American minister and abolitionist Theodore Parker stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
It’s quite a long bend we are experiencing.
It’s been difficult to find justice in America these days. The rot of injustice starts at the top. Our institutions, like the ironically named Justice Department, operate under destabilizing double standards.
But the rot reaches down to the individual level as well. An unfolding tragedy in Massachusetts highlighted how destruction, irrationality and injustice are intertwined. It also provided perspective on how we can respond.
On Sept. 30, Adam Howe, 34, allegedly murdered his mother, Susan Howe.
As reported by the New York Post, emergency personnel found 69-year-old Susan Howe deceased on the front lawn of her $900,000 home in the Truro area of Cape Cod. Her remains had been set ablaze.
Authorities had received calls for both a welfare check on the occupants and a report of a fire, according to the Cape Cod Times.
When they arrived at the scene at 9:30 p.m. Friday, responders saw a man and a fire on the front lawn of the home, authorities told the Times.
“[T]he man ran inside the home and locked himself in,” the Times reported. “Responders realized that the fire on the front lawn was a human body burning.”
The Cape Cod Regional SWAT Team was called in to arrest the victim’s son, Adam Howe, who had barricaded himself inside his mother’s house, the Post reported.
After a psychiatric evaluation at a local hospital, Howe was transferred to the Ash Street Jail and placed under a suicide watch, with rip-resistant clothing and visual checks every 15 minutes, according to the Post.
Despite the precautions, Howe was found unresponsive in his jail cell Sunday, having clogged his airways with wet toilet paper between officer rounds, according to the Cape Cod Times. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but was pronounced dead.
A UK paper used an anonymous source that claimed drugs were a factor in the tragedy. The Daily Mail reported, “A source close to the family told DailyMail.com that Adam and his wife both suffered from heroin addiction prior to the horrific events of Friday night. “The source said that Adam had been living with his mother and that she had been on the verge of kicking him out due to his drug use.”
One of the frustrating aspects of this senseless waste of life is we may never know what happened.
Adam Howe never had a face a jury. We cannot say whether he acted out of desperation, remorse or instability. We don’t know what led to such unthinkable actions.
The American legal system declared Howe was innocent until proven guilty. At some point, an official inquiry will reach a conclusion, but it will have to do so without testimony from the most important witness.
Comprehension and closure for the larger community are an aspect of justice. We want to know who did it, why and what punishment fit the crime. That kind of resolution may never come in the case of Susan and Adam Howe.
Ultimately, Adam Howe will face the justice of God. We all will. The best we can do in the meantime is to pray for wisdom, perseverance and forgiveness for ourselves and each other.
The family of a 20-year-old nursing student who died suddenly last week is blaming COVID-19 vaccination mandates for the loss of their loved one.
Regan Lewis of Grinnell, Kansas, died Sept. 27, one day after her mother said she received a COVID shot that was required for her medical training.
Lewis died at Kearney Regional Medical Center in Nebraska, according to obituary information from Baalman Mortuary.
Her mother, Connie Werth Lewis, had put out a Facebook plea for prayers earlier that day.
“I can’t say for sure that there is a link, but our beautiful 20 year old healthy daughter, Regan Lewis had a Covid shot yesterday so she could participate in her clinicals,” Connie Lewis posted.
“Today, she went into cardiac arrest and has been flown to Kearney. She is on a ventilator and fighting for her life. PLEASE PRAY FOR HER!”
Regan died later that same day.
Later, Lewis’ Facebook post was edited to replace the words “Covid shot” with the more cryptic term “j a b.” Facebook had added a message at the bottom of her post with a link to “Visit the COVID-19 Information Center for vaccine resources.”
Regan Lewis’ health history, which could have been a factor in what led to her going into cardiac arrest, is unknown.
Her mother did not respond to a request for additional information from The Western Journal. However, Connie Lewis shared a follow-up comment Monday on a YouTube tribute to her daughter.
“I believe in my heart that God sacrificed Regan and many other healthy young people because of what has been going on in this crazy, out-of-control world over the last couple of years,” she wrote. “It is sad that the only way to open eyes is to be completely shaken and horrified. I cannot believe that I lost my wonderful daughter for no reason. I cannot comprehend what God’s plan is for her, but she is in his hands. I pray that something awesome comes of it.”
