Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday, How to Know the Voice of the Father

IT'S ALWAYS CALLING US OUT OF BONDAGE AND INTO FREEDOM....

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Photo of the Week: President Trump Sits in Churchill's Chair at Chequers

THERE AS GUEST OF PM MAY...Gravitas without the cigar and Scotch. Via White House Dossier, via Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Trump's Short List For the Supreme Court, and My Personal Pick

 GO JUDGE THOMAS HARDIMAN!

AFTER READING AND THINKING ABOUT THESE  CANDIDATES--- all outstanding judges--- this weekend,  I've changed my mind and now think, hope, Trump will select Judge Thomas Hardiman for the SCOTUS bench. He's right up Trump's alley. He's right up mine too. We'll see soon enough.

I think Judge Amy Barrett will have rough sledding getting confirmed.  I don't  care much for Kavanaugh, frankly.  Think he would be a wild card and a very unpredictable conservative. Think Kethledge is probably ruled out because of several controversial immigration rulings offensive to conservatives.

Meanwhile here are some summary write-ups of Trump's top four candidates via the Washington Examiner:

AMY CONEY BARRETT, 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Barrett, 46, is a mother of seven children who Trump nominated to the 7th Circuit last year. Her confirmation fight catapulted her to stardom among conservatives after she faced questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about the role her Catholic faith would play in her judicial rulings. During her exchange, the senator told Barrett “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” She was ultimately confirmed by the Senate in October. Barrett graduated from Rhodes College and Notre Dame Law School. She clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman on the D.C. Circuit and Scalia on the Supreme Court. The jurist, though, has a relatively thin judicial record, having spent most of her career as a professor at Notre Dame Law School. If selected by Trump, Barrett is likely to face scrutiny from Senate Democrats for her views on Roe v. Wade and the Affordable Care Act, as she signed a letter opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate and the Obama administration’s accommodation for religious institutions. She will also likely face questions about her academic writings, including at least one that focused on precedent.

THOMAS HARDIMAN, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Hardiman, 53, was a finalist during Trump’s search for a Supreme Court justice last year. If he is selected this year and confirmed by the Senate, Hardiman would add educational diversity to the Supreme Court, arriving as the only justice without an Ivy League degree. Hardiman graduated from the University of Notre Dame and Georgetown University Law Center. Hardiman is the first member of his family to graduate from college and drove a taxicab to help pay for his law degree. Unlike the other contenders, Hardiman did not clerk for a Supreme Court justice. Hardiman served as a federal district court judge in Pennsylvania before he was tapped to the 3rd Circuit in 2006. He was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2007. Hardiman served on the 3rd Circuit with Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, who reportedly advocated for his nomination behind the scenes. Through his tenure on the federal bench, Hardiman has had a conservative judicial record. He voted to strike down a New Jersey law requiring residents to show a “justifiable need” to carry a handgun in public, saying the measure “contravenes the Second Amendment.” He also joined the majority in tossing out the conviction of a man arrested during an anti-abortion protest. The three-judge panel on which Hardiman sat vacated the conviction “because it was obtained in violation of his First Amendment right to free speech.” Early in his career, Hardiman did pro bono work on behalf of immigrants and told senators in 2003 one case involving an immigrant from El Salvador seeking political asylum was “one of the most important cases I have ever handled.”

BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Kavanaugh, 53, has served for 12 years on the D.C. Circuit, considered the second most-powerful court in the country. He attended Georgetown Preparatory School, overlapping briefly there with Gorsuch. Kavanaugh went on to graduate from Yale College and Yale Law School. Following his graduation from law school, Kavanaugh held a series of clerkships, clerking for Judge Walter Stapleton on the 3rd Circuit and Judge Alex Kozinski on the 9th Circuit. He went on to clerk for Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Through his tenure on the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh has authored opinions in more than 280 cases as of the end of 2017, leaving him with an extensive record. Last year, he dissented in a case that paved the way for an illegal immigrant teenager to have an abortion. Kavanaugh warned the majority’s ruling was “ultimately based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful minors in U.S. government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand, thereby barring any government efforts to expeditiously transfer the minors to their immigration sponsors before they make that momentous life decision.” He also dissented in the 2011 case Heller v. District of Columbia, which challenged D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic rifles and required registration of all firearms. Kavanaugh said he believed the measure was unconstitutional. In 2016, Kavanaugh ruled the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s structure was unconstitutional. Though Kavanaugh was an early front-runner, he faced criticisms from social conservatives for two rulings involving Obamacare, who said his opinions "upheld Obamcacare." That characterization, however, was refuted by others. In one case from 2011, Kavanaugh wrote in a dissent that under the Anti-Injunction Act, enacted in 1867, the court did not have jurisdiction in the case at the time. In the second case from 2015, Kavanaugh dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc, writing Obamacare complied with the Constitution’s Origination Clause, “but not for the reason articulated” by the D.C. Circuit’s three-judge panel. Kavanaugh, if nominated, would likely face questions from Senate Democrats about his time working for independent counsel Kenneth Starr during President Bill Clinton’s administration. He also authored a 2009 article for the Minnesota Law Review that called for Congress to enact a law allowing for civil suits and criminal investigations involving the president to be deferred while the president is in office.

