Trump’s Difficult Path Unchanged by NY

Donald Trump and his media allies (Fox, because they are blinded by the Trump persona, and the others, because they know he will lose in a landslide to Hillary) are attempting to turn his New York primary win into some kind of final judgment on the Republican nomination.

NY Loves Me

If you, like me, believe in a Ted Cruz nomination, let me offer some down-to-earth reassurance: New York didn’t change the difficult path Trump faces toward getting 1,237 delegates.

First of all, everyone—Cruz included—knew Trump was going to walk away from the New York primary with a big win. That was no surprise. There’s a reason why politics in the state of New York includes a conservative party that can’t stand the Republicans: New York Republicans, by and large, are some of the squishiest in the nation. Cruz’s oft-despised comment about New York values is actually pretty accurate.

NY Values

More New Yorkers voted in the Democrat primary than they did in the Republican, and Cruz tellingly noted that he got more votes in his home state of Texas than Trump did in his home state of New York. In the general election, New York is a lost cause for Republicans no matter whom they nominate.

Next week will be another boasting time for Trump and his media, as he will take the majority of delegates in other East Coast primaries, but after that, his momentum will come to a screeching halt. The Pennsylvania primary, even if Trump wins overall, may not yield the majority of delegates because 54 of that state’s 71 are unbound and can vote for whomever they wish at the convention. Cruz’s team says they have locked up the majority of those.

What we witnessed in Wisconsin and Colorado will come back into play as the Cruz ground game pulls out all the stops. Trump’s ground game is virtually non-existent, and where it does have a semblance of some organization, it has proven woefully and embarrassingly incompetent.

Not In Colorado

May 3 is the Indiana primary. Cruz already has been lining up sympathetic delegates for a second ballot at the convention (as he has been doing in all the upcoming states). The Cruz campaign is bringing in all the people and strategy it used in Wisconsin, and although there are some differences between those two states, there is more in common with Indiana than there are differences. If Indiana governor Mike Pence—who truly can’t stand Trump—comes on board with a Cruz endorsement, everything shifts in Cruz’s direction there.

Then there are many states after that where Cruz is expected to win outright: Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and possibly even New Mexico.

One statistician has predicted that even if Trump should get up to 120 delegates of the 172 available in California, he will still fall short of that magic 1,237.

No Republican convention, on a second ballot where delegates are free to choose whomever they wish, is going to nominate Donald Trump.

Of course, that is why he complains so much now, as he looks forward.

Game Rigged

He says the game is rigged, but in reality, he’s not even playing the same game. He depends completely on personality and large rallies, ignoring the “real reality” of how a nomination is won.

Trump and his people have issued threats of all kinds that if the party doesn’t treat him nicely, there will be consequences:

Elephant Gets It

All of that is perfectly in line with the thuggish Trump persona and the type of “best people” he has hired to orchestrate his campaign.

This man as the Republican presidential nominee would be a total disaster. Thankfully, he’s not the lock on the nomination that the media narrative would have you believe.

My Forthcoming Lewis Book

C. S. Lewis 5During my sabbatical year in 2014-2015, I finally had the time to fulfill a dream—research and write about C. S. Lewis. Out of that sabbatical emerged a book-length manuscript that I hoped would find a publisher.

That hope has now come to fruition.

A Christian publisher, Wipf & Stock, has accepted my manuscript, and the probable date for publication is late summer-early autumn. My goal in this book was to shed light on how Lewis has influenced/impacted Americans. No one has written a book yet that focuses on that aspect of his life and legacy.

The last hurdle is to receive permission from the Lewis Company in England to quote from his many letters to Americans. I’m praying (and hope you will also) that the permission is granted without any major issues or objections. A speedy permission also would be nice.

Working title? C. S. Lewis in America: His Enduring Influence.

My book on Whittaker Chambers and Ronald Reagan, The Witness and the President, came out this past November. The Lewis book now makes two in one year, a feat I probably never will accomplish again.

I am grateful to Southeastern University for granting the sabbatical. I am eternally grateful to God for the opportunity to put into writing what He has placed in my heart.

The Presidential Contest: An Update

Do you know how tiring it is to write about Donald Trump all the time? I mean, how often can one repeat the same things with respect to his character, policies, and complete unfitness for the office of president?

