Moving

This is my final post on this site. All new posts will be found at https://grumpy16.wixsite.com/mysite 

Lead by Example, Mr. President

As the late Elijah Cummings declared of the American people, "We're better than this." But we won't be if we follow the example of a man Tucker Carlson admits is a "full-blown BS artist."

"Donald Trump is a salesman. He's a talker. He's a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times, he's a full-blown BS artist."       - Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson

There we have it, directly from Tucker Carlson, one of President Trump's most loyal and vocal supporters. Carlson openly admitted what everyone knew, but that 30 percent of Americans still denied.

Carlson also admitted, "One of the reasons progressives say they hate Donald Trump is because he lies a lot." Whether progressives hate Trump or not could be debated, but that Trump is a liar is now a settled fact, as attested to by one of his most-dedicated defenders. Carlson further acknowledged that Trump's boast that his inaugural crowd was the largest in history was a lie: "The crowd at the 2017 inauguration was not the largest ever measured on the National Mall. Sorry, it wasn't," Carlson conceded.

Despite those candid concessions, Carlson went on to defend the president by stating that many of Trump's controversial remarks are true but politically incorrect. Haiti really is a dump; Baltimore really is crime-infested. Those claims might be true, but do two truths atone for 14,000 lies? Would 14,000 truths atone for 14,000 lies? 

Carlson concluded, "... thinking or talking about mass immigration ... or any of that might point out their own egregious failures and selfishness's, which are profound." His point apparently being that Trump's critics need to remove the logs from their own eyes before criticizing the splinter in Trump's eye. 

So the latest Trump defense is that all politicians are liars, get over it. It's the political version of Romans 3:23. Yes, all have sinned, and that includes politicians. I don't know of any Trump critic whose critiques of the president come from a place of personal perfection. I admit I am a flawed human. But should we then extend that truth to the point of declaring no sin off limits? We're all sinners, so quit trying to improve? 

Donald Trump sought out the nation's most prominent leadership role. Leaders lead not just through directives, but also by example. Like it or not, as the Leader-in-Chief, Donald Trump is in the preeminent place to set the example for the nation's citizens. Do we want this nation to be made up of boasters, boosters, self-promoters, and full-blown BS artists, as Carlson described the president?

As the late Elijah Cummings declared of the American people, "We're better than this." But we won't be if we follow the example of a man Tucker Carlson admits is a "full-blown BS artist."

My 2019 Thanksgiving List

So that's why I'm thankful for Donald Trump, the man who opened my eyes to the need for a new evangelical reformation.

Infinite, amazing grace
Infinite, amazing grace

Thanksgiving Day, 2019, time to state what we're thankful for. Here's my current edition:

  • My wife: A few weeks ago, Kacy and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary, and after all these years I'm still in awe of her. She is the smartest, kindest, hardest-working, and, oh yes, the most beautiful woman I've ever met. I still find it hard to believe that she agreed to marry a loser like me.
  • My sons: Like their father, my sons are imperfect men. But, also like me, they seek to improve, to be honest and honorable.
  • My job: After decades in the writing and publishing field, at age 61, I was laid off. After more than two years trying to find work in my chosen field--without having to move out of state at my advanced age--I realized I'd need to broaden my search. So I applied for a job as a driver for Brookdale Senior Living. I was hired, and I'm grateful for some great co-workers, and especially for the wonderful elderly residents I'm allowed to serve.
  • This is the last and longest one. I'm thankful for Donald Trump. "What?!," you say. Yes, I'm grateful to Donald Trump for confirming what I'd begun to believe in recent years, that the cohort commonly referred to as white evangelicals is in a sad state.

I was a white evangelical for 45 years. Not coincidentally, I was a conservative Republican for nearly that long. It is not that my views on religion or politics have changed dramatically. Rather, it is that, in my estimation, evangelicalism and conservatism have changed dramatically, and they did so by becoming too intimately connected. I find it increasingly difficult to distinguish one from the other. And their co-mingling has corrupted both.

Now, certainly this is not true of all evangelicals nor of all political conservatives. Scott and Lyndsey, if you read this, thank you for striving to keep the two spheres in proper perspective. But, by and large, most of the evangelicals I know and have seen have stirred these two elements into a toxic and potentially explosive concoction that took the form of Donald Trump.

Making the pursuit of long-sought evangelical goals--particularly "religious freedom" and a ban on abortion--the preeminent evangelical aim allowed for the support of a unreservedly ungodly man--who promised to champion those goals--to lead this nation. And now, despite volumes of evidence of this president's corruption, the people who should most value the characteristic of humility are too proud to admit their mistake. Either that or just too hell-bent on achieving the two primary goals cited above. Let's have a look at those two goals:

"Religious freedom": I put the term in quotes because the alleged attacks on it are more illusion than reality. As I mentioned above, I placed myself squarely in the evangelical camp for 45 years, and in all that time I never experienced any discrimination based on my beliefs and self-identification. I'm confident that if almost any other American evangelical were to honestly examine his or her life, they'd come to the same conclusion. 

Sure, we've seen a few cases of discrimination, such as evangelical bakers being persecuted for refusing service to gays wanting them to bake them a wedding cake. But such cases are rare. And, really, in the grand scheme of things, would it really hurt the bakers to oblige a customer with whom they disagree on an issue--even an important issue. Why not, rather than refuse service, use the occasion as an opportunity to befriend the couple? Why not, over the course of that friendship, help the couple to experience God's grace and forgiveness? Why exclude when we can include?

Abortion: I count myself firmly in the pro-life camp. I believe every person--from the point of conception--is made in God's image and, therefore, deserves life and dignity. But after 46 years of battling over this issue in the courts and at the ballot box, what have we gained? Through those 46 years, we have had four Democrat presidents and five Republican presidents. Not one of those presidents was inclined to seriously pursue a ban on abortions. So why this insistence on unreserved and intimate allegiance to the Republican Party over this issue?

Evangelicals would be wiser to focus their (our?) attention on dispensing God's grace than on fighting progressives on the political front. Evangelicals would be more productive if they (we?) were to seek common ground with their (our?) progressive neighbors. It's much easier to persuade a friend than a foe. Evangelicals should be engaging in cultural conflicts with kindness and grace--as modeled by our true Savior--rather than with invectives and vitriol--as modeled by our president.

So that's why I'm thankful for Donald Trump, the man who opened my eyes to the need for a new evangelical reformation.

Fired Navy secretary says Trump intervention "erodes" Navy discipline

Kudos to Navy Secretary Spencer for speaking up.

Time To Revise Those Bibles

Or you can just wait for the New Trump-Graham Bible--with all those revisions already made for you--to be published soon.

Last month President Trump labeled his detractors as "human scum." This month, two of the president's prominent evangelical supporters--radio host Eric Metaxas and his guest, the revered Franklin Graham--upped the ante. According to these two God-fearing men, we who oppose the president do so because we are demon possessed. Here's a description of that portion of their on-air conversation as printed in The Christian Post:

"What do you think of what is happening now? I mean it is a very bizarre situation, to be living in a country where some people seem to exist to undermine the president of the United States," asked Metaxas.

Graham described what Metaxas was talking about as "almost a demonic power," which led the radio host to interject and say that he did not believe the term "almost" should be included.

"It is a spiritual battle," agreed Graham, who then touted the Trump administration's handling of the economy, saying that the nation has "an economy that is just screaming forward."

So here's how this breaks down: In this "spiritual battle," God and His holy angels are on the side of a proud, foul-mouthed, thrice-married man who brags of his greed and of his many extramarital affairs and of his ability to get away with assaulting women because he's famous, who mocks people with disabilities and anyone else he dislikes, and who by official counts has lied more than 14,000 times since taking the oath of office. On the other side of this "spiritual battle" are those who oppose who oppose him, and we are empowered by Satan and his demonic forces. 

Apparently God has changed His views on most of the behaviors He once labeled as sins. That being the case, we, then, must change our views to align them with the God of creation. Christians, get out your Sharpies--you know, like the one the president used to alter that official Weather Service map--and update your outmoded Bibles. Here we go:

  • "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Change opposes to rewards.
  • "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving." Delete no. Change both nors to ands. Change out of place to excellent. Change thanksgiving to cursing.
  • "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." Change commits adultery to has My blessing.
  • "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." Change a root of all kinds of evil to where real life begins. Change this craving to poverty.
  • "You shall not commit adultery." Delete not.
  • "Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished." Change insults to blesses. Change go to be and remove the un from unpunished.
  • "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight." Change an abomination to a blessing. Change act faithfully to deceive profusely.

Those are but a few of the tens of thousands of similar changes you will need to make to your current Bibles, but they give you a good idea of how to proceed. Or you can just wait for the New Trump-Graham Bible--with all those revisions already made for you--to be published soon.

Oh, one more thing: Until that new Trump-Graham Bible hits the market, here's how you can discern whether a president is on God's side (look back at Graham's words above): "an economy that is just screaming forward...". 

There you have it from the revered Franklin Graham: a good economy is God's stamp of approval on a president's performance.

God Did Not Choose Donald Trump

Donald Trump is president because 61,943,670 American voters voted for him, giving him 322 electoral college votes, not because of Divine intervention.

See number 3.
See number 3.

If I hear one more person declare that Donald Trump is God's chosen man to lead the USA as President, I swear I will throw the book at the ignoramus. And by book, I mean my Bible, the big one, Old and New Testaments, large-print, red-letter, with full concordance, lexicon, dictionary, maps, and indices. The biggest, heaviest one I can find. 

God did not choose Donald Trump to be President of the United States. Period. Stop it. Stop misrepresenting God! Grr, that chaps my hide.

Soon-to-resign Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, is the latest to make that ludicrous, spurious claim. During the Republican primaries for the 2016 presidential election, while still a Trump competitor, Perry declared, "What Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism--a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense." 

But like so many Trump opponents--in government and outside it--upon Trump's victory, everything changed, according to Rick Perry's theology. Before his victory Trump was a goofball, a demagogue, a joke. But shortly before 3:00 a.m., EST, on November 9, 2016, Donald Trump the dolt magically transformed into Donald Trump, "the Chosen One," God's anointed leader of the free world, Savior of family values and Protector of Christian liberty. 

How do we know this transformation to be true? We know it because he won. God picks the winners; voters are merely His instruments, according to popular evangelical theology. And if God chose Donald Trump, then He had to have done so with a purpose. And that purpose is to defeat the wicked progressives and defend Christian liberty. 

That line of reasoning, however, begs some other questions: Does God choose only the leaders Christians like? Does He sit out the elections in which liberals and progressives win? The convenient answer is, of course, that when liberals win it's a sign of God's judgment on the nation. 

So, in response to concerted Christian petitions, God blessed this wayward nation with a thrice-married TV-game-show host who brags of his shady business dealings and his many extramarital affairs, mocks people with disabilities, separates families, cusses like a drunken sailor on shore leave, and lies incessantly. Way to bless us, God. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, God apparently cursed the early Christians whom the Roman emperors slaughtered by the tens of thousands. I guess they didn't pray hard enough. Nor did the multiplied millions of others massacred by leaders God chose as His instruments to bring judgment upon the miserable lives of their subjects. With that kind of theology it isn't hard to deduce why evangelical (Trumpian) Christianity is dying. 

This Trumpian theology goes something like this: If enough believers pray and live righteous lives, God will bless them with a wholly unrighteous man who will save them from their evil, progressive oppressors. If not, He will give them someone they don't like.

No, no, no. God has allowed us to choose our leaders. Donald Trump is president because 61,943,670 American voters voted for him, giving him 322 electoral college votes, not because of Divine intervention. That's all. So stop it; stop tying the good God to your depraved despot, Donald Trump. In God's name, STOP!

Rules Rein in Our Worst Impulses

Attempting to replace a cadre who tended to skirt the rules with an aspiring oligarch who fancies himself above all rules was a bad bargain.

The Tea Party in the United States' biggest fight is with the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules of how they're going to comport themselves and how they're going to run things. - Steve Bannon

Steve Bannon and his Alt-Right compatriots were ready and willing, but not quite able, to crush conventions, to eliminate the establishment, and to relegate long-established rules to a bygone era. One must destroy the status quo in order to build Utopia. They just needed a bellicose bull to obliterate the china shop. And along came Donald Trump.

Bannon portrayed the defenders of the status quo--particularly within "the Republican establishment"--as "a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules." So Bannon and millions of like-minded Americans set about to demolish the status quo, which, they felt, had put them at a grave disadvantage within free-market capitalism. Traditional conservatism was about to be assimilated in one of history's largest hostile annexations. And Donald Trump would be the new CEO of America Unfettered.

Against all odds, it worked--the hostile takeover, that is. But did it set things right? Would it bring about the end of what Bannon saw as "a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules"? Would it level the playing field? Would it--as its emerging leader repeatedly promised to do--drain the swamp?

We're nearly three years into the Alt-Right's experiment in government reformation. How's it going?

Where are the "Republican establishment's" crony capitalists? Before we can identify where the crony capitalists are, first we need to identify who they are--or were. Bannon did not identify them, at least not in that quote. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan likely was one of those Bannon had in mind, and he's gone, out of the government. Early on, Ryan was fairly popular within the Tea Party as a replacement for the establishment-favorite John Boehner. But before long, Ryan and the Tea Party were at odds, primarily because Ryan was not sufficiently ideologically pure; he was willing to make deals. So, Ryan's gone. Score one for the Alt-Right crowd.

What about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell? He's been in the U.S. Senate since 1985, practically a lifer. And when a prominent Tea Party favorite, Matt Bevin, challenged McConnell, the longtime senator pulled no punches in crushing the upstart. McConnell retains his post atop the U.S. Senate. However, he has largely capitulated to Trump and the Alt-Right crowd. Score two.

The same can be said for Senators Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Roy Blunt, John Thune, Bill Cassidy, and on and on. Most of the senators who held office when Steve Bannon labeled them "crony capitalists"--and long before--are still there, but virtually all of them have--by all appearances--abandoned traditional conservatism and adopted a version of Trumpist populism. Score three.

But have the Republican conversions to Trumpism served to drain the swamp? Is the U.S. capital a cleaner, fairer political environment? Is crony capitalism dead? Has the average American benefitted from Trumpism?

We are in the midst of an impeachment investigation that has already revealed unprecedented levels of corruption, starting at the top--the president who, as a candidate, pledged to "drain the swamp!"

In under three years of this revolutionary experiment in a new breed of government, we've witnessed the following:

  • An almost brand-new president firing the director of the F.B.I., James Comey, primarily because the director would not pledge loyalty to the president. (The director was right to refuse; his loyalties must be to the U.S. Constitution and to the U.S. citizens, not to the president.)
  • An almost brand-new president then bragging to Russian diplomats that he'd taken care of a "problem" in U.S.-Russia relations by firing the "nut job" Comey.
  • A U.S. president directing his White House Counsel, Don McGahn, to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was investigating Russia's involvement in the 2016 elections. (McGahn refused, which led to his departure).
  • A U.S. president trying to cover up his son's involvement in a meeting with a Russian lawyer--in Trump Tower--the purpose of which was to get dirt on a political opponent.
  • A U.S. president using Twitter to try to influence witnesses in the Mueller investigation.
  • A U.S. president repeatedly boasting that the completed Mueller report "completely exonerated" him of any wrongdoing--when the report plainly said it did not exonerate him.
  • A U.S. president withholding nearly $400 million in congressionally-appropriated military aid for an ally under attack from Russian military forces, with release of those funds contingent upon the ally's president announcing an investigation (the investigation was not necessary, just the announcement) into a political opponent.
  • A U.S. president sending his personal attorney to run a back-channel investigation into a political opponent in a foreign nation (Ukraine).
  • That personal attorney apparently being guilty of the very crime he and his boss--the president--were trying to pin on their political opponent.
  • A U.S. president firing a long-tenured ambassador (Marie Yovanovitch, in Ukraine), ostensibly because "she wouldn't hang my picture in the embassy." (Not true; she did.) The real reason for her firing was that she was blocking corrupt dealings by partners of the president's personal attorney.
  • A U.S. president using Twitter to try to intimidate witnesses in his own impeachment investigation.

The list could go on and on, including underhanded dealings by current and former Trump Cabinet members, such as Ryan Zinke. 

The point is that this reckless attempt to dismantle so many established norms--and even parts of the Constitution (think "Your phony emoluments clause")--was ill-advised at best. For decades to come, this nation will pay for flirting with rule breakers at the helm of our government. 

Sebastian Thrun was correct in stating, "You can't change the world without a certain amount of healthy willingness to break the rules." But not all changes are for the better. In an ideal world we would not need rules. But we live in a fallen world where rules are necessary. Our government should be run by people who not only make rules but who abide by them.

Attempting to replace a cadre who tended to skirt the rules with an aspiring oligarch who fancies himself above all rules was a bad bargain.

Damn the Facts, Full Speed Ahead!

If the Great Leader says night is day, they'll all join the graveyard shift.

Have you seen and heard this Youtube ad (the one I placed to the far left as a screen capture)? It and many more like it have become ubiquitous on Youtube. 

Most of the others are "surveys" in which participants get to answer questions along this line: In 2020, will you vote for the baby-eating, pedophile-promoting, socialist Democratic candidate or for the angelic, God-loving, patriotic Republican Donald Trump?

The ad pictured to the left, however, is not a survey; it's plain old propaganda. In this one Trump resurrects his bald-faced lie that he was "totally exonerated" by the Mueller report. As you can see in the shaded box beside the screen capture, Mueller plainly stated that his report did not exonerate the president. Trump knows this, but he repeats the lie. He does so because he knows it works. His ardent followers will never tire of his lies, because to them they are not lies. For these cult followers, Donald Trump is the final and ultimate arbiter of truth. If the Great Leader says night is day, they'll all join the graveyard shift.

Graham Grovels While America Unravels

With friends like Lindsey Graham, who needs enemies?

You've likely seen a movie in which a gang, intending to rob a bank, diverts half of its crew to cause a major traffic accident at the end of the city opposite the location of the targeted bank. That action is called a diversion; its purpose is to divert the police away from the real crime.

Donald Trump really digs diversions. "Look at so-and-so," he snarls, while gesticulating defensively in response to investigations into his transgressions. Diversions and deflections have been his standard operating procedures throughout his presidential campaign and right on into his corrupt presidency. 

He's doing it again, this time through his born-again proxy, Senator Lindsey Graham, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. As anyone who paid any attention during the Republican primaries knows, Graham was then no fan of Trump. At one point during the campaign Graham characterized Trump as "a complete idiot." But, after Trump's total takeover of the Republican Party, Graham, fearful of losing his coveted high-paying and influential role, has learned to grovel at the feet of the would-be-king.

So, despite the South Carolina senator's longstanding friendship with former senator and former vice-president Joe Biden--whom Graham formerly praised as "as good a man as God ever created"--Graham has now announced that his committee is launching an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden's involvement with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Never mind that the Ukrainian government already investigated those relationships and found no illegalities, a conclusion echoed by U.S. intelligence agencies. 

Yes, Hunter Biden traded on his father's lofty position to make a boatload of money while serving in an advisory role for which he had no experience. Yes, that's kind of slimy. But it is not illegal. (Sounds eerily similar to another prominent family whose name rhymes with the smelly backside this whole affair reeks of.)

The verdicts on the Bidens were in already. But, meanwhile, the intensifying heat on Trump's backside meant it was time for another diversion. So he called on his spineless stooge who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee to create that diversion. And that stooge--once a disciple of the fearless maverick John McCain--caved like a South Carolina sinkhole. 

I suspect that Graham's committee ultimately will come to the same conclusion that the Ukrainian government did: a bit shady on Hunter Biden's part, but no illegalities by father or son. But the investigation no doubt will drag out at least as long as the impeachment proceedings, creating an ongoing diversion for the real criminal to capitalize on, right up to and through the 2020 election.

Joe Biden is not a perfect man, and he would not be my top choice for president, but I feel sorry for him. With friends like Lindsey Graham, who needs enemies?

We Dropped the Ball

Shame is what we deserve and what we will get because--as a nation--we've chosen to outsource to our favorite media pundits our responsibility to know and analyze the facts.

I have absolutely no idea what my generation did to enrich our democracy. We dropped the ball. We entered a period of complacency and closed our eyes to the public corruption of our democracy. - Wynton Marsalis

If Donald J. Trump manages to avoid being removed from office and--God forbid--manages to win re-election in 2020, it will be more so because average Americans were complacent than because of a stellar defense from his most-loyal supporters. Mr. Trump has, at every turn, made it virtually impossible for his loyalists to present a consistent, stellar defense. Every time his lackeys devise a new defense tactic, he does something--most often Tweeting--that demolishes that approach.

When the now-infamous call with Ukrainian President Zelensky became public, Trump's response was to label it a "perfect call," with "no quid pro quo." (I suspect that prior to this incident he'd never heard the term quid pro quo.) His loyalists parroted that claim--until mountains of evidence made it utterly untenable. 

Then, even while Trump held fast to his "No quid pro quo!" defense, his slightly more sophisticated defenders pivoted to arguing, at various times, each of the following: 1. "We have no first-hand witnesses." (Never mind that Trump had forbade all the first-hand witnesses to testify.) 2. "I hardly know [the first-hand witness]; he's a never-Trumper." 3."Quid pro quo government deals are common and often necessary." (Yes, they are. But only as a means to benefit the nation, not to benefit one man.) 4. "The president made a mistake, but it is not an impeachable offense. 5. "We can't take any of the evidence seriously because we don't know who the initial whistleblower was." 6. "We can't take any of the evidence seriously because the initial whistleblower is a never-trumper." 7. "The president and his administration are too incompetent to commit a major crime." 

But while witnesses were laying out the plain facts, and Republican members of Congress were making their comically shifting counterclaims, most Americans were swilling Margaritas at On the Border or watching Pat Sajak spin the wheel and Vanna White flip the letters. Many others, in fairness, were just trying to earn enough money to pay the rent and feed the kids.

But for those who could have set aside a night or two to pay attention to the investigation into the dismantling of our Constitution but who chose instead to watch the Texans beat the Colts, or even to read a good novel, shame on you. 

Shame is what we deserve and what we will get because--as a nation--we've chosen to outsource to our favorite media pundits our responsibility to know and analyze the facts. As many of those pundits have averred--and as several polls indicate--most Americans' minds are already made up about the impeachment investigation of the President of the United States. 

The future of our nation--for us and our progeny--rests in the hands of partisan politicians who place party above principle and of citizens who place entertainment above enlightenment. Wynton Marsalis is right; we dropped the ball.

Noted, Mr. President

This important revelation Trump gave the press today comes after virtually everyone else who was on or who had any knowledge of the now infamous call said, "Yes, President Trump did make a quid pro quo request."

Well, our "stable genius" president wrote notes so he could remember to tell the "fake news" media--whom he invited--that he wanted nothing (times 2) from Zelensky and the Ukrainians. "No quid pro quo!" his notes added. That was it, a full sheet of paper to scrawl out, by hand, that he wanted nothing from Ukraine, "No quid pro quo!" 

Of course, the statements his notes referred to came in a conversation with Ambassador Gordon Sondland after the whole bribery/extortion scheme became public knowledge. That's a bit like a bank robber--as the cops are closing in on him, and with his guilty face reddened by the exploding dye--flipping over his robbery note to the teller and writing on the back side, "No money. I don't want any of your money. No robbery!" 

What's more, this important revelation Trump gave the press today comes after virtually everyone else who was on or who had any knowledge of the now infamous call said, "Yes, President Trump did make a quid pro quo request of a foreign government to influence our elections."

But still the Keystone Cops of the GOP desperately cast about for some plausible defense of their Charlie Chaplin President.

Human Dignity Is a Gift, Not a Reward

We should never treat the deceased disrespectfully. We should remember the truth of Imago Dei (made in God's image).

President Trump recently used his executive authority to restore the rank of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher. I can hear my Trumpist friends cheering their patriotic messiah for reversing the Naval leaders' decision in this man's demotion. Now, a Navy trident review board will be convened to decide whether to revoke Gallagher's status as a Navy Seal. Over that, I can hear my Trumpist friends snarling in rage.

Gallagher was demoted for posing for photos with a recently killed Iraqi detainee, as if the deceased Iraqi were a big-game animal. Again, I've known my Trumpist friends long enough to know their reactions to news such as this. For most of them, their reaction to my claim directly above almost certainly would be something like this: "Well, the G__ d___ raghead was an animal. Damn murderous, pedophile Arabs all deserve to be slaughtered like animals."

Now, mind you, many of these Trumpists are evangelical Christians who vehemently oppose abortion because they say they believe in the sanctity of human life. "Every human," they would repeat, mantra-like, "is made in God's image and deserves a chance at life." They also likely would add, "Those little ones are especially innocent and vulnerable." I absolutely agree with them on those points; innocent, unborn babies deserve life.

