President Donald Trump held a rally on Saturday, February 18, 2017, early in the evening at the AeroMod hangar in Melbourne, Florida.

In a welcome move, First Lady Melania Trump introduced the rally with the Lord’s Prayer:

Big Media criticised the first lady for reading the prayer instead of reciting it from memory. What if she is accustomed to praying in Slovenian?

It must be difficult for her right now. She is holed up in Trump Tower most days and doesn’t even take ten-year-old Barron to school anymore because the Secret Service would have to lay on a big motorcade. It is easier on New Yorkers if the Secret Service do the school run every day. The first lady does not wish to be a burden on her fellow citizens.

It must also be heart-wrenching for her to watch or read Big Media every day. Nearly every news item is an attack on her husband. She is no doubt also worried about those in government in Washington DC. Who is supporting him? Who is betraying him?

Therefore, it seems a natural choice that she would begin with the Lord’s Prayer, one that every Christian knows and can be prayed together.

I like the Revd Franklin Graham’s take below (Image credit: The Conservative Treehouse):

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/melania-melbourne-13.jpg?w=476&h=338

After praying, the first lady gave a brief message about her role, which will involve supporting initiatives for women and children:

Those personal attacks come from the Left. Although she is a legal immigrant, they have no time for her.

Now for a few words about the rally. Those who do not understand Trump will wonder what the point is if he is already president. However, Trump enjoys being with the American people and always has done. Last July at the Republican National Convention, Franklin Graham described him as a ‘blue collar billionaire’. That describes him to a T!

Trump’s Deplorables also miss the rallies, so they welcome any occasion to see him speak to them in person.

The queue at the airport in Melbourne began forming early Saturday morning. The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) has a great report with pictures (emphasis in the original):

The crowd began as early as 5am this morning, and the line was building throughout the day.  At approximately 1:00pm the massive line is well over 3 miles long and consists of thousands upon thousands of Trump Supporters.  The event starts at 5:00pm

HOLY CATS !!  The line of people is so long, it is now actually “lapping” around (meaning completely encircling ) the entire airport property boundary.  It’s insane !

Another report from CTH has an RSBN video which features interviews with Trump supporters — and this comment:

There are massive crowds of people in attendance – not quite sure how the airport is going to fit them all in.

Here is a tweet of RSBN’s Margaret Howell (ex-Infowars) interviewing a Deplorable:

Approximately 9,000 people attended, according to Melbourne Police. Of course, this number did not go unnoticed by The Hill:

This rally was set up only a few days ago. Last September’s — before the election — was on Trump’s website for several days in advance. The Hill reports that 15,000 tried to get in to that one, but ‘some’ people were turned away (fire regulations). Remember that Hillary Clinton never attracted more than a few hundred people when she appeared. Her campaign sometimes had to bus people in to attend (e.g. Temple University).

Whatever the case with Trump’s numbers, it does not matter. Nine thousand people is huge. Matt Drudge hit the nail on the head:

The Trumps arrived on Air Force One:

The first lady looked resplendent in red:

CTH has close-up shots of the couple, particularly Melania.

Trump spoke about the media and their fake news. He said that Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln also had problems with press coverage during their time in office. He said that he inherited a ‘real mess’ but that the White House is running ‘so smoothly’. He reassured the audience that a replacement for Obamacare was on its way. He explained how the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of his Executive Order seeking to stop immigration from seven countries for a 90-day preiod. He also warned about social breakdown that occurred with uncontrolled immigration in Europe. He spoke about his efforts in the past three weeks to create tens of thousands of new jobs for Americans.

The biggest point of the evening came when he introduced top Deplorable Gene Huber, first in line for the rally. He was interviewed by CNN and Fox News afterwards. More about him in another post, as I am waiting to see if Big Media treat him as badly as they did Joe the Plumber in 2008. May God bless Mr Huber and give him strength in the days ahead.

Bible kevinroosecomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 5:22-26

22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

———————————————————————————————-

Today’s passage is a continuation of last week’s, wherein an angel of the Lord released the Apostles from prison for preaching and healing in Christ’s name. The angel told the Twelve to return to Solomon’s Portico — Solomon’s Porch — at the temple (Acts 5:20):

20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”

This is the first of the miraculous prison stories of Acts. An angel freed Peter again in Acts 12. An earthquake freed Paul and Silas from prison in Acts 16. God wanted the Church to expand. Prison was not going to stop the divine plan.

Acts 5:21 tells us that the high priest and the religious leaders around him sent for the Twelve to be brought from prison before them.

The prison officers went to the cell, but did not find them (verse 22). John MacArthur calls this:

the great escape.

Matthew Henry surmises the Apostles’ absence was all the more confusing because:

It is probable that they found the common prisoners there.

No doubt the officers were fearful that the religious leaders would accuse them of being lax, so they quickly said that everything was secure, yet there was ‘no one inside’ (verse 23). Having no more information available, we do not know whether Henry’s assumption is correct or whether all the prisoners escaped. It seems unlikely that the angel would have also released common criminals. Perhaps by ‘no one inside’, the officers meant the Twelve. It is impossible to know for certain.

Hearing this, the religious leaders were ‘perplexed’ (verse 24). That is probably an understatement. Henry explores the permutations going through their minds. First, they were they figuring out how the Apostles escaped imprisonment. Secondly, they also wondered what the impact of this meant long-term (emphases mine):

They were extremely perplexed, were at their wits’ end, having never been so disappointed in all their lives of any thing they were so sure of. It occasioned various speculations, some suggesting that they were conjured out of the prison, and made their escape by magic arts; others that the keepers had played tricks with them, knowing how many friends these prisoners had, that were so much the darlings of the people. Some feared that, having made such a wonderful escape, they would be the more followed; others that, though perhaps they had frightened them from Jerusalem, they should hear of them again in some part or other of the country, where they would do yet more mischief, and it would be yet more out of their power to stop the spreading of the infection; and now they begin to fear that instead of curing the ill they have made it worse. Note, Those often distress and embarrass themselves that think to distress and embarrass the cause of Christ.

Worse came when someone told the leaders that the men were back preaching and healing in the temple (verse 25). Think of it, these men — released — have not sought shelter elsewhere as ordinary ex-prisoners often do. They are right back where they were arrested: in plain view. Henry says:

Now this confounded them more than any thing.

It scared them, too. MacArthur says:

They were scared to death and they couldn’t stop this thing and they knew they couldn’t stop it. And they knew that their authority was being disregarded, heresy was being preached. God was opposing them by miracles.

Nonetheless, they wanted to get to the bottom of this, so the captain of the temple and the officers went to bring the Twelve in. However, they did it peaceably (verse 26). This was because they feared the wrath of the people, especially that of the new converts.

The Apostles did not mind going with them, because they knew that whatever might happen, God was watching over them and would protect them, just as He had sent the angel to free them.

MacArthur has a good analysis:

… I mean just think of the thrill of going through a jail cell when it was locked. Not too many have that opportunity for several reasons. They don’t usually get in, hopefully, but nevertheless there was no resistance. They could have resisted at that point very easily, but they went so willingly. And probably on the way Peter is plotting out his sermon outline because he knows that the Lord is going to give him a second, this is the second service that they’ll be holding in the Sanhedrin. He’s probably getting it all outlined, of course, and figuring out the order of worship, or whatever.

The story continues next week.

Next time: Acts 5:27-28

Maybe I can just squeak by with this, as a local eatery near us is advertising Valentine’s Day dinner specials through the weekend.

I saw Jamie Glazov’s Front Page article about Valentine’s Day on February 15: ‘Hating Valentine’s: Why Islamists and the Radical Left loathe the Day of Love’.

Glazov starts by giving a near-comprehensive review of penalties for and protests against celebrating Valentine’s Day in Muslim countries. I’ll let you read that in your own time.

The more puzzling aspect, which he explains nicely, is why the notionally tolerant Left don’t like February 14. Aren’t they the ones in favour of love?

