautions to potentially reopen access.”

 

The Conejo Valley Unified School District in California is taking precautions after a school board meeting was Zoombombed last month. Teachers there have been asked to require attendees to give permission before sharing their screen; to only share login information with students and families; and to allow meeting attendees the option to disable chat and file transfer options.

 

Zoom also presents logistical challenges some districts have decided to simply avoid. For a district already set up with Chromebooks, having each person sign up for an individual account didn’t seem feasible, said Rolland Kornblau, director of information technology for the El Rancho Unified school district in California. “We really couldn’t administer it, it wasn’t under our control,” he said.

Still in Widespread Use

Plenty of educators are still using Zoom, though.

The School District of La Crosse in Wisconsin had a prior contract with Google’s education suite and videoconference platform, but teachers got interested in Zoom, prompting the district’s tech team to do a “research dive,” said Michael St. Pierre, director of technology.

Teachers liked being able to display two people’s screens at the same time, and to save chat transcripts and audio/video recordings for later use. With Google Hangouts, “they’d have to copy the chat message before they closed out just to keep a record of it,” St. Pierre said.

With help from the member forums of the Consortium for School Networking, St. Pierre helped kickstart the process for an ongoing statewide evaluation of Zoom for educational use in Wisconsin. In the meantime, the district has mainly used Zoom for staff-to-staff interactions, St. Pierre said.

 

Some of the features Zoom offers can be tricky to navigate for ensuring students’ safety. Many teachers want to take advantage of the Zoom feature that allows for recording conversations and saving chat transcripts so students can refer to them later.

 

Linette Attai, CEO of the privacy compliance consulting firm PlayWell, recommends teachers tell students to keep their cameras off during recorded lectures, and to hold separate, unrecorded video chats for Q&A sessions.

 

“Think of this as a camera in the classroom. Don’t rush to change what you would ordinarily do just because you would have the technology,” Attai said.

 

Recorded videoconferences can also be a safeguard against inappropriate behavior, though. Kornblau’s district is urging educators to record sessions, particularly those between a teacher and a single student, so they have a record of anything troubling.

 

The FBI is urging educators who encounter Zoombombing to file a complaint with its Internet Crime Complaint Center. Attai is advising districts to share protocols for reporting Zoombombing incidents and other related challenges with instructors before an incident happens.

Her advice in the meantime: “Remove the person from the participant list, and if you can't, close the session. Report it immediately to your technology team, and follow their instructions for how to get back in touch with your students securely as soon as possible to reassure them and discuss what happened.”

 

Megan Mullaly, a 6th grade teacher at Dartmouth Middle School in Massachusetts, got more than 1,300 retweets on a Zoom guide for educators she wrote herself, with tips like turning off private chats students can join without teachers, and exploring settings like “chime upon entry” and “mute all.” Other tips on preventing Zoombombing are available in guides from the Consortium for School Networking, the Anti-Defamation League and the Berkeley Information Security Office.

 

What’s in the Background

 

Videoconferencing raises other platform-agnostic issues as well. Parents who consent to their students participating in class on video need to be mindful that other students and the teacher will be able to see what’s in the background, Attai said.

The “Brady Bunch” display of participants in a conference call can be off-putting and anxiety-inducing for some students. Attai said she’s also seen some educators tweeting screengrabs from video chats with students. Some schools have allowed that practice as long as students involved signed a media release form, but Attai thinks districts shouldn’t even be doing that.

 

“A media release is to give permission for a picture of a child to publish a story about, ‘Here’s who kicked a winning field goal,’ not, ‘Here’s a look at our classroom,’” Attai said. “There’s no educational purpose for that for students.”

 

Districts can embed any videoconferencing platform within a password-protected student portal, said Scott Gallant, a consultant for Keyed Systems, who works on privacy and data governance in education.

He recommends that districts identify a single videoconference tool that everyone should use, and that teachers maintain professional surroundings and behavior while on camera to set an example for students.

 

Gallant thinks it’s important to keep in mind the pressure that educators and families are under, not just to teach and learn but to navigate an unprecedented global health crisis. Videoconference tools ultimately are a vessel that facilitates connections between people through face-to-face communication.

 

“We need to focus more on what we’re getting back from those cues from students,” he said.

 

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/04/03/zoom-use-skyrockets-during-coronavirus-pandemic-prompting.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news2&M=59270882&U=1598319&UUID=ed31b8e2016753a6663bce1963efb08e

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Posted on 04/21/2020 6:41 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Monday, 20 April 2020
Harvard Law School Calls for Ban on Homeschooling; Homeschooled Harvard Graduate On Why This is Wrong
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WRITTEN BY Melba Pearson

 

Harvard ’18, NYU ’21, homeschooled. Committed to the promotion of truth, freedom, and excellence

I graduated from Harvard with honors. In fact, Harvard was the very first school I ever set foot in. The first 12 years of my education, I was homeschooled, from kindergarten to 12th grade. I was proud of my school, until last night, when I read Harvard Magazine’s article on the so-called “risks” of homeschooling. In essence, this article is not an attack on a form of education some might view as lesser quality. In essence, this article is an attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms that make our country (and until recently, institutions such as Harvard) what they are.

As a homeschooled applicant, I had to work harder than most students when applying to college. I knew my application was going to be viewed differently than other applications, despite what admissions advisors might say. I knew I had to prove myself. I worked harder than I ever had in my life, and when I was accepted to Harvard, I was ecstatic — it was truly a dream come true. In the next four years, the work I did to succeed and do well at Harvard surpassed anything I had done to get into college, and graduating from Harvard was the proudest and most exciting day of my young life. It was the pinnacle of my life up to that point; all my work (academic and otherwise) was reflected in that achievement. The skills and values I had been taught at home, by my parents and online teachers, enabled me to reach that goal. Homeschooling, and the lessons and characteristics I learned and honed during the first 18 years of my life, prepared me to succeed — no, excel — at one of the most difficult and prestigious universities in the world.

Thus, it is disappointing that Harvard Magazine’s Erin O’Donnell, quoting Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Bartholet, argues it is the government’s responsibility to educate the children of this nation. She is not arguing everyone has a right to education — they absolutely do. Rather, she argues the government has more of a right to educate, care for, and control your children than you, their parents, do; and furthermore, they can do it better. The idea that a government, already so inefficient and inadequate in so many areas, can care for and educate every child better than its parent is wrong.

The article argues only those whom the government deems correct can teach children; this is a blatant rejection of free thought, suppression of democratization of education, and attack on the freedoms and rights the citizens of our country fought long and hard to win. This article speaks directly against constitutional rights to parent your child as you see fit and exercise free speech. It speaks directly against those ideas of liberty and freedom that are fundamental to the success of our nation.