But every human--unborn, alive, or even deceased--deserves to be treated with dignity, not based on how they lived or might live their lives, but because they are made in God's image. A key Bible phrase frequently cited by evangelicals is Romans 3:23, which says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The Bible my Trump-loving white evangelical friends say they revere teaches that, since "the Fall," every human being is born with a sin nature, and every human sins--some more than others. So we have this apparent paradox of creatures created close to God, but separated from Him by sin--every one of them.

The notion that some--perhaps those who sins are bigger and/or more frequent--have forfeited their right to be treated with Imago Dei dignity does not stand up to biblical scrutiny. 

Or, perhaps, because they are "different" they never did deserve that dignity. Perhaps "they," unlike "us," were not created in God's image. Such notions may have infected the thoughts of my Trump-supporting evangelical friends, but if those thoughts did, they did not come from the Bible, which teaches that EVERY HUMAN is created in God's image, and that, paradoxically, EVERY HUMAN is a sinner. 

Only God knows the sins that dead Iraqi detainee committed. But the same all-knowing God declares that same man to have been made in His image, and therefore deserving to be treated with dignity by other sinful humans. 

Yes, sometimes in this fallen world it is necessary for some humans to kill others, but we should never take pleasure in doing so. We should never treat the deceased disrespectfully. We should remember the truth of Imago Dei (made in God's image). The Naval board that demoted Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher understood that profound concept; the Commander-in-Chief obviously does not.

Purloined Patriotism

Is that where you will plant your flag? History is watching you.

To my white evangelical friends,

It's too late to turn back now. Sure, you can still repent; you can still ask God to forgive you for your horrible lapses in judgment, and for helping to keep America's most-corrupt president in office. God is indeed gracious; He will forgive you. But history will not.

Future generations of Americans will look back in shock and dismay at the Trump years. You, Trump's avid supporters, will be remembered as the Americans who were more than willing to abandon the U.S. Constitution, with its wise system of checks and balances, in favor of an authoritarian who promised to give you the policies you long desired. You, Trump's avid supporters, will be remembered as the Americans who jettisoned virtually every character trait you'd claimed to hold dear in exchange for a president who tickled your ears with empty promises.

You, my white evangelical friends, claimed to value traditional virtues, like marital fidelity. But then you chose Donald Trump over that virtue. You claimed to love honesty, but then you chose Donald Trump over that virtue. You claimed to be compassionate, but then you chose Donald Trump over that virtue. You claimed to love patriotism, but then you chose Donald Trump over that virtue.

Let's look, for example, at your bogus claim of patriotism. That claim came to the forefront when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to kneel at the playing of the National Anthem. He did so out of his conviction that law enforcers tend to treat people of darker skin hues more harshly than they do those of light skin pigmentation. Kaepernick became the poster boy for all that is wrong in America. He needed to grow up and act like a true, patriotic American.

But did you ever bother to look at statistics to learn if his claims about law enforcement might be correct? If you had, you'd have learned that he was right. What's more, his protest was peaceful. He didn't chant in the streets. He didn't damage property or cause physical harm to anyone. He simply bowed his knee, just as every person, including you, will one day do before the One you claim to follow above all else. 

Now, in the impeachment proceedings looking into alleged illegal activities by the one you truly follow above all else, the patriotism discussion is again front and center. Your messiah and his minions now seek to paint a genuine American war hero/patriot as a "deep-state" operative seeking to bring down the messiah and overturn the will of his disciples.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman emigrated from Ukraine, along with his twin brother and their father, way back in 1978, when the boys were just three years old. Their mother had died shortly before the move. The two boys never really knew any home but America. They are Americans, legally and spiritually. They are every bit as American as Melania Trump and her chain-migration parents. They are just as American as Donald Trump and his mother, who emigrated from Scotland. 

Yet Alexander, who testified in the impeachment hearings--under oath and in response to a legal subpoena--is now being labeled as a deep-state operative. This American citizen who has honorably served his country--including being awarded a Purple Heart for combat wounds--has become the target of a smear campaign in an effort to protect a man who used his father's money and influence to avoid military service. In fact, most of the "brave" Republican congressmen besmirching Vindman's character never served in the military. Yet, the Trump loyalists buy into the lie that Vindman is a Ukrainian spy while his accusers are the true patriots. 

In our bizarre Trump world, patriotism is no longer defined by one's willingness to put country before self; it's defined by unwavering loyalty to the man would be king. Is that where you will plant your flag? History is watching you.

Donald's Wall of Deluded Devotees

Despite his inability to build the southern-border wall, Mediocre Don did build a wall.

A little more than three years ago, Donald Trump, a man with no previous political experience, ascended to the world's most powerful and prestigious political position, President of the United States of America. He gained that lofty status based largely on his repeated promises to build a 2,000-mile-long, "big, beautiful wall" that would protect good Americans from the hordes of Latino rapists and murderers he warned were invading our nation.

Those repeated promises to build the wall were never accompanied by a disclaimer stating, "Provided Congress doesn't resist my plan." The promises were unequivocal, free of any caveats. Trump portrayed himself as a builder, as a man who overcomes all obstacles as he achieves things mere mortals only dream of. The wall will be built--and Mexico will pay for it!

We're nearly three years into his presidency. Where is the wall? Where are those Mexican pesos that will pay for the wall? A few small portions of deteriorated existing wall have been replaced or repaired. That's it.

Yes, Trump has had to face a lot of resistance. But, again, his campaign promises to build the wall were free of any disclaimers. Where is the resolute Donald Trump who was faster than a speeding locomotive and who could leap over tall buildings in a single bound? The Donald Trump we now see couldn't jog 30 feet from the McDonald's exit to the door of his limousine, and he'd no doubt trip over a speed bump along the way. Super Don was a mirage. So is the "big, beautiful wall." It will never be built. Any wall along our southern border will not be big and beautiful. It will, at best, be unremarkable and mediocre.

But, despite his inability to build the southern-border wall, Mediocre Don did build a wall. He built a firewall of starry-eyed, cultish supporters who look at his multifarious failures and see tremendous triumphs. (Okay, the economy seems to be in good shape, but it already was humming when he came into office.)

A recent poll reveals that 70 percent of Americans say President Trump's actions regarding Ukraine were wrong. However, the same poll found that just 51 percent say he should be removed from office. That 19 percent gap between the two figures suggests that Trump's firewall of steadfast supporters remains firm, despite the vast majority's acknowledgement that the president broke U.S. laws.

We now have a president who can break laws and fail to keep his most-cherished campaign promises and still have a chance of remaining in office--all because he built a wall, a wall of deceived believers who see him as their savior.

Hampered by Hubris

Donald Trump should have known he was not up to the monumental task of leading the world's most-advanced nation.

"I alone can fix this."
"I alone can fix this."

He had the almost-perfect con game going. But then his narcissism and ambition took him too far. I'm tempted to refer to it as "The Peter Principle" played out on the world's most public stage--except that the moment Donald J. Trump stepped out from his wealthy father's shadow, he already had reached his level of incompetence.

Donald Trump should have known he was not up to the monumental task of leading the world's most-advanced nation. He should have known his shot at glory would go horribly awry, causing grave damage to his reputation and, worse by far, to the country he claims to love. 

But, as is common among self-centered people, Donald Trump is ignorant of his ignorance. He knew more about the military than the military's generals. He knew more about NATO than NATO's leaders. He knew how to hire all the right people. He alone could fix the nation's problems. Blah, blah, blah.

Had his overconfidence and ambition not gotten the better of him he likely could have continued scamming millions from gullible people, then losing those millions, then repeating the process. He could have continued living like a king while fleecing princes as well as paupers. But, instead, his hubris will be his humiliation.

The fight over the impeachment of America's 45th President will continue for several more months. Eventually, the House of Representatives will vote for impeachment, almost entirely along party lines. It's increasingly difficult to gauge how the Senate vote on a conviction will go. But, whether Trump is removed from office via impeachment or voted out in the 2020 election, he will go down in history as the nation's worst, most incompetent, most corrupt president. And he will succeed in dragging down the Republican Party with him, and further divide this nation.

Literature, throughout history, is full of stories about hubris causing ambitious men's demise. If only Donald J. Trump had read some of those stories. But, then, arrogant people tend to be ignorant of their ignorance. What can one learn when he already knows everything? 

The rest of us will pay for that arrogant ignorance.

America's Huckster King

Donald Trump is neither Nebuchadnezzar nor Cyrus. Donald Trump is a huckster who sold millions of white American evangelicals a bottle of Donny's Magic Elixir.

Because white evangelical Christians remain as the primary voting bloc keeping Donald Trump in the world's most powerful office, I feel I must again address the notion that our current American President is a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus.

That belief--promoted by numerous prominent evangelical leaders and cheerfully accepted by their followers--is that Donald Trump, much like the two pagan kings listed above, is God's choice to lead His people back into the Promised Land. Like those two kings, Trump was--some of us would say is--a pagan having no relationship with the true God. But, as the narrative continues, despite Trump's patently ungodly past, God chose him to battle Satan's evil progressives and return America to its Christian roots.

After four years in the brightest of spotlights--during the campaign and right up to the present--Trump has evidenced little to no behavioral changes. His words and deeds show him to be the same self-centered, arrogant, ignorant, mean-spirited man he's always been. Yet white evangelicals continue to cling to the savior-king analogies. Does their belief have any merit?

Who Were Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus?

Following the Israelites' initial entry into the Promised Land, it didn't take long for the nation to go astray, eventually leading to a national split between northern and southern kingdoms. The southern kingdom had a few good kings and many bad ones. The northern kingdom went zero for 19. So, not too surprisingly, the northern kingdom was the first to be conquered--by the Assyrians, in around 740 B.C. The southern kingdom held on until the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar conquered them in around 586 B.C. Those southern kingdom inhabitants left alive through the conquest were hauled off to captivity in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon.

Biblical accounts--as well as other historical records--reveal Nebuchadnezzar to have been an arrogant, boastful, cruel king. Yes, the Bible does say that, notwithstanding Nebuchadnezzar's less-than-stellar character traits, God chose him to work His will in world affairs. The Bible also reveals that, after God put the king through a profound humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in Yahweh. But, despite his change of heart, Nebuchadnezzar did not allow the captive Israelites to return to their Promised Land.

It wasn't until after the Persians, under King Cyrus, conquered the Babylonians that the prospect of the long-desired return to the Promised Land would again warm Israeli hearts. By most accounts, Cyrus differed from Nebuchadnezzar in that he was more pragmatic and diplomatic than the ruthless Babylonian king. But, while Nebuchadnezzar eventually came to believe in Yahweh as the one true God, Cyrus apparently never did.

Which Is Trump?

Is Donald Trump a ruthless Nebuchadnezzar humbled by God into submission, or is he a tactful but unbelieving Cyrus? For those who claim he's the former, please show me some evidence of his conversion experience, of his humble submission. For those who claim he's the latter, please provide some evidence of his tact and diplomatic acumen. 

Humble? Tactful? This is a man who two days ago launched a vicious and unfounded Twitter attack on a long-term, highly respected American diplomat at the very moment she was testifying to a congressional committee, under oath and in response to a legal subpoena, about his underhanded dealings with Ukraine's president. No, Donald Trump is neither a humbled conqueror nor a diplomatic deliverer. 

Real Godly Leadership

Yes, at times, God chose to raise up pagan leaders to do His bidding. But He did so not as His first choice; He did so because His people had gone so far astray that He had to do something dramatic to regain their attention. But, ideally, those Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus eras never should have happened. Instead, the Israelites should have paid attention to these directives, about leaders, God gave them through Moses: 

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, "Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us," be sure to appoint over you a king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, "You are not to go back that way again." He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. 

What do we see of Donald Trump in that description of what a king (leader) should and should not do? A good king was not to focus on personal wealth or to have "many wives." Instead, he needed to be attentive to Scripture. Donald Trump--a man who has frequently bragged of his greed, his wealth, and his many sexual conquests--was unable, under questioning, to name a favorite book of the Bible. He referred to Second Corinthians as "Two Corinthians." Donald Trump courts evangelicals by making promises to champion their causes, but he has no love for the God they claim to worship. He cares not at all for the Scriptures evangelicals claim to hold dear.

Donny's Elixir

Donald Trump is neither Nebuchadnezzar nor Cyrus. Donald Trump is a huckster who sold millions of white American evangelicals a bottle of Donny's Magic Elixir. And now, as those white evangelicals drink the last few drops of their sugar water, they remain too proud to admit they were hoodwinked.

Rejecting Racism at the Top

I'm sorry to see the demise of evangelicalism in America, but I'm heartened to see younger Americans rejecting Miller-style racism.

I begin by stating that I do not have unquestioning faith in the Southern Poverty Law Center's ability to report news objectively. They have a political bias. However, as I've written before, one need not--indeed should not--dismiss everything reported by an imperfect reporter. The sky might really be falling. Our acceptance of a report should be based primarily on the value of the report itself, rather than strictly on the reporter. That requires some diligence on the part of the report's recipients. We owe it to our neighbors, to our nation, and to our progeny to be conscientious news consumers.

With that disclaimer in mind, I now turn to the recent report from the SPLC about the barefaced racism of Senior White House adviser and President Trump confidant Stephen Miller. According to the SPLC account, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Miller repeatedly revealed his affinity for extremist, racist, far-right-wing groups and publications. The SPLC report, as well as other sources, cites former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh as providing emails Miller sent her during her tenure at the far-right Breitbart "news" outlet. 

Those emails Miller sent McHugh included requests that Breitbart report favorably on white nationalist websites, on bizarre racist links from Alex Jones zany InfoWars, and on the blatantly racist novel The Camp of the Saints. And those are but a smattering of Miller's racist requests. 

Why should we give credence to this SPLC report? Because it is based not just on hearsay but also on emails written by the source, Stephen Miller. Those emails are evidence of Miller's brazen racism. Yet he remains in his post as a Senior White House Adviser--and chief architect of the Trump administration's immigration policies. And, according to another White House official, "Stephen is not going anywhere. The president has his back."

These two, Miller and Trump, are men America's white evangelicals steadfastly support. These are the men evangelical leaders such as Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Jerry Falwell Jr., and Tony Perkins dote on as defenders of the faith. 

These men--Stephen Miller and Donald Trump--and their supportive old-guard evangelical leaders--such as those mentioned above--are largely the reason American evangelical Christianity is on its death bed. 

I'm sorry to see the demise of evangelicalism in America, but I'm heartened to see younger Americans rejecting Miller-style racism.

Another Must-Read

"As you watch the impeachment hearings, remember this basic fact: While Trump was playing politics on Ukraine, people who depended on U.S. military aid were getting killed and wounded." 

Please read this David Ignatius op-ed in The Washington Post.

An Unfortunate Need for a Rebuke

We must resist tyrants and their efforts to turn this nation into another autocracy, whether the would-be tyrant is from another party or our own. Principle before party.

"I told you so."
"I told you so."

It's not far off now, I suspect, the day when I will be able to say, "I told you so" to my many Trump-loyalist friends and family members. I will not say those four words gleefully; I already will have done my rejoicing, in private, at the end of the era of ignorance, when the president will have been removed from office. But, yes, I will say, "I told you so." Why? Because I want those friends and family members to feel the rebuke; they will need to know the damage their unquestioning support of a madman did to our nation.

I pray that when all the remaining facts--we've already seen and heard mountains of damning evidence--are brought forward for all to see, that my Trump-loving friends will finally choose loyalty to truth and justice over loyalty to Trump and party. I pray they will be humble enough to finally admit they were wrong, and to learn from their grievous errors. I pray that when I say, "I told you so," their response will be, "I should have listened to you," rather than "Scr__ you; Trump was railroaded!"

I know what those Trump loyalists are going through now; I feel their angst. A mere five years ago I was where they are. I was getting my "news" from WorldNetDaily and News Max. I was seriously considering the stories those sources "reported," stories like President Obama not being an American citizen, and even stories that Obama was a closet homosexual who spent much of his free time in Chicago's gay bathhouses, and the list went on. Thankfully, before I got too deep into that bizarro world, something within me awakened.

Then, in late 2015, when I saw so many of my friends and family members happily hopping onto the Trump train, I knew my awakening had saved me from falling into a cult. I've spent much of my time in the four years since trying to help those loved ones see what was happening to them. But cults exert tremendous mind control. 

I pray our nation--including even the most-loyal Trumpists--learns from the disasters of the last three years. I pray that America will reconsider the importance of our Constitution. It is not a perfect document and we have never been a perfect nation. But the system of checks and balances the founders built into that founding document has kept us largely free from the tyranny that has plagued so many other nations. 

We must resist tyrants and their efforts to turn this nation into another autocracy, whether the would-be tyrant is from another party or our own. Principle before party. 

I pray I will never again be in the position of saying "I told you so."

As Republicans Run Out of Defense Tactics...

A Country Consumed by Competition

Anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you.

Competition is a trait ingrained in the human psyche. It is a trait not without benefits to humanity. It pushes us beyond another ingrained trait, indolence. But like virtually any other human characteristic, competition without limits can be like fire without a containment field. The element used to prepare the food we consume then becomes the monster that consumes us.

Good Competition

Competition drives down prices of consumer goods and services, and, with proper safeguards, can improve the quality of those goods and services. So, three cheers for competitive capitalism--constrained by a compassionate containment field.

Humans' competitive nature extends beyond the business realm. We see it pushing sports figures to ever greater athletic achievements. It motivates kids in spelling bees to learn how to spell words like pusillanimous, and guys like Sean Spicer to make fools of themselves on Dancing with the Stars (creating humor for the rest of us--although I'd never watch such a show).

Problematic Competition

Throughout my 46 years in the evangelical Christian realm I witnessed Christian competitions, efforts to prove one's superior Bible knowledge, or, more commonly, to prove oneself holier than thou. 

  • "I don't watch any R-rated movies."
  • "I don't watch any PG-13 movies."
  • "I don't watch any movies at all."
  • "I spend all my spare time reading the Bible and praying."

That competitive nature carried over to the marriage of white evangelical Christianity to conservative politics. 

  • "I don't watch liberal news programs."
  • "I don't watch any lamestream news. Period."
  • "The only news you can trust is Fox."
  • "The only news you can trust is Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham on Fox."
  • "Qanon!"

The fire has escaped its containment field.

Death By Stupidity

America's demise won't come through guns, bombs, famine, or pestilence; it will be the result of mass insanity.

It wasn't that long ago that I called myself a conservative. But with the conservative movement being hijacked by wackos, I'm finished with it. Hundreds of thousands of people who call themselves conservatives have bought into this nutso Qanon conspiracy theory. America's demise won't come through guns, bombs, famine, or pestilence; it will be the result of mass insanity. God help us.

Nikki Haley's Craven Capitulation

One cannot serve both Trump and righteousness.

Nikki Haley's recent rounds of the TV talk shows promoting her new book, With All Due Respect, have largely focused on her disagreement with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Chief of Staff John Kelly over their alleged effort to recruit her into their plot to thwart President Trump's impulsive inclinations. 

Whether such a plot existed is up for debate, and no doubt will be debated vigorously for several days--until the next bizarre White House scandal sends it to the back burner. Until then, let's consider this apparent scandal.

  • Did it actually happen? It's likely that only Tillerson, Kelly, and Haley know for sure, so the rest of us can only guess based on evidence available to nearly everyone. That ubiquitous evidence certainly points to the likelihood of at least some cabinet members formulating a plot to save the world from the wacky impulsiveness of Donald J. Trump. Just consider that op-ed last year from "Anonymous" in the Washington Post, and now the soon-to-be-released book from the same administration insider. You can add many more similar accounts in books and articles to the list.
  • Why the plot? First, as mentioned above, in a general sense because of Trump's bizarre impulsiveness and his utter self-centeredness. This is a man who will do anything to promote and enrich himself. And then, when that shameless self-promotion puts him in a vulnerable position, he will just as quickly do anything to save himself, even if anything means endangering others. More specifically, as Haley conceded in her accounts, Tillerson and Kelly warned that Trump's ill-advised words and decisions were likely to get people killed. A clear example of that is Trump's impulsive withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, abandoning our Kurdish allies. Hevrin Khalaf, the secretary general of the pro-Kurdish Future Syria Party, was killed along with eight others by Turkish militants as a direct result of that withdrawal. They were among the 60-plus civilians and more than 200 Kurdish fighters killed within the first few days following the president's rash decision. More than 130,000 Kurds had to flee their homes. So I applaud Tillerson and Kelly's efforts to undermine this ignorant and impulsive president.
  • What did Nikki Haley do when Tillerson and Kelly approached her? Apparently she did not go tell Trump about it. If she had done so, they would have been booted immediately. Her failure to tell Trump suggests that either she took time to consider whether to join the plot, or that she didn't consider it a legitimate threat.

Until recently, I considered Nikki Haley to be a capable leader and an honorable woman. Her statements in these recent interviews reveal her to be just another self-serving politician, attempting to posture herself in a favorable light to both Trumpists and the saner wing of the GOP. I pray honorable conservatives see through her machinations. One cannot serve both Trump and righteousness.

The Unprecedented President

Never before has a President of the United States been impeached and removed from office. That is one precedent I will be glad to see Donald J. Trump break.

Unprecedented may well be the most-commonly used word to describe White House happenings in the Trump administration. Donald Trump based his campaign on being an outsider willing to upset the apple cart. He did that and more. In three years he's sent every apple orchard in the country up in flames. Rules and norms are for snowflakes, not for Donald J. Trump.

Well, guess what, Donald J. Trump, there's a reason why all your predecessors at least tried to follow the rules, most of the time. Your utter disregard for traditional comportment will soon end your presidency. You will be remembered as the president whose own cabinet turned on him and, finally, exposed him for the self-serving fraud he is. 

Of course, everyone outside Trump's 35 percent base of diehard supporters--made up largely of obstinate white evangelicals--already knows Trump is a fraud. But for that 35 percent, that truth will have to be proven beyond even the tiniest shadow of a doubt. Even then, a significant portion will deny what the overwhelming facts plainly state. Some cultists will choose to go down with their master.

But more inner-circle cultists--such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney--are showing their willingness to turn on the cult leader in order to save themselves. And each administration rat abandoning the sinking ship gives courage to the remaining rats cowering in the dark recesses of the Trumptanic.

Never in this nation's long history has a recently-removed National Security Adviser written a tell-all book about his former boss's (the President's) bumbling administration. Never before has a White House Chief of Staff been part of a lawsuit against his boss (the President). Never before has a former Chief of Staff described his tenure in that role as the worst job he ever had, as John Kelly did. Never before have so many former administration staff members gone before the public to warn of a president's incompetence and ill-suited temperament. 

Never before has a President of the United States been impeached and removed from office. That is one precedent I will be glad to see Donald J. Trump break.

Sacrifices for the Chosen One

So now, to pay for Donald Trump's hubris, Rudy Giuliani, the formerly highly respected prosecutor and mayor of New York, has had to hire his own team of lawyers in his effort to avoid a prison term.

You shall have no other Gods before me.
You shall have no other Gods before me.

I can't think of any action or statement I find more refreshing and inspiring than a genuine mea culpa. Admitting one's mistakes or wrongdoings is what mature adults do. Mature adults understand and acknowledge the frailty inherent in every human being, including themselves.

Perhaps the most significant aspect found in the humble act of confession is that it sets in motion the learning and healing processes. Conversely, refusal to acknowledge one's shortcomings leaves that person trapped in his defects. One cannot repair an unacknowledged character flaw.

Our current president has emphasized, through his words and his deeds, that he sees admission of any mistake as an abhorrent notion. His hubris keeps him mired in his ignorance. He cannot learn because he will not acknowledge that other people might know things he does not know. 

And now that hubris has made him vulnerable to removal from office if his wrongdoings in the Ukraine scandal are proven, either by proficient prosecutors presenting copious evidence, or by--who could imagine?--his admission of guilt. The latter will not happen--ever. 

So, because the president will never admit his guilt and most Republicans in Congress now serve his every whim, someone must be the scapegoat to pay for Trump's transgressions. It now appears that Rudy Giuliani will be that scapegoat, and others may follow.

After the "No quid pro quo!" shield was shattered and the "Quid pro quos are no big deal" excuse evaporated, Trump's congressional lackeys had to scramble for a new line of defense for their liege. With little time left, the best they could devise was a human sacrifice. Lay all the blame on the court jester, Rudy Giuliani. 

As Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post, 

House Republicans are now preparing to sacrifice poor Rudolph Giuliani to save President Trump. Their new argument is that Giuliani--along with acting White House Chief of Staff and Ambassador Gordon Sondland--were freelancing the organized campaign to extort Ukraine into carrying out Trump's political bidding, and Trump had no input into it.

Sargent's op-ed then lays out the many contradictions to such a claim. I urge you to read the op-ed to see the undeniable evidence of Trump's involvement in the criminal enterprise.