Glazov tells us (emphases mine):

As an individual who spent more than a decade in academia, I was privileged to witness this war against Valentine’s Day up close and personal. Feminist icons like Jane Fonda, meanwhile, help lead the assault on Valentine’s Day in society at large. As David Horowitz has documented, Fonda has led the campaign to transform this special day into “V-Day” (“Violence against Women Day”) — which is, when it all comes down to it, a day of hate, featuring a mass indictment of men.

Why, oh why, oh why?

Because:

Islam and the radical Left both revile the notion of private love, a non-tangible and divine entity that draws individuals to each other and, therefore, distracts them from submitting themselves to a secular deity.

Valentine’s Day is a day of two people celebrating their love and devotion to each other — not to a collective or to a government regime. Therefore, opponents want it stopped.

Incidentally, I wrote about the St Valentines various and the traditions behind the day. The following post from 2015 discusses the different St Valentines, all of whom brought two people together in the name of love:

A bit of history about Valentine’s Day

The next post, from 2016, describes ancient traditions surrounding Valentine’s Day and the meaning of ‘x’, symbolic of the cross of St Andrew:

More history about Valentine’s Day

From its post-Lupercalian origin, Valentine’s Day has been about two people and their fidelity to each other.

This brings us neatly back to the present day and the totalitarian resistance — whether religious or socio-political — to the Day of Love.

Glazov explains:

The highest objective of both Islam and the radical Left is clear: to shatter the sacred intimacy that a man and a woman can share with one another, for such a bond is inaccessible to the order. History, therefore, demonstrates how Islam, like Communism, wages a ferocious war on any kind of private and unregulated love. In the case of Islam, the reality is epitomized in its monstrous structures of gender apartheid and the terror that keeps it in place. Indeed, female sexuality and freedom are demonized and, therefore, forced veiling, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, honor killings and other misogynist monstrosities become mandatory parts of the sadistic paradigm.

Totalitarian regimes are similar:

In Stalinist Russia, sexual pleasure was portrayed as unsocialist and counter-revolutionary. More recent Communist societies have also waged war on sexuality — a war that Islam, as we know, wages with similar ferocity. These totalist structures cannot survive in environments filled with self-interested, pleasure-seeking individuals who prioritize devotion to other individual human beings over the collective and the state. Because the leftist believer viscerally hates the notion and reality of personal love and “the couple,” he champions the enforcement of totalitarian puritanism by the despotic regimes he worships.

Some may say that the earliest Communists promoted promiscuity — and abortion. Yes, they did, but note that a) promiscuity violates tender, loving fidelity between two people and b) abortion prevents the fruit of that beautiful union.

Glazov goes on to discuss famous dystopian novels, each of which involves a totalitarian state that forbids love between two adults. HG Wells’s novels described the totalitarian atmosphere. A Russian literary editor and novelist, Yevgeny Zamyatin, who had edited translations of Wells’s works in Russian, was inspired to take the concepts further in his 1924 novel We, which the early Soviet government banned. Zamyatin’s novel describes a couple who experience devotion to each other. Because this is illegal, the protagonist D-503 must undergo the Great Operation, which deadens the parts of the brain dedicated to passion, imagination and, by extension, love. D-503’s lover O-90 gives birth to his child. O-90 cannot bear to give their child up to the state, so D-503 manages to get her and their child smuggled out of the state to safety.

We inspired other dystopian works, the most famous of which are Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. Those also contain story lines of forbidden love.

Totalitarianism encourages promiscuity, but not faithful love. Religious totalitarianism values sexual segregation, but not mutual devotion:

And that is why love presents such a threat to the totalitarian order: it dares to serve itself. It is a force more powerful than the all-pervading fear that a totalitarian order needs to impose in order to survive. Leftist and Muslim social engineers, therefore, in their twisted and human-hating imaginations, believe that the road toward earthly redemption (under a classless society or Sharia) stands a chance only if private love and affection is purged from the human condition.

However, as we know, that is impossible. We are hard-wired to be like Adam and Eve. God created them so they could be loving, supportive companions who could create a family.

This brings us to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Those of us who are old enough to remember recall slogans of ‘free love’ and so on. Various sexual positions, some of them non-procreational, were vaunted. If couples weren’t engaging in these, they were not ‘doing it right’. The Joy of Sex was a newlywed’s go-to book in the 1970s. Swingers’ clubs were popular amongst small segments of the middle class.

And, yes, there were swingers living near my home in the 1970s. My parents and I knew two. This middle-aged couple — second marriage for both, grown children — tried to recruit my parents. Mum and Dad were appalled. My mother tried to engage the couple in a philosophical discussion about the nature of love and marriage. Their response was, ‘Who needs it?’ Not surprisingly, they divorced and moved away within the year. If I remember rightly, the woman started cavorting with a fellow swinger and left her husband. He was very angry with her and changed his tune. ‘What happened to her fidelity to me?’ he asked my parents. Lesson learned? For him, yes. For her, it came afterwards when her swinger boyfriend dumped her. That was the last we heard of or about them.

The sexual revolution — still continuing today, with teenagers engaging in oral or copulative sex as if it were nothing — is something sensible people must resist. Sex education in schools is not designed to tell children about the birds and the bees in a biological way. It is intended to subvert the sanctity of married life and bringing children into the world.

During this same era, Bill Ayers — a longtime educator who goes on public speaking tours across America — was a radical who escaped a prison sentence on a technicality. You can read more about him here:

Obama friend Bill Ayers’s magnum opus: Prairie Fire

Obama friend Bill Ayers’s commitment to radicalism … and state education

He was one of the leaders of the Weather Underground, a group of violent radicals. Glazov tells us:

as Peter Collier and David Horowitz demonstrate in Destructive Generation, the Weather Underground not only waged war against American society through violence and mayhem, but also waged war on private love within its own ranks. Bill Ayers, one of the leading terrorists in the group, argued in a speech defending the campaign:

Any notion that people can have responsibility for one person, that they can have that ‘out’ — we have to destroy that notion in order to build a collective; we have to destroy all ‘outs,’ to destroy the notion that people can lean on one person and not be responsible to the entire collective.

That was at the time of the ‘free love’ sexual revolution in the late 1960s.

Similarly, promiscuity was the order of the day in communes, also popular then, whether large or small. Invariably, even though they started out with an egalitarian programme, all of them ended up with an alpha male leader who seduced the women in the group, creating a harem. Other men ended up being marginalised. Couples were fractured. People got hurt emotionally. Some required deep therapy to bring them back to a trusting, loving state of mind.

Although I digress somewhat, these vignettes from half a century ago tell us that we should be wary of deviating from a biblical norm when it comes to love.

Now to the present day. A bewildering series of protests have been taking place over the past few months. The most bemusing involve feminists veiling themselves as if they were Muslim. Why?

Glazov explains that totalitarian regimes rely on clothing that conceals one’s sexuality. Historically:

As sociologist Paul Hollander has documented in his classic Political Pilgrims, fellow travelers were especially enthralled with the desexualized dress that the Maoist regime imposed on its citizens. This at once satisfied the leftist’s desire for enforced sameness and the imperative of erasing attractions between private citizens. As I have demonstrated in United in Hate, the Maoists’ unisex clothing finds its parallel in fundamentalist Islam’s mandate for shapeless coverings to be worn by both males and females. The collective “uniform” symbolizes submission to a higher entity and frustrates individual expression, mutual physical attraction, and private connection and affection. And so, once again, the Western leftist remains not only uncritical, but completely supportive of — and enthralled in — this form of totalitarian puritanism.

With regard to today’s female protesters:

This is precisely why leftist feminists today do not condemn the forced veiling of women in the Islamic world; because they support everything that forced veiling engenders.

As Glazov points out, even European law enforcement officers have been advising women to cover up so they won’t be targets of immigrant Muslim men.

