A Sense of Humor in a Serious Time

The reason I like to use political cartoons in my blog is that a sense of humor is essential in life, even when circumstances might seem to dictate that we should be serious all the time. Those who read my blog regularly know that I am quite serious about my Christian faith and that I am concerned for the culture and the governing of our society.

Sometimes, though, these forays into humor help us see the ridiculous side of humanity and solidify the conviction that we need the firm anchors of truth and integrity, those very attributes that God intended for any society to function properly.

Truth and integrity have been in shorter supply than usual during this election season. On the one hand, we have a candidate who wants us to believe she has been nothing but truthful in her dealings: Benghazi, e-mails, a “charitable” foundation. The public, overall, doesn’t believe in her integrity. She just doesn’t have what it takes to pull it off:

Endearing Lies

Yet every time you would think she will be called on her multiple lies, you can count on the other candidate to steal the media thunder with his own special brand of outrageous statements and lies:

Right On Time

In the spirit of the Olympics, one cartoonist has suggested a new addition to the games:

Whopper Competition

“I didn’t use my private server for confidential e-mails” vs. “Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald.” Which would win? Close call.

The cartoonists have lately concentrated quite a bit on the awful options presented to the voters this time around. Here are a couple samples:

Hate Their Choice

Another Choice

Both candidates are despised by more than half the population. It has pretty much come down to this:

Campaign Buttons

Perhaps one of Trump’s ideas for immigration needs to be applied to the political parties next time:

Extreme Vetting

I’m all for that suggestion. The problem, though, is that the primary voters made these choice. How do we vet them better? On the Republican side, at least, how about only allowing registered Republicans to vote?

Naw, that would be too common-sensical.

So I’m Immoral & Pharisaical?

There is no question in my mind that Hillary Clinton is not only unqualified to be president but that putting her in the office will only continue the destructive policies of Barack Obama.

Job Opening

She is following in the footsteps of her husband as one of the most corrupt politicians of the current era. The charitable foundation they established is nothing more than a front for enriching themselves.

Clinton Foundation

I believe she deserves to be indicted for crimes and should never be allowed near the levers of power. Her baggage is of monumental proportions.

It's Her Baggage

Consequently, I’m told by a large number of conservatives and Republicans (they are not necessarily synonymous) that I have no choice but to vote for Donald Trump. After all, at least he’s not Hillary Clinton.

The ante has been upped recently. Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have said that if people like me who are opposed to Trump don’t vote for him, we are downright immoral. Another accusation floating around the internet now is that anyone who opposes Trump, especially anyone calling himself a Christian, is a Pharisee.

Oh, yes, Trump has his flaws, we’re told. Everyone is a sinner. Lower your expectations. All Trump does is say silly things sometimes. Hillary has a record we can see; Trump is someone we might distrust, but we should take a chance. Maybe we can just alter the logo somewhat:

What He Meant

So I’m immoral if I don’t vote for him. So I’m a Pharisee if I point out his “flaws.”

I’m sorry, but that narrative just doesn’t work.

Trump has more than “flaws.” He also has a record. As I’ve documented countless times, his entire life is an open book with a multitude of sins, hypocrisies, and support for the same policies advocated by Hillary. He still thinks Planned Parenthood does good things.

Trump even was a major donor to her and the Clinton Crime Family Foundation and said—you can see this on video—that she was a great secretary of state and would be a fine president.

Why has he changed his tune now? Only because he is running against her. He has no integrity, whether we’re talking about his relationships (adulteries, divorces), his business deals (Trump University was a classic scam), or his declared Christian faith (hasn’t done anything for which he needs to ask forgiveness). He operates on the principle (?) that one never should admit an error or mistake and never should express regret or sorrow over past actions.

I don’t have the heart to try to go through all of the reasons today why I will not support Donald Trump. It would take far too long. It is sufficient to say that I simply see no real difference between these two unqualified, incompetent, dishonest candidates. Both will do irreparable harm to the nation.

Latest Terminator

I have made it clear in earlier posts that I understand why some have chosen to vote for Trump anyway, thinking that a Hillary presidency is so reprehensible that almost anything else would have to be an improvement.

While I disagree with that assessment, I have never called anyone who has chosen that path “immoral” or a Pharisee. I have strongly urged everyone to reconsider such a decision because it will forever be a taint on one’s Christian witness. I firmly believe that if one supports Trump, one must then repent of criticizing Bill Clinton for his sexual misdeeds, etc. After all, we must be consistent.

I can’t take that step.

Ben ShapiroI agree with what conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote recently:

I have never made and will never make the argument that it is immoral for people to vote for Trump to stop Hillary. I understand that argument completely, and sympathize with it.

