The Rushmore Report – Will Graham Calls on Christians to Fight CA Fires

Will Graham, grandson of the late Billy Graham, has urged Christians to help victims of the California wildfires, saying that believers “should be the first ones to be responding because we represent the King of kings and Lord of lords.” He continued, “I think as Christians, we should be the first ones to respond to anybody in need – pray for them, help with physical needs, do whatever they need in the love of Jesus Christ.”

California is experiencing unprecedented fires, claiming close to 80 lives so far. And the fires are still not contained. A staggering 8,650 homes and 10,000 total structures have been burned to the ground.

Graham told the Christian Broadcasting Network that chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have already been deployed near Sacramento to provide physical and spiritual assistance to those suffering due to the fires.

“We send chaplains to simply sit there and pray with people, cry with people, and hold people,” he said. “People have lost everything – they’re devastated, and they don’t even know where the next step begins. So we just go, sit there, and we start praying with them.”

Graham continued, “We will see some people come to know Christ, but I don’t think we’ve ever been there when somebody said, ‘No, don’t pray for me.'”

Samaritan’s Purse, the humanitarian organization led by Will’s father, Franklin Graham, will also be on the ground providing disaster relief.

What triggered the fires is yet unknown, but experts say the blaze continues to be fueled by strong winds, low humidity, and the dry terrain caused by a prolonged drought.

On Facebook, Franklin Graham has urged his seven million followers to pray for all those affected by the inferno: “Would you pray especially today for all those in the paths of these deadly fires and especially for the families whose loved ones were killed? Also we need to pray for protection and strength for the many firefighters who are battling these blazes 24/7.”

The Rushmore Report – They Have Just 44 Days; The GOP Needs to Move Fast

Power can be so fleeting. Just ask Republicans, who have controlled the House of Representatives since 2011. Suddenly, with the loss of at least 36 seats, the GOP will surrender control of the lower chamber in January. Democrats will take over, amid promises of impeachment, socialist policies, and a total blockade of President Trump’s policies. But in the 44 days until Democrats take over the House, Republicans still have a chance to achieve the things they were elected to do two years ago. But the GOP needs to move fast.

Given the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, Republicans will especially need to move fast.

Here’s my plan. Republican leadership from both the House and Senate should be summoned by President Trump to Camp David this weekend. At that time, they should agree on six policies they really want to pass into law. Then they should put together a framework for each item, which can be taken directly to the floors of the House and the Senate over the next six weeks. For the next six weeks, leading up to the end of their term, one item per week can be voted into law.

What are these six agenda items? The list might include the following: the building of the border wall, repeal of Obamacare, middle income tax cuts, and immigration reform.

Would such a move be ambitious? Absolutely. But it can be done. And the only reason Republicans need to get this done in six weeks is that they failed to get it done in two years.

In 44 days, obstructionism will begin. Democrats will bring government to a screeching halt. But Republicans have no one to blame but themselves for the lack of progress. They have accomplished only a fraction of President Trump’s agenda over the past two years. But there’s still time for conservatives to do great things for the American people. But they need to move fast.

The Rushmore Report – Trump’s Problem Is Republicans

President Trump has hundreds of unfilled presidentially-appointed positions because Democrats have stalled the nominations process out as much as their diminished power in the post-nuclear Senate has allowed. But it is the Republican majority that has placed a total blockade on the usual safety valve for temporary appointments – the recess appointment power – by refusing to go on recess for the last two years.

And with Democrats set to take the House and be in position to deny the Senate consent to recess starting January 3, there is a real possibility that President Trump will go an entire presidential term without being able to make recess appointments.

It has been nearly eight years since the United States Senate officially recessed – a streak aided by the practice of holding so-called pro forma sessions every three days throughout every adjournment. Those sessions – which consist of nothing but gaveling in and out and where, by unanimous consent, no business is conducted – serve a single purpose: to deny the president of the United States the recess appointment power, which is a constitutionally authorized power to temporarily install nominees to executive and judicial posts without Senate advice and consent.

President Bill Clinton used the recess appointment power 139 times, including 96 full-time positions. President George W. Bush used it 171 times, including 99 full-time positions. But recess appointments under Bush screeched to a halt in his final two years in office, after Democrats took control of the Senate and, for the first time, implemented pro forma sessions to avoid an official recess.