Before I conclude, it is essential at this point to offer documented proof that, 40 years ago, Muslim women — except for those out in the sticks — wore normal Western clothing. I wrote about this in 2015 with loads of links to photographs:

From the modern to the mediaeval in 40 years

Today, I saw two more items relating to Muslim women’s attire during that time. Rare Historical Photos has a good piece, ‘Women protesting forced hijab days after the Iranian Revolution, 1979’. Here’s an unrelated tweet from someone too young, perhaps, to know what I remember from my youth:

Glazov concludes that:

Valentine’s Day is a “shameful day” for the Muslim world and for the radical Left. It is shameful because private love is considered obscene, since it threatens the highest of values: the need for a totalitarian order to attract the complete and undivided attention, allegiance and veneration of every citizen. Love serves as the most lethal threat to the tyrants seeking to build Sharia and a classless utopia on earth, and so these tyrants yearn for the annihilation of every ingredient in man that smacks of anything that it means to be human …

This day reminds us that we have a weapon, the most powerful arsenal on the face of the earth, in front of which despots and terrorists quiver and shake, and sprint from in horror into the shadows of darkness, desperately avoiding its piercing light.

That arsenal is love

Love will prevail.

Long Live Valentine’s Day.

With work schedules and business trips such as they are, some readers might be celebrating a Valentine’s weekend. I wish you a very happy time. May it be love-filled today and always.

Over the past week, President Donald Trump welcomed Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan, Justin Trudeau of Canada and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to the White House.

Japan

Before Trump welcomed Shinzo Abe and his wife to the United States last weekend, he already had a big fan club in Japan. This video was filmed on Inauguration Day:

The Abes were in Washington DC on Friday, February 10. Trump and Abe held a joint press conference, wherein Trump pledged ‘even closer’ relations with Japan, including reaffirming America’s security guarantee:

The two leaders met privately before posing for a photo op:

The Daily Mail reported that Mrs Trump did not guide Mrs Abe around Washington, because the latter already had plans for the day: a visit to Gallaudet University for the deaf and hard of hearing followed by a National Cherry Blossom Festival committee meeting at the Japanese Embassy. There is also a language barrier. Mrs Trump does not speak Japanese, and Mrs Abe does not speak English.

However, they rode together that afternoon to meet their husbands for a weekend at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach:

This video shows their arrival in Florida. Each leader had his own entourage. This was the roadside reception for Trump. Abe must have been impressed:

That evening, they had dinner with Bob Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, Superbowl LI champions:

On Saturday, Trump and Abe discussed issues of the day over a round of golf:

Meanwhile, Melania Trump took Akie Abe for a tour of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Garden in Delray Beach, not far from Palm Beach, where the two couples spent the weekend.

Afterwards, the first lady took Mrs Abe to the Episcopal church where she and Trump got married, Bethesda-by-the-Sea:

A working dinner followed:

That evening, while the couples were having dinner, North Korea launched a missile into the Sea of Japan. The two leaders made an impromptu joint statement:

Canada

Trump met with Justin Trudeau on Monday, February 13. This was a day trip.

Time reported:

The neighboring leaders, polar opposites in nearly every way, took up the thorny subjects of trade and immigration, with Trudeau eager to build a relationship with the new U.S. president.

At a joint press conference after a series of meetings, the two emphasized their shared goals. Trump pledged to work with Canada “in pursuit of our many shared interests.” Trudeau spoke of a special bond and the “deep abiding respect” between the two countries, though he also said that “relationships between neighbors are pretty complex.”

While the two leaders stressed shared interests, their contrasting views were also on display. Responding to questions from reporters, Trump defended his refugee and immigration orders, saying that “we cannot let the wrong people in.” Trudeau, on the other hand, said Canada continues to “pursue our policies of openness.”

Trudeau later noted that there have been times when the two countries “have differed in our approaches.” But he said “the last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they chose to govern themselves.”

Trudeau gave the president a photo. It was of Trump and Justin’s father, the late Pierre Trudeau, also a prime minister of Canada.

Trudeau also met legislators at Capitol Hill.

Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived at the White House on Thursday, February 16.

This is their formal welcome to the White House, followed by friendly conversation — they met at Trump’s residence in Trump Tower after the election — and the official photo op:

This short video from Netanyahu’s Twitter encapsulates the highlights of the day:

Trump and Netanyahu held a joint press conference before their private meeting:

NPR has a transcript of the press conference. Topics included the usual concerns, primarily peace in Israel and in the Middle East:

While the two leaders met, their wives went to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. This was apposite as February is Black History Month in the United States. Museum guides provided the two ladies with assistance in viewing important exhibits and interactive displays:

Trump’s meeting with Netanyahu was a sharp and welcome departure from the Israeli’s meeting with Obama in 2014. The Atlantic detailed the breakdown in the relationship, with one White House staffer calling Netanyahu a particularly vulgar word denoting a coward.

For that Obama staffer, if this is what a coward looks like, then I’m the pope. This is Bibi as a young man (courtesy of The_Donald):

As you can see below, Trump picked up on that at the time. Here’s a comparison between Obama and Netanyahu:

Here’s another:

Now back to the 2017 visit. The Daily Mail has a complete rundown, including photos, of the Netanyahu visit to Washington.

Melania Trump’s white suit is a Karl Lagerfeld creation.

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, thought to be a prime mover in strengthening US-Israeli relations, attended the press conference. The Kushners also know the Netanyahus well.

That evening, the Trumps co-hosted a dinner for the Netanyahus. Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) and his wife Jeanette were the other co-hosts.

Joel Pollak wrote a good article on Breitbart, detailing five ways in which this visit will improve relations between the US and Israel, not to mention the Middle East with regard to terror.

In closing, this was the fourth state visit Trump has hosted within the past three weeks.

I am not sure when we had such great presidential optics online. Despite all the slings and arrows the new president continues to take, this one best sums up his inner serenity. From the Abe visit to Mar-A-Lago (note Mike Flynn standing in front of the statue):

The Trump meetings have terrific photos and videos. Long may they continue.

There are too many theories about National Security Adviser Lieutenant General (ret’d) Michael Flynn’s resignation on Monday, February 13, 2017 and too much information unknown to the public.

Sure, Flynn’s name has been all over the media for weeks, but more than one element is likely to be involved in his departure. You decide.

Deep State and the Democrats

Just after the New Year, Democrat Charles E Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, told MNSBC’s Rachel Maddow in a discussion about President Trump’s rebuttal of notional Russian hacking:

Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

There’s also another angle.

The Free Beacon analyses how Obama’s people feared Flynn would reveal more about the former president’s nuclear deal with Iran, so they set out to destroy him (emphases mine):

The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Leaks from within the White House

Close observers knew it was questionable whether Trump could use the Oval Office after the inauguration.

It was always likely — perhaps probable — that the Oval Office is or was bugged. No doubt, Trump had it swept prior to the inauguration. However, the success of the sweep depends on who did it and how thoroughly:

Then there are Obama appointees still in place because senators were slow in approving Trump’s key cabinet appointments. Rex Tillerson is now in place as Secretary of State. Jeff Sessions is now Attorney General. However, it will take some time for both to make their own staff appointments.

There could also be people close to Trump — his personally appointed staff — who are leaking to the media.

With regard to Flynn specifically, the Washington Post (WaPo) says that the retired general had discussions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak as early as December when he was part of the transition team. He would have been in New York at that point. New York magazine gives a summary:

Several current and former U.S. officials say National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed new sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration during conversations with that country’s ambassador in December. That may be illegal, and to make matters worse, it contradicts denials made by senior members of the Trump administration, including Vice-President Mike Pence.

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that nine current and former U.S. officials who had access to intercepted communications between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak say that Flynn made explicit references to election-related sanctions. Two said Flynn even urged Russia not to overreact. “Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” said one former official.