But lying for Trump is immoral. Pretending his boo-boos aren’t boo-boos is immoral. Pretending he’s something he’s not, and lying to your audience about it – that’s immoral. And most of all, pretending that those who make a different risk-reward calculation from yours are immoral – even while those people hold supposedly similar principles – is immoral.

Vote for Trump if you feel you must, but don’t become a shill for him. That will only damage your credibility over the long run.

And please don’t try to convince me to violate my conscience by laying a guilt trip on me, telling me I’m a “Pharisee” for standing by my convictions. Those convictions, I believe, are based on God’s standards, and I will not compromise those.

A 2016 Election Best-Case Scenario?

This has to be the dreariest election season I’ve ever experienced. Republicans have flirted with political suicide in their choice of Donald Trump. Democrats have decided that a woman with no real accomplishments other than being a former First Lady and who ought to be indicted for criminal activities should be their standard-bearer.

Could it be any worse?

After an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox, in which Hillary declared that FBI director Comey concluded she never lied about her private server and e-mails, the whole world was laughing. That led to her attempting to provide an excuse of sorts: they were talking “past” each other; she just “short-circuited.” Yes, there is definitely a short circuit occurring in her brain:

Short-Circuited

Just imagine how this excuse can be used in other circumstances:

Hillary Defense

As for Trump, well, I can’t keep up with his latest gaffes. By the time I’ve finished writing this blog, he may have committed another one, so why try to say a certain misstep is the “latest” when it already may be surpassed by another.

Never have polls indicated such an absolute disgust with both major candidates. Neither is considered trustworthy or truthful.

Negative Numbers

May I tell you what would be the best-case scenario for this election, in my opinion?

First, I would like to see the Republicans hold the House and the Senate. With Trump at the top of the ticket, many are saying that is in jeopardy. Yet voters need to grasp this essential fact: the presidency is not everything; Congress is the branch delegated by the Constitution to write and pass laws. Disgust with Trump should not stop anti-Trump Republicans/conservatives from voting for good congressmen and senators.

Second, I would like to see a record number voting for the presidential nominees, but in a different sense: I would like that number to be the lowest in presidential election history as a percentage of the eligible voters. That would make it clear that the majority of voters have expressed their disdain for the choices given them. Such a record-low turnout might send a strong message to both of the parties: we’re not happy with rules that effectively rig elections.

It’s obvious now that the Democrats, with their super-delegates and the Clinton Machine in full swing, chose Hillary over Sanders well before the primaries even began. He never had a chance.

On the other side, Trump was able to take advantage of the rules established by the Republican party to outlast his opponents. How about some changes, such as a nominee having a history of being a Republican? Or how about only allowing Republicans to choose their nominee in the primaries? I know, that’s too much common sense to be seriously considered.

Electing a president should be a serious matter, not a choice between two equally unqualified, and possibly criminal, nominees.

Big Chair

The best-case scenario is simply this: that a Republican Congress can keep either Hillary or Trump under control. Wish I could offer something better, but we have to think long-term now. The next four years will be a nightmare regardless of who “wins” this election.

Trump Camp Complaints

Two major complaints are now emanating from Trump supporters, and I know those complaints well because I’ve had the same ones over the years. The first one is about how the media is biased in favor of Hillary Clinton. Well, we all knew that was going to happen—the Democrat always has the media on his/her side, so that’s nothing new.

The second complaint is that the polls are skewed. The pollsters are deliberately getting the electorate into a mindset that Trump is going to lose, so give up now. I’ve certainly suspected polls in the past, and sometimes they are skewed. However, much to my chagrin, some of them turned out to be correct after all. Anyone remember the Romney presidency?

In response to the current complaints, I must urge Trump supporters to take into account that bad news about Hillary would have a much better chance of coming to the forefront if Trump himself would stop hogging the headlines with stupid comments. It’s almost as if he can’t let 24 hours go by without creating another controversy.

Breaking News

His thin skin and, frankly, mental imbalance, leads him to respond in fury to any criticism. Who does that help in the end?

Self-Destructive

Mike Pence, and others, are constantly having to tell us what Trump really meant to say.

Let Me Rephrase

After a while, this gets very old. Republican leaders keep promising Trump will “pivot” to a more presidential demeanor. That is a pipe dream. While I’m no fan of the Republican establishment, I can understand why they are wary of tying themselves too closely to someone who might be rather unhinged. They continue to say they support him, but it’s obvious they wish they didn’t have to.

Still Support

As I’ve been saying all along, both Hillary and Trump will be disastrous for the  nation, but only one of the two has the potential for also destroying the Republican party.