RAYMOND KETHLEDGE, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Kethledge, 51, joined the 6th Circuit in 2007, receiving confirmation by the Senate via voice vote. The judge would, like Hardiman, bring educational diversity to the Supreme Court, having graduated from the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School. After graduation, he clerked for Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Before joining the federal bench, Kethledge worked for Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., and in private practice. Many conservative supporters have characterized Kethledge as “Gorsuch 2.0,” in part because of his judicial philosophy, but also because he, like Gorsuch, is an outdoorsman. Kethledge has garnered attention for a 2016 ruling in a case involving a Tea Party group that said it was improperly targeted by the Internal Revenue Service because of its political views. The three-judge panel of which Kethledge was a part ruled in favor of the group, and, writing the majority opinion, Kethledge criticized the IRS. He also joined the majority in a decision last year upholding a Michigan county’s practice of opening its meetings with a prayer. Like Gorsuch, Kethledge has criticized deference to executive branch agencies under the Chevron doctrine. Derived from the 1984 case Chevron USA v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Chevron doctrine says that courts should defer to executive branch agencies’ “reasonable” interpretation of a statute if it is ambiguous. In a speech at his alma mater last year, Kethledge said he believes Chevron deference “has created a sense of entitlement among executive agencies.” His writing was praised by the Wall Street Journal in 2014, as the newspaper deemed his opinion in a case involving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “Opinion of the Year.”

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sunday: Tim Keller's Witness At the Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast

SCOTUS UPDATE: I'M MOST OPPOSED TO KAVANAUGH BECAUSE OF MISPLACED STANDING ISSUES 
MR PRESIDENT, NOMINATE RAYMOND KETHLEDGE TO THE SUPREME COURT ON CHRISTIAN SALTINESS IN THE CULTURE---FROM MATTHEW 5: 

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

 DETAILS

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wild Blackberries in Season Means Only One Thing: Homemade Cobbler With Vanilla Ice Cream on the 4th


SWEET AND RIPE BY  EARLY JULY

WHEN OUR KIDS WERE SMALL,  WE'D ALL GO TO THE RAILROAD tracks near our cabin on the river and pick wild blackberries.  We each had a pail and wore long-sleeve shirts because of the briars and brambles.  I warned them to look out for snakes  that would lie in wait for the little critters that loved to eat
 the blackberries.

After we were finished picking, we---I--- washed and sorted the berries, put them in  bowl with sugar  and let them soak in the frig for hours.  Later came the flour, butter, eggs, more sugar for pastry,  then the berries---all baked about 325 in the oven for about 35 minutes.

When the cobbler was done, we put it on top of the stove to cool while the kids drooled and waited for dessert.  The scent of blackberry cobbler drifting through the cabin was like a smell from heaven.  We brought out the ice cream only after dinner  as we served the bowls at the big table.

It was quite a feast and the closest my kids came to being hunter gathers on the Fourth of July!  We ate and ate and no one really cared about the sugar hangover the next day....no one cared that our teeth would be purple afterwards!

Happy, Grateful 4th of July in the Still Greatest Country on Earth!

OUR REPIBLIC IS A VERY BIG TENT, INDEED.  I for one plan to spend this day giving thanks and thinking of ways I can contribute to making it better in small ways. How I can not be intimidated by radicals.  How I can take principled stands.

Meanwhile let the celebrations and fireworks begin!  God bless America!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sunday--Vince Gill and Some Young Songwriters Play A Gospel Favorite


 O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout
The universe displayed.

