It’s Never Really Been About The Virus

The coronavirus is real. I know. My husband and I are currently working through it. However, it is one more virus that shows up at various times in various places that we have to learn how to prevent and treat. It should not be an excuse for removing all of our God-given rights protected by the Constitution. It should also not be an excuse for claiming that the only solution to everything is one-world government. However, there is as much of that going around as there is the virus.

Last night on Fox News, Tucker Carlson showed a video of a speech given in September by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the speech, Trudeau praised COVID-19 fears as an “opportunity for a reset” to “accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality, and climate change.” I guess Trudeau is part of the ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ school of politics. Notice that he does not seem overly concerned with actually dealing with the virus.

We are already seeing this philosophy in action in some states in America. Churches have been shut down in California while strip clubs remain open. When you consider that one of the goals of those who seek to destroy America is to destroy the foundations of America (part of that foundation is the nuclear family), closing churches and opening strip clubs makes sense. Another foundation of America is law and order and respect for those who enforce the law. The undermining of that began during the Obama administration and continues in many of our blue cities and states. The fact that the police did not take action ahead of time to protect those who participated in the recent march in Washington to support President Trump tells us that the Mayor did not think the marchers were worth protecting. The fact that the leftists attacked old people and families tell us about their level of courage. The fact that the marchers that supported President Trump did not destroy property or loot is in contrast to other ‘protests’ in blue cities around the country. It is also in contrast to the march that took place in Washington to protest the 2016 election.

We need to remember the ‘broken windows’ theory. If you don’t deal with small infractions of the law, bigger infractions will follow. If you don’t  deal with small infractions on your civil liberty and freedom, bigger ones will follow. The coronavirus is real, and it can be dangerous, but hiding in your house and ignoring the threats to our liberty will have greater long-term consequences than any virus.

American Ingenuity At Work!

The Daily Wire posted an article yesterday about a very unique church service.

The article reports:

In footage of two instances that went viral on Thursday and Friday, Christians gathered in the government-approved venues of a Pennsylvania Wal-Mart and a Las Vegas casino to engage in the worship that authorities have deemed non-essential.

In a Thursday tweet that was retweeted by Vice President Mike Pence, Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed posted footage of a worship service in a Vegas casino, writing, “Packed house at #EvangelicalsForTrump prayer & praise event in Las Vegas. NV Governor banned church services but casinos can operate at 50% capacity. So we are praying in a casino.”

…According to The Post Millennial, a similar event also took place recently in the grocery section of a Wal-Mart in North Versailles, Pennsylvania, a town near Pittsburgh. In April, Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe urged churchgoers to find different ways to practice their religion than gathering in churches. “Religious leaders are encouraged to find alternatives to in-person gatherings and to avoid endangering their congregants,” he advised. “Individuals should not gather in religious buildings or homes for services or celebrations until the stay-at-home order is lifted.”

Wolf took flak when he broke his own state’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions in June by marching in solidarity with hundreds of protesters in Harrisburg following the death of George Floyd. In Harrisburg’s Dauphin County, gatherings were restricted to 25 people or fewer at the time, according to Pennsylvania’s color-coded reopening plan.

The article concludes:

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the tension between civil and ecclesiastical authorities nearly to the breaking point in states such as California, where many congregations are defying Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s July 13 order that re-instated lockdowns for churches and other establishments deemed non-essential by state authorities.

This week, Ventura County sued Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, California, for holding no-mask, no-distance indoor services. Rob McCoy, its senior pastor, said, “We would be the first to be masked and distanced, and willingly so, if this were meriting it, and it doesn’t. This isn’t a health issue, it’s an ideological issue.”

Grace Community Church, a congregation in Los Angeles pastored by prominent author and theologian John McArthur, also made headlines last month when he and the church elders penned an extensive statement explaining why they believe the secular government did not have legitimate authority to forbid in-person assembly indefinitely.

Explaining how they complied with state mandates at first, the church leaders justified their civil disobedience in part by claiming that the lockdowns done in the name of public health were causing spiritual damage to their parishioners. “Opportunities for believers to serve and minister to one another have been missed,” they wrote. “And the suffering of Christians who are troubled, fearful, distressed, infirm, or otherwise in urgent need of fellowship and encouragement has been magnified beyond anything that could reasonably be considered just or necessary.”

We need to be very careful not to give up our civil liberties in the name of preventing the spread of a virus. We know a lot more about the coronavirus now than we did at the beginning. We have developed a few successful protocols for treating the virus, and we have a fairly good idea of who is at risk from the virus. It is time to reclaim our civil liberties before we lose them for good.

We Are Slowing Seeing Admissions About Illegal Spying On President Trump

Just The News posted an article Monday by John Solomon about a recent statement by U.S. District Judge James A. Boasberg, the new chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Evidently the Judge is not impressed by what went on during 2016 and 2017.

The article reports:

For much of the last three years, key law enforcement leaders have insisted they did nothing wrong in pursuing counterintelligence surveillance warrants targeting the Trump campaign starting during the 2016 election. And, they’ve added, if mistakes were made, they were unintentional process errors downstream from them and not an effort to deceive the judges.

But in a little-noted passage in a recent order, U.S. District Judge James A. Boasberg, the new chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, took direct aim at the excuses and blame-shifting of these senior Obama administration FBI and DOJ officials.

In just 21 words, Boasberg provided the first judicial declaration the FBI had misled the court, not just committed process errors. “There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications,” Boasberg wrote.

Finally someone is placing responsibility for previous FISA abuses on the people in charge and not the people working for them.

