Daily Archives: May 19, 2018

May 19: Outline for Honor

1 Chronicles 7:1–40; 1 Timothy 5:1–9; Psalm 78:30–52

In most Western cultures today, we’ve lost our connection with the elderly. With one grandparent living halfway across the country and the others having died before I was born, I wasn’t around older people until I met my wife and her family. Unlike me, my wife had the privilege of knowing her great-grandparents. She has a strong sense of tradition and respect for the elderly, as well as a deep desire to help them in all aspects of life, and she has been able to teach me to do the same. Paul is dealing with a similar experience in his first letter to Timothy.

Paul says to Timothy, “Do not rebuke an older man, but appeal to him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. Honor widows who are truly widows” (1 Tim 5:1–3). By “honor,” Paul means showing a deep sense of concern and an earnest, regular desire to help them financially and with their daily needs. What Paul says is revolutionary for his time. It wasn’t that the elderly were disrespected culturally, but they weren’t sought out as teachers and people to help. Paul commanded not just equality in this scenario, but assistance and compassion. Widows, who were of the lowest rank of society, were to be loved as equals. And older men, at the higher rank, were to be respected for their understanding.

We don’t make these connections as readily in Western society. Instead, we see someone’s need as something to pray for, not to act on. And we see older men’s perspectives as simply “old guard” rather than a legitimate opinion we should take into consideration. Paul doesn’t say older people are always right, just as our fathers are not always right, but he does encourage Timothy to show them the respect they deserve “as a father.” Paul’s outline for honor was as powerful then as it is now.

How can you make the elderly and widowed a part of your life and church community?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Technology and the Christian – May 2018

We live in an unprecedented age of digital connectivity. In this strange new world, we are electronically linked to endless numbers of people and places as well as a flood of information. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets connect us to just about everyone and everything. We are connected all the time and everywhere.

It has all happened so fast. Personal computers have only been in homes since the late 1970s. And the ubiquitous smartphone —now in the pockets and purses of more than 2.5 billion people—was only unveiled in 2007. Tim Challies writes: “Over the past three decades, digital technologies have powerfully changed our lives. They are woven into the very way we understand and relate to the world around us. We are now a digital culture. We are no longer who and what we were just a few decades ago.”

Indeed, we are the first generation to experience this brave new culture of digital connectivity, and those who are under fifteen years of age have never known anything different. While many of us are immigrants to this new digital age, our children and grandchildren are natives. It’s all they’ve ever known. It’s all they will know.

Our culture is a swelling sea of digital connectedness. But are we, as Christians, becoming spiritually untethered in the midst of it? Are we being careful and wise with our technology? Are we losing our spiritual moorings in this vast and growing ocean of digital technology and omni-connectedness? Has the endless connectedness of our modern age actually made us less connected to the things that really matter, things that have ultimate significance? For instance, has it made us less connected to God and to our families? Could it be that our gadgets and gizmos that guarantee so much are actually fostering a new level of spiritual and relational superficiality in our lives? Isn’t it time to stop and ask, Do I own my technology or does my technology own me? God’s Word states, “Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15; see also Rom. 12:2).

More than a directive to improve time management, this is a divine command to live circumspectly—to walk with God carefully, purposefully, and wisely. Christians should never live passively, allowing the culture to shape and mold them into its image. Indeed, if we are not careful, the tools of digital technology that we have shaped will soon be shaping us. Social scientists have demonstrated that this is already happening in our culture. Indeed, millions are addicted to their screens because of social media, video games, news, sports, and entertainment. Dear Christian, this will happen to you if you let the flood of new digital technology roll over you without any serious reflection about how best to harness it for good. Therefore, take some time to evaluate your use of digital technology. And may your most solid and growing connection be to Christ.

Dr. Jon D. Payne is senior pastor of Christ Church Presbyterian (PCA) in Charleston, S.C., visiting lecturer in practical theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and author of In the Splendor of Holiness.
— Read on tabletalkmagazine.com/daily-study/2018/05/technology-and-the-christian/

May 19 Searching for Truth (Bartholomew)

The twelve apostles included “Bartholomew [Nathanael]” (Matt. 10:3).