So now, to pay for Donald Trump's hubris, Rudy Giuliani, the formerly highly respected prosecutor and mayor of New York, has had to hire his own team of lawyers in his effort to avoid a prison term. 

Such is the fate of anyone who gets too close to the self-proclaimed "chosen one" who believes himself incapable of mistakes.

My Obsession Confession

I will not set aside my obsession with trying to convince other of the grave danger this president poses. I am obsessed and I am not ashamed.

Christians must pray and trust God, but we also must openly oppose oppressive leaders. Doing so is not without risk, but it is how we represent Jesus' character traits of justice and mercy. And when it comes to representing Jesus' character, obsession is not a defect.
Christians must pray and trust God, but we also must openly oppose oppressive leaders. Doing so is not without risk, but it is how we represent Jesus' character traits of justice and mercy. And when it comes to representing Jesus' character, obsession is not a defect.

More than one dear friend and/or loved one has accused me of being obsessive. I use the word accused because those allegations were meant as criticisms, as reproaches meant to guide me back to normalcy. 

I neither deny nor denounce being obsessive. I have no intention of returning to normalcy. In times of crises normalcy is a detriment, not a benefit. And I am categorically convinced that the United States of America is in a time of crisis at least comparable to the Civil War. Normalcy in such a time is, in my estimation, a sin.

I understand my critics' assessment that I need to focus more on Jesus and less on politics, and particularly on Donald Trump. I understand and I disagree.

When evangelical Christians--particularly white evangelicals--"focus" on Jesus, they tend to focus on His name and--at a surface level--His words. (If you are or have been an evangelical, you know about the focus on "the name of Jesus.")

But, biblically, a name was meant to describe one's character. Our focus, then, should be on His character and His mission. The name Jesus (Yeshua) means savior, which implies that the one given that name came to people who need salvation. And our need of salvation implies our defective character and disgraceful deeds.

Our character is flawed; Jesus' character is impeccable. When one accepts Jesus' offer of salvation, that person's sin debt is erased and his character is subject to change--to the degree that he yields to Jesus' calls to discipleship. 

But we live in a fallen world where the majority--for a variety of reasons--do not yield to Jesus' calls to discipleship. As a result, nations need governments and laws to mitigate the misdeeds borne out of our flawed characters. That's where politics enter the discussion. 

Jesus has not yet established His literal kingdom on earth, so it's up to us to try to guide governments toward godly principles and righteous policies. Those who profess to follow Christ have an obligation to work for justice for all, not just for ourselves and those of our "tribe."

Christ followers need to strive to represent His character in all we do and say, and not just at Sunday services. We fall short if we merely "call on the name of Jesus" in prayer. Prayer is important in that it humbles us and transforms our character. But I reject the notion that prayer alone alters situations. Throughout history, Christians prayed for safety during persecutions. And then they were killed. Armenian Christians prayed for salvation from their Turkish oppressors, and then they were slaughtered. European Jews prayed for salvation from the Nazis, and then they were gassed to death. The examples are innumerable. As the Scottish fishermen of old said, "Trust God but row away from the rocks."

Christians must pray and trust God, but we also must openly oppose oppressive leaders. Doing so is not without risk, but it is how we represent Jesus' character traits of justice and mercy. And when it comes to representing Jesus' character, obsession is not a defect.

As I stated above, I am categorically convinced that the United States of America is in a time of grave crisis. I would be sinfully negligent to ignore this crisis and resume my normal life. This need for being outspoken is especially crucial now, because the cause of the crisis is the man at the helm of our nation's government. This is a man who has been described by an administration insider in this manner:

"It's like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him. You're stunned, amused, and embarrassed all at the same time. Only your uncle probably wouldn't do it every single day, his words aren't broadcast to the public, and he doesn't have to lead the US government once he puts his pants on."

Donald Trump has given us evidence--almost daily--of his mental instability (I've listed examples in previous posts, see below). In addition, fact checkers have documented him telling more than 14,000 lies and falsehoods within the last three years. 

Incompetence and insincerity could be tempered by competent aides. But this president is not just incompetent and insincere, he also is arrogant and mean-spirited. He is too arrogant to ever admit a mistake or accept any criticism; he believes doing so is a sign of weakness. And his malice toward anyone who is not like him and/or who does not like him means he can turn his wrath on anyone at any moment. Such failings coupled with his place at the head of the most-powerful nation on the planet makes him the most-dangerous person who has ever lived.

So, no, I will not set aside my obsession with trying to convince other of the grave danger this president poses. I am obsessed and I am not ashamed.

Ignore the Smokescreens

Yes, Donald Trump is incompetent. And, yes, it might be true that the initial whistleblower doesn't like Trump. Neither of those arguments should have any bearing on Congress's duty to investigate the president's alleged illegal acts.

Ignore the smokescreens; stay focused on the facts.
Ignore the smokescreens; stay focused on the facts.

As each new White House scandal erupts and each traditional line of defense wilts under the light of truth, Trump defenders desperately cast about for some new excuse for the president's latest weird behavior or loony statement.

The latest defense strategies regarding Trump's criminal phone call with Ukraine's president are 1: the president and his administration are too inept to conduct a true quid pro quo, and 2: the whistleblower who started the investigation into the phone call is not a Trump fan. The president's sycophants are reduced to these flimsy argument because the facts are clearly not in their favor. Let's examine each of those arguments.

1: Inept administration (Senator Lindsey Graham's argument). After the "stable genius" president chased out any intelligent and moderating staff members--those along the lines of General James Mattis--he is left with only yes-men and yes-women. So, yes, the administration accurately reflects the inept Donald Trump. This is, then, a believable and absolutely plausible analysis of the Trump administration. But is it a good defense? It might serve to keep Trump out of prison, but it does so at the price of portraying the president--and by extension, his millions of devoted followers--as goofballs.  That admission does not bode well for the future of the Republican Party. But, if the shoe fits....

2: Mean whistleblower. This is now the most common argument. You must not believe him or her because he or she doesn't like Donald Trump. As I stated in the post directly below, "So much evidence has now been gathered and so many witnesses have now corroborated the initial whistleblower's statements that attempts to discredit the identified whistleblower as a partisan 'never-Trumper' will be meaningless."

This ad hominin defense is on a par with Billy's response to Sally telling Mom about Billy stealing Johnny's milk money at school. Billy's defense: "You can't believe Sally; you know she doesn't like me." If Mom responds to that argument from Billy by ignoring the accusation, she needs to take some parenting classes. Yes, Sally could have an ulterior motive for making her accusation. But, as the mature authority, it's up to Mom to investigate, to see if the accusation is true--even if Sally doesn't like Billy. It's up to Congress to investigate, even if the whistleblower doesn't like Trump.

Yes, Donald Trump is incompetent. And, yes, it might be true that the initial whistleblower doesn't like Trump. Neither of those arguments should have any bearing on Congress's duty to investigate the president's alleged illegal acts. 

Chief Prince Paul?

Or perhaps they are thinking long-term, planning for the autocratic Trump family ruling dynasty, with Rand Paul as a chief prince.

Senator puts a target on whistleblowers.
Senator puts a target on whistleblowers.

Kentucky's Republican Senator Rand Paul has not only called for the whistleblower in the Ukraine phone call to be named, but has also said that if the media fail to do so soon, he will release the name. Senator Paul bases his call for this outing of the whistleblower on the U.S. Constitution's sixth amendment, which, among other things, states that in a jury trial the accused should be able to question his accuser.

The first huge problem with Paul's reasoning is that what the House Intelligence Committee is conducting now is not a jury trial; it is an inquiry, much like a grand jury hearing. These hearings serve the purpose of gathering evidence and hearing from witnesses to determine whether to bring forward articles of impeachment and, if so, to prepare the prosecution's case. This is not the time for the accused to face his accusers.

And that leads into the next big problem with Paul's reasoning: So much evidence has now been gathered and so many witnesses have now corroborated the initial whistleblower's statements that attempts to discredit the identified whistleblower as a partisan "never-Trumper" will be meaningless.

  • We have the summary--NOT the official transcript--released by the White House, which in itself clearly shows that President Trump was asking for "a favor" from a foreign government in return for providing the millions in military assistance that Congress had authorized nearly half a year before.
  • We have the President himself on live TV openly suggesting that Ukraine and China should investigate his likely opponent in the 2020 presidential election.
  • We have sworn statements by many U.S. diplomats close to the proceedings plainly stating that Trump conditioned the release of those congressionally approved funds to Ukraine's president declaring an investigation into the Bidens (despite the fact that the Ukrainian government had already determined that neither Hunter nor Joe Biden had violated any laws). And among those U.S. diplomats now stating that Trump issued a quid pro quo is E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a true Trump ally.

So Senator Paul can continue his attempts to suck up to Trump by outing the initial whistleblower, but doing so will not halt the wheels of justice. What it will do is put that whistleblower's life at risk from any of Trump's many deranged cult followers. And it will facilitate future authoritarian-style leaders who will not have to worry about whistleblowers, because those potential informers will be too fearful to speak up.

But, as usual, Trump and his allies, like Rand Paul, seem incapable of thinking beyond the moment and contemplating the long-term ramifications of their actions and words. Or perhaps they are thinking long-term, planning for the autocratic Trump family ruling dynasty, with Rand Paul as a chief prince.

Note to Readers

Place your cursor on the pictures below to see their captions. 

Thank God for Perjury Laws

If the "always Trumpers" were to succeed in keeping their savior in power, the stage would be set.

Why should I care about tomorrow?
Why should I care about tomorrow?

Amazing what the specter of a prison term for lying under oath can do for one's memory, isn't it? Our nation's ambassador to the European Union previously parroted President Trump's refrain, "There was no quid pro quo" on Trump's now infamous call with Ukraine's president. Gordon Sondland--a man who had never before served as or for an ambassador, nor did he have any diplomatic experience before his appointment to that crucial post--now, facing a perjury charge, suddenly recalls the facts about the two presidents' phone call. 

And the facts corroborate the testimony of several other diplomats' testimony about the call. The plain--and now undeniable--fact is, President Donald Trump conditioned the release of congressionally approved military aid for an allied country on that country's announcement of an investigation into Trump's key political rival. The president's--and his toadies' within Congress--defense of "No quid pro quo" is kaput. Now they're left to argue that strong arming an ally to get involved in our nation's elections might not be wise, but it does not deserve impeachment.

As I have said so many times before, Trump's toadies seem to have lost any ability to think beyond the moment. They are so intent on pleasing Trump's intractable base that they've lost sight of the long-term consequences of their cravenness. Donald Trump will not be president forever (he might not be president for six more months). And when the Democrats regain control of the White House, the preposterous precedents Republicans have established in defending the indefensible will haunt them.

If the "always Trumpers" were to succeed in keeping their savior in power, the stage would be set: Future U.S. presidents would be freed from the restraints of the systems of checks and balances the founders built into the Constitution. Presidents would be, in effect, kings with unbridled power.

Thank God and the founders for the Constitution--and for perjury laws.

The Art of the Conspiracy

Does Trump believe all those weird conspiracy theories? It doesn't matter as long as his followers do.

It's a conspiracy, man.
It's a conspiracy, man.

Does our nation's president really believe the many conspiracy theories he frequently references? Or does he merely use them for his political gain? Or is it both? Only he knows for sure. But for the rest of us, does it really matter? 

Those of us who put no stock in the many bizarre conspiracy theories Trump and his cultish followers traffic in are as unlikely to change the minds of those true believers as they are to convert us. But the fact that the President of the United States gives open or even tacit regard to wacky notions--such as former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia being murdered--opens the door for untold thousands (or millions?) of mentally unstable Americans to take those notions seriously. And that's exactly what's happening--now. The greatest nation in the history of the world is being unraveled by zany conspiracy theories, particularly by the inane notion that our nation is secretly ruled by a "deep state," and that only Donald Trump can save us from this evil cabal.

But it's that bizarre belief in particular that is keeping the most corrupt president in our nation's history in power--where he's unraveling our Constitution. In the relatively short time Trump has been in office, dozens of his former administration personnel have come forward to warn the rest of us about the president's ignorance, instability, impulsiveness, and narcissism. All of them were formerly subjects of Trump's praise. But when they dared to challenge "the chosen one," he and his loyal followers turned on them and then dismissed them as deep-state agents out to foil his efforts to fight the deep state.

Why have millions of Americans--a huge portion of them white evangelical Christians--fallen for these outlandish conspiracy theories? Primarily, I think, because such theories are exciting. Most people lead lives, as Thoreau noted, of quiet desperation. Buying into crazy concepts modulates that desperation--at least somewhat. 

Among many evangelicals, adding to that thirst for exhilaration is the long-held notion that Satan works through governments to persecute true believers. So it isn't a long leap from there to acceptance of the idea of a deep state out to get them.

So when Donald Trump came along in 2015 leading the conspiratorial accusations that President Obama was not a real American, it was easy for many, if not most, white evangelicals to buy it. After all, the nation's first African-American president had an Arab-sounding name, and he promoted many liberal policies. 

Then, during the Republican primaries--when Trump continued to promote conspiracies (remember the one about Ted Cruz's father being part of an insider gang that killed JFK?)--his already-fervent-and-growing band of cult-followers joined in. The stage was set.

So now, just under three years later, with volumes of evidence and testimonies revealing Trump's illegal and unconstitutional acts, his starry-eyed followers still find it easy to dismiss all that evidence as a deep-state plot to rid the nation of its true savior. 

They are true believers, and "Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, they shall not be moved." 

Does Trump believe all those weird conspiracy theories? It doesn't matter as long as his followers do. And that is precisely what con men count on.

Trump and White, Birds of a Feather

Paula White is a heretic, plain and simple

Setting aside the controversies over whether women should be pastors within the Christian church and whether frequently-married persons of either gender should be pastors, let's examine some of the other concerns orthodox--using the term broadly--Christians should have over President Trump's appointment of Paula White as leader of the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

Why did our president choose Ms. White for this lofty post? What are her qualifications? 

Education: Some of her associates refer to Ms. White as "Doctor White," a title utterly without merit. She has no formal doctrinal degrees or training. She has no college degrees at all.

Practical background: While White claimed in a televised interview that she never filed for bankruptcy, the truth is that while she was the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, the church did file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And, two years earlier, while she was senior pastor of Without Walls Central Church in Lakeland, Florida, went into foreclosure because it could not pay its bills. All this while she and her now ex-husband lived in mansions and drove Mercedes and Bentleys. Technically, Ms. White may not have personally led those churches into foreclosure and bankruptcy, but as senior pastor the buck should have stopped with her. However, as with one of her dear friends, accepting blame is not a strong suit.

Personal life: Three marriages (Just like one of her dear friends). Also, alleged to have had an affair with fellow prosperity gospel preacher Benny Hinn. The two were photographed holding hands as they exited a hotel in Rome. They claim the relationship was not sexual.

Doctrine: As mentioned above, Ms. White preaches the prosperity gospel. She declared in a TBN interview in 2007, "Anyone who tells you to deny yourself is from Satan." Yet that is exactly what Jesus said His disciples must do: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).

No one should be surprised that President Trump would choose Paula White to be his leader of the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative; the two are kindred spirits, birds of a feather. 

Paula White is a heretic, plain and simple. But Trump's choice of a heretic to lead his administration's most important faith initiative will have no more effect on his hoodwinked white evangelical cultists than his porn-star affairs, his crude language, his demeaning of people with disabilities, or his 14,000 documented lies. 

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Yes, He Really Said That

"I wish my name was Hunter Biden. I could go abroad, make millions off of my father's presidency--I'd be a really rich guy! It would be incredible!" - Donald Trump Jr. on Sean Hannity's Fox TV show

It's No Joke, Donald

That Melania would not cry if Donald were shot reveals her first-hand assessment of his character. And the assessment is damning.

"I mean, not many wives would react that way to tragedy. I know mine wouldn't." - President Trump speaking about Representative Steve Scalise's wife crying over her husband being shot.

That statement should tell anyone paying attention all they need to know about not just the president's marriage, but about what kind of man the president is. No one is in a better position to evaluate another person's character than that person's spouse or living partner. That Melania would not cry if Donald were shot reveals her first-hand assessment of his character. And the assessment is damning.

I can hear the Trumpists' defense: "Dude, lighten up; the man was joking." That may be so, but there's merit to the old saying, "Many a true word is spoken in jest." Just recall that vivid video taken at Trump's inauguration. As Franklin Graham gushed about God opening the heavens to let His rain fall as a sign of His approval, proud Donald turned to look at Melania. She smiled, briefly. But when Donald diverted his eyes to the speaker, Melania's smile turned into a disdainful scowl. And remember, too, the many times we've seen videos of him attempting to take her hand as they walked, and she swatted it away.

The man has given her plenty of reasons to disdain him, not the least of which was his having an affair with a porn star while she was home with their newborn son. 

Donald Trump might have been joking when he said his wife wouldn't mourn over his tragedy. I suspect, however, that, somewhere, way deep down and nearly lost, he still has an inkling that he is an empty, self-centered, lost soul. But he's become convinced that admitting any fault is a sign of weakness. And to him, weakness is the cardinal sin. So he turns his wife's scorn for him into a joke. It's no joke, Donald.

Who has not, at some moment of deep reflection, imagined how relatives and friends might react at their passing? Those reactions are the report card that provide the evaluation of one's life; they are the essence of one's legacy.

Donald Trump's likely legacy? His wife will not cry. What more do you need to know?

The Swamp Has Invaded My Hometown

This is how George Mentz became wealthy--and gained the recognition to be nominated for a seat on the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Well, that and being a major Trump campaign contributor.

Colorado Springs, my home for the past 20 years, is also home to Pike's Peak, the Air Force Academy, the Olympic Training Center, and the Garden of the Gods. And, as I recently learned, another prominent institution resides here in Colorado's second-largest city. That organization is called Global Academy of Finance and Management. That's an impressive name, and if you read about it on its recent PR Newswire press release (a service anyone can use for a fee) you'll be even more impressed.

That press release gushes, "The New York Gazette® says that President Trump has appointed George Mentz, a Louisiana Lawyer, to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. Counselor Mentz has been one of the most prolific authors and professors in the last 20 years, teaching and developing over 300 courses for colleges, law schools and accredited educational bodies." (George Mentz is listed as the owner of the nonexistent New York Gazette. I'd challenge you to find a copy of that so-called newspaper anywhere.) 

Mentz has written loads of get-rich books--one with the daunting title The Illuminati Code the Secret Powers of the Mind--Man's Search for Extraordinary Success and Meaning- Habits to Win Friends and Influence People. (Yes, that's the title, not the entire book.) But, back to Mentz's Global Academy of Finance and Management. Go have a look at the organization's website. It looks impressive. And, initially, the stated requirements for obtaining academic certifications (yes, it's a diploma mill) appear rigorous.

One page lists these certification requirements:

  • Eligible candidates must successfully complete at least one of the following:
  • An Accredited Degree in the Relevant Area
  • Or, GAFM -approved degree (graduate or undergraduate) in management or a CPA, MBA, MS, PhD, or JD from an accredited school or organization 
  • Or, Five or more approved and related courses from an ACBSP or AACSB accredited business school or GAFM sanctioned Management program or 
  • Or, if you have completed GAFM Accredited Exam or approved Executive Certification training in Management 
  • Complete Continuing Education Each Year
  • Abide By the Ethics Agreement - agree to the ethics requirements of the Society. 
  • *Certifications from other qualifiying universities or programs in management consultant may pre-qualify you for the designation.

Again, sounds demanding, right? (Although, all that begs the question: If you already have one or more of these legitimate credentials, why would you need bogus ones from Mentz's diploma mill?)

Anyway, then go to the application page to apply for any of the myriad certificates offered and go through the process. You will find that those rigorous qualifications are left to the honor system. As long as you state that you fulfilled requirements--and, of course, pay the $378 fee--you've done it! You are now an AFA Accredited Financial Analyst, or whatever.

This is how George Mentz became wealthy--and gained the recognition to be nominated for a seat on the Commission on Presidential Scholars. Well, that and being a major Trump campaign contributor. 

Drain the swamp!

How Versus Why--And Why It's Important

In our nation's most crucial policymaking office, we need a why person. We need a why person who weighs decisions with great care and caution.

Keeping in mind the crucial caveat that there are exceptions to almost every rule, I will attempt to persuade those reading this missive that we can accurately place every human into one of two categories. Category one is made up of how people. Category two is made up of why people. How people tend to be doers; they accomplish beneficial tasks--or at least want to do so. Why people tend to be dreamers, thinkers. They might also accomplish beneficial tasks, but they are more likely to want to discover why those tasks the how people accomplish are beneficial.

How People

How people tend to be hard-working blue-collar folks. If they attended any college, it probably was a community college or a trade college. It's likely that during their career-preparation years they had only marginal interest in subjects outside those that pertained to their chosen profession. One need not remember the events that precipitated the outbreak of World War I in order to become a first-class professional plumber. Successful how people generally earn a good living because they provide necessary services.

How people also tend to equate their career success with knowledge and wisdom in general. They assume their success is tied to their presumed broad-spectrum sagacity (although most would be unfamiliar with the term sagacity). 

Why People

Why people are more likely to be college graduates who were exposed to a broader range of subjects; they likely were encouraged to ask more why questions. Many why people go on to enter service-oriented careers, such as lawyers and physicians, but their college-era exposure to a wider range of topics made them more curious in general. In many cases, why people become society's poets, authors, teachers, and philosophers.

Hows Versus Whys

In the Trump era, more than anytime in history, we see a national polarization; how people and why people stand in direct opposition. Most how people support President Trump, while most why people oppose him. Of course there are exceptions, which is why I wrote most rather than all

With those important exceptions in mind, I think it's safe to say that most how people get all their "news" from no more than one or two sources, Fox News almost always being one of the two. I vividly recall one Sunday morning when the pastor of my church was away and he'd asked one of the elders to fill in for him in teaching the adult Sunday school class. The class series was on Christian Worldview, but the pastor had given the elder free rein to present as he chose within that broad framework. The elder, a dear older saint, chose to spend his 45 minutes detailing why Christians should boycott "liberal" mainstream media sources and get all their news from Fox. I was shocked and saddened. The class was supposed to be Bible-based, not a harangue against an enterprise that our president would soon brand "the enemy of the people." But most within the class--made up primarily of how people--smiled and nodded their assent as the elder made his case.

The Assent of the Hows

In November 2016, the how people won control of the nation's government, particularly the executive branch. For a time I was surprised and dismayed that how people overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, who has so little in common with blue-collar folks. But then I realized that, like those blue-collar folks, Donald Trump has a how mentality and almost no concern for life's whys. Trump campaigned on being a pragmatist who would get things done. He had no patience for life's whys. 

I would argue that America's earliest presidents were why men more so than how men, and that's why our nation had such a strong foundation. Our founders were men of deliberation; they took their time to carefully calculate their decisions. These serious men spent nearly four months agonizing over every word of the Constitution that would guide this nation from that point on. Their resultant product might not have been perfect, but it was better than any other nation's founding document, before or since. The U.S. Constitution has kept this nation mostly peaceful and prosperous for centuries. And the times when our nation fell into internal strife and poverty were times when we strayed from the Constitution's principles.

We are now, I contend, in one of those perilous times. Our would-be-king and his loyal followers--made up largely of how people--are eroding constitutional principles and norms. ("Your phony emoluments clause," decries the president, for example.)

Time for Why Folks to Reassert Themselves

Our world needs how people. We need good, pragmatic people who keep the roads repaired and the buildings erected and the plumbing working properly. But we also need why people to think through decisions, to truly deliberate on matters that could lead to either success or ruin. In our nation's most crucial policymaking office, we need a why person. We need a why person who weighs decisions with great care and caution. 

As we approach the 2020 elections, I implore why people to take seriously their duty to this country to support fellow why people in their election bids. Yes, we need to get things done, but allowing a how person to rush into ill-considered decisions that often violate our well-thought-out Constitution has brought us to the brink of disaster. 

Why folks, assert yourselves. I don't need to tell you to do so prudently; you're why folks.

An Overflowing Basket

Donald Trump and his delusional followers are utterly shameless. As much as I dislike Hillary Clinton, she was correct to call the whole lot of them deplorable. To stoop so low as to try to portray a man who served his adopted nation honorably--even earning a purple heart in combat for us--as a spy, a deep-state plant, bent of bringing down their beloved leader is beyond disgusting. The man simply relayed what he heard on Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president. Read more at Army Veteran Says Attacks by Trump Allies on 'Wounded Warrior,' Purple Heart Recipient Vindman are 'Disgusting'

Our Genius President

General John Kelly was "a Great American and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration" when Trump announced he would be the new chief of staff back in 2017. Now, after daring to criticize the would-be-king, we learn that Kelly was "totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great president." 

