2016 Is Not a Replay of 1980

So we now have the notes the FBI took when they interrogated Hillary Clinton about her e-mail server. What have we discovered? She is adept at blaming her staff for everything and protesting that she doesn’t “recall” almost anything having to do with training on how to handle sensitive documents.

This is after having signed forms that testified she knew the specifics of how to handle such documents. What comes across is that she is playing the “I just don’t get all this technology” card in an attempt to escape prosecution (which the Justice Department at the behest of the FBI has allowed her to do).

Don't Understand

And we’re supposed to believe this baloney. It’s about as surreal as it can get. Has there ever been a presidential candidate who has been exposed as this corrupt before?

Self-Inflicted

Yet she may be our next president.

With Donald Trump putting illegal immigration back in the news with his foray into Mexico and his speech on the topic afterwards, one might want to ask Hillary (if anyone is allowed to ask her anything) what her stance is on the subject.

Ready to Assimilate

I’ve read parts of the transcript of Trump’s speech and seen excerpts. While there are points in the speech with which I agree, I still can’t stand his attitude. This is the moderate Trump?

Earlier in the day, he was all sweetness and light with the Mexican president. Later, in the speech, he threw out the red meat to his followers, sounding like the “old” Trump. One thing his followers might have missed, though, is that he didn’t say what he would now do with those currently living here illegally. Wasn’t the big deportation thing one of the main reasons he amassed such rabid support at the start? Now he’s backing down on it (which only makes sense) and very few of his supporters seem to have a problem with his flip-flop on an issue that they considered a cornerstone.

Consistency

He’s been all over the place, trying to come up with something that can be called a genuine policy. He’s done the same with abortion in the past. He’s totally unreliable.

Back in 1980, we were in the throes of the Carter administration. That led to a revival of common sense under Ronald Reagan. Some people are seeing a historical parallel in that we are in dire straits similar to what we experienced under Carter, and that another Reagan is waiting around the corner. Here, though, is where the parallel breaks down.

Doesn't Cheer My Up

Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan and 2016 is not a replay of 1980. Sadly.

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.

The Hillary-Donald Week in Review

This has been a bad week for both presidential candidates. Let’s begin with Hillary.

The evidence is piling up that the infamous Clinton Foundation is little more than a conduit to enhance Hillary’s climb to power, fueled by funds from foreign sources.

It's Set

I'm Bribing Her

Remember that kerfuffle back in 2008 about who would be most ready to answer a 3 a.m. phone call? Well, now we know the answer:

This Is Hillary

We now know that big donors to the Clinton Foundation got a fast track for meetings with the then-secretary of state and that really nice favors followed in the wake.

In most worlds, this is called corruption.

When a Clinton is caught in corruption, however, the response is classically Clintonian:

You Feel Terrible

All of this stems, of course, from the whole e-mail controversy. Hillary keeps trying to say that she only did what other secretaries of state, like Colin Powell, have done. Never mind that no previous secretary of state set up a private server and then attempted to delete everything that would be incriminating.

Powell Made Me

After months of using Powell as a cover, he finally came out and lambasted her this week, saying he never told her to do this.

And guess what? Another 15,000 “lost” e-mails were found. Now we’re told some of the contents of those will be made public by mid-October.

Another Cache

Forget the corruption. She should be denied the presidency due to complete incompetence. She can’t even delete e-mails well.

Then, in the last couple of days, Donald Trump has decided that his long-promised deportation of illegals just won’t happen. That would be unkind, or something.

His new position (subject to change daily, or from one interview to the next) is not much different than what Rubio and Bush have promoted.

Wait a minute, wasn’t this strong immigration stance the closest he’s ever come to having a solid policy position on anything? Wasn’t this the primary reason why so many people jumped on his bandwagon to begin with?

Poor Ann Coulter, who is now on a book tour for her newest offering titled In Trump We Trust. Set aside for the moment the attempt to make Trump into God’s replacement. She is in no small amount of agony because she has stated that a change in his immigration policy would be a betrayal. I wonder how the book tour is going now?

Trump’s attempt to be a rational human being is certainly laudable, but it also has to be genuine. I don’t see that happening.

Reboot

So where are we at this point in the race?

Reality Show Prank

Too close to the truth.

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.