Additionally, this anti-homeschooling narrative coming out of Harvard is completely contradictory to its recent crusade of “diversity,” “inclusion,” and “acceptance.” During my four years on Harvard’s campus, I saw many protests, new rules and regulations, and initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. We as humans thrive on diversity, and the openness and freedom of thought and opinion and dialogue that comes with it. The scientific community thrives on open source solutions. The arts thrive on the creativity and optimization of ideas that are only possible through diversity.

The restricting and banning of individual rights, especially on the basis of religious or political beliefs, or other ideas protected under freedom of speech is not democratization — it stems from the fundamental desire for a world without a certain group of people, and that desire makes the survival of creative, peaceful, pluralistic community impossible. I am sure that neither O’Donnell or Bartholet truly desire a world without homeschoolers, and I am sure that is not the vision Harvard wants to present to our world. That is discrimination, and it is wrong.

Furthermore, the information presented in O’Donnell’s article is faulty. It is fundamentally untrue that 90% of homeschooling families are conservative Christians (even if that were the case — why does that matter? Are we not a country committed to freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of religion? Are we not a two party government wherein roughly 50% of the nation adheres to and promotes conservative or individualist thought?). She presents no real evidence regarding statistics of abuse, mistreatment, mental health, or success within the homeschooling community. In fact, there is strong evidence to the contrary — homeschooled students consistently test approximately 30% higher than the national public school average in all subjects tested. Homeschool students consistently demonstrate higher high school GPA’s, higher SAT/ACT scores, and higher first year college GPA’s. According to Harvard Admissions policies, homeschooled students are not evaluated any differently than students from other educational backgrounds.

Studies indicate homeschooled children test as well as or higher than other students when evaluated for social acumen. Statistics consistently demonstrate higher levels of abuse, bullying, suicide, and drop out rates in children and young adults who were educated in the public school system. Of course, all statistics aside, ultimately it is the parents’ decision whether to educate their child at home or elsewhere.

Yes, there are always outliers. No homeschooling parent is perfect, and in many cases, the public school system is a wonderful opportunity and service for families without other preferable options. However, clearly those in power in Washington (and apparently in our Law Schools) are less perfect than most. Homeschoolers are frequently more “community minded,” “socially aware,” “empathetic,” and “democratic” than those publicly educated.

There are always outliers, but given the thousands of students in public schools who are bullied, abused, and end up committing suicide because of their educational atmosphere, I am shocked more isn’t being done to address those issues first. Clearly, O’Donnell and Professor Bartholet desire that the governmental agenda to waste time and money be extended to our right to education — force everyone to the same time wasting, low achieving, inefficient level, and the population is more easily controlled and brainwashed with ideas and agendas directly contradictory to democracy, excellence, truth, and freedom.

I, as well as other homeschoolers who went to Harvard, feel strongly about the success of our background. In an article published by Harvard on the subject, a homeschooled student said, “Homeschooling prepared me for Harvard really well because it fostered such a strong love for the act of learning. Not learning for a grade, not learning for an exam, but learning for the sheer love of knowledge itself.”

Harvard provided me with a strong education, but I excelled at Harvard because when I set foot on that campus on the first day of freshman year, I was armed with motivation, self-discipline, determination, perseverance, and an excellent understanding of the world, the way it works, and my place within it. I excelled at Harvard because before I was even accepted, I was taught to love and value learning, community, ideas, and excellence.

I excelled at Harvard because I was homeschooled, and of that I am proud. It is deeply disappointing that Harvard is choosing and promoting an intellectual totalitarian path that calls for a ban of the liberties that helped me and countless others succeed, for it is those liberties and ideals that have made America the great nation it is today.

 

https://medium.com/@melbapearson/a-response-to-the-risks-of-homeschooling-from-a-homeschooled-harvard-grad-67648f9a0d0f

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Posted on 04/20/2020 2:42 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Friday, 17 April 2020
The Bill of Rights Is Not ‘above’ Any Government Leader’s ‘Pay Grade’
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By  

 

Governor Phil Murphy’s comments represent an ideology that is completely unacceptable for a government leader in the United States.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy said he “wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights” while implementing social-distancing measures — writing off any constitutional considerations as being “above [his] pay grade.”

Murphy made the comments during a Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson on Wednesday night, in response to Carlson questioning the constitutionality of his executive order. “That’s above my pay grade, Tucker,” Murphy responded. “I wasn’t thinking of the Bill of Rights when we did this. . . . We went to the scientists who said people have to stay away from each other.”

As anyone with even the most basic understanding of the United States government should know, Murphy could not have been more wrong with this answer.

Now, to be clear, I’m not going to get into the weeds here in terms of analyzing any state’s social-distancing restrictions in terms of their merits, their constitutionality, or anything else. What I do want to focus on, rather, is the stomach-churning level of flagrant flippancy that Murphy displayed when admitting that he hadn’t even bothered to consider a sacred obligation.

Make no mistake: If you are an elected official in the United States of America, considering the Constitution when you govern is never “above your pay grade.” It is, in fact, a major reason that you’re even getting paid at all.

Again: This is an absolute fact. It’s not up for debate, and what’s more, it’s not as if Murphy had no way to know so. Rather, before officially beginning his tenure as governor, Murphy himself took an oath of office that doesn’t just state but actually begins with the following: “I, _____, elected governor of the State of New Jersey, do solemnly promise and swear, that I will support the Constitution of the United States . . .”

In other words? In January 2018, Murphy solemnly promised, he solemnly swore, to uphold the Constitution — and now, in April 2020, he is declaring the exact same duty that he’d vowed to hold sacred to be “above [his] pay grade.”

The truth is, Murphy’s comments represent an ideology that is completely unacceptable for a government leader in the United States. The philosophy of governance that he espoused on Wednesday was that not of an elected official in a free country but of a tyrant. That is, after all, what tyranny is — a system in which the people in power control citizens without any regard for their rights.

Again, I am not slamming Murphy for saying he listened to what scientists had to say when deciding how to best protect his constituents from the threats of a global pandemic. Coronavirus is, for many, a matter of life and death — so I am glad to hear that he’d been seeking expert guidance in making these decisions.

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Here’s my question for Murphy, though: Why do you think that those scientists couldn’t just directly put all of these social-distancing measures in place themselves? The answer, of course, is that Murphy absolutely did have his own role to play in the process — and that is, in large part, to do exactly what he himself swore that he would do when he agreed to take this job.