Lewis also added a post to her Facebook page Tuesday, making reference to unkind remarks she has received from strangers as well as defending her daughter’s school.
“I never expected Regan’s story to blow up the way it has,” she wrote. “I have no idea how this happened. The sad part of it is the brutal, negative comments aimed at me and my family from people I do not know.
“I also want this message to be very clear: Colby Community College is a wonderful institution that has helped so many people. They and their nursing program have nothing to do with mandating vaccinations. Regan loved her instructor and the education she was receiving. For those making such accusations, please stop. We all know where the mandates are coming from.”
Regan’s older brother, Weston Lewis, posted on Twitter that he is “on a mission to try to prevent a repeat of her story.”
In another post, he spoke of his family’s pride in — and grief for — his sister:
Regan Lewis “grew up on the family farm where she loved being around animals,” according to her obituary. “She enjoyed training horses, barrel racing, working and sorting cattle, and driving the combine.
“She was active in 4-H and FCCLA president. One of her favorite FCCLA projects was training her cat Tigger (Tubby) to become a service cat, which she took to the state level.”
Regan had already worked as a nursing assistant. In May, she became a licensed practical nurse.
She was working at a local nursing and rehabilitation facility and was studying at Colby Community College to earn her associate’s degree in nursing and then planned to become a registered nurse, according to her obituary.
In response to a request for comment from The Western Journal, Seth Macon Carter, college president, said, “Colby Community College is deeply saddened by the passing of Ms. Regan Lewis. Our continued thoughts and prayers are with the family and their loved ones.”
In response to questions on the college’s vaccination policy, Carter provided a link to the school’s nursing program eligibility and requirements.
The nursing program link contained a statement saying it “does not mandate individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for admission into the Nursing program. Some clinical locations do have a COVID vaccine requirement; however, students may qualify for a religious exemption. Additionally, upon request, Colby Community College can find individuals alternative clinical sites if a site requires a COVID-19 vaccine.”
Advised that Regan Lewis’ family had mentioned she was given an ultimatum to take a COVID booster if she wanted to stay in the nursing program, Carter replied, “Your statement is not correct. I would encourage you to reread the post.”
Regan’s mother and brother both posted, then later removed, copies of a statement Regan had written to her school, explaining some trauma she had experienced with COVID testing.
“Here is the paper my sister wrote to the board after a tech jammed the swab so hard up her nose that she bled,” Weston Lewis wrote on Twitter. “They reviewed the attached paper then ordered her to take the booster shot if she wanted to continue nursing. One day after the shot she passed away.”
He followed up by saying, “I would like to correct this post. No fault of the college, board, or lab technician. They were following the mandates just like Regan had to. This is entirely the mandates’ fault, and we all know who is responsible. #LiveForRegan.”
News flash for President Joe Biden and his administration: The “strategic” in Strategic Petroleum Reserve does not, in fact, refer to its ability to be used as part of a midterm election strategy.
But, used for that purpose it apparently will be. According to Fox Business, the Biden administration announced it would release 10 million barrels of oil from the national reserve in November as a counter to production cuts just announced by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
On Wednesday, OPEC announced it would be cutting production by 2 million barrels of oil per day as prices of crude had dropped from record highs earlier this year. That’s a significant cut, considering that, in 2021, the OPEC nations produced about 31 million barrels of oil per day, according to the data compilation firm Statista.
“The cuts will restore the oil market for top producers like Saudi Arabia and Russia but are also expected to drive up costs at the pump globally,” Fox Business noted.
The administration countered that move hours later with an announcement that 10 million barrels would be released from the reserve in November, an attempt to forestall any hike in gas prices.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is, essentially, what it sounds like. As the Energy Information Administration’s website notes, it was “established primarily to reduce the impact of disruptions in supplies of petroleum products” and is “a significant deterrent to oil import cutoffs and a key tool in foreign policy.”
The “key tool in foreign policy” part may have been true when Biden pledged to release 1 million barrels a day in March, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. This time, it’s a key tool in domestic policy; OPEC production cuts aren’t rare, nor was this one unpredicted despite the White House trying desperately to avert it.
