December 13, 2017

Trump at Liberty

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As I said in comments last week, I’m not terribly interested in politics except as it intersects with the purposes of this blog. Since we like to keep our eye on what is happening in the world of U.S. evangelicalism, I think the following stories at Bloomberg and CNN about Trump speaking at Liberty University qualify as something for the iMonk community to discuss.

I’ve excerpted some of the pertinent points. Feel free to follow the links and read the entire articles.

PrintDonald Trump Gets High Marks from Liberty President

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won glowing praise from a Christian evangelical leader in one of the nation’s biggest battleground states on Monday.

Jerry Falwell Jr., head of the Virginia-based Liberty University, didn’t formally endorse the billionaire, who spoke at the school’s convocation, but his remarks went further than for any other candidate to speak there during this race.

“He cannot be bought. He’s not a puppet on a string like many other candidates,” said Falwell Jr., who said he met with three of Trump’s children this past week. “The American public is finally ready to elect a candidate who is not a career politician.”

Falwell Jr. even likened Trump to his father, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, which the candidate called “an honor for me.”

…Falwell’s comments could help Trump win over evangelical voters, particularly in southern Virginia, where one in eight of the town’s residents attend services at the family’s church in Lynchburg, according to the organization. They could also help Trump in Iowa, which hosts the first nomination voting of the election on Feb. 1.

…Trump, a Presbyterian, largely shies away from discussing his faith on the campaign trail. But he did inject some religious sentiments in an apparent effort to cater to the audience. He said his best-selling book, The Art of the Deal, was “a deep second” to the Bible.

“The Bible blows it away. There’s nothing like it, the Bible,” he said.

He also vowed to defeat the Islamic State and win “the War on Christmas.” “If I’m president, you’re going to see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me,” he said.

Donald Trump takes Liberty, courts Christian crowd

Falwell lauded Trump in a lengthy introduction that he offered to neither Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential contender who recently spoke at the university, nor Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his presidential bid here last spring.

Falwell glowingly compared Trump to his father due to their shared propensity for eschewing political correctness.

“Donald Trump is a breath of fresh air,” Falwell said, before saying he believed “the American public is finally ready to elect a candidate who is not a career politician but rather who has succeeded in real life.”

Comments

  1. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Donald Trump Gets High Marks from Liberty President

    In times past, GOP Presidential hopefuls made Pilgrimage to Bob Jones U to receive the Presidential Anointing/Blessing from the hands of God’s Shadow Upon Earth.

    Now God’s Shadow Upon Earth makes Pilgrimage to The Trump to give the Anointing/Blessing.

    It’s like one of those Chuck Norris jokes for real.

  2. Oy vey!

  3. If Trump’s opinions on the poor, women, and people of other races are sincere, that only makes them more reprehensible.

    The members of British Parliament recently applied their eloquence to descriptions of Donald Trump. My favorite was “the orange prince of American self-publicity.” The full article is available at the Washington Post. Worth reading, if only to learn some new and interesting British slang insults.

  4. If Friedrich Nietzsche were alive, I imagine he would observe that Jerry Falwell, Jr., in his endorsement of Donald Trump, reveals the nihilism and decadence, and especially the vulgarity, at the heart of Christianity. And, no, Nietzsche would not have lauded or supported Trump, anymore than he would have Hitler (no matter how the Nazis tried to claim him as their philosopher), anymore than he did Wagner. He would have bathed Trump in his contempt.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > …reveals the nihilism and decadence….

      Yep. And no small amount of childish petulance.