Trump’s Non-Apology

Donald Trump has taken a rather unique approach to campaigning throughout his run for the presidency. He has been a no-holds-barred barroom brawler (the closest analogy I can find) who uses insults and innuendoes continuously. What has disturbed Republicans the most is that, even after officially getting the nomination, he has made Republicans his target as often, or more often, than Hillary Clinton.

Trump has never let up on his criticisms of those within the Republican party who oppose his candidacy, or who simply can’t bring themselves to hop on his bandwagon. He never seems to forget anything he considers a personal slight and directs his fire accordingly.

The hiring of a new “team” to conduct the rest of the campaign is supposed to signal a new direction:

Donzilla

However, the new head man, Steve Bannon, who runs the Breitbart site, is known to be someone with a personality much like Trump’s, so is this really going to make much of a difference?

Some observers, especially those who desperately want Trump to change his tone, think they see the ever-elusive pivot taking place. After all, in a speech last week, Trump apologized for his past comments. He’s a new man!

Well, let’s look at what Trump actually said:

Sometimes, in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and believe it or not I regret it.

I do regret it particularly where it may have caused personal pain.

Examine those words carefully. First, he puts his insulting comments in the context of “the heat of debate,” thereby providing an excuse for saying what he did. Then he simply says he chose the wrong words, as if those words don’t flow from a heart that gave birth to them. The emphasis is on the external, not the internal, but it’s the internal—the heart—out of which the mouth speaks. You can check that out; Jesus said it.

He uses the word “regret,” but again notice the context. He says, “believe it or not” with respect to his having regrets. Having regret over anything is not the real Donald Trump. It’s not the way he has lived his life. The wording indicates that.

We’re supposed to believe now that he has suddenly changed?

Then he goes on to say he particularly regrets saying the wrong thing “where it may have caused personal pain.” May have? Is there any doubt?

He ridiculed one political rival by saying her face is ugly. He called another one a child molester. He took on his strongest rival by insinuating he had hidden numerous adulterous affairs (through that organ of national probity, The National Inquirer, while openly boasting about his own numerous adulteries), by lambasting that same rival’s wife, and by linking the rival’s father to the JFK assassination. Now he has the temerity to say he “may” have caused personal pain?

He didn’t use the word “if,” but it’s the same thing. You know, that old “apology” of “if” I have offended you? That doesn’t really admit to anything. It puts the onus instead on the person who was offended. Oh, that bothered you? So sorry.

You also might notice that he didn’t give any examples of using the wrong words. He didn’t publicly express wrongdoing for anything in particular. It was all rather vague, intended to cover a multitude of sins without having to acknowledge any specifically.

This was not a real apology. The problem is that many fall for it as if it’s the real thing.

In that same speech, Trump went on to say, “I will never lie to you.” So he’s now going to begin telling the truth? He also said that his real problem is that he can be “too honest.” Yes, now there’s a real fault.

That’s similar to someone being interviewed for a job, and when asked what faults one might have, the fallback is always something like “well, I probably work too hard.”

This is all so phony. Trump is Trump, and unless there is a genuine conversion based on Biblical truth, we will not see any change.

Trump Unfiltered

Without a true change of heart, he will continue to be his own worst enemy:

Let Trump

Real sorrow for one’s words and actions is grounded on an understanding of repentance. The apostle Paul had written to the Corinthian church about some of the sins they had allowed. They responded properly to his admonition. When he wrote his second letter to them, he put it this way:

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Judas Iscariot was sorrowful over what he did in his betrayal of Jesus. Peter was sorrowful over his own betrayal of Jesus. Judas committed suicide; Peter repented. Only the second example is true Godly sorrow.

If I see genuine repentance in Donald Trump, I will take back everything I have written in this post today. But until then, I stand by this analysis.

A Sense of Humor in a Serious Time

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

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

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

Endearing Lies

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

Right On Time

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

Whopper Competition

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

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

Hate Their Choice

Another Choice

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

Campaign Buttons

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

Extreme Vetting

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

Naw, that would be too common-sensical.

So I’m Immoral & Pharisaical?

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

Job Opening

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

Clinton Foundation

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

It's Her Baggage

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

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

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

What He Meant

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Terminator

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

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

I can’t take that step.

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

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

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

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

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