Who Says

And what about all those polls that are predicting a huge loss for Trump? Do you really believe they are all deliberately skewed in Hillary’s favor? They not only show national leads for her ranging from 3 points to 15 (not one shows Trump leading at present), but they also indicate he is in danger of losing some traditional Republican states.

Everywhere You Go

Might I suggest they just might be more accurate than critics think?

Once Trump loses, people like me will be the scapegoats for the loss. Rather than blame the candidate himself, the loose cannon who should never be allowed anywhere near the levers of power, Trump fans will solace themselves with attacking those who saw the danger from the start and did their best to sound the warning.

Maybe those of us who couldn’t support Trump due to conscience will someday be honored for our stance on principle. Whether I ever receive such honor or not, I will continue to speak out. My goal is not to be honored, but to be honest and to maintain integrity.

Obama, Iran, Clinton, & Trump–Oh, My!

That Iran “deal” is back in the news. Normally, a deal has something good for both sides, but Iran is walking away with the store while we pretend that it will now keep its word not to develop nuclear weapons for a few years.

The deposit of $400 million to Iran by a cash payment, a move that was carried out secretly by the Obama administration, has showcased once again the empathy our current president has for a terrorist state because it is Muslim.

Night Depository

Well, we owed it to Iran, we are told, but it was interrupted by the Islamic Revolution of 1979. You remember, the revolution that took Americans hostage in their own embassy? And that new government at the time wasn’t exactly the one we were dealing with all along, now was it?

We’ve had a long history of not negotiating with terrorists. What has changed?

Don't Negotiate

What makes this secret cash payment even more disreputable is that the four hostages Iran recently released were done so, apparently, only after this money arrived by plane. One of those hostages, pastor Saeed Abedini, has said that his plane, which was to take him back to freedom, wasn’t allowed to take off until another plane arrived. One filled with cash?

Well, maybe I’m being too cynical. Maybe I should just believe what I’m told by my president.

Coincidence

Ransom

Tribute

After all, he has such a fine history of telling us the truth:

Not a Ransom

This is par for the course, though, for Democrat politicians:

Huge Sums

We are about to follow the most radical administration in American history with what may be the most corrupt. If only Republicans had gotten their act together this year rather than decide to throw a temper tantrum:

Eminently Beatable

We have sown. We are now reaping.

Friends, Colleagues, Former Students–Lend Me Your Ears

I am going to make a concerted effort next week to turn to other subjects in this blog, but for today, I feel compelled to make a heartfelt appeal to those I count as friends or colleagues, and to a multitude of former students of mine who appear to be supporting Donald Trump.

Please lend me your ears. I come not to praise Trump, but to expose him.

But I’m sure you already know that.

Donald Trump at DebateWhen Trump first announced his candidacy, which seems like an eon ago, I immediately viewed it as a joke. After watching his debate “performances,” that view only strengthened. Nothing he has done since has changed my mind, despite the fact that he is now the Republican nominee. The joke is now on us.

My first real indication that something was going terribly wrong was when I went to speak to a Tea Party group here in Florida. This was in early February, prior to the vote in Iowa’s caucuses. The group conducted a poll of its members and Trump won by an astounding margin. The man who spoke right before me was a Trump surrogate who assumed everyone was on his side, and judging by the response, he was correct.

Frankly, I was stunned.

Since the Indiana primary, it now seems as if nearly everyone in the Tea Party and/or 9/12 movements in my area has come out enthusiastically for Trump.

Book Cover 1In January of this year, I spoke to a large gathering of Republican women from across the state. My talk, which was about my book on Reagan and Whittaker Chambers, went over so well that I was besieged afterwards with invitations to come speak to various local Republican clubs.

That has not yet happened. Neither was I invited to speak to our local club this summer, even though I always have done so in recent years. I understand. My vocal opposition to Trump makes that rather untenable.

One of my regular readers, a man who has been active in Republican circles in another state but who also has chosen not to endorse Trump, wrote to me and said he has never felt so isolated from fellow Republicans and that he has been treated pretty much as an outcast.

I’ve also noticed that a good number of friends, colleagues, and former students who used to “like” my blog posts regularly have fallen strangely silent lately. Of course I know why; they have decided to back Trump, even though many, I’m sure, have come to this decision with deep reservations.

If you are part of that group, let me tell you that I do understand your frustration with the way things are. I’m also interpreting your silence as a measure of respect for me, not wishing to publicly come out against my position.

The most bothersome thing to me is that most of us all want the same thing, but we disagree on how to achieve it. Rest assured, your difference of opinion on Trump doesn’t sever our relationship, but it does sadden me.