Now, I certainly do understand that elected officials are individuals, which means that they’re going to have varying views about what the Constitution says in terms of how they can and/or should govern. The fact that they must consider the Constitution, however, is actually not contestable, questionable, or otherwise open to interpretation. It is a nonnegotiable necessity, and writing it off as anything less is a glaring affront to our Founding values.

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Posted on 04/17/2020 12:04 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Thursday, 16 April 2020
'Not interested in the truth': Phyllis Schlafly's daughter blasts 'Mrs. America' as feminist hit job
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By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Anne Schlafly Cori adored her parents, Fred and Phyllis Schlafly, which is why she is appalled by “Mrs. America.”

The FX on Hulu miniseries, starting Wednesday, gives what Mrs. Cori describes as a skewed, inaccurate portrayal of her mother, the conservative activist who brought down the Equal Rights Amendment, and an even worse depiction of her father, who is reportedly accused of raping her mother.

“I haven’t seen it, but I’ve talked to two reporters who have seen it. Both of them told me that my father rapes my mother in the show,” Mrs. Cori told The Washington Times. “Which is pretty personal.”

The April 6 review in Vanity Fair backs it up: “We watch as her husband Fred (John Slattery) insists upon having sex with her, over her protestations.” The Baltimore Sun reported that the scene shows him “forcing himself sexually on her after she’s had a long and frustrating day.”

That scene bears no recognition to the parents she knew, Mrs. Cori said. She added that the show’s previews give a “horrific misrepresentation” of her mother and called the marital rape scene “a falsehood and a slur against my father.”

“There was nobody more supportive of my mother than my father,” Mrs. Cori said. “She could not have done what she did without his full support. My father liked to quip, ‘I regret that I have but one wife to give to my country.’ “

Mrs. Cori, the youngest of the six Schlafly children, grew up in Alton, Illinois. She said her bedroom was next to her parents’ room.

“My parents were married for 43 years. They had a loving relationship,” she said. “They were in love, and both of them treated each other with the utmost respect. They were both devout Roman Catholics, and they believed in marriage as a sacrament.”

There is no question that Mrs. Schlafly was a divisive figure. The strong-willed writer, lawyer and mother of six took on the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972 as it sailed toward confirmation and stopped it in its tracks, defeating the feminist movement with her unlikely grassroots army of stay-at-home moms

By all accounts, “Mrs. America” portrays Mrs. Schlafly as a power-hungry, politically ambitious ice queen who refused to apply the same traditional standards she espoused to her own high-profile life, as well as a victim of the Republican patriarchy and her own husband.

None of that is true, said Mrs. Cori, but the producers “were not interested in getting the truth.”

“I believe they had already planned what the agenda of their show was, and they didn’t want anything to detract, like the truth,” she said.

Conservatives who knew Mrs. Schlafly also have decried the depiction. In a Washington Examiner op-ed, Mrs. Schlafly’s niece Suzanne Venker said the “caricature of Schlafly is pure propaganda.”

Colleen Holmes Holcomb, who served for six years as executive director of the Schlafly-founded Eagle Forum, called the show a “shockingly dishonest” effort to revive support for the ERA by denigrating its biggest foe.

“We’ve clearly done quite well without [the ERA],” Mrs. Holcomb said. “Why are we trying to settle an old score to advance an amendment that was soundly rejected and has proved to be completely unnecessary?”

The reason for the marital rape scene is unclear, but Mrs. Schlafly came under fire in 2007 for saying at Bates College, “By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don’t think you can call it rape,” as recounted by People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch.

Asked about the statement in 2008, Mrs. Schlafly said, “I think that when you get married, you have consented to sex. That’s what marriage is all about. I don’t know if maybe these girls missed sex ed. That doesn’t mean the husband can beat you up. We have plenty of laws against assault and battery.”

Mrs. Holcomb never met Mr. Schlafly, who died before she began working for the Eagle Forum in 2008, but said that “any time you brought up her husband, she was just overcome.”

“She adored him, and from everything I’ve heard, he adored her and was a huge advocate for her,” said Mrs. Holcomb, now a lawyer in Newport News, Virginia.

Mrs. Schlafly ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1952 in a Democratic-controlled district, but Mrs. Holcomb recounted that she wasn’t the Republican Party’s first choice.

“The Republicans initially approached Fred, and he said, ‘I don’t want to do it, but you should get Phyllis to do it.’ In 1952! And she had a young child,” said Mrs. Holcomb. “So this was not someone who was hindered or held back by her husband in any regard.”

She described Mrs. Schlafly as “very funny, very personable,” in contrast to Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of her as “cold and calculating.”

“She would often say — and it was a joke because it made the feminists so mad — I would like to thank my husband for letting me be there,” said Mrs. Holcomb. “That’s another thing we’ve been told: that Phyllis has been portrayed as cold and calculating. Anybody who knew her knew she was not cold or calculating.”

Mrs. Cori, now head of the Eagle Forum, said she attempted to contact the producers without success. The nine-part miniseries was produced by Tracey Ullman, who plays feminist Betty Friedan, as well as Niecy Nash and Dahvi Waller.

Ms. Waller insisted that she and Miss Blanchett tried to “put judgment aside” in portraying Mrs. Schlafly and that it’s “a great challenge for every writer to write a character who’s so different from them.”

“I think there will always be people who say, ‘She’s the Antichrist. I don’t want to watch her. I don’t want to feel anything for her,’ and that’s totally fine and totally defensible,” Ms. Waller told Vanity Fair. “But I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by painting the people who don’t agree with us as monsters. It makes us feel better, but I don’t think we ultimately gain any knowledge from that.”

Miss Blanchett’s doppelganger performance has been nearly universally praised. Critics gave the series a 95% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but Mrs. Cori said nobody who knew Mrs. Schlafly would recognize the characterization.

“She got the hair and makeup and clothing right, but she missed the essential nature of my mother, which was her warmth,” Mrs. Cori said.

Another scene, in which Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona belittles Mrs. Schlafly, is “totally fiction,” Mrs. Cori said.

Then there is the portrayal of her aunt. In its review, Vanity Fair said, “If anyone needs the women’s movement, it’s Phyllis, who chafes at domestic tasks, leaves her children’s upkeep to her unmarried sister-in-law (Jeanne Tripplehorn), and seethes with political ambition.”

“There’s another person who’s slammed in this show, and that’s my aunt Eleanor, who was a vivacious, strong woman who ran her own organization,” Mrs. Cori said. “I understand that she’s portrayed as this unhappy wallflower, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

Mrs. Schlafly died at age 92 in 2016 and was “perfectly happy to respond to any criticism ever leveled against her,” Mrs. Cori said.

