Kelly Taking Over

I avoided writing about Anthony Scaracmucci last week when he was unceremoniously escorted off the White House grounds by security. He lasted less than two weeks as Trump’s new director of communications. In fact, he hadn’t even officially begun the job; he was just taking advantage of the notoriety by being very public with his statements.

Those statements are what led to him being shown the door, a particular White House door that a number of staffers have gone through lately.

Upon hearing of Scaramucci’s quick exit, I joked (well, maybe it was only half a joke) that I wouldn’t comment yet because I wanted to be sure first that new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly still had his job after a couple of days had elapsed.

Kelly’s arrival at the heart of the Trump administration is coming at a crucial time. Reports of internecine fighting within Trump’s troops are not all fake news. Major disagreements have surfaced between factions vying for prominence.

It’s also becoming increasingly clear that Trump lacks any real managerial skills, despite his bravado. He’s far more concerned with his personal image and making grandiose claims about how great he is.

The latest example was his declaration that the leader of the Boy Scouts called to tell him his speech before the organization was the best speech ever delivered to them. That was followed by a strong denial from the organization that any such call had occurred.

Who’s the one putting out fake news now?

Unfortunately, Trump tends to surround himself with people just like him. That makes for extreme dysfunction.

Now that Kelly is in control (well, we’ll see how much he can truly control), perhaps things will run more efficiently.

As a highly decorated general, he knows what it takes to achieve difficult goals.

This may be his hardest task yet. All the best to you, Chief of Staff Kelly. There are many of us out here who want you to succeed.

Trump’s Good Picks

Now that most of Donald Trump’s nominees for significant positions in his administration have been chosen—most still needing Senate confirmation—I can say I’m pleased with a number of them. My goal today is to highlight the picks that I think are positive, the ones that offer some hope of wise counsel and prudent policies.

jeff-sessionsSen. Jeff Sessions has been tapped to be the next attorney general, the job that requires enforcing federal laws and prosecuting those who break them.

Sessions was the first senator to support Trump in the primaries, so this is his reward. From everything I know about him, he is an excellent choice for this particular task. Some have attempted to paint him as a racist, apparently because he’s a southern senator. That’s getting old, especially for someone who, as attorney general of Alabama, prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan.

betsy-devosBetsy DeVos, a proponent of education reform, school choice, and champion of parental rights in education, is slated to be the next secretary of education.

DeVos is a solid pick, someone who understands just how awful the education system has become. From what I can determine, she doesn’t believe the government is the answer for fixing it. At one point, she supported Common Core, but when she realized its true nature, she withdrew her support.

As long as there is an education department (for which there is no constitutional authority), I am glad, at least, that someone with her perspective will be in charge of it. If allowed to follow her beliefs, Christian schools and homeschoolers will have an ally.

It would be great if everyone grasped this truth:

source-of-problems

tom-priceGeorgia congressman Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon who has consistently opposed Obamacare and has offered his own substitution for it year after year in Congress, is, hopefully, the next secretary of health and human services.

Price has been chairman of the House Budget Committee, thereby serving as a leader in attempts to control the budget.

With Price at the head of HHS, the Obamacare nightmare might be on its way out—finally.

james-mattisThe job of secretary of defense is crucial right now, given the sad state of our military after eight years of Obama. Handing it over to a general is not a bad idea, and most of the commentary I’ve read and heard about James Mattis confirms for me that he might be the answer.

Mattis’s 41 years as a Marine Corps general is filled with commendations. He led troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and also in Kuwait during the Gulf War. Most recently, he served as head of US Central Command, in charge of all American forces in the Middle East. It would be nice to have someone at defense who understands that region. He co-wrote, with Gen. David Petraeu, the military’s counterinsurgency manual.

Obama fired Mattis from his position at Central Command without even a phone call to him. He had to learn about it from others. The fact that he was at odds with Obama’s military policy makes him even more attractive, frankly.

ben-carsonFor housing and urban development secretary, Trump has picked Ben Carson, someone who knows what it’s like to live in public housing. Many thought Carson might be chosen for HHS instead, given his medical career, but HUD is also understandable.