Did someone in the White House really write that? It sounds like something written in Pyongyang about dear leader Kim. Not too surprising.

 

Another Must Read

Mona Cheren's "No Quid Pro Quo?" in National Review is an astute analysis. Please read it.

The Federalist's Squirrel Spotters

Hemingway and her Trumpist associates at The Federalist are "Squirrel!" spotters, repeatedly aiming to distract their readers from the truth of the gross corruption of the current president and his administration.

Over the last few years I've ghostwritten more than a few opinion pieces that were published in The Federalist. When I see now the shameless Trump mouthpiece that publication has become, I'm ashamed. When a client asks me to ghostwrite another piece for The Federalist, I suppose, as a matter of principle, I'll have to decline.

Here's an example of The Federalist's preposterous Trump defense. In GOP Has A Choice: Fight Anti-Trump Coup Effort Or Surrender Government To Democrats, Mollie Hemingway bizarrely claims that the Democrats' attempts to push Al Gore into the lead during 2000's hotly contested Florida vote count (remember the "hanging chads"?) is no different from the current ruckus over Adam Schiff's decision to restrict the preliminary impeachment investigations to only members of the investigating committees. The two cases are quite different. In the first situation, the Republicans had a legitimate complaint.

Regarding the current situation, Hemingway states, "Republicans have two choices for how to handle the Resistance's latest attempt to undo the 2016 election through dramatic means. They can sit there and take it, or they can fight it." Here's another choice, Ms. Hemingway: They can look objectively at the facts and admit that their savior is a charlatan. 

I'm fed up with the Trumpists' meritless mantra about efforts to "overturn the 2016 election." Our nation's founders included the impeachment process in the Constitution for times like these. The impeachment process is necessary because humans are flawed beings. And some humans are more flawed than others. Our current president is fundamentally flawed, and his words and actions dramatically display his profound flaws.

Most of today's Trumpists were, appropriately, impeachment champions two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was the subject of congressional scrutiny over his lies about the Lewinski affair. Back then, impeachment was not seen as an effort to overturn the 1996 election; it was a quest for truth and justice.

Furthermore, as I wrote in a previous post, 

These preliminary impeachment hearings are restricted to only committee members for the same reason grand jury hearings are held in confidence.

  • It encourages witnesses to speak freely and without fear of retaliation.
  • It protects the potential defendant's reputation in case the jury does not decide to indict.
  • It reduces the likelihood that witnesses will influence one another.

Hemingway also wrote, 

Years later--after the special counsel had stymied the Trump administration, fed the collusion conspiracy theory, rung up Trump associates for process crimes, and destroyed the lives and bank accounts of many Trump associates--the probe ended with not a single American, much less a single American tied to the Trump campaign, much less Trump himself, found to have colluded with Russia.

That entire paragraph is bullscat. Let's examine it:

  • Stymied the Trump administration:

During the Republicans' investigations and impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Clinton administration argued against the accusations, but it continued its work as usual. That Trump chose to spend most of his time in a Twitter war with his accusers rather than actually work was his choice.

  • rung up Trump associates for process crimes

Since when are process crimes inconsequential? Are we to assume that making false statements, obstruction of justice, contempt of court and perjury should be legalized?

  • destroyed the lives and bank accounts of many Trump associates

When one pays a price for violating a state's or the nation's laws, the government's prosecutors are not to blame.

  • the probe ended with not a single American, much less a single American tied to the Trump campaign, much less Trump himself, found to have colluded with Russia.

Utterly bogus. As I wrote in a previous post,

Whenever you hear or see President Trump trumpet his favorite mantra, "NO COLLUSION!," substitute the word SQUIRREL. "No Collusion" is merely a distraction, like "Squirrel!" in the Pixar movie "UP." It's the magician's assistant in the skimpy costume who takes your eyes off the magician just long enough for him to perform his sleight of hand.

Nearly daily for close to two years now, Trump has claimed, "NO COLLUSION!" Meanwhile, the Mueller investigation--as well as the Southern District of New York's investigation--has focused on conspiracy and obstruction of justice, not on collusion, which is not a crime.

Trump's refrains are akin to a rapist repeatedly boasting throughout his trial, "No adultery!" As reprehensible as adultery is, it does not violate our nation's laws. Rape, however, is a crime. 

So the fact that the Mueller team did not arrest Trump or any of his followers for "collusion" means nothing more than a district attorney not charging a rapist for committing adultery. 

So far I've read through just 30 pages of the unredacted portions of the Mueller report and I've already seen several cases that could be described as collusion with the Russians. But, again, collusion is not a crime. Let's wait for the larger justice system (not just the Justice Department led by Trump's hand-picked water-carrier, William Barr) to draw its conclusions about the possible crimes of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, about which the Mueller report specifically said Trump could not be exonerated--despite his many SQUIRREL diversions.

Hemingway and her Trumpist associates at The Federalist are "Squirrel!" spotters, repeatedly aiming to distract their readers from the truth of the gross corruption of the current president and his administration.

Where No President Has Gone Before

No previous president or president's legal counsel has ever before argued that a president is above the nation's laws, that a president can do whatever he wants and be immune from prosecution.

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Principles, the final obstacle. These are the machinations of the Trump administration. Its four-year mission: To explore bizarre new conspiracy theories, to seek out new ways to demolish historical norms and constitutional dictates, to boldly go where no president has gone before--into autocracy.

Just when we think President Trump and his toadies have reached the final frontiers of lawlessness and lunacy, they trot out a new, even more bizarre pronouncement or proposal. The latest comes from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, where Trump's lawyer, William Consovoy, argued that the president's legal immunity extends to the entire criminal justice process. In other words--regarding Trump's hypothetical claim that he could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters--as president, Trump really could get away with murder. 

The argument came within the context of an investigation into whether Trump or his company broke any state laws when they reimbursed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for making hush money payments. Remember that early in his presidential bid Trump promised to release his tax returns--as every nominee from either major party has done for decades. No surprise: he reneged. Only Trump's most loyal supporters believe he has nothing to hide in those tax records.

So, having exhausted all conventional arguments in their bid to keep those tax returns hidden from scrutiny, Trump's legal team now argues that, as president, he is above all the laws that govern all other Americans.

The courtroom exchange about that hypothetical murder on Fifth Avenue went, in part, like this:

Judge Denny Chin: "I'm talking about while in office. Nothing could be done [about the murder]? That's your position?" 

Attorney Consovoy: "That is correct." 

No previous president or president's legal counsel has ever before argued that a president is above the nation's laws, that a president can do whatever he wants and be immune from prosecution. But this is what we get from the would-be-king and his lackeys. 

Autocracy awaits.

Good for the Goose?

This short video (click on the photo to the left) shows Republican Representative Trey Gowdy--at the time chairman of the United States House Select Committee on Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi--escorting Republican Representative Darrell Issa out of the closed-door hearing on Benghazi. Issa was not a member of that select committee, so he was not allowed in. 

But, oh, how wrong it is for Adam Schiff and the Democrats to hold closed-door hearings on the Ukraine scandal now.

Trumpists need to start thinking beyond the moment. All these laws and norms they're breaking on behalf of their would-be-king leader will establish precedents that will haunt them when a Democrat is in the White House. 

Happy to Be "Human Scum"

But John Bellinger--and anyone else like him who opposes Trump-- is "human scum." Well, I can rest easier now; I'm in good company.

I can't recall ever labeling any other person or group of people scum. I do, however, remember on a few occasions--when I did or said something really egregious--calling myself scum. Well, I now have that assessment confirmed by no less authority than the President of the United States. I am scum. He said so yesterday, labeling "never-trumpers" "human scum."

I suppose I can take some solace in the knowledge that I am human scum, as opposed to pig scum or pond scum. 

What prompted Trump's declaration about never-trumpers? It ties back to the Ukraine scandal. The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine--Bill Taylor, whom Trump's Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, selected for the post--chose Republican lawyer John Bellinger, who vocally opposed Trump's candidacy in 2016, to represent him during the impeachment investigations. 

Bellinger earned his law degree at Harvard and a Master's degree in foreign affairs at the University of Virginia. He served on the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration and was closely associated with Condoleezza Rice, who is clearly not radical enough for Trump and his devout followers.

Has Bellinger ever mocked a disabled person? No record of such behavior exists. Has Bellinger ever bragged of grabbing women by their private parts? No record of such behavior exists. Has Bellinger ever had affairs with porn stars and Playboy bunnies? No record of such behavior exists. Has Bellinger ever paid off porn stars and Playboy bunnies to keep them quiet? No record of such behavior exists. Has Bellinger been caught telling 13,000 lies within the space of three years? No record of such behavior exists.

But John Bellinger--and anyone else like him who opposes Trump-- is "human scum."  Well, I can rest easier now; I'm in good company.

The Danger of Evangelical Groupthink

Thus we have the world's most-powerful nation held hostage by an ignorant, evil man and his ignorant, lazy followers.

After 46 years steeped in conservative evangelical Christianity--including earning a degree in biblical education, teaching numerous Sunday school classes, and writing and editing curricula for a major Bible study ministry--I'm confident I understand the evangelical world and how its inhabitants think and discern.

And I'm depressed.

My 46 years of experiences among evangelicals tell me that most of them really don't think or discern for themselves. Most merely regurgitate what their leaders tell them. A classic example of this groupthink is the whole notion of human beings burning in eternal hell. The Bible could not be clearer in stating that sinners die and cease to exist. (I have prepared a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation on this subject, so I will not go into further detail on the matter here.) Yet the vast majority of Christians--evangelicals included--believe the satanic lie about eternal conscious torment.

Most evangelicals claim to revere and follow--or at least try to follow--the Ten Commandments. But ask an evangelical to list the Ten Commandments and then observe the pained expression as that "Bible believer" struggles to get beyond two or three of those revered commandments. Somewhere along the way his pastor or Sunday school teacher told him he should memorize the Ten Commandments, so he tried, for a while. Then he moved on with life.

Now I have no concern about that believer's inability to recount every one of the Ten Commandments. God gave those Ten Commandments to Moses for the wilderness-era Israelites--not to Christians. (I have weeks-long series of lessons on this topic, so I will not go into further detail on the matter here.) But what does concern me is that this typical Christian claims to revere the Ten Commandments not because his deep, independent Bible study convinced him of that view, but because some leader told him he should.

One recent survey found that only about half of self-proclaimed evangelicals can name the four gospels. Many thought Sodom and Gomorrah were a biblical husband and wife. More than 80 percent though the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" is found in the Bible.

Sadly, a large percentage of self-proclaimed evangelical Christians are largely ignorant of the Bible they claim to love and respect. These same people also tend to be ignorant in general. They tend to be lazy, choosing to outsource their deep thinking to others. If their pastor tells them they should pray before every meal, they do so. If their pastor tells them only people who believe in Jesus and who strive to be good will enter heaven, then they try to be good.

And if their pastor tells them Donald Trump is leading a Christian revival in America and they must support him in this endeavor, they will give Mr. Trump their unwavering support, no matter what the man says or does.

Thus we have the world's most-powerful nation held hostage by an ignorant, evil man and his ignorant, lazy followers. Is it any wonder that evangelical Christianity is on the verge of total collapse?

Gaetz Crashers

Most, if not all, of the rabble-rousing Republican gate-crashers know better; they know why the hearings are restricted.

Today, October 23, Republican representative Matt Gaetz and some 30 other zealous Trumpist Republican House representatives stormed the closed-door Intelligence Committee hearings on the Ukraine scandal, demanding that the hearings be open to all.

Sounds egalitarian, right? Who doesn't want transparency? How about anyone involved in a grand jury hearing. These preliminary impeachment hearings are restricted to only committee members for the same reason grand jury hearings are held in confidence.

  • It encourages witnesses to speak freely and without fear of retaliation.
  • It protects the potential defendant's reputation in case the jury does not decide to indict.
  • It reduces the likelihood that witnesses will influence one another.

Most, if not all, of the rabble-rousing Republican gate-crashers know better; they know why the hearings are restricted. They also know, obviously, that several Republicans serve on the Intelligence Committee. Their grandstanding was meant to rile their less-educated followers. If those followers were to take the time to look back at the Benghazi hearings, they would see that Trey Gowdy and his Republican committee colleagues did exactly what Adam Schiff is doing now. 

But don't expect an end to such Trumpist grandstanding; Gaetz and his band of brown-nosers have no shame. And their blue-collar followers have no knowledge. Ignorance and theatrics rule the day.

When All Else Fails, Smear the Messenger

1. Donald Trump's hand-picked Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, asks Bill Taylor to come out of retirement and serve as America's ambassador to Ukraine.

2. Taylor agrees. And in that role, he sees actions taken by the State Department--and by a shadow State Department run largely by Rudy Giuliani-- that profoundly disturb him. He sees a clear quid pro quo deal with the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for the release of $400 million in military aid--approved by the U.S. Congress--to fight Russian invasions into Ukraine.

3. Taylor answers a legal congressional subpoena to testify before Congress about the matter outlined above. He does so, honestly, implicating the president.

4. No longer able to deny the quid pro quo--a denial which, by the way, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney already demolished--the White House then does as it does so often, it resorts to an ad hominem attack, labeling Taylor a "radical unelected bureaucrat waging war on the Constitution."

And still, white evangelicals stand by their man. Sickening. 

Repent, White Evangelicals

You will have to answer for your proud obstinacy. You will have to answer for your support of this ungodly man.

I'm still white; that's something that could not be easily changed. And I still believe nearly all the central tenants held by most evangelicals. So I guess I'm a white evangelical. But I'm part of the tiny 12 percent of white evangelicals who have not given their unfaltering loyalty to Donald Trump. 

And I'm angry--shoot, I'll use the vernacular; I'm pissed off--at the other 88 percent. Yes, I feel sorry for them, but I'm also flat out furious. The majority within virtually every other demographic in America opposes our bonkers incompetent president. Outside white evangelicalism, nearly everyone recognizes Donald Trump for the self-centered con man that he truly is. Were it not for white evangelicals, Trump would have been removed from office by now. Were it not for white evangelicals, Trump would not have been elected president. 

There's no point in going over in detail--again--how blatantly Donald Trump's life and words violate nearly every principle evangelicals have long said they held dear. White evangelicals support Trump not for who he is but for what he promised to give them. It was and is a business deal, a quid pro quo, plain and simple. You give us the religious freedom to live our lives as we want and we'll stand by you through thick and thin

So Trump can discriminate against people of color, insult people with disabilities, separate families, sell out our international allies and cozy up to our international adversaries, attack portions of the U.S. Constitution, and lie 13,000 times--and do it all with the nation's millions of white evangelicals giving him the cover he needs to keep most congressional Republicans cowering in fear.

You, white evangelicals, are keeping this monster in power. You, the ones who claim to have godly discernment, are the ones who have been duped by the biggest con ever perpetrated on our nation. And you, white evangelicals, are the ones who are too proud to admit your mistake.

Evangelical Christianity is supposed to have at its root the principles of humility and repentance. The entire evangelical experience begins with humble confession of one's sinful state: "I was wrong about Jesus and about my lifestyle." But now we see 88 percent of white evangelicals refusing to bend their knees and admit they were wrong about Donald Trump.

You will have to answer for your proud obstinacy. You will have to answer for your support of this ungodly man. Judgment is coming, white evangelicals. Repent!

Whose Interests Is Trump Pursuing?

Did the President of the United States really mean that he considers a portion of the United States Constitution phony?

"You people with this phony Emoluments Clause," President Trump said recently. Phony means "not real or genuine; fake; counterfeit." By calling the Emoluments Clause "phony," the President of the United States implied that the passage is either not really part of the U.S. Constitution or that the U.S. Constitution is itself "phony."

So, first, is the Emoluments Clause a genuine provision within the U.S. Constitution?

The emoluments clause, also called the foreign emoluments clause, is a provision of the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8) that generally prohibits federal officeholders from receiving any gift, payment, or other thing of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives. The clause provides that: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The Constitution also contains a "domestic emoluments clause" (Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 7), which prohibits the president from receiving any "Emolument" from the federal government or the states beyond "a   Compensation" for his "Services" as chief executive.            - Encyclopedia Britannica

So, yes, the Emoluments Clause is a genuine provision within the U.S. Constitution. That being the case, then what did President Trump mean when he called the Emoluments Clause "phony"? Logically, the only remaining answer is that he was referring to the Constitution--of which the Emoluments Clause is a key part--as "phony." 

However, logic rarely comes into play when our current president makes pronouncements. Donald J. Trump's statements typically are born out of emotion and whim rather than out of logic. So, when the scat hits the fan over this presidential outburst, his loyal follower-apologists will, as usual, tell the rest of us not to take him literally.

As I have written before, Donald Trump is not only devastating our communication processes, he's also wrecking our epistemological processes. Words no longer retain their original meanings; knowledge is becoming increasingly unattainable. Trump's statements often contradict themselves--frequently within hours of each other. Did one carry more weight than the other? Can either be taken literally--or even seriously?

Did the President of the United States really mean that he considers a portion of the United States Constitution phony? What are the nation's voters to make of his statement? Should we write it off--again--as "just Trump being Trump"? If he was serious, should we agree that a sitting President should be allowed to profit financially from his lofty office? 

Were our nation's founders being overly cautious in prohibiting such presidential conduct? Or do we have a rogue president who is more concerned with his own financial wellbeing than with the nation's integrity?

Another Must-Read

In a recent Time magazine article, David French wrote, "Throughout the 2016 presidential primaries and through the presidential campaign, those of us who were classified as 'Never Trump' or 'anti-Trump' conservatives repeated the same mantra, time and time again: Character is destiny. A man's temperament, knowledge, and integrity inevitably shape his conduct."

French is absolutely right. Read the full article here.

Beware the Bandwagon

Trump loyalist, it's too late for you to board the bandwagon in a graceful manner; you'll have to grab hold and hoist yourself up as it rumbles past.

"If you see a bandwagon, it's too late." - James Goldsmith

Trump supporters, the bandwagon is about to leave its wheel prints etched across your proud, stubborn, unrepentant bodies. It's already too late for you to offer up any reasonable excuses for your unyielding support of the most ignorant, arrogant, self-serving president in our nation's history. That ship has sailed. That horse fled the barn years ago. Pick your metaphor.

So now, with the dam having burst and ever more prominent Republican toadies breaking ranks with the whiner-in-chief, and ever more Trump violations and abuses coming to light, you have but two choices remaining: 1. Finally admit you were wrong to support Trump. Admit that you are not a good judge of character. Go ahead, confession is good for the soul. But confession also requires humility, and most Trump loyalists are much like their leader, who believes admission of a mistake is a sign of weakness. So you probably will choose number 2. You will go down with the sinking ship, railing at the horrid "deep state" that framed your beloved hero.

Folks, there is no "deep state." Your revered dear leader's Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, plainly admitted that. It was all just a ruse to keep your focus away from the true crimes perpetrated by your "chosen one." In making this choice to defend the indefensible, you will go down on the wrong side of history. That's what stubborn pride does to people.

I admit that I, too, was slow to see the bandwagon's approach. It isn't that I ever supported Trump. Not even close. But I expected the Senate's Republican rats to go down with the sinking ship. I predicted that the House would vote to impeach President Trump, but I was convinced the Republican-controlled Senate would not convict him. It now appears that the latter half of that prediction was wrong. More and more Republican senators are signaling their willingness to break with Trump. They have little choice; the evidence of the man's corruption, lies, and lawlessness is overwhelming. So, finally, they are hopping onto the bandwagon as it careens down the path toward Donald Trump's demise.

Trump loyalist, it's too late for you to board the bandwagon in a graceful manner; you'll have to grab hold and hoist yourself up as it rumbles past. Doing so might be tricky and look undignified, but it's better than being trampled. Jettison your pride before it's too late.

A Must Read

"The betrayal won't stop with the Kurds. Every individual, every institution, every government agency, and every American ally could meet a similar fate. Donald Trump's loyalty runs exactly as deep to his fellow citizens, the rule of law, the Constitution, America's best traditions, and traditional codes of honor and decency as it does to his previous wives, to his former aides, and to those he has done business with."

An excerpt from "Trump Betrayed the Kurds. He Couldn't Help Himself," in The Atlantic. Read the full article.

They Cannot Be Reached Now

I am convinced beyond all doubt that a cult of Trumpism exists and that it has captured millions, including many dear to me.

In 2008, conservatives ridiculed the Left for its adulation of Barack Obama, only to succumb to their own cult of personality eight years later. - Charlie Sykes

I want to perform an intervention to free my cultist friends and family members, but the numbers are not in my favor. It's nearly impossible for one person to convince dozens that they've given themselves over to a cult leader. I've been trying for years now, and I won't give up, but I'm losing hope.

Yes, I am convinced that many people dear to me have become Trump cultists. No, I am not employing hyperbole. I mean they have literally become cultists. 

Psychiatrist Robert Lifton states that "Cults can be identified by three characteristics:

  • a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power;
  • coercive persuasion or thought reform;
  • economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie."[1]

Let's examine each of those three characteristics as they relate to President Trump's intractable supporters:

· a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries Donald Trump bullied his way past 16 rivals, all of whom had superior Republican credentials in the historic sense of the term Republican. Trump was a registered Republican from 1987 through 1999, when he joined the Independence Party. Two years later, he registered as a Democrat. Eight years later, he rejoined the GOP, but left it again in 2011, only to return again in 2012, just in time to mount a halfhearted bid for the presidency.

Throughout the 2016 primaries, while Trump's many GOP opponents sought to promote their nuanced version of traditional conservative Republican values, Trump made no such overtures. Instead, he focused on disparaging the "others," (recall his announcement speech in which he labeled Latinos as rapists and gang members). The others also included his political rivals. He rarely challenged their policies or proposals. Instead, he mocked their physical appearance (for example, "little Marco" and slighting Carla Fiorina's face) or labeled them with childish monikers, such as "lyin' Ted."

On the rare occasions when Trump did refer to some type of policy issue, it was through the lens of populism rather than conservatism. 

The Grand Old Party has strayed far from its long-held conservative principles; GOP now stands for Given Over to Populism. And, clearly, that capitulation to populism was driven almost entirely out of devotion to Donald J. Trump, who has become that object of his followers' worship. For those who would question that claim, I offer the following evidence:

  • "'What you are seeing is regicide. This is regicide by another name, fake impeachment. The Democrats in the House want to destroy the president, they don't want to preserve the republic,' DeGenova [attorney and Trump supporter] said."[2]
  • Regicide means murder of a king.
  • "The President of the United States is in great danger of losing the mandate of Heaven if he permits this to happen." - Pat Robertson, televangelist
  • "God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un" - Pastor Robert Jeffress
  • Of course, that was before Trump "fell in love" with Kim, following Kim's fawning letters to Trump.
  • "[They] love him like he's the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God." - Wayne Allen Root, talkshow host
  • "I am the chosen one." "I alone can fix it." "...in my great and unmatched wisdom." - Donald Trump

· Coercive persuasion or thought reform.

"There's a kind of charismatic leader who is an authoritarian bully who rules by coercion. I think you have to look at the effect of Trump's behavior and language on his base. He readily ridicules and chastises people. He readily pushes people aside if they're not worshiping him. We've all seen the videos of his aides praising him to high heaven. That's the kind of adulation cult leaders expect and demand."[3]

· economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Most of Trump's most-loyal supporters are middle-income, older white folks. Here's how Trump's tax cuts affected them. "A household earning $1 million or more would get an average cut of $69,660, an income bump of 3.3 percent. Compare that with the tax cut of $870, or 1.6 percent, for the average household earning $50,000 to $75,000."[4] And to pay for that $870 tax cut comes reduced services that would have been far more likely to benefit them than those getting that nearly $70,000 tax cut. So, who is exploiting whom? But the exploited class is too enthralled by their Messiah to accept the truth.

I am convinced beyond all doubt that a cult of Trumpism exists and that it has captured millions, including many dear to me. I still hope to convince them to escape it, but I fear it might be too late. As Jack Holmes wrote in his recent Esquire piece, "All the while, he [Trump] will drag his supporters deeper and deeper into the abyss. They cannot be reached now, only stopped."[5] 

[1] https://cultnews.com/2010/12/cult-deprogramming-an-examination-of-the-intervention-process/ 

[2] https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-lawyer-compares-whistleblowers-to-political-suicide-bombers-2019-10/ 

[3] https://psmag.com/news/a-sociologist-explains-the-similarities-between-cults-and-trumps-gop

[4] https://www.npr.org/2017/12/19/571754894/charts-see-how-much-of-gop-tax-cuts-will-go-to-the-middle-class 

[5] https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/trumps-minneapolis-rally-demonstration-moral-145900190.html

 I Am Dutifully Depressed--And Ready To Speak

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."            - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I've reached the age at which I'm making several doctor visits per year. And in those fairly frequent doctor visits I've noticed a change in the admissions procedure. Before the doctor enters the exam room, the nurse asks a series of health-related question--many of them unrelated to the specific ailment about to be addressed. 