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God knows your heart and will honor your search for truth.

Despite Nathanael’s prejudice, Jesus knew he was an honest, sincere Jewish believer in whom there was no religious hypocrisy or deceit (John 1:47). He truly sought after God and looked forward to the Messiah’s coming.

Most of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day believed that every circumcised descendant of Abraham was a true Jew and a beneficiary of the Abrahamic Covenant. But in Romans 2:28–29 Paul explains that salvation is an issue of the heart, not of national origin: “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart.” Nathanael was such a man.

He was shocked when Jesus described him as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47) because they had never met before. He was equally shocked when Jesus said He saw him under a fig tree because Jesus was nowhere near that tree. Nathanael immediately realized that Jesus was omniscient—He knew everything! That’s why he exclaimed, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (v. 49). He had found the Messiah for whom he had searched so long!

The Lord’s mention of the fig tree is significant. In that region fig trees were commonly used as a source of shade and outdoor shelter. Many of the houses in Palestine had only one room, so fig trees became a place to be alone for prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Quite possibly Nathanael was under the fig tree searching the Scriptures and communing with God when Jesus saw his open heart and his desire to find the Messiah. Jesus personally answered Nathanael’s prayer.

When Jesus looks into your heart, does He see a true believer in whom there is no hypocrisy? Nathanael wasn’t perfect, but he loved God and was a diligent student of the Word. And the Lord did great things through him. I pray that is true of you as well.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Spirit to reveal and deal with any hypocrisy you might be harboring. ✧ Ask God to increase your desire and capacity to know and love Him.

For Further Study: Memorize Romans 12:1–2 as a defense against hypocrisy.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 152). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MAY 19 WHEN PENTECOST CAME

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses.

Acts 1:8

As we read the New Testament, we find a very simple and very plain and very forceful truth—the Holy Spirit makes a difference!

Consider the early disciples—Jesus Himself had taught them for more than three years—the greatest Bible school! But still He had to caution them and encourage them not to depend on their own wisdom and strength: “Tarry ye…until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). He promised that they would receive the Person of the Holy Spirit to carry out His plan of world evangelization.

After Pentecost, the Spirit brought them a new and vivid consciousness of the actual presence of God. He gave them the gifts of divine joy and peace. He gave them great and continuing delight in prayer and communion with God!

Finally, we recall that before Pentecost the disciples could only ask questions. After Pentecost, throughout the record in the book of Acts, they stood in the authority of the Spirit and answered all of the questions of the people concerning God’s plan of salvation through the crucified and risen Christ!

Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will “visit” our local churches and anoint them with a renewed sense of urgency to become involved in Your plan of world evangelization.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

10 Key Takeaways From The New York Times’ Error-Ridden Defense Of FBI Spying On Trump Campaign

Authored by Mollie Hemingway via TheFederalist.com,

It’s reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to leakers’ fears about information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.

The New York Times published an article this week confirming the United States’ intelligence apparatus was used to spy on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Here are a few key takeaways.

1. FBI Officials Admit They Spied On Trump Campaign

The New York Times‘ story, headlined “Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation,” is a dry and gentle account of the FBI’s launch of extensive surveillance of affiliates of the Trump campaign. Whereas FBI officials and media enablers had previously downplayed claims that the Trump campaign had been surveiled, in this story we learn that it was more widespread than previously acknowledged:

The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said…

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said.

This is a stunning admission for those Americans worried that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies might use their powers to surveil, leak against, and target Americans simply for their political views or affiliations. As Sean Davis wrote, “The most amazing aspect about this article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election.”

The story says the FBI was worried that if it came out they were spying on Trump campaign it would “only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him.” It is easy to understand how learning that the FBI was spying on one’s presidential campaign might reinforce claims of election-rigging.

2. Terrified About Looming Inspector General Report

People leak for a variety of reasons, including to inoculate themselves as much as they can. For example, only when the secret funders of Fusion GPS’s Russia-Trump-collusion dossier were about to be revealed was their identity leaked to friendly reporters in the Washington Post. In October of 2017 it was finally reported that the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee secretly paid for the Russia dossier, hiding the arrangement by funneling the money through a law firm.