I like Carson personally (though I have never met him), yet I have been critical of him for his early support of Trump once he (Carson) dropped out of the presidential race. I’ve never really understood what he saw in Trump, especially after the accusations Trump leveled at him during the primaries. But I do want him to succeed in this new position.

The only caveat I have is whether Carson knows how to administer such a large bureaucracy, particularly when he appeared at first to withdraw from consideration from any position, claiming he didn’t feel qualified. Well, we’ll see how it goes. All the best, Dr. Carson. I will pray for you.

john-kellyThe ongoing terrorist threat requires a steady hand at the Department of Homeland Security. From what I’ve gathered, putting former retired Marine general John Kelly in that position gives the nation the steady hand it needs for balancing national security with our basic liberties.

Kelly served as head of US Southern Command. In addition to his experience leading troops overseas, he is known for his strong knowledge of border issues and the drug trade in South and Central America. Sadly, he lost his Marine son to an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly knows what it means to suffer personally from the War on Terror.

nikki-haleyI’m glad to see South Carolina governor Nikki Haley chosen to serve as our next ambassador to the United Nations. While she has little experience in international affairs, she has impressed me with her strong conservatism and political acumen. Both qualities are needed in that post to adequately represent the US in the international arena.

scott-pruittWhile I have little knowledge of Scott Pruitt, Trump’s choice for leading the EPA, I’m heartened by what I’ve read. Pruitt, as Oklahoma attorney general, has been a strong critic of the excesses at the EPA. His detractors will say he is anti-environment, but he appears to be simply anti-extremism on environmental policy. He considers the EPA an all-too-powerful agency pursuing an ideological agenda based on what he considers dubious science. More power to him as he seeks to provide balance in this area.

Those are Trump’s choices that I favor the most. I will follow up in another post with ones that I consider more questionable.

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.

Evangelicals & Trump: Decision Time

So Donald Trump is not going to be present at tonight’s debate. He says Fox News doesn’t treat him fairly. Never mind that he has been omnipresent on their evening programs ever since he announced his candidacy. Last night, he was on The O’Reilly Factor—that’s after he declared he was boycotting the debate because Fox is so unfair.

This stems from that question Megyn Kelly asked him at the first debate. He’s never forgiven her; apparently it has become a point of bitterness for him. Of course, all Kelly did was remind him of the derogatory words he had publicly used to describe women. No one is allowed to remind The Donald of his rude and demeaning behavior.

He then demanded that Fox exclude Kelly from this upcoming debate; Fox refused, so Trump will be a no-show.

Not Fox News

Fox was right in not bowing to his demand. No candidate, no matter how important in his own mind, should be allowed to dictate who is permitted to question him. He may have forgotten that there are other candidates on that stage as well and that he is not the whole show—but that would be foreign to his character, I fear.

I’ve provided in previous posts a litany of the reasons why I do not support Trump. I won’t go into as much detail today, but I would like to address those in the evangelical community, where I also reside spiritually and philosophically.

I continue to be saddened by the number of adherents Trump has accumulated among evangelicals. The latest endorsement, coming from Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University, has prompted the most head-shaking from evangelicals who see the dangers of a Trump nomination.

This is not a denunciation of my fellow believers but an appeal.

When you provide credence to a candidate who has boasted of having sex with a large number of women, many of them married, how is that a testimony to the Gospel you want to promote?

When you ignore the steady stream of diatribes emanating from Trump in his Twitter world, describing anyone who disagrees with him or takes him to task for his views as bimbos, losers, jerks, etc. (I won’t grace this post with some of the more vulgar terms he has used), how does that help point others to a Savior who tells us to be lights in this dark world?

When you promote a man who would love to put his pro-abortion sister on the Supreme Court, would offer the vice presidency to a pro-abortion Republican, who would have jailed Kim Davis over her objection to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and who has no problem overall with same-sex marriage, how are you at the same time promoting Biblical morality?