Friday, June 29, 2018

One of the Most Beautiful Sounds In the World: the Western Meadowlark

SOPRANOS OF GRASSLANDS AND FENCE POSTS

IT'S THE SOUND OF THE WESTERN MEADOWLARK THAT I MOST MISS when I leave the Rockies and return to the South. I think of its song in heavenly terms which never cease to thrill me. It's also a great antidote to listening to too much news of shootings, stalkers, presidential stalkers like Hillary and Maxine, and news of heat waves all around.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rep. Trey Gowdy Gets Rowdy With Rosenstein and Wray: Let's See What You Got, Or Finish The Hell Up The Never-Ending Russia Investigation

VIA: ZERO HEDGE    WE'VE SEEN THE BIAS, NOW SHOW US THE EVIDENCE.... This whole thing is such a joke and disgrace. How do we taxpayers bring it mercifully to a close?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

President Trump's List of Candidates to Replace Retiring Justice Kennedy

UPDATE @ FEDERALIST:  FOUR DISSENTING VOTES IN SCOTUS UPHOLDING TRUMP'S TRAVEL BAN ARE TROUBLING 

SCOTUS JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY'S RETIREMENT ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY WAS NOT A BIG SURPRISE since it's been rumored for months. Nonetheless, it's come at a time of maximum political turmoil and insanity. I can only imagine what fuel it will add to the fires of extreme polarization and near violent political/social resistance and rejection by the left.

Maxine Waters may finally go apoplectic, then airborne and eject herself into outer space.

Here's the list of the most likely candidates for nomination to the Supreme Court. It's a young group.  Whoever it is, they'd better have a constitution (pun intended) of steel to withstand the anger and angst of liberals and the hate Trump media everywhere.  Plus, they may have to order in pizza for the rest of their lives.

We'll be hearing a lot more about these candidates in the days ahead. I have a long way to go to get up to speed on the men and women on this list.  Evidently time is of the essence in getting a new justice confirmed...


Monday, June 25, 2018

Maxine Waters Is Out of Her Cotton-Picking Mind...

UPDATE:  MORE HECKLING AFTER THE HECKLING...

LET ME SAY IT AGAIN.  MAXINE WATERS IS OUT OF HER COTTON-PICKING MIND.  My apologies to Cotton Pickers everywhere....

And before you accuse me,  let me say my father's maternal grandfather's girlfriend's father's brother's first cousin was a cotton picker....  YEE HAW!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sunday--God's Promise (Of Christ) to Abraham In Genesis and the Purpose of the Old Testament Law Until Its Fulfillment

PAUL'S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS  3:15-22

TO GIVE A HUMAN EXAMPLE, brothers and sisters, even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

COMMENTARY FROM RICHARD KEW'S Thought of the Day:

If I understand Paul's line of argument here, he is asking us to look at the place of the law in Old Testament faith as an interim expedient between the promise made to Abraham by the Lord God that his offspring (Jesus) would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. The law provides cover between the initial promise being made by God, and its fulfillment in Jesus. The law is like a gift to us, like a governess so that we can recognize right from wrong, but it does not make us right with God---that can only be done by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The law provides discipline, it does not provide salvation. We can thank God for it, but we have much more to thank God for in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

THANKSGIVING FOR THE DAY

For the Savior who lived, taught, healed, died, rose again for us, ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit we give thanks and blessing to the Almighty,

INTERCESSION FOR THE DAY

Let us pray that we may learn to live righteous and holy lives, but always depending on Jesus.

COLLECT FOR THE DAY

My prayers and alms, imperfect and defiled, were but the feeble efforts of a child; Howe'er performed, it was their brightest part, That they proceeded from a grateful heart. (A short poem prayer by the 18th Century poet and hymn writer, William Cowper, who grew up just a couple of hundred yards from where I went to high school.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Three Political Columnists I Admire Pay Tribute To the Late, Great Charles Krauthammer

UPDATE:  GET WOKE TO THE OUTRAGE SCAM

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO I WONDERED WHY I HADN'T SEEN CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER ON FOX NEWS LATELY and realized I missed him. Where was he anyway? Then the sad news came recently that he was gravely ill and had only days to live.  A pang of sadness settled over me as I contemplated the loss of a truly great conservative political commentator at a time of the most irrational, mean spirited, shallow political insanity from the left that our country has ever lived through.

Krauthammer was a man I admired and respected on many levels. He will be missed by many.

Two of my favorite columnists and astute political observers have paid tribute to Krauthammer today. I link to them as I send sympathy and good wishes to Krauthammer's family, colleagues and many followers:

First Roger L Simon writes at PJMedia  America Lost Its Greatest Political Commentator In Krauthammer:

When you call someone the greatest at anything, you risk being accused of foolishness or worse; but it's safe to say that Charles Krauthammer, who passed away Thursday, was the greatest political commentator of our time.

I write this not just because he won the Pulitzer for commentary as a conservative, a near Herculean task.  And I say this even though I sometimes  disagreed with him, especially lately. Whom do we not disagree with at one time or another -- even ourselves?

I write this because Krauthammer was the gold standard of columnists, the most incisive mind in political journalism augmented by the most elegant and precise prose. For much of his life, no one was even close.  In recent years, others have stepped forward as Charles had, as happens after many years in the limelight, more difficulty wrapping his mind around contemporary events.  But as we now know, he was desperately ill...