The friendly reporters at the Washington Postwrote the story gently, full of reassuring quotes to downplay its significance. The information only came about because House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes subpoenaed the bank records of Fusion GPS, over the objections of Democrats on the committee. Even in this Times story, Clinton’s secret funding was not mentioned.

Likewise, the admissions in this New York Times story are coming out now, years after selective leaks to compliant reporters, just before an inspector general report detailing some of these actions is slated to be released this month. In fact, the Wall Street Journalreported that people mentioned in the report are beginning to get previews of what it alleges. It’s reasonable to assume that much of the new information in the New York Times report relates to information that will be coming out in the inspector general report.

By working with friendly reporters, these leaking FBI officials can ensure the first story about their unprecedented spying on political opponents will downplay that spying and even attempt to justify it. Of note is the story’s claim that very few people even knew about the spying on the Trump campaign in 2016, which means the leakers for this story come from a relatively small pool of people.

3. Still No Evidence of Collusion With Russia

In paragraph 69 of the lengthy story, The New York Times takes itself to task for burying the lede in its October 31, 2016, story about the FBI not finding any proof of involvement with Russian election meddling.

The key fact of the article — that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign — was published in the 10th paragraph.

It is somewhat funny, then, to read what The New York Times buries in paragraph 70 of the story:

A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts.

No evidence of collusion after two years of investigation with unlimited resources? You don’t say! What could that mean?

4. Four Trump Affiliates Spied On

Thanks to the work of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Judiciary Committee, Americans already learned that the FBI had secured a wiretap on Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official. That wiretap, which was renewed three times, was already controversial because it was secured in part through using the secretly funded opposition research document created by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. The secret court that grants the wiretap was not told about Hillary Clinton or the DNC when the government applied for the wiretap or its renewals.

Now we learn that it wasn’t just Page, but that the government was going after four campaign affiliates including the former campaign manager, the top foreign policy advisor, and a low-level advisor whose drunken claim supposedly launched the investigation into the campaign. The bureau says Trump’s top foreign policy advisor and future national security advisor — a published critic of Russia — was surveiled because he spoke at an event in Russia sponsored by Russia Today, a government-sponsored media outlet.

5. Wiretaps, National Security Letters, and At Least One Spy

The surveillance didn’t just include wiretaps, but also national security letters and at least one government informant to spy on the campaign.:

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.

This paragraph is noteworthy for the way it describes spying on the campaign — “at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos” — before suggesting that might not be spying. The definition of spying is to secretly collect information, so it’s not really in dispute whether a government informant fits the bill.

Despite two years of investigation and surveillance, none of these men have been charged with anything even approaching treasonous collusion with Russia to steal a U.S. election.

6. More Leaks About a Top-Secret Government Informant

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence recently subpoenaed information from the FBI and Department of Justice. They did not publicly reveal what information they sought, but the Department of Justice responded by claiming that they were being extorted by congressional oversight. Then they leaked that they couldn’t share the information because it would jeopardize the life of a government informant. They also waged a public relations battle against HPSCI Chairman Nunes and committee staff.

But far from holding the information close to the vest, the government has repeatedly leaked information about this informant, and even that it was information about an informant that was being sought by Congress. From leaks of personally identifying information to the Washington Post, we’ve learned that this source works with the FBI and CIA, and is a U.S. citizen.

In The New York Times, additional information about a government informant leaked, including that the source met with Papadopoulos and Page to collect information. The information on an alleged source in the Trump campaign is so sensitive they can’t give it to Congress, but they can leak it to friendly press outlets like the Post and Times. It’s an odd posture for the Justice Department to take.

It is unknown at this point whether the informants were specifically sent by a U.S. agency or global partner, or whether the sources voluntarily provided information to the U.S. government.

7. Ignorance of Basic Facts

One thing that is surprising about the story is how many errors it contains. The problems begin in the second sentence, which claims Peter Strzok and another FBI agent were sent to London. The New York Times reports that “[t]heir assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling.”