    • Andrew Zook says:

      Matthew Lee Anderson at MereOrthodoxy has thrown down the gauntlet as well concerning Trump & Cruz… He references Nietzsche as well in his frank an unflattering assessment of the evangelicals running after T&C. But the responses to his discernment is mostly negative. This segment of american christianity is so angry and out for revenge that no amount of preaching righteousness, using the Word or referencing Jesus Christ persuades them. The end justifies the means. Political power is the ultimate path to “getting our america back” etc.
      I’ve distanced myself from being known as an “evangelical” (a path instigated in part by Bushites), but now I have even more reason to. Something is wrong with the very foundations of your theology and worldview and religion if you think any of the presidential candidates, especially T&C, will somehow bring holiness/righteousness to the american soul… or bring people into HIs kingdom or bring about “greatness” or whatever “good” end they imagine.
      One silver lining in this may be the cleaving apart of thoughtful, dedicated, civil, charitable evangelicals from this herd of angry, bitter, spoiled nihilists (they really are more priviliged than most christians anywhere, anytime). The general culture’s view of “evangelicalism” is going to grow ever more negative the longer this election season goes on, and so maybe it’s high time the laity and leaders and teachers (like Anderson) who aren’t on the Trump/Cruz any-means bandwagons come up with another way to describe themselves and publicly drop “evangelical” as an identity…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > or bring about “greatness” or whatever “good” end they imagine.

        I would really appreciate a fleshing out of what this “greatness” means, what would it look like, on the street. That is a vain hope I know. But a debate laser focused on ‘What you mean by greatness?’ would be a huge step forward for us as a nation – it seems like the discussion we are trying and failing to have; because on the other hand we are too cynical to have it? Or are, in our hearts, a bit ashamed of what greatness means to us [how small and petty our “greatness” is?]?

        > another way to describe themselves and publicly drop “evangelical” as an identity…

        ‘true’ Evangelicals need to just surrender the banner, make a new one, and move on. It is dirtied and tattered beyond repair. Someone made up “Evangelical” in the first place [*1], just make up something again.

        [*1] Please no historical/linguistic lectures about the origin or historicity of the term. It is merely a word, selected from amongst our species’ linguistic detritus, to serve as an identity marker. The meaning of a string of syllables is not magically/spiritually/historically ‘true’ in any sense, irrespective of it’s provenance. Words often lose their meaning with use; and “Evangelical” is well past it’s expiration date. Remember when “gay” meant happy? “Abandon” once meant ‘to subjugate”, “bully” was once a sweetheart, and “cute” meant more shrewd than it related to appearance.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I would really appreciate a fleshing out of what this “greatness” means, what would it look like, on the street.

          op cit The Handmaid’s Tale crossed with Pleasantville.

          Everybody FORCED to be in Church singing “Praise the LOORD” or else.

          • Just throw in the Tribulation Force Anti-Anti-Christ Faith Crisis First Responders, the Ministry of Rapture Preparedness, and some marching hammers and I think you’ll have it.

            waiting …
            waiting …
            waiting fooooor the worms.

      • The general culture? From what I can see, the general culture is not innocent of Trump worship. When you strip the Christians who support Trump of their Christian self-designation and self-identification, you still have Trump supporters. The real identity is a political/social one, not Christian. Remember that Western Europe, where neither Christianity or evangelicalism is widespread, has growing numbers of people with the same kind of mentality, and they are becoming more and more powerful.

      • That article deserves to be linked…

        The Undead Religious Right

      • Read the Mere Orthodoxy article; it references Nietzsche from a very different angle than mine. I think many thoughtful Christians continue to misunderstand Nietzsche, and that they use has name only as a term of opprobrium, rather than seeing his critical insight as an ally in unmasking the kind of ressentiment being played out right now in the popularity of Trump.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          +1

          Aside: I am chronically frustrated by posts at MO, it is often a site that seems to deliberately speak sideways – a regime shopping for propagandists should consider contracting with them. I believe MO does provide a unique insight into how educated Evangelicals try to force things into a coherent alignment.

          • Adam,

            “A regime shopping for propagandists should consider contracting with them.”

            This is basically my favorite endorsement of Mere-O ever. If I was still running the site, I’d make it our tagline.

            Best,

            Matt

        • Well said, Robert, and pleased to read an informed interpretation of Nietzsche.

        • Robert,

          I don’t know how carefully you read the article, but….that’s basically my analysis, drawn from my own reading of N. and developed in dialogue with James Hunter’s *To Change the World.*

          Thanks for reading it.

