Maintaining Integrity in an Era of Conspiracies

I would rather write about weighty thoughts in Scripture, C. S. Lewis, or Whittaker Chambers. Yet the stupid antics of everyday politics always seem to intervene, and since I put myself out here as a commentator on all things cultural and political, I feel a certain necessity to offer what I hope are informed opinions on current events.

As I’ve noted previously, I’m trying very hard to be balanced in my perspective on President Trump. Although I warned against his nomination vigorously and detailed my reasons for opposition to him throughout the last campaign, I have determined to support him when I can now that he is our president.

I also will continue to point out the problems he causes. And that’s where I am today.

Last weekend, Trump used his infamous Twitter account to claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him prior to the election. I’ve waited a week to see if he has any evidence to back up the claim, but nothing has come forth.

By remaining silent on evidence, he has lost the confidence even of those in his own party. The House Intelligence Committee, controlled by Republicans, has called for him to put up or shut up by today.

What has he really gained by making the accusation?

Now, let me be clear that I would never put it past our former president to have done something like this. Obama’s absence of integrity is legendary, and his denials of wrongdoing lack, shall we say, credibility.

Yet Obama’s lack of integrity doesn’t lead me to believe that Trump therefore must be acting with integrity. Apparently, most Republicans agree:

My concern about Trump’s character goes back to the campaign. He constantly insulted all Republican contenders for the nomination and, in Ted Cruz’s case, made up all sorts of crazy accusations:

  • Cruz is not a natural-born citizen
  • Cruz had a flurry of affairs (unlike Mr. Trump, of course)
  • Cruz’s wife has dark secrets that will be exposed (and she’s ugly)
  • Cruz’s dad is somehow implicated in the JFK assassination

Need I go on?

We’re witnessing a new level of conspiracy charges on both sides of the political divide.

Rational thought seems to be plummeting into a sinkhole of political lunacy:

Christians are supposed to be the salt and light in a nation. Whenever we fall into this pattern of wild charges of conspiracy, we are abandoning our calling. My political conservatism stems from my Biblical faith, but I must never reverse the order. Politics must not determine my faith; my faith must inform my politics.

Christians, maintain your integrity.

GOP-acare?

Any study of American history will show that our system of government requires some compromise. Rarely does anyone get everything desired in legislation. The rule of thumb should always be whether one has concocted a principled compromise or has succumbed to a compromised principle.

As I look at the GOP replacement plan for Obamacare, I’m trying to figure out which type of compromise this one may be. Frankly, I’m far too busy at the moment to delve into all the inner workings of the new plan, but I have tried to keep up with reactions to it. Most conservative groups, it seems, are anything but overjoyed with this particular compromise.

To be fair, we must realize that Obama put into operation something that might be hard to extricate ourselves from completely at first:

Most legislative monstrosities created by “progressives” are like that:

I’m sure there was a lot of debate on how to proceed:

Republicans were bold in passing a total repeal when Obama was president, but how much of that boldness was phony, based on the reality that he would veto anything they passed anyway? They could look principled while not having to deal with the results of their actions. Not so any more.

To all of you who thought Trump was going to go all out and force repeal, you might have missed something: out of his mouth also came the assurance that the federal government would make sure everyone is covered.

Now, how does that square with total repeal?

Let’s be honest here: Trump was saying whatever sounded good; he had no real concept of how to dump the Obamacare fiasco and set up something else. He just wanted to get elected.

So what approach have Republicans settled for?

Good luck with that.

Conservative critics of the new GOP-acare point to the penalty that still remains for those who allow insurance to lapse, while still maintaining that the individual mandate has been eliminated. If you continue to be fined for not having insurance, isn’t that an individual mandate?

One cartoonist expresses how many conservatives are feeling:

Meanwhile, I’ll try to be one of those who offers this reminder: the Constitution says nothing about the federal government having the authority to legislate on the matter of healthcare—at all.

Why not try that and see how the market might meet the need? Naw, too scary.

Scarier than what we have now?

Obamacare Repeal?