I’ll stop there, even though there are many other issues I could raise.

It has been terribly dismaying to read all the defenses of Trump from those who say they have put Jesus Christ first in their lives.

In this latest eruption over the debate, Trump, I believe, has simply displayed his basic nature: bitterness, lack of forgiveness, massive ego, and sense of entitlement.

Trump is used to getting his way on everything. He did so in business; he has been masterful at manipulating a compliant media. When he doesn’t get his way, as with the Fox debate, he resorts to rather childish behavior, reacting the way a child might when he picks up his marbles and goes home when others don’t do what he wants.

One cartoonist has a suggestion on how to set up the stage for the debate tonight:

Trump High Chair

Trump and his supporters might consider that suggestion mean-spirited. It might cause a new round of Twitter denunciations. Sadly, it captures the essence of how Trump has been acting.

Let me say this now, prior to the choice of a Republican nominee: if Donald Trump is the nominee, I don’t see how I can fill in that little oval next to his name in the general election. I know. I’ve always counseled people to hold their noses and vote for a bad nominee because the alternative is worse. However, when both choices are equally bad, what then?

Evangelicals need to go before the Lord, earnestly seeking His mind and His heart, as we help make one of the most momentous decisions for this republic in our lifetime. May God guide us and lead us to His wisdom.

Unfair Debate?

Fox Debate ModeratorsThe conspiracy theories about the first GOP debate abound, mostly centered on the questions posed by the moderators. I’ve read that Fox was conspiring with Jeb Bush or with the GOP establishment or with the Democrats or with . . . well, you fill in the blank.

In my view, Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly, and Bret Baier did a valuable service for all the Republican candidates on that stage. They made them come up with answers to some hard questions that they will have to face throughout this campaign. In one instance, there was some unfairness, but not where you may think. I’ll come back to that.

The first question of the debate, in my view, was a masterstroke and unquestionably fair. Asking the candidates to pledge support for the eventual nominee and not to run on a third-party ticket that would ruin the chances for that nominee was essential. Was it targeted at Donald Trump? To be sure. But he’s the one who has been hinting all along that he might bolt and do the third-party thing if he’s not nominated. Putting him on the spot to make a public declaration was a significant moment.

That he refused to take the pledge was quite informative. And if you listened carefully to his answer, he was pretty much saying he has no respect for any of the other candidates. When asked later when he became a Republican, he never gave a straight answer to the question.

Donald Trump at DebateTrump was not singled out. Each candidate was confronted with either controversial statements made in the past or with views that he would have to defend. Only Trump, afterwards, went into whining mode, accusing the moderators of being “unfair.”

As is his habit, he let fly with the “loser” designation freely; during the debate, he also loved to use the word “stupid” with regularity, always referring to almost anyone in the government with whom he disagreed.

When the Frank Luntz focus group afterward revealed that he had lost significant ground with them, he attacked again, having his people call the group a “setup” designed to derail him.

Further, he descended upon Twitter to unleash other comments, specifically calling Kelly a bimbo and saying Fox should fire Charles Krauthammer, who had the audacity to say that the debate was the beginning of the end for Trump’s run for the White House.

Scott Walker GOP DebateNow, let’s contrast Trump’s responses with how Scott Walker handled what I consider an uninformed, misleading question. When Kelly challenged him with being out of touch with 83% of the country on abortion because he didn’t include a “life of the mother” exception, he stayed calm and answered directly, correctly noting that there was no need for that dichotomy—either kill the baby or let the mother die—because there are all kinds of ways to keep the mother alive during a crisis pregnancy.

The Association of Pro-Life Physicians clarifies:

When the life of the mother is truly threatened by her pregnancy, if both lives cannot simultaneously be saved, then saving the mother’s life must be the primary aim.  If through our careful treatment of the mother’s illness the pre-born patient inadvertently dies or is injured, this is tragic and, if unintentional, is not unethical and is consistent with the pro-life ethic.  But the intentional killing of an unborn baby by abortion is never necessary. [emphasis mine]

Kelly needs to be better informed on this specific topic, but it’s one that many believe because of pro-abortion propaganda.

