Trump Being Trump

Post-debate commentary continues unabated. As expected, all those immediate online polls showed a triumphant Trump. Never mind that they are all manufactured by the trolls who planned to overwhelm them regardless of how their candidate actually fared during the debate.

Trump likes to tout those polls as genuine. Does he recall (well, I’m probably asking too much of him there) how Ron Paul always “won” those online polls after primary debates? If he doesn’t recall, perhaps he can ask President Paul about them.

More sober and realistic analysis reveals a rather widespread opinion that Trump fell apart during the last half of the debate; the perception is that he stumbled badly. For me, that was just Trump being Trump.

If you are a Trump supporter and depend upon Sean Hannity for analysis, you will be comforted that Trump accomplished his mission Monday night. The downside, of course, is that you will be residing in Trump/Hannity World where reality is somewhat skewed.

There are a number of comic strips I follow daily. One of them, Non Sequitur, can be annoyingly progressive at times, but can also occasionally zero in on the follies of our present age. Today’s strip achieves the latter:

a-revelation

Maybe you’ve heard the old cliché that in America anyone can grow up to be president. Sadly, we’ve now reached that point.

And as Forrest Gump so eloquently remarked, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

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.

Let Fox Be Fox Once Again

Today’s post will be tinged with sadness—sadness over some loss of trust in what was, and still can be, the best news organization in the nation.

Two decades ago, I received my news primarily through CNN and MSNBC. Fox was not yet on my cable system. Both CNN and MSNBC leaned left, but there were enough sensible people, at least a hint of balance, that I could reasonably watch them.

Fox News LogoI was delighted when Fox News finally became a staple on every cable system; my first experience with Fox on a regular basis came in 2001 when I moved to the northern Virginia region.

It was truly a breath of fresh news air. For the first time, my beliefs—Christian and conservative—were treated with respect. I never expected a channel that mirrored me precisely, but Fox was a source I could trust better than those other two options, and both CNN and MSNBC shifted even more to the left during this time.

I still make Fox my “go to” network, my default, so to speak. Yet this election cycle has punctured its vaunted image of being fair and balanced. No, it hasn’t become a left-wing clone of those other two channels; it has, though, via a number of its on-air hosts, veered dangerously close to becoming a cheerleader for Donald Trump.

Now, I realize that commentators comment, and they are perfectly free to say what they think, but the obvious bias for Trump appearing on far too many of its programs has made watching Fox much less appealing than before.

I’ve always loved Fox and Friends in the mornings. The hosts are witty, yet serious about the kinds of issues I am serious about. Lately, though, some of the coverage has become cringeworthy, particularly when Trump is allowed to phone in his views nearly every day and is not challenged on anything he says.

Eric BollingThe Five always has been an interesting exchange from hosts with varying angles of thinking, but Eric Bolling, who sits right in the middle, has become such a Trump sycophant that he is now difficult to watch. His Saturday program on the economy used to have a place for Michelle Fields, the reporter manhandled by Trump’s chief of staff, but once that incident occurred, Bolling banned her from returning. The excuse is that now she can’t be objective. If so, why does that standard not apply to Bolling as well?

As an aside, one of The Five‘s co-hosts, Greg Gutfeld, noted on the program how the Trump issue is dividing the network. Someone needs to listen to him.

Sean HannityThe Fox evening lineup has constantly demolished its competition. Now I see Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity practically panting at the opportunity to highlight Trump. Greta gave him a full hour last night; Hannity is doing the same tonight. Two nights in a row? Really?

To be fair, Hannity has also hosted Cruz a couple of times, and he complains that Cruz has not been open to more interviews. Yet his affection is so clearly for Trump that it oozes out of every pore. The Cruz people say they have no real desire to appear on Hannity’s program again because he has resorted to using Trump talking points. I noticed that in the last interview he did with Cruz.

Bill O’Reilly has been more balanced overall than Greta and Hannity, but even he seems to enjoy those Trump visits in a chummy kind of way. Yes, he has been better at challenging Trump on occasion, but he never gets to the bottom of the Trump falseness the way he seeks to do with others.

Megyn KellyThe only bright spot of complete integrity with respect to coverage of Trump is Megyn Kelly, and you know she is being a genuine journalist just by Trump’s obsession with her and his ongoing Twitter war demeaning her publicly.

Kelly is to be commended for not allowing Trump to dictate her coverage. She is now, for me, the only fresh air on the network’s evening lineup, and the only one I trust to bring a fair and balanced perspective. She has shown class by not responding to Trump in kind even while suffering his Twitter barrage of insults. She has shown herself to be the most professional of all the hosts.

Cruz has an hour with Kelly this evening. I can understand why his team chose her for this. She has never refrained from asking him the tough questions, but she has allowed him to answer without being interrupted by another Trump talking point.

Let me add here that when Fox hosted Republican primary debates, I think the network shined. All the candidates were treated equally and all were asked the hard questions they had to know how to answer if they went to the general election. So kudos on that front.

