The Trump Titanic?

Here’s the ideal political world: each candidate, out of sincere love of country and its people, rises above pettiness, lays aside ego, bases a campaign on issues, treats opponents with respect, and does his/her best to be a statesman for the good of all and not merely a politician out for personal glory.

That’s the ideal political world. This is what we see instead:

Make America 8 Again

Also in an ideal political world, the media would be careful to present each candidate fairly, showing favoritism to none. Yet what do we find now?

Got a Temper

Rather than treating someone who is all bluster and insults and no substance as an embarrassment, that which is painfully obvious is ignored by many:

Black Hole

When asked what the role of government is, this candidate, with nary a nod toward constitutional authority, offers opinions unburdened by such constitutional qualms:

Top 3

And untold numbers of supposed conservatives, who should know better, aid the cause, not realizing it will ultimately lead to their own destruction:

Gangplank

There are signs, though, of an awakening. What started as a ball-of-fire campaign that surprised virtually everyone, may end in a ball of fire itself if this candidate goes to the convention not having locked up the majority of delegates:

Greatest Landing

If he fails to win the nomination, the nation will have dodged a YUUUGE bullet, and perhaps the Republican party will come out of it wiser . . . perhaps . . .

In the Long Run

May the Trump Titanic sink quickly. May we all regain our common sense just as quickly.

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.

Establishment: What Does It Mean?

The media keeps throwing around the word “establishment.” In the almost-immortal words of The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

What is the Republican establishment, and once we have identified it, does it really hate Donald Trump?

The problem is that the Republican party is particularly divided right now, and analysts keep insisting on confusing different groups who have different concerns.

Divided Elephant

They insist the “establishment” is trying to deny Trump the nomination. By that, they mean the power brokers in the party, the leadership of the Congress, and the donors. Perhaps they are trying to dump Trump, but I’m not entirely convinced. I think they are all too ready to be won over to his side simply because they are beginning to believe his Trumped-up claims of being a winner.

Yet those same analysts seem to lump into the establishment people like me. I fit into their predetermined classification of establishment because I’ve always gone along with whoever was chosen as the nominee, no matter how disappointed I’ve been with the picks.

But I’m not that easily categorized. You see, I will never be bought off like the established establishment might be. My concerns for the Republican party are secondary. Instead, I vote primarily for who most closely corresponds with the principles I believe in.

And if the Republican party crowns a nominee that undermines those principles, I will be AWOL.

So there are two different groups within the Republican party that are concerned about a Trump nomination. The first seeks power and influence above all, and if convinced Trump will allow that power to continue, no problem.

The second, to which I belong, says that if that power will corrupt constitutional principles, it would be immoral to lend support to anyone who will advance that corruption.

So, please, mainstream media, don’t lump me in with the first group. I am motivated differently. My concerns are not identical with those more devoted to party than principle.

As I’ve been saying in previous blogs and will reiterate here, I identify as a Christian principled constitutional conservative. That is who I am, and that identity will determine my vote.

Tuesday’s Elections: Not a Conventional Analysis

Primary ElectionsFour states on Tuesday held either a caucus or a primary. As with last Saturday’s results, one can again go with the conventional analysis and give the night to Donald Trump or one can look a little deeper. I choose the latter.

Now, there’s no denying that Trump won three of those four states and that it moved him closer to the nomination. But it didn’t get him as far as one might want to think. Neither are the trends going in his direction.

Let’s look at each state individually.

Mississippi

This was a two-man race only. Kasich and Rubio were so far behind as to be nearly nonexistent. As with Louisiana, according to reports, more than 40% of the voters had already turned in ballots early, meaning they had made up their minds prior to witnessing the last two debates, both of which were problematic for Trump. In Louisiana, those who voted on primary day went for Cruz over Trump. I have to wonder if the same scenario played out in Mississippi. How many early Trump voters regretted their haste afterward?

Michigan

This one was quite interesting in that Cruz didn’t put any effort into the state. According to one report, his campaign spent about $1100 overall. In election terms, that’s like spending nothing. Yet he came in second, overtaking Kasich, who had labored to make Michigan his lead-in to Ohio next week. It’s amazing to hear some talking heads remark about Kasich’s “strong” showing in Michigan while seeming to miss the fact that he came in third out of four candidates. Comments about Cruz’s surprise finish, when he had pretty much written off the state, were few and far between.