The disaster known as Obamacare is still with us. Mind you, it’s more like a corpse than a living thing, with insurance companies abandoning it on a regular basis. But it’s still here and must be dealt with. Democrats may defend it, but that’s only because it’s their own creation. It’s more than the typical train wreck; it’s more like . . .

So the disaster is now in Republican laps to figure out what to do, although Democrats will issue warning after warning about trying to do anything to change it or replace it.

Obamacare defenders are out in force at townhall meetings, trying to shout down any attempt to repeal and replace. Much of it seems to be an organized and well-funded effort to intimidate. Republican congressmen and senators have to be prepared for that intimidation:

Making promises in a campaign has always been easy; attempting to fulfill them isn’t quite as simple sometimes. Obamacare is a prime example:

Republicans have this habit of making a sweeping promise, then can’t agree on how to carry it out. That seems to be what’s happening again. I do understand the complexity they are dealing with, but I also understand how those who have elected Republicans to do their job can get frustrated with them.

While we need to be patient to ensure that the Obamacare dismantling is handled properly, it definitely must be dismantled. Any backtracking on that basic belief by elected officials will be an outright betrayal of the voters.

Forfeiting Our Souls

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Those words of Jesus are in the forefront of my mind today as I survey what is happening in the presidential race.

Bill and Hillary Clinton had their eyes on the presidency ever since they were a young couple in Arkansas—probably even before that. Everything they have done has had one goal: gaining worldly power, even to the point of using their “fame” and high office to enrich themselves while offering favors to individuals and nations that have paid for those favors.

Hillary’s private e-mail server served one primary purpose: to hide what they were doing.

james-comeyBack in July, I was, along with millions of Americans, astonished that FBI Director James Comey could provide a laundry list of all the things Hillary had done that were obviously illegal and then follow that up with the conclusion that there would be no prosecution.

Political chicanery was evident, what with the “secret,” yet not-so-secret meeting Bill Clinton had with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an airplane while both were in Arizona. Lynch, of course, is Comey’s boss.

Clinton Testifies Before House Hearing On State Dep't BudgetNow, as the FBI continued its investigation into the reprehensible Anthony Weiner, separated spouse of Huma Abedin, Hillary’s right-hand gal, we are told the investigation into Hillary’s e-mails has been reopened. Apparently, Weiner’s computer contains roughly 650,000 e-mails, some of which appear to have some connection with Hillary’s server.

Coming just a week before the election, this comes across as a bombshell exploding within the Clinton campaign and possibly affecting the outcome of an election that she thought she had wrapped up.

Naturally, Democrats are apoplectic over this development, accusing Comey, whom they have previously lauded, of playing politics. Strange, but isn’t that the same accusation Republicans have leveled at him since July? So which is it? Is he political or is he simply doing his job?

look-crooked

If this scenario makes Hillary look crooked, it might be because she is. And she’s not alone. We now know that Loretta Lynch tried to stop Comey from sending his letter to Congress informing them of the reopened investigation.

As Forrest Gump might say, “Crooked is as crooked does.”

Nothing about the content of these e-mails will be revealed before the election. Hillary supporters will dismiss the whole episode as irrelevant. In one sense I agree: this doesn’t add to Hillary’s corruption; she was already blatantly corrupt.

Trump supporters, meanwhile, are rejoicing, believing that this now opens the door to victory. They might be right. Polls seem to be tightening. Now, all of a sudden, after declaring that the election is rigged and all the polls are wrong, Trump and his minions are touting how accurate they are.

Nothing that comes out about Hillary’s corruption changes the way I view Donald Trump. This news doesn’t change who he is by one iota. Any honest survey of his personal history shows he has been just as crooked as Hillary to get his way in business. He has pulled the wool over the eyes of many people with his numerous failed ventures, chief of which, to me, was his fake “university.” That’s still coming to a courthouse near to all of us.

Nothing that comes out about Hillary’s corruption changes Trump’s over-the-top personal immorality and his arrogance. As I’ve said countless times, and will repeat again here, we have two unbelievably corrupt individuals seeking the power of the presidency.

There are those who are blinded to that fact. Here’s an interesting meme I thought I would share today:

how-i-see

The picture at the right of both rows is where I am. We are told we have to choose between two evil people and that we must go for the “lesser of two evils.”

