Mike Pence May Be Our President Soon

The sharks have been circling President Donald Trump from the moment John Podesta made his way to the stage of the Javits Center on November 8th, forced a smile, and delivered the news to the victory-party-turned-wake that Madame Hillary would not be attending the ball that night.

Trump’s contempt for the status quo in Washington made him a hero to his supporters, but a grave threat to his detractors. Unfortunately, as many level-headed conservative Republicans feared during the campaign, it appears more obvious than ever that the President’s unprincipled mind, undisciplined approach and unpredictable conduct may cause his administration to be strangled in its infancy.

Sure, it is completely fair to say that the things Donald Trump is being constantly accused of doing – specifically the mishandling of classified information as well as the obstruction of justice – have been a staple of presidential conduct for the last eight years. If you need a refresher, think SEAL Team 6 leaks, Iran cyber attacks leaks, Israel/Syria leaks, IRS targeting of conservatives and subsequent cover-up, and a litany of other examples. And of course the media yawned at all of it while mocking as conspiratorial or racist anyone who didn’t.

But with as tempting as it is for conservatives or Republicans to point to the double standard the Democrat/Media Complex is holding President Trump to, it’s not the issue. The issue is President Trump’s behavior. If it was bad when Obama did it (it was), it is bad when Trump does it (it is). Failing to see that makes you no better than the Democrat/Media Complex you despise.

Some Republicans have sadly responded to this truth by saying, “But the Democrats use our virtue and principles against us.” Yes, that’s probably true. But what is the better alternative? Abandoning virtue and principles?

I get that it’s not fair. But it hasn’t been fair for generations. Remember, before there was Trump Derangement Syndrome on the left there was Bush Derangement Syndrome. George W. Bush faced every bit as much opposition as Trump (in fact I would argue more so). Even the affable and genial demeanor of Mitt Romney was characterized by leftists as mean-spirited greed pouring from a misogynistic reprobate. They pilloried two good men as monsters because that’s what they do. The left is gonna left no matter who the Republican standard bearer is; which is precisely why so many of us wanted a Republican standard bearer who wouldn’t give them ammunition.

That didn’t happen. Sadly, it becomes increasingly clear every day that Trump is stumbling into the legacy of Richard Nixon who once reflected of his enemies, “I gave them a sword.” Donald Trump appears determined to give his two or three.

In light of this fairly self-evident reality, while I feel no need or desire to attempt to bandage up or “spin” away the President’s self-inflicted wounds, I do feel compelled to beg of my fellow Christians and conservatives to be in fervent prayer for Vice President Mike Pence.

The polar opposite of Donald Trump in every discernable way – policy convictions, demeanor, style, graciousness, thoughtfulness – Pence is in the midst of a whirlwind that conservatives (and all Americans) need him to emerge from in tact.

Pray for Pence that he would remain honest and forthright even as signs of corruption or carelessness emerge in the administration around him.

Pray for Pence that he would remain grounded and wise in the activities he is asked to engage in on behalf of the administration.

Pray for Pence that he would be a voice of sound reason that President Trump would hear and heed sooner rather than later.

Pray for Pence that he remains uncompromising and unflinching in the storms he must contend with, and that he is able to successfully escape the ones that shouldn’t involve him.

Pray for Pence that he continues being a, “Christian, conservative, and Republican in that order.”

I wouldn’t even begin to guess what is coming in the weeks and months ahead for the Trump Administration and the country it leads. Damaging revelations from Special Prosecutor Mueller (for the record, I don’t think this investigation sinks Trump)? A White House staff exodus or firing spree? More damaging leaks? An impeachment effort? A resignation? Absolutely nothing would surprise me at this point.

And that means regardless of where you place the odds, there’s an ever-increasing probability that Mike Pence may be our president soon. Pray for him.

Pence: ‘No People of Faith Today Face Greater Hostility or Hatred Than the Followers of Christ’

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence addressed hundreds of Christian leaders at the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, D.C. Rev. Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association led the four-day, multi-denominational event aimed at encouraging and empowering faithful Christians at home and abroad.

The vice president began his speech by thanking Rev. Graham and Christian leaders “across this country and across the world.” He then took a moment to honor President Donald Trump, “a champion of the freedom of religion and the freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights”:

I’m here on behalf of the President as a tangible sign of his commitment to defending Christians and, frankly, all who suffer for their beliefs across the wider world. I stand here today as a testament to President Trump’s tangible commitment to reaffirm America’s role as a beacon of hope and light and liberty to inspire the world.

