March 29, 2017

Sessions Confirmed as Attorney General

Sen. Jeff Sessions won confirmation Wednesday evening to become the next attorney general of the United States, capping a Senate fight so contentious that one of the nominee’s biggest critics was forced by majority Republicans to sit out the last leg of the debate.

The Senate narrowly approved the Alabama Republican’s nomination on a 52-47 vote, the latest in a series of confirmation votes that have been dragged out amid Democratic protests. One Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, joined Republicans in voting to confirm Sessions. Sessions himself voted present.

In his farewell address Wednesday evening, Sessions urged his erstwhile colleagues to get along better following days of bruising debate.

“We need latitude in our relationships,” Sessions said. “Denigrating people who disagree with us is not a healthy trend for our body.”

President Trump has accused Democrats of obstructing the confirmation process, though the Senate will turn next to votes on the president’s picks to lead the health and treasury departments.

Sessions became just the sixth Cabinet nominee approved by the Senate, joining Trump’s choices for Defense, Homeland Security, Education, Transportation and State.

Wednesday’s vote came after a rowdy overnight session during which Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was formally chastised for allegedly impugning Sessions’ integrity on the floor.

Warren had read a letter authored in 1986 by Coretta Scott King, who was against Sessions’ nomination at the time to the federal bench, arguing he used the power of his office to “chill” black voting rights. Warren also quoted the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who originally had entered King’s letter into the record, describing Sessions as “disgraceful.”

GOP Senate leaders said Warren had violated Senate rules and should lose her speaking privileges. In a remarkable scene, the Senate then voted 49-43 to suspend Warren’s speaking privileges for the rest of the nomination process – the first time the Senate has imposed such a punishment in decades.

Democrats had repeatedly contended that Sessions is too close to Trump, too harsh on immigrants, and weak on civil rights for minorities, immigrants, gay people and women. Sessions was a prominent early backer of Trump, a supporter of his hard line on illegal immigration and joined Trump’s advocacy of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“There is simply nothing in Senator Sessions’ testimony before the Judiciary Committee that gives me confidence that he would be willing to stand up to the president,” said Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. “He has instead demonstrated only blind allegiance.”

Republicans argued Sessions has demonstrated over a long career in public service, including two decades in the Senate, that he possesses integrity, honesty, and is committed to justice and the rule of law.

“He’s honest. He’s fair. He’s been a friend to many of us, on both sides of the aisle,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Wednesday. “It’s been tough to watch all this good man has been put through in recent weeks. This is a well-qualified colleague with a deep reverence for the law. He believes strongly in the equal application of it to everyone.”

The debate had been intensified by Sessions’ nomination to a federal judgeship three decades ago, which was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee after it was alleged that as a federal prosecutor he had called a black attorney “boy” and had said organizations like the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union were un-American.

At his hearing last month, Sessions said he had never harbored racial animus and claimed he had been falsely caricatured.

Before Wednesday’s vote, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the Senate’s lone black Republican, offered a personal and passionate defense of Sessions. He spoke of his personal experiences in introducing the Alabama Republican to African-American pastors at a racial forum in Charleston.

And he read the statements of black Alabama Democrats vouching for Sessions, who as attorney general will be the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Scott said the South is still working through racial differences and said “Jeff Sessions has earned my support and I will hold him accountable if and when we disagree.”

Scott read messages in which he was called an “Uncle Tom” — and worse — and said that “as I read through some of the comments of my friends on the left, you will wonder if I ever had an experience as a black person in America.”

“I just wish that my friends who call themselves liberals would want tolerance for all Americans.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Federal Scientist Cooked Climate Change Books Ahead of Obama Presentation

A key Obama administration scientist brushed aside inconvenient data that showed a slowdown in global warming in compiling an alarming 2015 report that coincided with the White House participation in the Paris Climate Conference, a whistle blower is alleging.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in a major 2013 report, concluded global temperatures had shown a smaller increase from 1998 to 2012 than any similar period over the past 30 to 60 years. But a blockbuster, June 2015 paper by a team of federal scientists led by Thomas Karl, published in the journal Science in June 2015 and later known as the “pausebuster” paper sought to discredit the notion of a slowdown in warming.

“Our new analysis suggests that the apparent hiatus may have been largely the result of limitations in past datasets, and that the rate of warming over the first 15 years of this century has, in fact, been as fast or faster than that seen over the last half of the 20th century,” Karl, who was at the time director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said at the time.

The report argued that evidence shows there was no “hiatus” in rising global temperatures and that they had been increasing in the 21st century just as quickly as in the last half of the 20th century.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science Committee, questioned the timing, noting the paper was published just before the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan was submitted to the Paris Climate Conference of 2015.

“In the summer of 2015, whistleblowers alerted the Committee that the Karl study was rushed to publication before underlying data issues were resolved to help influence public debate about the so-called Clean Power Plan and upcoming Paris climate conference,” Smith said in a statement. “Since then, the Committee has attempted to obtain information that would shed further light on these allegations, but was obstructed at every turn by the previous administration’s officials.”

Karl denied the paper was released to boost the plan.

Karl’s neglect of the IPCC data was purposeful, according to John Bates, a recently retired scientist from the National Climactic Data Center at the NOAA. Bates came forward just days ago to charge that the 2015 study selectively used misleading and unverified data – effectively putting NOAA’s thumb on the scale.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Bates said Karl was “insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximized warming and minimized documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”

For example, Karl allegedly adjusted temperature data collected by robot buoys upward to match earlier data from ocean-going ships. That was problematic, Bates said, because ships generate heat and could cause readings to vary.

“They had good data from buoys,” Bates told the Daily Mail. “And they threw it out and ‘corrected’ it by using the bad data from ships. You never change good data to agree with bad, but that’s what they did – so as to make it look as if the sea was warmer.”
Bates, who could not be reached for comment, but has published some of his allegations in a blog, claims to have documentation of his explosive charges and indicated more revelations are coming.

A NOAA spokesman, in an email to The Washington Times, said NOAA “stands behind its world-class scientists” but also that it “takes seriously any allegation that its internal processes have not been followed and will review the matter appropriately.”

Bates is not the first to question Karl’s conclusions. A paper by Canadian climate modeler John Fyfe questioned the 2015 study. As he put it, in a 2016 article from the journal Nature Climate Change, “there is a mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what observations are showing. We can’t ignore it.”

Climate scientists have closed ranks around Karl. A study published last month in Science Advances, by Zeke Hausfather of University of California Berkeley and five others, claims to confirm Karl’s findings.

In addition, climate scientist Peter Thorne, who has worked with the NOAA, said Bates wasn’t involved in the work that he’s criticizing. Bates disputed the assertion.

While Karl, and other scientists who believe man-made climate change poses a major threat had the ear of the Obama administration, President Trump has shown signs of skepticism. It remains to be seen from which scientists he will take his cue.

Reporting for this article provided by the Fox News Investigative Unit and Brainroom

World Leaders Duped into Investing Billions with Manipulated Global Warming Data

The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.
But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.
It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.
His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.

His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump’s determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor’s ‘green’ policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.
Dr Bates was one of two Principal Scientists at NCEI, based in Asheville, North Carolina.
A blatant attempt to intensify paper’s impact
Official delegations from America, Britain and the EU were strongly influenced by the flawed NOAA study as they hammered out the Paris Agreement – and committed advanced nations to sweeping reductions in their use of fossil fuel and to spending £80 billion every year on new, climate-related aid projects.
The scandal has disturbing echoes of the ‘Climategate’ affair which broke shortly before the UN climate summit in 2009, when the leak of thousands of emails between climate scientists suggested they had manipulated and hidden data. Some were British experts at the influential Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

LED TO THESE GREEN COMMITMENTS
– Data published by NOAA, the world’s top climate data agency, claimed global warming was worse than previously thought. The information was published to coincide with the Paris climate change conference in 2015, where world leaders agreed that…
– $100bn be given every year in extra ‘climate-related’ aid to the developing world by rich nations
– 2 degrees C be set as the limit for maximum temperature rise above pre-industrial times
– 40% of CO2 emissions would be cut across the EU by 2030
– £320bn… what the UK’s pledges will cost our economy by 2030 


NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas.
Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.

The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’.

The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified.
A final, approved version has still not been issued. None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.

Dr Bates retired from NOAA at the end of last year after a 40-year career in meteorology and climate science. As recently as 2014, the Obama administration awarded him a special gold medal for his work in setting new, supposedly binding standards ‘to produce and preserve climate data records’.
Yet when it came to the paper timed to influence the Paris conference, Dr Bates said, these standards were flagrantly ignored.

The paper was published in June 2015 by the journal Science. Entitled ‘Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus’, the document said the widely reported ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ was a myth.

Less than two years earlier, a blockbuster report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which drew on the work of hundreds of scientists around the world, had found ‘a much smaller increasing trend over the past 15 years 1998-2012 than over the past 30 to 60 years’. Explaining the pause became a key issue for climate science. It was seized on by global warming sceptics, because the level of CO2 in the atmosphere had continued to rise.

Continue reading full article on Daily Mail>

Mormons Should Not Lose Faith Because of Scientific Discoveries or Modern Philosophies

Enoch_Adam_ad
We see many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints struggling with their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ these days. They are not alone; in an anti-Christ atmosphere of the past decade, Christianity has come under attack in most sectors, and young Mormons are as subject to the barrage of anti-Christian propaganda as any young Christian.