However, the prospect of energy prices going on the upswing again as the country gets deeper into fall and winter approaches could take away a major Biden talking point as the midterms approach: Happy days at the pump may not be here again, but the days of woe are gone.
In July, Biden bragged during a virtual meeting with his economic team that, from a national average of above $5-a-gallon in June, gas prices have “fallen every day this summer for 38 days in a row.”
“I’ve been working to make sure that when the price of oil comes down, the price at the pump comes down as well and comes down in real time,” Biden said on July 22, according to The Associated Press. “The good news is that’s happening, but it’s not happening fast enough. We’ve made progress, but prices are still too high.”
In remarks last month, he similarly tried to sell Americans on the fact that the worst was over, particularly at the pump.
According to a White House transcript of a Sept. 2 event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, in addition to saying that inflation “may be beginning to ease,” Biden bragged that “gas prices have now fallen 80 straight days — the fastest decline in over a decade – and the price at the pump is now $1.20 a gallon less than it was the beginning of summer.”
With roughly a month until the midterms, anxiety over OPEC cuts could render that talking point moot. Then again, dipping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve still might not be the best idea.
For starters, there’s no guarantee releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve actually reduces prices, since it’s a little like throwing half a glass of water into a half-drained swimming pool and then hoping U.S. drivers can do a half-gainer into bottomless low prices.
In November of 2021, for instance, Biden released 50 million barrels from the SPR in response to higher oil prices — and yet, prices didn’t go down. In fact, they went up after he made the announcement, with the West Texas Intermediate crude oil index up 2 percent and the European Brent Crude index up 3 percent.
Meanwhile, prices at the pump continued skyward — even after Biden pledged an additional 1 million barrels a day in March. According to EIA data, the monthly average price of gas didn’t hit its high until June, and by that point it had climbed from $4.32 to $5.03 a gallon. (The national average was was $2.42 a gallon in January 2021, when Biden took office, according to the EIA.)
Steve Milloy, a former Trump transition team member, pointed out the flaw in using the SPR in a tweet after the November 2021 release: The United States uses 18-19 million barrels of oil a day, and the world uses roughly 100 million. No amount released from the reserve would make that much of a difference.
Joe Biden is going to release 50 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
That is less than three days of US oil consumption (18 million barrels/day during the pandemic year of 2020).
The release will have no meaningful impact on gas prices.
Furthermore, continued releases from the SPR are eroding its ability to function as a stockpile of oil so massive that it acts as a foreign policy deterrent. As of the week ending Sept. 30, SPR data show, the reserve stood at 416,389 barrels — the lowest level in almost 40 years and down roughly a third from the 638,086 barrels that were there in the week ending Jan. 29, 2021, the first week Biden was in office.
And think all of that oil is going into American gas tanks and home heaters? Think again: China and Europe got plenty of what ended up being released.
“More than 5 million barrels of oil that were part of a historic U.S. emergency oil reserves release aimed at lowering domestic fuel prices were exported to Europe and Asia last month, according to data and sources, even as U.S. gasoline and diesel prices touched record highs,” Reuters reported in July.
“The fourth-largest U.S. oil refiner, Phillips 66, shipped about 470,000 barrels of sour crude from the Big Hill SPR storage site in Texas to Trieste, Italy, according to U.S. Customs data. Trieste is home to a pipeline that sends oil to refineries in central Europe.”
Of course, to opponents of the Biden administration, the answer to our energy problems is obvious: Start looking inward, not to OPEC or to the SPR, to solve oil and natural gas problems. The United States is more more than capable of doing it.
A barrel of oil drilled fresh in Texas pollutes no more than a barrel from the reserve or from Saudi Arabia. It’s a heck of a lot easier to get hold of, though, and it doesn’t deplete the SPR in the process.
If the United States had pursued energy-friendly policies at the beginning of the Biden administration, this mightn’t have been an issue. Instead, the Biden administration put all its eggs in the renewables basket in the hopes fossil fuels would die an artificial death.
They haven’t, and prices have skyrocketed as oil becomes more difficult to get from abroad — which means Democrats are in big trouble at the polls next month. Thus, we get futile, short-term, Hail Mary gestures like this.
