Archive for the ‘evangelical’ category

End Game?

May 15, 2017

There seems to be much reporting and analysis these days concerning how President Trump will become ex-President Trump. For those who were neutral or opposed to his candidacy, the option of an ex-President Trump is tantalizingly attractive. For those who supported his candidacy, somewhat surprisingly over 90% of them still think the Trumpeter is performing well and meeting their expectations. So, why the talk of “ex-President Trump?

President Trump has given his supporters all they could hope for. Reverend Jerry Falwell said this weekend at Liberty University’s Graduation in Roanoke, Virginia that “President Trump is the real deal and unlike previous Republican Presidential candidates (Mitt Romney and John McCain), Trump has delivered” (or words to that effect). (Evangelicals may have an advantage versus the rest of the secular America since Evangelicals believe God is listening only to them.)

One must assume President Trump’s supporters believe there should be immigration and entry barriers for Muslims and see President Trump’s so far failed actions as heroic never the less. (I wonder whether these religious champions have thought about which religious group would be next after the Muslims, or if his Muslim bans becomes implemented, what should the Country do with current lawful Muslim residents and citizens?)

Evangelicals must also cheer when they read about the American Health Care Act which cuts healthcare for the neediest. (Sound like lover thy neighbor?). And I wonder whether evangelicals think about the future. After AHCA, can a re-do of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security be far behind?

The Trump proposed tax reform must echo sympathetically amongst their church’s pews. The potential of huge tax reductions for the wealthy (corporate or individual), again overlooking the poorest Americans, must inspire these evangelicals to lift their voices in songs of heavenly thanks.

Of course, evangelicals may be thinking that “god helps those who help themselves”, and surely there is every indication that President Trump, his family members, and his richest supporters are helping themselves and buy into this myth wholeheartedly.

If one is objective about the Trump Presidency, one must admit the President has shown no signs of adjusting his ways despite a hail of criticism and push back. If tweets do not work, then a campaign style rally might. Or, a threat against this person or organization followed by a slam against a foreign country (friend or not) serves to distract the 7/24 news cycle as well as most citizens.

Environmental policy is under attack. Let’s have more oil wells, pipe lines, and even coal fields.  The Justice system has signaled it will be blind to individual liberties (especially voting rights) and instead focus on refilling out Federal prisons. Labor, Education, and HHS are all headed by individuals who are on record of opposing those departments’ previous policy direction. Hmmm.

And let us not forget that the overriding factors that got President Trump elected were two myths, (1) the US economy was flagging, and (2) only President Trump could make it great again.

Both of these myths were and are completely false. With the President’s rants over trade, his stress of keeping American manufacturing jobs in America with one hand and his destruction of jobs with budget and policy decisions with the other, there is more than a reasonable chance that the US economy will begin to slow and soon contract. If that happens, get ready for the wolves to come out.

Today the dark money sources (read Jane Mayer’s Dark Money), conservative and libertarian hedge funds and business owners (plus a lot of wealthy individuals with inherited money) support or at least have welcomed President Trump. These enormously selfish and self centered Americans will turn on a dime if President Trump is unable to provide them the tax reform he has promised and will seek his ouster if the economy fails in such a way as to shrink their personal wealth.

So, back to end game. President Trump is building a public record replete with words, actions, and deeds worthy of supporting impeachment. And, if not impeachment, then not reelections. And if not reelections, then may be not even re-nomination.

Americans, however, need to understand that a President Pence will not change President Trump’s policies. In many regards Pence represents a greater threat than President Trump. Vice President Pence will avoid any public statements if possible which are not fully vetted.  (Pence’s alibiing for Trump’s firing of James Comes is an exception.)   Remember, cutting back on the environment, pushing tax cuts for the wealthy, marshaling aid for religious groups, opposing women’s rights, and suppressing the vote are all bread and butter policies currently supported by Vice President Pence as well as the “dark money” owned Republican party.

Americans must, for their own good, keep an eye on Trump/Republican policies.  Impeachment of President Trump and removing him from office while tempting won’t change the foul wind blowing in Washington.

Repudiation of President Trump by making him a one term President, on the other hand, is that best alternative. Only in cases of severe “malfeasance” should impeachment be considered, regardless of the smell or optics of President Trump’s behavior.  The end game must include the blunting of “dark money” and its stranglehold on the Republican Party.  President is a red herring and not the originator of these top 1% policies.