We see pseudo intellectual websites flooded with anti-Mormon propaganda, misrepresenting the faith’s doctrines and its leaders’ teachings and activities. I’ve looked into some of the prevailing attacks used by the Church’s enemies, and find them to be the same old tired recycled lies that have been circulated to harm the Church’s reputation since the earliest days of the boy Joseph Smith.

Personal friends and family members have come to me with questions about things they have read about the Church, its doctrines, its history, and its leaders; things that tend to put them in a very bad light. We discuss each attack individually, and go through it, to the satisfaction of the inquirer. The Church’s enemies have a short list of favorite ruses they like to circulate, and like wolves among the flock they take the younger, weaker members, and devour them with lies and deceit, leading their souls down unlit paths, finally wandering off into snares of various kinds. I have seen it often of late.

Let me tell the members of Christ’s Church that they need not fear what they don’t yet understand. Scientific theories and recent discoveries are likewise no reason to begin doubting the existence of your Father in Heaven, or of the divine nature of Jesus Christ, His exalted Son. Scientific theories come and go, and many of them are correct, while many are not. Humans just beginning to understand the nature of the universe, is no reason to begin doubting the existence of He who organizes it into galaxies and solar systems for the benefit of His children.

The Big Bang Theory is one of my least favorite areas of “science,” because it requires so much more faith to accept than any religious dogma, is unprovable with the scientific method, and is so unsupported by logic and inquiry as to be laughable. Yet every scientist must accept the theory as orthodoxy. Scientists who first considered the Big Bang theory of creation were quite reluctant to accept it as a theory because of its close kinship to creatio ex nihilo. According to the standard Big Bang theory, our universe sprang into existence as a ‘singularity’ around 13.7 billion years ago. This implies that a nonexistent universe suddenly and without provocation sprang into existence, growing instantly from a point only a small fraction of the size of an atom to the entire universe filled with all of its mass and matter in mere seconds. Honestly, the faith required to accept such an unsubstantiated, inconceivable theory as a workable model for the creation of the universe is beyond acceptability. The theory continues to experience tweaking and retooling due to incongruity with ‘the math.’ It doesn’t work. To make the math begin to conform to the theory, scientists have constructed a model that requires 95% of the universe to consist of “dark matter” and “dark energy.” In other words, scientists now mock Christians for their failure to believe in unseen worlds and forms of existence. Furthermore, any scientist who refuses to subscribe to this dogma is blacklisted, and not allowed to publish or teach. See Christians: Marked For Extinction?, March 12, 2014

The more I learn of quantum mechanics and the Higgs Boson particle, for instance, the better I come to understand the multi-dimensional nature of the universe, exactly as the prophets have described it for millennia. The probability of the existence of what we term the spirit world is greatly multiplied by these scientific discoveries. Although many would tell you it is the opposite. I am currently reading a book written by a law school acquaintance of mine, Henry J. Eyring, the son of our beloved President Henry Eyring. His well-written book, Mormon Scientist: The Life and Faith of Henry Eyring, chronicles the life of President Eyring’s father, who was a top scientist in the world at a time when scientific inquiry and understanding exploded exponentially. He developed scientific theories and standards that are fundamental today, relied upon by most chemists and scientists every day. His understanding of things spiritual was instrumental in breaking the hidden nature of the unseen world of quantum mechanics, and coming up with a working understanding of how particles constantly slip between dimensions, giving them their reactive nature and physical attributes. He was at Princeton with Einstein for nearly 15 years, and they changed the world’s understanding of the universe and how it works. Both men were believers in God, and Professor Eyring was well known for his frequent testimonials about the truthfulness of the restoration of the gospel through the prophet, Joseph Smith, and of the Book of Mormon, and the revelations, and the writings published in the Pearl of Great Price. There is much that science could learn from the prophets if they would simply recognize that truth is eternal, and applies universally, regardless of the discipline being studied.

To the wolves who are devouring the weak and sickly of the flock, I invite you to get a new hobby. What is it to you if people want to improve themselves and learn more about where they have come from, why they are here at this time on this planet, and what awaits us when we eventually go the way of all the world? If you don’t agree with what divine messengers have revealed to the prophets, and what the Holy Spirit reveals in quiet meditation and prayer, then move on to something else. We do not begrudge you your self-destructive lifestyle. Waste your life in alcoholism, drug abuse, impurity and self-satisfaction. Go into chat rooms and congratulate yourselves for your superior understanding and intellect. Choose whatever you want for yourselves. We simply ask that you allow us the same privileges that you enjoy. Stalking our children so that you can convert them to your atheism may bring you a degree of devilish satisfaction at some level, but in the long run, people like you often come to regret the wanton waste of their lives, and look upon those with families and love in their lives with profound envy.

Mormons–if the Prophet of the Lord reveals something to you that may seem at odds with what the women on The View say, or with the latest scientific theory, or some politically correct darling of the moment, don’t worry too much about it. The Lord sees the big picture, and I assure you that pundits do not. Live your lives. Live your religion. There is nothing wrong with remaining faithful to wives, husbands, children, neighbors, and God–no matter what the world may say. Turn away from the taunts and mocking of the great and spacious building, and turn back to the iron rod. This is the time to choose.

James Thompson is an LDS author, political commentator and ghostwriter. His article of October 24, 2016, Mormons Determined to Give White House to Clinton, and Supreme Court to Left, was read by hundreds of thousands of LDS people before the election and is credited with swinging Mormon states in the election.

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Obama Showered UN with $9.2 Billion This Year

In its last year in office, the Obama Administration showered at least some $9.2 billion on the United Nations and its sprawling array of organizations, according to a document recently posted on the State Department website.

The total is gleaned from a document that summarizes U.S. government spending for international organizations, and is  about 20 per cent higher than the $7.7 billion figure  given out by State for 2010, before the Obama Administration abruptly quit providing any overall tally for its U.N. support.

The overall U.S. bill for international organizations of every stripe is just under $10.5 billion, meaning that U.N. organizations absorb about 88 per cent of such U.S. government spending.

The new tally includes nearly $360 million for  the controversial United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, which is regularly accused of inculcating violent anti-Israel attitudes and even abetting  terrorist attacks on Israel, which it strongly denies.

That is nearly a 50 per cent jump over the $238.3 million UNRWA got from the U.S. in 2010.

(Last week, the Trump Administration froze a last-minute, $221 million donation by the Obama Administration that was intended for the Palestinian Authority.)

The UNRWA numbers, along with all the rest of the U.N. donations, are likely to come under fierce scrutiny in the weeks ahead, both from the Trump Administration, which wants to take a tough look at aligning its U.N. spending with national interests, and from Congress, which is frustrated  by U.N. bloat and inefficiency, and often maddened by its anti-Israel biases.

At the same time, U.N. appeals for funds, especially humanitarian money to deal with a swamp of international crises and conflicts, are still on the rise. On Jan. 31, for example, UNICEF announced a new, $3.4 billion appeal, including $1.4 billion slated for Syria and surrounding countries, that the agency says will target some 535 million children next year.

But from a U.S. point of view, “there is a new sheriff in town,” noted Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman from Florida and a U.N. supporter who testified on Feb. 1 , along with some sharp U.N. critics, before a subcommittee hearing of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

The hearing focused on the U.N.’s anti-Israel biases, and specifically on UNRWA, whose recent alleged misdeeds were laid out in detail by Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based U.N. Watch, who told the legislators that “the U.S. Congress is the one reliable force that can hold the U.N. to account.”

That is, if the figures they see can be believed. Critics are already noting that the State Department figures for U.N. support are less than the full story– at least $500 million in contributions to the U.N.-sponsored Green Climate Fund, which Congress had opposed, are missing—and State itself admits that “not all Executive Branch agencies provided information for inclusion in this report.”

With the Green Climate Fund money included, the 2016 figure would amount to a nearly 26 per cent hike in U.N. support over 2010 levels.  (Another $500 million donation to the Green Climate Fund was also blocked at the last minute by the Trump Administration.)

“This report was probably put together in hurried fashion,” observes Brett Schaefer, an expert on U.N. funding at the conservative Heritage Foundation.  He  notes that its appearance was likely prompted by a congressional spending resolution last December that demanded such figures once again be made public.

The State Department website now includes similarly disorganized spending numbers  for 2015—when overall spending on international organizations hit $10.8 billion—and links to more organized reports on spending that stretch back to  2007.

CLICK HERE FOR THE DOCUMENTS

Pulling exact totals out of the State Department paperwork is a daunting task, as it does not separate U.N. organizations and other international organizations that the U.S. voluntarily  and involuntarily  funds. In some cases, getting the numbers also involves analyzing ostensibly non-U.N. grants where the money is then returned, via partnerships, to U.N. organizations.

The tallies, however, are virtually guaranteed never to match with their U.N. equivalents. The State Department figures cover the government’s fiscal year:  October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. U.N. Secretariat  biennial budgets run from January 1 to December 31 each year. U.N. annual peacekeeping budgets are prepared on a cycle from  July 1 to June 30. Other U.N. organizations may also vary.

Thus, for 2014—the latest year covered on a U.N. website for its top inter-agency coordinating body—total U.S. contributions to the U.N. alone are tallied at $10.067 billion.

The State Department report for fiscal 2014 lists total U.S. contributions to all international organizations at about $7.4 billion.