Of course, it was previously reported that Strzok had a meeting with the Australian ambassador. He describes the embassy where the meeting took place as the longest continually staffed embassy in London. The ambassador was previously reported to have had some information about a Trump advisor saying he’d heard that Russia had Clinton’s emails.

Another New York Times error was the claim, repeated twice, that Page ‘had previously been recruited by Russian spies.’

It’s also inaccurate to say this was “election meddling,” necessarily. Clinton had deleted 30,000 emails that were housed on her private server even though she was being investigated for mishandling classified information. This could be viewed as destruction of evidence. She claimed the emails had to do with yoga.

FBI Director James Comey specifically downplayed for the public the bureau’s belief that foreign countries had access to these emails. There is no evidence that Russia or any other country had these emails, and they were not released during the campaign. To describe this legitimate national security threat as “election meddling” is insufficient to the very problem for which Clinton was being investigated.

The story claims, “News organizations did not publish Mr. Steele’s reports or reveal the F.B.I.’s interest in them until after Election Day.” That’s demonstrably untrue. Here’s an October 31, 2016, story headlined “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” It is sourced entirely to Steele. In September, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff took a meeting with Steele then published “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin” on September 23, 2016. That story was even used in the Foreign Intelligence Service Act application against Page.

The New York Times writes, “Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election, but if agents were eager to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign, as the president has suggested, the messages do not reveal it. ‘I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,’ Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.”

There are multiple problems with this claim. For one, Strzok wrote that text in all caps with obvious eagerness. As the Wall Street Journal noted months ago, “Mr. Strzok emphasized the seriousness with which he viewed the allegations in a message to Ms. Page on Aug. 11, just a few days before the ‘insurance’ text. ‘OMG I CANNOT BELIEVE WE ARE SERIOUSLY LOOKING AT THESE ALLEGATIONS AND THE PERVASIVE CONNECTIONS,’ he texted.”

For another, Strzok repeatedly talked about how important and time-sensitive he felt the investigation was. As Andrew McCarthy highlighted in his deep look at some of these texts, as Strzok prepared for his morning flight to London, he compared the investigations of Clinton and Trump by writing, “And damn this feels momentous. Because this matters. The other one did, too, but that was to ensure that we didn’t F something up. This matters because this MATTERS.”

Another New York Times error was the claim, repeated twice, that Page “had previously been recruited by Russian spies.” In fact, while Russian agents had tried to recruit him, they failed to do so, and Page spoke at length with the FBI about the attempt before the agents were arrested or kicked out of the country.

The New York Times falsely reported that “Mr. Comey met with Mr. Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them.” Comey has told multiple journalists that he specifically did not brief Trump on the Steele reports. He didn’t tell Trump there were reports, or who funded them. He didn’t tell him about the claims in the reports that the campaign was compromised. He only told him that there was a rumor Trump had paid prostitutes to urinate on a Moscow hotel bed that the Obamas had once slept in.

The story also repeats long-debunked claims about the Republican platform and Ukraine.

8. Insurance: How Does It Work?

The story reminds readers that Strzok once texted Page “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected, but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” The article says Trump thought this “insurance policy” referred to a plan to respond to the unlikely event of a Trump victory. It goes on:

But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump’s defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump’s chances of victory were low — like dying before 40 — the stakes were too high to justify inaction.

It’s worth asking whether reporters understand how insurance works. As reader Matt noted, “The fundament intent of Insurance is ‘Indemnification.’ Restoring back to original condition prior to loss. Trump was the peril, MSM the adjuster & his impeachment, the policy limits.”

The article’s repeated claims that the FBI didn’t think Trump would win do not counter the notion that an “insurance policy” investigation was in the extremely rare case he might win. People don’t insure their property against fire damage because they expect it to happen so much as they can’t afford to fix things if it does happen.