I won’t do that because I don’t think the word “lesser” applies to this situation.

The result of this latest revelation may very well be a Hillary victory tainted by the prospect of an indictment:

stronger-together

That would be a low point for the republic.

It would be equally a low point to put into office a man whose moral core is no different than Hillary’s. Both are simply out for themselves.

The Republican party has chosen to hitch its star to the Trump hot-air balloon. To that I say, “What does it profit a political party to gain the whole nation and forfeit its own soul?”

And to Christians who have made that same choice, I simply ask, “What does it profit the Christian witness to gain a place at the political table and forfeit our own souls?”

Forfeiting our souls is never what God wants.

Taking a Stand Against Evil

Back in the 2008 election, I held an event on the Southeastern campus where I compared the Republican and Democrat platforms. Without saying anything myself about my own beliefs, I simply laid out the differences between the parties. Normally, that’s a very effective approach. At the very least, it makes people come to grips with the extremism on the Democrat side on issues like abortion. This year, the Democrat platform is even more extreme, pushing same-sex marriage also.

At the top of the Democrat ticket this year, we have a woman who is arguably the most corrupt candidate in presidential electoral history. New revelations about her come out every day.

hillary-scandals

The combination of her private e-mail server while secretary of state and her mingling of her high position with donations to the Clinton Foundation are an abomination.

get-a-meeting

And should she be inaugurated as president in January, the oath of office might be unique:

do-you-promise

In a normal year, Hillary Clinton would be defeated handily. But this is not a normal year.

While it’s still valid to compare the two party platforms, the effect is not the same as it was for me back in 2008. I had my doubts about John McCain as the Republican nominee that year, and those doubts persisted when Mitt Romney was nominated in 2012, yet I still voted for them.

This year, we keep hearing a mantra that goes something like this: “There is no perfect person running for president. Both candidates are flawed. We just have to choose the lesser of two evils.”

I’m a little sick of hearing that. Here’s why.

It’s no big revelation that no perfect person is running for the office. There never has been one of those throughout American history. All candidates have some flaws, but there is a distinct difference between having flaws and being evil. I will never choose the latter.

Sadly, this year we have the latter. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump represent evils that I cannot stomach in the White House—nor any other political office no matter what level.

I love the Republican platform. However, the person at the top of the ticket is not someone who actually believes in that platform. I am for candidates who truly support that platform, which is why Republicans down ticket will receive my vote. The one at the top, though, will not.

There is a difference between being a flawed candidate and being a reprehensible one. McCain was a maverick who couldn’t always be counted on, but he adhered to most of the platform. Romney had the baggage of having introduced a prototype of Obamacare when he was governor of Massachusetts. Yet he was a decent man with a strong family who has always been faithful to his wife.

So despite their flaws, I could vote for them. Trump goes beyond simply having flaws. His character is absolutely despicable. I won’t repeat the litany of horrible words and actions throughout his life (and continuing today, not just somewhere in the distant past). Almost daily, he reminds us how despicable he is.

Trump went to Gettysburg to deliver what was supposed to be a serious speech about policy. Instead, he made other headlines by using that august forum to declare he’s contemplating suing all those women who have come forth to tell of his unwanted sexual advances:

seven-accusations-ago

His campaign has been a disaster (to use one of his favorite words). Many Republicans now have had second thoughts. Too bad they didn’t have first ones.

results-of-primary

Yet, despite everything Trump has done, and despite the latest round of evidence that he is a moral reprobate, many evangelical leaders have reaffirmed their support for him. I find that incomprehensible.

Fear of Hillary Clinton has led people who used to stand for Biblical principles and Biblical morality to abandon that stand. I know, they think they are doing the right thing by keeping Clinton out of office. But putting Trump is that office is not the right thing either. He’s a petulant man-child who will not follow through on his promises.

I want a good Supreme Court as much as anyone. Trump will not deliver it. Even if he should offer a solid nominee, that nominee will not make it through the Senate. He will then compromise with the Democrats and nominate someone they can like. Mark my words. Hanging everything on Supreme Court picks is a false hope.

