Where There’s Fire, There’s Fury

There sure has been a lot of attention given to this new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. Cable news and online sites don’t seem to get enough of it.

Author Michael Wolff has created a firestorm of sorts with his account of what those who work in the Trump administration have told him about their boss. Bottom line is that they think he’s somewhat off his rocker.

Or did they say the things he says they said? That’s what has created an equal firestorm as some of those he quoted and/or paraphrased have now branded the quotes as false, inventions of a man who simply wants to embarrass and take down a president.

Where is the truth?

I really don’t know.

As an academic, I want everything sourced/documented in the most detailed way. My goal in any writing I have done is to ensure that readers can trust what I’m quoting. By those standards, Wolff’s book is apparently deficient. Perhaps that’s what publishers want—sensationalism to sell the books, not unimpeachable accuracy.

Even some journalists who are not exactly Trump fans have criticized Wolff. Some have pointed out factual inaccuracies that bring into question the integrity of the work as a whole. Didn’t the publisher have any fact-checkers assigned to this volume?

Wolff does note that he can’t vouch for the accuracy of everything people told him; he claims to be simply reporting what they said and it’s up to the reader to figure out how true those statements might be.

Truth is particularly suspect when one of your major inside sources is Steve Bannon, a man who comes across to me as someone who’s out to puff up Steve Bannon more than anything else. Principled is not an adjective I would use to describe him.

All the attention to the book and to Bannon’s alleged comments in it has led him down an apology path. One wonders how sincere his apologies are when it is obvious he is now in a tentative position with respect to his tenure at the Breitbart news [?] site.

Trump has denounced Bannon, as he always denounces anyone he believes has betrayed him. So it seems a trifle phony for Bannon now to sing praises to his former boss.

My personal opinion about the book is that it is a mixture of fact and fiction and that it’s difficult to know which tidbit is which.

As as result, I have no compelling desire to read it; I have better things to read.

However, as Jonah Goldberg has noted, the reason it can gain some credibility is that it depicts a president that some of us think we already see. It doesn’t surprise us if all of what is said might be true.

How should one respond to a book that depicts one as unfit for the office of the presidency? I can remember the 1980s when journalists attempted to paint a portrait of Ronald Reagan as some kind of a dumb jock that others were leading around by the nose because he had no idea what was going on.

How did Reagan respond to accusations of that type? With jokes about himself, not attacks on the attackers. He defused the charges by self-deprecating humor. Americans saw a man who could laugh at himself, not take himself too seriously, and they readily dismissed the highly partisan, distorted caricature presented by the journalists.

How has Trump responded? On Twitter, of course. Here’s the verbatim tweet, in case you missed it:

Throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!

First, let me say that if you have to defend yourself, the best way might be through humility. But that seems to be foreign territory for Donald Trump. When you have to assert that you have “mental stability” and that you are “like, really smart,” you have undermined your credibility from the start.

Trump then brags about all his successes (proof that he is “like, really smart”), ending with the modest comment that “smart” is not a strong enough term—no, he’s a genius—no, make that “a very stable genius”—thereby accomplishing the opposite of what he intended.

That tweet only gives credence to the accusations that he is an ego-driven, arrogant yet insecure man-child, who can’t control his reactions. I’ve commented many times that he too often comes across as juvenile; this tweet could be the apex of his juvenile behavior.

The first half of this post will alienate The Resistance, which aims for impeachment. The second half will anger Trump supporters who think he truly is a genius. My goal was not to anger anyone but to be fair and balanced in my assessment.

The book is most likely a travesty that doesn’t deserve much credibility, yet Trump has to stop being his own worst enemy if he doesn’t want the book to gain credibility.

The Old Testament prophet Malachi might have penned this warning to both sides in our current controversy, and the words seem to fit the fire and fury motif:

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.

May we take that warning seriously.

The Media vs. the Truth

Journalists can do a lot of good if they take their calling seriously. I’m certainly in favor of trained journalists who understand the need for fairness in reporting. But what do we get when most journalists are schooled in a university atmosphere of progressivism and either cynicism or outright hostility toward traditional Christian beliefs and/or cultural and political conservatism?

We get what has happened to Ben Carson recently—an all-out attempt to destroy an individual who doesn’t fit the progressive mold. In Carson’s case, from the mainstream media’s point of view, he is such an anomaly that he must be taken down.

A black Christian conservative, in their world, cannot exist, and if such a person does exist, he must not be allowed to succeed. Nothing must stand in the way of the progressive agenda, so while journalists mouth the platitudes of their profession—objectivity, etc.—the reality is something else:

Conjoined Twins

And if there’s nothing bad to report, they will create something themselves:

Pant on Fire

Nothing that they have “uncovered” about Carson’s past has any credibility, yet they somehow find a way to ignore another candidate with the greatest history of lies and corruption imaginable:

Media Trash

Did anyone in the mainstream media follow up on the whoppers Hillary has told about Benghazi, for instance—even before a congressional committee? No, they were too busy concentrating on really important matters:

Lies

Carson, to his credit, fought back, boldly contrasting the treatment he has received with the kid gloves used against Hillary and Obama. I love this picture that has been finding its way around social media:

Ben Carson Congratulations

It’s not just Carson, of course, and the attacks don’t come solely from “professional” journalists. Carly Fiorina has had to counter the snide comments from the ladies women on “The View” who decided to attack her personally. She handled them quite well:

Fiorina on the View

I applaud the steadfastness demonstrated by both Carson and Fiorina in the face of this onslaught. For the sake of truth, those who foster the politics of personal destruction must not be allowed to go unanswered.

Obama the Christian?