Then,  Don Surber writes Charles Krauthammer,  RIP: 

He could have given up upon paralysis from an accident in medical school, but Charles Krauthammer did not give in to self-pity. He worked and graduated -- from Harvard Medical School.

He distinguished himself as a psychiatrist, and as a columnist he won a Pulitzer.

I included him in "Trump the Press" because he was oh so wrong oh so often.

But on December 31, 2015, he made amends.

From the book:
On New Year’s Eve, Krauthammer disclosed his winner of year, a choice that Ed Henry said surprised him.
“Well, you should be, but you should also remember that I’m a straight shooter. The obvious political winner in the United States this year is Donald Trump. The most astonishing, unexpected political rise in recent American political history. I would say with the exception of Jeremy Corbyn becoming the leader of the Labour Party, you know, a board-certified communist, the most unlikely. And, you know, I never let feelings get in the way of my ironclad judgment. Although I would say that the thing that probably tipped me over is when Trump, after a lot of hesitation, came out against the killing of journalists. That’s what sealed the deal for me,” Krauthammer said....

In addition,  Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner pens The Irreplaceable Charles Krauthammer::

The 800-word column format presents a challenge to writers, who often struggle to make a broader point and provide enough evidence to back it up, without going into excessive detail. Krauthammer was a master of the format. 

Read through his columns, and they weren’t typically filled with fancy prose or lengthy Latin phrases. Instead, his intelligence came through in the clarity of his thought and his ability to work through issues with reason using just enough supporting evidence.

His column ran every Friday, and while the rest of us rushed to weigh in on the ongoing controversies in Washington that consumed any given week, he managed to write something that took a bigger picture view, simultaneously seeming obvious yet fresh. For many conservatives, his columns often expressed ideas that were kind of floating around in their minds, but that they couldn’t quite articulate as clearly. He coined the term the ”Reagan Doctrine” to describe President Ronald Reagan’s strategy to win the Cold War, and “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to diagnose the hysterical way that opponents reacted to President George W. Bush.

Under President Barack Obama, Krauthammer set the standard for substantive criticism that was harsh yet steered clear of the bile and conspiratorial thinking that tempted some conservative pundits. Whether the issue was Obamacare, the disastrous Iran deal, executive overreach, or his parting shot toward Israel at the U.N., Krauthammer offered blistering yet fair critiques of Obama’s presidency.
Krauthammer made no secret of his disapproval of President Trump and fretted about the awful choice in the 2016 election, yet in his final column written last year, he expressed relief that the guardrails of democracy seemed to be keeping Trump’s worst impulses in check. 

Perhaps above all, Krauthammer managed to convey a sense of moral clarity, something that was on full display whenever he wrote about Israel, and was also demonstrated in a powerful 2004 column in which he grappled with the issue of stem cell research and where to draw the line on medical experimentation given the “competing human values” of searching for cures and respecting life.
“When I was 22 and a first-year medical student, I suffered a spinal-cord injury,” he wrote. “I have not walked in 32 years. I would be delighted to do so again. But not at any price. I think it is more important to bequeath to my son a world that retains a moral compass…”
Hope you've read  these tributes in full. If not, it's well worth your time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sliding Into Jackson Hole For the First Day of Summer

THE LONGEST, AND FOR SOME, THE BRIGHTEST DAY OF THE YEAR!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Coming Into Colorado and Weather As Bad As It Gets

WEATHER ALERTS ON MY PHONE SAID 'TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY' and they weren't kidding...the storm in Limon was about as bad as it gets, truly.  Have been doing this cross country trip for decades,  and except for being snowed in in Amarillo, Texas in a winter blizzard years ago  it was the worst weather I've seen in a very long time.  Am grateful my car didn't go airborne.

Am happily in Fort Collins on the way to Wyoming tomorrow.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sunday Lite--- Car Mechanic Proverbs


CAR MECHANIC BOBBY MAY NOT HAVE ALL OF HIS FRONT TEETH,  but he sure has a lotta no nonsense wisdom. And he did a great job of replacing my catalytic converters.

Happy Fathers Day to all the men who are  blessed to be dads!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

River Guide, World Class Fly Fisherman, Reynolds Pomeroy, Looks At the Massive Logjam On the Snake River


WHEN THESE HUMONGOUS LOGJAMS OCCUR IN SPRING, ALL COMMERCIAL FLOAT AND FISHING TRIPS on this most popular, scenic section of the Snake come to a halt.  It'll be a while before this mighty river---emboldened by the roiling spring runoff---clears up, gets uncluttered, and settles itself down.  It's just too unsafe to try to get through these obstacles now.