When the nurse asks how I'd rate my overall health on a scale from excellent to poor, I always feel the need to qualify my answer: "Very good for a guy my age." If I'd felt like this when I was 30 I'd have had to answer, "Poor--perhaps approaching death." Aging necessarily changes one's perspective.

Some might assume my advanced age has affected my answer to one of the other now-routine nurse questions: "Are you now or have you recently felt depressed?" On my most recent doctor visit, for the first time ever, I answered that question with a yes. And I'm pretty sure that answer has nothing to do with my age. It has everything to do with the state of our nation--and, specifically, with the intractable fealty many of my family members and once-closest friends now convey to the most ignorant, arrogant, self-absorbed president this nation has ever elected.

Those family members and friends are all self-proclaimed evangelicals, and nearly all of them white evangelicals. And it is because of, not despite, their evangelical beliefs that they voted for Donald Trump and still award him their undying loyalty. 

Donald Trump--a man who throughout his life boasted of his immorality, who has repeatedly mocked people he dislikes, and who has been caught in more lies than all his predecessors combined--would not have won the presidency without the overwhelming support he got from white evangelicals. Nor would he have managed to hang onto the office this long without their continued backing.

The very people who should be most concerned with the concept of justice for all--a key phrase from the Pledge of Allegiance they claim to revere--seem to be more concerned with maintaining their political influence and with avoiding admission of the fact that they fell for the rantings of a con man.

In other words, the cohort whose key creed is the need for repentance now refuses to repent over their misjudgment of a man who spends most of his Oval Office time tweeting out childish, (often misspelled) taunts and invectives against anyone who dares to contradict or question his "unmatched wisdom." After all, he is "the chosen one," the stable genius" who entered his lofty office claiming to have more knowledge of military affairs than the current military generals.

Again, we see the very people who should be the most troubled by such grandiose pride are the ones most captivated by it. Cult-like, they hang on his every word. They dutifully accept his wild assertion that the institution the nation has long counted on to keep politicians honest is "the enemy of the people," and that they must believe whatever he says, despite what evidence clearly states.

And, even sadder for me, are those who recognize the gross deficiencies of the man at the top of our government but who don't want to rock the boat. Many of them say they pray for the president and for the nation. Doing or saying anything more would be, in their estimation, causing unnecessary division.

Too late. America is already dangerously divided. And we dare not be unified behind a mad man. But these pious souls truly believe they are obeying Scripture by maintaining their silence as the world approaches an apocalyptic crisis. One of them--one very dear to me--says I need to get over my obsession with ending Trump's reign, it's robbing me of my joy. To that person and those who would agree with that assertion, I remind them of Solomon's well-known poem from Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

We are in a time to weep and mourn, and, especially, to speak. 

Yes, I am depressed. But I'm also energized to speak out. I hope you are too.

The Perfect Phone Call the Public Must Not Hear

Why is the President so desperate to keep his "absolutely perfect" phone call hidden?

Trumpists: Trump will not always be president (sorry to break it to you). If he gets away with this stonewalling, the precedent will be set for future presidents--including for the libs you hate.

But, sadly, most of you, like your shortsighted leader, cannot or will not look beyond the moment you now occupy.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Populists have elevated--and now celebrate--ignorance in our nation's highest office.

I'm not a professional painter, and I don't play one on TV. Even so, I've done my share of painting over the years. And one thing every experienced painter--professional or amateur--knows is the problem associated with trying to complete detail work with a wide brush. It's precisely why we have the generalized idiom about painting with a broad brush.

As I read John Fund's October 6 National Review article "The Longer Elites Ignore Populist Outcries, the More They'll Be Surprised," I could see the broad-brush smears he'd slopped onto the wood trim bordering the wall. No, not that wall.

Fund begins his commentary with this lead: "It's been three years since the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump sent shock waves throughout the world." Following that lead, Fund then takes to task European liberal elites who "have little connection to many of the people they purport to represent." As if wealthy conservative politicians have splendid simpatico with their low-income constituents. 

The implication throughout Fund's essay is that liberal leaders are elitists because they are highly educated. If having a college degree makes one an out-of-touch elite, then Fund--who has degrees in economics and journalism--just painted himself as a member of that aloof elite class. See how that broad brush smears, Mr. Fund?

I have nothing against John Fund; he's probably a good man with good intentions. But by beginning his piece with a reference to Donald Trump--who is never again referred to throughout the article--Fund tied Trump to the well-meaning souls who are resisting the "elitist" agendas with their misguided populism. 

The general theme of Fund's piece is that liberal elites have brought the populist uprising upon themselves by their callous disregard for the needs and desires of average working folks. On that theme I can agree with him--to a degree. I cannot agree, however, that Donald Trump is the true working-man's champion righting all the wrongs inflicted upon average Joes and Janes.

And that's where the paint can easily begin to splatter over onto the fine wood trim. 

First, we should note that Donald Trump is neither a true populist nor a true conservative. The man wavers between the two philosophies like a dog offered a taste test between fresh chicken and fresh lamb. President Trump has no solid, principled worldview; his primary motivation is promoting himself. So let's reconsider the reference to him as we consider the populist movement.

Next, we need to consider Fund's implication that education leads to elitism, which in turn insulates liberal politicians from their constituents. I am not a political liberal. But I feel I must defend them here. 

Liberal politicians have a large share of loyal followers from among the lower-educated and lower-income. Those blue-collar liberals are just as likely to feel overlooked by conservative "elites" as blue-collar conservatives feel disregarded by liberal "elites." Fund's argument here needs more nuance--finer brush strokes.

We also need to consider the broader implications regarding education. Yes, common folks on both sides of the political spectrum often feel forgotten by their elected representatives. When they express those frustrations, typically it is as disdain for what they see as overly-educated elites. 

But if education is the source of our cultural woes, then, by implication, ignorance is the solution to those problems. Is that where our nation needs to go?

Do you want the bus driver from across the street performing that root canal on your aching molar? Do you want the McDonald's burger maker repairing the fuel-injection system on your Camry? Do you want the parking-lot attendant piloting your Airbus at 30,000 feet?

Education is a blessing, not a curse. Yes, populists might have some legitimate concerns about educated elitists making too many decisions for them. But I'm confident they're better off under the guidance of educated political "elitists" than under the bumblings of an ignoramus who, until recently, didn't know that Puerto Rico is an island or that it is a U.S. territory.

Populists have elevated--and now celebrate--ignorance in our nation's highest office. Yes, politicians need to note populists' concerns, but they must take great care in addressing those concerns. Like Fund, most populists are painting their grievances--and their ideas for solutions to those grievances--with a sloppy broad brush.

Civil War Is Coming

Somehow, this fat, hair-sprayed, suit-wearing, teetotaling, longtime New York Democrat--who would be utterly out of place in a downtown tavern or suburban Elks Lodge--has captured the undying loyalty of America's Archie Bunker class.

Shortly after Donald Trump won the presidency in late 2016 I posted on Facebook--a forum I have since abandoned--that the USA was headed for a civil war. The few FB friends who responded to that post said I was being overly dramatic. 

Now that President Trump has made the same prediction, I wonder what those Trump-supporting naysayers are thinking about that horrible probability. 

Way back in late 2016 I wrote that the Democrats would retake the House of Representatives in 2018 and that following that, at some point, they would begin impeachment proceedings. I added that the Republican-controlled Senate would not vote to convict Trump. Then, I said, Trump would lose in 2020, and, not surprisingly, Trump would call the election rigged. His loyal followers, I said, would then begin rioting on social media and in the streets. That would be followed by police interventions, which would fan the flames of Trump-supporters' anger. The revolts would soon escalate to an all-out civil war. Nearly three years later I stand by that prediction.

I understand the anger and frustration of my many Trump-supporting friends and family members. They feel that the election and re-election of Barrack Obama represented a turning point in America. The nation--long embroiled in a struggle over traditional values versus unbridled progressivism--had made a sharp left turn. The nation, in their view, needed to right itself--metaphorically and literally. 

So when Donald Trump entered the Republican primary, the beer-guzzling blue-collar crowd of self-professed patriots hung on every word of his anti-Obama and anti-Hillary diatribes. Trump didn't need to have any real policy experience or any demonstrably effective ideas. He won his supporters simply by being the most vitriolic anti-lib. 

Even now, after nearly three years of accomplishing next to nothing while he rails at his enemies through his innumerable Tweets, his base worships him as a "fighter."

Somehow, this fat, hair-sprayed, suit-wearing, teetotaling, longtime New York Democrat--who would be utterly out of place in a downtown tavern or suburban Elks Lodge--has captured the undying loyalty of America's Archie Bunker class. The dynamics of that fact still defy logic. But logic has no place in Trumpland. Neither does compromise with the "other side."

So, when the other side wins the 2020 presidential election and Trump declares the election rigged, the stage will be set. Civil war is coming to the USA.

Tired of Winning Yet?

Americans think they love winners. But the sad fact is that too many Americans--including Trump-converts--can't distinguish between a winner and a braggart.

Americans love winners, real or perceived. Donald Trump parlayed his self-portrayal as a winner right into the White House. Never mind his six bankruptcies and many failed business ventures. He's a multi-billionaire winner, and for evidence we have ... well, we have his word: "Believe me!"

As evidence of Americans' love for winners, one need look no further than the scores of election-era prominent never-Trumpers who morphed into Trump disciples at about 2:31 a.m. Eastern time on November 9, 2016. 

As cited in a recent New York Times article, prior to Trump's victory, never-Trumper Erick Erickson called Trump a racist and a fascist and said he would never vote for Trump. Now Erickson genuflects at the Donald's shadow. Glen Beck called Trump "an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity." Beck has since become an avid Trump supporter and uses his The Blaze radio and TV stations to defend Trump's every word and action. Before the election, Senator Lindsey Graham called Trump a racist and a jackass and said he was unfit for office. Now Graham can find no fault in his new guru. 

The Times article lists several more prominent converts. I can think of many of my friends, acquaintances, and family members who fall into that Trump-convert category. I've asked them why they converted. Clearly the man has not changed. He's still the same ignorant, arrogant, braggadocios, self-absorbed man-child he was when they opposed him. The two answers I hear most frequently are 1. He's better than Hillary 2. He's a fighter.

Let's examine those answers:

  • He's better than Hillary. That's a pretty low standard. Let's exalt a man because he's better than a person we despise. Drowning is better than being burned at the stake, so let's declare a "Celebrate Drowning Day." Let's honor Idi Amin because he murdered just a few hundred thousand people, and that's much better than Josef Stalin, who murdered tens of millions. And, really, three years later, that's still your argument for Trump? That's your best defense?
  • He's a fighter: Rockin' Robin Deakin is a fighter. He's won one fight in his pro career. He's lost scores, 12 of them by knockout. Donald Trump, who claims to be a winner, might be a fighter, but he is not a winner. He campaigned on building a "big, beautiful wall" along our nation's southern border to keep out the imaginary hordes of Latino rapists and murders invading America. And Mexico would pay for the wall. Nearly three years later, only a few miles of already-existing fences have been repaired--and Mexico has not paid one cent. Instead, Trump diverted millions from the defense budget to pay for those repairs. Those diverted millions would have paid for improved military housing and for childcare for military families. Trump has accomplished few of his many campaign promises. Donald Trump is the politician's version of Rockin' Robin Deakin.

During his presidential campaign Donald Trump boasted to his adoring crowds that they would win so much they'd grow tired of winning. I'd ask those loyal followers to go back and examine the score card, round by round. Where have you won? Please tell me. 

Americans think they love winners. But the sad fact is that too many Americans--including Trump-converts--can't distinguish between a winner and a braggart.

On the Road to Thunderdome

Either stand up for truth or start stockpiling your food and weapons and prepare for the Mad Max era.

"Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of the man who can fabricate it." - Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

How does one even begin to assess the damage done by more than 12,000 lies and/or blatantly false statements told by the man occupying the most-powerful position on the planet? A lying politician shocks on one. As Cal Thomas astutely noted, "One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician's objective. Election and power are." But our current president has taken official mendacity to a new level. Is this gross corruption the new normal?

For several years now we've heard references to ours being a post-truth society. Few if any would contest that assessment. So if nearly everyone agrees that our society has rejected the need for truth, can we not also agree to work together to remedy this cultural failing? That's unlikely, and here's why.

America Is Irreparably Divided 

A 2016 Gallup poll found that 77 percent of Americans see the nation as being "greatly divided."[1] A 2014 Pew survey found that liberals had become increasingly consistently liberal and conservatives had become increasingly consistently conservative. The middle ground has become a sparsely populated desert. And since the 2016 elections it's only gotten worse. Why?

As many have observed, America has become unreservedly tribal, and most Americans now see truth only through their tribe's lens. For most Americans truth is no longer objective and independent of beliefs. For most Americans, truth is whatever their Facebook friends and their agreed-upon leaders and sources tell them it is. The notion that one's chosen tribe might be wrong or that the other tribe might have a meritorious proposal is anathema to today's tribalistic Americans. 

So, perhaps as never before, Americans have become susceptible to the bloviations and blusterings of unscrupulous politicians.

Enter Donald Trump

Our current chief prevaricator began his ascendance to the oval office with some wild whoppers. 

  • Barrack Obama was not a U.S. citizen.
  • He couldn't release his tax returns because they were under an IRS audit.
  • Mexico will pay for his "beautiful" border wall.
  • The "stop and frisk" program was not unconstitutional and crime rose after it was stopped.

That list of demonstrably false statements could go on and on. And then, immediately upon taking office, Trump sent his poor, whipped lapdog of a press secretary out to proclaim that his inauguration had "the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe." Easily obtainable aerial photos show that statement to be laughable. 

Yet now, some 12,000 lies later, President Trump's loyal tribe members continue to believe anything and everything he tells them. For example:

  • El Paso, Texas, is one of America's safest cities because of the border wall.
  • First, there is no wall along El Paso's southern border, only a fence. And, second, El Paso was, statistically, one of America's safest cities before the fence was erected.
  • "Yesterday we had the strongest dollar in the history of our country."
  • According to the U.S. Dollar Index, between December 2016 to March 2017, and it was stronger still between late 1999 and early 2003. The dollar was at its peak historical strength during portions of the early to mid 1980s.[2]
  • U.S. farmers are receiving $16 billion "out of the tariffs that we've gotten from China."
  • The International Monetary Fund reported in May that tariffs imposed on China have "been borne almost entirely by U.S. importers." Those businesses, of course, often pass costs on to consumers. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimated in May that the round of tariffs imposed then on U.S. imports from China would cost the typical household $831 per year.[3]
  • "Longstanding whistleblower rules (were changed) just before submittal of the fake whistleblower report."
  • The current rules have been in place since 2014. Whistleblowers can provide either first or second-hand information, or both. The current whistleblower filled out a form that dates from May 2018. Whatever changes existed on that form date from 14 months before the present claim was filed.[4]

Again, the list could go on and on. The crucial point is that, as never before, truth--which forms our epistemological foundation--is losing its value. Without truth as our epistemological foundation, knowledge will be unattainable. If we lose our epistemological foundation, we will--I guarantee--enter a new dark age that will rival the darkest dystopian movie you've ever seen. 

Either stand up for truth or start stockpiling your food and weapons and prepare for the Mad Max era.

[1] https://news.gallup.com/poll/197828/record-high-americans-perceive-nation-divided.aspx

[2] https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2019/aug/22/donald-trump/donald-trump-incorrect-us-dollar-strongest-its-eve/

[3] https://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2019/aug/02/donald-trump/no-china-not-paying-us-farmers-16b-through-tariffs/ 

[4] https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2019/oct/01/donald-trump/donald-trumps-false-claim-about-change-whistleblow/ 

Loyalty Trumps Logic in Trumpland

Questioning his royal rule and sovereign statements would be blasphemy. Or it might be the first step toward freedom and a return to sanity.

What do James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Don McGahn, John Kelly, Dan Coats, Admiral Mike Rogers, Rex Tillerson, Rod Rosenstein, Kirstjen Nielsen, General James Mattis, Susan Gordon, John Bolton, Tom Bossert, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, Anthony Scaramucci, and Michael Cohen have in common? At one time Donald Trump praised each of them. They were, in his estimation, the best of the best. Now, after each dared to contradict him, contest one of his statements, or in some other way cross him, they're all lousy traitors.

That is not just Trump's assessment of them; that sentiment is shared by Trump's loyal followers. One's worth is measured almost entirely by how he or she relates to the cult leader, Donald J. Trump. Typical of cultists in general, Trump cultists have shown themselves happy to accept fantasies and bizarre conspiracy theories while dismissing plain, verifiable, objective facts.

Most of them--like most of their elected Republican Congress members--have not read one page of Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, which documents 10 episodes of the U.S. President attempting to obstruct that investigation. But, zombie-like, they parrot their leader's refrain, "No collusion, no obstruction."

Most of them have not read the whistleblower's report on President Trump's attempts to enlist the aid of a foreign leader in gathering dirt on the man he expected to be his opponent in the 2020 election. But, zombie-like, they support their chieftain's contradictory assertions that the whistleblower is a partisan hack out to get him and that the person needs to be identified. (How can they know the unidentified person is a partisan hack?) But that's the nature of a cult. Loyalty trumps logic in Trumpland.

So disregard the absurdity of dozens of once good people suddenly turning into traitors. Suppress your logic that tells you all those other people can't be wrong. Double-down on your loyalty to the monarch. Questioning his royal rule and sovereign statements would be blasphemy. Or it might be the first step toward freedom and a return to sanity.

The Naissance of Neophytes

So now, despite volumes of unequivocal evidence of his lawless deeds during the campaign and in office, this most-corrupt American president ever just might elude justice.

I really want to read Tom Nichols' book The Death of Expertise. I haven't done so yet because I can't afford it. And I can't afford it because of the death of expertise. I'll explain.

I spent tens of thousands of dollars and many years in college learning the writing and editing trade, which then qualified me to spend much of my adult life as a professional writer and editor. I worked at newspapers and wrote and edited for some of the largest book publishers and Christian ministries in the world. But I aged (it happens to everyone) and was laid off from my last regular editing job at age 61.

Following that layoff I found a few possibilities--and subsequent offers--for editing positions, but none that would fit my family's needs. So I sought to expand my small freelance editing business. That effort, however, coincided with the rapidly expanding self-publishing industry. My plan was doomed to failure. So now I drive a bus. Really.

Who Needs an Editor?

In the old days, when a novice writer wanted to get a book published, typically he or she would send his or her manuscript to a publisher. If the publisher saw merit--and potential profitability--in such a book, he likely would advise the novice to hire an editor to polish the manuscript and send it back upon completion. That's where I--or one of tens of thousands of other freelance editors--came in. In those good old days I edited or ghostwrote scores of books. Not any longer.

Now when that novice writer wants to get a book published, she spends an hour or two learning how to upload her manuscript to Amazon Kindle or a similar e-publishing site, and just like that she's a published author. Who needs the costly and time-consuming services of a trained, professional editor? Who needs an expert?

As Nichols wrote in the (free) online magazine article that served as the basis for the book I can't afford,

I fear we are witnessing the "death of expertise": a Google-fueled, Wikipedia-based, blog-sodden collapse of any division between professionals and laymen, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers-in other words, between those of any achievement in an area and those with none at all. By this, I do not mean the death of actual expertise, the knowledge of specific things that sets some people apart from others in various areas. There will always be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other specialists in various fields. Rather, what I fear has died is any acknowledgement of expertise as anything that should alter our thoughts or change the way we live.[1]

Who Needs Political Expertise?

I have accepted that now, at age 65, my writing-and-editing career is over. It's almost time to retire anyway. But I cannot quietly accept the larger implications of this death of expertise--particularly as it pertains to public policy. (One of my previous editing jobs was in a public policy setting.) Public policy might sound to most people like a real snoozer, but it's essentially a synonym for politics, which profoundly affect almost every aspect of our daily lives.

But in this age that largely eschews expertise, we now have a majority of the electorate--from both sides of the political aisle, but more so on the right--who disdain experts. The 2016 Republican presidential primary race attracted 17 entrants. All but two of those 17 had extensive political experience--one might correctly call them public policy experts. The 15 experts bored the voters with deep, meaningful policy discussions about crucial issues. One of the two novices tried to keep pace with the 15 experts on their turf. His inexperience became obvious and he dropped out to support the other novice.

That other novice, Donald Trump, pumped up ever-growing crowds of simple, hard-working folks (mostly white) by--ironically--convincing them he was one of them. However, the only characteristic they had in common was their disregard for deep knowledge.

So this simpleton wowed the crowds with simple, trivial phrases like "Make America Great Again," and by warning them about the dangers of elitists (the well-educated) and about others who might threaten the established way of life (whatever that might be).

And it worked. Against all odds, this nitwit neophyte won over enough other neophytes to capture enough electoral college delegates to win the election. America's new president was a man whose greatest accomplishments were hosting a goofy reality TV show, bankrupting six businesses, and--by his own braggadocios reckoning--bedding more women than the Serta mattress company.

This new president didn't really win his followers' minds; they'd already chosen emotions over reason. He won their hearts. Their devotion is without reservation; it is as close to absolute as anything I've ever witnessed. It was no hyperbolic boast when he declared he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not see a dip in approval from his loyal supporters.

So now, despite volumes of unequivocal evidence of his lawless deeds during the campaign and in office, this most-corrupt American president ever just might elude justice. His loyal followers who refuse to give any quarter to legal experts will fight to the death--perhaps literally as well as metaphorically--to keep the chump-in chief in power.

That's what we get with the death of expertise and the naissance of neophytes.


[1] https://thefederalist.com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/


The Republican Party Is Going Down With Trump

If Trump won he would so tarnish the Republican brand that it would be at least a dozen years before the nation would even begin to consider electing another Republican.

In The Nation, Joan Walsh wrote, "The Republican Party Is Going Down With Trump."

I predicted this when Trump won the Republican nomination. I said that as bad as a Hillary presidency would be, after her four years (she would not be re-elected), the nation would rebound and elect a sane Republican. But if Trump won he would so tarnish the Republican brand that it would be at least a dozen years before the nation would even begin to consider electing another Republican. I still stand by that assessment. 

But, worse yet, as I also predicted, evangelical Christianity (particularly white churches) would be horribly--perhaps irreparably--damaged by its unwavering support of Trump. I still stand by that assessment also.

I know Trump and his allies are--no surprise--painting this latest scandal as "another witch hunt," but look at the facts:

  1. The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly (bipartisan) voted to send hundreds of millions in aid to Ukraine because Trump's pal Vladimir Putin was sending his troops to annex parts of that sovereign country.
  2. Trump told Mick Mulvaney to wait to send the money.
  3. Trump called the Ukrainian president and, during the conversation, said he has not seen "reciprocity" for all the good things the U.S. has done for Ukraine. Then he asked the president for "a favor." He wanted the president to "look into" the Hunter Biden issue--and to any ties Joe Biden might have. (Never mind that the Ukrainian government had already found no legal wrongdoing by the Bidens.)
  4. When administration officials learned of the phone call they immediately had the records of it moved to a "top-security" storage site even though the call did not contain any top-secret information. (They knew it was incriminating.)
  5. Only after pressure from Congress did Trump allow the congressionally-approved funds to be sent to Ukraine.

Trump and his allies protest that "there was no quid pro quo." 1. A quid pro quo is not necessary to prove the president's guilt. 2. Saying there was no quid pro quo is as disingenuous as Bill Clinton's parsing of the word is during Monicagate. One Fox anchor argued that President Trump never asked the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens. Come on, he asked him to "look into" the issue. What does investigate mean? It means look into.

The author of the article is right, Trump will go down, and he'll take the Republican Party with him. Look again at the article: He's already trying to shift the blame to Mike Pence.

Yes, I Admit Being A Megalophobe 

A coddled narcissist eventually becomes a monster, a megalomaniac, that turns on its backers.

I'm done. I've had enough of being politically correct. It's time to come out of the closet and admit to the whole world that I am a megalophobe. I fear, distrust, and, dare I say it, loathe megalomaniacs. I understand that in today's populist culture I'm supposed to celebrate and honor narcissists--especially the Narcissist-in-Chief, but I won't. 

I'm well aware of what the NiC's minions argue: megalomania is genetic; it's not a choice. But I don't buy it. I'm convinced that megalomania is nurtured; it's the result of enablers routinely indulging the subject's every whim and every misdeed. Coddle me once, shame on you. Coddle me repeatedly and I'll blame, frame, and maim you.