Pence went on to address “the courageous men and women … who have stood without apology for their faith in Christ and suffered persecution across the wider world.

Read the full story at Faithwire.com.

Shut The Hell Up, Mr. President

Rod Rosenstein wrote an excellent and articulate memorandum explaining the need to fire his direct report, James Comey. Comey had, on several occasions, overstepped his bounds. Most recently, Comey testified under oath to Congress and much of what he said was not true. The FBI, embarrassingly, had to retract his testimony.

The Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General recommended Comey be fired. They cited Comey’s several missteps, the bipartisan complaints about him, and the recent testimony. President Trump fired him.

Vice President Pence and the entire White House apparatus swung into defense to defend the decision. The decision was made with consideration and consultation and was not made lightly.

The press ran with a report that Rod Rosenstein was angry at being made the man responsible. The press said Rosenstein was going to quit as a result. Turns out that was not true.

The press ran with a report that James Comey had asked for additional funds for the FBI’s investigation into Russia shortly before his firing. That was not true either.

The press ran with a report that Rod Rosenstein asked for and was granted an emergency meeting with the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Turns out the meeting was scheduled prior to Comey’s firing.

Everything made sense and was justified, despite the partisan outrage. It was defensible, even if the timing looked bad.

But God help us all, the President felt overshadowed. He was subservient to checks, balances, systems, and recommendations. So what did the President do? He lashed out and said he’d made up his mind to fire James Comey even before the Department of Justice recommendation. On top of that, he said he would have fired Comey regardless of Justice’s recommendation.

In one short interview, the President made liars of every single person who mounted a credible defense of the decision — a decision that remains defensible.

But the decision is not defensible if the President did it just because Comey wasn’t loyal to him personally. The decision was not defensible if the President did it because he felt personally offended by the FBI Director.

The President’s behavior is juvenile and asinine. He undermines his Vice President, his communications team, and the very foundational reasons for firing Comey. He can’t help but make it about himself and in so doing he undermines his own integrity in the process.

The President needs to shut the hell up. He does himself and those around him absolutely no favors. He has done more harm than good. And the kicker is I think he is lying to boot. Donald Trump has an overwhelming need to make it all about himself. And if he fired Comey based on someone else’s advice, it would not be about him and his brilliant skills.

Our President is an idiot.

President Signs EO Aimed at Religious Liberty

Every once in a while, debate fires up over the Johnson amendment governing free speech rights of religious organizations. And each time, I’m astounded by how many of my fellow Christian conservatives support the federal government telling churches and other non-profits what they can and cannot say. The law is rarely enforced, but in church circles, it still sends shivers down the spines of the faithful.

Passed into law in 1954, as part of the Internal Revenue Code, the Johnson Amendment, named after then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, forbids any 501c3 organization from engaging in political activity.

Today, the president signed an executive order, telling the IRS to “use discretion” when prosecuting the terms of the amendment. It is, however, still the law. Rumor has it that Vice President Mike Pence has been lobbying hard for several executive orders related to government regulations on religious activity.

According to the IRS website, 501c3’s “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” They specifically threaten that any “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

Violating the law “may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.” Whew! But, get this… the original prohibition had nothing to do with being tax exempt anyway. In fact, Johnson never even intended for churches to be included in the ban either, He was aiming for non-profit organizations, like those that fought his candidacy back in Texas.

Regardless, five decades into the war against God in public life, “separation of Church and State” is the loudest argument you hear.

I know how the left feels, especially those who don’t believe in a sovereign God. But it’s those I have grown up with and known all my life that surprise me. To a person, these Christians argue that the church has no business preaching politics from the pulpit. Well, of course, I agree with them. Pastors should avoid discussing politics, especially candidates, except in extreme circumstances, and most would never do so. However, that decision should lie solely with the individual and church. Dr. Wayne Grudem feels the same way, asserting:

“Decisions about what is preached from the pulpit of a church should not belong to the government, but to the individual pastor and the church itself.”

So, why does do we need the federal government to enforce it?

Politics.