When the Post asked Flynn on Wednesday if he ever discussed sanctions with Kislyak, he said no. Then, on Thursday, his spokesman walked that back, saying Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Flynn exchanged phone calls and texts with Kislyak a day before the Obama administration imposed new sanctions and expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the Kremlin’s alleged attempt to meddle in the U.S. election.

Those sanctions came during the Christmas holiday.

As Flynn’s conversations from December have been revealed, it is possible that Trump has a GOPe mole in his midst.

Trump is rightly concerned about who is leaking:

On February 14, WaPo featured quotes from conservatives who voiced their concerns about Trump transition and administration leaks:

“I think this really was the death by a thousand leaks,” Laura Ingraham, a conservative news commentator, said on Fox News. “The leaks that were coming out of this administration and the transition — before the administration — were at a level that I don’t remember seeing for quite some time.”

Not long before Trump tweeted, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on Fox that “somebody in the nebulous intelligence community” would have had access to the information about Flynn’s calls.

Who tapped the phones? Who is listening to it? Who leaked it? I think those are legitimate questions to ask,” Johnson said Tuesday morning.

The senator said he did not know whether those who leaked the information about Flynn broke the law, but he added: “Leaks of this nature are incredibly damaging to America, to our national security, and we need to look into it.”

On the opposite side of the political spectrum, The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald agrees:

That Flynn lied about what he said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was first revealed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has built his career on repeating what his CIA sources tell him. In his January 12 column, Ignatius wrote: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”

That “senior U.S. government official” committed a serious felony by leaking to Ignatius the communication activities of Flynn. Similar and even more extreme crimes were committed by what the Washington Post called “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” who told the paper for its February 9 article that “Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials.” The New York Times, also citing anonymous U.S. officials, provided even more details about the contents of Flynn’s telephone calls.

That all of these officials committed major crimes can hardly be disputed. In January, CNN reported that Flynn’s calls with the Russians “were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats.” That means that the contents of those calls were “obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of [a] foreign government,” which in turn means that anyone who discloses them — or reports them to the public — is guilty of a felony under the statute.

Yet very few people are calling for a criminal investigation or the prosecution of these leakers, nor demanding the leakers step forward and “face the music” — for very good reason: The officials leaking this information acted justifiably, despite the fact that they violated the law. That’s because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter — his conversations with Russian diplomats — and the public has the absolute right to know this.

The trust issue

In January, the then-acting Secretary of State Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn had not been entirely honest with Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

In his press briefing of February 14, Sean Spicer announced:

We’ve been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks, trying to ascertain the truth.  We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, where a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change.

The President was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the Vice President and others.  He was also very concerned in light of sensitive subjects dealt with by that position of national security advisors — like China, North Korea and the Middle East — that the President must have complete and unwavering trust for the person in that position.

The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the President to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.  Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House Counsel of the situation, the White House Counsel briefed the President and a small group of senior advisors.  The White House Counsel reviewed and determined that there is not a legal issue, but rather a trust issue.

During this process it’s important to note that the President did not have his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who he trusts immensely, approved by the Senate.  When the President heard the information as presented by White House Counsel, he instinctively thought that General Flynn did not do anything wrong, and the White House Counsel’s review corroborated that.

… The issue here was that the President got to the point where General Flynn’s relationship — misleading the Vice President and others, or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation had created a critical mass and an unsustainable situation.

That’s why the President decided to ask for his resignation, and he got it

Larry Johnson of No Quarter, who worked for the CIA then the State Department, wrote:

Sad day for Mike Flynn. The only thing he did wrong was not tell Vice President Pence the full truth. That’s it. He was well within his rights as the incoming National Security Advisor to talk to the Russians and to talk about any issue. The only thing he could not do was pass on classified information. That’s it. The people who insist he did something untoward with Russia are either woefully ignorant about the duties of the incoming Director of the NSC or are being deliberately disingenuous.

Another security expert, Richard A Moss, wrote about Flynn’s indiscretion in the way he communicated with the Russian ambassador. From WaPo:

Flynn resigned not because of his communications with the Russians, but rather because of his lack of discretion, misleading Vice President Pence about the nature of the exchanges, and, allegedly, opening himself up to blackmail by the Russians.

Moss goes on to explain how Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon co-ordinated Kissinger’s communications with the Russians during Nixon’s transition period between 1968 and 1969:

Nixon and Kissinger synchronized the two back channels to the Soviets during the 1968 election and the transition period

We know these details not because of the content of reportedly leaked FBI wiretaps, as in the case of Flynn, but because of good record keeping. Kissinger wrote detailed memorandums of his various back-channel exchanges and shared them with the president (and, occasionally, others who had a need to know). In Washington, political warfare is frequently fought on the battlefield of competing memorandums. Kissinger also had his staff make transcripts of his phone conversations, eventually off recordings of the calls, but initially by having a secretary write in shorthand by listening on a telephone with a muted microphone.

Flynn operated differently:

By contrast, Flynn’s inconsistency over the content of his conversations with Kislyak hurt his credibility and brought on scrutiny both inside and outside the White House.

Somewhat strangely for a career intelligence officer, Flynn also used insecure means of communication by talking on open telephone lines to Kislyak. In military-speak, he used poor communications security (COMSEC), which was apparently subject to FBI monitoring — and, hypothetically, foreign intelligence collection

Flynn’s preference for the phone is ironic since Trump said a few weeks ago, “You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way.”

Ultimately, nearly 50 years ago:

Kissinger kept good records and he kept his boss, Nixon, informed. Fundamentally, back channels require the confidence of the person at the top. Kissinger understood this and became the indispensable man for Nixon’s foreign policy.

This year:

Flynn clearly lost the confidence of those at the top and had to go.

It should be noted that, on February 14, WaPo walked back earlier reports on the FBI and Flynn. This is at the end of a different article, not the one Richard A Moss wrote:

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Michael Flynn was the reported object of FBI investigations. This version has been updated.

Accuracy In Media states that the FBI cleared Flynn.

Is this important?

The double standard

We are seeing an egregious double standard in play.

The aforementioned article from The Intercept points out:

What matters is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak. Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing — as this one did — should be praised, not scorned and punished.

However, keep in mind that those cheering Flynn’s resignation were blind to the transgressions on their own side for eight years:

It’s hard to put into words how strange it is to watch the very same people — from both parties, across the ideological spectrum — who called for the heads of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Tom Drake, and so many other Obama-era leakers today heap praise on those who leaked the highly sensitive, classified SIGINT information that brought down Gen. Flynn.

It’s even more surreal to watch Democrats act as though lying to the public is some grave firing offense when President Obama’s top national security official, James Clapper, got caught red-handed not only lying to the public but also to Congress — about a domestic surveillance program that courts ruled was illegal. And despite the fact that lying to Congress is a felony, he kept his job until the very last day of the Obama presidency.

Unintended positive consequences

The Intercept goes on to say that this leak and Flynn’s resignation may work for Trump and the American public rather than against them:

numerous leaks have already achieved great good in the three short weeks that Trump has been president.

Trump knows, his staff know and the American public know.

As negative as these events appear right now, they could help Trump to ‘drain the swamp’.

As former CIA analyst and retired U.S. Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer told FOX Business Network:

I would put this right at the feet of John Brennan and Jim Clapper and I would go so far as to say the Obama White House was directly involved before they left. Ben Rhodes and those folks… The Democrats are behind this and some of the Republicans are involved with the leaks. So I say ‘Bring it on!’

Flynn’s replacement could be even better

One of the men being discussed as a replacement for Flynn is retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward.

Gateway Pundit reports that Harward served under then-General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis at US Central Command and that he speaks Farsi:

Harward could prove to be a much better candidate than Michael Flynn which would be disastrous for the left who just spent weeks trying to get Flynn removed.

————————————————————————–

Those of us who watched Trump put together his transition team late last year remember that Flynn did consulting work for Turkey and is pro-Erdogan. Geopolitical expert Joel Richardson wrote about that at the time:

… in a Facebook post on Dec. 7, Richardson called for the Trump administration to cut ties with Flynn, because “he’ll be gone within the first year.”