9. Eavesdropping, Not Spying, And Other Friendly Claims

The story could not be friendlier to the FBI sources who are admitting what they did against the Trump campaign. A few examples:

“[P]rosecutors obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page,” The New York Timeswrites, making the wiretapped spying on an American citizen sound almost downright pleasant. When Comey briefs Trump only on the rumor about the prostitutes and urination, we’re told “he feared making this conversation a ‘J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,’ with the F.B.I. presenting embarrassing information to lord over a president-elect.” Reporters don’t ask, much less answer, why someone fearing a J. Edgar Hoover-type situation would go out of his way to create an extreme caricature of a J. Edgar Hoover situation.

The story also claimed, “they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department,” before using controversial political appointee Sally Yates to claim that there was nothing worrisome. In fact, the subtext of the entire story is that the FBI showed good judgment in its handling of the spying in 2016. Unfortunately, the on-the-record source used to substantiate this claim is Yates.

Yates, who was in the news for claiming with a straight face that she thought Flynn had committed a Logan Act violation, is quoted as saying, “Folks are very, very careful and serious about that [FISA] process. I don’t know of anything that gives me any concerns.” If Yates, who had to be fired for refusing to do her job under Trump, tells you things are on the up and up, apparently you can take it to the bank.

10. Affirms Fears of Politicized Intelligence

This New York Times story may have been designed to inoculate the FBI against revelations coming out of the inspector general report, but the net result was to affirm the fears of many Americans who are worried that the U.S. government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies abused their powers to surveil and target Americans simply for their political views and affiliations. The gathered information has been leaked to media for years, leading to damaged reputations, and the launch of limitless probes, but not any reason to believe that Trump colluded with Russia to steal an election.

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Source: 10 Key Takeaways From The New York Times’ Error-Ridden Defense Of FBI Spying On Trump Campaign

William Lane Craig lectures on the moral argument at Georgia Tech

WINTERY KNIGHT

Making sense of the meaning of atheism Making sense of the meaning of atheism

This video has 3 parts, as well as questions and answers in individual clips.

For those who cannot watch the video, you can read this essay by Dr. Craig which covers exactly the same ground as the video. The essay is for Christians already familiar with basic apologetics.

Part 1 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Here’s a quick couple of quotes from the essay for those who cannot watch:

If there is no God, then any ground for regarding the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. After all, what is so special about human beings? They are just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively…

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MORE LIES EXPOSED: Deep State Informant Spied on Trump Campaign Before FBI Officially Began Its Investigation — The Gateway Pundit

 

The Deep State FBI started spying on the Trump campaign earlier than reported.
They Obama FBI, DOJ, and DOJ was spying on Trump before they officially opened their investigation.

Kristina Wong at Breitbart.com reported:

Current and former officials — apparently so fearful that an FBI informant’s identity and role would be outed by congressional Republicans — confirmed both to the New York Times and the Washington Post in an attempt to offer their own narratives first.

Both outlets offered details that readily identify the informant — but do not name him, citing concerns for his safety and warnings from U.S. intelligence officials.

The details, however, match a person described in the Daily Caller as Stefan Halper, a Cambridge professor and longtime Washington, D.C. fixture who worked for three Republican administrations and has links to U.S. and British intelligence.

The Times and Post are the first outlets claiming to have confirmed his identity, and to describe him in such detail as to match the description of Halper.

The accounts also indicate the FBI lied about when they first began surveilling the Trump campaign, or might have done so, without any particular intelligence.

FBI officials have said they began investigating the Trump administration on July 31, 2016, after stolen Democratic National Committee emails were released on July 22, 2016, prompting Australian officials to come forward with information they received from Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos months earlier.

Officials sold this version of events last year to the Times, which wrote on December 31, 2017, in a piece titled “How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt”:

“…when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.”

However — the problem with that account is that the FBI informant had approached Trump campaign adviser Carter Page before that email release on July 22, 2016, and before the Australians came forward with the information, supposedly after that.

Read the rest here.

Before this entire criminal campaign by the deep state unravels it will likely change a few more times.

These criminals need to be put in prison if the country is to survive.

via MORE LIES EXPOSED: Deep State Informant Spied on Trump Campaign Before FBI Officially Began Its Investigation — The Gateway Pundit

Why Are So Many People Moving Out Of California? — Zero Hedge

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

In recent years, the number of people moving away from the state of California has greatly outnumbered the number of people moving into the state.  Reasons for the mass exodus include rising crime, the worst traffic in the western world, a growing homelessness epidemic, wildfires, earthquakes and crazy politicians that do some of the stupidest things imaginable.  But for most families, the decision to leave California comes down to one basic factor…

Money.