So, in case you were wondering if I can think about anyone else on the political scene, here’s a reminder that I can be an equal-opportunity critic.

Take John Kasich, for instance. He used to be a solid conservative, or at least I thought he was. During this campaign, he has come out as a candidate who seems to have no problem with same-sex marriage or forcing Christian businesses to participate in them. He also thinks North Carolina went too far in ensuring that men don’t go into women’s restrooms. All while using the name of Jesus as the reason for his views.

John Kasich is a no-go for me. Of course, he’s a no-go in this election cycle anyway; he just doesn’t realize it yet.

Best Chance

On the Democrat side—a side that can never earn my vote at any time due to its blatant anti-Christian policies—we have Bernie Sanders challenging Hillary Clinton, winning state after state while she continues to pull away because of so-called “super delegates” who have lined up for her.

Not that I want Sanders to get any traction, mind you. The fact that an outspoken socialist who sounds more like Karl Marx than anyone else can get such an adoring following is a chilling portent for our future as a nation.

Rare Portrait

Hillary, of course, is no better; she’s just a disguised socialist who tries to appear to be something else. It’s actually kind of funny, in one sense, to see Sanders and Clinton criticize each other when they are virtually identical in ideology. At least Sanders is honest about his beliefs and past actions; Hillary has to do her best to hide both:

Misrepresenting

From the start of this campaign, she has felt as if it is “her turn,” and that no one else should even be considered for the nomination:

More Inevitable

We’ve also been told by the highest authority in the land that she will be a great president:

Clinton Jeopardy

Well, that should seal the deal.

And then there’s that small matter of a possible indictment for criminal activities . . . but we’re not supposed to think about that.

Speaking of a sense of entitlement, I must return briefly to Donald Trump, who has become an expert at whining. Everyone is just so unfair to him. Why, all those delegates going over to Cruz in places like North Dakota, Colorado, and Wyoming is theft, total corruption. Never mind that Cruz played by the rules to win those delegates; Trump doesn’t like rules.

Art of Delegate

Yes, Trump will have what the media will call a “good week” or two with primaries in the east, but Cruz’s victories in the west (more are probably coming) and his ability to line up delegates to vote for him on a second ballot at the convention may keep Trump from the nomination after all.

Never in presidential campaign history have I seen two presumed frontrunners in worse shape.

The Front-Runners

Getting back to the prospect of a contested convention on the Republican side, I have no qualms about that. I have a sense of history, and I know what contested conventions can produce:

Contested Convention

In fact, a contested convention this year is the only hope for keeping the Republican party on track because it’s the only path right now that can deny Trump the nomination. And denying him the nomination is paramount for the health of the party and the nation.

Lewis on Gnat-Straining & Camel-Swallowing

I’m not a seminary-trained theologian. Everything I’ve learned about Scripture is the result of deep personal interest inspired by a desire to get closer to the One behind the Scripture. That’s why, as a young man just out of college (with a degree in radio, TV, and film production), I spent countless hours with a cassette-based course learning Koine Greek. (Anybody remember cassettes?)

Some might say that I shouldn’t be so theological in my commentary because I don’t have the official stamp of approval from an institution that grants degrees in religion. I prefer C. S. Lewis’s perspective when he noted, “One is sometimes (not often) glad not to be a great theologian; one might so easily mistake it for being a good Christian.”

C. S. Lewis 8Knowledge about theology is not the same as knowledge of God. Lewis details the temptations that can come to those who feel they have attained some type of exalted status:

The temptations to which a great philologist or a great chemist is exposed are trivial in comparison. When the subject is sacred, proud and clever men may come to think that the outsiders who don’t know it are not merely inferior to them in skill but lower in God’s eyes; as the priests said (John 7:49), “All that rabble who are not experts in the Torah are accursed.”

How ironic that devotion to learning about the God of love and unrivaled humility should lead us to the opposite end of the spectrum. Lewis notes that “as this pride increases, the ‘subject’ or study which confers such privilege will grow more and more complicated.” He goes on:

The list of things forbidden will increase, till to get through a single day without supposed sin becomes like an elaborate step-dance, and this horrible network breeds self-righteousness in some and haunting anxiety in others.