The article concludes:

“The frequency and seriousness of these errors in a case that, given its sensitive nature, had an unusually high level of review at both DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications,” Boasberg wrote.

In another words, he is worried the bad conduct exhibited by the FBI may extend to more cases affecting others’ civil liberties.

Finally, Boasberg put Wray on notice — even while praising the current director — that process fixes alone won’t suffice.

“The errors the OIG pointed out cannot be solved through procedures alone,” he wrote. “DOJ and the FBI, including all personnel involved in the FISA process, must fully understand and embrace the heightened duties of probity and transparency that apply in ex parte proceedings.”

Boasberg’s ruling was far more than a temporary suspension of FBI personnel’s participation in the FISA court. It is the first and only judicial finding in the Russia case that the FBI vastly misled the nation’s intelligence court and that blame must be shouldered by federal law enforcement’s top leaders, many of whom have spent much of the last three years trying to escape such accountability.

For those who have begged the FISA court for years to more aggressively rebuke the conduct in the Russia case, Boasberg’s ruling was a welcome step in the right direction and a first effort to end the excuse-making. But those critics are holding out for more, including prosecutions or disciplinary action.

In the meantime, those who led the FBI and DOJ through that turbulent time — Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, as well as former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and Rosenstein — must come to grips with this new reality. A judge has formally concluded that his court was misled by the work product they oversaw and signed.

It’s about time.

Laws Were Broken, Consequences Were Non-Existent

Yesterday The Hill posted an article about violations of the civil liberties of Americans under the Obama Administration. I will try to highlight the article here, but I strongly suggest following the link above to read the full article. It is chilling in the fact that it illustrates how people in high office can use their position to violate the rights of other Americans. It is a very unusual day when I am in agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union, but they are right in this case.

The article reports:

The National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation violated specific civil liberty protections during the Obama years by improperly searching and disseminating raw intelligence on Americans or failing to promptly delete unauthorized intercepts, according to newly declassified memos that provide some of the richest detail to date on the spy agencies’ ability to obey their own rules.

The memos reviewed by The Hill were publicly released on July 11 through Freedom of Information Act litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The article reminds us:

“Americans should be alarmed that the NSA is vacuuming up their emails and phone calls without a warrant,” said Patrick Toomey, an ACLU staff attorney in New York who helped pursue the FOIA litigation. “The NSA claims it has rules to protect our privacy, but it turns out those rules are weak, full of loopholes, and violated again and again.”

Section 702 empowers the NSA to spy on foreign powers and to retain and use certain intercepted data that was incidentally collected on Americans under strict privacy protections. Wrongly collected information is supposed to be immediately destroyed.

The Hill reviewed the new ACLU documents as well as compliance memos released by the NSA inspector general and identified more than 90 incidents where violations specifically cited an impact on Americans. Many incidents involved multiple persons, multiple violations or extended periods of time.

The NSA’s chief spokesman, Michael T. Halbig, stated, “Quite simply, a compliance program that never finds an incident is not a robust compliance program.” The NSA has also stated that the violations amount to a small percentage when compared to the hundreds of thousands of specific phone numbers and email addresses the agencies intercepted through the so-called Section 702 warrantless spying program created by Congress in late 2008. In my opinion that doesn’t help the NSA’s case–a violation is still a violation.

The article further states:

CIA and FBI received unminimized data from many Section 702-tasked facilities and at times are thus required to conduct similar purges,” one report noted.

“NSA issued a report which included the name of a United States person whose identity was not foreign intelligence,” said one typical incident report from 2015, which said the NSA eventually discovered the error and “recalled” the information.

Likewise, the FBI disclosed three instances between December 2013 and February 2014 of “improper disseminations of U.S. persons identities.”

Some of our government officials need to be held accountable for this violation of the civil rights of Americans. The people in leadership in the NSA and the FBI during the time of these violations need to be removed from office if they are still there. Jail time would be appropriate. I would like to remind everyone that spying on American citizens is not an authorized government activity. Whether it was for political reasons or other purposes, there need to be consequences.

Attacking Religious Freedom In Massachusetts

CBN News posted an article today about the battle for religious freedom in Massachusetts.

The article explains the timeline of the events:

Four churches in Massachusetts are suing the state over a new anti-discrimination law that provides no exemption for churches.

Instead, the statute restricts speech that might conflict with government views on gender identity and forces churches to open their bathrooms and locker rooms to people based on their perceived gender identity.

…The state legislature added gender identity as a protected class to the state’s public accommodation law in July 2016. On Sept. 1, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued a “Gender Identity Guidance,” which determined that a church would be considered as a place of public accommodation “if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is handling the case for the four churches. The four churches are Horizon Christian Fellowship in Fitchburg, Abundant Life Church in Swansea, House of Destiny Ministries in Southbridge, and Faith Christian Fellowship in Haverhill.

The article reports:

“All events held at a church on its property have a religious purpose and the government has no authority to violate the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion and speech,” Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Christiana Holcomb said.

The law went into effect Oct. 1.  But opponents of the law celebrated a major win late Tuesday in their efforts to repeal it.  The Massachusetts secretary of state has certified the required number of signatures needed to put a repeal measure on the 2018 ballot.

It will be interesting to see if the issue makes it on to the 2018 ballot, even though it has the necessary signatures. A number of years ago, the voters of Massachusetts collected enough signatures to put gay marriage on the ballot, but somehow that never happened. The gay marriage law that took effect in Massachusetts was the result of a court decision–not a vote of the people. Unfortunately, I think this issue may be resolved the same way.