The U.S. spent about $2.6 billion on U.N. peacekeeping in fiscal 2016, according to the State Department. That would be 32.7 percent of the $7.9 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget for July 2016 to June 30 2017—much more than the 28.57 per cent it is assessed for its peacekeeping “dues,” and which many U.S. legislators already consider greatly excessive.

(The same $2.6 billion would be 31 per cent of the previous 2015-2016 peacekeeping budget of $8.3 billion.)

Whatever the truth of the numbers, all of that money is  likely to come under the skeptical microscope of  the Trump Administration, which is contemplating a tough review of any U.N. spending that it deems outside the national interest—including  steep cuts to “voluntary” funding beyond U.S. dues-paying minimums.

UNRWA in particular may face harsh scrutiny. A foretaste was provided at the Feb. 1  subcommittee hearing, where UN Watch in particular singled out the agency in a 130-page report entitled Poisoning Palestinian Children.

The UN Watch document cites more than 40 Facebook pages that it claims were “operated by school teachers, principals and other employees” of UNRWA, which it charges “incite to terrorism or anti-Semitism.” UNRWA has vigorously denied such charges in the past.

UN Watch director Neuer claimed before the legislators that the UNRWA indictment was only part of a “vast infrastructure the U.N. has constructed to demonize Israel.”

There are plenty of other targets in the State Department tallies. To name one: $67.9 million was spent in 2016 for the United Nations Population Fund, which has become an automatic piñata when pro-life Republican Administrations are in power, and the opposite under Democrats.

In 2010, the Obama Administration gave the Population Fund $51.4 million, according to the State Department, which means the figure has been boosted by nearly a third.

But two years earlier, the number was zero. And in his first week in office, President Trump announced restoration of the so-called Mexico City Policy for global health assistance that cuts U.S. funding for non-government organizations that offer abortion counselling or advocate for abortion rights in foreign countries. Like most U.N. organizations, the Population Fund is dependent on local organizations to carry out its family planning work.

The fuel for many other impassioned battles can be seen in the State Department numbes. In 2010, for example, the International Organization for Migration, devoted to “humane and orderly migration,”  got $272.8 million from the U.S.

In 2016, now a full-fledged U.N. agency, it got $477.2 million, much of it in response to the Syria crisis—upheaval which, in turn, has helped prompt a rethinking of immigration policies by the Trump Administration.

George Russell is Editor-at-Large of Fox News. He is reachable on Twitter at @GeorgeRussell and on Facebook at Facebook.com/George.Russell

Iran Holds Military Exercise in Defiance of US Sanctions

In apparent defiance of the new sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Iran held a military exercise Saturday to test missile and radar systems.

The aim of the exercise, held in Semnan province, was to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions,” Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards website said, according to Reuters.

During the exercise, a senior commander of Iran’s Revolution Guard said the country’s missiles will come down on the country’s enemies if they do wrong.

“If the enemy does not walk the line, our missiles come down on them,” Gen. Amir Ali Haijazadeh said.

Iranian state news agencies reported the military excercise would test home-made missile systems, radars, command and control centers and cyber warfare systems.

The drill comes a day after the White House imposed sanctions on Tehran for a recent ballistic missile test.

Those targeted by the Treasury Department sanctions include Iranian, Lebanese, Emirati and Chinese individuals and firms involved in procuring ballistic missile technology for Iran. They are now prohibited from doing any business in the United States or with American citizens.

“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over,” White House national security adviser Michael Flynn said.

Iran has one of the Middle East’s largest missile programs and held a similar exercise in December.

Iran confirmed Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile on Sunday.

Gen. Hossein Dehghan was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying “the recent missile test is in line with our plans and we will not let any foreigner meddle with our defense issues.” He did not say when the test was carried out or specify the type of missile, but said the test was not in violation of U.N. resolutions or the 2015 nuclear accord.

It was the first ballistic missile test since Trump entered the White House. On Tuesday, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called the test “unacceptable.”

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump wrote, “Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me.”

Despite the tough talk, the new sanctions represent a continuation of the Obama administration’s limited punishment for Iran’s ballistic missile activity and avoid a direct showdown with Tehran over the nuclear deal itself.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Senate Confirms Tillerson as Secretary of State

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Rex Tillerson as secretary of State, as part of a fast-paced day for majority Republicans who also pushed past Democratic resistance to advance three other President Trump Cabinet picks to a final vote.

The vote to confirm the former ExxonMobil executive as the country’s top diplomat was 56-43.

Earlier in the day, Senate Republicans, frustrated by Democrats’ attempts to delay other Cabinet confirmations, moved swiftly to advance three nominees to a final vote.

On the most contentious nomination, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines, 11-to-9, to approve Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., for U.S. attorney general.

The move came after Democrats dragged out proceedings a day earlier. The committee advanced Sessions to the floor on an 11-9 vote.

“No doubt we have the votes” to confirm Sessions, said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a committee member. “It’s going to get done.”

Senate Democrats have attempted to hold up several of Trump’s Cabinet picks over concerns about their records, as well as Trump’s new policies and recent executive orders on immigration.

Also on Wednesday, the Republican-led Senate Finance Committee sidestepped Senate Democrats’ efforts to slow Trump’s picks for secretaries of Treasury and Health and Human Services by boycotting the votes.

Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, suspended committee rules on the number of members required to vote, to allow Republican members to vote in favor of Steve Mnuchin as Treasury secretary and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to serve as Health and Human Services secretary.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the committee’s top Democrat, argued that Hatch broke the rules.

“What you had was a rump group that met in violation of Democratic values to confirm two ethically-challenged nominees,” he told Fox News. “There’s no question about that.”

Mnuchin, Price and Sessions will almost certainly get the required simple majority needed for confirmation because Republicans have 52 senators and Democrats have 48.

Still, Democrats temporarily thwarted a Senate confirmation vote on Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, by again boycotting a key committee meeting.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee rules require at least two members of the minority party be present for a vote to be held.

Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., called the move “political theatre” and vowed to “do what is necessary” to advance Pruitt’s nomination, raising the possibility the GOP majority may seek a rules change like the one Hatch got to push a vote before the full Senate.

Republicans created their own challenges Wednesday toward confirming Besty DeVos as Education secretary.

GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan Collins, Maine, said they won’t vote for DeVos in the final Senate vote.

That would create a 50-to-50 tied. But Republicans remain optimistic, considering GOP Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote in favor of DeVos.

On Tuesday, Democrats had refused to attend the meeting to consider Mnuchin and Price, demanding more information about the nominees.

Hatch called the Democrats’ decision to boycott the vote “the most pathetic thing.”

“We took some unprecedented actions today due to the unprecedented obstruction on the part of our colleagues,” he also said Wednesday.

The rule requires at least one Democrat be present for a vote. With the rules lifted, the committee advanced the nominations to the floor.

“They should be ashamed,” he said. “The only thing missing was a member from the minority side,” Hatch continued.  But, as I noted, they, on their own accord, refused to participate in this exercise.

Hatch said he made the move after getting an OK from the Senate Parliamentarian Office and that every Republican member of the committee was present and voting, exceeding the one-third requirement for a so-called “quorum.”

FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

SUPREME COURT PICK: Dems Go Ballistic as GOP Eyes ‘Nuclear Option’

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi launched into a blistering attack on President Trump’s Supreme Court pick Tuesday, accusing Judge Neil Gorsuch of being hostile to everything from clean air to children with autism – a hint of likely Democratic resistance, as some Republicans eye a potential “nuclear option.”

Trump nominated Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, choosing an originalist judge seen by supporters to be in the mold of the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death in February 2016 opened up the spot Gorsuch is now seeking to fill.

Pelosi made her pointed remarks during a CNN town hall, in which she called Gorsuch “a very hostile appointment” and “well outside the mainstream of American legal thought.”

“If you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision,” she said.

“What saddens me the most as a mom and a grandmother, though, is his hostility toward children in school, children with autism,” Pelosi said. “He has ruled that they don’t have the same rights under the [Individuals With Disabilities Education Act] that they could reach their intellectual and social advancement under the law — he has said that doesn’t apply to them.”

Pelosi does not get a say in Gorsuch’s confirmation, which is handled by the Senate, but her scathing remarks are a possible indicator of the hostility Gorsuch is likely to face. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have already expressed their opposition to the pick.

The potential Democratic opposition to the pick has some Senate Republicans digging in for a tough confirmation fight, including a possible change of Senate rules to lower the threshold for confirmation, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warning that “all procedural options are on the table.”

“The Democrats are not going to succeed in filibustering the Supreme Court nominee,” Cruz told Politico.

On “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, Cruz said that a Gorsuch pick was exactly what the American people wanted.

“This election was in a very real sense a referendum on this seat,” he said. “I think the American people made that decision on Election Day and there’s a mandate coming out of the election.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will be key in deciding if there is an effort to block Gorsuch, said Tuesday that “the burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and, in this new era, willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the Executive branch and protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all Americans.” However, he added he has “serious doubts” as to whether Gorsuch can do this, as he called for setting a 60-vote bar for confirmation.

Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, meaning if Democrats filibuster, Republicans may struggle to find the eight Democrats needed to get the 60 votes needed to break it.

But this opens Democrats up to accusations of obstructionism, and also could push the Republicans to use the “nuclear option” to change the rules to blunt the filibuster – something then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., did for lower court nominees in 2013.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not say whether he’d use the “nuclear option” in an interview with Fox News, but said: “We’re going to get the judge confirmed.”