Richardson blasted Flynn for reportedly owning a company that lobbied for an obscure Dutch company with ties to Turkey’s government and President Erdoğan himself. Richardson characterized the hiring of Flynn as a betrayal of Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” by removing lobbyists from government positions.

“On Election Day, Flynn published a fairly lengthy opinion piece, and a very strong opinion piece, in the online news website called The Hill, a real prominent website,” said Richardson. “Specifically, he was urging the U.S. to support Turkey and Turkey’s controversial president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. … Those who follow my program know I am no fan of President Erdoğan. He is a dictator and I am likening him to an emerging Adolf Hitler. … This guy is dangerous.”

Flynn’s temporary replacement is Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr.

To everyone who doubts Trump’s ability to rectify the situation, remember, he is there to win the war. Battles will be lost from time to time. Flynn’s departure is one of them. However, in the words of Machiavelli (H/T: The Conservative Treehouse):

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.

Onwards and upwards. MAGA!

At the weekend, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids occurred in several American cities.

This generated much hand-wringing in the United States.

However, as we know, President Donald Trump is a man of his word:

Combined with this are concerns about his long-term plans for a wall dividing the US and Mexico.

The most high-profile deportation involved Guadalupe García, 36, who had lived illegally in the United States for 22 years and is a mother of two. García is a convicted felon. She was arrested in 2009 for having a false Social Security card and was then convicted of identity theft, which is a felony. García was allowed to live freely, provided that she checked in with ICE agents in Phoenix every six months. When she went to see them last week, she was detained and deported to Mexico.

However, Americans who are worried for García and other illegal immigrants from south of the border should be comforted in knowing that those who might be rounded up for deportation will fight for their notional rights. In reality, they are fighting for a privilege which has not been given them.

On February 12, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that 49 out of 50 illegal aliens at a meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, would prefer to be detained in the United States than return to Mexico:

All but one of about 50 undocumented Mexican migrants at a meeting Saturday indicated they would rather risk detention and long court battles in the U.S. than return to Mexico voluntarily.

The majority of migrants at the meeting in Phoenix, which included Mexican officials, signaled in a show of hands that they were ready to fight deportation in U.S. courts.

“Even if that means detention for weeks?” asked former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda.

“Even if it takes months,” shouted one woman. “Even if it takes years,” another yelled. “We are here to fight.”

The WSJ says that Castaneda hopes this will be the case, because:

the legal system would break down, bringing deportations to a halt.

The article says that Mexican legislators present at the Phoenix meeting were seeking ways to stop co-operation with the US, whether commercially or with regard to law enforcement. However:

not all legislators were on board with those calling for a tough negotiating posture. “If we bet on confrontation without first trying to convince, then we are making a big mistake,” said Gabriela Cuevas Barron, from the opposition conservative National Action Party, who heads the Mexican Senate’s foreign relations committee. 

About 80% of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S., she said. “We should negotiate more forcefully, but we don’t have a blank check,” she said.

Interestingly, some illegal aliens at the gathering urged Mexico to provide more job opportunities and they would return (emphases mine):

they said they were forced to leave because its widespread corruption, violence and terrible education system killed economic opportunity.

“In Mexico, we don’t have any opportunity, we don’t have any education, and you can’t get a job unless you have connections,” said Maria, a woman who wouldn’t give her last name. “Here my son graduated from university. If I lived in Mexico, I would be selling chewing gum in the street.”

It’s amazing that poor Mexicans still have to sell gum on the streets. I saw it non-stop — even into the early hours of the morning — in Acapulco in 1979. There were small children out in the streets with boxes of Chiclets. I used to pay for a whole box every day just to get a few of them them to go home. They all agreed but said:

That’s not how it works. You’re only supposed to buy a small box!

It blew my mind, I can tell you. But I digress.

Back on topic, one has to wonder about the legality of Mexicans holding an anti-US meeting with their own government officials on American soil. Americans are very forgiving people.

The readers’ comments following the WSJ article ask many good questions. One, why would an illegal alien be able to obtain due process of law when they are not legally resident in the US? Two, who paid for Maria’s son’s education: the taxpayer? Three, why should illegal aliens expect state money, e.g. legal defence, when Americans are trying to keep their own heads above water?

Where they go

The WSJ has a helpful table showing where 11.1 million illegal immigrants settle.

In first place is New York City and northern New Jersey with 1.1m, followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim with 1m. After that, it’s Houston with 575,000, Dallas/Fort Worth with 475,000, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach with 450,000, Chicago-Naperville-Elgin with 425,000 and Washington, DC/Arlington/Alexandria with 400,000.

Other population centres follow, with significantly fewer illegals.

Mexican immigration law

Don’t think that Mexico has a similarly lax application of immigration law.

A Washington Times article from 2010 discussed the Mexican opprobrium to a law that Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer (R) signed, which allows state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants.

The article states that, ten years earlier — 2000 — Mexico enacted the Reglamento de la Ley General de Poblacion — the General Law on Population. These are its provisions:

Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.

The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” violate Mexican law, are not “physically or mentally healthy” or lack the “necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.

It is fine — and correct — for Mexicans to restrict entry. However, it should be the same for the United States, which still has applicable laws on its books.

Those laws just haven’t been enforced for many years. Why were there amnesties by presidents Reagan and Bush II? Because the people entering illegally were in violation of the law. See US Title 8 Code 1325. Illegal entry has been — and continues to be — an imprisonable offence.

Despite such a federal law, then-president Felipe Calderon called the Arizona law:

“racial discrimination” … and vowed to use all means at his disposal to defend Mexican nationals against a law he called a “violation of human rights.”

Wow.

Fast track from countries south of Mexico to the US

In 2014, Dr Jerome Corsi, an investigative journalist and author, wrote an article for WND called, ‘Mexico, Guatemala Fast-Track Delivery of Illegals to US’.

It concerns Mexico’s Regional Visitor Card, which allows people — including unaccompanied minors — from other Central American countries to pass through Mexico legally for a limited amount of time so they can reach the US border.

When this policy was introduced, Greece’s — yes, Greece’s — former prime minister George Papandreou lectured the United States on its responsibility to take in these illegal aliens. Corsi tells us:

Papandreou encouraged the United States to extend the legal right to Central American immigrants to stay in the U.S., housing them in temporary shelters where they can receive secure and humane treatment while the United States creates for them a pathway to citizenship, as well as providing the right to seek employment and the opportunity to be reunited in the United States with their families.

In fact:

The flood of illegal alien immigrants from Central America, especially children, has spiked in recent months, with tens of thousands flooding into the United States. The U.S. government already is transporting them to multiple other locations to house them.

A wall along Mexico’s southern border

Apparently, that did not work out too well, because two years later, in September 2016, the Daily Mail reported that Mexicans want a wall built along their country’s southern border. The influx and criminality of incomers from other Central American countries is too great:

while Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has mocked Trump’s plans, many Mexicans praised the concept of a border wall.

‘Trump’s idea of a border wall is a good one but it should be on the southern border with Central America in order to stop the flow of Central Americans from entering both countries,’ the El Mañana board wrote in July.

The paper also called for proper immigration checkpoints on the southern border.

El Mañana even criticized Hillary Clinton for failing to raise the issue of border security.

The newspaper says that many illegal immigrants turn to crime as shelters can often only provide a few days of food and bedding.

‘Many of these migrants when they are unable to find an honest way of life turn to robberies, kidnappings, extortion, and in the worst cases join the ranks of organized crime,’ El Mañana’s piece claimed.

It seems, however, that it’s okay for illegal aliens to enter into the United States and put Americans at risk.

The Gateway Pundit covered the same news with the title, ‘What Hypocrisy? Mexico Announces Plans for GREAT WALL on Southern Border with Central America’.

Mexico wants as few poor people as possible

Poor people are a drain, don’t you know?