The current crop of enablers has yet to learn what the former enablers learned the hard way: a coddled narcissist eventually becomes a monster, a megalomaniac, that turns on its backers. The grave danger in repeatedly overlooking ever-escalating infractions and indulging wayward whims is that the object of those absolutions and indulgences wants and expects more. Eventually his transgressions exceed even the forbearance of his most loyal sycophants. And then, when they dare to speak up, they become expendable (see Michael Flynn, Sean Spicer, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, Omarosa Manigault-Newman, Anthony Scaramucci, H.R. McMaster, et al). 

So, I now ask my fellow megalophobic Americans to join me in saying no to political correctness and to speak out boldly against megalomania. It's okay; we can support one another in this crusade.

Whatever Is Might Be Wrong

If Alexander Pope was correct in asserting that "whatever is, is right," then abandon all laws and mores.

America is led by a dangerous, petulant man-child. That in itself is problematic. But making matters much worse is the obvious fact that self-professed evangelical Christians, mostly white, are largely responsible for this man's ascendance--and for his continuation in the world's most powerful office. 

I will not elaborate on Donald Trump's long list of flaws. Everyone knows of his proud philandering, of his aversion to learning, of his childish name-calling and crude language, of his disregard for the truth ... and the list could go on.

But, sadly, many evangelicals praise him for being this vulgar anti-hero. As they see it, we had nice guys in the White House and they failed to produce the right results. So we needed a rabble-rouser to shake things up and give them what they wanted. Character flaws are excusable; failure to produce is unpardonable--unless, of course, the ineffectiveness is tied to the newly adopted cult leader. But that's a topic for another piece.

Despite my best efforts I've been unable to budge any of these die-hard Trump cultists. I shouldn't be surprised; that's the nature of cults. Cultists sell themselves unreservedly to their cult leader.

There is, however, a subset of evangelicals I still hope to enlighten regarding this sorrowful state of affairs. These evangelicals are different from the first group in that their Christian commitment is much deeper. They are more than cultural Christians. I'll refer to them as authentics. Many of them were opposed to Trump prior to his election. They were appalled by his vulgar speech and coarse behavior. 

But when Trump surprised most of the world--apart from his most-loyal followers--by winning the electoral vote, many of these authentics did an about-face. Donald Trump--formerly the foul-mouthed philanderer--was transformed into God's chosen vessel.

Their epiphany was the result of their imprecise biblical hermeneutic (although I doubt most of them have any idea of what a hermeneutic is). Their fuzzy understanding of Scripture leads them to believe that God is the Master Puppeteer who directs all world events. When a tsunami kills hundreds of thousands of people and decimates entire coastal cities, God did it for a reason that mere humans cannot understand. Same goes for famines, pestilences, and wars. To argue otherwise is, in their view, to deprive God of His sovereign power.

Likewise, authentics believe God places leaders in power, and to challenge a leader is to challenge God Himself. So, based on that reasoning, Donald Trump is God's chosen vessel to lead our nation. We must support him; it's God's will.

The first obvious flaw in that calculation is that it makes God responsible for all the evils throughout the world's history. God enthroned the Roman emperors who persecuted the early Christians. God gave power to Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, and history's many other evil despots. God, then is responsible for the multiplied millions--perhaps billions--those wicked tyrants murdered.

The even-more crucial flaw is in their interpretation (hermeneutic) of the Bible they say they love and follow. 

The crucial question is this: Does the Bible teach that God controls all that happens within His creation? At least two passages argue otherwise:

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." - Genesis 1:26-28 

God gave dominion over the earth to humans. It's plain as day. However...

To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,'

"Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 

It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." - Genesis 3:17-19

As a result...

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. - 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Yes, Satan is the God of this world. We gave the devil that power. Now it's up to us to resist the devil. It's up to us to discern good from evil. It's up to us to call out evil when we see it. It's up to us to do as the Torah's true prophets did, as John the Baptist did, and as Jesus did: We must stand up to ungodly leaders. We must understand that the God of this world will often find ways to empower ungodly people. We must understand that some leaders are just plain bad.

The great 18th-century poet Alexander Pope wrote, 

Cease then, nor Order imperfection name:

Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.

Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree

Of blindness, weakness, Heav'n bestows on thee.

Submit.-In this, or any other sphere,

Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:

Safe in the hand of one disposing Pow'r,

Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.

All Nature is but art, unknown to thee;

All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;

All discord, harmony not understood;

All partial evil, universal good:

And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,

One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right.

Pope was an outstanding poet, but he was a lousy theologian. If he was correct in asserting that "whatever is, is right," then abandon all laws and mores. Jeffrey Epstein should not have been imprisoned. Patrick Crusius should still be walking free after murdering 22 people in El Paso.

No, the god of this world continues to wreak havoc in the domain humans gave him.

Evangelicals--particularly the authentics--need to learn that God is not directing all world affairs. People of good faith and good character must come together to resist evil--especially when the perpetrator of that evil is the man in the most powerful office on the planet.

The Fake President

He repeatedly calls the media fake news, but he's the one who lies repeatedly.

Now watch the following YouTube videos--here, here, here, and here--of him saying he would meet with Iranian leaders with no preconditions. 

He very plainly said he would meet with Iran's leaders with no conditions attached.

He repeatedly calls the media fake news, but he's the one who lies repeatedly.

Trump the Touchstone

For Trump's devotees, no longer is the Bible or the God of the Bible the final reference point for life's key questions.

Touchstone: "a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing." - Merriam Webster

According to Tucker Carlson, a revered and highly-influential high priest of the Trump cult, President Trump had to fire National Security Adviser John Bolton because Bolton is a liberal. This second beast, who has all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, reasons that Bolton is a liberal because he is a military hawk who wants to use the force of the government to make war. Carlson presumes to tell his devoted followers that anyone who wants to use the government to further his or her purposes is a liberal.

Never mind that, historically, conservatives have happily accepted the trademark of military hawks, while liberals were always portrayed as doves. Forget that Bolton has long been a favorite of conservatives, from Jesse Helms to Ronald Reagan to both Bushes. Ignore Bolton's association with the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute and that he served as a commentator, alongside Carlson, at Fox News.

None of that matters when the false prophet finds himself--as is so often the case--defending the first beast. And the one surefire method for defending the beast is to make him the touchstone for ... well, for everything. Within the Trump cult, the great leader is now the final reference point for epistemology, for metaphysics, and for morality. The beast's high priests are ready to twist any falsehood into the new truth in their efforts to champion their Ubermensch. Black is white and day is night ... and might makes right.

Trump-style populists have gained power, and no lie is too outrageous in their effort to maintain that power. 

So we see Mr. Carlson shamelessly labeling as a liberal one of the most conservative wonks ever to walk the halls of D.C. power. Suppose, just for the moment, that Bolton truly is a liberal. What does that say about the Trump administration's vetting process? How will Mr. "I know how to hire the right people" explain his gross lack of discernment on that one? 

Of course he doesn't need to explain it. He has his high priests--like Carlson, Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Janine Piro--to redefine in Trump's image truth, reality, and morality for their myriad followers. 

For Trump's devotees, no longer is the Bible or the God of the Bible the final reference point for life's key questions. Nor is any other religious document or creed. Nor is the U.S. Constitution. Nor are any of the norms that guided this great nation for centuries. For nearly 40 percent of America's voters, Donald Trump is now the Touchstone, and woe betide anyone who might dare to contradict him with verifiable facts.

Trump Being Trump; Pass the Potatoes 

Living under a presidential administration that presents us gross scandals by the gross, we tend to focus only briefly on the disgraces du jour. These days the bizarre and outrageous assail us with such frequency that most of us now overlook them. 

"Hey, Honey, did you hear that Trump crudely doctored up an official weather service map in an effort to vindicate his false claim that Hurricane Dorian was forecast to hit Alabama?"

"Yes, Dear, I did. What would you like for dinner?"

"Leftovers are fine."

Before 2016, such a bizarre story would have been enough to send nearly the entire country into a fury. "How dare the President of this great nation do such a crazy, self-serving thing?" Most would have asked. Now it's simply, "Eh, Trump being Trump; pass the potatoes."

How did we get here? How did we find our great nation governed by a man whose lies outpace the frequency of a hummingbird's wingbeats? How did we manage to elect to the highest office of the planet a man who didn't know that Puerto Rico is a U.S. Territory and that it is an island "surrounded by big water"? How did this con man who didn't know that Israel is in the Middle East or that solving health care issues would be difficult convince so many people that he alone could solve our nation's problems?

He did it with the help of other con men such as Jerry Falwell, Jr., Pastor Robert Jeffress, and (dare I say it?) Franklin Graham. And he's managed to stay mostly free from defections through the defense of notable evangelicals like "give him a Mulligan" Tony Perkins.

All those evangelical grifters have something significant in common with the Con-Man-in-Chief. They're all rich--beyond the wildest imagination of their devoted followers. And like Trump, Falwell and Graham inherited their empires from their more pious fathers.

Falwell's net worth is estimated at north of $10 million and his annual salary is estimated at nearly $1 million. Jeffress's income seems to be a closely guarded secret, but his net worth is estimated at more than $15 million. Franklin Graham, whose net worth is close to $30 million, pockets more than $600,000 annually. 

Is it any surprise that these wealthy influential evangelical leaders chose to support a man who incessantly brags about his wealth and whose tax cuts benefitted primarily those in the top quintile of earners?

Couple the avaricious character of these grifters with the gullibility and biblical ignorance of most of their evangelical followers and you have the ingredients for a cult. It was simple, then, to place an obnoxious version of Chauncy Gardiner (see Being There) as the cult leader. 

Despite their outward claims of allegiance to the Bible, most evangelicals are woefully ignorant of the good book's content. And even fewer have any understanding of hermeneutics (how to interpret it). So they are, generally, spoon fed by their pastors who, in turn, are typically spoon fed by other influential evangelicals, such as Falwell, Jeffress, Graham, and Perkins.

So, how did we find our nation led by one of the most ignorant, unscrupulous, bigoted, self-absorbed men ever to breathe our planet's air? The answer is avarice and ignorance. Both are preventable.

Why I Left Conservative Evangelicalism

Conservative evangelicals need to be reminded daily of the difference between Jesus' teachings and the pitiful mutation of Christianity they have largely embraced.

I entered the conservative evangelical sect in 1973, at the height of the Jesus Freak movement. And while the little church in which I went forward, fell to my knees, confessed my sinful nature and sinful ways, and asked Jesus to save me was within the Pentecostal-based Assembly of God, it was a much more subdued congregation than the typical Jesus-freak flock. 

And within that subdued congregation--by Pentecostal standards--I was especially restrained. I never spoke in tongues. I never laid hands on anyone to heal them. Even my singing was muted. But that doesn't mean I was indifferent. Within a month of that day of my salvation I'd read the entire Bible--all 66 books. Within a year, I was leading Bible studies. I devoured Christian classics such as C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters along with most of Francis Schaeffer's books, and many others, including Bible commentaries.

In 1993, when I left my job and enrolled full time at a well-known conservative Bible college I took, as all new students did, a Bible-knowledge exam. I scored in the top three percent of new enrollees. Despite my discreet demeanor, I was fully committed.

A few years after graduating from that Bible college with a 3.7 G.P.A. and being selected for "Who's Who among American Colleges and Universities," I was selected ahead of hundreds of other applicants for an editing job at the huge, international conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family. And, to add to my conservative evangelical bona fides, my editing role was within the ministry's super-conservative Public Policy division. I was on the front lines of the conservative evangelical movement.

In 2000 I recruited a team of nine conservative theologians to develop a doctrinal statement that became known as the Colorado Statement on Biblical Sexual Morality. In 2001, I spoke to a gathering of theologians at the Evangelical Theological Society's annual conference, where we unveiled the statement. Christianity Today covered the event. The statement was subsequently adopted for use in Christian ethics courses at Bible colleges across the nation.

In 2003 I wrote a web-based article for Focus accusing the International AIDS Society of politicizing the AIDS prevention movement by its selection of Bangkok rather than Uganda as the site for its annual conference. Bangkok's leaders were outspoken proponents of the liberal view that the key to AIDS prevention was mass condom distributions and condom-use education for even young children. Uganda had pioneered the ABC prevention method that put abstinence as the first step in its prevention program. My article specifically target USAID's global health division for funding liberal AIDS prevention programs.

That Focus web article reached some influential people, including an employee of a former USAID contractor who became my "deep throat." The man initially refused to give me his name, but he fed me copious data and key links to even more blatantly offensive AIDS-prevention initiatives--including videos of USAID-sponsored programs that featured grown men costumed as giant penises wearing condoms and teaching children as young as six how to use condoms. 

With loads of new data, I wrote another website article expanding on the first. That article found its way into the office of Anne Peterson, the director of USAID's Global Health Division. Before long, in September of 2004, Ms. Peterson and her assistant were sitting in Focus on the Family's Executive meeting room with Dr. Dobson (Focus's founder and president) and several other Focus leaders--and me. 

I had prepared a dossier that covered many of the issues I'd presented in my articles. We spent the morning discussing those issues. Then many of those leaders--but not Dr. Dobson--took Ms. Peterson and her assistant to lunch. I also attended. It was an awkward gathering. Even more so when, upon our return to the Focus offices, I found myself standing alone in the lobby with Ms. Peterson, attempting to make small talk. 

Four months later, I was standing before a few dozen congressional aides in the Cannon House Office Building in D.C., giving a PowerPoint presentation version of the dossier I'd prepared for that September meeting. 

A month after that, we had a call from the office of Congressman Henry Hyde, asking for a copy of my presentation to be viewed at a congressional oversight hearing on USAID's misuse of PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) funds.

A week later, under pressure, Anne Peterson resigned as director for USAID's Global Health division.

A few months following that, I was hit in a massive layoff at Focus on the Family. My next job was as a curriculum editor at another international conservative evangelical ministry, Community Bible Study, where I worked for another eight years, before being let go in another layoff.

I listed all the above to make my case for being a true-blue red-state conservative evangelical. My conservative evangelical friends and associates who now dismiss me as a "lib" have no idea. I voted exclusively for Republicans from 1976 through 2016. But Donald Trump was a bridge too far. 

In the four years since Donald Trump declared his candidacy for U.S. President I've watched conservatives--political and religious--forsake nearly everything conservatives--political and religious--have stood for over the previous century. Family values? No longer that important. Honesty? We can overlook lies as long as they harm our opponents or benefit us. Moral character? We're happy to forgive indiscretions by leaders who look out for our interests. Balanced budgets? Let future generations deal with the deficits. Free trade? We love tariffs if Donald says they're good. Free press? Only if it exalts our great leader.

That conservative evangelicals fell en masse for such an abdication of values and norms revealed two things to me:

  • Most self-professed evangelicals are horribly ignorant of the teachings of the Bible they claim to revere. The Bible makes plain that principles are not situational. Principles are eternal and universal. True Christ followers abide by principles over personalities. Donald Trump would not have won the presidency without evangelical votes. And if evangelicals had understood and heeded biblical principles they would not have supported Trump. And that leads to number 2.
  • Conservative evangelicalism has become defined by a transactional ethos. It tends to start with the whole concept of salvation. If I believe, say, and do the right things, then God will reward me with salvation for eternity and a good life here and now. That transactional view carried over into virtually all other spheres--including politics. If the candidate will give me _______, then I will give him my unqualified support. And with the most transactional president in U.S. history, that view was a marriage made in ... well, you choose the otherworldly place.

But God's way is not transactional. God gives with no expectation of a return. Conservative evangelicals need to be reminded daily of the difference between Jesus' teachings and the pitiful mutation of Christianity they have largely embraced--and that I can no longer identify with.

Blame-Game Limits

Anyone we choose will be an improvement over the Toddler-in-Chief who now rules with an iron teething ring.

Well, now that Mr. "I know how to hire all the right people" has booted from his administration anyone and everyone who dared to challenge him on anything--and is now surrounded only by cowering sycophants--he truly is the one who deserves the praise or the blame for any decisions henceforth coming from the White House. Mr. "I alone can fix this"--who recently proclaimed himself "the chosen one"--will ride the wave of either boom or bust from here to November 2020. (I'll gladly take wagers on the latter.)

Oh, no doubt, as election day nears, the Whiner-in-Chief will post flurries of Tweets blaming everyone from the "fake news" to Democrats to Fannie Mae to Betty Crocker for the failing U.S. economy, for the ISIS resurgence in Afghanistan, and for his dismal approval ratings. But "the chosen one" must carry the burden and responsibility of being responsible.

Blaming his own hand-picked administration officials for his own ineptitude--as he did to Jeff Sessions, Michael Cohen, Dan Coats, Andrew McCabe, Anthony Scaramucci, and now is doing to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell--probably will still work with his hardcore base, but no one else will fall for it.

Our "stable genius" president is plunging this nation--and the world--into chaos. The next presidential election will be an opportunity to replace him with a mature leader of substance. I pray Americans will choose wisely. But anyone we choose will be an improvement over the Toddler-in-Chief who now rules with an iron teething ring.

Bring on the Worms

Because no one and nothing seems to be able to loosen Trump's vice grip on white evangelicals, he is free to inflict grave damage on this nation's Constitution and its long-held principles and norms.

A barely audible murmur made its way across the media's airwaves following President Trump's repeated use of the "God damn" curse during his now infamous "Send them back" rally in North Carolina. At the time, I wrote,

So, friends, feel free to set yourself up as the Sovereign and promote yourself with graven images. Do as you please on the Lord's Day. Curse your parents. Murder your annoying neighbor. Enjoy that extramarital affair. Cheat your business partners and lie about them, too. Covet your neighbor's wife and wealth.

But, goddammit, don't you dare say goddammit!

It seems that white evangelical Americans--of which, for decades, I considered myself a loyal patron--have a very selective view of scriptural mandates. Some are excusable--especially for those perceived to be part of the team--while others carry a bit more weight. Bragging about grabbing women by their private parts is permissible, but rhetorically requesting God's judgment on a fellow human being might cross the line.

It seems now that ascribing deity to oneself also is permitted--provided that the would-be messiah continues to offer his evangelical devotees the programs and policies they desire.

In recent days the Champion-in-Chief has 1) declared himself to be "the chosen one." 2) Gratefully accepted the assessment of a Jewish man turned evangelical disciple that he is the new "king of the Jews" and "the second coming of God." 

What has been the response from evangelicals to Trump's delusional messiah complex and gross defiance of the First Commandment? Crickets. 

Apparently, evangelicals hold dear but one principle: Give us our policies. Nothing else matters. Go ahead and murder that man on Fifth Avenue. Go ahead and grab women by their private parts. Go ahead and mock disabled people. Go ahead and separate immigrant families. Go ahead and daily display your utter ignorance of America's history, of the U.S. Constitution, and of current events. Go ahead and proclaim yourself the Messiah. None of that matters as long as you promise to end abortion on demand and to build that wall to keep us in the majority.

The very cohort that should be most disturbed by the president's many violations of biblical commands and principles is the faction most willing to overlook those infractions. Those who should be most eager to see this maniacal narcissist out of office are the very ones keeping him there. The unwavering support of white evangelicals has the remaining Republican members of Congress in mortal fear of openly saying publicly what they really think of the man who conquered their party and is dragging it into oblivion.

Because no one and nothing seems to be able to loosen Trump's vice grip on white evangelicals, he is free to inflict grave damage on this nation's Constitution and its long-held principles and norms. 

God help us. Perhaps, Lord, You could exact some Herod Antipas-style judgment on this megalomaniac.

Apostasy by Any Other Name

What will you say when He asks you why you caused other believers to stumble over your hypocrisy?

"We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20-year-old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word."

That was, in part, Franklin Graham's reaction to several young, influential Christians recently renouncing their Christian faith. 

Graham was right in arguing that 20-year-old authors and song writers should not be the source of truth for believers within the church. The same might also be said of some 67-year-old ministry leaders.

The words Graham--a stalwart Donald Trump supporter--speak hold greater influence over many American evangelicals than do the words written in the Bible's 66 inspired books. I'm convinced this is true because Graham--along with accomplices like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Robert Jeffers--convinced hordes of gullible evangelicals (almost all of them old and white) to pledge their undying support to one of the most ungodly men this nation has ever produced.

When asked about some of the president's unchristian behavior, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Christian parachurch ministry Family Research Council famously replied that Christians were willing to give Trump "a mulligan" (a golf term for a do-over) because he was enacting policies they favor.

So, when young, impressionable Christians placed in unearned positions of influence within the church then see older leaders falling into adulterous affairs and other older leaders giving unconditional fealty to a man who cusses like a drunken sailor on shore leave, who mocks disabled people, who refers to underdeveloped nations as shitholes, who bragged of multiple extramarital affairs, who cheated untold numbers of people in underhanded business dealings, and who treats non-whites as second-class citizens, they question or even abandon the faith those older men claim to uphold.

Graham continued: "Shame on them [those young apostates]," Graham said. "You'll stand before God one day and give an account to Him."

Yes, they will, Mr. Graham, and so will you. How will you answer when God asks you why you didn't practice the principles Jesus proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount? What will you say when He asks you why you caused other believers to stumble over your hypocrisy?

Winning Is Everything in Trumpworld

Whether one agrees with the protestors or not, running over them is unacceptable.

"Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda."       - Hannah Arendt, historian and author of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

Donald Trump and his radical-right-wing totalitarian-loving cronies--especially at Fox News--have successfully attracted the elite and the mob. They're seeking to win the masses through propaganda. A clear example can be seen on a Fox News Lou Dobbs segment from August 15, 2019. The segment shows a video clip of apparently frenzied, angry activists climbing on and pounding on a pickup truck while Dobbs comments that the protestors were assaulting the prison guard who was merely trying to park his vehicle and go to work in the ICE detention center.

"Those awful, militant protestors! How dare they?" "That prison guard would have been justified in running right over them."

Those are the kinds of reactions Dobbs no doubt hoped to elicit from his viewers--and probably got. 

But Dobbs did not allow his viewers to see or hear the full story. Edited from the clip Dobbs ran was the pickup driver's approach to the crowd. In that portion you see that the pickup was moving at a pretty fast clip. I'd estimate 25 miles per hour. He then stopped a couple feet short of the previously seated protestors, most of whom, by then, had stood up, no doubt in great fear. They then reacted as most would: They banged on the truck in an effort to prevent him from running over their fellow protestors who had not yet stood. That's the portion of the video Dobbs chose to show.

Dobbs also failed to show or mention that the driver then proceeded and, in the process, broke a protestor's legs. Soon, the police arrived and, rather than citing the driver, they pepper-sprayed the protestors and sent them packing.

Whether one agrees with the protestors or not, running over them--particularly protestors who, like these, are harming no one--is unacceptable. Or it should be in a civilized society.

But Trump and his angry enablers have placed winning ahead of civility and decency. Winning isn't always pretty--or honorable. If one must maim one's "enemies" or lie to one's audience, well, that's the way the game is played now. Winning is everything in Trumpworld. 

Will such propaganda win over the masses?

Don't You Dare Say Goddammit!

Nine commandments are, apparently, more like suggestions.

Donald Trump might have finally gone too far. A rift--barely visible at this point--is developing between The Chosen One and his cultish followers. What happened? How did President Trump finally step on white evangelicals' blue-suede shoes?

First Commandment: Did the rupture begin when Trump proudly claimed that he was the only one who could fix the mess the nation was in (usurping God's role)? No.

Second Commandment: Did it begin when they saw Trump's name and image plastered all over his many properties? No.

Fourth Commandment: Did it begin when evangelicals saw their esteemed leader spending most of his weekends playing golf at his resorts rather than worshiping the Lord he claims to respect? No.

Fifth Commandment: Did it begin when he besmirched his immigrant mother's memory by being the most openly anti-immigrant president in memory? No.

Sixth Commandment: Did it begin when he bragged that he could get away with murdering someone on Fifth Avenue? No.

Seventh Commandment: Did it begin when he bragged of his many marital infidelities, or when the infamous Access Hollywood recording became public? No.

Eighth Commandment: Did it begin when his many shady business dealings--including ripping off scores of students at his failed Trump University--became public knowledge? No.

Ninth Commandment: Did it begin when the Washington Post published his more than 10,000 documented lies since taking office? No.

Tenth Commandment: Did it begin when his covetousness became obvious for all the world to see? No.

All of those other commandment violations were forgivable. White evangelical were happy to give Trump, as Family Research Council's Tony Perkins said, "a Mulligan." 

But the president went too far when--in the South Carolina speech in which he suggested that four duly elected Democratic representatives, all of whom just happened to be women of darker skin hues, should go back to their home countries--he twice uttered the phrase God damn.

Nine commandments are, apparently, more like suggestions. But that third commandment is not to be messed with. One may be forgiven for using the f-word, as Trump has repeatedly done in public, but suggesting that God should damn someone or something is strictly off limits. That, most white evangelicals assume, violates the sacrosanct third commandment. I will not take the time and space now to challenge that gross misunderstanding of the third commandment.

