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The drunk RINO, the lying bumper sticker, and the crook

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Having lost the Senate seat in Indiana due to a weak candidate in 2012, Republicans are trying to take back the seat. It should be relatively easy to win a Senate seat from a state that swung Trump in 2016, but the GOP sure is making it hard on themselves. The candidates who seek to unseat Joe Donnelly are already faltering with the enormous smell of weakness. The three hopefuls: Luke Messer, Todd Rokita and Mike Braun are stumbling to the finish line in the hopes that the other two fall on their faces first.

The Drunk RINO

It sounds like a politically themed bar name, but the honor of this title goes to Luke Messer. The is little doubt that Messer would contribute to the ineffectiveness of the Senate. Too few Republicans in the Senate stand by the principles that they campaign on and Luke Messer is one of them but in the House. Messer supported the Omnibus spending bill which spent money we don’t have to increase a government that’s too big. On the endorsement front, Messer has Rep. Susan Brooks of District 5. She is also a notorious RINO. The “drunk” part of the title refers to how by omission, Messer lied about his drunk driving arrest when running for the House. This is particularly substantial because of the circumstances at the time in which Messer replaced a lawmaker killed by a drunk driver. Having won the seat concealing damning information means that Messer has sat on a throne of lies for decades.

The Lying Bumper Sticker

Where fellow Congressman, Todd Rokita, stands apart from Luke Messer is his Conservative voting record in the House. Rokita did not vote for Omnibus and otherwise has a much stronger record voting. Yet even after deviating from Trump from the right, Rokita has sought in his campaign to tie himself as close to Trump as humanly possible. This is disingenuous since, by certain standards, it is Luke Messer who is most aligned with the President. However the offense most gravely concerning Rokita’s campaign was his staff taking the endorsement of Trump’s Indiana team a little too far. On yard signs intentionally mislead by implying the endorsement of the President himself. Though there was fine print, the intent is there nonetheless. This offense brought rebuke from the Trump Campaign and is the most damaging wound to the GOP hopeful.

Yard signs are not the same as bumper stickers though. That is to say the “lying” portion of Todd Rokita has been covered. The bumper sticker was not his misleading yard signs but his mouth. There isn’t an original thought or policy that comes out of his mouth. “Guns don’t kill people.”

Todd Rokita is more interested in using cute bumper sticker lines than using succinct riginal thought. For that reason he sounds like the elite he is trying to defeat.

The Crook

Mike Braun is the “political outsider” or so he’d have us believe. Indeed, he is self funding his campaign but similarly to Trump he isn’t actually an outsider, and unlike Trump he isn’t actually unique compared to a politician. Matt Bruan is currently a Representative in the Indiana House. But his record in the House is far from Conservative, and further from someone who genuinely believes in the free market. In 2017, the vote that causes him the most grief, particularly from Rokita, was his vote for a 55% gas tax increase in a bill that allowed for automatic hikes without additional legislative approval. Additionally, Braun voted against reducing regulations on hair braiders and increased regulation on car dealerships. Braun doesn’t have a record that would indicate he would vote Conservative when it counts. In all likelihood, Braun in the Senate would be adding an additional RINO to the herd.

But aside from gambling on his principles, one of the chief concerns is his cronyism. A report from the Indy Star Times states:

But during his short tenure as a state lawmaker, Braun worked to reduce taxes and regulations on an industry in which he holds a significant personal financial interest — a connection that raises ethical concerns, critics say.

Braun owns more than 5,000 acres of timber land in southern Indiana valued at more than $5 million. He harvests the trees on that land for hardwood, yielding tens of thousands of dollars in income each year.

At the same time, he successfully pushed legislation at the Statehouse that provided millions of dollars in tax breaks for the timber industry and cut regulatory costs for hauling logs. He also tried unsuccessfully to put new limits on logging in state forests, potentially forcing more logging onto private timber lands like his.

The exact bill HB 1089 seems to have provided Braun with financial gain in an industry specific to his background. While the benefit of the doubt ought to be afforded, the evidence of Braun’s behavior is substantial. Braun is not simply a believer of the free market, voting on bills that so happen to benefit him personally. If Braun’s actions were principled why weren’t the hair braiders or Telsa afforded the same luxury of fewer regulations? Furthermore Indy Star points out his record.

  • A tax break in 2015 that exempted tree harvesting equipment from state sales tax. The measure saved the industry $1.8 million to $2.7 million a year, according to a fiscal note. 
  • Looser regulations on logging trucks, allowing them to carry more weight. The 2017 law effectively cut the cost of hauling timber from forests to saw mills.
  • Limits on logging in state forests, which compete with private timber land as a source of hardwood. The 2016 legislation would have prohibited the state forestry division from cutting down trees on at least 10 percent of the land in each state forest. The proposal put Braun at odds with the administration of then-Gov. Mike Pence and the bill failed to advance.

His industry specific legislation is enough to point out that the line between public policy and personal gain is blurred at very least and molested at worst.

My Take

This is a terrible field of candidates. In a state where Trump won by 19, the Republicans are fielding candidates that are giving Joe Donnelly the best chance at keeping his seat. The safest bet in this race is Todd Rokita who is the only candidate with a Conservative voting record. Messer is a RINO and Braun a cronyist. Their behavior in the Senate will be as such. We always say we don’t want RINOs, but somehow they keep getting voted into office. Proper vetting of candidates is a surefire way to prevent voting RINOs in office, at least when information is as widely available as it is for this race. After vetting the three candidates, Rokita stands out as the one least likely to contribute to out of control government spending and voter betrayal in the Senate.