It might not have been the strategy anyone was talking about when the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was christened, but it’s what Biden is using it for now.
The publishing industry seems to think tell-alls about former President Donald Trump’s administration — all painting him as a uniquely disgraceful, pitiable dunce — are great business.
And who knows? Maybe behind the disappointing sales many of these tomes seem to generate and the fact that all of the juicy parts usually show up in the media well before the volume is released, there’s some kind of business model in which anything that purports to tell How Bad it Really Was inside 1600 Pennsylvania during the Trump years makes money no matter how many units it shifts.
At least “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America” comes with a big name attached to it: Author Maggie Haberman has won the Pulitzer Price and was one of the mainstream media’s most prominent print chroniclers of the Trump White House via her work with The New York Times.
That said, it seems one of the book’s major revelations (which isn’t quite a revelation, but we’ll get to that in a moment) isn’t being received quite the way that Haberman would have wanted it.
In “Confidence Man,” according to an Axios report Monday, Haberman wrote that in October of 2020, the then-president had planned a surprise exit from Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, after being treated there for COVID-19: He would come out in his regular attire before revealing a Superman shirt.
“He came up with a plan he told associates was inspired by the singer James Brown, whom he loved watching toss off his cape while onstage, but it was in line with his love of professional wrestling as well,” Haberman wrote, according to Axios.
“[H]e would be wheeled out of Walter Reed in a chair and, once outdoors, he would dramatically stand up, then open his button-down dress shirt to reveal [a] Superman logo beneath it. (Trump was so serious about it that he called the campaign headquarters to instruct an aide, Max Miller, to procure the Superman shirts; Miller was sent to a Virginia big-box store.)”
The plan, however, was abandoned.
Now, this shocking bulletin, unfortunately, isn’t necessarily new. In fact, it was reported in October of 2020 — by, uh, Maggie Haberman in The New York Times, in a story co-authored by Times staffer Annie Karnie.
“In several phone calls last weekend from the presidential suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Mr. Trump shared an idea he was considering: When he left the hospital, he wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him, according to people with knowledge of the conversations,” the report stated.
“But underneath his button-down dress shirt, he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer. He ultimately did not go ahead with the stunt.”
I guess if you’re going to duplicate someone’s work, it might as well be your own. Nevertheless, the rest of the mainstream media has jumped on this as if fresh meat had been tossed to them by another Trump-chronicler:
Former President Donald Trump wanted to be wheeled out of the hospital before standing up and opening his button-down shirt to reveal the Superman logo underneath, according to an upcoming book.https://t.co/K3f3z5fqW1
Mind you, the Superman anecdote is what’s drawing the most attention from the mainstream media, but it’s hardly the only thing. From a USA Today report about Haberman’s book: “In the book, she also reported that, when Trump saw congressional staffers of color at the White House, he assumed they were waiters at a January 2017 reception.
“CNN also obtained a copy of ‘Confidence Man,’ and the network reported that Haberman wrote in the book that Trump almost fired his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Both served as senior White House aides during his administration,” the report added.
“Confidence Man,” which was released Tuesday, comes with a $22.40 hardcover price tag on Amazon.com. If you have that kind of money to spend to read about those things being elaborated on in greater detail (if questionable authenticity), by all means, go for it.
However, before you click “Buy Now,” ask yourself this: Do you really want to read a book by a New York Times scold so humorless she found out the president wanted to open his shirt reveal a Superman outfit when leaving the hospital after beating COVID, then thought this was a bad thing?
The long, litigious and tangled history of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program took another turn Wednesday when a federal appeals court ruled the program is illegal.
However, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also allowed the nearly 600,000 people in the program to avoid deportation, according to The New York Times.
DACA was created by the stroke of a pen in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama. Its purpose was to allow illegal immigrants who entered the country as children along with their parents to avoid deportation.
Obama and other Democrats called those enrolled in the program “Dreamers” in reference to the 2001 Dream Act, the first legislative effort to address how the nation should deal with illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children.
DACA enrollees are about 26 years old on average, with the oldest participants in their late 30s.
With the ruling coming roughly one month before the midterm elections, President Joe Biden used it as a chance to attack Republicans.