So, friends, feel free to set yourself up as the Sovereign and promote yourself with graven images. Do as you please on the Lord's Day. Curse your parents. Murder your annoying neighbor. Enjoy that extramarital affair. Cheat your business partners and lie about them, too. Covet your neighbor's wife and wealth. 

But, goddammit, don't you dare say goddammit!

We Cannot Recreate 1957

Like it or not, folks, this is 2019, not 1957.

When my sons entered their teen years, we had "the talk." No, not that one. Well, we did have that talk, too. But the talk I refer to now is the one about expensive products generally, and about cars in particular. This was my mantra-like advice to them: "Repairs are cheaper than replacement, and maintenance is cheaper than repairs." 

A Time to Conserve

My advice to them continued along these lines: "If you properly maintain a car--and pay for the occasional necessary repairs--you can expect it to get you where you need to go for at least 200,000 miles. And that means that if you drive the average number of miles Americans drive per year--13,500--you can expect to get nearly 15 years out of your car. Then, if your auto loan was for six years, that means you will have nearly nine years of payment-free driving. If you are fiscally responsible and you save the $300 monthly car payments over eight of those years, you will amass nearly $29,000--and that does not include any interest you would accrue. You could then pay cash for a very nice replacement vehicle.

"However, along the way to amassing that small fortune, there might be times when the car has problems, some frustrating enough to make you want to demolish it and start over, regardless of the cost. Resist that temptation. You do not want to place yourself in the position of never-ending car payments."

My advice to America during the 2016 presidential campaigns--and still today--is along those same lines. Our Founding Fathers gave us a remarkably durable foundation. If we maintain it properly and make the occasional necessary repairs, that foundation should last many centuries. 

But during the Obama presidencies many conservatives--particularly white conservatives--saw the changes being made by the "hope and change" administration as too radical. In their view, the changes went too far; we had moved beyond maintenance--or even repair. It was time, they then believed--and most still do--to demolish the car and build a new (old) one. 

A Choice to Step Back

So, 46 percent of voting Americans cast their ballot for the great demolisher. They believed America was no longer running properly and it was time not for repairs but for radical replacement. "This 2016 Toyota Prius is too different. Let's rebuild a 1957 Chevy Belair." I understand that thinking; a '57 Belair looks way better than a new Prius. But rebuilding a half-century old car that lacks emission controls, safety restraints and that gets just 13 miles per gallon might not be the right way to move the nation forward. 

But that's where we are under the Demolisher-in-Chief. We're tearing down entire institutions and annihilating decades-long societal norms in order to rebuild that classic Chevy so many of us upheld as the quintessential icon of America's industrial and design greatness.

Car buffs now look back at the '57 Chevy with loving nostalgia as perhaps the greatest car America ever made. But let's remember, in all honesty, that in 1957 Ford was outselling Chevys. The past is not always as we now remember it. And, by the way, why were Fords outselling Chevys in that American Graffiti era? Because Chevrolet dared to introduce a new technology: tubeless tires, a concept most drivers were then unwilling to accept but that is now taken for granted. Change is difficult for many to accept--even when it's beneficial.

President Trump and his loyal followers want to return to the nostalgic era of the '57 Belair, to an era before the Civil Rights Act, to a time when Ku Klux Klan members forced black truck driver Willie Edwards to jump off a bridge to his death in the Alabama River. They fondly reminisce over the good old days. But in those good old days, Governor Orville Faubus of Arkansas called out the National Guard to prevent the "Little Rock Nine" African American students from enrolling in Little Rock Central High School. 

Fits and Starts: Progress Is A Bumpy Road

What was so bad about 1957, when a Dover, Delaware, restaurant refused service to Ghana's visiting finance minister simply because of his skin color? 

Wasn't America better before homosexuals became so vocal and so prominent?

Wasn't America better when kids still prayed in school?

Wasn't America better before people were allowed to live on welfare checks?

Let's consider some other differences:

Was America better in 1957, before the first kidney transplant or heart transplant?

Was America better in 1957, before automobile safety belts?

Was America better in 1957, before vaccines for rubella and mumps?

Was America better in 1957, before the invention of synthetic insulin for diabetes?

Like it or not, folks, this is 2019, not 1957. We'd be much wiser to repair the deficiencies of our current model than to build new factories aimed at reproducing a model that went out of production 62 years ago.

President Trump Didn't Pull the Trigger

What kind of a response should we expect from insecure, impressionable followers of the Bully-in-Chief?

The Trump supporters' new mantra: "President Trump didn't shoot anyone, nor did he tell anyone to shoot people."

That defense of the president is akin to saying, "The playground bully didn't beat up the new kid who has buck teeth and wears thick, horn-rimmed glasses; he didn't even tell his friends to do it."

The playground bully may not have literally punched the new kid, and he may not have explicitly told his friends to do so. But the bully's insecure friends want nothing more than to impress their leader. So, after hearing the bully repeatedly call the new kid Professor Beaver and fume that he doesn't belong on their playground, those insecure, impressionable friends did what comes naturally to insecure, impressionable kids; they beat the crap out of the new kid.

The playground bully then denies playing any part in the beating--all the while inwardly rejoicing at his brilliance in getting his toadies to do his bidding.

Then, others of the bully's friends protest that the bully never laid a hand on the new kid. "You can't blame him; he's not the one who beat up the new kid." 

That's the dynamic we see being played out in the Trump era--except that now, rather than schoolyard beatings, it's murders on a mass scale.

"Trump didn't shoot those people!"

No, but he did label them as sub-humans invading and infesting our nation. What kind of a response should we expect from insecure, impressionable followers of the Bully-in-Chief?

My Parting Words

If you were one of those white evangelical Trump supporters, I hope you hang your head in shame as you exit this building.

You are here today because I am dead and you are still alive--and because we were related, or because, at some level, you considered me a friend, or you are with someone who fits into one of those categories. After you hear what follows you might no longer consider me a friend. That's okay; I'm gone; I can offend people now. So here I go.

Many years ago I lost faith in Christianity--not in Christ--but in Christianity, because of Christians. Like others before me, I was disillusioned and disheartened by Christians' hypocrisy. I refer not, however, to the kind of hypocrisy we so often see. I'm not referring specifically to pastors who rail against adultery, homosexuality, pornography, or material greed and who then are found to have been engaging--sometimes for years--in the very practices they condemned.

Oh, yes, that kind of hypocrisy stings and disheartens. But it also dramatizes the human struggles we all face--the struggles the apostle Paul lamented in Romans 7. We know what is right, but our fallen nature still, so often, drags us toward what we know is wrong. And our pride and shame will go to great lengths to hide our guilt. If you cannot feel some level of empathetic kinship with someone facing such a struggle, let me be the first to congratulate you for your arrival at perfection ... or, more likely, condemn you for your own, different twist on hypocrisy.

No, the hypocrisy I want to confront here is the awful stuff that put Donald J. Trump in the most powerful office on the planet. (I suspect many of you now have your hands placed against the pews, ready to push yourselves up and walk out. I can't stop you. But, out of respect for the dead--me--I ask you to resist that impulse.) 

In 2015, Donald Trump, self-proclaimed billionaire (we can only guess about the veracity of his claim, because he steadfastly refused to release his tax returns or in any other way verify his claim) announced his candidacy for President of the United States. When I heard that announcement I assumed it was a joke. He couldn't be serious; no one would take him seriously. Anyone who would do so likely also admired Charlie Sheen for his calm, reasoned maturity. 

But I was wrong. Trump was serious, and so were his many, many devoted followers. But then I assumed he could never get enough support to make a serious run. After all, he was running as a Republican. A key component of the GOP is conservative Christians--particularly white evangelical Christians. I could not conceive of my fellow evangelicals supporting this boastful, openly greedy man who had publicly bragged of his many marital infidelities. Then, when I saw the video of him at a campaign rally mocking a disabled reporter, I felt certain that would end his bid. Wrong on both counts.

Surely his mocking of Vietnam war hero Senator John McCain would derail his campaign. Wrong again. The release of his disgusting discussion about his treatment of women as heard in the Access Hollywood tapes had to be the final straw for moral-minded evangelicals. Didn't even make a dent. 

Trump handily blew away the Republican primary competition, particularly through the Bible-belt states. I was aghast. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Flummoxed. Rather than repelling, Trump's cursing, insulting, combative bombast thrilled the raucous crowds made up largely of self-proclaimed Christian conservatives. The very people who had railed against Bill Clinton's corrupt behavior twenty years before cheered on a man whose immorality easily eclipsed that of the man they'd labeled "Slick Willie."

The difference between the two men was, of course, the policies they claimed to champion. Character matters when the person under scrutiny is from the other side. Our guy gets, as FRC president Tony Perkins famously said, "a mulligan." White evangelicals seemed happy to excuse--and even celebrate--almost any sin if the sinner was ready, willing, and able to grant them the policies they'd longed for over the decades. 

And along came Donald J. Mephistopheles, happy to oblige them. 

Because I am writing this in the summer of 2019, rather than at the time of my death--and God only knows when that will be--I'm guessing here at the enduring effects of Trump's presidency will be by the time of my death. 

Here are some predictions:

  • Evangelical Christianity (the kind promoted by the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffers, and Tony Perkins) will no longer exist.
  • The nation will still be trying to dig out of the financial chaos caused by Trump's populism followed by a twelve-year-long backlash of ultra-liberal, socialistic government control.
  • The children of the Trump years will be in charge. Having seen no ethical benchmarks among the previous generations, they will be largely morally adrift.
  • With America's financial and moral decline, the world will have no true guiding light. The new Dark Ages will be approaching.
  • White evangelicals of the Trump era will be largely to blame for most of the world's woes.

If you were one of those white evangelical Trump supporters, I hope you hang your head in shame as you exit this building.

Diversity Strengthens; Xenophobia Weakens

Neither genetic nor philosophical inbreeding will make America great again. 

My father was born in Germany, and my grandparents on my mother's side were born in Italy. My family's American roots are Azalea-level shallow. Yet, despite my many criticisms of America's foibles and often misguided policies, no one has ever told me to go back to my country. But I'm a light-skinned, blue-eyed Protestant with conservative leanings. I cannot recall ever being portrayed as an "other."

When our president tells four dark-skinned, dark-eyed, liberal American women--all citizens, and three born here--that they should return to their countries of origin, I feel offended along with them. But to many, these four women represent the "others." They can gratefully "assimilate" or they can leave. 

It's cliché to say that America is a nation of immigrants and immigrant children, but a cliché that nonetheless bears repeating. It's also cliché to say that our many differences make us stronger. But that truism also is worthy of reiteration. Other does not necessarily mean bad. Acceptance strengthens; xenophobia weakens.

Incestuous Xenophobia

In its purest, frankest form, carried to its extreme, the xenophobia openly espoused by America's Racist-in-Chief and raucously celebrated by his loyal followers would lead to incest. After all, anyone outside one's own biological family might be regarded as an "other." And in the populists' whipped-up air of apprehensions and mistrust, all others must be regarded as potential threats. Ultimately, marrying one's sibling is the only way to ensure genetic purity. However, if practiced on a grand scale, it's also a certain method to hasten the demise of the human race. 

Yes, our differences--philosophic as well as genetic--make us stronger. Granted, any time two or more people of different genetic and/or cultural backgrounds seek to live in close proximity the chances for disagreements or even violent altercations increase. But the alternative is isolation and/or inbreeding, and those are clearly not healthy options. 

President Trump says the four young, dark-skinned, female members of Congress have no right to criticize the American way of life (the way of life he promotes), and that rather than criticize America they should return to their countries of origin. That's xenophobia, plain and simple. When citizen Trump repeatedly criticized the America of the Obama years did anyone tell him to return to his country of origin? Mr. Trump's mother was born in Scotland. Like his favorite foil, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, Donald Trump is just one generation removed from new-arrival status. What's the difference? Actually there are two major differences: ethnicity and philosophy.

Ethnicity

Following the European conquest of the land's dark-skinned natives, the light-skinned immigrants saw the conquered realm as their own. They'd won it by might and subdued it through hard work--theirs and that of the Africans they'd forcibly brought here to do the harshest labor. America had become the land of white Anglo-Saxon protestants. So when other wasp immigrants arrived, their assimilation was relatively trouble-free. 

Despite the seminal statement in the Declaration of Independence that "All men are created equal," some were more equal than others. If you look like "us," we're more likely to accept you. Sadly, that seems to be a natural human inclination--one that needs to be overcome, not celebrated. Donald Trump's Scottish immigrant forebears looked like that wasp ideal. Ms. Cortez's ancestors--and those of the other four congresswomen--don't. That's the first big difference. The next is worldview or philosophy. 

Philosophy

We tend to gravitate to those who share our views. That, too, is human nature. But human nature is fallen. What is is not always right. Sometimes we fallen humans need to work past our natural inclinations. Our understanding of our world and how we should interact with it and its inhabitants--particularly its human inhabitants--can, like our genes, be degraded. Those who confine themselves to a tiny thought pool run the risk of mental weakness, just as those who breed within a tiny gene pool risk producing physically compromised offspring. 

Unless or until they begin aiming weapons at us, we should assume that those whose views differ from ours are not our enemies. Rather, they are fellow humans whose lives and ancestors' lives taught them different lessons than our lives taught us. Different lessons--different understandings of our world--are not necessarily wrong. More often than not, we can learn more--gain a better understanding--about an issue by examining the "other" view than by summarily rejecting it. 

But that's not what President Trump and his loyal followers believe. To them, other is wrong. Other is dangerous. Other is a threat to their cherished way of life. Other is the enemy that wants to take their place. This land has no room for others. Think like us; behave like us; and, ideally, look like us, and we will welcome you. Otherwise, go back to where you came from--even if your family's roots are far deeper than ours. We will happily remain in our little pool.

You have the right to those views. But if you promote them, understand this: neither genetic nor philosophical inbreeding will make America great again.

They Shall Not Be Moved

His logic seems to be, "Tragedies don't exist if we can't see, hear, and smell them."

He saw it. Plain as day, he saw it. His wooden-faced expression notwithstanding, he witnessed the grossly inhumane treatment of human beings caged like animals. His response to seeing hundreds of refugees huddled together in such cramped quarters that they haven't room to lie down: "The DHS facility in McAllen is a prime example of why we need to secure our borders."

Vice President Mike Pence, an outspoken Christian, sees fellow human beings crammed into cages; he hears their cries, "No showers!"; he smells the rancid conditions, and his reaction is a call for stronger border security. His logic seems to be, "Tragedies don't exist if we can't see, hear, and smell them."

The people Mr. Pence saw there behind those chain-link fences knew they'd likely wind up incarcerated for crossing the border illegally. Yet they still chose to walk more than a thousand miles through grueling conditions to get there. Why? Because the conditions in their homelands were even worse. Their reward for completing such an arduous journey? Lock 'em up and--as soon as possible--send them back. After all, as Mr. Pence's boss tweeted, "If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!"

Hearing these callous responses to human suffering from leaders who claim to be Christians, I can't help but compose a twisted version of an old Christian hymn called "I Shall Not Be Moved." 

Jesus is my Savior; I shall not be moved;

Change not my behavior; I shall not be moved.

Just like a rock that has no human feelings, 

I shall not be moved.

In my Christ pretending; I shall not be moved;

Visage fixed, unbending; I shall not be moved.

Just like a rock that has no human feelings,

I shall not be moved.

Shortly before his much-publicized trip to the border concentration camps, Mr. Pence had decried the descriptions of them in such harsh terms. But now, suddenly, he goes there--along with a contingent of prominent Republican senators and a camera crew--to plainly document the obviously deplorable conditions. Why? As a deterrent. Now the Trump administration is sending a message: "We've told you not to come here. If you still choose to do so, here's what will happen to you." 

What will happen? You will be separated from your family members. You will be crammed into cages so overcrowded that only a few can lie down at a time to try to sleep on the hard concrete floor. You will get only occasional bathroom breaks. You might have to wait weeks for a chance at a shower. In some facilities you might get no more than one burrito to eat for an entire day. You likely will find yourself turning your shirt into a facemask as you attempt to lessen the horrid smells. You might witness some of your detainees die from the horrid conditions.

And if that is your lot, it's your fault. You should have stayed in your Banana Republic Central American nation ruled by corrupt politicians and vicious gangs. You should have stayed in those vice-ridden cities and impoverished villages. You should have found a way to fend off the gangs bent on recruiting your daughters into prostitution and turning your sons into fellow gangsters.

Then, following the lead of our stone-faced vice president and heartless president, America's conservative Christians--68 percent of whom say we have no obligation to help desperate refugees--will not be moved. Just like a rock that has no human feelings, they shall not be moved.

The Political Badlands … or The Promised Land?

Perhaps mucking around in the metaphorical political mud, fighting for one's Christian "rights," is not the best approach.

In America's increasingly polarized political climate, a vast desert sits largely unoccupied. Over the decades these barren lands periodically saw not just a few hardy pioneers, but at times significant settlements. In fact the area flourished during the 1940s and 50s. But beginning in the 60s, those middle grounds gradually began to be seen as wastelands, home to the insufferable snowflakes too cowardly to join the culture war. 

The United States are anything but united. We are about as divided as any nation could be, short of outright civil war--and that prospect is, I fear, not far off. 

We have reached this boiling point because the one thing the two sides seem to agree on is that compromise is for sissies. Purists hold sway over both political parties, and each side sees the other as irredeemable--an enemy to be conquered rather than a neighbor to be respected. "Love your enemies" is a mantra for losers. After all, the chump who uttered that command to his followers wound up dead. 

One wins not by discussing differences over a cup of friendship tea, but rather by poisoning that tea and then raising a clenched fist of victory as a one-time neighbor writhes in an agonizing death, metaphorical or literal, whichever is more expedient at the time. The opposing sides are not in a battle for the nation's hearts and minds--that's archaic. The battle is now for power, for control, for absolute dominance.

Sadly, that's to be expected among both sides' extremists, such as the socialist leftists' Antifa and the populist rightists' Proud Boys. But, even more deplorably, that extremism is being adopted by the orthodox politicians charged with making the nation's laws. And, sadder still, the cohort most responsible for electing and keeping in power the current Extremist-in-Chief is the nation's church-going, moralistic, evangelical Christians--the ones who claim to follow that "loser" who told them to love their enemies.

"Forget about building character through sacrificial service to my adversarial neighbor; my rights are at stake. If I don't fight for my rights, for my way of life, who will?" 

How about that Loser who died? Here's what His prophets and apostles said about life with one's "enemies" and how to "fight": 

  • "If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you" (Exodus 23:22).
  • "I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country" (Leviticus 26:6).
  • "When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone's way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them" (Psalm 16:7).
  • "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice" (Proverbs 24:17).
  • "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back" (Luke 6:27-30).
  • "On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head" (Romans 12:20).

Perhaps mucking around in the metaphorical political mud, fighting for one's Christian "rights," is not the best approach. Perhaps evangelical Christians should follow their Leader's method of winning by losing. Perhaps it's more important that they win the lost than that they win the fight. 

Perhaps the middle ground is not equivalent to the badlands. Perhaps the generation of the 1940s and 50s knew something about the middle ground that this generation has lost sight of. Perhaps the middle ground is the Promised Land.

Time Is Running Out; Boasting Achieves Nothing

The difference between Donald Trump and virtually all other con men is that other con men know they're con men.

Americans have become accustomed to hearing Donald Trump boast. Many of those boasts are about his accomplishments. Whether all or most of those boasts are accurate is a matter of debate. While we can point specifically to numerous unfounded boasts--such as his claim in 2017 that he brokered a deal to sell $12 billion in Boeing jets to Vietnam--his ardent supporters will nonetheless believe even his most outrageous self-promoting claims. That's the nature of the deal between a successful con man and his unwitting dupes. The huckster's cons and the marks' loyalties are both limitless.

And Donald Trump is the ultimate con man. His cons landed him in the most powerful and influential office on the planet. How did Donald Trump achieve what no other charlatan before him had managed to do?

The difference between Donald Trump and virtually all other con men is that other con men know they're con men. Most of them are sufficiently self-aware to understand that their snake oil is a hoax; it won't cure anyone of anything. Donald Trump totally believes in himself. He absolutely believes he is the smartest, handsomest, savviest, wisest, and most charming person on the planet. So when he sold himself to the public--and that's what politicians must do--as that bigger-than-life cure for everything that ails America, he did so with genuine conviction.

As I stated above, the typical huckster knows his snake oil is useless, so he has to manufacture his "belief" in its efficacy. I suspect that throughout his business career--you know, the career in which he declared bankruptcy six times--Donald Trump often did manufacture his belief in whatever he was selling. But when it came to selling himself to the American voters--at least to the 46 percent who voted for him--Donald Trump came across as genuine because he was genuine. That is, he genuinely believes in himself. 

Saying Donald Trump genuinely believes in his superiority is, however, grandly different than saying such beliefs are accurate. Since his inauguration, President Trump has repeatedly proven himself to be utterly unfit for the job. As he has done throughout his life, Trump continues to bluster, bully, boast, brag, and bounce. He's had but one rock-solid, anchored conviction and policy: Build that wall along the border with Mexico to keep the illegal immigrants out.

But in two and a half years virtually nothing has happened on the wall--apart from the bluster, bullying, boasting, and bouncing from one idea to another. Any objective analysis has to conclude that Donald Trump's presidency has so far been a dismal failure. 

Okay, he did get two Supreme Court justices appointed. But the primary hope from Trump's ultra-loyal conservative Christian supporters is that a conservative-leaning Supreme Court will overturn Roe versus Wade. They would be wise to resist holding their breath waiting for that to happen. It won't. 

And, yes, he did sign a bill to lower taxes. But that really helped only the already wealthy. Did YOU see any benefit from it? I certainly did not.

Yet those who have benefitted least from Trump's election--the working poor and middle class--continue to loyally support him. 

Why? Because it's human nature to resist admitting one's mistakes. No one likes to admit to being a poor judge of character. No one likes to admit to being duped by a con artist. But if this stubborn loyalty persists among Trump's con victims, in about 17 months America will again face the dreadful day in which we must choose between con man Donald Trump and a Democrat who wants to jettison the few remaining traditions and mores that made America the great nation it was and could be again. We need a better alternative.

Boasting--no matter how sincere--will not make America great. America needs a leader with true vision, with true wisdom, and, most of all, with the true humility to understand his or her imperfections. Boasters only envy what humble leaders achieve.

At Home in My Homelessness

How It Feels to Be Out of Step Occupationally, Politically, and Religiously

I'm homeless. Metaphorically. I live with my beautiful wife in a nice, upper-lower-middle-class suburban home in a fast-growing city. I lack for no material need. But I'm alone.

Occupationally Adrift

I began to go adrift in late 2015, shortly after I was laid off from my editing job at an international Christian ministry. Well, I'll use that season as reference point. But actually the drift began a few years earlier, when the ministry brought in new management staff for the publishing department. I quickly saw that my doctrinal views were out of step with the ministry's new direction. 

My Christian background is solidly dispensational. For an oversimplified definition, that means I tend to interpret the Bible in a literal or face-value manner. For example, when I read in Isaiah's writings that a time will come when "the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them," I believe that will happen as stated. It is more than a metaphor for a time of world peace. 

My views were on a collision course with the views of the new ministry managers. I understood that if I continued to voice my dissenting views on the topic I might be putting my career at risk. Conviction compelled me to persist, and two and a half years later, the boss called me in and he and the HR manager broke the news: my position at the ministry would be eliminated at the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2015.

Politically Adrift

That episode should have taught me to avoid controversy. But Donald Trump had just announced his candidacy--for President ... of the United States! Donald Trump, the draft-dodging real estate huckster who had declared bankruptcy more times than he'd been married. Donald Trump, who'd openly bragged of literally "screwing" many women he was not married to, and of metaphorically "screwing" many others in business deals. And longtime conservative evangelical leaders were coming forward to endorse him. How could I stay silent?

I didn't. I typed out voluminous Facebook rants, which, of course, alienated me from most of my conservative friends and relatives. Most of them now refer to me as a "hater." Hater is a convenient mischaracterization for a dissenter.

In early 2017, shortly after Trump's inauguration, I formally left the Republican Party, of which I had been a faithful member since 1974. Conservative columnist George Will summed up my feelings when he paraphrased Ronald Reagan. Will said, "I didn't leave the Republican Party; the Republican Party left me."

In my very first participation in a presidential election I'd voted for the Democratic candidate, George McGovern. But my conversion to Christianity in 1973 turned me away from the pro-abortion Democrats. The Dems have only gotten more strident in their abortion support, so I cannot go back there. I am now an independent who hopes to see the day when we make America sane again. I can't foresee that happening through Democratic or Republican politicians. So I am politically homeless. 