While Republicans did not block President Barack Obama’s nominations of Justices Kagan and Sotomayor, they did refuse to hold hearings for Judge Merrick Garland, whom Obama picked to fill the Scalia seat in 2016. They argued that a Supreme Court pick should not be made in an election year.

This has, in turn, led some Democrats to call for outright obstructionism to Gorsuch in response.

Dan Pfeiffer, a former Obama adviser, tweeted late Tuesday that Dems should “treat Trump’s SCOTUS pick with the exact same courtesy” they showed Garland. “Don’t flinch, don’t back down” he said.

The New York Times editorial board also cited the Garland controversy in its opinion piece, calling Gorsuch “the nominee for a stolen seat.”

Other Democrats have urged caution, with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., noting that “we have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials.”

“Just as I have all along, I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed,” he said in a statement.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Trump’s New Acting Attorney General Will Enforce Immigration Order

The White House said late Monday that the country’s new acting attorney general pledged to “defend and enforce” the laws of the country shortly after President Trump fired the former seat holder who refused to enforce his order on immigration.

Trump fired Sally Yates, the acting attorney general and an Obama appointee, in dramatic fashion after she refused to defend in court his refugee and immigration ban. The Wall Street Journal reported that Yates learned of her firing Monday evening in a hand-delivered note from the White House’s Office of Personnel.

The firing came hours after Yates directed Justice Department attorneys not to defend the executive order, saying she was not convinced it was lawful or consistent with the agency’s “obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”

In a statement, Trump said Yates had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

He named longtime federal prosecutor Dana J. Boente as Yates’ replacement. Boente served in the Eastern District of Virginia and will remain in the seat while Congress considers the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., which could happen next week.

 

“Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. The New York Times reported that Boente was sworn in at 9 p.m. ET, but gave few details about who performed the ceremony.

“I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Sen. Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected,’’ Boente said in a statement released by the White House.

Still, Trump’s order has faced condemnation from executives at top companies, including Goldman Sachs and Coca-Cola. A spokesman for former President Obama said Obama is “heartened” by the protests.

Trump’s policy decision temporarily halted the entire U.S. refugee program and banned all entries from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days.

Trump’s order pauses America’s entire refugee program for four months and indefinitely bans all those from war-ravaged Syria. Federal judges in New York and several other states issued orders that temporarily block the government from deporting people with valid visas who arrived after Trump’s travel ban took effect.

At least three top national security officials – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Rex Tillerson, who is awaiting confirmation to lead the State Department – have told associates they were not aware of details of the directive until around the time Trump signed it.

Leading intelligence officials were also left largely in the dark, officials told the Associated Press.

Mattis, who stood next to Trump during Friday’s signing ceremony, is said to be particularly incensed. A senior U.S. official said Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford, was aware of the general concept of Trump’s order but not the details. Tillerson has told the president’s political advisers that he was baffled over not being consulted on the substance of the order.

Trump has also said he believes the voters who carried him to victory support the plan as a necessary step to safeguard the nation. And he’s dismissed objectors as attention-seeking rabble-rousers and grandstanding politicians.

After a chaotic weekend during which some U.S. legal permanent residents were detained at airports, some agencies were moving swiftly to try to clean up after the White House.

“You now have a president who really takes seriously the tremendous threat of international terrorism and is prepared to take steps that are very tough-minded and that are going to inconvenience some people,” former Speaker Newt Gingrich told “Hannity.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

 

Obama Slips $221M to Palestinians in Last Hours

US President Barack Obama, right, walks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during a welcoming ceremony prior to their meeting, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Thursday, March. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Officials said Monday that the Obama administration– in its waning hours– defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking.

A State Department official and several congressional aides told The Associated Press that the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning.

The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday.

The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office.

In addition to the $221 million for the Palestinians, the Obama administration also told Congress on Friday it was going ahead with the release of another $6 million in foreign affairs spending, including $4 million for climate change programs and $1.25 million for U.N. organizations, the congressional aides said.

The aides and the State Department official weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Congress had initially approved the Palestinian funding in budget years 2015 and 2016, but at least two GOP lawmakers — Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Kay Granger of Texas, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee — had placed holds on it over moves the Palestinian Authority had taken to seek membership in international organizations.

Congressional holds are generally respected by the executive branch but are not legally binding after funds have been allocated.

The Obama administration had for some time been pressing for the release of the money for the Palestinian Authority, which comes from the U.S.

Agency for International Development and is to be used for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza, to support political and security reforms as well as help prepare for good governance and the rule of law in a future Palestinian state, according to the notification sent to Congress.

The Palestinian funding is likely to draw anger from some in Congress as well as the Trump White House. Trump has vowed to be a strong supporter of Israel and has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Washington next month.

Some of Trump’s incoming administration has been split on whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

The Washington Post noted that most of the world doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. East Jerusalem is also considered “occupied territory,” which Palestinians hope to call their capital if a two-state solution is ever reached.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, said Wednesday that she would back the embassy move, while Trump’s Defense Secretary nominee retired Marine Gen. James Mattis said he would “stick to U.S. policy” regarding Jerusalem.

Trump’s next ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, supports Israeli settlements and other changes to U.S. policies in the region.

Friedman said he looked forward to carrying out his duties from “the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” even though the embassy is in Tel Aviv.  Trump advisers have said that the president-elect will follow through on his call for moving the embassy.

FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report

President Trump’s Inauguration Speech – “You Will Never be Ignored Again”

Transcript of President Donald J. Trump’s Inauguration Speech, January 20, 2017:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, fellow Americans and people of the world- thank you.

We the citizens of America have now joined a great national effort to rebuild our county and restore  its promise for all our people.

Together we will determine the course of America for many, many years to come.

Together we will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.

Every four years we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power.

And we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent, thank you.

Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another- but transferring it from Washington DC and giving it back to you the people.

For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed.

The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.

Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. While they have celebrated there has been little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.

That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you. It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America today.

This is your day.

This is your celebration.

And this- the United States of America- is your county.

What truly matters is not what party controls our government but that this government is controlled by the people.

Today, January 20 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.

The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now.

You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement-  the likes of which the world has never seen before.

At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction- that a nation exists to serve its citizens.

Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.

These are just and reasonable demands

Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation.

An education system flushed with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge. And the crime and the gangs and the drugs which deprive people of so much unrealised potential.

We are one nation, and their pain is our pain, their dreams are our dreams, we share one nation, one home and one glorious destiny.

Today I take an oath of allegiance to all Americans. For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries, while allowing the sad depletion of our own military.

We’ve defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own.

And spent trillion and trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay

We have made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.

One by one, shutters have closed on our factories without even a thought about the millions and millions of those who have been left behind.

But that is the past and now we are looking only to the future.

We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, in every hall of power- from this day on a new vision will govern our land- from this day onwards it is only going to be America first- America first!

Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every bone in my body and I will never ever let you down.

America will start winning again. America will start winning like never before.

We will bring back our jobs, we will bring back our borders, we will bring back our wealth, we will bring back our dreams.

We will bring new roads and high roads and bridges and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation.

We will get our people off welfare and back to work- rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.

We will follow two simple rules- buy American and hire American.

We see good will with the nations of the world but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their nations first.

We will shine for everyone to follow.

We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and untie the world against radical Islamic terrorism which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.

At the bed rock of our politics will be an allegiance to the United States

And we will discover new allegiance to each other. There is no room for prejudice.

The bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when god’s people live together in unity.

When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.

There is no fear, we are protected and will always be protected we will be protected by the great men and women of our military and most importantly we will be protected by god.

Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger. As Americans, we know we live as a nation only when it is striving.

We will no longer accept politicians who are always complaining but never doing anything about it

The time for empty talk is over, now arrives the hour of action.

Do not allow anyone to tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America. We will not fail, our country will thrive and prosper again.

We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, to harvest the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.

A new national pride will stir ourselves, lift our sights and heal our divisions. It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.

We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms and we all salute the same great American flag and whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look at the same night sky, and dream the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath by the same almighty creator

So to all Americans in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, from ocean to ocean- hear these words – you will never be ignored again.

Your voice, your hopes and dreams will define your American destiny.

Your courage, goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.

Together we will make America strong again, we will make America wealthy again, we will make America safe again and yes- together we will make America great again.

Thank you.

God bless you.

And God bless America.

Empty Seats at Inauguration – Don’t Bother Coming Back

It has been widely reported that over 60 Democratic Congressmen are protesting the election of Donald Trump by refusing to attend his inauguration today. This is the largest absence at a presidential inauguration since that of President Abraham Lincoln–also a Republican.

There is a joke I’ve heard going around lately: “The Democrats haven’t been this angry since the Republicans freed their slaves.”

There is a lot of truth in this slight. The history of the Democratic Party, and that of the Republican party have been twisted and skewered by the Democrats and their spokesmen, the Press, in recent years.

In fact, it was the Republicans who fought the Democrats so hard to free the slaves in the Democratic South. It was the Democrats who declared a war on the nation of America, to fight for their right to enslave their fellow human beings and force them to work in their fields under the yoke of human bondage. It was the Democrats who murdered hundreds of emancipated slaves and their Republican advocates after the Civil War. It was Democrats who donned white robes and hoods and terrorized African Americans, and who fought against the post-war Amendments that afforded African Americans the rights of citizenship and of the vote. It was Democrats who instituted the Jim Crow laws, and who institutionalized segregation, then separate-but-equal facilities. It was the Democrats who fought the Republicans as they tried time after time to pass the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

It is no accident that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican, as were nearly all of the African Americans at that time, and prior.