“My Administration is committed to defending Dreamers against attacks from Republican officials in Texas and other states. This challenge to DACA is just another example of the extreme agenda being pushed by MAGA-Republican officials,” Biden said in a statement.
“Today’s decision is the result of continued efforts by Republican state officials to strip DACA recipients of the protections and work authorization that many have now held for over a decade,” the president said.
“And while we will use the tools we have to allow Dreamers to live and work in the only country they know as home, it is long past time for Congress to pass permanent protections for Dreamers, including a pathway to citizenship.”
The DACA program has been controversial from the start, with multiple lawsuits filed against it on various grounds.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was considering a July 2021 ruling from U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who said DACA was illegal because it violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act, according to Fox News.
The appellate court’s ruling is far from the last word. It sent the case back to a district court to consider the legality of a Biden administration policy crafted by the Department of Homeland Security to keep the program alive.
“DACA’s deficiencies are severe. The district court’s excellent opinion correctly identified fundamental substantive defects in the program,” Chief Judge Priscilla Richman wrote.
“The DACA Memorandum contradicts significant portions of the INA,” Richman said, referring to the 2012 document authorizing the program and the 1952 Immigration and Naturalization Act.
The ruling said that “DACA violates the substantive requirements of the APA.”
“DACA creates a new class of otherwise removable aliens who may obtain lawful presence, work authorization, and associated benefits. Congress determined which aliens can receive these benefits, and it did not include DACA recipients among them,” Richman said.
“The legal questions that DACA presents are serious, both to the parties and to the public. In our view, the defendants have not shown that there is a likelihood that they will succeed on the merits,” the ruling said. In this case, the Biden administration and its allies were the defendants.
The court said that those enrolled in the DACA program could remain.
“We also recognize that DACA has had profound significance to recipients and many others in the ten years since its adoption. Given the ‘uncertainty of final disposition’ and the ‘inevitable disruption that would arise from a lack of continuity and stability,’ we preserve the stay as to existing recipients,” the ruling said.
President Joe Biden may have been the one doing the talking, but it was Gov. Ron DeSantis’ message that got through loud and clear.
Biden toured some of the destruction left behind by Hurricane Ian, accompanied by the first lady and Florida’s governor, a potential rival for the presidency, should Biden choose to run again in 2024.
But for the nonce, the two put on friendly faces and celebrated the cooperation between state and federal relief efforts. Well … mostly.
“We are cutting through the red tape and that’s from local government, state government, all the way up to the president. We appreciate the team effort,” DeSantis said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
“We have very different political philosophies … but we worked hand in glove,” Biden said. “On things related to dealing with this crisis, we’ve been completely lockstep. There’s been no difference.”
“I think the one thing this has finally ended is the discussion about whether or not there’s climate change and we should do something about it,” Biden said.
Leave it to Joe Biden to try to score a decidedly partisan political point during a rare moment of public bipartisanship. “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up,” former President Barack Obama reportedly said once about his then-vice president.
Things don’t appear to have changed too much since the Obama administration.
Biden’s statement, of course, was nonsense. Ian was a strong hurricane, but it was one storm. The Weather Channel has named 2005 the worst hurricane season ever (with 1995 and 2004 tied in second place). In 17 years, we haven’t had a stronger storm season, or one that was even as strong … but somehow one storm this year is evidence of a growing problem.
Even the acting director of the National Hurricane Center said that Ian could not be linked to climate change directly. Come on, man!
From the look on DeSantis’ face when Biden spoke those words, he was aware of just how nonsensical they were, even if the governor had too much class to counter-punch during a crisis.
And Twitter users were quick to notice.
Biden: I think the one thing that this has finally ended is the discussion about whether or not there’s climate change pic.twitter.com/m7NAJ9SnfW
I don’t always agree that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But in this case, the picture of DeSantis’ face is unquestionably worth more than the 26 words the president was speaking at the time.
Experts agree that most communication is non-verbal, that words themselves represent less than 10 percent of what we’re trying to say, with the rest gotten across through cues like tone of voice, body language — and facial expression.
If that’s true, DeSantis obviously had something to say yesterday that, probably out of courtesy, he felt was best not put into words.