In Obama’s first two years, with Democrats in control of Congress, recesses were back and he made 28 recess appointments, all to full-time positions, in his first two years. Then Republicans won the House of Representatives and withheld consent from the Senate to recess, forcing the pro forma sessions to come back. They continued through the last six years of Obama’s presidency, though he attempted to disregard them and make recess appointments anyway in 2012, which were struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning.

The pro forma gambit is legally valid, and therefore the president cannot make recess appointments unless the Congress decides to officially recess, which hadn’t happened since 2010.

You might reasonably expect no president will ever get recess appointments again except when the same party controls the House, Senate, and president. But for the last two years, the same party – the Republican Party – has in fact controlled the House, Senate, and president. And yet, the Senate has never recessed.

This curious fact has received surprisingly little attention.

Is McConnell blocking Trump for his own strategic reasons? Perhaps to establish that no recesses will ever be taken again, forcing all appointments to go through the Senate confirmation process?

If so, that seems to be somewhat at odds with constant Republican complaints about Democratic stalling and obstruction of Trump nominees.

Is McConnell concerned that, given the free hand of a recess, Trump would make some truly terrible appointments? If so, perhaps negotiating a list before agreeing to recess could allay that concern.

Or does McConnell simply lack a Senate majority that would vote to adjourn without pro forma sessions? If so, perhaps holding a clean adjournment vote would at least serve the clarifying purpose of showing the American people which Republican senators are intent on blocking Trump recess appointments.

If President Trump wants to lift the legal cloud from his acting Attorney General and temporarily fill vacancies across the federal government, the administration needs to press hard for the Senate to adjourn for the year with an official recess.

But if we’re simply in a new era in which the Senate protects its institutional power by never officially recessing, it would be nice for somebody to inform the American people.

About the Author

Phil Kerpen writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report – Barna: The Christians Who Vote for Trump Don’t Pray for Him

The Christians that the Barna Group believes were key to President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, due to their movement away from Democrats, do not largely pray for the commander-in-chief, according to the evangelical research organization. Earlier this month, Barna released a report that included a compilation of recent research that they conducted on various politics-related issues.

Among their findings, Barna reported that as of early 2017, around the time Trump was sworn in as president, 37 percent of American adults said they pray for the president.

“Evangelicals were the group most active in their prayer, along with majorities of groups with an active Christian faith,” noted Barna earlier this month.

“These prayers were just as common among black Americans as among white Americans, but less common among those who profess a non-Christian faith or fall into the category of notional Christians.”

Barna defines “notional Christians” as people who identify as Christian and likely attend church, but do not consider themselves to be “born-again.”

Barna found that while their research indicated that “Notional Christians” were a key factor in Trump being elected, only 35 percent report praying for the president.

According to Barna’s post-election report, “perhaps the most significant faith group in relation to the Trump triumph was notional Christians. These individuals … have supported the Democratic candidate in every election since 1996. On average, notionals have given the Democratic candidate 58 percent of their votes. That trend was broken this year as Hillary Clinton took just 47 percent of the group’s votes while Trump was awarded 49 percent. Given that notionals are by far the largest of the five faith segments, that transition was a game changer for the Republicans.”

Among evangelical Christians, a group that strongly supported Trump, 88 percent reported praying for Trump. By contrast, 18 percent of non-Christian religious believers reported praying for the president.

Unlike most polling on evangelicals, Barna defines evangelicals based upon beliefs, a set of nine questions, rather than self-identification.

Barna drew from a 2017 survey of 1,109 American adults with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

The survey was one of multiple recent findings that Barna highlighted in response to the midterm elections, with the organization explaining that they believed this and other findings “may help provide context—or prompt more questions—about our present political moment.”

Last year, it was reported that some theologically liberal churches, All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena, California among them, were going to refuse to state Trump’s name in their prayers for him.

“We are in a unique situation in my lifetime where we have a president elect whose name is literally a trauma trigger to some people,” said All Saints Church Rector Mike Kinman, as reported by local media outlet Pasadena NOW in 2017.

“Whereas before we prayed for ‘Barack, our president,’ we are now praying for ‘our president, our president elect, and all others in authority.’ This practice will continue for at least the near future.”