Now, with the history buried and distorted, one would think that Democrats were the protectors and advocates of Americans of African descent. It is not true. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson started a campaign of using “ni___ers” (in their words) to centralize power in the Democratic party. They baited and lured them into the new plantation of the Democratic Party, promising them the world, and after $20 trillion in anti-poverty spending, leaving them trapped in ghettos and lives of drug-addled, violent misery. In the words of President Johnson–the blacks were to be bought off with taxpayer dollars, and “I’ll have those ni___ers voting democratic for 200 years.”

In this great nation Democrats claim that they solely advocate for black Americans, as they preside over the abortion of more than 1,800 black babies every day (and thousands of Latino babies). Democrats preside over black children born into fatherless homes. Democrats preside over young black men being destined for death in the streets (at the hands of other young black men). Democrats preside over the imprisonment of a large percentage of young black Americans. Democrats preside over the trap of poverty, unemployment and plantation misery.

In other words, nothing has changed. The Democrats are still presiding over the exploitation of Americans of color, and African Americans are suffering the worse.

So why the outrage at the inauguration of President Trump today? We hear him called a racist, and we hear vague claims that on the campaign trail he spoke ill of America’s black citizens and said he would keep them down, in KKK style. I never heard a word of it. I only heard Donald Trump say he would change the economy so that black Americans would be lifted out of poverty, and out of misery.

Let’s look at what we’ve gotten out of the first black American president and his Democratic Party government. He promised that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. He knew he was lying. He promised that if you like your health plan, you can keep your plan. He knew he was lying. He promised that your health care premiums would be reduced by $2,500 per family. He knew he was lying. He weakened America’s economy, running up another $10 trillion in debt (which Americans will now have to repay or go into bankruptcy), spending money that did not help the American people, but lined the pockets of white house cronies. He forced tens of millions more onto food stamps, and onto welfare roles. Tens of millions were forced out of the workforce, and tens of millions more were forced from making a living to making hamburgers at fast food restaurants. No one was devastated by Obama’s economy more than African Americans.

So why are the Democrats staying away from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America? Because a revolution begins today. A revolution that will complete the work that President Lincoln began. A revolution that will remove the fangs and claws of the Democratic Party, a party that sold its soul long ago, and sold the souls of its supporters a thousand times since in its quest for ultimate control of this great nation and its resources.

So stay home during the inauguration today. Let your seats be filled by American citizens. Stay home during congressional sessions, so that you don’t obstruct the prosperity that will soon come to America and all of its citizens, of every race and background. Go home. We don’t need you and your destructive brand of politics.

By James Thompson

Mr. Trump Goes to Washington after Completing Cabinet Line-up

Donald Trump made the rounds in Washington on Thursday during his final hours as president-elect, thanking his congressional allies during a luncheon at his namesake hotel – after completing his Cabinet line-up by tapping former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department.

The incoming president arrived in the Washington area shortly after noon at Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews. He was joined by his wife, Melania, and other members of his family, as he prepared for an afternoon of pre-inaugural events.

His first stop was his hotel along Pennsylvania Avenue, where he praised GOP leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan and touted his Cabinet nominees as having the “highest IQ” of any team.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters earlier Thursday morning that hundreds of personnel are now preparing to assume control of federal agencies on Inauguration Day Friday.

“Our beachhead teams are ready to land,” he said, boasting that the transition was “on schedule and under budget.”

The “beachhead teams” are composed of 536 temporary employees that serve as assistants to the secretary-designates. They can serve up to 120 days, at which point they may be retained.

 

“We are all ready to go to work,” Pence said. “In fact, we can’t wait to get to work for the American people to make America great again.”

Incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, at the same briefing, said several Obama administration officials in critical roles would stay on, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, U.S. Envoy for Countering ISIS Brett McGurk and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions and longtime adviser Rudy Giuliani were seated to the side of the podium as Pence spoke. Pence said his primary purpose was to thank “the team that got us here to this day at the direction of the president-elect.”

“When you see a box turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help getting there,” Pence said.

Trump is hoping to have a number of his Cabinet nominees confirmed on Friday hours after he officially takes office. Several of his top nominees — including Secretary of Defense nominee Gen. James Mattis and Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson — have already had confirmation hearings. Republicans, at the least, would like the national security team confirmed on Day 1.

Spicer chided Democratic senators who have threatened to hold up some of the votes and have led aggressive questioning of the nominees so far. Spicer said there’s “no excuse” for what he called “delay tactics” and “partisanship.”

One pick who likely won’t be confirmed for Day 1 is Perdue, long-rumored to fill the Agriculture post but not officially named until Thursday.

“Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture,” Trump said in a statement. “From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

Perdue, 70, would be the first Southerner in the post in more than two decades. The last three agriculture secretaries have been from Iowa, North Dakota and Nebraska.

“Beginning as a simple Georgia farm boy, making sure Americans who make their livelihood in the agriculture industry are thriving is near and dear to my heart, and I’m going to champion the concerns of American agriculture and work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families in this new role,” Perdue said in a statement.

Perdue began his political career as a Democrat in the Georgia Legislature in the 1990s. After switching his allegiance to the Republican Party, he was elected governor in 2002. Perdue focused on finding ways to save money while improving customer service by state agencies — such as reducing wait times for renewing driver’s licenses. He often referred to himself as Georgia’s CEO.

“If I could choose my legacy it would be the epithet that ‘he made government work,’” Perdue told The Associated Press in 2010 before he left office. “That’s really what I’ve focused on. It’s not some big monument.”

Under Perdue’s watch, Georgia adopted tough food-safety regulations after a deadly U.S. salmonella outbreak was traced to Georgia-made peanut butter. He moved the state office that issues water permits for irrigation and other agricultural uses from Atlanta to rural south Georgia, where it would be closer to farmers. And Perdue poured millions of state dollars into Go Fish, a program that aimed to lure bass fishing tournaments to the state.

The ex-governor, whose full name is George Ervin Perdue III, was born in rural Perry, Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia, where he played football as a walk-on and earned a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Following a stint in the Air Force, he returned to Georgia and settled in Bonaire, a city of about 14,000 people.

FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ex-Black Panther Blasts John Lewis for ‘Presiding Over the Destruction of Black Americans’

Ex-Black Panther member Mason Weaver blasted Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) on Fox News late Monday, saying that the civil rights icon has “presided” over the “destruction” of black Americans since becoming a politician.

Lewis made headlines over the weekend after he said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he doesn’t view President-elect Donald Trump as a “legitimate” president, citing allegations that Russian state hackers meddled in last year’s presidential election to undermine the American electoral process and elevate Trump over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Weaver, speaking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” praised Lewis for his work in civil rights in the 1960s and ’70s, but explained to host Tucker Carlson that ever since Lewis became a politician, he’s become a “civil rights turncoat” by collaborating with Democrats and implementing Democratic policies, which Weaver says have hurt all black Americans.

“After they beat his behind on that bridge and ran over him and stomped him on the ground, he got up and turned around and joined them,” Weaver declared emphatically. “He joined the oppressors and became a stooge for them!”

Weaver explained that policies Lewis has supported during his tenure in Congress have done nothing but hurt black communities.

“I’m outraged that the demonstration he had earlier in his life as turned into a subjection of his rights and authority as a black leader,” Weaver said.

When asked by Carlson to clarify his comments, Weaver explained that his criticism didn’t just apply to Lewis’ congressional district in Georgia.

“Not just his congressional district, but the congressional communist black caucus has every district they own and control as a ghetto hell-hole — it’s a place that no one wants to go to. They are in control of every inner-city school system, every inner-city police, every inner-city jail,” Weaver said. “They have produced nothing but drugs and misery.”

“He has done nothing,” Weaver added, responding to a question from Carlson about Lewis’ credibility as a black leader.”

“John Lewis, bless his heart — it took courage to do what he did in his early life. What he has done now, he has turned himself to his enemy,” Weaver explained.

The ex-Black Panther went on to compare Lewis’ actions to those of a woman who is beaten by her husband and then “joins the husband.”

“He has joined the enemy, he has joined the oppressor,” Weaver said of Lewis becoming a Democrat.

In light of his actions since becoming a congressman, Weaver suggested that the best course of action Lewis can take to begin bringing reconciliation to the black community is to stand up, admit his wrongs and apologize.

“If you are a real man, John Lewis, if you are a real, real hero, you will stand up tomorrow morning and you look at the people and you apologize,” Weaver said. “The Democratic Party has always been the party of abuse, always been the party of the Klan, the party that waged war to keep slaves — the party that’s always been the destruction of black people.”

“Mr. Lewis, you have presided over the destruction of black America, and you owe us an apology,” Weaver charged.

Responding to Lewis’ comments about Trump, Weaver said that Lewis was more worried about Trump than his own community — making him an “illegitimate congressman.”

By  

Unions Bankrolling DeVos Opposition – Fighting School Choice

Three of the groups challenging the reform agenda of President-elect Donald Trump and his education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos received more than $2.6 million from teachers unions and their allies, according to federal labor filings.