I know it has become fashionable to blame the media for how much time they give Trump over Cruz, and I don’t want to jump on a bandwagon just for the sake of jumping on, but . . . the accusation is all too true.

Rubio, by the way, took last place by a convincing margin.

Ted Cruz 3Idaho

This was a runaway victory for Cruz, pulling in more than 45% of the vote; Trump was under 30%. Yet somehow it gets lost in the shuffle. Cruz spent more time here, giving an indication that when he concentrates on a state, he can make significant gains. Again, neither Kasich nor Rubio were major factors.

Hawaii

No one knew what to expect here. Trump won over Cruz by about 42% to 32% in a state known to be one of the most liberal in the nation. Cruz won liberal Maine, so that 32% in Hawaii may indicate more strength than some are willing to admit.

Delegates

As I noted in an earlier post, the number of states won, at this point, means less than the delegate total. While Trump won more delegates on Tuesday, it wasn’t a massive take. In fact, Trump, despite winning three states to Cruz’s one, earned only 12 delegates more than Cruz on the night.  Overall, he now has either a 458-359 or 459-364 lead over Cruz (depending on which network is doing the calculation), still within striking distance.

The Media

Okay, I have another comment to make about the media’s role. After Trump won Mississippi and Michigan, he staged (I use that word advisedly) a so-called press conference that turned into an infomercial for his business “successes.” Yes, I put that word in quotes. He had steaks on the stage, but his steak business went bust; he had water and wines, but he doesn’t really manage those anymore. The water bottles on stage were just the typical kind you get at the nearest grocery store.

Donald TrumpHe then boasted that his defunct and fraudulent Trump University would rise from the ashes of the current lawsuits and be “great.” Have you noticed how often he uses certain words—great, tremendous, wonderful, etc.? Have you noticed that instead of substance, he simply keeps repeating the same words and sentences over and over?

Yet the media never broke away from his ramblings. They gave full coverage to this lovefest for himself. He truly is a media creation. And a juvenile one at that.

What Next?

The big states next week are Florida and Ohio. I really don’t mind Kasich staying in the race right now if there is any possibility he could take Ohio away from Trump. It won’t be the start of Kasichmentum no matter how often he says it will be.

In Florida, I sincerely doubt that Rubio can win. I live here. I have access to a lot of disgruntled people who believe he betrayed them on immigration, and they are not very forgiving, even a few years later. Rubio won’t step down before Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, so he risks his entire political future if he ever decides to run for governor. Losing a presidential primary in one’s own state is a badge of dishonor that will stay with a candidate for a long time.

Cruz’s decision to make a stronger play for Florida might be too little too late, but he is on an upswing while Rubio is heading in the other direction. Trends do matter. Even if Cruz cannot win Florida, if he puts in a surprisingly strong showing, that could help propel him into victories elsewhere.

If Rubio should lose Florida, his run is over, and he will need to acknowledge it, sooner rather than later. That will be the only hope for Cruz to overtake Trump. Despite some of the bad blood between the two campaigns, I find it hard to believe that the majority of Rubio supporters would migrate to Trump.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing has been decided for sure yet, no matter what you may hear in the media.

C. S. Lewis: Impact on Americans (Part 5)

This week, I’m sharing some of the comments respondents to my Wade Center survey gave regarding the movie versions of Narnia. For the sake of brevity here, I’m excluding comments on earlier productions, such as a 1979 animated Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe and BBC productions of four of the Narnia books back in 1988-1990. So here is the amended question I asked:

Have You Viewed Any of the Narnia Hollywood Productions? If So, What Is Your Opinion of Them?

The Chronicles of NarniaSome respondents were fulsome in their praise of the recent movies, such as the one who commented simply, “I love them. Excellent films and all seem to follow the book fairly closely.” Added to that was another’s perspective: “I thought these films portrayed Lewis’s books very well. They made Lewis’s characters come to life.” And a third contributed, “I believe they are a creative representation of the Biblical narrative that can penetrate hearts and souls.”

All of these responses concentrated on the substance of the films and a sense of satisfaction that they conveyed the essence of what Lewis sought to communicate. Another thought the quality of the production highlighted Lewis’s themes: “Amazing! I love the graphics, the film quality supported the story line and made it so real to me.”

Others, while supportive of the movies, noted some concerns about alterations of the message and about parts that were omitted and/or the addition of extra material that Lewis himself had not introduced. For instance, one respondent commented, “I have seen all three Narnia theatrical films. I enjoyed all three and thought they were generally well done. I was a little disappointed that they ‘watered down’ the Christian elements a bit, but I still thought they were good films and largely faithful to Lewis’s ideas and vision.”