PhariseesThose who consider themselves the elite theologians, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, will burden people down with externals, ignoring the essence of the faith. Lewis concludes:

Meanwhile the “weightier matters of the Law,” righteousness itself, shrinks into insignificance under this vast overgrowth, so that the legalists strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

We do this gnat-straining and camel-swallowing in other areas of life as well, such as in politics. I see it all the time in that realm. To avoid that, we need to look at ourselves and make sure we are putting first things first, being careful to make loving God and mirroring His character our primary goal.

Trump’s Biblical Insights

It’s a dangerous things for some politicians to talk about the Bible in public. In the book of Exodus, we’re told, “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

The impetus behind this command is to ensure that whenever someone has committed a wrong, the penalty will not be greater than the wrong that was committed. In our day, we refer to the principle as making sure the punishment fits the crime.

Donald TrumpThat scripture came into play yesterday—sort of—in a mangled way when Donald Trump was asked if he had a favorite Bible verse that had helped shape his character and life. His response, if you can follow the flow of his thought, was,

When we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. Look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing.

If you look at what’s happening to our country, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us and how they scoff at us and laugh at us and laugh at our face. They’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. We have to be very firm and we have to be very strong, and we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.

Okay. Tell me again, how does that scripture passage fit here? What I see is someone who is focused on how others treat us badly and the implication is to get back at them for doing so. Well, while that does incorporate some kind of “justice,” it’s not the context of the passage, and certainly not the spirit of it.

Keep in mind, this is the candidate who says he reads the Bible more than anyone. If I were you, though, I wouldn’t trust his insights into Scripture.

Trojan Head

During Jesus’ time, there were people who understood this passage from Exodus in a Trump-like manner also. Jesus wisely redirected their thoughts by saying,

You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

Jesus made a personal application here as a corrective. Too many people were using that Old Testament call for proper justice as an excuse for getting back at others who they felt had wronged them. Jesus focused on the heart attitude.

Can anyone reading these words today say that Donald Trump has ever exhibited, in this long campaign season, any inclination to manifest this spirit of setting aside perceived wrongs? Can anyone point to a pattern of behavior that shows he has the willingness to go the extra mile for others, even if they have caused him harm—“harm” interpreted loosely?

Or have we instead been inundated with one insult and tantrum after another?

Raw Deal

It’s well past the time to bring this sad spectacle to an end. But that’s up to the voters in the Republican party. Pray that they will be wise from this point on.

What Follows Obama?

One hardly knows how to express anymore the depth of the disaster of the past seven years of Obama. I’ve tried, but am almost at the end of words to describe how he has damaged our country, perhaps irreparably.

The main responsibility of our government—with a president leading the way—is to understand the threats we face and protect our liberties. Yet President Obama has gone out of his way to discard basic liberties, especially for Christians whose consciences are being threatened by that very government. We’re now supposed to bow to the new morality of LGBT correctness in all areas of life, even to the point of accepting transgenderism as natural.

Victim & Bigot

On the economic front, we now have someone who promotes the very ideology that has laid waste to many other nations:

No Difference

And his visit to Cuba only solidified his fascination with that ideology:

Feel So Young

When Islamic radicals terrorize Europe, he practically invites them to come here also:

More Refugees

His anti-colonialism dominates his worldview, blinding him to the real threat:

Message for Pres

When asked what he’s going to do about this threat, he mouths some of the right words for public consumption and says he’s already dealing with it—trust him, his plan will work:

My Plan

What could be worse for the country than what we have experienced in two terms of Obama? Well, a couple of things:

Trump Game

We Prefer

This is why I want Ted Cruz to prevail.

Colorado & Representation: A Primer

Ted CruzHow about a reasonable discussion of what occurred in Colorado over the weekend, devoid of hyperbole and false accusations? First, here are the facts.

Last year, the Colorado Republican party decided to forego a caucus and simply have members of the party meet in their districts and at a general convention and choose delegates to the national convention. Each of Colorado’s congressional districts held their own caucuses to select some of those delegates; the convention then chose the rest.

I’ve always been in favor of the political parties choosing their own people. Open primaries, which allow independents, and even those who are historically members of the opposite party, to vote in the other party’s primary, is nonsensical to me.

So what the Colorado Republican party decided to do with its delegate selection is not unfair, but a true representation of what party activists would like to see happen.