DeVos, a pioneer in the school choice and charter school movements over the last two decades, has received vocal opposition from Democrats and some of the country’s most powerful unions. The National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, and AFL-CIO, which serves as an umbrella group for dozens of unions including the AFT, have all called on the Senate to reject the nomination.

They have also pumped millions of dollars into think tanks and activist groups that have supplied Democrats with intellectual ammunition to oppose her.

DeVos, the head of the American Federation for Children, has come under scrutiny from a number of liberal groups and media outlets, along with unions. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and Center for American Progress (CAP) have each released reports critical of charter schools since President-elect Donald Trump announced the nomination in November.

EPI released a study on Nov. 30 blaming the rise of charter schools for creating “inefficiencies and redundancies within district boundaries, from the organization and delivery of educational programs to student transportation, increasing the likelihood of budgetary stress on the system as a whole, and the host government in particular.”

The report, written by Rutgers University Prof. Bruce Baker, argued that giving students the ability to enroll in schools outside of their low-performing district school raised transportation costs, increased congestion, and diverted money away from “unified education systems.” The report has also been used to criticize DeVos‘ approach to education.

EPI has received nearly $1.7 million from the NEA, AFT, and AFL-CIO since 2014, according to federal labor filings. The think tank, which describes itself as non-partisan, received more than $680,000 in 2015 alone from the three unions, and AFL-CIO footed the bill for catering costs at a January reception for the group that year. Those expenses were classified as “membership dues” and “support for economic policy research” on the Labor Department forms.

EPI did not include a disclosure in the report or its press release, though it does provide a list of donors on its website. Unions made 27 percent of all contributions between 2010 and 2014.

The Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank founded by former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, has also been at the forefront over DeVos’ confirmation battle. Its lobbyists and officials have been quoted in numerous media outlets criticizing Trump’s decision as a “pay-to-play nomination.” It released an analysis on Thursday of her family’s political donations to Republican lawmakers on Thursday, saying that they constituted a “conflict of interest.”

The analysis did not disclose that CAP and its advocacy arm CAP Action Fund has received about $800,000 in contributions and grants from the NEA, AFT, and AFL-CIO since 2014. Labor unions have reported a range of purposes for the expenses to the group, including “member education costs,” contribution,” and “natl partnership grant.” CAP did not respond to request for comment about those donations.

The Partnership for Working Families has also gotten involved in the fight against DeVos through its In the Public Interest project. The group has helped organize activists online to oppose her nomination, directing liberals to networking avenues to contact lawmakers and local media outlets.

“Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, wants to steer public money to charter schools, online learning, and voucher programs. But those of us who believe all kids deserve a quality education are gearing up for a fight,” In the Public Interest said in an online fundraising appeal.

The Partnership for Working Families received more than $135,000 from AFL-CIO in 2015 and 2016, according to the union’s Labor Department filings. The payments were made to “support research/devlpmnt strategy on raising wages” and “support [the] Power for Working Families” campaign.” Neither the Partnership, nor In the Public Interest responded to request for comment.

Trump transition team expected to meet resistance to DeVos’ nomination. Phillip Stutts, who worked for the Department of Education under President George W. Bush before founding Go Big Media, has advised DeVos for the past two months. He had previously worked closely with DeVos to elect school choice supporters in Louisiana. DeVos’ efforts led to the rapid expansion of charter school in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He said that the force of opposition reflects the impact that she has had in the school reform movement.

“Before Betsy DeVos, nobody challenged teachers unions. … The unions don’t have a monopoly on legislative or political power anymore. That’s her legacy,” he said.

Stutts added that lawmakers and the public would be able to see beyond the union caricature when she appears before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday.

“She has always asked herself: ‘does this policy put kids first?’ This is somebody who demands results and wants to see more accountability,” he said. “The power of unions will continue to erode when all they care about is their own power, membership dues, and putting adults before children.”

BY:

Retired CIA to Trump: Good Opportunity to Rehire Many Who Left Due to Obama

A unique opportunity for the Trump Transition Team.

The last eight years were a time of uncertainty and frustration for many in the intelligence community.  In the beginning, no one knew exactly what to expect from the incoming Obama Administration.  I can’t say I was terribly surprised with the now famous “apology tour”, because during the 2008 campaign, Obama did not disguise his contempt for previous U.S. policy in support of pro-US dictators.  Obama also spoke out regarding attempts by US intelligence agencies to clandestinely impact foreign events, including elections and revolutions.  But 2008 was a far cry from 1965, and the CIA and NSA of the twenty-first century are built to collect intelligence in two directions: in support of national security, and in furtherance of current Administration policy.  The intelligence community expected the incoming Obama Administration to continue efforts to collect against terrorist targets, but to also have a list of new targets, in support of Obama’s diplomatic initiatives.  Almost from the start, it was difficult to determine the direction of Obama’s foreign policy, although the Obama Administration did not takes steps to diplomatically re-align US foreign policy, at least not overnight.

Although the Obama Administration on occasion allowed US Army Special Forces into battle zones in support of our allies, most foreign policy initiatives were introduced through the end of a pen.  Obama was determined to avoid utilizing US military power at every opportunity, although he did not shy away from imposing sanctions.  Over time, the Obama foreign policy became more and more difficult to define.  The intelligence agencies started to suffer a higher rate of officer turnover than usual.  I can’t say for certain that the Directorate of Operations received more resignations and early-retirements that expected because of Obama’s policies, but I believe they had a definite impact.  I have yet to meet a CIA employee who is not a true patriot.  One of the main reasons people apply to join the Agency is the opportunity to support US foreign policy from the front lines.  Regardless of personal politics, many officers became frustrated by their inability to decipher our long-term foreign policy goals.  I know numerous officers from different directorates who left the Agency during the Obama Administration, and in most instances it was because of job dissatisfaction.  Don’t misunderstand; I didn’t hear complaints about management, working conditions, benefits, or inter-office issues.  Frequently I was told that the mission had lost its clarity.  The rapid withdrawal from Iraq impacted many Agency officers personally, and later during the Obama presidency, the nuclear agreement with Iran was opposed by many in the intel community. . . read remainder of story>>

Leftist Puppet Master George Soros Loses Nearly $1B Betting Against Trump

George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund manager and liberal financier, lost nearly $1 billion after becoming bearish after Donald Trump’s election victory, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The 86-year-old was cautious about the market prior to November’s election became more bearish after Trump’s win. So far, the bet was a mistake, and the stock market has risen about 9 percent over the past two months, the report said.

Soros Fund Management LLC has about 250 traders and manages about $30 billion. The billionaire took a more active role in the company in anticipation of turmoil in China and the European Union, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Over the past few years, Soros has become an advocate and donor for liberal causes.  His name reportedly appeared in the Wikileaks emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta 60 times.

Soros, who last year, called on a “global system of political decision-making,” came out strongly against Trump during the campaign. He reportedly contributed  $7 million to Priorities USA Action and gave Clinton’s campaign the maximum $2,700 donation. He also contributed $5 million to a super PAC aimed at mobilizing Latinos and other immigrants in hopes to stop the Trump campaign.

Soros has a long history of contributing millions to liberal political causes, and pockets don’t get much deeper than his. He ranked No. 23 in the latest Forbes richest men list.

The Wall Street Journal reported that overall, Soros’ fund is up about 5 percent on the year.

FoxNews.com

Ann Coulter: The Great Hijab Cover-Up

Forget fake news; the real issue is fake “hate.”

Has there been one (1) documented hate crime committed by white people against any hue in the Rainbow Coalition since Nov. 8? That’s out of the 9,456,723 hate crimes alleged by America’s leading hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The SPLC is to “hate” what Rolling Stone is to rape. It is the biggest peddler of fantasies since Walt Disney.

I’ve read through dozens of SPLC “hate crimes” and they are all lies. The Muslim girls in particular seem to be very spirited liars.

Since the election, there have been vivid stories from across the nation of Trump supporters tearing off Muslim girls’ hijabs — at the University of Michigan (since retracted), Louisiana State University (also retracted), San Diego State University (that too was retracted), the New York City subway (again: retracted), and the University of New Mexico (no witnesses, won’t reveal attacker’s name or report the incident for investigation).

The main take-away from all these stories is: We sure have taken in a lot of Muslims! They seem to have trouble assimilating to American laws about not committing mass murder, but the good news is, when it comes to America’s culture of victimhood, they assimilate like fish to water!

This isn’t mass psychogenic illness, like when cheerleaders at the same high school all develop tics. It’s not even the Salem witch trials. At least the Salem witch-hunters believed in witches. The Muslim hoaxers are lying, and they know they’re lying.

Otherwise, they’d leave the country.

If Muslims want to convince me that they’re living in abject fear in Trump’s America, instead of rushing to the media, somebody’s got to leave.

I’ve heard endless stories about the reign of terror against Muslims, but have yet to hear of one single Muslim — much less a wave of Muslims — moving out of the United States.

It’s not as if they get depressed at the thought of abandoning the old ancestral home, where their great-grandparents are buried. They just got here!

If any Muslim were at risk of so much as a dyspeptic look from white Americans, there’s emigration as well as immigration.

But to the contrary, we can’t keep them out! They get huffy and give indignant speeches at the Democratic National Convention at the suggestion of a mere pause in Muslim immigration.

The greatest fear of Muslims these days is that they won’t be home when the “Today” show calls and will miss the opportunity to regale credulous hosts with stories about their victimization at the hands of white American men (whose great-grandparents areburied here).