Prince CaspianAnother seemed to suggest that there are natural limitations whenever one tries to convert a book into a film: “I appreciated how they brought the Narnia books to the big screen and made them understandable and attractive for a wider audience. I don’t believe that the movies could ever have quite the depth of the books but I did appreciate the translation of some elements to visual art.”

Similar in tone was this remark: “I have viewed the first two Narnia films. I enjoyed them, but felt that the content of the Narnia stories is better communicated in book form. Film diminishes the charm of Lewis’s authorial voice.”

Despite those positive and semi-positive reviews, comments decrying the loss of Lewis’s vision and disappointment with some of the decisions on how to communicate the message of the books on screen were more numerous. Here are the most representative samples in this grouping:

Voyage of Dawn Treader 2I have seen all three films based on The Chronicles of Narnia. I think they are well done cinematically, although some scenes hint at a low budget and inexperienced actors.

They maintain the integrity of Lewis’s characters and stories in name and outline, but the deviations therefrom are numerous and sometimes so great as to ruin almost entirely the theological, personal, and practical insights and applications made available in the books.

I watched the Chronicles of Narnia films. I think they were good, but commercialized. I think that C.S. Lewis has saturated the market, which is good, but I believe people begin to miss the depth that he provided. Also, the struggle that C.S. Lewis had with the Christian faith. I believe that the popularity of these movies has brought popularity to C.S.Lewis, but I hope that people explore more of his works and begin to wrestle with the different thoughts and ideas that he presented.

I have been SO upset about the ways in which the movies, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, diverged from the book. The book is my favorite of the series, as it is many others. The movie just took liberties that were “unforgivable.” Wardrobe was good, and Caspian was a “B” also because of things like having the White Witch show up.

I felt very disconnected from the Disney/Walden Media death scene (and movie as a whole) and felt the newer live action films lacked the understanding of the spiritual undertones of the works and Aslan’s character. . . . Disney/Walden’s LWW was the strongest of the recent films. Most people I’ve talked to felt that Prince Caspian was a huge letdown and Voyage could not make up the difference.

How to summarize? Of the three Hollywood films, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes across as the best. There is a strong sense of disappointment in Hollywood’s renditions of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Finally, there is strong criticism of deviations in the Hollywood scripts and depictions.

Next Saturday, I turn to my final question, which allowed the respondents to say anything they wished about the influence of Lewis on their lives. The survey turned up some fascinating comments.

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.

The Campaign Show

This presidential campaign is certainly a show, if nothing else. I do believe it is something else, however; most of the GOP candidates are at least addressing the issues. But we have had our fair share of strange moments.

When’s the last time the supposed frontrunner for one party was being investigated for federal offenses, the kind that could land a person in prison? The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail server handling top-security matters and the manner in which she enriched her family through a phony charitable foundation has become increasingly serious.

In her last debate with the other erstwhile Democrat challengers, Hillary uttered words that were immediately applied to her by many:

Too Big

The irony seems to have been lost on her. What is particularly galling is that Gen. David Petraeus, for a lesser violation, is being singled out for possible reduction in rank and prison time. Can anyone say “double standard”?

Change Your Name

What’s really funny—in the sense that anything about this can be labeled as funny—is that a man who should be merely an also-ran in this race, Bernie Sanders, is picking up momentum:

Feel the Burn

Sanders, an outspoken socialist (as opposed to the rest of the Democrats who don’t want it to be known that they too are socialists), is ahead of Hillary by double digits in the New Hampshire polling and is about even in Iowa. This is not the way Hillary’s shining path to the nomination was supposed to happen:

Close-Up

The Republican side of the race has attracted even more attention, thanks to the Trump circus. The media just can’t seem to help themselves:

Pied Trumpeter

Trump has taken advantage of the failed leadership in the Republican party to attract a devoted following, so devoted, at least in his estimation, that they will never desert him no matter what he says or does. As he infamously joked a few days ago, he could shoot someone on a public street and his supporters would still vote for him. As I commented in yesterday’s post, the saddest part of that statement is that it’s probably true for a significant segment of his loyal fans.

Yet when his rhetoric is analyzed without bias, there isn’t really much “there” there. Is it possible that may change in the upcoming debate on Thursday?

More Serious

Nah.