So, where am I on my view of Fox? It’s a mixed bag at the moment. As I said at the top, this commentary is tinged with sadness. I want Fox to be a trusted source. I sincerely hope it can restore its former image. I will continue to watch as much as I can, but the remote control can easily change to something else if Trump adulation becomes more than I can stomach.

Let Fox be Fox once again.

Duck Dynasty & the Homofascist Gaystapo

I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. Skinning an animal or cleaning fish are not on my bucket list. I don’t concoct ingenious, makeshift contraptions to make things work. I’d make a lousy redneck. Yet I absolutely love Duck Dynasty. I resisted it for over two years, but so many people were referencing it, and I heard that the Robertson family are Christians, so I finally succumbed to watching an episode. I was hooked from the start.

Duck Dynasty

The writing is clever, the humor sometimes subtle; in fact, I’m not sure how much of what the characters say is scripted, since much of it seems so freewheeling. At the center of the family is the patriarch, Phil Robertson. Although I like all the characters, his little quips are my favorites. His wry sarcasm is one of the highlights of the program. Yet he’s also approachable beneath his gruff exterior. At the end of most shows, he leads the family in prayer around the dinner table, and he often uses the name of Jesus specifically. Robertson’s life was a mess for a long time, and his marriage was endangered, until he repented of his sins and turned his life over to Christ. One of his goals with Duck Dynasty is to showcase genuine Christian faith in whatever ways he can. The A&E network has tried to put roadblocks in his way, but he doesn’t compromise on what he believes.

Why am I writing about this today? Robertson sat down with a writer from GQ magazine for an interview. Part of that interview dealt with his faith and how he views society through the lens of Christianity. He spoke about sin, and specifically mentioned homosexuality, along with other sexual actions outside of a man-woman marriage, as a sin. He went on to paraphrase pretty accurately a passage from I Corinthians, chapter 6. When asked what he considered sinful behavior, here’s what Robertson said specifically, according to the interviewer:

Phil RobertsonStart with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Nothing he said in that statement was outside orthodox Christian belief. Millions of us—and I do mean “us”—believe the same thing and are distressed that our society has degenerated to the point where we have legalized a sexual act that will ultimately destroy not only the person caught up in it, but the families that will be decimated, the children growing up without a stable home, and a moral civilization overall.

His remarks created a firestorm. All the homosexual groups were outraged and demanded that A&E cut ties with the Robertsons. They accused him of hate speech (I knew when we began to introduce that concept into American law that we had started down a slippery slope) and pretty much read him out of the human race. The network issued a statement of its own, which included a decision:

His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.

At least they are honest as to where they stand. They don’t simply allow pro-homosexual talk, but they champion that whole lifestyle. From my perspective then, they have declared themselves as active promoters of sinfulness. Phil Robertson has ostensibly been taken out of the program, although the next season’s episodes are already filmed.

I watched two news programs on Fox last night—Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity—to see how they would handle this situation. Both had panels to which they asked questions about Robertson’s right to say what he believed. Kelly’s panel included a rabid homosexual activist who practically foamed at the mouth, vitriolically accusing Robertson of spreading vitriol. The other two, and Kelly herself, gave only tepid endorsement of Robertson’s First Amendment protections. Normally, Kelly is the best of interviewers and doesn’t let guests get away with dominating a conversation and speaking over the top of others. Last night, she seemed to back off and let the activist say whatever he wanted, practically giving him the last word. Why the change? Is she afraid of the LGBT lobby, which has become poisonous to anyone who dares criticize the homosexual lifestyle?

Hannity loves Duck Dynasty and knows the Robertsons. One of his guests, rather inexplicably, said this was not a religious liberty issue. Nothing Robertson said, he opined, was religious in nature. Huh? The one constant on both panels is that even conservatives fear to tread into this issue. Too many conservatives may consider themselves Christian, but they are mostly cultural Christians, which is not the same thing as the real deal.

What is occurring in our society is an all-out attack on Biblical standards of morality. Those who say it’s a figment of evangelicals’ imagination are not paying attention. The goal will be to outlaw any public expression of Christian belief that directly contradicts newly accepted societal norms. I’ve heard words like “homofascist” and “Gaystapo” to describe the militant attitude of the homosexual activists. They seem apropos to me. Tolerance has taken a whole new twist, and it’s anything but tolerant:

 Value Judgments 1

Value Judgments 2

Value Judgments 3

Value Judgments 4

Value Judgments 5

Christians who believe that homosexuality is sinful also hold out the hope that all sin can be repented of and forgiven. There’s nothing hateful about the proper Christian approach here: identify the sin so that we can help people get free of it. That will never happen if we refuse to acknowledge the sin in the first place.

There will be persecution on this issue. Where will the church stand? Will we cower in fear and avoid talking about it? Worse, will we adopt the world’s views? A shaking is taking place. Only those who are grounded on Scripture will come through this with their faith intact.

