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Bethlehem, the birthplace of the Christ, prophesied by the prophet Micah:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.

O Little Town of Bethlehem:

The Christmas story — Micah’s prophesy fulfilled Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, verses 4-16:

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Away in a Manger:

Joseph takes Mary, Jesus, to Egypt — Matthew 2:13-14

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

O Come All Ye Faithful:

Daniel Greenfield’s article provides a worthwhile teaching moment on what’s constitutional and what isn’t. Greenfield’s article starts with him saying “Trump is a monster, a madman and a vile racist. He’s just like Hitler. Or Jimmy Carter. During the Iranian hostage crisis, Carter issued a number of orders to put pressure on Iran. Among these, Iranians were banned from entering the United States unless they oppose the Shiite Islamist regime or had a medical emergency.”

Later in the article, Greenfield wrote “Now unlike Muslims, Iranians were not necessarily supportive of Islamic terrorism. Many were and are opponents of it. Khomeini didn’t represent Iran as a country, but his Islamist allies. So Trump’s proposal is far more legitimate than Carter’s action.” That’s a non sequitur defense of Trump’s bombastic statement. It’s illegal to exclude people based on their religious beliefs.

Kimberly Guilfoyle explained, saying that “[we] are signatories to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are international laws and treaties that we are bound by. You can not ban people based on their religious beliefs.”

Treaties that the president signs and that Congress approves in its advise and consent responsibilities are then treated as equal in legal strength as a US statute passed by Congress and signed by the president. Further, treaties that’ve been signed by the president, then ratified by Congress, can’t be repealed by executive order. Just like repealing statutes, Congress has to pass a bill calling for repeal of the law.

The repeal isn’t complete until the president signs the bill calling for withdrawing from the treaty.

Greenfield finishes by saying “Maybe the professional conservatives running around shrieking their heads off can calm down now long enough to have a rational conversation on the subject.” I’d prefer Mr. Greenfield taking a closer look at the laws that apply to banning people based on their religious beliefs. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights says signatories can’t deny people rights based on their religious beliefs. It doesn’t say that the US can’t ban people from specific nations, presumably because of the United States’ right to defend itself.

Chris Murphy is a Democratic senator from Connecticut and, as near as I can tell, a staunch advocate for censorship and a hater of religion. He can afford to be. He’s from Connecticut, which isn’t known for its deep religious roots.

Peggy Noonan is a former speechwriter for the greatest president of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan. She’s a gifted wordsmith and a lady of stature and dignity. Even when I disagree with her, which is occasionally, I still have immense respect for her. That’s because, at heart, she’s constantly cheering to see America at its best. She isn’t an ideologue. Instead, she’s a patriot. That’s why I couldn’t resist reading Ms. Noonan’s column about the fragile state of the First Amendment.

She noted that Sen. Murphy injected invective into the conversation about San Bernardino while it was happening, saying “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” Then Ms. Noonan made the observation that there’s “a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Twenty years ago, that statement would’ve been laughed at. Today, thoughtful people furrow their brow and worry that Ms. Noonan is right. Then Ms. Noonan offered this insight into winning debates:

If you really are for some new gun-control measure, if you are serious about it, you just might wait a while, until the blood has cooled, for instance, and then try to win people over to see it your way. You might offer information, argument, points of persuasion. Successful politics involves pulling people together. You don’t use a tragedy to shame and silence those who don’t see it your way; that only hardens sides.

I won’t assume that Sen. Murphy is interested in winning a debate. (Ms. Noonan didn’t either.) It’s quite possible that Sen. Murphy only wants to speak up and be heard.

Now that the blood has started cooling, it’d be easy to criticize Sen. Murphy. I won’t do that, though. I’ll just add some information and, hopefully, a little insight into this nightmare. First, the information flooding in is that this wasn’t a criminal action as much as it was a terrorist attack. Though President Obama and the FBI have tap-danced around that possibility, the truth is that that proverbial train left the station when the FBI found literally thousands of rounds of ammunition, a bomb-making factory in the Farooks’ apartment and an assortment of pipe bombs and IED in the Farooks’ SUV.