For more candidate vetting in Indiana or your state, stay tuned. We’re planning on writing up all fifty this primary season.

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Culture and Religion

Does Matthew 22:29-30 indicate Jesus was referencing the Book of Enoch?

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Does Matthew 2229-30 indicate Jesus was referencing the Book of Enoch

Extra-Biblical texts such as the Book of Enoch are often frowned upon by churches. Some see 1 Enoch as fake. Others say it’s a good historical reference but not inspired. The Ethiopian Bible includes it as scripture. Should we read it?

To understand the answer to this question, we need to consider three things. First, it was referenced as holy by many of the early church fathers, but was excluded from official canon. Second, Enoch is referenced multiple times in the Bible: Genesis 4 and 5, Luke 3:37, Hebrews 11:5, and Jude 1:14. Third, Jesus makes a statement in Matthew 22:29-30 that references “scripture” but what he is saying is only found in 1 Enoch.

Many who oppose the validity of Enoch say that it was written after the Book of Jude because the it includes the quote that Jude references, but fragments of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which most scholars date to before Jude was born.

The scripture in question is Matthew 22:29-30:

29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Nowhere in the 66 Books of the Bible does it say angels neither marry nor are given in marriage. What did Jesus mean when he said “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures” in reference to the angels not marrying?

Here is 1 Enoch 15:5-7:

5. Therefore have I given them wives also that they might impregnate them, and beget children by them, that thus nothing might be wanting to them on earth. 6. But you were ⌈formerly⌉ spiritual, living the eternal life, and immortal for all generations of the world. 7. And therefore I have not appointed wives for you; for as for the spiritual ones of the heaven, in heaven is their dwelling.

Hmm.

As with anything regarding extra-Biblical texts, I must urge caution. Many who believe 1 Enoch is authentic refute the authenticity of 2 Enoch and 3 Enoch. Then, there’s the question of inspiration and protection of the text. Many Christians believe the Bible has been able to survive and flourish despite so many attempts to disrupt it is because it has been protected over the millennia. If that’s the case, why was Enoch not included the whole time?

The answer to this question, to those who believe in its authenticity, may be found in the first two verses of the manuscript.

1 The words of the blessing of Enoch, wherewith he blessed the elect and righteous, who will be 2 living in the day of tribulation, when all the wicked and godless are to be removed. And he took up his parable and said -Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is 3 for to come. Concerning the elect I said, and took up my parable concerning them:

If Enoch is real, it’s meant for a later generation living in the day of tribulation. If it’s a fake, then it’s intended to deceive those in the end times. Either way, it’s understandable that it would not be included in most Bibles.

I tend to believe 1 Enoch is legitimate, but not to the point that I would teach on it. Not yet. Much more prayer and study is required before I would ever risk misleading anyone.

Nevertheless, the reference in Matthew 22 is compelling.

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Democrats

Cartoon: Is that another huge immigration caravan?

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Cartoon Is that another huge immigration caravan

The 2016 GOP field seemed like a clown car routine compared to what was essentially five legitimate Democratic candidates. Whether they simply feared Hillary Clinton or didn’t want to take their shot following President Obama, many Democrats who were considered potentially serious candidates didn’t run.

That’s not the case for 2020. We may end up with more Democrats in the running than we had Republicans in 2016.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez captured the growing group perfectly:

It’s certainly starting to look like a migrant caravan forming. Oh, wait. Those are actually American citizens.


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Immigration

No national emergency declaration: Trump’s “major announcement” will be an offer Democrats can’t refuse

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No national emergency declaration Trumps major announcement will be an offer Democrats cant refuse

This may be the best news I’ve heard all day (yes, even better than learning the Buzzfeed story was debunked, though that was pretty awesome as well). According to multiple outlets, the President will NOT be declaring a national emergency to fund the border wall and end the government shutdown. Instead he will be making Democrats an offer on live television to get the wall funded while dangling an incentive that he hopes will push Democrats to the negotiating table.

I’ll admit up front that I didn’t see this coming. I even went so far as to scold the President prematurely for declaring a national emergency, which apparently he is not. As I’ve always said, I will praise him when he does well and criticize him when he does poorly. Unless this report is wrong, I’ll happily praise him… unless his offer is too much.

What might be offered? Perhaps the DACA fix he didn’t want to do when Senator Chuck Schumer shut down the government last year. Maybe he’ll throw them a curve ball and offer some sort of boost to environmental efforts. Perhaps it’ll be adding more humanitarian aid to his border security package, greatly increasing the size and manpower of facilities that hold and process illegal immigrants and migrant seekers.

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on a DACA fix. Then again, I would have also put my money on him declaring a national emergency, and it seems I would have lost that bet.

Whatever the offer is, it’ll need to be something that will make the Democrats look poorly to Independents and moderate Democrats if they don’t take it while not being so much that his base will feel betrayed by the offer.

Assuming this pans out as expected, I owe the President an apology for assuming the worst. Instead of the worst, this may be the best case scenario and as long as he’s not giving up too much, may also be the best move of his presidency.


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