“But to wait until after she’s dead to level this criticism doesn’t give her the opportunity to respond to it,” Mrs. Cori said. “And it isn’t just my mother who’s misrepresented. It really is a slam on my honorable father, and of course these people they’re slamming are all dead. They’re not here to defend themselves.”

 

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/14/mrs-america-phyllis-schlafly-miniseries-feminist-h/

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Posted on 04/16/2020 5:39 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Tuesday, 14 April 2020
8 In 10 Americans Favor A Pause On Immigration During Coronavirus Pandemic
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JASON HOPKINS April 13, 2020

A vast majority of Americans favors dramatic restrictions on immigration amid the coronavirus pandemic, a USA Today/Ipsos national survey found.

American attitudes about coronavirus and its impact on our way of life has changed dramatically over the course of one month, the poll discovered. The survey had asked voters questions about their feelings on coronavirus in March, when it first began spreading through the United States, and then posed the same questions roughly one month later.

With more than 95% of the country under lockdown orders, millions filing for unemployment benefits, and more than 22,000 deaths from the virus, the U.S. population is, by leaps and bounds, more willing to implement strong measures to combat the pandemic.

Roughly eight in 10 Americans not only favor a mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving from another country, but also favor a moratorium on immigration from other countries altogether, the survey found. Additionally, seven in 10 Americans want to ground all international flights, and nearly half of respondents favored grounding all domestic flights.

“America is a different place than it was a month ago,” Cliff Young, president of Ipsos, said in a statement on Monday.

He continued: “In that time, we’ve seen Americans take a collective pause from public gatherings, a decline in consumer confidence and rising anxiety levels. The changes we’ve seen in this poll highlight our COVID-19 world.”

USA Today and Ipsos launched a nationwide survey about COVID-19 between March 10 and 11, when the virus first began to spread across the country. Roughly one month later — on Thursday and Friday — the same survey was launched to gauge how attitudes have changed as the crisis has only worsened in the United States. 

In the first poll, only 34% of Americans said coronavirus posed a “high threat” to the United States. The same poll taken this month found that number has increased to 71%.

Similar changes were seen in Americans’ views about the virus’s threat to the global economy. The percentage of respondents who said it posed a “high threat” to the world economy rose from 47% to 76%.

However, there was one issue that still appeared to divide respondents, with a clear divide along partisan lines. When asked if the government should provide financial assistance to illegal aliens who are unable to work because of the virus, 68% of Republicans opposed the idea while 58% of Democrats expressed support for it.

Both online surveys reached out to 1,005 adults across the United States. The credibility interval — which USA Today likened to a margin of error — has a plus or minus of 3.5 percentage points.

 

https://dailycaller.com/2020/04/13/american-immigration-pause-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR1wXRYa2loW68PocfE_QvL36OP3Lvhlwd9OYhj_o7yiSo-kjlHxvLDbfUY

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Posted on 04/14/2020 7:27 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Monday, 13 April 2020
Surviving April
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This isn’t the April we wanted.

We wanted spring training. We wanted to go to church on Easter Sunday. We wanted a weekend trip to see the spring flowers. We wanted the Masters golf tournament. I love the Masters. I don’t just like it, I love it! I keep pictures of Amen Corner on my computer screen. I love April.

But this April? This isn’t the April we wanted.

But this is the April we’ve been handed: daily reports of disease and death. An economy that’s in freefall. Dwindling supplies. Another 30 days of distance and isolation. And, most of all, a month of fear. We fear for our family. We fear for the health of our health workers. We fear this microscopic, COVID-19 culprit that stalks our streets like a thief.

So we need to brace ourselves. Adjust our expectations. April as we wanted will not happen. God willing, it will reappear in 2021. But the 2020 version? It’s time for a deep breath, a steady resolve and a few decisions. I’m thinking of three essential, emotional tools.

Gratitude. Collect your blessings. Catalog God’s kindnesses. Assemble your reasons for gratitude and recite them. “Always be joyful,” the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians. “Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.”

Look at the totality of those terms. Always be joyful. Pray continually. Give thanks whatever happens.

Gratitude is always an option. Matthew Henry made it his. When the 18th-century British minister and scholar was accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse, he wrote in his diary, “Let me be thankful, first because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse they did not take my life, third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and, fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

Quarry some gratitude. And, be kind to others. Be the family member who offers to wash the dishes. Be the colleague who reaches out to check on the team. Be the neighbor who mows the grass of the elderly couple.

You’ll be better because of it. Research bears this out. Studies have shown that giving to help others triggers dopamine. (New fundraising slogan, perhaps?) When volunteers wearing a functional MRI scanner were told they would be giving money to charity, the areas of their brains associated with pleasure — like food and sex — lit up like Christmas trees.

Seeking joy? Do good for someone else. It really is better to give than receive.

It’s time for gratitude. It’s time to serve others and it’s time for determination. Good, old-fashioned grit, a resolve that says, “I’m not giving in to fear. I’m not caving in to despair. With God as my helper, I’m going to weather this storm.”

Some years ago, I had the honor of meeting an American hero, Gen. Robbie Risner. For seven and a half years, North Vietnamese soldiers held him and dozens of other soldiers in the Zoo, a POW camp in Hanoi.

Misery came standard issue. Solitary confinement, starvation, tortures and beatings were routine. Interrogators twisted broken legs, sliced skin with bayonets, crammed sticks up nostrils, and paper in mouths. Screams echoed throughout the camp, chilling the blood of other prisoners.

Listen to Risner’s description: “Everything was sad and dismal. It was almost the essence of despair. If you could have squeezed the feeling out of the word despair it would have come out gray, dull and lead-colored, dingy and dirty … ”

How do you survive seven and a half years in such a hole? Cut off from family. No news from the U.S. What do you do?

Here is what Risner did. He stared at a blade of grass. Several days into his incarceration, he wrestled the grate off a floor vent, stretched out on his belly, lowered his head into the opening, and peered through a pencil-sized hole in the brick and mortar at a singular blade of grass. Aside from this stem, his world had no color. So, he began his days, head in vent, heart in prayer, staring at the green blade of grass. He called it a “blood transfusion for the soul.”

You don’t have to go Hanoi to face a “gray, dull and lead-colored, dingy and dirty” existence. A pandemic will do just fine. Do what Risner did. Go on a search. Crowbar the grate from your place of isolation, and stick your head out. Fix your eyes on hope.

Gratitude.

Others.

Determination.

G-O-D.

He is still in charge. He is still Emmanuel, God with us. Heaven still awaits. The tomb of Christ is still vacant. Children still laugh and grass still turns green in April. Find a blade and set your gaze on it.