          Matt

          • Matthew,

            I reread the article. You’re right: my first reading was not close enough, and so I partially misunderstood what your were saying. My apologies.

            But I think you misunderstand Nietzsche. For him, seeking revenge when will-to-power is frustrated is not an expression of ressentiment; but masking one’s interest in seeking revenge in a cloak of virtue and morality, of rectitude, is. This is exactly what the Christian right has been doing for long time: disguising the frustration of its will, and the attendant desire for revenge that comes with defeat, in a fog of vaguely defined Christian morality.

            That fog makes it possible to see someone as unshaped by things Christian as Trump is as a deliverer and defender of the Christian community; but Trump isn’t the first, he’s merely the most extreme, further along a logical continuum that started long ago. It’s the moral fog that makes monsters look like knights to the Christian right; that it does so indicates how untenable that ethic actually is. There’s nothing substantial to it; it exists to generate illusions, to distort appearances.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        This segment of american christianity is so angry and out for revenge that no amount of preaching righteousness, using the Word or referencing Jesus Christ persuades them. The end justifies the means. Political power is the ultimate path to “getting our america back” etc.

        Classic Grievance Culture, i.e. a culture whose only reason for existence is Getting Even with The Other. In Blood if necessary (such as the most famous example of such a culture, in 1933 Germany).

        1) “Once WE Were Lords of All Creation, and Everything was Perfect1′
        2) “Then THEY came and took it all away from Us!”
        3) “IT’S PAYBACK TIME! WITH INTEREST!”

    • Perhaps I missed something, but I’m not aware that Jerry Falwell, Jr. endorsed Donald Trump or anyone else.

      I’ll admit I’m no fan of Trump, but I give him credit for correctly perceiving that the GOP establishment is out of touch not only with the average American but with the Republican base as well. Trump is clearly exploiting that to his advantage. Whether it will turn into a successful presidential campaign remains to be seen. After all, at this time eight years ago most observers thought Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee with a good chance of becoming the next president, and we know how that turned out.

      • What you are missing is paragraph two of the article excerpt.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Has anyone heard the Conspiracy Theory that I heard twice last week from independent sources? Goes like this:

        Trump and Comrade Hillary are in cahoots from Day One. Trump will wipe out all the other GOP contenders, get the nomination, and then just before the election will back out and quit, leaving Comrade Hillary to ascend in triumph.

  5. I kind of tremble to admit that I quaff my political commentary from the Archdruid, but I have yet to read a better analysis of the Trump phenomenon than his:

    The significance of Trump’s astonishing progress to front-runner status is large and complex enough that it’s going to get a post of its own here in the near future. For the moment, the point that matters is that a vast number of nominal Republicans are so sick of the business as usual being marketed by their party’s officially approved candidates that they’re willing to vote for absolutely anyone who is willing to break with the bipartisan consensus of what we might as well call the Dubyobama era: a consensus that has brought misery to the vast majority of Americans, but continues to benefit a privileged minority—not just the much-belabored 1%, but the top 20% or so of Americans by income.

    Hillary Clinton is the candidate of that 20%, the choice of those who want things to keep going the way they’ve gone for the last two decades or so. More precisely, she’s the one candidate of the business-as-usual brigade left standing, since the half of the 20% that votes Democrat has rallied around her and done their best to shut down the competition, while the half that votes Republican failed to rally around Jeb Bush or one of his bland and interchangeable rivals, and thus got sidelined when the 80% made their own choice.

    In my district, Trump signs are popping up like mushrooms in the pasture after a heavy rain. They don’t give a rat’s nethers about his attitudes towards the poor, women, and other races, anymore than a dog whose hip was crushed by a passing truck cares that you are approaching him to try to help. You better keep your fingers close to your side.

    • The total lack of comprehension about the entire Trump phenomenon here in the environs of Babylon-on-the-Potomac is incredible. There are way too many people here who, because they are doing OK and don’t know anybody who isn’t doing OK, think that therefore the country is doing OK. As much as Archdruid Greer is correct about Hillary’s place in the grand scheme of things, it comes down to her and Trump, I’m voting for her. Better a slow-motion decay than a sudden collapse into Caesarism. If that can even be avoided at this point…

      • Yes, I’d have to vote for her, too. She would be more-of-the-same, but a Trump election would be a putsch in democratic attire.

