Saturday, February 27, 2021

The most important moment in Congress this week

The most important moment in Congress this week had nothing to do with a spending bill.

From the false teaching of the Greeks in ancient times, a name carried down through the centuries as a symbol supernatural power: the Titans. As men applied their advances in technology to the seas, a vessel was named after these false gods.

A 1911 issue of Shipbuilder magazine described the RMS Titanic as being “practically unsinkable.” When Mrs. Albert Caldwell was boarding the Titanic in Southampton, she asked a crew member if it was true the ship was unsinkable. He told her—“Yes, lady, God himself could not sink this ship.” (Source)

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed H.R. 5 which mandates universal acceptance of sexual immorality and specifically excludes any exceptions on the basis of religious freedom.

Friday, February 26, 2021

We don't elect people so they can rule

The whole point of having procedural rules surrounding the process of making laws is to protect from people grabbing for power.

After the Senate parliamentarian ruled that a change to minimum wage laws does not fall within the purview of budget reconciliation, Squad member Omar Tweeted, “Abolish the filibuster. Replace the parliamentarian. What’s a Democratic majority if we can’t pass our priority bills? This is unacceptable.”

That's about as naked as a raw power grab can get.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The power of the HHS secretary

Normally, a Cabinet secretary is there to implement laws as part of the President's administration.

However, when a law hands over power to the administration to determine much of the policy and regulation, then the implementation of that law can look very different depending on which administration is in office.

Such is the case with the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services. The amount of power held in this position vastly increased in 2010. The text of the Affordable Care Act mentions the position of Secretary 3,267 times.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Fed reiterates plan for make-up inflation

Fed Chairman Powell testified at a hearing today. It was the equivalent of a 6-month check-up on American currency.

Background: The Federal Reserve has twin monetary policy objectives from Congress: full employment, and two percent annual inflation.

While these objectives remain intact, the Fed completed a review of its “monetary policy strategy, tools, and communication practices” last year as “the U.S. economy has changed in ways that matter for monetary policy.” The goal: “maximum employment and price stability.”

After reviewing its strategy and tools, the Federal Open Market Committee made “some key changes.”

Monday, February 22, 2021

500,000

Much is being made of crossing the number 500,000 in COVID-19 deaths yesterday.

Three thoughts:

One, this includes not just people dying of the coronavirus, but of people with the coronavirus and other comorbidities. US numbers are not consistent.

Two, China's numbers coming from a Communist government are not reliable, but the want-to-be Communists report them as if they are and as if this is reason to beat up on their own country.

Three, the language describing the number as being “mind-boggling” and “almost too large to grasp” represent difficulty in understanding and personalizing the tragedy.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Remembering Carman

Sometimes when a seed dies, we get to see just how many seeds that seed actually planted.

Carman Dominic Licciardello passed away this week.

I was one among many those who grew up listening to Carman. Firing up his YouTube channel brings back a lot of memories. I texted my youth pastor, too.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Enabling Virginia government 'entry without delay' into your home

One of the earliest parts of the Affordable Care Act to get repealed and never replaced was the 1099 provision. Section 9006 onerously and vastly broadened the reporting requirements of payments over $600. It was repealed before it ever went into effect. Even the Obama White House celebrated this fix to a problem it helped create. They had no choice; the public outcry was obvious and overwhelming.

The Virginia General Assembly is giving serious consideration to passing a law that is at least as overreaching.

There is much change that full Democratic control in Richmond has brought. Much of it is objectionable, but not necessarily immediately encroaching on one's own personal liberty. (For instance, firearms limits on domestic abusers hopefully do not apply to most people, problematic though they may be given the case law.) Even such very limited consolation is entirely absent from one law that would resemble the overreach of the federal 1099 provision and go much further.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Day colors

Solar gradients is a cool background.

I got using and configuring a Mac tonight and almost forgot about writing for today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Equity vs. public health

How quickly the politics of equity overtake public health.


This shows how history can be forgotten with lightning speed.

Two things to note:

1. There is no approved vaccine. We only have vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use.

2. Because this vaccine is so new and not yet approved, distribution originally took place only in hospitals because they wanted to make sure there were resources available in case someone had an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Nothing

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “If anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3).
Just so, my Lord Jesus wants me to take that blessed position as a worker, and morning by morning and day by day and hour by hour and step by step, in every work I have to do, simply to abide before Him in the simple utter helplessness of one who knows nothing, and is nothing, and can do nothing. Oh, beloved workers, study that word nothing.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Deconstructing the threat

Some Christians are less concerned about the philosophical dangers of critical race Theory (CRT) than are some secular liberals.

Dr. Anthony Bradley portrays CRT as being a rational “intellectual movement” to find and dismantle white supremacy “wherever it is found.” He argues we should “learn what one can from it while rejecting what is wrong.” Specifically, he rejects a claim that racism explains “all racial struggles and racial disparities that non-white faces in America” as “overly simplistic, unsophisticated, and monistic.” He views CRT as simply using anti-racism to save us from white supremacy. He proposes we “use the resources of the Christian and Presbyterian traditions for analysis and proposals for solutions, and pray.”

