The Warren Commission

One week after President John F. Kennedy was fatally shot, President Lyndon Johnson established a special commission, headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, to investigate the assassination – on this date in 1963. After ten months of gathering evidence, the Warren Commission released their report, concluding there was no evidence of a conspiracy, either domestic or international, in the assassination, and that Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, acted alone.

The presidential commission also found that Jack Ruby, the nightclub owner who murdered Oswald on live national television, had no prior contact with Oswald. According to the report, the bullets that killed President Kennedy and injured Texas Governor John Connally were fired by Oswald in three shots from a rifle pointed out of a sixth floor window in the Texas School Book Depository.

Despite its seemingly firm conclusions, the report failed to silence conspiracy theories surrounding the event. In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in a preliminary report that Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” that may have involved multiple shooters and organized crime. The committee’s findings, as with the findings of the Warren Commission, continue to  be widely disputed.

So what happened that fatal day in Dallas, 53 years ago? In a recent survey, nearly 70 percent of the American people indicated they believe the Warren Commission had it wrong, and there were multiple shooters.

I have my own opinion. I’m sure you have yours. The fact is, no one really knows for sure. That’s how it is with life. Despite millions of hours spent by experts pouring over the evidence, despite re-examination upon re-examination of the famous Zupruder film, no one knows.

There are some things in this life that no one knows or understands. And that is a good thing. It serves to remind us that there is One to whom we can turn that has answers man can never find on his own.

The Rushmore Report: Why Christians Must Vote in This Election

I hear the lament often from conservative Christians as I travel the country. “How can I vote for either of these candidates with a clear conscience?” Increasingly, many Christians are choosing the stay-at-home option (or throw away their vote with a write-in candidate option) as a way to maintain their integrity. Frankly, I understand the appeal of such a choice. But there are three reasons that not voting is not an option for a Christian.

1. Voting is a God-given privilege and responsibility.

Many times I’m challenged by Christians who wonder why I am involved in politics. “After all, didn’t the apostle Paul instruct believers to simply ‘pray for kings and all those who are in authority’?” But remember, in biblical times, citizens of Rome or Israel did not have the option of doing anything about government leaders except to pray for them. You didn’t get to vote for the king or emperor.

But as John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and co-author of The Federalist Papers said, “God has given to our people the choice of their leaders . . . of our Christian nation.”

2. Voting is a primary way for Christians to stop evil.

Imagine  you saw an elderly woman being assaulted by a mugger and you had the ability to stop the assault, but walked away. Although you might not be legally culpable for the attack, you would be morally culpable.

Every year more than one million of the most defenseless in our society – the unborn – are being murdered through abortion. Since the legalization of abortion by the Supreme Court, more than 50 million children have been killed.

Donald Trump has pledged to nominate Supreme Court justices who will either overturn Roe v. Wade or at least curtail late-term abortions including the horrific practice of partial birth abortion.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton has pledged to nominate justices who will uphold abortion. Additionally, she refuses to place any restrictions on abortion, regardless of the reason for or the timing of the abortion.

The war against religious liberty will escalate under Hillary Clinton, who is resolved to nominate Supreme Court justices who embrace an expansionist view of the Constitution. She will push for continuation of Obama policies of transgenger rights, as well.

3. Voting is about endorsing policies, not personalities.

Ronald Reagan was a known womanizer during his days in Hollywood and would be the first divorced president in history. Yet, in 1980 evangelicals overwhelmingly supported Reagan over a Baptist Sunday School teacher named Jimmy Carter, who faithfully married one woman.

By supporting Reagan, evangelicals were not supporting womanizing or divorce, but they were endorsing Reagan’s policies.

I’ve been amazed at the number of conservative evangelicals who have developed a case of selective amnesia when it comes to their support of previous candidates with imperfect pasts, whether it be Reagan, McCain, Bush, Gingrich, or a host of others.

There are no perfect politicians – just as there are no perfect pastors or voters. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. But the fallibility of both candidates in this election – as in every election – is no excuse for not voting.

I will be the first to admit that the sanctity of life and the preservation of religious freedom are not even among the top ten concerns for most voters. But those issues should be of primary concern to those who call themselves Christians.

About the Author

Robert Jeffress is the Senior Pastor of Dallas’ historic First Baptist Church. He is also a best-selling author and frequent guest on Fox News.

 

The Rushmore Report: Clinton’s Closing Argument

Rocked by the recent statements by James Comey, Director of the FBI, Hillary Clinton is maintaining a positive persona to the end of the campaign. With a wide team of surrogates spanning each critical state, Clinton is narrowing her focus to a few points that her team thinks will carry her to victory. With just five days remaining in the campaign, her plan of attack is clear. This is the closing argument for Hillary Clinton.