It’s not the month we wanted, but it is the month we’ve been given. And we will get through it.

 

https://maxlucado.com/surviving-april/

 

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Posted on 04/13/2020 5:41 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Friday, 10 April 2020
Easter is About the power of God, His hatred of sin and His great love for an undeserving mankind
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By Sam Rohrer| Sunday, April 21, 2019

What’s Easter all about?

What does this solemn yet celebratory week say about God? About Jesus? To mankind? And what difference should Easter make in our lives today?

Easter week is the most sacred of all Christian holidays. But why is it so special? Easter is about God’s plan for the ages, the humans created in His image, the reality of Sin, Satan and rebellion, God’s wrath and justice against sin, and His plan of redemption. Early in Genesis, God promised that one day His heel would be bruised but the head of Satan would be crushed. Christ’s crucifixion and death on the cross bruised God’s heel but His resurrection crushed Satan’s head, confirming His victory over sin and death.

Christ’s blood paid the debt of mankind’s sins and fulfilled God’s demand for justice, providing salvation for all people. All those putting their trust in the Risen Savior, the Promised Redeemer, receive eternal life with Him.

God’s promise to crush Satan’s head continued with God’s promise to Abraham of a Promised Redeemer through a promised people. Through time, Satan tried to destroy the lineage through whom the Redeemer would come. He led Pharaoh in Egypt to kill the young males and led Herod to kill all baby boys under the age of 2. On the Mount, he tempted Jesus to avoid the cross and tried to destroy God’s redemption plan. But the devil could not trick Jesus, kings could not kill Him, and haters of Israel could not destroy God’s plan.

That plan included a day 2,000 years ago when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a borrowed donkey. The crowds shouted, “Hosanna!”—blessed is the king of Israel who comes in the name of the Lord. But the envious Pharisees said, “the world’s gone after him,” and they plotted His murder.

That plot worked, at least physically, and Jesus gave His life to pay a debt of sin He never owed because we had a debt of sin we could never pay. Some by faith alone accept Jesus as Savior and receive eternal life. Others reject Him and sadly choose eternal death. It is truly a matter of life or death.

Ultimately, Easter is not a freestanding or initiating event. It’s a confirming event.

While Easter is a witness of God’s Power over death and sin, a fulfillment of his promise of redemption and proof of His victory over Satan, it’s also historical. Proven and witnessed by hundreds, the power of Easter is also very personal because it was Christ’s willing death on the cross to shed His blood.

Easter is a fact. It happened. Jesus died. He rose from the dead. He paid our debt. This Easter, it’s crucial that all who are willing become children of God, restored in relationship to their Creator God.

And as Christians mark Good Friday, they remember that the greatest battle ever fought was won. Victory was declared. The end of the war was certain. From the cross, bloody and beaten, Jesus declared, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

With those solemn words, Jesus died, fulfilling His words that no man would take His life. The perfect Lamb—God’s promised redeeming sacrifice—became sin for us and died so we could live. What Satan schemed as victory over Christ was Christ’s victory over Satan, death and hell.

As Christians, rejoice in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because three days later, to the disciples’ ecstatic joy, they heard the glorious words from the angel’s mouth: “Remember what He said to you? He is not here. He has risen!” To that we reply, “He is risen indeed.” For all who trust in Him alone—by faith alone—death is swallowed up in victory.

And that’s the best news ever. Easter is about the power of God, His hatred of sin and His great love for an undeserving mankind.

https://www.christianpost.com/voices/easter-is-about-the-power-of-god-his-hatred-of-sin-and-his-great-love-for-an-undeserving-mankind.html

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Posted on 04/10/2020 6:49 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Wednesday, 8 April 2020
How churches can serve during COVID-19 crisis by working 'outside the box'
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There is no better time to put into action Christ's expectations for how we treat people

 

By Tony Perkins - - Saturday, April 4, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

After assembling a state-wide conference call with pastors, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts explained he needed their help. “Government can do a lot of things, but what it can’t do is show love and compassion,” he told me recently. And one way to do that at such a time as this is to respect the social distancing requested of churches to halt the spread of a dangerous virus. 

As communities and our nation respond to the coronavirus sufferers with medical and economic aid, there is a role for the church — on the front lines of our communities in a unique and personal way. As it says in 1 Corinthians 12:26, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.” 

People of faith must put loving hands to work, and there are many things we, the faith community, are uniquely able to do. But in this present crisis we have to have a paradigm shift; churches have to think and act outside the “box” — the four walls of the church.    

In Hebrews 10:25-27 we read: “Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.”

But this encouragement to gather together must be balanced with a need to respect our government when it acts to protect the common good. And even in the Bible, Moses as the civil leader of Israel established guidelines for quarantining in Leviticus for those who were contagious and a risk to others. As people of faith, we have to do what’s best for the people of our communities.

We can worship together in innovative ways. Some churches may want to try a “Drive In” worship service in their church parking lots or neighborhood business lot, with speakers set up, or even by using an FM transmitter that reaches short distances. Services can go online on a website or on Facebook. There are lots of options for connecting.

But there is no better time than now to put into action Christ’s expectations for how we treat people in need, laid out in Matthew 25, which says: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

1. We can help the hungry and thirsty. 

 

Most churches already work closely with food banks and food delivery for those in need, and those public-to-private partnerships have never been more important. Churches can also expand their benevolence committees for economic and food support. Many of us have had a meal delivered at a time of crisis and know what a life saver that can be.  

2. We can open our doors and facilities for strangers (and neighbors) in need.

Churches can work with officials so that people won’t be left alone. Houses of worship can also be locations used for medical care. In Alabama, Pastor Chris Hodges of the Church of the Highlands worked with Birmingham officials to provide a testing location that has already served hundreds. Many churches operate food banks, day care and elder support that will continue, operating with all the caution urged by the CDC. 

3. We can visit the lonely and ill — but maybe not in person.

Now is the time to activate those church phone trees and e-mail chains to check in on our friends and neighbors to ensure that they have support and know they are not alone. We live in a digital age, so we may be able to use Skype or do a Google Hangout for Bible study or to share some comfort and prayer with someone feeling stressed. 

4. We can practice social distancing when together.

Church handshakes right now will give way to a wave and passing the offering plate suspended for a drop box at the back or online giving. But giving as an act of worship and greeting each other in love continues. For some really practical tips, Health and Human Services Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives offers guidelines for how to keep our faith communities both active and healthy.

We may need to stand further apart right now, but we don’t have to stand alone. 