Reynolds gave me my first job in the fly fishing business in Jackson Hole many years ago.   What fun we all had at Westbank Anglers. More importantly,  I learned so much about fishing from Reynolds and his business partners Kim and Stephen Vletas.

Photo credit:  Jackson Hole News Guide

Monday, June 11, 2018

White House Dossier: President Trump's Schedule From Monday Night EDT---To Wednesday Morning

9:00 pm || Participates in a greeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; Sentosa Island, Singapore


9:15 pm || Holds a one-on-one bilateral meeting with Kim Jong-un, only translators present

10:00 pm || Holds an expanded bilateral meeting with Kim Jong-un, including aides

11:30 pm || Has a working lunch with Kim Jong-un and aides

4:00 am || Holds a press availability; Sentosa Island, Singapore

TUESDAY,  June 12, 2018

7:00 am || Departs Singapore

3:10 pm || Arrives at Andersen Air Force
Base, Guam

4:40 pm || Departs Andersen Air Force Base, Guam

9:50 pm || Arrives Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam; Hawaii

11:20 pm || Departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

8:25 am || Arrives White House
All times U.S. Eastern

Singapore is 12 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern.

Thanks, Keith.  

Congratulations to Mississippi State Baseball On Its Win! Now On To Omaha



I TELL YOU, the difference between college sports and the pros is night and day. What fun it's been watching these guys---with their ridiculous bananas on their heads---struggle with Vanderbilt this weekend in marathon games going way past midnight. Sorry the home team lost, but it couldn't have happened because of a better, more worthy opponent.

I'm sick of over-paid, underpatriot pro thugs.  College sports is where it's at.  Much more cleancut,  wholesome and  fun.

There are a lot of happy people in Starkville, MS tonight!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Sunday: What is Justification Besides A Fabulous Triple Crown Winning Racehorse?

WHAT A GREAT and historic win for this sensational racehorse!

The late R.C. Sproul comments on what justification means to followers of Christ:

What Does "Simul Justus et Peccator" Mean?

 Pastor John Piper teaches about the paradox of justification:

Friday, June 8, 2018

John Eastman @ Claremont On Why The Masterpiece Cake Ruling Is A Major Win For Religious Liberty Despite Naysayers On Left and Right

UPDATE:  7 KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM ACLU'S MISGUIDED SPIN ON ITS CAKESHOP LOSS

IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND WHY THE SCOTUS' MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP RULING is in fact a dazzling, long overdue win for the free exercise of religion---in spite of  pessimism from both sides of the political aisle--- take time to read John Eastman's somewhat laborious  summary below.  Only the most ardent readers will endure, but for those who want to understand the true relevance of this case, persevering is well worth the time and thought effort.

The big take away is that governments in all of its bureaucratic, deep state iterations, entities, commissions etc. can not ban the free exercise of religion which it deems offensive. They don't get to decide what is offensive and what is not. Culturally correct Colorado sure tried to do that with the help of the troubled ACLU. Both wanted to bully and force the Masterpiece Cake to submit to their demands.

In other words, government entities can NOT be or act offended no matter what their individual beliefs. In the Masterpiece case, this Colorado commission was indeed offended  and took it out on the plaintiff.  SCOTUS ruled in favor of Masterpiece. That's good news for all of us First Amendment junkies whatever our religious beliefs. 

No matter what you read, this case was and is not about gay rights, hate, gay marriage, sugar, cakes, the horrors of Christianity or any other nonsense the left blathers on about ad nauseam.  It is about upholding the inalienable and Constitutional right of one man to live and work by his deeply held principled beliefs even if others find them offensive.

Below is Eastman's  summary of Masterpiece Cake ruling. Highlights in bold:
PROGRESSIVE'S' PROMPT trivializing of Monday’s victory for religious liberty in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is unsurprising, but that many conservatives have reacted in the same way is troubling.  Two essays at The Federalist belittled the ruling; Catholic Vote called it a “very small win for religious liberty,” while the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board says the victory for religious liberty “may be short lived.”

An essay at First Things, though, takes the proverbial cake: “Only profound naivete can spin the majority decision as a victory for religious liberty.” If victory produces this level of lament, it is disturbing to contemplate how conservatives would have reacted to defeat.

Conservative cynicism toward Masterpiece Cakeshop suggests a deep—although somewhat appreciable—misunderstanding of Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence. As I explained when writing about this case at The Federalist before oral argument, despite the popular media and the primary argument made in favor of the baker making this case about free speech, in reality this case “is, fundamentally, about religious liberty.”