1. Children and Families

On the stump these days, Clinton continues to highlight her policy agenda, often circling back to issues she’s been discussing on the campaign trail for months, such as college affordability and equal pay for women. She’s also keen to talk about climate change and job investments that will help the American family.

2. Trump – A Threat to Democracy

Clinton is trying to convince voters that Donald Trump is mounting an “unprecedented attack on our democracy.” Since the final debate in Las Vegas, she’s been hitting Trump on his reservations about saying he’ll respect the results of the election. “This is a direct threat to our democracy,” Clinton told a crowd of a few thousand on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

3. Early Voting

With Trump gaining in the polls, Clinton is counting on racking up big numbers in early voting, conducted at a time when her national lead was about seven points. Her campaign estimates that about 60 percent of Florida will have voted early. North Carolina reports similar patterns.

4. Expand the Map

Clinton’s multi-pronged offense is focused on states Trump needs more than Clinton to reach 270 electoral votes. Florida tops that list. Clinton is working hard in other states she really doesn’t need, such as North Carolina, Iowa, and Ohio. This forces Trump to play defense in places he’d rather be able to take for granted.

Will Clinton’s four-pronged strategy work? We’ll know in five days.

About the Author

Scott Detrow is a writer for NPR, whose primary assignment is the 2016 presidential election. With a focus on the technology and data angles of the race, Detrow is a frequent guest on the NPR Politics Podcast.

The Rushmore Report: What the Media Isn’t Telling You about Clinton’s Position on Abortion

On September 30, 1976, a Democratic-controlled Congress passed legislation that prohibited federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases in which a mother’s life was in danger. It’s called the Hyde Amendment, and it was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. In the following 40 years, every major party candidate has agreed that tax payer dollars should not be used to fund abortions. That was until now – and the media doesn’t want you to know the truth.

The Hyde Amendment has been supported by such Democratic leaders as Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama. Even though each of these Democratic leaders favor(ed) a woman’s right to an abortion, they agreed that it was morally unconscionable to ask well-meaning pro-life Americans to pay for the aborting of unborn lives with their own tax dollars. That principle has stood through every election cycle since 1976 – until now.

Enter Hillary Clinton, who has called abortion “a fundamental human right.” She has made her opposition to the Hyde Amendment a key part of her campaign. For the first time, the Democratic party’s official platform calls for its ban. Meanwhile, Tim Kaine, a long-time opponent to abortion, became pro-choice about 15 seconds after Mrs. Clinton offered him the VP slot. What a timely conversion!

It appears Mrs. Clinton is determined to govern against the will of the people – before she is even elected.

A recent Marist poll showed that a significant majority of the American people – 62 percent – oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. But the Democrats’ call for the appeal of the Hyde Amendment marks just the next step in their radical agenda. While 78 percent believe abortion on demand should be illegal after the first trimester, Hillary Clinton favors the right to abortion up to the moment of the baby’s birth.

The fact that this is a radical position, outside the mainstream of American life, is evidenced by Clinton’s silence on the issue in any of her rallies or ads, as she knows that she would become imminently more unelectable the moment the American people knew that she wants to use their money to fund the taking of unborn lives.

You probably hadn’t heard of her position, or that of the Democratic platform. As long as her Republican opponent continues to shoot from the hip and conduct a campaign of personal insults – and as long as the national media continues to give Clinton cover – the Democratic plan will be the best kept secret in American politics.

Does life begin at conception? Of course it does. Do 78 percent of Americans oppose abortion past the third month of pregnancy? Or course they do. Do Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party understand how morally repugnant it is to pro-life Americans to use their hard-earned tax dollars to take the lives of the unborn? Of course they do. But do they care? Of course they don’t. And will the voters know of Hillary’s radical position – in opposition to every other Democratic candidate in history? Not if the national media has anything to do with it.

The Rushmore Report: All You Need to Know About the Republican National Convention

Cleveland is having themselves a summer. A month after welcoming home the NBA Champion Cavaliers, tens of thousands of people are expected to descend on the Rock and Roll Capital of the World for the Republican National Convention.

For awhile, it looked like this might be a contested convention, but Donald Trump put that excitement to rest a couple of months ago when he amassed the necessary delegate count to secure the nomination on the first ballot. The Convention is about to begin. And this is all you need to know.

1. Vice Presidential Pick

The leading contenders seem to be Newt Gingrich, Mike Pence, and Chris Christie. But Mr. Trump likes flare. I suggest two dark horses might still be in the running: Ted Cruz and Mary Fallin.