Religiously Adrift

But at least I had my evangelical, dispensational church home. No longer. But this time it wasn't the institution that left, it was me. Actually, that statement requires clarification. It is now my firmly held view that the church went astray--long ago. Millennia ago. I am now convinced that in the first century the church went too far in accommodating new gentile converts to the faith. Among the several errors that crept into the church with the pagan gentiles was the view that humans are inherently immortal. 

Despite the fact that the Bible plainly states that God alone is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16, and many other passages), and that it repeatedly frames the great contrast as being between life and death (John 3:16, Romans 6:23, and many others), nearly all present-day Christians believe that every human is inherently eternal and must spend eternity in glorious heaven or hideous hell. 

The Bible plainly teaches that unbelieving sinners will perish; they will be eliminated ("the second death," see Revelation 21:8). Yet the vast majority of evangelicals--pastors and scholars as well as congregants--refuse to abandon the notion that the lost will burn in eternal hellfire. 

I cannot sit idly by while God is so horribly misrepresented. So I no longer have a church home. 

Set Free by the Truth

I feel unmoored, adrift, but also steadfastly anchored. The truth has set me free--free to proclaim its firm foundation in an unmoored world. I am at home in my homelessness.

Whose Swamp Is It Anyway?

Fantasy was the rally's theme--though probably not consciously.

The Trump campaign chose to kick of its first official re-election rally in Orlando, Florida. Orlando is, of course, the home of Disney World and its famous Fantasyland. A more appropriate site could not have been found. 

Fantasy was the rally's theme--though probably not consciously. 

At one point the crowd can be heard raucously chanting, "Drain the swamp!" Trump has been in office two and a half years. If Washington is still a swamp, it's his swamp. Consider the following, from The Global Anti-Corruption Blog website: 

  • Up until July 2017, the Secret Service, which is charged with protecting the President and his family, rented out two vacant floors of Trump Tower.
  • The Department of Defense has followed its standard practice of setting up a separate headquarters near the President's private residence--in this case also in Trump Tower.
  • As of May 6, 2019, President Trump had spent 248 days at properties owned by the Trump Organization, with the bulk of that time at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster (71 days) and Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida (99 days). (Visits also tracked here.) On these visits, the Secret Service must pay the Trump Organization directly for any costs related to protecting the president.
  • If President Trump or his immediate family travel abroad and choose to stay at a Trump property, the U.S. government will pay the Trump Organization to rent space for the Secret Service and any additional necessary support. For example, the State Department paid at least $60,000 to the Trump Organization's golf resort in Scotland when President Trump stayed there in July 2018.

Those are but a small sampling of how President Trump and his family have profited from his election. To see many more, click on the link above. The following are also found on The Global Anti-Corruption Blog website:

  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged to divest millions of dollars in assets to avoid conflicts of interests, and in November 2017 he wrote to the Office of Government Ethics that he had divested of everything he promised. However, his claims to have divested himself of all assets that might create a conflict of interest were shown to be false. For most of 2017, Secretary Ross maintained financial stakes in Chinese, Russian, and Cypriot firms, all of which would potentially be affected by U.S. government policies that Secretary Ross is in a position to influence.
  • The Office of Government Ethics also refused to certify Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's financial disclosure report covering 2017. Secretary Mnuchin's ethics agreement required him to divest his interest in Stormchaser Partners LLC, a film company. Secretary Mnuchin divested that interest by selling it to his wife, who serves as the company's CEO.
  • In Jared Kushner's March 2017 financial disclosure to the Office of Government Ethics, he failed to disclose his financial stake in Cadre, a real estate crowdfunding company he co-founded. Kushner and his lawyer claim that oversight was an "administrative error." This error meant that instead of having to divest immediately from Cadre, Kushner made millions in profits as the company's value rose after Kushner joined the White House.

Again, these are but a few of the scores of examples of corruption within the Trump administration. Under Donald Trump's leadership the swamp is getting deeper and murkier by the day.

Then, in his speech, Trump declared, "Republicans do not believe in socialism; we believe in freedom." Minutes later, he promised to protect and defend Social Security and Medicare. The crowd cheered. Now, I admit, I agree with both sentiments. But I also must admit at least a bit of a disconnect between those two statements. Social Security and Medicare--programs begun by Democratic administrations--are inherently socialistic. They are social programs to which the government requires every working American to contribute. By definition, that is socialism, whether you say you like it or not.

And, finally, Donald Trump Jr. stood at the podium and mocked Joe Biden for claiming that, if elected, under his administration the scientific community would find a cure for cancer. Not long after, in his speech, Don Sr. announced that, if re-elected, under his administration the scientific community would find a cure for cancer.

Through all these hypocritical contradictions, the crowd cheered, apparently oblivious to the gross incongruities.

I suspect many of them then left the speech to head to Disney World's Fantasyland to complain about the price of a good steak dinner while spinning in a teacup at the Mad Tea Party ride.

There Will Be No Victor in the "Ultimate" Culture War

If this win-at-all-costs philosophy continues to grow, America is headed for civil war.

In his June 10 Townhall column, Kurt Schlichter wrote, "Ignore The Never Trump Losers Who Are OK With Liberals Winning." Like his leader and so many of his fellow always-Trumpists, Schlichter sees life in utterly binary terms. "Win or lose. Pick one," his column demands.

That's not surprising coming from a devout follower of our president who also divides humanity into the two camps of winners and losers. Life is all about winning, and winning is all about getting one's way. And if erecting easily demolished straw men is necessary to gain the victory, then by all means "Pass me the straw and let's get busy."

Schlichter writes, "There's a debate going on inside conservatism between the insufferable sissies who insist that we Normals are morally obligated to submit to being crushed by the leftists who hate us and want us enslaved or dead, and actual conservatives."

Those who persist in playing by the rules of historic civility are "insufferable sissies," while those who see winning as the ultimate virtue are the "Normals." No doubt Shlichter subscribes to the Vince Lombardi playbook: "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." Forget that sissy stuff about how you play the game.

Schlichter adds the notion that leftists hate the "Normals" and want them enslaved or dead. Such hyperbole might work with readers who understand such a concept. Unfortunately, the nuances of hyperbole are likely to be lost on many of Schlichter's fellow "Normals." Then again, I might be giving Schlichter too much credit in assuming he meant his rant as hyperbole.

Mr. Schlichter, do you really think the leftists want you dead? Like you, most of them want to win in the public policy arena, but like you--I hope--they want to do it through the ballot box, not on a literal battlefield. Or is this a classic case of projection? Do you assume they want you dead because that's your desire for them?

I'm afraid that with more and more people on both sides moving toward this scorched-earth, win-at-all-costs view it might not be long before the battles between the Trumpist "Normals" and their counterparts on the left move the battle to a dangerous place beyond the ballot box.

Neither side seems willing to give an inch in this winner-takes-all culture war. Both sides see compromise as beneath them, an utterly contemptible notion. No price is too high in the quest for absolute victory over the utterly evil enemy.

If this win-at-all-costs philosophy continues to grow, America is headed for civil war. One side will prevail over the other. But with no "insufferable sissies"--calm and rational people--left to plead for civility, the barbarians--either "Normals" or radical leftists--will remain to rule by force over a decimated nation.

"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Jesus, the insufferable sissy, said that.

How Will Our "Christian Nation" Respond?

If we are a Christian nation, then we need to follow the Christian Bible's calls to care for our needy and oppressed neighbors--even if that means sacrificing our comfortable lifestyles.

President Trump and his Republican Congressional allies are proclaiming victory as a result of Mexico's agreement to begin "unprecedented" border-security measures at its southern border. Whether the deal brings the desired results is yet to be seen. But for now let's assume the deal will work; illegal border crossings into Mexico drop dramatically and, therefore, so do illegal crossings into the United States.

So, for now at least, I offer a qualified congratulations to President Trump. One problem solved--maybe. But that pending solution leaves a much larger problem yet to be answered: the massive Central American humanitarian crisis.

Plugging the Hole in the Dam Is Insufficient

Forgive the crude analogy, but this solution is a bit like plugging a relatively small hole in the dam wall. The flood waters are still pouring in at the other end and have nowhere to go. So, at best, President Trump's solution is a temporary fix. If the problem is not addressed at its source, the flood of desperate humans will--one way or another--spill over the dam walls. 

With no prospect of a safe and secure future for themselves and their children, despairing Central American peasants will find ways to cross into Mexico with the hope of enduring the 1,100-mile walk to the U.S. southern border. When they cross, will the Mexican security forces incarcerate them? If so, how long will the Mexican government pay for their care? Not long, I expect. If they simply force the illegals back across the border, those same immigrants will no doubt make more attempts. The Mexican government will soon tire of the game. 

What will they do then? Will they quit trying to enforce the no-trespassing rule or will they take more drastic measures? 

The Root of the Problem

The root of the illegal immigration problem is not found at our southern border; it's found in the Central American nations run by despots and/or by vicious gangs and drug cartels. During our nation's most recent presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump famously proclaimed about the immigration issue, "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." 

But that frenzy-inducing statement is utterly without merit. Statistics do not bear it out. Just .02 percent of all unaccompanied minors apprehended at the southwest border since 2011 were either suspected or confirmed to have ties to gangs in their home country. Meanwhile, according to Lawfare Magazine, "in recent years, Central American families and unaccompanied children have constituted on average between 40 and 60 percent of the migrants from Central America arriving to the United States." The fact is, the crisis at our southern border is a humanitarian crisis not a security crisis. And the pertinent question is: How will the greatest nation on earth respond to that crisis?

The Test: Are We a Christian Nation?

The largest and most-influential contingent of loyal Trump supporters is made up of self-professed evangelical Christians. Most of those evangelical Christians argue that the United States of America was founded as and still should be a Christian nation. What does the Christian Bible-the guidebook for America's tens of millions of evangelical Christians-say about our treatment of our neighbors? (And for those unsure about the identity of our neighbors, please read Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10.) So. here are but a few among scores of passages about how believers should treat our neighbors:

  • "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).
  • "You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:34).
  • "The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:31).
  • "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" (Luke 6:27).
  • "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).
  • "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Galatians 5:14).
  • "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).

I can imagine many of my evangelical friends arguing, "Yes, but charity begins at home. We need to care for our fellow Americans first." Fine, charity begins at home, but it doesn't end there. If we truly are--or should be--a Christian nation, then we have an obligation to help our neighbors--all of them. 

"But we can't afford to care for the entire world!" If God were to call on us to care for the entire world, then we could not afford not to do so. But He has not called on us to care for the entire world. He has, however, I believe, called on us to care for desperate Central American families in search of a safe and secure home. As Christians--and as a Christian nation, if we really do believe we are--we cannot afford to look the other way and ignore the plight of tens of thousands of our despondent neighbors to the south. 

"Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"

That passage from Matthew 25 refers specifically to Gentiles who will befriend and care for persecuted Jews during the end times, but the principle extends to all times and all peoples. Do we, as Christians, want to please the Lord? If so, we must care for "the least of these."

How will we respond?

I know many will respond as I often have: "It's not the job of the government to care for the needy--that's socialism!" Fine. It is not government's job to care for the poor in a pluralistic, Constitutional republic. So if that's your argument, then stop calling America a Christian nation. You can't proclaim us to be a Christian nation when you want public schools to have prayer time and teach the Bible to classrooms full of diverse children, and then declare us to be a Constitutional republic when the needy cry out for our help. 

If we are a pluralistic, Constitutional republic, then we Christians need to stop seeking favored-religion status. 

If we are a Christian nation, then we need to follow the Christian Bible's calls to care for our needy and oppressed neighbors--even if that means sacrificing our comfortable lifestyles. 

Time to choose, brothers and sisters.

Master Con Man; Gullible Voters

Either way, America loses. And if you are one of those steadfast Trump supporters, you will be the cause.

No one reads this blog, so unless someone thinks to check it upon my death I suspect no one will ever read this. Even so...

I have been speaking out against Donald Trump since the moment he announced his presidential candidacy. At the time, however, I was not too concerned. I couldn't imagine more than a few kooks ever taking him seriously. He was--is--all bluster. A flesh-and-blood version of smoke-and-mirrors. In truth, he is none of the things he claims to be--with one exception: proud adulterer.

But then came the Republican primaries, demolishing my expectation that 90 percent of Americans would dismiss him as a joke. Even when the debates clearly revealed him to be horribly uninformed, his supporters refused to budge. His famous pronouncement about being able to maintain his support even after shooting someone on Fifth Avenue then proved--in a macabre way--that he was more prescient than I'd given him credit for.

His uncanny ability to build and maintain steadfast support--primarily among a demographic that could not be more different from his own--baffled me. Still does. This longtime Democrat who hobnobbed with the rich and famous, bragged about his marital infidelities, and likely never felt a work blister on either of his tiny hands somehow successfully wooed the majority of America's blue-collar workers and gruff biker types--as well as 80 percent of the nation's evangelicals. 

How was he able to win the unflagging support of Americans who have nothing in common with him? After many months of contemplation, I came to a conclusion: Donald Trump is a master liar, perhaps the best ever. Lying convincingly is, of course, the stock and trade of any con man. And Trump is a master con man. No other con man in American history has been able to ride his con all the way to the highest office in the land, to the most powerful position in the world. 

So I was wrong when I judged Donald Trump to be a downright dolt. He was smart enough to recognize the gullibility of nearly half the American voting public. He recognized that if he repeated the same lies often enough and convincingly enough he could persuade tens of millions of Americans to believe them. After all, tens of millions of Americans haven't the time--or are not willing to take the time--to dig deep enough to discern truth from fiction in the political realm. If my guy says it's true then it is true. Case closed. 

So now, two and a half years into the Trump presidency, we see the fulfillment of candidate Trump's prediction. He has, metaphorically, shot scores of people--many within his own administration--and his support remains cultishly strong. He could, today, use his own tiny fingers to push the nuke buttons and start World War III and tomorrow virtually all his loyal followers would find a way to blame the "deep state" or the deceased John McCain.

This undying loyalty of his followers is the reason for the Democrats' vexing conundrum. Yes, President Trump has clearly committed impeachable offenses. Those offenses are right there in the Mueller report for anyone willing to spend a day reading the 400-plus pages. The Constitution calls--shouts--for President Trump's impeachment. But Nancy Pelosi and her Congressional confidants know that the Republican-controlled Senate will never convict the man who holds absolute sway over their party's base voters. Voting to convict the president would mean the end of their cushy jobs, with all those pleasurable perks. 

So if the Democrat-controlled House were to hold impeachment hearings, President Trump would be absolved by the Senate. Then, throughout the 2020 election cycle, Trump would successfully use his "exoneration" in the Senate's portion of the impeachment proceedings to bolster himself and to brand the Democrats as witch hunters. Trump would almost certainly then win a second term. And the Democrats likely would lose seats in the House and Senate. The question then is, would the nation survive four more years of Trump as president?

On the other hand, if the Democrats in the House choose not to move forward with impeachment, then the message to Trump--and by extension all future presidents--will be that he (and they) are above the law. 

Either way, America loses. And if you are one of those steadfast Trump supporters, you will be the cause.

Presidential Destruction of Decency

We must let the younger generation know that his behavior is unacceptable.

My heart aches over the degradation of our nation, fueled largely by President Trump. Please, friends, don't dismiss this. I know we need to pray for our president. But, meanwhile, we must not ignore the fact that--as seen in this video clip--he cusses frequently in public. Yes, other presidents used profane language, but not in public. Some would say it's hypocritical to cuss privately but not in public. Really? Is it also hypocritical to engage in sex with one's spouse privately but not in public, for everyone to see? Some things are meant for private use, not for public viewing or hearing. (I'm not condoning private cussing, but at least then kids are not likely to hear it.)

This president also has lied in public more than 10,000 times since taking office--those lies are documented. He mocks and belittles his opponents--and perceived opponents. He openly encourages violent attacks on those who oppose him. He sides with brutal dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un over his own intelligence agencies.

Children see these gross violations of biblical and societal norms. And they see 40 percent of adult Americans boldly defending this man as he pummels basic rules of decency and decorum.

Yes, we should pray for this man. But, meanwhile, we must let the younger generation know that his behavior is unacceptable. If not, the barbarians have won.

Conservatism Redefined

The new definition of conservatism is "unwavering agreement with and fealty to Donald Trump."

I wish my Trump-loyalist friends would read this opinion piece. James Wallner, a former vice president at the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation wrote it, and the conservative Washington Examiner published it. Of course, by the new definition of conservatism, those credentials mean nothing. The new definition of conservatism is "unwavering agreement with and fealty to Donald Trump."

It doesn't matter anyway, the article is more than 1,000 words, which is beyond the attention span of the president and most of his followers.

Even so, the gist of the piece is that the new, reformed Republican Party has sworn its loyalty to the Party--which Trump rules with absolute authority--over the people. And the fact that no Trump loyalist would ever read this article or any other that criticizes the dear leader confirms Wallner's point.

Flattery Will Get You the Prize

Again we see President Trump contradicting one of his personally chosen senior advisers.

Again we see President Trump contradicting one of his personally chosen senior advisers. National Security Adviser John Bolton announced to the media and the world that North Korea's recent round of missile firings violated United Nations Security Council resolutions. Hours later, Trump tweeted that North Korea's missile tests were no big deal because he trusts his good friend Kim Jong Un.

And why does our president trust the dictator he once nicknamed "Little Rocket Man"?

"The president said in the tweet that he had appreciated a recent comment by North Korea state media calling Biden a "low IQ idiot" whose candidacy should not carry high expectations. Trump wrote that he "also smiled when he called Swampman Joe Bidan a low IQ individual, & worse. Perhaps that's sending me a signal?' Trump later corrected the misspelling."

By now most other leaders from around the world know how to get their way with the leader of the world's most-powerful nation. 1. flatter him 2. criticize those he sees as his opponents.

Do you want to violate your signed agreements with America? Flattery will get you whatever you want. And you can get a little extra icing on the cake for dissing the right people.

Let's End Ad Hominem Attacks

That's typical of Trump and his grade-school mentality. Don't address the allegations head on; smear the person making the allegations.

Not surprisingly, President Trump has again turned to childish name-calling and ad hominem attacks to deflect from serious allegations against him.

In response to a call for his impeachment by Republican Congressman Justin Amash, Trump called Amash a "total lightweight" and a "loser." That's typical of Trump and his grade-school mentality. Don't address the allegations head on; smear the person making the allegations.

Trump went on to tweet, "If he actually read the biased Mueller Report, composed by 18 Angry Dems who hated Trump,........he would see that it was nevertheless strong on NO COLLUSION and, ultimately, NO OBSTRUCTION...Anyway, how do you Obstruct when there is no crime and, in fact, the crimes were committed by the other side? Justin is a loser who sadly plays right into our opponents hands!"

First Trump called the Mueller report biased, but gave no examples of its bias. Show us, specifically, the bias, Mr. President. Then he referred to "18 Angry Dems." We know for sure that 13, not all 18, of the team members are Democrats. But, in fact, Robert Mueller, who led the investigation, is a lifelong registered Republican. And even if all the remaining members are Democrats, does that necessarily mean the report presented is incorrect? Is that where we are now in this country? Must we assume that everything our opponents say is a lie? Must we continue with these ad hominem attacks?

Should Democrats dismiss everything said on Fox News as lies? Should Democrats assume everything written in National Review is a lie? No, of course not. We should base our judgments of a report's veracity not on the reporter but on whether the report aligns with verifiable facts.

As to Trump's assertion that the report was "strong on NO COLLUSION," as I wrote in an earlier FB post, Trump's "No collusion!" refrains are akin to a rapist repeatedly boasting throughout his trial, "No adultery!" As reprehensible as adultery is, it does not violate our nation's laws. Rape, however, is a crime.

So the fact that the Mueller team did not arrest Trump or any of his followers for "collusion" means nothing more than a district attorney not charging a rapist for committing adultery. The Mueller team did not highlight cases of collusion--although it cited many--because, collusion itself is not a crime. Conspiracy and obstruction of justice are crimes, and on those counts, Mueller's report said it could not exonerate the President and left that determination to Congress--as required by the Constitution.

The fact that nearly 1,000 current and former prosecutors-Republicans as well as Democrats-have signed on to a statement saying the Mueller report clearly lists many cases of obstruction of justice and should be brought to trial argues against Trump's claim that the report exonerated him.

"They're just looking for better jobs."

The principle of taking risks for life improvement extends only as far as our borders.

I recall, on several occasions, seeing news stories of various Americans faithfully, resolutely walking five or even 10 miles every day to get to a better job. And what made each of those news stories especially noteworthy was that someone--the loyal employee's boss or in some cases a complete stranger--bought the dedicated employee a car to reward him or her for his or her tenacity.

That kind of generosity is not uncommon or surprising, because, generally, Americans admire and reward hard work and dedication. Generally ... if the person displaying that admirable work ethic had the good fortune of being born within the boundaries of this nation.

On the other hand--if a young couple trudges 2,000 miles or more with little more than the clothes they're wearing, all the while praying their babies survive the walk, and finally reaches the border of this generally generous nation--we reward them by telling them to go back. "We have no room for you," our President declares. Or, worse yet, as one attendee at a recent Trump rally yelled out, "Shoot them!" After all, many here say, "They're just trying to find a better-paying job."

Well, yes, they are trying to find a better job. Imagine how bad their old job and old lifestyle must have been if they were willing to risk their lives and their children's lives to escape it.

The average American changes jobs seven times. And when they do, we compliment them for being willing to take the risk in order to better themselves and to be better providers for their children. But the principle of taking risks for life improvement extends only as far as our borders. If you had the misfortune of being born south of our border ... well, sorry, but we have no room for you. If we were to take you in we'd risk diminishing our comfortable lives.

Again, I am not advocating for "open borders." Yes, our nation does need to vet immigrants. And, yes, we do have a crisis at our border. But, I believe, we need to look at this crisis in a more humane--dare I say it-- in a more Christian way. The crisis is not, as presidential candidate Trump said, that "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists."

Sure, as in any congregation, some will be of low character. But most of those seeking asylum in our great nation are desperate families fleeing desperate circumstances, families who walked those five miles to work hundreds or thousands of times over. But we have no car to reward their valiant effort. We have only disdain, because, "They're just looking for better jobs."

Four Reasons Why America's Evangelicals Should Welcome More Central American Immigrants

If the unevangelized come here, the going part of that command is much simpler and less expensive.

  • In repeated surveys, the vast majority of American evangelicals--usually around 80 percent--have steadfastly supported President Trump through thick and thin. They do so for several reasons, but chief among those reasons is the president's stance on illegal immigration (particularly from Central America) in general and more specifically on the border wall.

    The argument generally goes something like this: "We already have many poor and needy Americans we need to care for first. If we let too many immigrants enter, we will not have enough in the way of goods and services to take care of our own. The legal immigration system restricts the flow of immigrants to a manageable level."

    Those appear to be valid arguments. Who can argue against them?

    I'll take a stab at it.

    Here are four reasons why America's evangelicals should welcome more Central American immigrants (and, yes, those immigrants should enter legally; the immigration system needs to be streamlined):

    • 1. To mitigate the effects of our fertility rates. "The significant reduction in fertility in the U.S., if not offset by enhanced immigration or greater worker productivity, puts these programs [Social Security and Medicare] at risk. But productivity growth over the last decade has lagged the improvements seen in previous recoveries, and the prospects for increasing immigration seem dim."                                             - https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/388618-effects-of-low-birth-rates-will-reverberate-for-years-to-come
    • a. By U.S. standards, American evangelicals are not wealthy. Most of us are in lower- to middle-income brackets. We depend on the solvency of Social Security and Medicare to see us through our final decades. If not for immigrants paying into those social programs they likely will become insolvent. So we should favor increased immigration for selfish reasons.
    • b. Interestingly, prior to the 2016 elections, many conservative news outlets--such as NewsMax, Daily Signal, and Focus on the Family, where I worked for many years--were making this argument.
    • 2. To increase the conservative voting bloc. Central Americans tend to be socially conservative. Most oppose abortion. Most value strong families. Most have a strong work ethic. The one issue that keeps many away from the Republican Party is its harsh policies on immigration.
    • 3. To simplify evangelism. Evangelicals are famous for declaring the importance of Jesus' Great Commission quoted in Matthew 28:19-20, which says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." If the unevangelized come here, the going part of that command is much simpler and less expensive. Go across town or across the street rather than to an entirely different country to make disciples.
    • 4. To obey God's Word, which tells us to welcome foreigners and reach out to the poor and oppressed. (See Leviticus 19:33-34; Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:19; Malachi 3:5; Psalm 146:9; Philippians 2:4; Galatians 2:10; Galatians 6:2; Galatians 6:10; Romans 12:10; Proverbs 21:13; James 1:27; Proverbs 19:17; 1 John 3:17-18; Proverbs 28:27; Galatians 5:14, and many more.)