The insight I have for Sen. Murphy is to start talking about how President Obama, the FBI and our other intelligence agencies can connect the terrorist network dots faster. They clearly were caught flat-footed on San Bernardino. Couple that with their unwillingness to call it what it obviously is and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

This post is meant as a bit of a thank you to Ms. Noonan for writing something insightful on the subject of winning debate. Here’s hoping for more sanity to break out shortly.

Pope Francis’ political agenda is finally meeting with substantial resistance. Cardinal Raymond Burke issued a warning to Pope Francis, saying “The pope does not have the power to change teaching [or] doctrine.”

Since becoming pope, Francis has embarked on a liberal political agenda that isn’t well thought out. I wrote about a pair of his disasters in this post. Pope Francis’ closest advisor “castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views.” The other heresy propagated by Pope Francis was the Vatican “officially [recognizing] the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday.”

Based on what we’ve seen thus far, Pope Francis isn’t a man of faith. Instead, he’s apparently a man with deeply held political beliefs.

A staunch conservative and Vatican bureaucrat, Burke had been demoted by the pope a few months earlier, but it did not take the fight out of him. Francis had been backing a more inclusive era, giving space to progressive voices on divorced Catholics as well as gays and lesbians. In front of the camera, Burke said he would “resist” liberal changes — and seemed to caution Francis about the limits of his authority. “One must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope,” Burke told the French news crew.

It’s understandable that a pope would want to sound inclusive. It’s also wrong when it contradicts the teachings of the Bible. It’s one thing to offer forgiveness to repentant sinners. That’s the true nature of forgiveness. It’s another to provide political cover for unrepentant sinners. That’s known as appeasement. HINT: There’s nothing virtuous about appeasement.

Based on this article, Hillary’s attempt to capitalize politically on the Charleston Massacre is failing. Check this out:

Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered on Saturday her boldest remarks yet on race and gun violence, topics that have quickly become some of the most prominent and divisive in the presidential campaign, particularly after Wednesday’s mass shooting in Charleston, S.C.

“It’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today’s America bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists,” Mrs. Clinton said in a speech in San Francisco. “But despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”

Invoking President Obama at times, Mrs. Clinton called for a “common sense” approach to gun laws, pledging to take swift action if elected. She did not, however, make clear how she would navigate the divide in Congress that has undercut Mr. Obama’s own efforts to pass gun laws. “The president is right. The politics on this issue have been poisoned,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But we can’t give up. The stakes are too high. The costs are too dear. And I am not and will not be afraid to keep fighting for common sense reforms.”

Mrs. Clinton, it’s easy talking about “common sense reforms” without explaining the details. Who isn’t for common sense reforms of whatever the subject is? The thing about “common sense reforms” without including the reforms’ details is that it sounds like a cheap politician repeating a focus group-tested message. That isn’t a solution. One thing that’s apparent is that Mrs. Clinton isn’t interested in leading.

Will Mrs. Clinton propose a ban on assault weapons like her husband passed? Or will she propose closing the non-existent gun show loophole? Will she propose things like they passed in Colorado and New York? Will Mrs. Clinton propose something entirely different? Proposing gun control legislation will fire up Hillary’s supporters. It won’t solve problems.

The important question that Ed Henry or other journalists with integrity should ask Sec. Clinton is how gun control would’ve made a difference at that church in Charleston last week. If she can’t answer that, then the next question should be why Hillary’s pushing gun control when it wouldn’t have solved anything.

It’s time reporters put Hillary on the spot. Let Hillary know that we’ll reject her if she isn’t offering solutions. Send Hillary the message that we won’t tolerate her chatting about checking off items from her ideological wish list.

This video is one of the most intense, emotional and unforgettable videos I’ve ever seen. I won’t be surprised if I never forget it:

Representatives for the 9 victims of the Charleston church shooting were given the option of making a statement to the confessed gunman. While some representatives chose not to make a statement, the representatives who spoke through their pain and forgave the shooter despite their intense pain. Here’s a sampling of their statements:

“You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know,” Felecia Sanders, mother of victim Tywanza Sanders, told Dylann Roof, speaking from the courtroom. “Every fiber in my body hurts … May God have mercy on you.”