5. We can model faith and pray without ceasing. 

Our peace of mind can’t be tied to external events that change every day but must be grounded in an eternal God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Whether it’s the coronavirus today or an unknown tragedy tomorrow, hard times impact us all. As a faith community, we must pray without ceasing but also live a life of service and serenity that helps others understand how to handle adversity.

• Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council and is an ordained Southern Baptist pastor. 

 

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/4/how-churches-can-serve-during-covid-19-crisis-by-w/?fbclid=IwAR1OYMRGL7RgIIceVbz81YypFsLNhzxLEOCyeYvyhk8mUKzPoPEER1zFRvY

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Posted on 04/08/2020 12:13 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Tuesday, 7 April 2020
Faith During Crisis – An American Strength
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Robert Charles Posted: Apr 07, 2020 12:01 AM

Something odd is happening – or perhaps not so odd.  The coronavirus is causing more Americans to seek out, rely on, and expressly draw comfort from prayer – placing their faith in a loving God’s mercy.  This is not a matter of conjecture, but survey-supported fact.  

According to the non-partisan Pew Foundation, more Americans admit they are turning to prayer in this coronavirus crisis than at any recent time.   Just as during the height of World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are revisiting faith. 

In 2017, the Pew Foundation reported, after surveying 35,000 Americans, that 63 percent were “absolutely certain” in their faith, 20 percent “fairly certain.”  Of that group, the majority were Christians – not surprising in a nation where 70 percent identify as Christian.  Still, parallel numbers attached to other major faiths.

More surprising are Pew’s numbers from March 2020 – that is, now.  Despite an historic, multi-decade drift toward relative ambivalence, agnosticism and ambiguous connections to faith – especially for younger Americans – something striking is afoot.  When mercy is at a premium, belief in God – and the overt turn to God for that mercy – spikes. 

Here are the Pew numbers. For starters, more than half of all adults in the United States – 55 percent – say they are praying for an end to the pandemic.  With families praying together, overall Americans praying may be considerably higher.  

Within this group, 86 percent of those who “pray daily” and 73 percent of Christians are praying for the crisis to end.  But that is not the surprise.  In a country of 331 million, 70 percent of whom identify as Christian – one should not be surprised that 73 percent of that number are praying.  

Put differently, in a nation with 231,700,000 Christians or 70 percent of 331 million citizens, 169,141 or 73 percent of that number are praying to end the crisis.  The surprise is elsewhere.  What Pew uncovered is that, at this time of unprecedented global fear surrounding the pandemic, people who seldom pray are doing so. 

Specifically, millions are turning to faith who – in other times – indicated little stock in God.  According to Pew, 15 percent of those who indicate they “seldom or never” pray are praying.  Perhaps more remarkable, 24 percent who indicated they were not affiliated with a religion, are now praying for an end to the virus. 

All this gives reason for circumspection.  A spike in prayer from longstanding believers, coupled with “eleventh hour” arrivals, suggests a reservoir of faith not previously recognized.  The reservoir is more surprising, as collective worship has been largely curtailed in deference to “social distancing” recommendations and state mandates. 

Other Pew survey data is interesting.  While public health and police powers have been leveraged to reduce public gatherings, causing concerns over federal and state constitutional rights of assembly (including travel) and “free exercise of religion,” virtual gatherings – or virtual assemblies allowing collective worship – are proliferating.  Already, four in ten Americans are attending virtual religious services, according to Pew data.

Also interesting are less statistical, more ecclesiastical observations.  

Notably, for Christians of all denominations, this is the time of Great Lent, a season of self-denial, preparation, reflection and contemplation preceding Easter or Pascha – which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.  This is also approach of Passover, the major Jewish festival commemorating liberation of Israelites from Egyptian slavery. 

Perhaps fittingly, within the Christian tradition, pre-Lenten services include a Sunday dedicated to teachings embodied in Matthew 25:31-46.  Why does this matter or have any relevance to the spike in prayer or moment of national crisis in which we find ourselves? 

Again, the timing of that biblical teaching – whatever your persuasion – and our current crisis is at least instructive, for those of good heart, good will and attention to moral compass.  

These pre-Lenten verses offer depth, hope and guidance, in a time of national crisis and well beyond.  Christ speaks forcefully about judgment, noting those in the moral right are judged by their mercy.

“I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.”

The good are at first confused, unaware of the significance their acts of mercy.  Earnestly, they ask: “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?”

The answer given is arresting.  It peals and resonates like a great bell breaking the silence, a shaft of light piercing darkness, says it all: “I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” We are our brothers’ keeper, and never more than in crisis. 

There – in a nutshell – is our way forward in this crisis, being aware of the fears, needs and suffering of our fellow citizens, watchful to help and protect our families, neighbors and friends – and also to respect, nurse, and protect the “stranger.”  In love of the stranger, care for the stranger, mercy shown to those who are strangers – is our destiny, as individuals and a nation. 

We Americans are an incredible lot, never stronger than when we pull together, lift together, work together, hope and pray together.  We are – objectively, as history is our unwavering witness – unstoppable.  To get there, however – to get to that level of deep understanding, consistent compassion, uncrackable unity, and collective impact – we must remember who we are, remember our strength has many sources, and honor them all.  Faith is one – and it looks like we are remembering.

Robert Charles is a former assistant secretary of state for President George W. Bush, former naval intelligence officer and litigator. He served in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses and is spokesman for the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) a 2.1 million-strong, non-partisan group for Americans 50+.

 

https://townhall.com/columnists/robertcharles/2020/04/07/faith-during-crisis--an-american-strength-n2566459

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Posted on 04/07/2020 6:57 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Monday, 6 April 2020
Presidential Prayers: Turning to God in Times of Need
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Lee Edwards @LeeWEdwards / 

 

Since the founding of the Republic, Americans have appealed to God in times of crisis. From George Washington to Donald Trump, our presidents have been no exception.

One of Ronald Reagan’s favorite images was that of Gen. George Washington kneeling in the snow at Valley Forge, when the American cause seemed hopeless. That image, Reagan said, “personified a people who knew it was not enough to depend on their own courage and goodness; they must also seek help from God, their Father and their Preserver.”   

Abraham Lincoln turned to God time and again. His Emancipation Proclamation, for example, ends with the words:

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, … I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In these trying times, we must turn to the greatest document in the history of the world to promise freedom and opportunity to its citizens for guidance. Find out more now >>

Lincoln captured the necessity of our leaders’ having a relationship with God when he said: “I would be the most foolish person on this footstool earth if I believed for one moment that I could perform the duties assigned to me without the help of one who is wiser than all.”