An Evil Element

In her interview with Sean Hannity earlier this week, Sarah Palin used a Scriptural reference that no one, to my knowledge, commented on in any of the analyses of the interview. She quoted from 2 Timothy 1:7, which says,

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity [or “fear,” depending on the translation], but of power and love and discipline.

While no one else seemed to pay much attention to it, I noticed it immediately and found it to be an insight into her spirit at this time of intense pressure stemming from an onslaught of false accusations. It indicated to me that she is continually going back to the source of her inner strength—her Christian faith.

Why would Palin be drawn to this particular Scripture? It speaks clearly to her situation, informing her of what her frame of mind ought to be. It comes in the midst of the most demented and vitriolic [yes, I used that word] attacks on a public figure I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I remember how Reagan was demeaned during his administration. All of us can easily recall what was termed Bush Derangement Syndrome in the past decade. Yet what is happening to Palin at this time is possibly even more severe. As she noted in that interview, she receives death threats all the time, not only leveled at her but also at her children.

Understand this: there is an evil element out there that would actually relish seeing her and her family assassinated.

Who hates her? Why do they hate her? The first question is the easiest to answer: those on the far Left detest her. They are more than rude and crude toward her; they are demonstrably unstable. Where have we heard that characterization recently?

The second question requires more analysis. Here’s what I believe. They hate her for the following reasons, at minimum:

  • She is openly Christian.
  • She redefines their concept of feminism, refusing to be aggrieved and play the victim.
  • She overturns their idea of how a woman should get ahead—she did it without government favors.
  • Her belief in American exceptionalism makes them grind their teeth in rage.
  • She has the audacity to forge ahead without first getting some kind of degree from either Harvard or Yale.
  • She’s just not from the right class of people—how can anyone from the Alaskan frontier not be a backward, uncouth person? Surely she must be stupid.

There are more, I know, but those are the ones that readily come to mind.

Her most vociferous critics on the far Left are found in the blogosphere. They make the most outrageous claims, often exhibiting the very attitudes of which they accuse others:

As Palin noted in the interview, if they didn’t have a double standard, they would have no standards at all.

But they are aided and abetted by the more sophisticated critics in the media. The mainstream media won’t be as bellicose as the deranged segment of the Left, but it will perform a valuable service in keeping the nation’s collective mind pointed in whatever direction it desires:

Are they real journalists at all? Or are they something else?

I believe Palin had to respond to all the accusations. This doesn’t make her unpresidential or petty or defensive. There are times when you have to make your case and hope that enough sensible people will listen, learn, and reject the lies and distortions emanating from the fever swamp.

If all of this ends up destroying Palin’s  reputation, evil will have won a battle, but that’s not the same thing as winning the war.

NPR's "Explanation"

I’m actually a bit surprised that the Juan Williams firing by National Public Radio (NPR) continues to be a controversy nearly a week after it occurred. I’m not displeased by the ongoing discussion—it’s more of a pleasant surprise.

The most galling feature of the entire episode is the hypocrisy exhibited by NPR. The ombudsman for the network [or should I say ombudswoman to be politically correct?], attempted the other day to explain the decision in greater detail. I’ve read it. She failed.

Her name is Alicia Shepherd. The section of her explanation that stood out to me was the following:

It’s not about race. It’s also not about free speech, as some have charged. Nor is it about an alleged attempt by NPR to stifle conservative views. NPR offers a broad range of viewpoints on its radio shows and web site.

Instead, this latest incident with Williams centers around a collision of values: NPR’s values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus the tendency in some parts of the news media, notably Fox News, to promote only one side of the ideological spectrum.

The first laughable line is that NPR doesn’t attempt to stifle conservative views, closely followed by how it offers a broad spectrum of viewpoints. On Bill O’Reilly’s program Monday evening, he went down a list of commentators on NPR—not even one was a bona fide conservative. Where does she get off making such an obviously fallacious statement?

Then her comparison of NPR with Fox was incredible. Fox has a bevy of liberal commentators on every program. Even someone as conservative as Sean Hannity always interviews liberals and has them on his panel each night. Yes, his viewpoint is dominant, but his is an opinion show. O’Reilly, while mostly conservative, goes off that reservation on a number of issues, and some of the wacky, far-left guests he allows on his program at times drive me to distraction. Greta Van Susteren is hard to pinpoint—she talks to everyone and doesn’t wear her politics in the open.

NPR, on the other hand …

Shepherd says the latest flap with Williams was the last in a long line of concerns over his comments. Like what? Well, he actually criticized Michelle Obama once. Horror of horrors! You can see Shepherd’s entire explanation right here if you want an amusing read.

As I said, I’m not convinced by her arguments, particularly when Nina Totenberg remains one of NPR’s chief analysts. This is the woman who famously said that she hoped former Sen. Jesse Helms would get AIDS, “or one of his grandchildren will get it.” Nice. Yet she’s still there. When was the last time Juan Williams said he wanted someone to die?

How shall we characterize NPR?

Unfortunately, that’s uncomfortably close to the truth.