        I’d really like to vote for Bernie; I hope he beats her to the nomination.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          > Yes, I’d have to vote for her, too. … I’d really like to vote for Bernie;

          Ditto. Although we need to be politically honest — Clinton or Bernie represent very similar outcomes; as neither would likely be able to advance their policies or agendas very far.

          My advice is always, provided the ideology is not crazy or hateful, that it is best to vote for the most effective **leader**. And among this collection of fools I do have to give that hat to Clinton. Moving multiple bureaucratic agencies – let alone congress – and a myriad of municipal governments [which actually interact directly with the Federal government more than most people seem to realize] – you need someone who can herd cats reasonably successfully. Obama, and more so his team, really failed at that for the first three years; to a degree worthy of a face-palm, books have been written about that. But this is something Clinton knows how to do.

          • We need to think about the composition of the Supreme Court under a Hillary or Bernie administration. You may not like the bare conservative slant to the present Court, but under the next president we may see two, and possibly THREE, vacancies filled by the next administration.

            The top earners will always be the top earners. The faces may change, but the impulse to succeed and increase wealth will never change. Even under a highly repressive regime there are always those who prosper for one reason or another, so when a politician uses envy of “the rich” as a lever to pry votes from the public while promising to make things better for “the rest of us” then beware.

            Both Trump and Bernie are populists from different ends of the spectrum, even IF they are “heartfelt” in their pronouncements. I guess Cruz can be lumped in there too, and maybe even Hillary, who says whatever she needs to say, the truth be damned.

            I wish I could pull a Rip Van Winkle and wake up in 20 years later. I may not like what I find, but at least I won’t have to put up with the process of getting there.

          • We need to think about the composition of the Supreme Court under a Hillary or Bernie administration. You may not like the bare conservative slant to the present Court, but under the next president we may see two, and possibly THREE, vacancies filled by the next administration.

            Oscar, I’ve been hearing that since 1980, when I was persuaded by a pastor friend to vote for Reagan (and I did that again in 1984). When I saw what Republicanism had become, late in Reagan’s second term, I haven’t gone back to that argument. The Supreme Court is rarely in the pocket of the Executive Branch.

            And if it’s Roe vs. Wade that Christians are still concerned about, let’s consider that overturning a decision made 43 years ago would not be a very conservative thing to do—and would only send it back to the states anyway, causing more chaos.

          • Frankly I’m tired of ignorant blather about the President or SCOTUS or whatever distraction the corporations are trying to brainwash people with. IT’S CONGRESS FOLKS. It has ALWAYS been Congress, and the fact that we get all in a twitter over presidential candidates tells us all we need to know on why we are a stone’s throw from Ceasarism.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Oscar, I’ve been hearing that since 1980, when I was persuaded by a pastor friend to vote for Reagan (and I did that again in 1984).

            Every four years starting in 1980, Christianese GOP Kingmakers like Dobson have called from the pulpit to put a Republican in the White House who will appoint Supreme Court Justices to overturn Roe V Wade, outlaw Homosexuality , and bring back Prayer in Schools.

            Every four years since 1980,
            It is now 2015.
            And a majority of those 35 years between have seen a Republican in the White House.

      • As repeated in the Sunday morning political talk shows, neither Trump nor Cruse can win cross-over votes so critical in the general election. They may win, if Republicans resort to voter intimidation and draconian election registration laws. Despots win popular votes all the time. Democracy loses to brutality and the will-to-power every time.

        Of course, none of this is necessary if the Democrats don’t show up at the polls, as in the last mid-term election.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The total lack of comprehension about the entire Trump phenomenon here in the environs of Babylon-on-the-Potomac is incredible.

        “I’m an M.B.A. and…”
        — JMS describing Network Suits

        There are way too many people here who, because they are doing OK and don’t know anybody who isn’t doing OK, think that therefore the country is doing OK.