The Supreme Court agreed. Despite almost 30 years of Supreme Court case law emptying the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause of almost all substantive content (thanks largely to a 1990 decision by Justice Scalia called Employment Division v. Smith), the Supreme Court has now confirmed that the Free Exercise Clause does not let the government apply laws in a discriminatory way against religious believers, even if the laws were not designed to discriminate against those believers, simply because the government finds the religious belief “offensive.”

This Mends a Long Trend of Slashing Free Exercise

You may be surprised to learn that this is the first time since the Smith decision that the Supreme Court has said the Free Exercise Clause reaches that far. Smith rejected a long line of Free Exercise jurisprudence that allowed religious accommodations to laws that are written “neutrally” (meaning the letter of the law does not target religion) and apply “generally” (meaning the law applies to everyone).

Instead, Smith held that any infringement on religious exercise would only receive “strict scrutiny” from a court—the most difficult standard for the government to meet in constitutional law—if the religious exercise was part of a “hybrid” of a free-exercise claim and another constitutional claim, usually a claim under the Freedom of Speech Clause. Even in those “hybrid” cases, Smith said, the court would “specifically advert” the analysis of whether the religious objector should receive accommodation to the other, non-free-exercise claim—again, usually a free-speech claim.

In the decades that have followed, this standard has robbed the Free Exercise Clause of significant teeth. No other individual right specifically enumerated in the Constitution is as difficult to successfully invoke, and nearly all of the landmark religious liberty cases since Smith (for example, Hobby Lobby) have resulted from Congress, in a repudiation of Smith, passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. Indeed, the way Masterpiece Cakeshop was argued—primarily as a free-speech case, not a free-exercise case—evidences the second-tier status Smith gave to the Free Exercise Clause

Given this history, it is stunning that the free-exercise claim, not the free-speech claim, saved the day in Masterpiece Cakeshop. This alone implicitly rejects Smith’s understanding of “hybrid” situations. This alone also suggests that Smith’s relegation of religious liberty is not as sweeping as it seemed to many at the time it was decided. (Although, as justices Gorsuch and Alito said at the outset of their separate opinion in Masterpiece CakeshopSmith “remains controversial in many quarters.”)

The Mend Goes Farther Than Patching Smith

But Masterpiece Cakeshop’s breath of fresh air into the Free Exercise Clause is not limited to its curtailing of Smith. Masterpiece Cakeshop is the first Supreme Court decision to apply Church of the Lukumi Babalu AyeInc. vHialeah, the 1993 Supreme Court decision that is for all practical purposes what remains of Free Exercise protection after Smith. Better still, in key respects, Masterpiece Cakeshop improves upon Lukumi.

Lukumi confirmed that the Free Exercise Clause, even after Smith, did not leave religious claimants empty-handed—at least not completely—when a law is written in such a way that it targets religion. There, a city passed ordinances that were not neutral, because they applied only to the “ritual” “sacrifices” of animals, not to slaughter more broadly (although they did apply to every “sacrificial” slaughter). As such, the ordinances were clearly designed to target the practices of a particular religion.

While a unanimous Supreme Court concluded that, given the design, the ordinances were not neutral or generally applicable, and thus had to survive “strict scrutiny,” the justices were deeply divided on what evidence could support this conclusion. Moreover, for the next 25 years no Supreme Court decision ever clarified what makes a law “neutral” or “generally applicable”—until Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Government May Not Be Offended by Religious Beliefs

Despite numerous conservative pundits suggesting that Masterpiece Cakeshop was a purely “procedural” decision that was not decided on First Amendment grounds, the Supreme Court’s decision was, in fact, both an application and extension of Lukumi. It also included considerably more unity among the members of the court than Lukumi possessed. The court did not simply accept Colorado’s argument that the state’s public accommodation law was neutral and generally applicable because it was written that way. Nor did the court refuse to apply Lukumi because there was no evidence that the public accommodation statute was designed to target religious believers.
The Supreme Court also rejected limiting its “neutrality” analysis to whether the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated the baker fairly. Rather, the court applied Lukumi into the distinct process of administrative adjudication to see how the law applied—not how it was designed—and whether the government’s application of that law, not just in the baker’s case but comparing his case to other cases, neutrally pursued a compelling government interest.
 In short, Masterpiece Cakeshop is the first post-Smith Free Exercise decision where the Supreme Court applied strict scrutiny to a neutral, generally applicable law that was not designed to target religion. Rather, strict scrutiny was triggered because of how the law was applied against religious objectors.