The rules for this selection process were put in place last summer. Every candidate knew about these rules ahead of time. Ted Cruz, wisely, set up a very solid organization that worked hard to get the kinds of delegates who agreed with his candidacy. Donald Trump ignored the rules, did not set up any ground game at all, and didn’t even show up at the convention to speak to the assembled Republicans (8,000 in all).

Result: Cruz won all 34 delegates who are going to the national convention.

And now Trump is calling “foul,” labeling the process as corrupt, saying the people didn’t get a chance to vote. As one of my former students commented on Facebook, she was at that convention and she voted—is Trump saying she wasn’t one of the people?

ConstitutionLet’s dig a little deeper here. We don’t live in a democracy. Rather, we are a constitutional federal republic. The Founders who established the Constitution set up a system whereby the people had a direct vote for the House of Representatives, the state legislatures were represented in the Senate, and official electors from each state, chosen by the state legislatures, would cast the official ballots for president.

In this way, all players in the political “game,” if that’s what you would deem to call it, were represented. A constitutional federal republic believes in representation, but that is not the same as the people in general making all the decisions collectively. We were not supposed to be a “mobocracy.”

In our collective foolishness, an amendment was add to the Constitution back in 1913 that robbed state legislatures of their representation in the federal government by switching the election of senators to the people directly. No longer do senators have to answer to state legislatures and the laws they pass.

I would argue that one very detrimental consequence was Roe v. Wade, which overturned 44 state laws restricting abortions. If senators had had to take into consideration their state laws, they might not have confirmed some of those Supreme Court justices who opened the door to the murder of 58 million innocent babies.

As for the presidency, if you read the Constitution (which I strongly recommend), you will discover that there is no provision at all for a popular vote on who should be president. We allow that popular vote now—a practice that didn’t begin in earnest until about 1828—as a concession to getting some concept of where the people stand. However, it’s not the popular vote that absolutely determines the winner. Just ask President Al Gore about that.

In the same way, the political parties can set up whatever rules they deem proper in determining who should be their candidates. To complain about the process after the fact and begin calling it corrupt (when it didn’t appear to bother anyone ahead of time) is phony.

Donald Trump 3Let’s be clear. Donald Trump has famously announced that he doesn’t play by the rules. He clearly didn’t in this case. He proclaims that he has the best people. Are those the same ones who handed out ballots in Colorado with inaccurate information?

Trump says he can handle the presidency better than anyone in history, yet he cannot put together an organization in each state to deliver his message and get the results he wants.

D0047142_Frame58.tifI agree with Charles Krauthammer, who commented,

I think the assumption that Trump is making, his supporters are making is, that the only really fair way to do this would be something like a national primary, to have a direct correlation between the number of votes you get, and number of delegates, but you know, in Florida, Trump wins 47% of the vote, he gets 100% of the delegates. I didn’t hear anybody complaining about the unfairness. …

And the fact is, everybody’s had the rules for about a year and everybody had a chance to go after the delegates. Trump says in negotiations with the nefarious Chinese, and Mexicans, and Japanese, he’s going to win, they’ve been killing us, they’re so smart. But how’s he going to win? He’s going to have the best people. Well, if you can’t handle the Colorado delegate selection process, how’s he going to handle the nefarious Chinese?

What happened to the 53% of the votes in Florida of those of those who do not support Trump. I don’t think they have any complaint that Trump has all of the delegates, because those were the rules going in, everybody understood them.

As a citizen of Florida, I don’t like the result, but I’m not complaining about how my vote didn’t count. And here’s another point: Trump has amassed about 46% of the delegates at this time while only winning 37% of the vote of the citizens of those very states where he received those delegates.

It appears to me that Donald Trump has been the one who has benefited thus far from the process. Only when he loses a state does he begin to bellow about unfairness.

Just before posting this blog today, I was alerted to a report about the chairman of the Colorado Republican party receiving death threats from Trump supporters. Here’s what Steve House, the party chairman, posted:

Death threats over running a caucus instead of a primary because it is the law here and over the fact that one candidate[Cruz] had a better strategy and a much bigger team on the field.

3000 phone calls with many being the trashiest stuff you can imagine over a tweet we didn’t send and because a candidate [Trump] says he didn’t get to speak at our convention when we tried very hard to get him there.

Shame on the people who think somehow that it is right to threaten me and my family over not liking the outcome of an election.

We need a grownup in the White House, not a petulant child who whines about not getting his way all the time.