Why? Well, in the case of former students, in particular, I had hoped that all I’ve taught so fervently these past decades would help ground you in principles. I’m not saying you aren’t principled—you continue to stand firm for all those things we believe in with respect to the rule of law, religious liberty, the proper type of education, etc.—but you somehow think that Donald Trump will protect and preserve what we all cherish.

That’s where I think you are violating your principles.

I’m especially disturbed by those who would say I am part of the establishment, and that’s why I oppose Trump. Good heavens, would anyone who really knows me say anything like that? I ask you, who is in bed with the “establishment” right now? Isn’t it Trump himself? Didn’t the “establishment” cut off all opposition to his nomination? Why are you now siding with the very people that have so angered you all these years?

After the Republican convention, an organization called Conservatives Against Trump came out with a statement that accurately conveys where I stand and why.

Against Trump 3

Let me share some of those comments.

The statement makes it clear that the goals of this group are what “we” have always encouraged: limited government, religious liberty, freedom of speech, the sanctity of life, and a strong national defense. It goes on to note,

We see no small irony in the fact that the Republican Platform Committee produced one of the most deeply conservative platforms in modern electoral history, but nominated a candidate who has taken positions contrary to its central tenets. Donald Trump is a contradiction to most everything the Party states as its core beliefs.

Abdication of principle is not the problem of those who oppose Trump; that abdication is found within the party that nominated him.

Then there is this reminder of where Trump has stood on policy and his previous political commitments:

Trump begins as a liberal Republican, arguably more liberal than any other Republican presidential candidate in recent memory. He repeatedly praises Planned Parenthood. He has donated significant money to liberal politicians – including Hillary Clinton.

He wants the government to run health care. He opposes entitlement reform. He supported the Obama stimulus spending plan, the auto bailout and the banks bailout. He opposes free trade agreements. Trump is much closer to the Democratic Party than the Republican. He is a man whose deepest creed is himself.

It continues with commentary on his character, which should be a primary concern of all real conservatives, and Christian conservatives in particular:

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganThis pretend Republican has preyed on misunderstandings, ignorance, and sometimes violence and rank bigotry. He has been vulgar, coarse, demagogic, and cruel. He has mocked disabled people, lauded dictators, and insisted that military leaders would follow his lawless orders should he attain the Presidency. He has been slow to condemn racists – the very reason the Republican Party was founded. He has praised torture as a form of punishment and promised to extend retribution to the innocent.

4.1.1But what about the Supreme Court? Even if everything else I’ve said about Trump is true, we can’t let that slip through our fingers, can we?

Some of our fellow conservatives have argued that the Supreme Court vacancy compels them to vote for Trump. We respect them and their reasoning, but we do not agree. We do not trust that Trump would appoint a good Justice or, if he does, would fight for a conservative jurist against an adversarial Senate.

The statement correctly notes that the Supreme Court is only one part of the government and that a Trump presidency would probably be just as disastrous to the whole concept of our government as a Hillary presidency:

Furthermore, we would be gambling on a good Supreme Court nomination at the price of constitutional integrity – and this coming from a Republican President leading a party that prides itself on originalist jurisprudence.

We do not trust Donald Trump to bow to the authority of the Constitution or the laws of Congress. He is running on a platform of strength and action, and our Constitution was formed to hobble not just quick lawmaking, but the very kind of strongman governance Trump embodies, despite the angry clamor from a justifiably frustrated electorate.

The antidote is not to seek a “strong man” who will force everything to go the way he perceives it should. Recall Trump’s words at the Republican convention when he said only he can solve the problems of the nation. Really? That’s been the attitude of a steady stream of dictators throughout history.

So what is the solution?

The antidote is to put forward leaders who will appeal to our reason and virtue, not our instincts and vices. We are committed to the principles of the Republican Party, not because they belong to the Party but because we believe they are right and just. We are conservatives before we are Republicans.

We believe that politics is about the art of the possible. We have often been in a position of supporting the lesser of two evils. But Donald Trump appeals not to our better angels but to our baser instincts.

Constitutional RepublicThe statement then ends with the following declarations:

We will not compromise core principle for the sake of Party allegiance.

We will not allow vulgarity to stand in the place of virtue.

We will not allow Trump to be the face of the nation to the world – not with our votes.

We will not sit by idly and allow conservatism to be hijacked by a man who shares none of the values of Reagan and Lincoln.

We will support conservative candidates down-ballot.

We will vote our conscience because we believe such a vote is our right and duty as citizens and is never wasted — whether that be voting for another conservative candidate or a write-in.