The reason this has become a hot topic today is because over the years, the IRS has interpreted the law to mean they can revoke 501c3 status of any church for simply discussing politics in an official capacity. The Alliance for Defending Freedom has made it a more public matter as well, as a means of stoking interest and driving conversation.

But, the threat to churches is real, and the empowerment of a bureaucrat to determine the appropriateness of your speech is chilling. In 2004, Rev. George Regas of All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA came under fire for a sermon called “What if Jesus Debated President George Bush and Senator John Kerry.” Evangelist Bill Keller, based in Florida, was threatened when Americans United sent a public letter to the IRS asking them to investigate Keller for likening Mitt Romney to Satan during the primaries of 2012.

Ok, Romney wasn’t “Satan,” but isn’t he entitled to make silly statements without the threat of government action?

Some supporters of the amendment worry that churches could become vehicles for campaign cash. There’s a rational argument to say that churches should not be used to funnel unreported donations to supporters in a political cycle. But why? It’s not like it’s in a vacuum. Churches are, by definition very public, and their members have the ability to hold their leaders accountable. Why should we care, and care so much that we use the force of law to prohibit it?

I support allowing churches and their leaders to speak freely about politicians, who affect our daily lives, just as they are allowed (for now) to speak out against sins those politicians defend. It’s not a reach to say that if the Johnson Amendment can tell pastors what they can and can’t talk about with regard to elections, what’s to stop them from expanding this to “hate speech” in the future? This isn’t unrealistic. Nearly every terrible legal tragedy has come from laws whose authors assured us there wouldn’t be one.

Either you support the government telling people what they can and cannot say, or you don’t. The same goes for our houses of worship.

 

Support Your Favorite Small Businesses This Week

This week marks National Small Business Week. This celebration will take place from April 30-May 6, 2017. Since 1963, the country has celebrated this week honoring American small businesses. Here’s more about it from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which is under the leadership of Linda McMahon:

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Per SBA estimates, more than half of Americans “either own or work for a small business” which help create “two out of every three new jobs” here each year. In January, the SBA found there were nearly 30 million small businesses that employ 58 million people:

Credit: Small Business Administration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House issued this press release on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence to commemorate the week:

Since 1963, the White House has honored America’s small businesses by marking this National Small Business Week and recognizing the tremendous contributions that small businesses make to our country every single day.

Just this weekend, President Trump declared that “small business owners embody the American pioneering spirit and remind us that determination can turn aspiration into achievement.”

I know firsthand how true that statement is. I grew up in a small business family in a small town in Columbus, Indiana. I went to work at my father’s gas station when I was only 14 years of age. And as the world knows, President Trump grew up in a family business, too.

We both know the sacrifices that are required to make a business work. And we know that when small business is strong, America is strong.

A stunning 99.7 percent of all American businesses are small businesses. And no fewer than 57 million Americans work for small businesses – nearly half of all private-sector jobs in the United States.

Our economy, from coast to coast, depends every day on small businesses.

Here’s how social media users are spreading the love of small businesses:

How will you honor small business this week? What a great way to celebrate and appreciate American free enterprise!

 

Pence Visits Korean DMZ to Demonstrate U.S. Resolve

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea.  While at the DMZ he made a series of remarks aimed at North Korea in order to reiterate American resolve in “denuclearization of  this peninsula and for the long term prosperity and freedom of the people of South Korea.”  He noted that although the U.S. seeks a peaceful resolution to the issues, “all options are on the table” and “the era of strategic patience is over.”

Indeed, the U.S. has been ramping up pressure on North Korea lately in a bid to encourage its leadership to tone down its rhetoric and cease its nuclear program and weapons tests.  The U.S. has sent the U.S.S. Carl Vinson carrier strike group to the region (both China and Russia have deployed “intelligence-gathering” ships to the area in response in order to monitor American movements).  The U.S. has also been encouraging China to help reign in North Korea, which it appears to be doing, having previously stopped coal shipments from North Korea to China and recently deploying troops along their border with North Korea.

This pressure may be having an effect.  North Korea had threatened to test a nuclear weapon over the weekend, but instead simply attempted to launch a medium-range missile, which failed.  However, North Korean leadership (Kim Jong-un, in particular) appears to base its legitimacy on the strength of its belligerence towards the U.S., South Korea, and Japan.  How they will respond as the U.S. and China work to tamp down this belligerence remains to be seen.