How This Will Affect Other Religious Liberty Cases

The practical significance of this result cannot be overstated. For example, right now in Washington DC the Archdiocese of Washington is being denied the ability to put up signs in the Metro transit system inviting people to attend Mass during the Christmas season. The DC Metro has allowed ads setting forth a secular view of Christmas (such as ads to buy “holiday gifts” at department stores), but not a religious view (like a manger scene with mass times posted below it; the ad that was rejected).
Metro is refusing because, as it told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, religious ads might be “offensive.” But not to worry, Metro says: its policy is neutrally and generally applicable, and it was not designed to disadvantage religious believers. In fact, its policy restricts all sorts of ads DC Metro deems “offensive,” along with censoring religious ads altogether.

But it is the Metro that gets to decide whether an ad’s reference to religion is sufficiently “religious” or “offensive” to be barred by the policy. It allowed, for example, an advertisement to donate to the Salvation Army, but it did not allow the archdiocese’s advertising of mass times. Masterpiece Cakeshop confirms that, even if this policy was written in a neutral and generally applicable way, even if it was not designed to target religion, the application of this policy provides disparate treatment toward religion and the policy is therefore not neutral.

Don’t Let the Trend Blind You to This Shift

I mentioned above that the misunderstanding of Free Exercise jurisprudence that appears in so much conservative cynicism toward Masterpiece Cakeshop is somewhat appreciable. This is so because Smith’s subordination of the Free Exercise Clause has accompanied the Supreme Court aggrandizing the Freedom of Speech Clause.

As one of Claremont’s John Marshall Fellows, William J. Haun, has explained, this aggrandizement—extending the freedom of speech to depictions of animal torture, graphically violent video games, and lying about receiving military medals, just to name a few of the Supreme Court’s recent extensions—bears no relationship to the freedom of speech as an original matter, the Founders’ political philosophy of natural law and natural rights. It results from “autonomizing” the freedom of speech.

When the developments of the free speech and free exercise doctrines are taken together, the result is conservatives being accustomed to any First Amendment victories being free-speech victories, full of all the rhetorical flourish that accompany the Supreme Court’s expansive approach to expression. This is very different to the case-by-case, fact-specific application of a particular religious objection to a particular government action.

Unfortunately, this shift seems to have blinded some conservatives to seeing a genuine win for the Free Exercise Clause when one comes along. Masterpiece Cakeshop is such a win, and this will surely be borne out in future free-exercise cases.

Dr. John Eastman is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute and founding director of its Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. He is also the Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service at Chapman University's School of Law.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sunday: Tim Keller on Proverbs 15:13-14

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. Remember that the 'heart' in the Bible is not the emotions but rather our trusts and attitudes. The happy heart, we are told, is the discerning heart, filled with wise convictions and commitments. These verses are telling us that the wise heart leads to cheerful emotions, and the foolish heart to crushed emotions. The principle is a subtle one but important. It means, ultimately, that happiness is a choice. Our thoughts and attitudes....not our circumstances, are decisive.
We are not talking here about mere stoicism, a simple clamping down of emotions through willpower. The heart consists of the attitudes and stances towards life. We can choose to reflect with our mind and to fire our imagination through art, singing and worship---all so that the truths of realities of God and his grace and promises fill our view.
PRAYER Lord, I am so, so spiritually weak, that in order to live the life I should, I need both a mind convinced by solid arguments and an imagination fired with the beauty of your character and story of salvation. Show me how to bring both into my life. Amen.
Excerpt from Timothy and Kathy Keller's God's Wisdom for Navigating Life, page 113.

BELOW,  Contradicting a culture of self and selfishness:
  UPDATE---Maureen Dowd: Obama thinks he was 'too good' for America

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

American Invasion Of Normandy in 1944----Omaha and and Utah Beaches Revisited


THERE'S NO WAY I COULD EXAGGERATE WHAT AN DEEPLY MOVING AND RICH experience going to Normandy has been.  Weather and temperature were perfect, crowds and parking manageable and the scenery, especially at Omaha Beach was stunning. Utah Beach, 20 or so miles away, was less impressive visually (though no less important for the campaign).  But Utah's marvellous museum with films and massive memorabilia more than made up for it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Today May 8 Is VE Day in France, So Off We Go to Normandy To Remember The Allied Invasion D-Day That Turned the Tide in WW2

WHEN MY CHILDREN who are living temporarily in Paris asked me what I most wanted to do during my  visit here, without hesitation I said, 'go to Normandy!' As far as I'm concerned all the other attractions in Paris and Provence---where we spent 5 days last week----simply pale in comparison to this outing.  I have been to France several times and care not a wit for a lot of sightseeing beyond Omaha and Utah Beaches.

Today my son and I go there together since the rest of the family has already made the trip.  I will post photos from my phone as I can.

God bless all the brave men and women who served there and the thousands who died liberating Europe, the Jews and the world from the horrors and true Evil of Nazi Germany. God bless the Allied troops.  And God bless America.

