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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

What We Most Need

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As the Sundays in Advent proceed at their usual breakneck pace, I continue to think about lessons of the Advent story that I can practice.  First we looked at empathy and then we looked at miracles.  Today I am thinking about humility.

Do I really need to point out the humble circumstances of Jesus’ birth?  It occurred in a barn after all, surrounded by animals.  That is humble even by rather poor standards of the day.  The humbleness of the situation is only accentuated by the stories of shepherd and angels and wise men and King Herod who thought such a humble birth was a threat to his vaunted position.  God become man first appeared to our eyes in the muck and filth of a building meant to house beasts of burden and yet the proudest and highest of the time considered such a birth of note.  Never has anyone higher found themselves in lower circumstances.  It does not get more humble. (Save for the cross.)

I can think of no time when the need for humility has been more apparent in our nation.  Roy Moore’s defeat ties with tax reform as the biggest story of the week and Moore’s behavior is the least humble I have witnessed from a public figure claiming faith in a very long time.  From his staying in the race when things turned so south to his continuing claims it’s not over, the man simply cannot take a hint that he needs to get out of the spotlight.  I would go so far as to say that the self-righteousness, the braggadocio and the lack of humility we have seen from Roy Moore is as unChristian in nature as the pro-choice stance of his opponent.  Worst of all this lack of humility in the public eye has left Christianity generally with a black eye and left the forces for the better in the Senate in a weaker position than they were.  Moore’s self-righteousness comes at a very high and very practical cost.

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To Be Evangelical – Or Not? (UPDATED 12/17/17)

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The label “Evangelical” is one of the most used in America and yet it defies serious and common definition.  There are definitions galore – theological, historical, ecclesiastical, and political.  Were I so inclined and thought you would wade your way through all of it I could do a series of posts on the term and its definitions.  But there really  is no point because in the end an Evangelical person is self-identified and they have approached that identity like a menu at a Chinese restaurant, taken something from each of the various definitions and crafted their own personal definition.  It means what it means to whomever claims it.

There are any number of unfortunate flip sides to that phenomena, however.  One of the most prominent is that anyone opposed to an Evangelical or Evangelicalism can paste onto that which they oppose pretty much anything they want. That which lacks specific definition can be defined by those that do not self-identify as easily as by those that do.  For many on the left “Evangelical” means “close-minded legalist” or some variation thereof.  The irony in that is tremendous since as a movement Evangelicalism arose as a more open, loving and centrist counterbalance to the Fundamentalists who really are close-minded legalists.  Nonetheless, here we are.

Never has this phenomena been more apparent to me than in the juxtaposition of these two headlines from yesterday:

White Evangelicals Voted En Masse For Roy Moore In Alabama, To No One’s Surprise

Roy Moore Had Lowest White Evangelical Support Of Any Alabama Republican In The 21st Century

Now, to be sure, there is a lot of statistical hocus-pocus in both of those pieces, but let’s cut to the bottom line.  Either one of the author’s is just flat out lying or they are using very different definitions of “Evangelical.”  Can a word really mean anything useful in light of something like that?

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Talking Regulatory Rollback And Special Counsels With Neomi Rao, Administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, OMB

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Neomi Rao is the most important member of the Trump Administration you probably haven’t heard of –she’s the right arm of Director Mic Mulvaney at the OMB, where she leads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  She is the friend of Administrator Pruitt, Chairman Pai and every other regulatory rollback superstar:

Audio:

12-15hhs-rao

Transcript:

HH: Last hour, you heard me play some of President Trump’s comments on regulatory reform and regulatory rollback. The individual who is most responsible for shepherding that rollback is Neomi Rao. She is the administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB, also known as OIRA. And for those who are savvy about government, they know that every reg runs across her desk, as it did across the desks of previous OMB OIRA directors in the past, including Michael Horowitz and other great ones. Welcome, Ms. Rao, it’s great to have on the show.

NR: Yes, thank you, Hugh. Thanks so much for having me.

HH: Can you explain for an audience of lay people that includes Steelers fans what it is that OIRA does?

NR: Sure. One of the main functions of my office is to review regulations. So when an agency proposes a rule, that comes to our office, and we make sure that it is consistent with the law, and that it meets standards of cost benefit analysis. And perhaps most importantly, we make sure that the regulation reflects presidential priorities.

HH: Now in the past, I’ve spent 30 years dealing with regulations issuing from, say, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers. It was a perfunctory review at best at OIRA when it came to scientific agencies asserting their scientific authority. Has that changed under your review, Ms. Rao?

NR: I think that is has changed over time. There are actually a number of PhD scientists now at OIRA in addition to the economists and policy analysts. And that’s a change that’s been happening over time. But we have some pretty impressive scientific expertise just within OIRA.

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Senator John Thune On The Tax Bill End Game

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Senator John Thune joined me to discuss the closing negotiations regarding the tax bill:

Audio:

12-14hhs-thune

Transcript:

HH: Joined now by United States Senator John Thune. Congratulations, Senator Thune, I think you’re very close to a breakthrough tax bill. Do you think it gets done today and voted on next week?

JT: Well, thanks, Hugh, I hope that’s the case. We have, you know, we had to get the scoring, and so we’re meeting here in a few minutes to hear from, kind of what the JCT, Joint Committee on Taxation numbers look like, and then I think we have a final meeting with the House. But I think we’re very close, and the outlines of the bill, you’ve seen. And I, you know, it’s, you always like to, with pride of authorship, think yours is the best product, but when you merge the two together, I think we’ve got something that’s really good for middle income families, and really good for growth in the economy.

HH: Now the best must not be the enemy of the good. And so I’m going to applaud and cheer this bill. But I’m going to take my five minutes with you to lobby you on two areas where I think you’ve made a mistake.

JT: Okay.

HH: Interest in corporate debt…

JT: Right.

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