        “What do you mean, ‘the system’s broken’? Works Just Fine (for ME)!”

        “How did Chimpy Dubya Bushitler ever get re-elected? NOBODY *I* KNOW VOTED FOR HIM!”
        — Upscale Manhattenite Beautiful Person, from a joke going around after the 2004 elections

    • Yay for the archdruid — it’s a very good place to get political commentary. It’s hard to find a reasonable Burkean conservative these days.

    • Good observations.

      The problem is that a segment of the American populace wants to be deceived; it has developed a will to be lied to, as long as the lies are the kind that it’s been wanting to here for a long time, lies about the Other being responsible for all of its problems. Donald Trump is a liar, and he knows what lies his audience wants to hear.

      The same is true for Falwell, Jr., and other Christians who are in the Trump camp: they want to be lied to, and they want the lies this liar is telling. The truth is that when they support Trump, they support a man who, unlike Pilate, wouldn’t hesitate even for a minute to crucify Jesus; hell, he wouldn’t hesitate to crucify a thousand Jesuses.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > they want the lies this liar is telling

        This! OMG, the conversations I have had… the reality distortion field is operating at maximum power.

        You can show them a credible peer-reviewed study, endorsed by the Chamber Of Commerce for crying out loud, and “nope, that is a all bulls$$$, it isn’t true.” The irrelevance of truth continues to stagger my understanding; I get fear and anxiety, but… the data!

        • As HUG would say, “The Dwarves are for the Dwarves, and won’t be taken in!”

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You can show them a credible peer-reviewed study, endorsed by the Chamber Of Commerce for crying out loud, and “nope, that is a all bulls$$$, it isn’t true.”

          Because That’s what THEY want Us to think!
          (CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY CONSPIRACY…_

      • Christiane says:

        Trump tested the waters. When his ‘birther’ thing took off, Trump realized he had a waiting market of followers who wanted to live in their own ‘reality’ . . . Donald is not stupid. This country was ripe for the picking. Too many of our working-class poor will consistently vote against their own interests in spite of all indicators that those they support have no intention of helping their economic situation and, if anything, would decimate what little there is of an economic safety net for the poor as a way to garner more tax breaks for the rich.

        One thought (not very charitable, sorry) is that though Donald cannot be ‘bought’, perhaps through a large ‘donation’, Falwell might be tempted. No proof, except Trump does ‘donate’ large sums to newscasters and to influential people (as he did with Lawrence O’Donnell, who returned Trump’s check).

        • I cringe when I hear the Trump can’t be bought line. I maybe can’t be bought, either, but it doesn’t mean I’m fit to be President. But I am not convinced he can’t be bought. He loves money too much.

          • He obviously can be bought with flattery and sycophancy. He sucks it up like an emotionally needy child.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “With a ruler, you can lay the flattery on with a trowel.”
            — Benjamin Disraeli

  6. Since we’re talking “extreme political sport”, has anyone come across the converted Jew, Brother Nathanael? ( http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=1058 ). Seems to make Trump look respectable…

  7. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    This reads the same way as the Cruz post – it is unmitigated evidence that Christianity has exited the main-stage of American culture; we can finally be done with that ‘Christian Nation’ nonsense.

    Evangelicalism *IS* Fundamentalism, and a good share of it is Nationalism. Not much here resembles lower-case “o” orthodox Christianity aside from some vocabulary.

    Perhaps this will finally convince reasonable Christian people to abandon their devotion to that self-identification [“evangelical”]. For as long as they cling to it they will be lumped – by all other reasonable people – in with Trump and Cruz; and used by the Trumps and the Cruzes to bolster the credibility of that world-view. I can at least hope.

    • we can finally be done with that ‘Christian Nation’ nonsense.