In war and peace, our presidents have called upon the Almighty, as did Franklin D. Roosevelt in his address to Congress asking for a declaration of war against Japan after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor: “With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.”

In announcing that D-Day had arrived and the invasion of France was underway, Roosevelt closed his national radio address with a heartfelt prayer that conceded the certain cost of the operation:      

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy Kingdom.

One of the most famous invocations of World War II was the weather prayer requested by Gen. George Patton, eager to advance against the Germans in the critical Battle of the Bulge but blocked by unrelenting winter weather. The Rev. James O’Neill prayed:

Almighty and most merciful Father,we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend.

Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.

Miracle of miracles, the snow stopped; the skies cleared, and Patton’s 3rd Army, unleashed, went on to crush the Germans and help end the war in Europe.   

Thousands of miles away in the South Pacific, God also was invoked. After Japan had unconditionally surrendered, President Harry Truman declared Aug. 19, 1945, to be a day of prayer and acknowledged God’s essential role:

[Our victory] has come with the help of God, who was with us in the early days of adversity and disaster, and Who has now brought us to this glorious day of triumph. Let us give thanks to Him, and remember that we have now dedicated ourselves to follow in His ways to a lasting and just peace and to a better world.

Prayer is integral to America.  A National Day of Prayer was first proposed by the Second Continental Congress in 1775, again by Lincoln in 1863, and then made a national tradition in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan, who designated the first Thursday of May as a National Day of Prayer.

Reagan recognized God’s enduring presence in our nation’s history and made no secret of it.

In May 1982, for example, the 40th president proclaimed: “Through the storms of revolution, Civil War, and the great world wars as well as during times of disillusionment and disarray, the nation has turned to God in prayer for deliverance. We thank Him for answering our call, for, surely, He has.”

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001, a somber President George W. Bush, speaking from the Oval Office, asked the nation to pray for the victims:

I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security have been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.’

Our current president has followed his predecessors in confessing his belief in God’s saving power.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit America, Trump quickly proclaimed March 14 to be a National Day of Prayer. Reminding us that “no problem is too big for God to handle,” the president said:  

As one nation under God, we are greater than the hardships we face, and through prayers and acts of compassion and love, we will rise to this challenge and emerge stronger and more united than ever before.

One constant in our presidents has been their acknowledgement of the need for prayer in our lives.

Barack Obama, that most self-contained of all presidents, asserted at a National Prayer Breakfast held as the nation struggled to emerge from the Great Recession: “What better time than these changing tumultuous times to have Jesus standing beside us, steadying our minds, cleansing our hearts, pointing us toward what matters?”

Today, as we face an increasingly deadly national epidemic, a National Day of Prayer is a powerful idea.

An even more powerful idea is a daily prayer, by individuals of all faiths, to a loving God who we know will hear us and keep us and give us peace.     

 

https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/04/06/presidential-prayers-turning-to-god-in-times-of-need/#dear_reader

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Posted on 04/06/2020 3:39 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Friday, 3 April 2020
10 Insanely Wasteful Spending Items In The Coronabailout
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Politicians used the largest spending bill in U.S. history to force through a wide variety of earmarks and partisan boondoggles on the backs of future taxpayers.

What do increased funds for NPR, the John F. Kennedy Center, or refugee assistance have to do with aiding Americans harmed by the coronavirus pandemic? Congress didn’t bother to explain, but snuck in funding for these initiatives—plus plenty other seemingly random items—in the $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill anyways. President Trump signed the “historic” legislation on Friday.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle used the largest spending bill in U.S. history to force through a wide variety of earmarks and partisan boondoggles on the backs of future taxpayers who will pay for the new debt over generations, all in the name of addressing a crisis. Here are some of the most eyebrow-raising items snuck into the 880-page bill—all being paid for by trillions in new borrowing.

$300 million to the Social Security Administration: None of this funding will go directly to seniors. Instead, it will go to “administrative expenses” and bureaucratic overhead. The bill provides few specifics as to how the money must be spent. Simply increasing funding for the agency doesn’t guarantee it will be used for coronavirus-related activities.

 

$50 million to the Institute for Museum and Library Services: Used to “expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide technical support services.” While we might want to make such cultural resources more available, this spending item has little to do with coronavirus relief. Additionally, the Institute already has a $250 million budget—why weren’t these upgrades already implemented?

 

$5 million to the Railroad Retirement Board: Spent to improve the mobility of the railroad workforce and administer railroad worker benefits. This appropriation flies in the face of its $25.4 billion trust fund.

 

$75 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: “Sesame Street” and left-wing talk shows will be kept afloat by your tax dollars. PBS and NPR will spend these millions on “grants to maintain programming services to preserve small and rural public telecommunication stations.”

 

$350 million for ‘Refugee Assistance’: While at least one in five Americans have either lost their jobs or seen their hours get reduced, Congress slipped an extra $350 million into the stimulus bill for refugee assistance and resettlement, which already has appropriated funds. So much for “America First.”

 

$25 million for the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center: The DC-based theater will receive the funds for “deep cleaning” its facility and for “employee compensation and benefits, grants, contracts, payments for rent or utilities, fees for artists or performers, information technology, and other administrative expenses.” Hours after word of the cash infusion, the center laid off members of the National Symphony Orchestra.

 

$13 million for Howard University: Howard, a private and federally chartered historically African American university in Washington, DC, will receive tens of millions for “student aid administration.” But American University, Georgetown University, and George Washington University—all of which are also federally chartered—received no funds through the stimulus. Funding for Howard may be a noble initiative, but has little to do with pandemic relief and should be passed separately based on individual merit.

 

$1 billion for Amtrak: The failing rail service has lost money every year since 1970; in 2017 alone, it lost $194 million. When accounting for Amtrak’s high fares and taxpayer subsidies, it costs on average four times as much to move someone by mile by Amtrak as it does by airline. If the federal government didn’t constantly throw tax dollars at the service, it would have shut down long ago.

 

$75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, plus $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts: The price tag also comes with some baggage. After all, the NEA wasted millions in the past, including nearly $100,000 for a production of Shakespeare without using any words and $50,000 for a play about people becoming transgender.

 

$15 million for Drug Enforcement: This money goes to the Drug Enforcement Administration on an “emergency” basis. Considering the priorities of law enforcement at the moment, perhaps we as a nation could do better than funding the “civil asset forfeiture” machine.

 

All of this only scratches the surface of the money that will be flowing out of the Treasury. Included in the bill are kernels for travel agents, casinos, dredging harbors, and even sunscreen!