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And Then There Was One

May 5, 2016

John Kasich bowed out of the GOP Presidential primary yesterday leaving Donald Trump as the last man standing. Whether one views the primary as theater or marital arts, the whittling of 17 candidates down to one was both grand theater and martial arts.

Trump used bully and narcissistic tactics devastatingly well to achieve the nomination, or at least standing at the edge of it. America likes winners, will Americans like Trump?

The GOP is reacting in strange ways. Some GOP members are rushing to find a seat on the Trump express, hoping it is not to late. Others are doubling down on their “Trump – no way”, but what options do they have.

In a few of the anti-Trump GOP members’ statements, one can get a sense of what the Republican problem is. They see Trump as someone who does not embrace the GOP platform ideologically. Trump is soft on social issues and has a more populous view on the economy, like erecting trade barriers and keeping entitlements. The GOP does not appear to understand that their platform which has traditionally included anti-gay, anti-woman, and anti-Mexican planks just does not reflect where a majority of Americans are now, and where they are trending. Instead of embracing Trump and taking advantage of his bold steps (using it as cover so as not to offend evangelicals and fundamentalists), many GOP members appear paralyzed.

For much of the primary campaign, John Kasich appeared to be the adult in the room. Kasich on paper was probably the most experienced candidate to be President. His withdrawal yesterday made one wonder about that thought.

Kasich suspended his campaign almost whining that he still had faith god would guide him to the path that would give purpose to his life. What?

Doesn’t Kasich remember that the last Republican President asked god about whether American should invade and occupy Iraq, and after receiving an affirmative answer, led American into a disastrous bloody conflict which has destabilized the Middle East.

Speaking of god on the campaign trail is usually a self serving statement. In Kasich case, it was probably genuine but totally out of place. (Why would a supreme being choose to guide one candidate when doing so would disadvantage another?)

The GOP primary will be studied and provide the source for many a pundit’s book. The general election will be another book and until its over it can’t be written.

New York Has Spoken, Who Is Listening

April 21, 2016

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won big in New York’s Presidential primary on Tuesday. Both overwhelmed their opponents with vote pluralities. So what are the messages voters sent?

Trump’s victory seems a reflection of those who have seen the American dream disappear right before their eyes. Teachers, police and firemen, shop keepers, laborers, and those once employed making things have become disenchanted with intransigence of Congress, the seeming ineffectiveness of Government, and the message veracity of the standard politician.

Trump cuts through the verbal manure promising a fix. (Interestingly there are never any details on how.)  For New Yorkers, who as a group don’t care much about social issues (or at least place them way down the list compared to economic ones), there is a feeling “this might be the Messiah.

New Yorker GOP members simply are not like those in much of the rest of the country. Outside the greater North East area, the GOP is a cobbled up group of narrow interests which share the similarity of not being Democrats.

There are evangelicals and fundamentalists who relish the opportunity to discriminate against gays, deny women a right to reproductive health, and see xenophobia as an asset. The GOP also is also home to 2nd Amendment enthusiasts and wish to see guns in every home and on every person, the more the merrier.

The “gold standard” crowd also finds the GOP as their home.  They seek not just a balanced budget but a budget leading to zero debt without regard to the consequences. Then there is the “end entitlements” group operating from the GOP reservation.

And one can not forget the GOP’s dangerous affair with neoconservatives (remember the Iraq War) who haven’t seen a foreign involvement they did not like.

An important point about these desperate factions is that each has little or nothing in common with the other group.

Donald Trump has recognized the Republican Party for what it is and that its leadership is incapable of offering an exciting candidate, and will proposed a “sure loose” platform (their usually litany of anti-women, anti-gay, and anti-immigrant pledges.  The GOP leadership will trade the White House for reelection of “down ticket” candidates (control of Congress).

Trump, however, sees himself as someone who doesn’t need to pander to the religious right, can walk back from his anti-immigrant positions, and bore in on his ideas about rejuvenating the economy with one hand while throwing slime at Hillary with the other.

New York also spoke about Democrats too. While the Democrats are less complicated, Bernie Sanders does represent much more liberal elements with a honed attack line aimed at campaign financing, big banks, and income inequality.