For a lot of Californians, it simply does not make economic sense to remain in the state any longer.  So over the past decade approximately 5 million people have picked up and moved to another state, and many believe that this trend is going to accelerate if California does not start doing things differently.  The following is from an excellent article by Kristin Tate, the author of a new book entitled “How Do I Tax Thee?: A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off“…

The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering — from green energy to wealth redistribution — have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.

I don’t know anyone that enjoys being taxed at extremely high levels, and in California extracting more and more revenue from the citizens has become an art form.  California’s highest marginal tax rate is now a whopping 13.3 percent, and on average taxpayers are hit with a 9.3 percent rate

Taxes also are much lower in Arizona than California. California residents pay nearly twice as much in state income taxes. The individual income tax rate is 4.54 percent in Arizona. It’s 9.3 percent in California, according to the Arizona Sun Corridor.

Under the old rules, the tax burden imposed upon Californians was mitigated by federal rules allowing for the deduction of state taxes.  But now the new tax bill has made some major changes, and some experts believe that this will actually accelerate the exodus out of the state of California.  The following comes from CNBC

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined “So Long, California. Sayonara, New York,” Laffer and Moore (who have both advised President Donald Trump) say the new tax bill will cause a net 800,000 people to move out of California and New York over the next three years.

The tax changes limit the deduction of state and local taxes to $10,000, so many high-earning taxpayers in high-tax states will actually face a tax increase under the new tax code.

Of course taxation is only part of the equation.

For many, the exceedingly high cost of housing in California is the primary reason that they have chosen to leave.  At this point, the average price of a home in California is more than $200,000 above the national average

According to Zillow, the average price for a home in the U.S. was $261,000 in February 2018. The average home price in California was $469,000. In Oklahoma, it was $116,000.

And that $469,000 figure is for the state as a whole.

In Santa Clara County (the home of Google and Apple), the median price of a single family home is 1.4 million dollars.

Yes, you read that correctly.

In some areas of northern California, the housing bubble is completely out of control.  For example, just recently a burned out husk of a home sold for more than $900,000

Real estate agent Holly Barr says she’s never had a listing generate as much attention as the one on Bird Avenue in the San Jose neighborhood of Willow Glen. The house caught fire two years ago during a remodeling job. What was left was a burned-out husk of a California bungalow sitting on 5,800 square feet of land.

When Barr put the property on the market in April for $800,000, the listing made international headlines. It sold for over $900,000 — in less than a week. The burned down house will be razed and a new property will be built there that will likely sell for far more.

Well, if families cannot afford to buy a home, why don’t they just rent?

Unfortunately, we have seen rents spiral completely out of control as well…

The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Los Angeles area is $2,249, and in San Francisco it’s almost $3,400, according to Zumper. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Los Angeles area is $3,200 and in San Francisco about $4,500. By comparison, the median rent for a one-bedroom in Las Vegas is $925 and in Phoenix $945, and for a two-bedroom in Las Vegas $1,122 and in Phoenix $1,137.

Ouch.

Sadly, rapidly rising prices have greatly contributed to the homelessness epidemic that California is dealing with right now.

Even though we are supposedly in an “economic recovery”, the number of homeless people in Los Angeles has risen by an astounding 50 percent over the last five years…

The homelessness issue has achieved a special distinction in Los Angeles. Having increased 50% during the past five years, “it’s supplanted traffic as the topic everyone talks about,’’ says Tom Waldman, spokesman for regional homeless agency.

The homeless are as visible as the Hollywood sign. More than two years after Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a “state of emergency,’’ about 41,000 are “unsheltered’’ — sleeping in cars, outside City Hall, under freeway overpasses. The Los Angeles Times calls it “a human tragedy of extraordinary proportions.’’

And it isn’t just families that are leaving.