The daughter of Ethel Lance, another of the nine victims in the Wednesday night attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, had a similar message for the 21-year-old alleged killer, who police believe attended a Bible study meeting at the church, where he was embraced by strangers only to open fire on them for no apparent reason. “You hurt a lot of people,” she said, “But I forgive you.”

“Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so He can change your ways no matter what happens to you and you’ll be OK,” said Anthony Thompson, who represented the family of victim Myra Thompson.

Thursday, the nation heard too often from politicians pandering to their political supporters during a time of grief. It’s understatement to say that they disgraced themselves. Hillary Clinton and President Obama were particularly offensive in that respect.

Friday, America heard from the victims’ families. Through their grief, they still managed to live out the things Pastor Clementa Pinckney taught them at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. With their statements, they taught our ‘leaders’ how to lead. Citizens showed us how to unite our nation. Hillary and President Obama failed miserably at uniting the nation.

To be fair, not all political leaders failed in striking a uniting tone. Ben Carson shined in his attempt to be a uniter:

CARSON: The heart of the matter is not guns. The heart of the matter is the heart, the heart and soul of people. This young man didn’t wake up yesterday and suddenly turn into a maniac. Clearly there have been things in his background, in his upbringing that led to the type of mentality that would allow him to do something like this. And one of the things that I think we really need to start concentrating on in this country is once again instilling the right kinds of values, particularly in our young people. We’re so busy giving away all of our values and principles for the sake of political correctness that we have people floating around out there with no solid foundation of beliefs.

Guns aren’t the problem. They’re inanimate objects, capable of inflicting incredible pain or stopping senseless violence. Guns are just the tool of choice used by evil people to destroy human life.

Thankfully, the people representing the victims of this senseless violence understand that. I’d rejoice if our ‘leaders’ figured that out instead of their grandstanding.

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Kirsten Powers’ latest column is, being charitable, misguided:

Pope Francis will release a teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on Thursday that’s thought to be the first in the church’s history to focus on the environment. A leaked version of the document endorses the notion that human activity contributes to climate change and that this menace disproportionately harms the poor.

Many U.S. conservatives are not pleased, believing that that the Vatican is blindly bending to elite opinion and stepping out of its lane. Leave the climate change issue to the politicians, they argue. Some conservative Catholics have expressed concern to me that Pope Francis is pulling a “reverse Galileo” by endorsing science that could turn out to be wrong, thus harming the credibility of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps there should be more concern in the alternative. If the science is correct, then how would the church’s silence in obeisance to conservative climate skepticism enhance its credibility? After all, the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced in 2014 that the scientific consensus that “climate change is happening, and human activity is the cause” is as airtight as the “science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases.”

Climate change isn’t science. It’s conjecture built on models that don’t use accurate temperature data. The process itself is flawed, too. They don’t use the double blind procedure. That’s the gold standard in scientific testing because it ensures that the person who does the data analysis doesn’t do the data collection or inputting the data.

As for this consensus, it’s overrated when the scientists are corrupt. This is the Hockey Stick graph used in the IPCC’s report:

Here’s the modified hockey stick graph used in a later release of the IPCC report after scientists objected to the first Hockey Stick graph:

Those graphs don’t look like each other. At all. So much for consensus and the airtight nature of the science.

The Catholic Church’s credibility won’t crumble because of Pope Francis’ encyclical. Pope Francis’ credibility, though, is already struggling. Thus far, he seems more like a far left activist than a pontiff.

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I’ve written before about Pope Francis’ trip into the world of climate change. When he was picked to be pontiff, he wasn’t picked to be a delegate to UN climate change events. That hasn’t stopped Francis from throwing the weight of his office behind his ultra-liberal causes:

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.

Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.

I wasn’t aware that Pope Francis had gotten a doctorate in climate science. If he hasn’t gotten that type of degree, perhaps he should stick tradition papal responsibilities like preaching the Gospel and explaining who Jesus Christ is.