If Bernie were to upset the Clinton campaign on the basis of issues, New York was the place. It did not happen. While there could be events in the next few months which could change the outcome, Clinton looks like the Democrat winner. Oh, and by the way, there are no similar subdivisions of Democrats like one can see in the GOP.

So what has New York said?

My guess is that it is as follows. If any candidate understands the frustration of so many Americans who do not see a chance at the American dream, then there is a ready audience who could care less about social issues or foreign policy. This audience wants someone who will tell them they have a plan to make life better.

Should there ever be a President Trump, he will be judged carefully on whether he actually tries to help and whether he is successful. A President Trump will not be given a free pass for just talking, he will need to succeed. Why?

The easy answer is that regardless of a President Trumps intentions, those in his administration will be stuffing their pockets with perks and free-byes which come with the job. In short, after four years a President Trump could look like those before him (save President Obama), just another establishment guy.

For voters, however, a likely Hillary Presidency could be a disappointment too. Her campaign will be expensive and she will owe much to supporters. Escaping this appearance of in-proprietary will be nearly impossible… unless… under President Clinton there is a substantial improvement in voters perception of achieving the American dream.

Hmmm.

Getting Down To Business

October 20, 2015

The role of Congress is to govern legislatively.  The role of the majority Congressional party is to lead this process, or at least give it an all out try when an opposition party is set to block all reasonable paths forward. The 247 Republicans who make up the majority in Congress seem to have other ideas, or possibly are just plain incapable of leading. Republicans seem set on reversing existing laws, conducting foreign relations, or investigating issues for political purposes instead of doing the unique tasks that only they can do. What unique work?  How about developing a Federal budget, ensuring there is adequate funding to ensure government operation, and under no circumstances, creating conditions where the US might default on its debt.

Hmmm.

For sure Congress can (and some may say should) put forth new laws or consider repeal of existing ones. Commonsense, however, mandates the unique roles of Congress must come first.

Presidential hopefuls act as if they are not part of the essential “roles of government”.  Candidates seem more at home stretching outer limits of “hyperbole”. Candidates seem at ease stretching the truth and in many cases just making up statements they pass off as truth. This is a disease of politicians be they Republican or Democrat. Never the less, there are important clues illuminating how interested a Presidential candidate might be about assisting in performing the critical roles of government by sifting through the piles of rhetoric.

The question which Americans ought to be asking is “which candidate is fit to lead the country and will that candidate lead the executive branch so that the unique and essential roles of government are performed?”

Republicans are set on taking over the White House. Nothing new with that statement. One must, however, wonder whether the GOP candidates are cognizant of how their primary rhetoric translate into voter disbelief over their fitness to govern?

Over the weekend, a number of GOP hopefuls (Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee) gathered at Prestonwood Baptist Church near Dallas, Texas.  The evangelical audience wanted the candidates to discuss their religious views in the context of running for President. The candidates who wanted the attendees vote seemed comfortable applying their “love of god and the Bible” to anti-gay, anti-immigrant, and anti-women’s rights issues.

Ben Carson claimed it was time to “bring god back to our country”. (I wonder what he means by that? I am pretty sure the god he is talking about is not the Jewish god or the Muslim god.   The audience seemed to know in any case and welcomed his words.)

Apparently the candidates did not feel a need to discuss taxes, entitlements, or fixing the infrastructure. And no candidate seemed concerned about the government shutting down or the country defaulting on its debt.  I am guessing that these issues are not priority items on the faith based agenda. Foreign affairs did not make the cut either, probably because Carson’s goal of bringing god back to our country did not need the messiness of foreign affairs. Hmmm.

The Senate will attempt today to vote, not on a spending authorization or increasing the debt level, but on eliminating Federal funds from any “sanctuary city”. The country is only a few weeks away from a government shut down and the Republican lead Senate wants to vote on a measure which will never become law, and in the greater picture of immigration reform and inclusiveness, should never be a political issue.

It would seem open and shut that the current crop of GOP legislators and Presidential candidates are not fit for prime time. They are not fit to lead. Correction, they might be fit to lead strongly held minority views but certainly this avocation disqualifies them from leading a pluralistic, free and open America.

If this “pray-in” qualifies as getting down to business, these six GOP candidates do not know what the unique and essential roles of government are.