In fact, sometimes entire companies are picking up and relocating to another state.  For example, Price Pump Manufacturing Co. is leaving the Golden State and is heading for Idaho

Price Pump Manufacturing Co., an 86-year-old company that has operated in Sonoma for 70 years, bought 6 acres of land in the Sky Ranch Business Center for about $86,000. The company plans to build a 40,000-square-foot plant at the industrial site east of Interstate 84 and south of Franklin Road.

The high cost of manufacturing in California made it more difficult to compete with other sellers in the United States and across the globe, president and CEO Bob Piazza said. He said the marketplace helps determines prices, and Price Pump could not simply raise prices to maintain a reasonable return on investment.

And I found another article today about a company that has decided to leave California and is relocating to Phoenix, Arizona

A company that manufactures workbenches and lab furniture is relocating to Goodyear, near Phoenix, Arizona, to save money, while creating 30 new jobs in Arizona.

Matt McConnell, director of sales and marketing for IAC Industries, said the move will increase the stability and longevity of his business. IAC is located in Brea, California.

“The commercial property costs in California versus the commercial property costs in other states” made the decision easy, he said.

As long as tech giants such as Google and Apple are thriving, the trends that are driving such dramatic change in the state are likely to continue.

So we are likely to continue to see a very large exodus out of California, and those that are leaving will continue to fundamentally change the communities that they are moving into.

Because there is such a disparity between the number of people moving out and the number of people moving in, it actually costs nearly twice as much to take a U-Haul from California to Texas as it does to take a U-Haul from Texas to California…

The cost of popular moving truck services, like U-Haul, is largely created through the ironclad rules of supply and demand. Turns out, there is much higher demand for trucks leaving high-tax blue states heading to low-tax red states than vice versa.

A route from California to Texas, for example, is more than twice as expensive as a route from Texas to California. Want to go from Los Angeles to Dallas? $2,558. Returning back? $1,232.

Once upon a time, millions of young Americans dreamed of moving to California.  It was a land of gorgeous weather, movie stars and endless opportunity.

But now the California Dream has turned into the California nightmare, and people are heading out of the state in droves.

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Why does Trump get away with corruption? Because Bill and Hillary Clinton normalized it

Scott Olson/Getty

  • Scandals continue to pile up on the Trump administration — yet the president’s approval ratings are on the rise.
  • Why don’t voters seem to care about apparent corruption?
  • One reason is that it’s been embedded in political culture most prominently over the past generation by Bill and Hillary Clinton.
  • Democrats moved past the Clinton legacy on the issue of sexual misconduct, and now need to do the same on financial conflicts.

As the Trump administration corruption scandals mount and yet President Donald Trump’s poll numbers continue to tick upward, Democrats ask: Why don’t voters care? Doesn’t corruption matter?

Here’s one reason the Trump corruption scandals aren’t connecting as much as they should: Before Democrats spent the past 18 months telling everyone this is not normal, they spent years reassuring voters that this was normal.

Well, not precisely this. But the general this: politicians having extensive financial conflicts of interest.

Democrats told voters that taking high-dollar speaking fees right before you run for president from the industries you might regulate should you become president was just something everybody does. They said it was unsophisticated to worry if entities related to you had been fundraising from countries with foreign-policy interests before the US.

They said nobody would object if a man did these things.

They said you should look past the finances and understand that the Clintons shared your values and had your best interests at heart.

Of course, the Clintons’ behavior was never normal. They had the second-deepest set of financial conflicts of interest we’ve seen in a national political operation in my lifetime — second only to Trumpworld.

Democrats could have picked virtually any other candidate for president and gotten a clean advantage on the corruption issue in the general election. But by defending the Clinton model, Democrats were playing right into Trump’s hands, essentially telling voters there would always be a swamp, that everybody does it, that a leader is always going to have financial interests that intertwine with his or her public duties.

Is it any surprise so many voters decided they might as well put their own corrupt guy in charge of the swamp?

The Trump model is the Clinton model on steroids

Years before Trump started taking policy advice from friends at Mar-a-Lago, Hillary Clinton was forwarding freelance intelligence memos about Libya from Clinton Foundation consultant Sidney Blumenthal around the State Department as Blumenthal pursued business interests in Libya with other Clinton associates.