To him, racial injustice is “woefully inadequate to explain the nature of reality and to offer non-coercive solutions” as compared to having the Word of God, various summary confessions and ample centuries of history. The Word of God, when proclaimed, is effective because “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). What happens when it is not proclaimed? What if CRT is not just “a limited analytical tool”? What if CRT is a part of a larger framework not interested in a solution?

Saturday, February 13, 2021

The nature of conscience protection laws

As a legal matter, I agree with conscience clauses and would vote for them at any given opportunity. No one should be forced to violate their conscience or their deeply helped theological beliefs.

As a cultural matter, conscience clauses in law are indicative of a shifting cultural landscape, and those who advocate for those legal rights may have inaccurate expectations.

Friday, February 12, 2021

The path to greatness

Almost twice in a row, Jesus says that whoever wants to be first or to be great “must be the servant of all” (Mark 9:35; 10:44).

Notice, he doesn't say it's wrong to be first or to be great. In fact, he even tells them how to do exactly that. The method is just the opposite of what anyone would expect in order to attain those things.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Productive days

I've had a productive couple days. Today included a lot of writing, too, but not for anything here.

Sometimes you have to keep certain habits or commitments to a minimum in order to make progress in other areas, especially areas that have been delayed or neglected for a while.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The problem with claims about ‘starvation wages’

Yesterday President Biden's budget director nominee expressed support for federal funding of abortion.

Today was her second confirmation hearing before another committee, and Chairman Sanders used the opportunity to make yet another mention of “starvation wages” some people are earning.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

U.S. Senate Record highlights, 2/8/2021

Senator Grassley spoke about The 1776 Report.
As I have often said, our Nation is unique in human history in that it was founded not on the basis of common ethnic identity or loyalty to, let's say, a Monarch but on certain enduring principles. …

Our patriot forefathers concluded that these principles were worth fighting for and took up arms in an improbable quest to defeat the largest and best trained military at that particular time.

This included many Black patriots who fought for American independence--a unifying fact that I believe deserves a monument on the National Mall, something that I have been working toward for years. …

Monday, February 8, 2021

A win from the private sector on COVID-19

CNN 10 today reported on Dr. Allen Sills, chief medical officer for the NFL, and how the league managed to keep their positivity rate all season to as low as 0.08% with no in-play spread anywhere in the world.
We had an outbreak in Tennessee and we went in and really dug into that and tried to understand how did a transmission occur despite our protocols. 
That`s when we began to realize it wasn`t just six feet and 15 minutes.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Streamlining content-gathering

This week's Congress Update took more than half the day today—much longer than normal, though not unprecedented. It was a busy, long, complicated and late week in Congress. (The Congressional Record for Friday still hasn't published as of this writing.)

Friday, February 5, 2021

More smoke

One of the landmark legal milestones of the 1990s was the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Cigarette companies were massively held responsible for public costs incurred due to the detrimental health effects of tobacco. Tobacco companies are paying $206 billion to states over 25 years ending in 2025. There are still four years left to go on those settlement payments.

Before these reparations are fully paid, policymakers are now moving in the opposite direction. Today, the Virginia Senate voted 23-15 to pass SB 1406 to legalize “simple possession” of marijuana.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Unusually free

Today, I learned that Officer Brian David Sicknick was younger than me when he passed away last month. The Wikipedia page for him indicates he was, apparently, an “outspoken supporter of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.”

It's not his politics that surprise me. I'm sure there are many Capitol Police officers on both sides. It's the outspoken part I find unusual. I would have thought that the Capitol Police were either non-partisan, or expected to keep their politics to themselves. That he did not, I think is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The nature of unsolicited advice

Chris Saxman wrote a column about an interesting topic, “unsolicited advice,” and he cited a column that cited a summary of studies on the motivation of those who give unsolicited advice.

“Researchers discovered: ‘…giving advice to others can increase the feeling that you have power. In particular, the researchers suggest that when you advise someone else, it gives you the sense that someone may follow your advice. That belief that you are influencing someone else’s behavior then leads you to feel more powerful.’”

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Considering the death penalty in Virginia

The Virginia Senate is considering a bill, SB 1165, to repeal the death penalty.

I have not listened to most of the debate, but I listened near the end today, and in hearing the Senator from eastern Fairfax, the two most compelling points I heard him make were (1) death penalty expansion is last on law enforcement's legislative priorities, and (2) there has not been a death penalty conviction since 2012.

Neither of those points, however, address the fact that having the death penalty on the books is a strong deterrent in the commission of crime. Some criminals adjust how they commit crimes based on the types of punishment they may face. The death penalty is the most significant factor as it is the ultimate punishment man can impose under law.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The consequences of feeding the beast

Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya said of social media, “If you feed the beast, that beast will destroy you. If you push back on it, we have a chance to control it and rein it in. And it is a point in time where people need to hard-break from some of these tools and the things that you rely on.”

This sounds a lot like the image-maker described in Psalm 115. After describing several imitation senses and body parts, the psalmist wrote: “Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them” (115:8).

There is a better approach.

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