ObamessiahThe mainstream media is making a big deal out of forcing Republicans to say President Obama is a Christian. As if they care. Surveys over the years have been consistent: the mainstream journalists that attempt to direct the thinking of the nation are overwhelmingly secularist; 90% or so seldom attend church, and when they do, one might question the choice of that church. What gospel is it preaching?

No, they’re not really interested in Obama actually being a Christian. They just want some Republican candidate for president to say he isn’t. Then they will have a sound bite to use against that candidate forever, painting him as a narrowminded bigot.

Fortunately, I’m not running for an office and never will be. I will say what I think. Let’s look at the evidence. Jesus did say you would know who is and is not His disciple by the fruit of their lives. He also said not everyone who claims He is their Lord is really part of His kingdom. Words are extremely cheap.

So, here is a partial list that might help us determine whether Barack Obama is a Christian. Keep in mind this is a partial list only, but pretty representative.

  • His biological father was an anti-colonialist Muslim. Obama, even though he never really knew him well, idolized him.
  • His mother was a radical leftist who wanted nothing to do with Christianity.
  • He was raised a Muslim, attending Muslim school in Indonesia. No child is responsible for where his parents school him, but it is more than obvious by his actions that he has a special place in his mind and heart for Islam.
  • He was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Hawaii who were also radical leftists; his grandfather deliberately put Obama under the tutelage of a communist agitator, Frank Marshall Davis.
  • In both high school and at the various universities where he was educated, he involved himself in radical activities and was known to smoke marijuana, and who knows what else.
  • When he became a community organizer, he attached himself to a church because that would provide him an “in” with the community.
  • The “church” he chose was one that preached a “gospel” of Black Liberation Theology, which pictures Jesus as more of a revolutionary to bring heaven to earth rather than as the Savior of orthodox Christian belief.
  • In an interview with a Chicago newspaper when he was an Illinois state senator, he said he didn’t know if there was a real heaven or hell.
  • In that same interview, he clearly stated that Christianity wasn’t the exclusive way to God.
  • He is a radical as well on the issue of abortion, seeking to extend this “right” to every woman at all times. He has praised Planned Parenthood for its efforts to make abortion available to all.
  • As an Illinois senator, he even fought against a bill that would provide medical care to any baby “accidentally” born alive during an abortion. In effect, he favors infanticide.
  • We now know he lied about his support for the traditional Christian concept of marriage; he has favored same-sex marriage all along but hid his views for the sake of election and reelection.
  • His administration supports actions against Christians who hold to their belief that homosexuality is a sin. The Justice Dept. has repeatedly sought to take away tax-exempt status from Christian organizations that don’t go along with Obamacare mandates that violate their Christian faith.
  • He has stepped up the rhetoric against Christians lately, as he seeks to portray them as violent extremists as opposed to the actual Muslim violent extremists.
  • He won’t even condemn acts of Islamic terror by name when directed against Christians, pointedly refusing to even identify the victims as Christians.

Christians Do Stuff

I have no problem saying publicly that Barack Obama is not a Christian. In fact, he’s becoming more vocal about his true beliefs now that he won’t be running for president again.

I understand why Republican candidates have to be careful in what they say; the Obama media will scorch them if they come out too strongly with their real views. The wisest path is to redirect those questions back to the journalists. Why do they never confront Democrat candidates with the same type of “gotcha” questions? Republicans also need to focus on the positive agenda they would bring if elected.

But I’m just an academic and a blogger. I will say what I think—at least until the government stifles free speech on the Internet. I will stand firm for my Christian faith and all that implies in public discourse and public policy. If we stand together on this, we can still turn this around and make a difference. The nation doesn’t have to continue its descent into oblivion.

Tyranny Comes Packaged with Good Intentions

Imagine you’re a journalist working for a news organization where you are free to investigate any story you choose, follow any lead, and make decisions as to what is significant and/or newsworthy. Now imagine a government official coming into your organization and investigating you as to whether you are focusing on the types of stories the government deems appropriate. Have you given enough emphasis to the environment? Have you stressed income inequality adequately? Are you promoting equal rights by offering the government-approved new definition of marriage? Are you ensuring that the public understands that gay rights trumps religious liberty?

FCCFar-fetched? I would have thought so before the news this week that the Federal Communications Commission, with a Democrat majority, is studying that very scenario. Is it at all possible to violate the First Amendment in a more egregious fashion than this?

That important Amendment is already under fire with respect to its religious liberty provisions; now freedom of the press may soon be threatened.

Who would have the gall to make such a frontal attack?

Welcome to Obamaworld.

The “study” has identified eight specific areas where citizens need to be informed: emergencies and risks; health and welfare [Obamacare, anyone?]; education [Common Core?]; transportation; economic opportunities [income inequality?]; the environment [global warming or climate change—depending on the trend of the month?]; civic information; and political information [that last one is a truly loaded term].

One of the two Republicans on the FCC board—where a vote never even was taken about a study being done—commented, “An enterprising regulator could run wild with a lot of these topics. The implicit message to the newsroom is they need to start covering these eight categories in a certain way or otherwise the FCC will go after them.”

How does the FCC go after broadcast entities? It can shut them down.

This is not yet a reality, only a study. But those have a tendency to become real. If this one does, it will be chilling. Dictators always take over the media so that they can propagandize and silence any opposing view.

Budding tyranny has been a theme this week on this blog. It wasn’t my intent to focus on it, but circumstances have made it necessary. Tyrants never announce that they are going to tyrannize; they are always taking action for the benefit of their citizens. Tyranny nearly always comes packaged with good intentions. Yet it is tyranny nevertheless.