I consider this a sacred pilgrimage.

Below, a photo I took at Normamdy on a beautiful day with perfect weather.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Sunday on Monday: The Evil of Envy


'Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,  but who can stand against jealousy?'
---Proverbs 27:4

THE EVIL OF ENVY.  This says jealousy can be more harmful than anger.  Why?  Envy is wanting someone else's life.  But it is not just that.  In envy we don't just want other people's lives,  we resent and begeudge them their lives.  In praise you recognize other people who are better off than you and you rejoice in it. But in envy you recognize people who are better off and you burn with bitterness.  John Gielgud, the great British actor,  in his autobiography said,  'When Sir Laurence Olivier played Hamlet in 1948 and the critics raved,  I wept.'

Envy is being unhappy at other people's happiness.  Envy weeps because of those who are rejoicing and rejoices if they are weeping. It is exactly the opposite of the godly state of mind. (Romans 12:5)  And the best way to stop it is to look at Jesus, about whom it could truly be said,  'In all their distress he too was distressed.'  (Isaiah 63:9).

Is there someone you feel has the life you deserve?  Is that belief and feeling diminishing your happiness to any degree?  What can you do about it?

PRAYER:  Father,  I need the ability to be happy for people who have what I badly want.  That is a love of which I am not capable but one that I really can't live without.  I do not want to live in resentment.  Help me, Lord!  Amen

Timothy Keller,  Proverbs,  God's Wisdom for Navigating Life,  May 7,  page 127

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Une Jeune Fille Avec Une Baguette

Greetings From the 16th Arrondissement of Paris

ADMITTEDLY, HAPPY AS I am to be in France with family and grandchildren and in a lovely part of Paris, I am out of my element here. Don't care for balsammic, pastries or bread, so finding my way will be challenging. We arrived early Monday morning to 30-something temps, along with wind and rain. So much for April in Paris...It's only going to get better, as we slowly get over jet lag. A warming trend and sunshine today is bringing much needed relief! The best so far? walking and small sidewalk cafes.....it's been a while since I've been here. So far nothing much changed.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Sunday, Psalm 100-- A Psalm of Thanksgiving

IT'S BEEN A LONG, LONG WET WINTER AND VERY LATE SPRING.  On top of that, for weeks I've had a  sinus infection  that's left me de-energized and listless. Haven't known it till two days ago.  Now on antibiotics, I'm gratefully starting to feel my energetic self again.  It's a good thing--- I'm leaving today with family for Europe.  Blogging has been sparse to non-existent lately and may mostly stay that way.   Still, I may post a few pics from my phone cause I'm not taking my computer with me.  What a relief!

The sun is out today and warming our souls and spirits!  It seems a good time to post Psalm  100, a psalm of praise and thanksgiving to God!


1Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;[a]
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday: Idol #3---Need for Power

John Piper:  The Righteous Are Not Perfect, from Psalm 1, with video

A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth....the wise prevail through great power and those who have knowledge muster their strength.  (Proverbs 11:26, 24:5)

POWER.  Another overdesire is the will to power.  In 11:26 the word gains means to seize or take hold of through sheer power.  That is how ruthless men live.  By contrast, the kindhearted woman is 'characterized by grace...someone who acts for the benefit of others, not expecting a return.'  While she gives up power to serve others,  they serve only their love of power, which can take many forms.  Ambition and careerism can be driven by a desire for wealth as a means of gaining power.  The overlove of power can also show itself in people who are opinionated, poor listeners, argumentative, highly partisan, unteachable, and afraid to admit when they have been in the wrong.

As the woman gains honor, paradoxically, by not seeking honor at all, so Jesus achieved true strength by seeking not power but service. "Who is greater, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves?...I am among you as one who serves." (Luke 22:27)

Proverbs 24:5 teaches that wisdom itself---not being wise in your own eyes, loving God, disadvantaging yourself for others---is in the end the greatest power and strength of all.

When did you last give up significant power in order to serve someone else?

Prayer:
Lord, there is nothing more seductive than power. If I am honest, I confess that there are many situations and relationships I enjoy mainly because of the power I exercise in them. Help me to kill the sinful part of my heart that rejoices in that. Amen.

Timothy Keller,  God's Wisdom for Navigating Life,  page 98

Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Pal Sent Me This of Her And Mrs. Bush....I, Too, Have A Fun Tale To Tell of Meeting Her

REALLY GORGEOUS PIC JUDYC OF YOU AND FIRST LADY BARBARA BUSH IN DC.  TWO GREAT, CLASSIC DAMES, TO SAY THE LEAST.  Let's talk about this and other tall tales of the Bushs and beyond over Zucchini Panko and pork tenderloin in Jackson next summer.