We will continue to speak out on issues important for our nation. We will seek to impact the newest generation of voters and educating them on the Constitution, the role of faith, family, and freedom as the basis of limited government.

I am in agreement with every one of those declarations. I appeal to all of you—friends, colleagues, and former students—please rethink your support of a man who is just as much a threat to our government and our culture as the horrible candidate put forth by the Democrats.

It’s time to see Donald Trump for what he really is, not for what you hope he will be.

Unity?

Unity. That’s what it’s all about, right? All of us who are sickened at the thought of a Hillary presidency have to board the Trump train for the sake of unity. And if people like me, who oppose Trump for president, don’t hop on board, we are the problem and will be blamed for a Trump loss in November.

As I’ve said countless times, and will repeat again, any Trump loss in November will be due to Donald Trump himself and those who mindlessly followed him into his own personal fever swamp.

Evidence? It abounds.

Let’s look at what has occurred since the Republican convention.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganFirst, Trump refuses to let go of any comment by anyone that is the least bit critical of him, and continues to fire back regardless of the consequences. In politics, you take the heat and go on. Trump will not do so; instead, he creates bigger issues because he is so thin-skinned.

He continues to criticize Ted Cruz and won’t back off on the stupid accusation that Cruz’s father is somehow implicated in the JFK assassination.

He takes umbrage at a Muslim father speaking at the Democrat convention criticizing him. Keep in mind this was the Democrat convention. Of course they will line up speakers to criticize him.

In this case, though, the parents lost their son in Iraq. Now, whatever the truth is about the father—even if he should happen to be someone who ultimately favors Sharia law, or whatever—Trump’s reaction was again supremely stupid. You simply don’t rant against parents who lost their son in service to the country. From what I’ve read, the son lost his life when he ordered his fellow soldiers to stay back while he investigated; he died doing so, putting his fellows first.

That kind of decision needs to be respected, no matter who the parents are. Trump turning it into a “cause” only cheapens Trump. He somehow can’t see that.

A whole slew of stupidity manifested itself yesterday. Trump tells a woman to remove her crying baby from his rally after first trying to say he loves babies. I’ve watched the video without any editing. He came across as a fool and someone who really, despite what he claims, doesn’t like babies.

A veteran gave Trump his Purple Heart. Trump jokes that he always wanted one but didn’t expect to receive it this way. Just a joke, right? Watch the video, please. He again comes across as “this is all about me, not thee.” He doesn’t honor the man who gave it to him; he turns the focus on himself—as always—because in Trump World, all that matters is Donald Trump.

Then, because Paul Ryan and John McCain criticize him for his comments over the Muslim parents’ dead son, he now says he doesn’t endorse them for reelection.

Some of my readers may respond with joy over that because of dislike of both Ryan and McCain. But regardless of what you think of those men, isn’t Trump supposed to be unifying the party now? What does he do instead? He creates greater division. This is so bad that even Reince Priebus is upset. It takes a lot to get him upset with Trump.

Mike Pence has had to do more damage control than any VP candidate in history. I would feel sorry for him except for the fact that he signed up for this voluntarily. Did he understand what he was getting himself into?

Fireman Pence

How bad is it getting? I watched Fox News’s The Five last night, a show that reflexively defends Trump no matter what. Except for last night. Only Eric Bolling was willing to find an excuse for Trump’s antics. The others, especially Dana Perino, were critical. Perino practically said Trump was stupid and she seemed to be fed up with trying to defend him. She says she can offer no more advice on what he should do because he obviously won’t listen to anyone. Her disgust with Trump was all over her face.

Reports coming from inside the Trump campaign paint a picture of an organization almost in chaos, with people beside themselves trying to rein him in unsuccessfully.

I am more and more convinced that Trump’s supersized ego—one that has been allowed to grow throughout his life without any serious barriers—has made him a very disturbed man, both mentally and emotionally.

Beyond that, I’m not even sure he has the brain power to think clearly and rationally. He is stuck in his middle school vocabulary, with constant repetition of words and phrases (great, terrific, terrible, nasty, loser, etc., etc.) and has the emotional stability that goes along with boys at that level of maturation.

Trump's Brain

Am I aghast at the thought of a Hillary Clinton reign of error and terror? Absolutely. The trouble is that I’m equally aghast at the thought of a Trump ascendancy.

I’m in the minority in conservative circles right now. I’m apparently in the minority in evangelical circles also. That’s okay. I’ve been in this position before. My goal remains the same: speak the truth as God gives me the light to see the truth; emerge from this fiasco with my integrity intact.

Pray for our nation.