Mary Who? Fallin is the Governor of Oklahoma, and would be a fantastic choice. She is a true conservative, obviously a woman, and fairly unknown, which is actually a plus. If Trump picks someone we all know, two hours after the announcement, the thrill will be gone. By picking Fallin, the story will keep the Republican team in the headlines for several weeks. Is she a likely pick? No – but she would be a great one.

2. Surprise Speaker Schedule

Usually, we would know the line-up weeks in advance. But not this year. Mr. Trump has said he may speak every night, and that many in his family will address the convention. It has been confirmed that Sen. Ted Cruz will speak, as well as Speaker Paul Ryan. Bobby Knight, iconic basketball coach at the University of Indiana, is expected to speak, as well. As for the other speakers, stay tuned.

3. Notable No-Shows

Several high-profile Republicans have declined to appear. The list includes former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The two most recent Republican nominees, Sen. John McCain and former Gov. Mitt Romney, will not be there. In fact, the only former nominee who will attend is former Sen. Bob Dole, who will make only a brief appearance. Additionally, many of Trump’s competition will not come, including Sen. Marco Rubio. This will be a different kind of convention – not the “Who’s Who” of the Republican establishment we are used to seeing.

4. Delegate Count By the Numbers

Trump secured the nomination before the last few primaries. According to ABC News’ latest analysis of the delegate counts, Trump is estimated to have a total of 1,543 delegates. He needed 1,237 to secure the nomination.

It is likely that by the end of the first ballot, Trump will have more delegates than originally pledged. That is because many of the other nominees have released their delegates to vote for Trump in an effort to build party unity.

The Rushmore Report: Was Hillary’s Email System Really Different from Her Predecessors?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to exclusively use private email to conduct State Department business was not unprecedented, she has maintained. When asked about her arrangement for emails by Univision’s Jorge Ramos, Clinton said, “I’m going to give the same answer I’ve given for months. It wasn’t the best choice. But it was not prohibited. My predecessors did the same thing.” Let’s fact check . . .

There are a couple problems with Clinton’s talking point that her State Department predecessors used email practices similar to hers.

First of all, there’s the fact that most of Clinton’s predecessors did not regularly use email. Just four former secretaries of state have held the job during the prominence of electronic communications: Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Madeleine Albright.

According to MSNBC, an aide for Albright said she “did not use email while she was in office” from 1997-2001. And Rice, head of the State Department from 2005-09, was not a habitual emailer either, according to multiple reports.

So that leaves Powell, a regular email user, as Clinton’s only predecessor who serves as a useful comparison. When we reached out to the Clinton campaign, they pointed us to Powell.

Like Clinton, Powell used a personal email address. However, there’s a big difference: Clinton hosted her email on a private server located in her home. Powell did not.

Many politicians use private addresses, but private servers like the one Clinton used are rarely seen, said John Wonderlich, a policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group focused on government transparency, for a prior PolitiFact story.

And there’s a big difference between a private account, which is generally free and simple to start, and a private server, which requires a more elaborate set-up.

The Atlantic speculated the Clintons “may have wanted to be in control of the encryption of their correspondence, ensuring that no third parties – whether commercial, hacker, or government – were able to snoop on them.”

The unorthodox approach has opened up questions about her system’s level of security. If the server was managed without the help of a third party, “you would have to have a staff that’s keeping up with all the latest fixes,” said Clifford Neuman, director of the University of Southern California’s Center for Computer System Security.

We would note that the State Department has flagged a handful of emails containing information now deemed classified that were received by Powell and aides to Rice at private email addresses. In the more than 50,000 pages of Clinton emails the State Department has reviewed, just over 100 sent by Clinton have been deemed classified, according to a Washington Post analysis.

It’s unclear whether the information was classified at the time the emails were sent.

Our ruling

Clinton said, regarding her State Department email practices, “my predecessors did the same thing.”

This is a misleading claim chiefly because only one prior secretary of state regularly used email, Colin Powell. Powell did use a personal email address for government business, however he did not use a private server kept at his home, as Clinton did.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

About the Author

Lauren Carroll is a PolitiFact staff writer based in Washington, D.C. Before working for PolitiFact, Lauren worked for the Tampa Bay Times. She is a graduate of Duke University.

George Washington Turns 184 Today

If he had not died on December 14, 1799, he would be celebrating his 184th birthday today. On February 22, 1732, George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the second son from the second marriage of a colonial plantation owner. An initially loyal British subject, Washington eventually led the Continental Army in the American Revolution and became known as the father of the United States. George Washington’s legacy has endured a long process of untangling myth from fact. The famous cherry tree incident never occurred, nor did Washington have wooden teeth. Known for being emotionally reserved and aloof, he was concerned with personal conduct, character, and self-discipline but was known to bend the rules if necessary, especially in war. Although Washington was undoubtedly ambitious, he pursued his goals humbly and with quiet confidence in his abilities as a leader.