The Rev. Alice Rose Tewell, associate pastor at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., told The Christian Post in an interview last year that her congregation will “pray for our political leaders from all backgrounds during our worship service.”

“We have and we will continue to pray that our next president would act on with justice and mercy for each person throughout our nation and the world,” said Tewell.

“We pray that our next president will turn from the rhetoric of his campaign and instead stand up for the rights of the immigrant and refugee, the rights of women and children, the rights of people of color, the rights of those who live with disabilities, the rights of the LGBTQ community, for the rights of those living without homes or in unstable conditions, and for all who are lack enough opportunity, chances at a good education, and healthcare.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for the Christian Post. Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

The Rushmore Report – Supreme Court Set to Rule on 40-Foot Tall Cross

The United States Supreme Court will hear an appeal on whether a 40-foot tall cross dedicated to Americans who served in the First World War will be removed from public property. Over the past few years, the Bladensburg cross has been the subject of a legal battle centered on if the memorial violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

In an order issued last Friday, the high court agreed to hear the consolidated cases of America Legion, et al. v. American Humanist Association and Maryland-National Capital Park v. American Humanist Association, et al.

First Liberty Institute, which is representing the American Legion, released a statement on Friday hopeful that the Supreme Court will overturn a lower court decision against the cross.

“There are some who want to erase the memory of the service and sacrifice of these 49 fallen servicemen of Prince George’s County,” stated Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty.

“If this monument is bulldozed to the ground, it’s only a matter of time before the wrecking ball turns on Arlington National Cemetery and the thousands of memorials like this one across the country.”

AHA attorney Monica Miller stated, “We remain confident in our legal position and look forward to presenting arguments to the Supreme Court. The Fourth Circuit’s decision correctly recognized that the government’s prominent Christian cross memorial unconstitutionally favors Christian veterans to the exclusion of all others.”

In 2012, the AHA sent a letter to the Maryland National Park and Planning Commission demanding that the cross be removed.

In February 2014, the AHA filed a lawsuit against the Planning Commission on behalf of two members who lived in the area and a third person from Beltsville.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ruled in late November 2015 that the cross was constitutional, as it fulfilled the secular purpose of honoring fallen soldiers.

AHA appealed Chasanow’s decision and in October of last year, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2–1 in favor of removing the cross.

In March, the Fourth Circuit voted 8-6 to reject an appeal in the case. In a concurrent opinion, Judge James Wynn rejected the petitioner’s argument that the cross held a mostly secular meaning, as it was part of a war memorial.

” … to accept the Commission’s assertion that the Latin cross erected at the Bladensburg intersection does not convey a predominantly sectarian message would prohibit the ability of those who raised the symbol to prominence to continue to safeguard and define its primary meaning,” wrote Judge Wynn.

In one of the dissenting opinions, however, Judge Paul Niemeyer warned that letting the panel decision stand “needlessly puts at risk hundreds of monuments with similar symbols standing on public grounds across the country, such as those in nearby Arlington National Cemetery.”

In June, First Liberty and others appealed to the Supreme Court to prevent the removal of the cross. They were joined by 109 members of Congress in an amicus brief filed in late July.

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for the Christian Post.

The Rushmore Report – The Problem Republicans Must Fix by 2020

The 2018 midterm elections are over. Americans rendered a split decision – Republicans hold the Senate; Democrats hold the House. The only question still outstanding is whether Florida will decide its 2018 Senate and Governor races before the 2020 elections. Democrats are celebrating their new control of the House as they threaten a never-ending series of hearings in order to “make America dysfunctional again.” Republicans will seek middle income tax breaks, border security, and continued progress on international fronts. But Republicans must be warned. They have one huge problem, and if they don’t solve it soon, they will become a minority party as early as 2020. What is that problem?

Suburban voters.

Republican strategist and former adviser to President George W. Bush, Karl Rove, offered this warning to the GOP following last week’s elections: if they continue losing elections in America’s suburbs, they will be in serious danger.

Rove analyzed the election returns and came to the following conclusion: “We’ve got to be worried about what’s happening in the suburbs. We get wiped out in the Dallas suburbs, Houston suburbs, Chicago suburbs, Denver suburbs – you know there’s a pattern – Detroit suburbs, Minneapolis suburbs, Orange County, Calif. suburbs,” Rove said Saturday during a panel discussion for the Washington Examiner. “When we start to lose in the suburbs, it says something to us. We can’t replace all of those people by simply picking up farm country and the Iron Range of Minnesota, because, frankly, there’s more growth in suburban areas than there is in rural areas.”