So, Mexico reasons, let’s get our poor — and anyone transiting through — to the US. Let them take care of the poor.

Ironically — once in the US — Mexico’s poor are assets to their home country.

The Mexican government knows that.

The aforementioned WSJ article states:

Mexico’s government hasn’t endorsed the strategy, but President Enrique Peña Nieto recently budgeted about $50 million to the country’s 50 consulates to help pay the costs of defending migrants who are in the U.S. illegally and facing deportation.

There’s a reason for that.

The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) has an excellent rundown of Peña Nieto’s reasoning:

the dependency on the Mexican economy created by $25 billion in remittances sent home from Mexican nationals illegally living/working in the U.S. …

the hidden scale, and almost unquantifiable scope, of the exfiltration of U.S. dollars -legal and illegal- into Mexico.

American taxpayers as voters have no idea of the scale for how much money flows out of the U.S. into Mexico.  The reason no-one knows about it, and the reason economists cannot discuss it, is because the answer reveals a politically inconvenient discussion.

If accurate quantification was ever given sunlight, Americans, or more accurately tax-paying Americans‘ would be able to see how much the United States actually subsidizes the nation of Mexico, and how much we’ve been ripped off.

Anyone unprepared for what follows should take a seat now and swallow any drink:

While the actual valuation of the outflow of dollars into Mexico is unknown, there are indicators it could be greater than our current economic trade deficit with China, $500+ billion.

Only a few indicators have ever reached visibilityOne such indicator being the outbound U.S. Western Union wire transfers, remittances, which now exceed the entire Mexican Energy Sector (oil and gas) combined.

An honest evaluation of all possible currency transfer streams puts the outflow well over several hundred billion per year. Well over.

CTH explains that Mexico is experiencing a lot of domestic turmoil right now: a depreciating peso, increased inflation and petrol prices that are higher in relative terms that America’s.

Fox News reports that this has led to looting and unrest in the capital:

Sometimes-violent protests and looting over gasoline price hikes in Mexico are continuing and officials say that so far they’ve left one policeman dead and five injured, 300 stores looted and over 600 people arrested.

The country’s business chambers says the combination of highway, port and terminal blockades and looting have forced many stores and businesses to close and threaten supplies of basic goods and fuel.

Trump’s wall

CTH tells us that the Mexican government is angry about Trump’s proposed wall.

But:

…. Do you still think that Mexico has leverage in the conversation about the Southern Border Security Wall.  Any leverage at all…?

The aforementioned Jorge Castaneda — a former foreign minister — told CNN that, if Trump pursues his plans, Mexico will unleash drug cartels on the US. Hasn’t it done that already? In any case, how can a former foreign minister speak for the current government?

Furthermore, Castaneda:

openly admits Mexico could stop the border crossings if it wanted to, but instead chooses to use immigration as a weapon against the United States.

At least it’s out in the open.

Conclusion

There is much more to come in this political and human drama.

None of this comes as news to Donald Trump. No doubt, this was one of the many reasons he ran for president.

However, expect this conflict to have many subplots. Stunning surprises will unfold this year. Stay tuned.

Yesterday, I was most surprised to discover that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Obama paid Muslim groups not to harm Americans.

The Burning Platform has an article, ‘Paying Them Not To Kill Us’. A summary with quotes follows.

It is possible that Americans are finding out about this only now that Trump is in office. Some of these organisations no longer want DHS money, even though substantial sums have been paid in previous years.

A Trump administration official said that the Obama administration came up with this programme in 2011 as a way of:

“countering Islamic extremism.” The official, who has knowledge of the discussions, was not authorized to speak publicly about the proposal and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration wants to change the name of the programme, which seems to be part of the reason some groups are now rejecting the money. Currently, 20 per cent of the $10m in earmarked funds has been rejected.

A greater element involved is that the groups sense that Trump will go through with plans and policies that are anti-Islam.

On Friday, February 11, 2017, the Sacramento Bee featured an article on Bayan Claremont, the fourth Muslim group to reject DHS money.

Bayan Claremont would have received $800,000 in federal funds aimed at combating Islamic extremism. This would have covered half the Muslim graduate school’s annual budget. However, Trump’s campaign rhetoric and his recent Executive Order — halted for the moment by the Ninth Circuit — changed their administrators’ minds. Bayan Claremont’s president, Jihad Turk (yes, really), made the announcement on Friday.

The comments following the SacBee article are well worth reading. Americans are astounded and angry that tens of millions of dollars from their taxes have gone to supporting … religion.

Bayan Claremont, incidentally, was founded in 2011. It is part of the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. That said, students from many different Christian denominations attend CST, which is also home to the Episcopal Theological School and Disciples Seminary Foundation.

Among the other groups in the United States which receive DHS’s money are Unity Productions Foundation of Potomac Falls, Virginia, which has declined a $396,585 to produce anti-extremist films; Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities in Dearborn, Michigan, which has rejected $500,000 for youth and health programme development and Ka Joog, a Somali non-profit organisation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which turned down $500,000 for youth programmes.

All this is money saved that the DHS can put into other areas. After all, as Jihad Turk said:

school officials already had reservations about the CVE strategy under Obama because they felt there’s no clear or proven pathway to violence for someone with a particular extreme ideology.

Just so.

In closing, this sounds awfully lot like voluntary protection money — non-imposed jizya.

A week after the 2016 election, Obama boasted that there were no scandals in his administration.

The video above gives us not only his comment but an immediate response from news programmes on various scandals that did indeed occur between January 2009 and early January 2017.

Obamacare and Benghazi came immediately to mind. But what about Fast and Furious? Hillary’s emails, anyone? What about the uncontrolled unrest in Baltimore or Ferguson, near St Louis?

Everyone should read ‘The Complete Collection: Obama’s Scandals, Gaffes and Power-Grabs’ at Grabien News. It must have taken some time to put 745 incidents together by department, complete with sources.

Grabien News readers are a tough lot. Some picked over spelling errors. This one is amusing:

… you need to clean up your own Loisiana spelling on item #40.

The man went on to say:

Obama is a disaster but some of this is nit picking. Should stick to the real issues. When you get so deep in the weeds it detracts from the meaningful and many transgressions of the Obama Years.

Another reader said:

This entire article is biased against Obama in a way which undermines it’s [sic] analysis. This is not to say that Obama is without blame. Far from it. The Obama Administrations [sic] expansion of drones and the killing of civilians, the persecution of whistle blowers, the lack of care at the VA, Libya, etc. are all examples of where the President and his administration has failed us. However, presenting straw men, inflating incidents and dividing them up into dozens of points to increase the number, and injecting your bias to create ‘scandal’ where none exists is a serious problem.

Well, that is exactly what is happening to Donald Trump’s administration. I cannot help but wonder if the same people will be as critical of a list about his administration when the time comes. They will probably add to it.

Anyway, here is but a small sample of Grabien News’s compilation. They have everything in a neat tidy table, by the way. I’m just going to summarise a few in a list:

US Dept of Defense, January 20, 2017:

Ran on promise [since 2008] of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp; didn’t.

US Dept of Homeland Security, March 25, 2014:

The DHS/TSA missed multipled chances to detain [Boston Bomber Tamerlan] Tsarnaev, including once when he was supposed to be pulled aside at JFK Airport.

US Dept of Labor, September 26, 2016:

After technologist Peter Thiel endorsed Donald Trump, Obama’s Department of Labor sued his company Palantir over “racial discrimination” for not hiring enough Asians, despite disproportionately hiring Asians.

US Dept of the Treasury, January 13, 2009:

Obama’s pick to head the Treasury Department, Tim Geithner, was himself a tax scofflaw. He ended up sending an amended return upon being nominated.

US Dept of Transportation, July 1, 2009:

Obama launched the “cash for clunkers,” which aimed to replace existing cars with newer, cleaner cars, but ended up incentivizing the destruction of thousands of perfectly good used cars, thus pricing millions of Americans out of the market.