Walker simply stated his strong pro-life position and concluded by alluding to the atrocities of Planned Parenthood, against which he has stood as governor of Wisconsin.

After the debate, no one heard one word of whining from Walker. He praised the moderators as tough but fair, as have all the other candidates.

If Trump’s antics at this debate didn’t convince a person to stop supporting him, I don’t know what will. Yet I will continue to appeal to conservatives to recognize that he is no true conservative, and I will exhort my fellow Christian believers not to be deceived. Donald Trump is not the Christian conservative candidate we need. He is a disaster in the making.

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.

The Unraveling of the Obamacare Utopia

History is replete with odd visionaries and assorted crackpots who try to set up their version of utopia. They are always disappointed with the results. The word itself was a play on words when it was created. Utopia literally means “no place.” In other words, there is no such place as a perfect society when men are involved in setting it up. How can it be otherwise? Mankind is so imperfect it can never fashion perfection on its own.

Even worse are coercive/compulsory utopian dreams. This is when men attempt to use government to force everyone into their schemes. Modern progressives are the source of most of those attempts; they always fail.

Obamacare is one such utopian fantasy, and the unraveling of this scheme is happening before our eyes. When even the Obama-subservient media, whether the news branch or the entertainment portion, begin to take notice, you know something may be changing. News outlets such as NBC are now reporting Obama knew back when he was promising that everyone could keep insurance plans they like, that he was blatantly lying. On the entertainment side of the media behemoth, Jon Stewart is skewering not just a botched rollout but the dishonesty and incompetence of a beloved president he rarely touched before.

The comical rollout has served as the attention-getter. While it’s not the core problem with the program, it has performed admirably as a glaring example of this administration’s typical bumbling and blundering. It is a bracing reminder of what you get when you give priority to style over substance.

The website has been a total disaster:

Error

The question has become, “Can it ever really be fixed?”

Humpty

We now know the company contracted to develop the site has connections to the Obamas. One of the key players went to college with the First Lady. It also is a failed company. It was supposed to set up a gun registry in Canada, but after many years of trying, it was booted off the job. Apparently, it has a shared quality with the administration—complete incompetence.

Last night Megyn Kelly on her Fox program reported the site was down again, and when her people called to find out how long it would take to be back up, they were told anywhere from five minutes to two days. Nice to have such precision. But we’re told if we can’t get access to the site, we can always call the toll-free number for assistance.  Reports indicate that’s not working so well either.

Call Us

Edith Is Ready

This is all quite humorous, but the real glitch is the program itself, and the real story is the lies we were told from the start. Insurance companies, saddled with Obamacare demands for how their polices must be set up, are dropping their individual plans everywhere. At latest count, at least two million people are losing their current plans on January 1. That’s only the beginning. Those numbers will rise drastically over the next weeks and months. But that’s only the portion of the population with individual plans. Wait until the full force of the law hits employers. The plans will become so expensive, they will opt for the penalties instead, and untold millions will be forced to go into the Obamacare exchanges. Ultimately, Obama and his ideologues will achieve their real goal: a single-payer system completely controlled by the federal government.

They’ve been careful not to be up front about that goal; they know that would spell doom for their utopian vision. So they’ve simply lied, again and again, about their intent and the consequences of putting this law into effect:

Pants Fires

The real threat, though, is much greater:

Biggest Lie

That’s the biggest lie of all.

For now, the media is following this story, however reluctantly. If they lose interest, or realize they may be undermining their hero, they may drop it eventually. Now is the time to educate the American public about the true nature of their president and his plans. I’m hoping the website fiasco is an answer to prayer—literally. It focuses the attention of the public in a way no other problem may have done. This may be God’s way of giving us another chance to make things right. What will we do with this opportunity?