Rove was referencing five hotly contested congressional races in California as well as several races in Texas – all in suburban areas – which all flipped Democrat.

“We’ve got to examine the reasons why we lost and figure out how to fix those problems going forward,” Rove said. “Problematically, the purple places, with the exception of Florida, didn’t go blue, but they got bluer.”

Shoshana Weissmann, the founder of CityGOP, agreed. She tweeted, “Beating the drum again – but Cruz’s race was WAY tighter than it ought to have been. And the map tells at least one obvious story. Republicans need to compete in suburbs, or, as I’ve been saying for years, Texas WILL be purple one day.”

Suburbs are the future of America. They must be the future of the Republican Party, as well. There was a time when the GOP could take the suburban vote for granted. That time has passed. If Republicans don’t return their focus to the suburbs quickly, their time will pass, as well.

 

The Rushmore Report – Was Trump Right to Fire Jeff Sessions?

We knew it was coming. And less than one day following the midterm elections, the inevitable came to pass. President Donald Trump fired the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions. The first senator to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign and the fourth person the president credited with his victory during his inaugural address had become a liability. He simply had to go. But the question lingers – was Trump right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

I loved Jeff Sessions as a senator from Alabama. I appreciate his faith, his principles, and the way he has handled diversity from Day 1. He has endured more verbal attacks from his boss than any man should ever have to experience. He has served every day with the class of a southern gentleman. So, let’s rethink it. Was the president really right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

First, the president has every right to fire anyone in his cabinet without explanation. This is something Democrats don’t understand. Clearly, they did not take the same high school civics classes as the rest of us. They think that they – not the president – should name his cabinet. Shortly after Sessions was hired, the likes of Schumer and Pelosi cried foul. “Sessions must go!” they screamed. Now that he is gone, they cry foul again. This is their circular argument. “President Trump is corrupt for firing the man we demanded that he fire.”

Despite protestations from the Democrats – Sessions’ unexpected supporters – Trump did it. He fired his Attorney General. Was this the right thing to do?

Yes.

Here’s why. Sessions had failed to win the confidence of the president. That was the only reason Trump needed. There are 340 million people living in this country (legally). But only one vote counts when it comes to the longevity of members of the president’s cabinet. The fact that President Trump fired Jeff Sessions is all we really need to know. But still, many ask, was Trump right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation. He failed to prosecute the Hillary Clinton email crimes. Sessions did not impanel a grand jury to examine the conduct of fired FBI Director James Comey. And he failed to do anything about the illegal surveillance activity of the FBI.

Was President Trump right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

 

The Proud Americans – What Blue Wave? It Was a Green Wave!

As usual, the media whiffed. The much anticipated “blue wave” did not happen. If it had, Republicans would not have kept control of the Senate, let alone extend that control by two or three seats. If it had been a “blue wave,” Democrats would have picked up more seats in the House. Their gains were half of those made by Republicans in the first midterm of the Obama years. No, it was not a “blue wave” or a “red wave.” It was a “green wave.”

Newt Gingrich was right in his post-election commentary: “The biggest change in this election was the sheer volume of money generated by left-wing billionaires and activist groups who hate President Trump.”

Still, let’s not overreact. By losing 26 seats, Republicans fared far better than Democrats, who lost 54 seats in 1994 (under President Clinton), and 63 seats in 2010 (under President Obama).

But one cannot deny the “green wave.” By “green,” I mean money.

Case in point – Texas. Democratic (Socialist) Beto O’Rourke became a media darling in his race against conservative stalwart Ted Cruz. Make no mistake – O’Rourke was far from qualified for the United States Senate. Texas boasts at least two dozen Democrats with far more impressive credentials. But none of them ran. Why? Because they knew they would lose.

So enter one young Congressman from El Paso – committed to the impeachment of the President (though he never said why), 40 percent tax increases (he did say why), and the demise of ICE (no one cares why).

Who would bet on O’Rourke? Democratic billionaires. Beto raised $70 million for his Senate campaign – the most of any candidate for any office other than President in the history of the United States.