During this election cycle, Republicans are asking, “Who’s the next Ronald Reagan?” Democrats are asking, “Who’s the next John Kennedy?” A better question might be, “Who’s the next George Washington?” Let’s consider three traits demonstrated by our first president that we sorely need in national leadership today.

  1. George Washington was an humble man. In his first inaugural address, he said, “I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love.” He declined “any share in the personal emoluments” or monetary gains for himself. Never intoxicated with power, in his second inaugural address, he subjected himself to “the upbraidings of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.” He could have been a king; he chose to be a president. The Bible says, “Be completely humble and gentle” (Ephesians 4:2). Humility was perhaps the most significant character trait of our first president.
  2. George Washington was a man of self-discipline. In her book, Meet George Washington, Joan Heilbroner describes a man of incredible self-discipline. She quotes him as regularly challenging himself, “Undertake not what you cannot perform.” He said, “It’s better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” No one farmed harder or fought harder than George Washington. He outworked his staff and outlived his contemporaries. Every day was filled with purpose. George Washington was the embodiment of self-discipline. Paul said, “God gave us a spirit of self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7), a spirit demonstrated daily by President Washington.
  3. George Washington was a man of high character. In 1788 he wrote to his trusted confidant Alexander Hamilton, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain the character of an honest man.” In leading the War for Independence, he extolled his soldiers to “display the character appropriate to Christian soldiers.” Though gifted as a leader, statesman, and military genius, what mattered most to George Washington was not to win the battles of war, but the battles of the heart. Paul told young Timothy to “pursue righteousness” (1 Timothy 6:11). That was a pursuit that filled George Washington’s life.

President’s Day was created to honor the first president of the United States. Was he our greatest president? The answer seems obvious; without him there would have been no others. So as we celebrate the man who would be 184 years old today, let’s do so, not with another statue or monument, but by committing to being the kind of people worthy of the sacrifice of the man who gave all he had to create a better country than the world had ever known.

It Made History in February

On February 3, 2005, Alberto Gonzales won Senate confirmation as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general. Gonzales was born in 1955 in San Antonio, Texas, the son of a migrant worker, and grew up in a small, crowded home in Houston without hot water or a telephone. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973 after graduating from high school. Following a few years of service, Gonzales attended the U.S. Air Force Academy. After leaving the military, Gonzales attended Rice University and Harvard Law School before George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, picked him in 1995 to serve as his general counsel in Austin and in 2001 brought him to Washington as his White House counsel. After Gonzales became attorney general, he faced scrutiny regarding some of his actions, most notably the firing of several U.S. attorneys and his defense of Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program. The firings became the subject of a Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007, and on August 27 of that year Gonzales decided to step down.

We are in the midst of an exciting election year, with several minorities on the ballot. Two Cuban-Americans, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are among the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination. Much has been made of their minority status. But let’s give a hand to President Bush, who in February, eleven years ago, broke new ground by naming a Latino as attorney general. That was something none of our first 42 presidents had ever done. Alberto Gonzalez went to high school just a few miles from where I did and just a few years before I did. No one would have imagined what this humble young man would become. That is a testament to the leadership of a godly president and the spirit of the greatest nation on earth. And it happened this month in history.

First Teddy Bear Goes on Sale

This month in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed, and before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution. Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the Teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy, and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.

We all had stuffed teddy bears as kids, or in my case, a stuffed lion. I still have it. Why? Because it reminds me of the loneliness from which we all run. The teddy bear brings comfort and a sense of companionship, for which we were all created. Genesis says it is not good for man to be alone. Ecclesiastes said two are better than one and three are better than two. God allows you to travel difficult roads at times, but never are you to travel them alone. That is the lesson of the most rugged president our land has ever had. And that is the lesson of the teddy bear, who turns 113 years old this month.

It Happened In February

As early as 1858, the ongoing conflict between the North and the South over the issue of slavery led Southern leadership to discuss a unified separation from the United States. By 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the antislavery party, won the presidency. Following Republican Abraham Lincoln’s victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860, South Caroline immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, its legislature passed the ordinance of Secession, which declared that “the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the ‘United States of America,’ is hereby dissolved.” After the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states had followed South Carolina’s lead, and on February 4, 1861 these states met to form the Confederacy.

History offers no better example of the result of unresolved conflict. Whether between states or mates, friends of foes, unresolved conflict is never good. What became known as the Civil War was anything but civil. If you are in conflict with anyone, seek to resolve that conflict. To do anything less will lead to the repeat of history, as recorded 155 years ago this month.