 

Swampcare 2.0: Let’s Do Nothing!

Vice President Mike Pence had a pow-wow with Congressional Republicans, both moderates and conservatives, Monday, prior to the administration unveiling Strike Two of “Repeal Obamacare,” which will be heretofore be known as Swampcare 2.0.

The first thing he did was change basically nothing. From Roll Call:

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., said the pitch dropped a controversial last-minute amendment proposed in March that was intended to win over House conservatives. It would have ended the health care law’s requirement that every insurance plan in the marketplaces cover 10 categories of health care benefits.

Wait, but there’s more.

Instead, the White House proposal offered to let Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price work with states who want to waive the requirements, if they have a plan in place to ensure costs drop and access remains the same or improves. The change resembles a provision in current law known as a 1332 waiver. The White House also presented to moderates changes that would more specifically target a $115 billion fund in the package aimed at stabilizing state marketplaces.

A “1332 waiver” is named after ACA Section 1332, which permits states to apply for a State Innovation Waiver. The National Conference of State Legislatures had this to say about 1332.

Beginning Jan, 1, 2017, a new state option within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, known as Section 1332 Waivers. For the first time since the law was signed six years earlier, this new process may allow any state to seek to modify key parts of the health law within its boundaries. While in effect, these 1332 waiver options offer states an opportunity to fashion a new coverage system customized for local context and preferences while still fulfilling the aims of the ACA. The statute requires interested states to pass authorizing legislation as an early step in order to apply for and ultimately implement waiver-based reforms.

So, basically, Swampcare 2.0 simply replaces a code section that’s already law in the current ACA with something that resembles the current law. In mathematics, when two things are equal to a third thing, the two things are also equal to each other. A = C and B = C means A = B.

Therefore, Obamacare + § 1332 = Obamacare as of Jan. 1, 2017 = Swampcare 2.0. The new proposal doesn’t repeal the core requirement of health insurers to offer standardized coverages, but does allow states to ask “Mother May I?” to HHS for a waiver. What sorcery is this?

Some states already had waivers on file, others didn’t, and now that many states (including Georgia) legislative sessions have ended, we’ll see a whole lot of confusion if this mess passes. It’s honestly better to just leave 1332 alone if you’re going to replace it with something equivalent but differently administered. I thought Trump was against paper chases and inefficiency. Apparently not.

To their credit, the House Freedom Caucus was having none of this. Despite spin indicating a “deal” was made, there is no deal–certainly not before the text of the bill has been reviewed. Unlike Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats, the HFC doesn’t “pass it so we can see what’s in it.”

Without more to offer conservatives, and giving more control back to states, it’s unlikely that Swampcare 2.0 will get further than its predecessor. So far, it’s a big, heaping plate of nothing.

White House Set To Reveal Second Attempt At Obamacare Replacement This Week

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) came out of a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence with the understanding that the White House will unveil its second attempt at repealing Obamacare this week – possibly as early as Tuesday.

But Meadows seemed doubtful on whether the House would vote this week before adjourning Thursday for the two-week Easter recess.

“Everybody would love to have this bill passed tomorrow if at all possible, but to put a timeline on that would set an expectation that is not realistic based on the drafting,” he said.

The new bill is supposed to include some compromises that would make it more palatable to Freedom Caucus member and other conservatives who were skittish about the first attempt at legislation, which failed in March.

The compromise would allow states to opt out of forcing insurers to cover 10 essential health benefits in plans, including maternity care and hospitalization. The states could also opt out of forcing insurers to comply with a community rating mandate, which today requires them to offer the same rate to an entire geographic area, and bars them from charging sicker people much more.

But the states would have to get a waiver to opt out of either regulation, and it remains unclear what that waiver would entail.

Even though the new bill is set to give states more freedom, the mandates to cover pre-existing conditions and the allowance for children to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26 remain in place.

Meadows stated that he would be willing to stay in Washington during the Easter break in order to get a good replacement bill on the table.

“Most of us [in the Freedom Caucus] believe that staying here and getting it done, especially if we think we are close to a deal would be important,” he said.

Even if a bill doesn’t come down the pike before Easter break, the GOP will have their work cut out for them when they return in their efforts to undo the burdensome regulations and requirements that come with Obamacare.

It will surely be interesting to see what happens next – and to see if a second try is the charm.