But it wasn’t just Texas. Liberals – who normally whine incessantly about there being too much money in political campaigns – poured tens of millions of dollars into Senate and House races in Missouri (they lost), Georgia (they lost), Indiana (they lost), North Dakota (they lost big), etc. In some cases, the expenditures paid off, especially in the House.

The irony cannot be missed. Why were Democrats allowed to literally buy dozens of Congressional seats? It’s called capitalism. And what do these very Congressmen just elected find abominable? Same answer – capitalism.

Democrats did what they have accused Republicans of doing for decades. They poured ridiculous amounts of cash into Congressional elections. They played by the rules of capitalism in order to attack – say it with me – capitalism.

The “blue wave” was barely a ripple. You probably missed it – under the weight of the green tsunami.

The Rushmore Report – How to Pray for Today’s Elections

Today’s elections will determine the control of Congress – both in the House and the Senate. Thousands of other candidates will be on the ballot across the country. I’m sure I don’t need to convince you to vote. And as followers of Christ, we certainly understand that we should pray. In fact, it is more important to pray right than it is to vote right. The good news is that God hears our prayers. So it is important that we know how to pray.

I suggest five keys to effective election prayers.

1. Pray for a national revival.

God will bless America when America blesses God. We need the healing and revival of God across the land. Those timeless words of the Old Testament ring true: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and I will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

2. Pray for our leaders.

Commit to this, win or lose. Pray that God will give our leaders wisdom and courage to seek him and lead us. Paul told Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

3. Pray for God’s sovereignty.

In all things, pray for God’s will. Pray for his perfect plan to be carried out through the men and women who will be elected. The Bible says, “It is God who changes the times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning” (Daniel 2:21).

4. Pray for the real battle.

Our battle is not political, but spiritual. Revival never begins in the White House, but in God’s house. We are in a fight against evil as we defend the faith. Paul said it like this: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm” (Ephesians 6:12).

5. Pray that the church recognizes her true hope.

We must trust that God is able to do what man cannot do. The key to our joy and hope is not in the economy or certain political policies. Our hope was, is, and will always be, in the Lord. The prophet said it well: “Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5).

The Rushmore Report – Predicting Today’s Elections

The day has finally come. Today’s the day for the 2018 midterm elections. At stake are control of the House and the Senate. For months, a massive “blue wave” has been predicted by most media outlets. Democrats continue to lead in generic congressional polls. But nothing counts until the votes are counted. So what will likely happen in today’s elections? We have pored over all the most recent polls and assessed every race. You don’t have to wait for the voting results tonight. Here is what will happen . . . we think.

The Polls

We have considered the most reliable polls of recent days: Rasmussen, Gallup, Quinnipiac, NPR/Marist, and more. The data to follow is a conglomeration of these findings.

Presidential Approval Rating

President Trump is sitting at a personal high, with an average approval rating of 44.4 percent. The Rasmussen Report has him at 51 percent.

Generic Ballot

Democrats lead Republicans by about eight points, 49.5 to 41.9 percent. This has not changed much over the past three months.

The Senate

Republicans have solid leads in 50 states, compared to 44 for Democrats. When considering each of the remaining six races (Indiana, Montana, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Missouri), we will make our best guess based on polls just out. Democrats will win Florida and Montana; Republicans will carry Arizona, Nevada, Indiana, and Missouri. This translates to a Republican controlled Senate by an increased margin of three seats, 54 to 46. This increase from 51 to 54 for Republicans is significant for any pending close votes on healthcare, taxes, or the Supreme Court.

The House

The most recent polling has led FiveThirtyEight to give Democrats an 86.1 percent chance of retaking the House of Representatives. The Real Clear Politics map has Republicans winning 200 seats to 205 for Democrats, with 30 toss-ups. So Republicans would need to win 60 percent of those contested seats (18 of 30) to retain control of the House. This is unlikely. Say it with me – “Speaker Polosi.”

Governors

While Republicans are favored to win the majority of governor races, Democrats will make a net gain of about four governorships.

Summary

This will be a split decision. Republicans will extend their lead in the Senate. In the House, Democrats will take a narrow majority. But their gains will be much less than typical for the party not in control of the White House in a midterm election.

Media Reaction

The mainstream media will pronounce this a “Blue Wave” of great proportions – regardless of the actual outcome. In fact, I’m pretty sure the headlines have already been written.