The Great Commission and the Great Commandment, which certainly pertain to Christian leaders, instructs those leaders to “preach the Gospel wherever you go” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s difficult to understand how writing encyclicals about climate change fits in God’s job description for Christian leaders.

“Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it,” he wrote in the draft. “Numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … given off above all because of human activity.”

Perhaps, this is Pope Francis’ attempt to be relevant beyond the church walls. Perhaps he’s just an attention-seeker. Perhaps it’s both. Either way, his upcoming encyclical is based on junk science.

This encyclical doesn’t meet the church’s definition for encyclicals:

From the nature of the case encyclicals addressed to the bishops of the world are generally concerned with matters which affect the welfare of the Church at large. They condemn some prevalent form of error, point out dangers which threaten faith or morals, exhort the faithful to constancy, or prescribe remedies for evils foreseen or already existent.

It’s difficult to see how this encyclical about climate change will highlight the “dangers which threaten [the] faith or morals” of the church or “exhort the faithful to constancy.” This encyclical seems more political than biblical.

It’s bad enough when politicians think that they’re scientists. It’s worse when pontiffs think they’re scientists.

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This story has been bouncing around the internet all week. The progressive left has attempted to use the story to tar Scott Walker. First, here’s what Gov. Walker said:

We signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there.

Naturally, the abortion industry (and that’s just what it is) is outraged:

Walker’s comments drew criticism from pro abortion rights groups. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called his remarks “appalling” and said, “Women are very clear that forced government ultrasounds are not ‘cool.'”

First, it isn’t surprising that one of the leaders in the abortion industry is upset. Wisconsin’s law is probably reducing the number of abortions in that state. That means Planned Parenthood’s income has probably dropped. Couple that with the fact that Gov. Walker dried up funding to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s government funding and it isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Walker is Public Enemy No. 1 in Planned Parenthood’s eyes. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Gov. Walker would occupy the top 5 slots on Planned Parenthood’s Public Enemies list.

This statement is from the Guttmacher Institute:

“Since routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion,” researchers at the Guttmacher Institute wrote.

The Catholic Education Resource Center responded with this statement:

“The manipulation of language has long been one of the hallmarks of the pro-choice position,” according to an argument on the Catholic Education Resource Center website. “But with ultrasound, words no longer matter so much: The abstract melts into the concrete and the personal. This powerful emotional appeal will continue to grow as 3-D ultrasound enters the mainstream.”

The truth is that Planned Parenthood is upset that this technology is eating into their revenues. Anybody that thinks that Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice USA or NOW cares about anything more than the income from performing abortion procedures is kidding themselves.

These abortionists care mostly about their income and their industry.

Congratulations to Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin legislature for writing and passing the ultrasound legislation and for defunding Planned Parenthood. They’re true pro-life heroes.

I’ve got news for all the people talking about the new pope in glowing terms. The Vatican has lost its way. Badly:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday, immediately sparking Israeli ire and accusations that the move hurt peace prospects.

The treaty, which concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes official diplomatic recognition. “Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it was “disappointed.” “This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” the ministry said in a text message.

It’s pretty pathetic that the Vatican would recognize the Palestinians without demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That isn’t the only mistake the Vatican is making:

Pope Francis’ closest adviser castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views.

Speaking with journalists, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga criticized certain “movements” in the United States that have preemptively come out in opposition to Francis’s planned encyclical on climate change.

“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Rodríguez said, according to the Boston Globe’s Crux blog.

As an evangelical Christian, I don’t understand what climate change has to do with a person’s religious faith. It doesn’t have anything to do with the 2 greatest doctrines of the church, the Great Commandment or the Great Commission.

As for Cardinal Maradiaga’s vilification of capitalism, that’s warped thinking, too. It’s impossible to think that Cardinal Maradiaga could fashion a persuasive argument that one economic system is less sinful than another.

Though there isn’t tons of material to base opinions of Pope Francis off of, there’s still sufficient material to say that he’s wading into political issues more than all other popes prior to his papacy in my lifetime. There’s little doubt, too, that Francis is the most liberal pope of my lifetime.