I will not choose the lesser of two evils. I will not willingly choose blatant evil. Both candidates qualify as evil.

united-states

accept-the-results

However this turns out, we will have no choice but to accept the results. Here’s where real Christian faith comes in. Can we still believe that God is working in ways we may not see? Do we maintain the confidence that the best way to assure God hasn’t given up on us is for us to stand apart from the evil choices before us?

The Lord will work through His people if they stand firm against all types of evil. By giving in to evil, we short-circuit much of what He might do to extricate us from that evil.

It’s time to take that stand and then see what the Lord really will do in spite of the circumstances we now face. I am taking that stand.

Where I Come From & Where I Am Today

I’ve been musing the past few days on the roots of my political and/or governmental philosophy. Why am I where I am today in my understanding of what’s best for the governing of this nation?

I wasn’t raised in a home that taught me what I now believe, so it’s not a matter of merely copying what my parents thought. In fact, I grew up thinking the Democrats were the party to support.

I was conservative as far as I understood what conservatism was, but didn’t grasp the drift taking place in that party. I thought that because I was sympathetic to the civil rights movement, I was a good Democrat.

Liberal-ConservativeIt took a conversation in college with someone knew the difference to show me I was truly a conservative in outlook and that my views lined up better with the Republicans. That actually surprised me.

Yet I didn’t just follow the advice of that person blindly. I began to investigate what I should believe and why. Two factors guided my thinking: my growing Christian faith and the influence of certain writers I was beginning to enjoy reading.

First, I began to learn about Biblical principles and how they should be applied to society, including government. Those principles continue to guide me today.

William F. Buckley Holding BookSecond, two periodicals honed my thinking in accordance with those Biblical principles: National Review and The Freeman. The first offered witty and insightful commentary on the current political scene, and I greatly admired William F. Buckley, the founder of the magazine; the second grounded me in free-market concepts.

When I decided to pursue my doctorate in history, I was in a time of uncertainty spiritually. I was searching to see if anything else could fill that void. My professors, generally speaking, were far more liberal than I, and some of the reading I was given allowed me to test my convictions. Would they stand?

They did. I was now grounded in what liberals thought, as I expanded my understanding of both worldviews.

My advanced degrees offered no answers for life; God mercifully drew me back to Himself. Yet that pursuit of higher education did prepare me to better define what I believed and why.

My path to what I believe is not everyone’s path, by any stretch. My spiritual quest combined with my educational quest to make me what I am. It was a fascinating integration of intellectual and emotional satisfaction.

TextbooksI have been in higher education circles ever since. Seven of my years of teaching were at the graduate level; another five at a college that stressed classical education.

In my courses, I try to communicate to my students a worldview that is spiritually and intellectually sound.

I’ve always approached politics from this foundation of Biblical principles and solid reasoning from a well-grounded conservative philosophy. I don’t repent of any of this, but I do think my approach has left me a little bewildered by the politics of 2016.

As I meditate on what has developed politically over the past year, I have been astounded by what seems to me to be a devastating loss of principle in both the Christian world and the corresponding conservative world.

Donald Trump at DebateI’ve been trying to understand why this is so. You see, for me, the first time I saw Donald Trump on the stage with all those other candidates, I came away thinking that this was the biggest con of recent political history and that no one would take him seriously. Why? Because I didn’t perceive him as a serious candidate.

Trump had no command of the issues. He was an egotist who blustered, interrupted, and insulted anyone he thought was in his way. His entire history was as a liberal Democrat, and now he was trying to convince everyone he was a Republican.

I thought everyone would see through this charade. I’ve been sorely disappointed.

True, he didn’t get the majority of Republican votes in the primaries. I console myself with that fact. But once he became the nominee, so many who had previously said he was unacceptable suddenly decided he was now worth supporting, and anyone who disagreed should be shamed and guilted (is that a word?) into abandoning their principles and declaring their undying allegiance.

My entire background and training doesn’t allow me to board this train. I’m dismayed that so many others have decided to do so.

PrinciplesI’ve learned a valuable lesson, though. I have to realize that not everyone makes decisions based on principles only. Sometimes emotions carry the day. The emotion that leads some to vote for Trump now is fear—fear of a Hillary Clinton presidency.