US Dept of Veterans Affairs, October 20, 2013:

VA hospital delays — which were scrubbed from official records — resulted in the deaths of at least six veterans, but potentially more than 20.

US Supreme Court, January 27, 2010:

Claimed during his 2010 State of the Union that foreigners could finance American campaigns; as Justice Alito mouthed from the audience, “Not true.”

There are hundreds more things — great and small — to enjoy.

Let it never be said, though, that Obama had a scandal-free eight years.

And, let’s remember, his personal records have always been sealed from public view — and remain so today.

Bible readingThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 5:17-21

The Apostles Arrested and Freed

17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

——————————————————————————————-

Last week, we read about the very early Church in Jerusalem restored to purity after the deaths of the duplicitous Ananias and Sapphira.

The Apostles, led by Peter, preached in Solomon’s Portico at the temple. Peter, in particular, healed many sick people. With his powerful preaching immediately following on the first Pentecost, he converted thousands of men and more — uncounted — women and children, according to John MacArthur. So many had converted by now, they were impossible to count (Acts 5:14):

14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women …

And these believers had pure hearts and minds, because everyone by then knew about Ananias and Sapphira. If you were dishonest, God took your life.

The high priest saw all this activity. So did the men around him, the Sadducees. All were deeply jealous of the Apostles (verse 17). It seems an odd reaction, until we consider Matthew Henry’s explanation. They:

saw their wealth and dignity, their power and tyranny, that is, their all, at stake, and inevitably lost, if the spiritual and heavenly doctrine of Christ should get ground and prevail among the people.

The Sadducees — rationalists to the core — despised the divine supernatural, most of all Christ’s Resurrection. They were also the elite who brokered agreements with the Romans so the Jews could live in peace. Therefore, they thought they had Jesus crucified and buried once and for all. To now see daily crowds in Solomon’s Portico hearing about the Resurrection of Christ and seeing healing miracles was too much for them. They were not about to succumb to the Apostles. They were going to put a stop to their ministry. Henry tells us (emphases mine):

When they heard and saw what flocking there was to the apostles, and how considerable they were become, they rose up in a passion, as men that could no longer bear it, and were resolved to make head against it, being filled with indignation at the apostles for preaching the doctrine of Christ, and curing the sick,–at the people for hearing them, and bringing the sick to them to be cured,–and at themselves and their own party for suffering this matter to go so far, and not knocking it on the head at first. Thus are the enemies of Christ and his gospel a torment to themselves. Envy slays the silly one.

The high priest — Annas or Caiphas — arrested the Apostles and imprisoned them among base criminals (verse 18).

So we see here that the message of Christ offends, deeply.

MacArthur says:

If you’re going to live for God in this world, a godly life, a pure life, you’re going to be bumping into the system, and you’re going to irritate the system, and you’re going to get persecuted

The only thing that Jesus is talking about when he’s talking about suffering and bearing His reproach is confronting the world so much and with such effect that the system reacts violently and you get some flack back. And that’s exciting. And you ought to be happy about that.

Then a wondrous, supernatural thing happened. An angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and freed the Twelve (verse 19).

This is the first of the miraculous prison stories of Acts. An angel freed Peter again in Acts 12. An earthquake freed Paul and Silas from prison in Acts 16. God wanted the Church to expand. Prison was not going to stop the divine plan.

Matthew Henry says there was spiritual symbolism in this act:

This discharge of the apostles out of prison by an angel was a resemblance of Christ’s resurrection, and his discharge out of the prison of the grave, and would help to confirm the apostles’ preaching of it.

Returning to today’s passage (verse 20), the angel told the Apostles to go back to the temple and

speak to the people all the words of this Life.

The angel did not say to lie low or to leave Jerusalem. No.

They were to return to Solomon’s Portico, stand resolutely and speak boldly — to the people. To the people, not to the hierarchy to try and convince them of the reality of Christ.

From this, we can see why and how the elites are so far above themselves that the vast majority of humankind does not concern them in the slightest.

Henry elaborates:

To whom they must preach: “Speak to the people; not to the princes and rulers, for they will not hearken; but to the people, who are willing and desirous to be taught, and whose souls are as precious to Christ, and ought to be so to you, as the souls of the greatest. Speak to the people, to all in general, for all are concerned.”

Also note that the angel said to speak ‘all the words’ — not just the comfortable, convenient ones.

Which brings us to the angel’s word ‘Life’. What did it mean in that context? What does it mean today?

Ultimately, it refers to the Resurrection of Christ which brings us eternal life.

Henry explains what it meant for the Apostles:

This life which you have been speaking of among yourselves, referring perhaps to the conferences concerning heaven which they had among themselves for their own and one another’s encouragement in prison: “Go, and preach the same to the world, that others may be comforted with the same comforts with which you yourselves are comforted of God.” Or, “of this life which the Sadducees deny, and therefore persecute you; preach this, though you know it is this that they have indignation at.” Or, “of this life emphatically; this heavenly, divine life, in comparison with which the present earthly life does not deserve the name.” Or, “these words of life, the very same you have preached, these words which the Holy Ghost puts into your mouth.” Note, The words of the gospel are the words of life, quickening words; they are spirit, and they are life; words whereby we may be saved–that is the same with this here, Acts 11:14. The gospel is the word of this life, for it secures to us the privileges of our way as well as those of our home, and the promises of the life that now is as well as of that to come. And yet even spiritual and eternal life are brought so much to light in the gospel that they may be called this life; for the word is nigh thee.

MacArthur says:

Men are dead. And they’re groping in this kind of deadness to find reality and it isn’t there and the only thing they really need is life and there’s only one who can give life and that’s Jesus, who said, “I am the way, the truth and,” what? “The life.” Of whom John said, “He that hath the Son,” what? “Hath life.” And to come alive is what it is to be saved. All of a sudden you sense God and you’re alive to His world and you’re a part of what He is and what He’s doing. And this is life. And it doesn’t say tell the people all the words that add to their life. Christianity is not a part of life, it is life and apart from it you’re dead.

Encouraged, the Apostles returned at dawn to the temple to teach (verse 21). The temple opened at daybreak, so the Twelve went in as soon as they could.

While the Apostles continued their marvellous ministry, the high priest convened with his council before calling the Twelve from the cells. He was unaware that his prisoners had resumed their holy work.

MacArthur tells us:

you can see the austerity of this occasion. They’re getting ready now to deal with these upstarts. “The high priest came, and they that were with him,” he had this little gang that trailed around, that were kind of attached to him theologically, “And they called the council together,” that’s the Sanhedrin, the ruling elders of Israel, and then they got in addition to that, which is the senate,” which is grusia, which has to do probably with all of the elder, older Jews, the wise older men who in years past had served in many capacities and they called together this kind of a Senate of wise men made up of many Pharisees.

So they had all of the brain trust of Israel meeting together to dispense with these guys and then they sent to the prison to have them brought. You go and you bring the prisoners. We’ll deal with them.

Henry gives us the numbers:

they called together, pasan ten gerousianall the eldership, that is (says Dr. Lightfoot), all the three courts or benches of judges in Jerusalem, not only the great sanhedrim, consisting of seventy elders, but the other two judicatories that were erected one in the outer-court gate of the temple, the other in the inner or beautiful gate, consisting of twenty-three judges each; so that, if there was a full appearance, here were one hundred and sixteen judges. Thus God ordered it, that the confusion of the enemies, and the apostles’ testimony against them, might be more public, and that those might hear the gospel who would not hear it otherwise than from the bar. Howbeit, the high priest meant not so, neither did his heart think so; but it was in his heart to rally all his forces against the apostles, and by a universal consent to cut them all off at once.

The story continues next week.

Next time: Acts 5:22-26

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was sworn in as the 84th Attorney General of the United States on February 9, 2017.

Jeff Sessions was sworn in on National Pizza Day.