The left has gone so insane that the SPLC, the main propagator of fake hate crimes, is the media’s go-to expert on hate. SPLC spokesmen appear on TV and defame all the people they hate: whites, Christians, Trump supporters, cops, frat boys and so on.

The SPLC is like the cult awareness groups taken over by Scientologists. Terrified parents would call for help in rescuing their kids from Scientology and be told, No, Scientology is not a cult.

With the SPLC, the “hate watch” group is the hater. Unlike some toothless nobody claiming to be a member of the ALL-POWERFUL KU KLUX KLAN [Democratic Party Militia], the SPLC’s slanders are instantly amplified by the media megaphone in somber interviews conducted by the most easily fooled people in the universe, American journalists.

Breitbart, Daily Caller and others have done a great job collecting the hoax hate crimes since the election, but we need a central clearinghouse to keep up with the volume.

How about someone found the Northern Poverty Law Center (NPLC), to document actual hate crimes and expose the hoaxes being spit out on an assembly line by the SPLC? Maybe the Koch brothers could get back in Trump’s good graces by funding this much-needed service.

The soon-to-exist NPLC ought to be in the Rolodexes of every media organization, so they can stop reporting fake news and start covering the real hate crimes currently ignored by the press.

The only incidents of actual “hate” since the election have been entirely in one direction: against (mostly white) Trump supporters. This isn’t surprising given the climate of hate being spread by the media.

As illustrated on the website of the NPLC (coming soon!), we aren’t dealing with a Reichstag fire designed to generate hate toward white male Trump supporters. It’s been Reichstag fire after Reichstag fire.

At this point, any claim of “hate” directed at Muslims, blacks, gays or Hispanics by Trump supporters should be treated as if it’s a UFO sighting: presumed false, unless documented with irrefutable evidence.

But until the NPLC is up and running, here are some tips for journalists:

— Real hate crimes do not begin with laughably implausible scenarios. Try to use a modicum of common sense.

— They are almost always captured on videotape or at least are seen by actual witnesses who give statements to the police. Lachrymose accounts posted on Facebook do not constitute evidence.

— They generally result in medical treatment and arrests.

The Trump Justice Department needs to create an office that will serve as a liaison with this new civil rights organization, the Northern Poverty Law Center. Because eradicating hate is Job No. 1!

BY ANN COULTER

The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism

Throughout 2016 I wrote several articles in defense of the Restored Gospel. They attracted quite a bit of attention from both the LDS and ex-Mormon communities. I received more hate mail than you could imagine, while also getting to hear from sincere brothers and sisters in both camps.

But nothing I have written can hold a candle to what I am about to share.

This time, I’m not really going to defend the Restoration, so much as I intend to expose what anti-Mormonism is and what its objectives really are.

Sometimes we just need a good dose of clear hard truth, to see why the doubts that sometimes seem so monumental are more illusion than anything else.

I know that we are used to reading a lot of fluffy and light-hearted articles, but I’m asking you to buckle your seat-belt and read this post carefully. There’s an important “aha” moment in point #4 that you won’t experience unless you’ve carefully read everything that comes before it.

So, let’s get to it:

1.  There’s Only One Credible Alternative to the Restored Gospel

Most members have probably never considered what they would do if they lost their testimonies of the Restoration. Would they still be Christians? Would they convert to Presbyterianism or Catholicism? You might expect so, but in reality ex-Mormons generally can’t find a believable Christian alternative to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It is simply impossible to leave the Restored Gospel for another version of Christianity without realizing that you have lost so many of its essential elements. What happened to prophets, revelation, temples, priesthood authority, the plan of salvation, the doctrine of Eternal Man, etc.? And how could the God of the Bible suddenly decide that everyone should be free to interpret scripture as they wish, creating a church for every opinion?

Perhaps even more important, however, is that basically every reason to doubt Mormonism is a good reason to doubt Christianity. Not enough archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon? Feel like some of the archaeological evidence might contradict the Book of Mormon? The same is true of the Bible.

Don’t like polygamy or that two of Joseph’s plural wives were 20 years his junior? You’ll see the same trend for the prophets of old.

Joseph Smith offends Western sensibility? Not nearly as badly as prophets such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joshua. A quick gander at the Old Testament shows that Joseph Smith has a relatively immaculate record (based on Western standards) compared to many of the prophets who came before him.

And so we find that arguments against Joseph Smith are really arguments against all the prophets—the messengers from whom we learn of Christ and of whom Christ testified. Which is why everyone I know who has left the Church has become some version of an Atheist. And it is why a large poll of ex-Mormons  found that only 1 in 10 ex-Mormons convert to another Christian religion.

You see, at first they decide that Joseph Smith couldn’t have possibly been called by Christ. Then they find that they can no longer believe that Christ is really the Son of God.

So, for LDS members (particularly RMs and life-long members), Christianity itself hinges upon the question, “Was Joseph Smith really a prophet?”  

Anti-Mormonism isn’t just about getting people to lose faith in our Church, it’s about getting people to lose faith in God, in Christ, in revelation, in religion. Once you’ve tasted the sweetest and most perfect form of Christianity, where else will you go when you leave? If you really understand the teachings of the Restored Gospel, deciding that Mormonism is false means accepting some form of Atheism (including Agnosticism, Humanism, and Non-religious spiritualism).

2.  Crises of Faith in LDS Communities Are Really Just a Symptom of a Larger Problem

*Note: When I refer to Atheism in the rest of this article I also refer to its cousins—Agnosticism, Naturalism, Humanism, etc. To understand why I include these groups under the banner of “Atheism,” click here.

There are many critics who love highlighting the Latter-day Saints who choose to leave the Church. They say that the rest of us are in denial, that we belong to some kind of crazy and fraudulent cult and have our heads too deep in the sand to see how many people are drawing that very conclusion.

They want us to look at our friends and family members who are leaving the Church and feel alerted to the idea that there is something wrong with the Mormon Church.

But if you look at the extensive survey data PEW has collected on religion in the U.S.—what you see is that like never before, people (especially Millennials) are abandoning the religion they grew up in.

While Mormons are much more likely than other Christians to become Atheists when they leave their childhood faith, the number of Christians who are becoming unaffiliated with religion is growing dramatically.

The most concerning trend is among Millennials:

Across the board (in LDS and other Christian Churches), approximately 1 in 3 Millennials are leaving the faith they were raised in for something else. For Mormon Millennials, that something else is generally a form of Atheism, and for other Millennials it is largely a mix of Atheism and Non-Denominationalism (what you might call a gateway to Atheism).

So, to be clear, it’s not that we have discovered new information about Joseph Smith that has suddenly changed a lot of people’s minds about the Restoration. The criticisms you hear today are the same criticisms that have been peddled for decades and longer.

No, crises of faith aren’t a Mormon problem. They’re a Humankind problem, a civilizational problem. Faith itself is weakening in Western society.

Perhaps we have learned so much through science that we feel silly relying on beliefs that we can’t confirm scientifically. Perhaps with all the temptations that abound, it’s just easier not having to worry about a God who will hold us accountable for our choices. Perhaps it is something else.

But what I do know is that before He died, Christ told a parable about relying on God versus relying on man. Luke writes that the purpose of this parable is to remind us to “pray always and not faint.” And after telling the parable, Christ asks, perhaps with sadness in his voice: “When the Son of Man cometh, will he find faith on the Earth?”

Maybe we’re starting to witness what Christ was concerned about when he posed that question.

So, why might the Adversary lay the foundation for plunging Western society into Atheism?  The reason goes deeper than you may have ever expected.

Now that we understand the central role that Atheism is playing in the crises of faith for both Mormons and other Christians, it’s time to understand the profound implications.

3.  Post-Modern Atheism Is Paving the Way for a New and Destructive Moral Order

To be clear, people who become Atheists don’t suddenly become moral monsters. Their moral views shift, but they probably have more in common with the moral beliefs of their religious friends than they have in contrast.

However, one of the problems with the rise of Atheism is that it comes with delayed consequences. Like the frog in the pot of water who doesn’t jump out because the heat only gradually rises, most Atheists are unaware of where their belief system will lead society.

The reason for this is simply that most Atheists have had a religious upbringing and live in an environment that has been deeply influenced by Christianity. It is one thing to reject revealed religion, and another to abandon mindsets, attitudes, and values which you don’t even realize have been socialized into you since birth. Thus, many Atheists don’t realize that while they have rejected God, everything about the way they see the world is still deeply influenced by religion.

For now, many Atheists can look around and say “we are freed from the foolish traditions of our fathers” and feel content that nothing drastic has changed in the process. But in the long-run, much will change in a society driven by Atheism.

Fortunately, following the logic of Atheism to its natural conclusions is far from an impossible task.

For 150 years, pioneering Atheist thinkers and philosophers have been describing the moral order that naturally emerges from post-modern Atheism. Among post-modern thinkers—both Atheists and Theists—there isn’t a lot of disagreement about the general direction that Atheism will take us.

So, this is what we know:

For thousands of years, morality has been based on beliefs about human purpose, the immortality of the soul, and other transcendent truths—all beliefs that are religious in nature, as they cannot be scientifically evaluated. However, post-modern Atheism rejects all of these notions, in the long-term, for the same reason that it rejects religion—they cannot be studied or confirmed by scientific inquiry.