I understand that fear. What I don’t get is why those same voters don’t see the danger of a Trump presidency as well. In my view, both are equally undesirable.

Some probably wonder why I continue to warn about Trump when it is clear that one or the other—Trump or Hillary—will be the next president. The answer is this: I’m looking beyond this election; I’m trying to keep us thinking about what comes next and whether there will be a Christian witness left to the nation after this, and whether there will be any conservative movement to build upon and salvage the disaster that is sure to come regardless of who wins this particular election.

We need to be principled people. My task, I believe, is to stay true to that calling and convince as many others as possible to do the same.

A Squandered Opportunity

There has never been a more eminently beatable candidate than Hillary Clinton. Yet she is now poised to win the presidency despite her manifold lies, despicable character, disastrous tenure as secretary of state, and no real record of accomplishments.

The latest is that the FBI has now “found” another 15,000 e-mails that ran through her private server. We will be told what is in some of those by mid-October, according to the report I read.

One has to wonder if FBI director Comey may now be forced to reopen the investigation for the purpose of an indictment after all. Of course, with the Obama administration still in charge, that is probably a fantasy.

Hillary has also made herself scarce when it comes to answering questions from the press, having not held a press conference for something like 200 days. What other candidate would be allowed to get away with that?

Next Question

Questions have been raised about her health, stemming from a possible concussion a few years ago. Some of that may be pure speculation, but there are legitimate concerns about whether she is really up to handling any responsibility, let alone the presidency.

Hillary's Health

Polls show that a significant number of Americans don’t really trust her and believe she lies about almost everything.

And yet she is on the verge of occupying the Oval Office.

This was supposed to be the year when we could put the Clintons behind us forever. This was the year Republicans were practically salivating over, after two disastrous Obama terms. This was the year when widespread revulsion over what has transpired over the past eight years would give Republicans the chance to fulfill their promises.

Then this happened.

Eminently Beatable

I’ve been accused by some of “Trump-bashing.” The reality is the Republican voters and the establishment have joined together to bash themselves with a Trump candidacy, thereby losing the greatest opportunity ever presented to them.

They said they wanted a candidate who tells it like it is. They blindly followed someone who fed their anger and fears. They stopped thinking and just let their emotions take over. This is the result.

Tells It Like It Is

Set aside, for the moment, all the ideological reasons why Trump is a bad nominee. Don’t think about, for now, his character (equal in despicability to Hillary’s). Just look at how he’s conducting this campaign.

Trump promised to spend a billion dollars of his own money on the campaign. He has thus far contributed $50 million. Why not more? Why has he not fulfilled that promise? Could it be because he’s something like $650 million in debt, far more than what people thought? Is he really telling us like it is?

In his most recent campaign disclosure, we find that Trump spent nothing on ads in June. The total raised in July is only one-third of what Romney raised that month in 2012.

Of the $18 million spent in July, $8 million went to a web-design firm for fundraising, which is a little disproportional.

The campaign spent $500,000 on hats.

The campaign spent $2.5 million on private air travel, which is six times more than what it spent on staff, state organization, and ground game in the states.

Conservative commentator Steve Deace points out the following instances of incompetence:

What would we say if trailing consistently in polls, Hillary Clinton decided to hold rallies in unlosable blue states like California and Massachusetts with less than 80 days to go before the election? Because that’s essentially what Trump is doing by campaigning in Texas and Mississippi this week.

Trump lacks organization in Hamilton County, which may be the most pivotal county in must-win Ohio. Last week, Trump opened a second field office in must-win Florida, where Hillary Clinton already had 14 field offices. Trump’s organization lags behind Hillary’s in Virginia, which no Republican has won the presidency without since before Reconstruction.

Earlier this summer GOP leaders in Pennsylvania, which is crucial to any hopes Trump has of winning the White House, said there was “almost no sign” of a Trump organization there.

This is virtually a no-hope candidacy.

I’ll restate it: Hillary Clinton is the most eminently beatable candidate in recent history. Republicans have squandered their best hope. What remains is the issue of whether the party can pull itself together again after this fiasco.