This is a serendipitous coincidence as he will oversee the break up of criminality and corruption, including child sexual abuse and human trafficking. In other words, Pizzagate.

Many of us who have scratched even the surface of this horrifying scandal cannot look at our favourite Italian pie without feeling queasy. Thank goodness for calzones.

President Donald Trump knew about the sexual abuse of children as long ago as 2012:

Now he is in the White House and has Jeff Sessions as chief law enforcement officer and chief lawyer for the United States.

Pizzagate and human trafficking

Fortunately, while Democrats were delaying on approving Trump’s cabinet appointments, law enforcement carried on with their work.

On February 4, 2017, Homeland Security and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a new appeal to Americans. Note the pizza place and the gate nearby:

Many of us are awaiting an Executive Order or Executive Action something like this (courtesy of  The_Donald):

On February 1, 474 people were arrested and 28 sexually exploited children were rescued in a sting operation across the state of California, led by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Twenty-seven adults were also rescued from exploitation:

More will surely follow higher up the tree. Hollywood actors have been saying for several years that child sexual abuse is rampant in the entertainment industry.

On February 3, police in Pennsylvania were making arrests and continued to receive tips concerning a group of men involved in sexual abuse of at least one boy.

On February 5, news emerged about a state bill in Utah has passed the (state) House Committee regarding human trafficking. If passed by Utah’s House, the death penalty — either legal injection or firing squad(!) — would be brought back for convicted human traffickers.

Also on February 5, a child sex trafficking bust took place in Haiti. That link, from The_Donald, has links to several articles about the raid at the Kaliko Bay Hotel. This could be very relevant to the United States, as some nefarious Americans masquerade as missionaries or child welfare workers. The Haiti Sentinel reports (emphases mine):

31 minors, all girls aged 13-17, were rescued in an anti-child-trafficking sting operation undertaken by the Haitian National Police on Sunday. Among the arrested were 9 adults, foreigners, including missionaries among them.

All 31 children were being held in a single room, number 155, at the Kaliko Bay Hotel in Côte-des-Arcadins …

The investigation began in December and remains ongoing to uncover the true breadth of the operation that appears to include non-governmental organization and international elements. Assistance was given by fellow missionaries to police, which aided in the operation.

Investigators believe the syndicate was preparing to take the children over the Dominican Republic border to then leave the island. Police and other public officials are also investigating possible sexual exploitation being that all the minors were female

The article also mentions Pizzagate.

It is highly likely that Sessions will be investigating government employees for child pornography and/or sexual abuse. This ‘cheat sheet for journos’ explains the gaps in investigations as well as a bit about those who have been charged over the past few years. An eye-opener, to say the least.

Oddly enough, the only Democrat — Joe Manchin of West Virginia — to vote for Sessions is anti-paedophile!

Immigration

This week, Trump’s Executive Order (EO) restricting immigration from seven countries for 90 days was halted by the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco.

Sessions can help find a way to enforce US Code 1182 – Inadmissible Aliens, particularly the following clause:

(f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate. Whenever the Attorney General finds that a commercial airline has failed to comply with regulations of the Attorney General relating to requirements of airlines for the detection of fraudulent documents used by passengers traveling to the United States (including the training of personnel in such detection), the Attorney General may suspend the entry of some or all aliens transported to the United States by such airline.

No one raised an eyebrow when Obama issued a similar order for the same seven countries, but now that Trump is doing it, he’s ‘literally Hitler’. Perhaps Trump would have been successful had he written in his EO that he was extending Obama’s.

Security at highest government levels

Sessions will have to put tight vetting procedures in place for security at the highest levels, including information technology departments.

On February 4, The Daily Caller reported that three brothers who worked in IT for the House Permanent Select Committee:

were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computers without permission.

Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives Thursday …

I am amazed that three brothers were allowed to work together in the same department in one of the highest centres of American government. What were their superiors thinking by hiring all three?

The Conservative Treehouse explains:

the House Intelligence Committee is part of the deepest oversight network with responsibility over the most sensitive and secretive government intelligence, including covert anti-terrorism activity

Also, reflecting on the death of the Navy SEAL in Yemen days before during a critical intelligence gathering mission (emphasis in the original here):

the recently authorized Trump operation in Yemen would have been a part of the advance briefing to this very select oversight committee.  The exact same oversight committee these three brothers worked in the IT department for….

♦ Does the firing have any potential attachment to the outcome in Yemen?

♦ Exactly like Benghazi, the Washington DC cover your a[–] machine would never, ever allow sunlight upon such a consequential intelligence compromise.  They would never allow, nor even launch, an investigation in that regard. Too dangerous.

So you decide.

The Daily Caller article also states that the computer of Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was forced to resign on July 24, 2016 as head of the Democratic National Committee, might have been compromised by these three men. WikiLeaks released a series of her emails which were critical of Bernie Sanders’s campaign against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

Furthermore:

The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress …

A criminal investigation into five unnamed people began late last year related to serious and potentially illegal violations of House IT policies, Politico reported Thursday. Chiefs of staff for the members were briefed Thursday by the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the investigation was still ongoing, and arrests have not been made but staff were “asked to update their security settings.”

Interestingly, Hina Alvi, the woman who owns the house in Virginia where the brothers live, also works in IT for the House of Representatives. Politico says she is married to Imran and is also under investigation.

Anti-conservative riots

Sessions will also have to figure out a way to get local police not to stand by idly while ‘protesters’ harm innocent people and damage public or private property.

He will also need to ensure through the relevant law enforcement agencies that agitators and activist groups are thoroughly investigated and, where necessary, prosecuted.

The latest instance was in Berkeley last weekend, where a mob violently reacted to a scheduled appearance by young British conservative Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California (UC) Berkeley.

UC Berkeley denied that its faculty or students were part of the melée, however, members of the public are less sure:

Berkeley Police stood and watched as the mayhem went on unabated.

Washington DC’s finest were also lax in preventing Trump supporters from harm during the inauguration.

Safety of American citizens at home

For years, Americans have read of illegal aliens committing harrowing acts against American citizens who are minding their own business.

Trump mentioned several of these crimes during his presidential campaign in 2016. He also had their families speak of the harrowing incidents at some of his rallies.

A lesser known case is that of Earl Olander, 90, who was brutally murdered on his Minnesota farm by two illegal aliens from south of the border. Olander hired one of the men to paint his house in 2014. His niece said that the farmer was very kind to him and bought him snacks and beverages from a nearby shop. On April 8, 2015, the house painter returned to Olander’s house — with an accomplice — to bind him with duct tape and beat him to death. On May 6, 2016, the two men were given sentences of 37 years each. They will be deported after they complete their sentences. Breitbart reported:

Olander spent his last minutes on Earth blinded, bound, and bleeding to death on his living room floor while listening to Vergara and Benitez tear through his home. Police didn’t find him until a day or two later.

It was his Bible that Vergara and Benitez stole that led police to find him: Someone cleaning out the apartment the killers fled found the Bible stuffed with Olander’s savings bonds and after learning Olander was a murder victim called authorities.

Also in Minnesota, in December 2016, a Somali refugee who had been in the US for only three months raped a woman on a bus. If found guilty of this felony, he could receive up to 30 years in prison. Breitbart tried to find out what refugee programme he entered under but received no response. Gateway Pundit has several links about the story, including Breitbart‘s. Alarmingly, he was released from the Northwest Regional Correction Center on $5,000 bond on condition that he does not leave Minnesota. Who knows where he could be now?

Conclusion

Trump had this to say at Sessions’s swearing-in:

Afterwards, he signed three EOs: one for a task force on crime reduction and public safety, one for preventing violence against federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers and one for enforcing federal law with respect to transnational criminal organisations and preventing international trafficking.

We can be certain that the next eight years will be busy ones for Jeff Sessions. I wish him Godspeed! A nation’s prayers are with him!

And if he can make pizza great again, we will be eternally grateful.

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