Instead, Atheism replaces the foundations of morality with what can be seen, heard, touched, or otherwise measured. Since this eliminates notions of God and the interplay between good and evil, we can stop looking outward to ask, “what do God’s laws or the Universe’s laws require of us?” And instead, we can begin looking inward and ask more fully than ever before, “wait, what do I want?”

Rather than morality being driven by belief in standards of right and wrong, good and evil, and other such dualisms, morality will eventually be driven solely by human desires, cravings, and impulses—as these are actually palpable. Simply put, society will be governed completely by what individuals think they want and need—as opposed to a sense of duty and obligation to some higher truth about good and evil or directives from Heaven.

To understand what all this means, we must identify the principal need that drives human sociality. The answer, according to the great thinkers of the ages is this: respect. More than anything else, people crave respect. They may want sex, but sex from someone who thinks nothing of you is unsatisfying. They may desire love, but to be loved by someone who doesn’t see you as an equal is demeaning. They may crave empathy, but without respect, there is no real empathy.

The reason that status, wealth, and power all matter so much to so many people is because they gain you the respect of others.

This desire for respect is the same reason that studies have shown that people would rather take a low salary if it is higher than most of their peers rather than accept a high salary that is lower than their peers. They would rather struggle financially than be the low man on the social totem pole. They value respect over even money.

And why did Cain commit the first murder? Because Cain couldn’t stand that God “had respect unto Abel and to his offering. But unto Cain and to his offering [God] had not respect.”

This powerful desire for respect is held in check by a belief in God, but it is unleashed once the last vestiges of religious influence are eliminated from society.

To understand what I mean by this, consider the recent campaign to legalize same-sex marriage. Proponents of same-sex marriage loudly proclaimed that “love wins.” But this was never about love. Same-sex couples already had the right to love whomever they wanted. They could have been content with anti-discrimination laws or civil unions, but it wasn’t enough. No, what they really wanted was for their union to be just as respected as anyone else’s. Marriage was an honor afforded only to heterosexual couples and same-sex couples were going to feel slighted until that changed.

You see, when people begin rejecting moral codes (because they are based on transcendent truths), they shift from feeling ashamed about falling short of moral standards and become angry that anyone would condemn their actions in the first place. They begin to feel indignant that any person or institution in society would dare to say that one choice, one lifestyle, or one belief has greater moral merit than another.

The consequence is that society begins to gravitate around radical equality. That is, people will fight and fight until society cannot and will not recognize that any choice is better than another, that any lifestyle, belief, or action has more moral merit than another.

(Of course, equality is an important social value, but Christian equality looks very different from Atheistic equality for reasons listed here.)

Post-modern Atheist philosophers, following the logic of Atheism, say that all differences, such as gender and family hierarchy must be eliminated in the process. They claim that once the forces of radical equality are unleashed upon the old system of traditional morality and institutions, our world will be transformed into something that even they cannot fully conceive.

What is clear, is that every time society allows one choice, one lifestyle, one belief to be honored above another, someone must feel dishonored. And nothing creates more anger and unrest than to be dishonored, to be respected less than your peers. And so, an Atheist society will continue to struggle and struggle under the banner of equality until the world cannot tell a moral difference between two choices.

4.  The Book of Mormon Powerfully Responds to This Mindset

Do you remember when Lehi says “There must needs be an opposition in all things”? Latter-day Saints often associate that sermon with the purpose of trials and hardship. But there is far more to it than that.

In a recent conference talk, Elder Oaks affirmed that Lehi wasn’t just talking about opposition in the sense of difficulty, but more particularly about opposition in the sense of differences, or opposites.

With that understanding, watch how Lehi’s words respond to the goal of post-modern Atheism:

“And to bring about [God’s] eternal purposes in the end of man…it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life…Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. [But] man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

Lehi explains that for agency to work, man must not only have freedom, but choices. The goal of Atheism, however, is to destroy the moral distinction between choices. Or, in other words, the goal of Atheism is to destroy the agency of man. At least, to the extent possible.

Ultimately, this is what anti-Mormonism intends to accomplish.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having…neither happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

“Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes…”

5.  An Important and Final Conclusion

If you have struggled with doubt, or you know someone who has…so too, have apostles and prophets before they became such. Doubt is not faced by the weak alone.

I have personally experienced overwhelming doubt. In my darkest moments, when I felt like I was losing touch with reality—no longer knowing what was real and what was true—the only thing that enabled me to hold on a little longer, was what I just finished sharing in this article.

In my moments of desperation, this is what I imagine:

I see myself looking out into a dark and stormy world where two paths lie before me. I feel confused as to which I should take. I have no way of really knowing which path I would want to take, for I cannot be sure where either leads. As confusion settles in, I look to see where the path on the left seems to lead. As I look out into the distance, there appears to be a dark and horrific abyss. And it seems as if this path will lead me there.

But as I turn to the right, I look to see where the other path leads. There appears to be nothing in the distance. But suddenly, I see what looks like a flicker of light. It seems as though it might be just a small flame from a single candle stick. It’s hard to know if it’s just my imagination, but something tells me that it is real, and this fills me with hope.

Ultimately, I must decide to take one path or the other. Either way, the decision is really a question of faith: which path do I believe will lead me to where I want to go, which path will bring the happiness I seek? I am left to choose between the path that seems to lead to an immense abyss or the path that seems to lead to that flicker of light.

And as I have chosen to move closer to that flickering light, despite the confusion and doubt that sometimes assails, I invariably catch a better glimpse of the light, and I see that it is no candlelight, but a blazing star of gigantic proportions. Through the haze and darkness, it was just sometimes hard to see.

I add my testimony to millions of others that Christ lives. I have had too many experiences with both the flickering light and the blazing star to believe otherwise. I believe humankind has a purpose. I believe that there is a right and a wrong, and I believe that there is a God and an eternal law. And because of these things, I am a Latter-day Saint. For the alternative, is the Atheism that would guide our civilization into the abyss if ever we give it the chance.

(Edit: If this article impacted you, please let us know by sending us a message via the contact page or in the comments)

By Dustin Phelps

Fox’s Megyn Kelly Jumping Ship, Moving to NBC

Fox News star host Megyn Kelly will be leaving the network at the conclusion of her contract, according to a New York Times report. The  Times report has since been confirmed by representatives from NBC, and by Kelly herself via her Facebook page.

Kelly has accepted a broad, new job at NBC News where she will take on the role of daytime anchor, Sunday night news show host and co-anchor of the network’s special political programming. According to the Times, she accepted the triple role after being “wooed” by NBC News chairman Andrew Lack.

More from the Times:

It was unclear at what time the daytime program would run, or how NBC News would ensure that all of its affiliates would carry it, given that daytime television is often filled with syndicated programs. But people familiar with the discussions said NBC was confident that it would not be a problem. The daytime program would be a mix of news, interviews and panel-like discussions covering a range of issues, not only government and politics.

The Sunday night program, which is yet to be named, would provide Ms. Kelly with a continued hand in hard news. And she would be in the mix on NBC News during major political coverage.

It is not immediately known what Kelly’s salary will be at NBC, but it is expected to be a significant raise, despite Kelly already being one of the highest paid television news personalities.

Kelly’s departure from Fox would close out an extremely difficult year for the network after it had to deal with a sexual harassment scandal deriving from the actions of the network’s founding chairman, Roger Ailes.

That scandal broke wide-open last summer after one of the network’s main female personalities, Gretchen Carlson, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. Kelly would later come to the defense of Carlson, saying that she too was a victim of sexual harassment at the hands of their boss. Just a few weeks later, Ailes was gone.

After Fox began its human resources implosion and Kelly came forward with her allegations, rumors began to swirl about other news networks trying to court the star anchor. According to reports, CNN and ABC, in addition to NBC, were all desperately seeking Kelly’s star power and charm to lead their networks.

Fox leaders James and Lachlan Murdoch wanted Kelly to stay, and at one point, offered her a blank check, saying that money would never be an issue with her. But in the end, it appears that the discombobulation of Fox, in light of its scandals, was enough to send Kelly elsewhere.

Fox News Channel anchors (L to R) Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier prepare to moderate at the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

In addition, the Times reports, citing people familiar with the negotiations, that Kelly wanted to spend more time with her husband and children and Lack’s attractive daytime job offer was too good to turn down.

According to the Times, Kelly’s contract with Fox is not up until this summer and it is not immediately clear whether or not she will be released from her current contract or when she will be starting her new job with NBC.

The Times released their story around 12:30 p.m. EST and NBC confirmed the news just 30 minutes later at 1 p.m. EST.

“Megyn is an exceptional journalist and news anchor, who has had an extraordinary career,” Lack said in a statement. “She’s demonstrated tremendous skill and poise, and we’re lucky to have her.”

Writing a short statement on Facebook, Kelly said that she will miss her Fox colleagues but is excited for the road ahead.

“While I will greatly miss my colleagues at Fox, I am delighted to be joining the NBC News family and taking on a new challenge,” she wrote. “I remain deeply grateful to Fox News, to Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch, and especially to all of the FNC viewers, who have taught me so much about what really matters. More to come soon.”

In a response to a request for comment made by TheBlaze, a Fox News representative offered this quote from Fox’s executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch: “We thank Megyn Kelly for  her 12 years of contributions to Fox News. We hope she enjoys tremendous success in her career and wish her and her family all the best.”

The representative said that Kelly will continue hosting her FNC show through Jan. 6.

By