Close associates using the perception of closeness to officials to seek large consulting fees from businesses? How do you think Bill Clinton’s former personal aide, Doug Band, got rich enough to buy David Rockefeller’s $20 million mansion?

Getting in private business at the same time you serve as a top official adviser in government? Huma Abedin was doing it years before Jared Kushner.

You can even compare the Clinton and Trump swamps live in action in Prague this month, where Steve Bannon will debate longtime Clinton confidant (and brownnoser) Lanny Davis at an event sponsored by the Czech defense contractor for which Davis lobbies.

My point is not that what Bill and Hillary Clinton’s associates did is as bad as what Trump and his associates have done. It’s not as bad. Trumpworld has taken graft and influence peddling to a new, vulgar level. And my sense is Trump’s associates have been significantly more sloppy about legal compliance than Clintonworld ever was.

But the fundamental ethical concern is the same: that a leader has marinated himself or herself in financial conflicts of interest, making it unclear where the public interest ends and private interest begins.

Democrats were defending this before they were resisting it.

Claiming the moral high ground requires imposing high standards on your own side — as Democrats have recently done with sexual misconduct

AP

It’s not just money where the need to defend the Clintons made it impossible for Democrats to enforce ethical standards internally.

For decades, the perceived need to defend Bill Clinton’s sexual misbehavior required Democrats to let things go they should not have, even including one credible accusation of rape.

It wasn’t just Bill that Democrats were covering for. The death of Mary Jo Kopechne didn’t stop Democrats from calling Ted Kennedy “the conscience of the Senate” for decades.

But parties can change, and the Democrats have drastically changed for the better on these issues. They have come to take sexual harassment and abuse and other misconduct toward women very seriously, even when doing so is politically painful, as with the push for Al Franken to resign from the Senate.

Democrats now police themselves on this issue while Republicans, led by Trump, do not. They have the moral high ground.

A similar shift on corruption is possible, too. But it will involve admitting Bill and Hillary Clinton’s financial model was unacceptable, much as Democrats have now admitted Bill’s sexual model was indefensible.

And it involves expelling politicians who would continue their model — for example, Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe should under no circumstances be the Democratic nominee for president.

The damage the Clintons inflicted on the Democratic Party’s reputation is immense

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Sometimes, people ask me why I can’t let my anger at the Clintons go.

This is my answer: More than any other individuals, Bill and Hillary Clinton are responsible for creating the impression of inevitable corruption that Trump has exploited to get his supporters to shrug off his own corruption.

It’s not true that everybody does it. But for years, the message from Clinton surrogates was that everybody does it and we should just get over it. Voters heard that message.

The message sounded OK within the party mostly because partisans were inclined to trust the Clintons implicitly. You don’t worry that they’re putting someone else’s interests ahead of yours because you feel an alignment of ideology and values.

This is what Republican voters are doing with Trump right now.

It’s voters in the middle who drew a cynical lesson from Trump and the Clintons: that everybody’s on the take and you can’t trust anyone.

This is how we ended up with a presidential election between the two candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings ever, with the enormous slice of voters who disliked both candidates breaking heavily to Trump to hand him the election.

The Clintons normalized this. Trump is just the guy who took it and ran with it. And it’s left to the officials who come after them to clean up their mess and restore the Democratic Party’s anticorruption reputation.

Source: Why does Trump get away with corruption? Because Bill and Hillary Clinton normalized it

MORE LIES ON TOP OF LIES=> NY Times: FBI Spy Inside Trump Campaign Was Not There to Spy — The Gateway Pundit

MORE LIES ON TOP OF LIES By the Liberal Democrat Media… You can NEVER trust these filthy liars. This is an actual headline from The New York Times: It’s time to put these crooks in jail — All of them. Now that we know the Obama DOJ, FBI and CIA were spying on Trump with…

via MORE LIES ON TOP OF LIES=> NY Times: FBI Spy Inside Trump Campaign Was Not There to Spy — The Gateway Pundit