 

A few of these spending items may indeed be worthwhile. However, they do not belong in hastily passed legislation portraying itself as essential disaster relief. Politicians on both sides of the aisle saw the stimulus as an opportunity to discretely insert pet projects without political blowback. After all, at 880 pages, it’s the same as if no one was looking. To oppose the bill over one item would be political suicide.

One lone congressman did take such a stand, and the criticism of him was swift. When Rep. Thomas Massie sought to have a member-by-member vote in the House on the bill, President Trump tweeted, “Throw Massie out of the Republican Party!” John Kerry called him an “-ssh-le.”

In addition to putting a spotlight on the bill’s waste, Massie was also able to do what was previously thought to be impossible—he found an area of agreement between Trump and his leftist foes, all of whom wanted the massive spending bill to pass quickly, with no questions asked.

For any good that the bill does, it will likely come at a steep long-term cost. Before Friday’s signature, the nation was already $23 trillion in debt. By racking up massive deficits under Democrats and Republicans during both good and bad economic times, we are already well behind on this generational challenge.

Parts of the coronabailout were necessary due to the extraordinary circumstances. However, the fine print of the bill gives us a vital insight on how Washington truly operates. There is now a crucial precedent for future emergency funding, and every COVID-related need will likely be rubber stamped.

As the nation debates whether a national lockdown is more dangerous than the virus itself, soon we may be debating whether the bailout is a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

Kristin Tate is an author and columnist focused on taxation and government spending. Her latest book, "The Liberal Invasion of Red State America," will be published by Regnery Publishing in 2020. She is a Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and an analyst for Young Americans for Liberty.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/03/31/10-insanely-wasteful-spending-items-in-the-coronabailout/?fbclid=IwAR3cjKWvgEo5qjNXoAGz1UsZ-fYKTVTvmp_0FoRcsv3S8AY0nFg9abdyqRs#.XoOKcaVbPaV.facebook

 

 

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Posted on 04/03/2020 5:17 AM by Bobbie Patray
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Thursday, 2 April 2020
Justice Department sides with female athletes who do not want to compete against biological males
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The move comes as cultural contention rages over the issue of transgender athletes

By Alex Nitzberg Last Updated:March 25, 2020 - 10:18pm

 

The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with three female high school athletes who do not believe they should be forced to compete against biological boys who identify as girls.

Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday signed a statement of interest that said the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference's policy allowing biological males who identify as females to compete in sports against biological females prevents females from being able to participate in single-sex athletics. 

Under CIAC’s interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males — namely, those who publicly identify as female — compete against biological females,” Barr and department officials wrote, according to the Associated Press. “In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”

Read more

A lawsuit filed in February against the CIAC and several boards of education argues that competing against biological males has robbed the three girls of athletic wins and scholarship opportunities, according to AP.

"The American Civil Liberties Union, whose attorneys represent the two transgender athletes who run track in Connecticut, said it was deeply troubled that the U.S. government would weigh in to 'make clear that it does not believe girls who are trans enjoy protections under federal law,'" AP reported.

The DOJ's move comes as cultural debate continues to rage over whether biological males who identify as females should be allowed to compete in female-only sporting events.

State legislators have even put forward legislation aiming to block biological males from competing in girls' sports, like the "Save Women's Sports Act" that passed in the Arizona House earlier this month

 

https://justthenews.com/nation/culture/justice-department-sides-female-athletes-who-do-not-want-compete-against-biological?fbclid=IwAR3SPp_pihm70-vaIP7oeCByNPyu465wSNK9NeZY7zNe46inEOnK4oWpi-M#.XnwOYFALhVB.facebook

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Posted on 04/02/2020 3:48 PM by Bobbie Patray
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Wednesday, 1 April 2020
BREAKING: US appeals court allows Texas to enforce abortion ban during coronavirus pandemic
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The Governor’s order halt­ing unnec­es­sary med­ical pro­ce­dures, includ­ing abor­tion, must be enforced

Tue Mar 31, 2020 - 3:07 pm EST

 

TEXAS, March 31, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Abortion will continue to be suspended in Texas as part of the state’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed a federal judge’s injunction against the Governor’s order that postponed any unnecessary medical procedures, including abortion.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed for immediate appellate review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to enforce Governor Abbott’s March 21 Executive Order that postponed any unnecessary medical procedures, including abortion, to preserve medical supplies for the health professionals combating the spread of the coronavirus.

Federal judge Lee Yeakel had ruled, however, that the abortion industry must be allowed to continue business as usual in Texas.

“The benefits of a limited potential reduction in the use of some personal protective equipment by abortion providers is outweighed by the harm of eliminating abortion access in the midst of a pandemic that increases the risks of continuing an unwanted pregnancy, as well as the risks of travelling to other states in search of time-sensitive medical care,” claimed Yeakel, who presides over the Western District of Texas.

Paxton said in a press release today, however, that the Governor’s Executive Order applies to all health care facilities and professionals in Texas to ensure that hospitals and their staff have access to as much personal protective equipment and hospital beds as possible during the crisis. He pointed out that abortion facilities want special treatment not available to any other health care provider in Texas.

“Abortion providers who refuse to follow state law are demonstrating a clear disregard for Texans suffering from this medical crisis,” he said.

“For years, abortion has been touted as a ‘choice’ by the same groups now attempting to claim that it is an essential procedure,” Paxton added.

“All Texans must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. My office will continue to defend Governor Greg Abbott’s Order to ensure that supplies and personal protective gear reach the hardworking medical professionals who need it the most during this health crisis,” he said.

Pro-life medical professionals have assailed the abortion industry’s demands for special treatment, arguing that exempting elective abortion puts business interests ahead of public health. 

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) says that while “elective abortion is neither ‘essential’ nor ‘urgent,’” it “does consume critical resources such as masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment, and unnecessarily exposes patients and physicians to pathogens.”

“Elective abortion, both surgical and drug induced, also generates more patients to be seen in already overburdened emergency rooms,” AAPLOG continued. “Most abortion providers instruct women to go to an emergency room if they have any concerning symptoms after the abortion. Approximately five percent of women who undergo medication abortions will require evaluation in an emergency room, most commonly for hemorrhage. Surgical abortions can also result in hemorrhage. Emergency room personnel – who are already struggling to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic – will be further strained to provide care to these women.”

With files from LifeSiteNews’ Calvin Freiburger

 

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-us-appeals-court-allows-texas-to-enforce-abortion-ban-during-coronavirus-pandemic?utm_source=onesignal&fbclid=IwAR0s4cfwyhGorcw1oKKncxKLg1slKK5EIi5kDZh7KmKSorf9o1Sz7_ymsjs

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Posted on 04/01/2020 6:43 AM by Bobbie Patray
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