      Not until Cruz/Carson get trounced in the primaries, so that evangelicals/fundamentalists see clearly that they don’t have the demographic mojo anymore. And for some, they will refuse to heed the signs even then…

      Evangelicalism *IS* Fundamentalism

      I used to think that there was a sharp difference between the two. Since starting my wilderness wanderings 5 years ago, that sharp line has blurred to invisibility. I don’t know for sure if it’s my vantage point changing, or evangelicalism getting more shrill as its cultural and political power fades. I’d guess a bit of both.

      a good share of it is Nationalism. Not much here resembles lower-case “o” orthodox Christianity aside from some vocabulary.

      To be fair, I’d say that for many Americans (at least white middle class Americans) their religion has always been thoroughly mixed with nationalism. The problem is that now, both the nation and their class are on the downward slope economically, politically, and demographically, and that makes them willing to listen to ANYONE who will promise to Set Things Right. Even if that person is a barely-church-going billionaire reality TV “Star” whose moral character (both in matters of sex and business) is well beyond the pale of lower-case “o” orthodox Christianity. Gotta keep your priorities straight…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I’d guess a bit of both.

        I believe it is both. But, in any case, we have cross into a current where the distinction is operationally irrelevant.

        Evangelicalism was Fearful and had something of a besieged mentality when I joined it in the ’90s. It has clearly changed – moving rapidly in that direction. 9/11 played into that, I think, as an acceleration of that movement. It was after that when it became clear I had to exit completely; a lot of pastors went nuts. Now it has appropriated the Gay Marriage debate as a solid cornerstone for that fortress mentality.

        > their religion has always been thoroughly mixed with nationalism.

        True. Mixed-in. But there now seems to be more chocolate chips than cookie.

        > the nation and their class are on the downward slope economically,
        > politically, and demographically,

        There are serious problems; but outside their demographic I am not convinced of this slope. This is myopia, to an extent, IMO. This is like the Romans, convinced at the very height of their power and prosperity, that they were hopelessly in decline – when they had more ability to build-out and change course than they had ever had previously. This slope-claiming is more self-fulling prophecy than it is reality. Is The Slope real? Or is it the looming spectacle of mortality rising before the Baby Boomer generation?

        > listen to ANYONE who will promise to Set Things Righ

        I do not believe the promise has anything to do with their popularity. The promise is a rhetorical formality. The power is in confirming the narrative – “Yes, the world is collapsing, but it is not my fault, there is nothing I can do.” Ahhh… the sweet balm of powerlessness which relieves me from all obligation.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says:

          There is a song by the German punk/rock/gothic band Blind Guardian in which the chorus contains the line “when sorrow sang softly and sweet”. For me that is theme song of the current political cycle; that chorus mixed in the aggressive punk chords, that’s it.

          • There are serious problems; but outside their demographic I am not convinced of this slope.

            But the middle of the middle class is disappearing. From what I’ve read (no, I’m afraid I can’t cite my sources, but it was from studies recently cited in the news), the lower middle-class is slipping down, and the upper middle-class is moving up. Which means the middle-class is being absorbed into the lower and upper classes.

            Among the people I work with, the Trump supporters are not especially religious people; many are completely un-churched, though if asked in a survey they might identify as evangelical. They are, however, all lower middle-class, blue-collar, white and have been suffering economic decline in recent times. They may be mistaking the causes of their decline, but they are in decline. Many are truly in danger of joining the poor.

          • @ Robert –

            Allow me to source that for you (this is obviously my day for links…)

            http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

          • Adding that to my Spotify

          • Man, that PewSocialTrends article. Middle income is $24k?? I make double that, and a single bedroom apartment anywhere in the Twin Cities is 45% of my income.

            There’s something very very wrong.

          • Another person knows Blind Guardian! Day: Made.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > [Robert F] But the middle of the middle class is disappearing.

            Agree, 110%. But interesting is the fact that these guys do not propose anything to help them.

            I believe these guys represent not Hope for a fix or a return to “greatness” but a despair, a throwing in of the towel. As the still wealthiest – and on net value wealthier every single year – nation on earth this is grossly irrational behavior.

            We have faced this kind of thing before – we have even experienced actual civil war! – and came out the other side and grew stronger. But this was achieved by the opposite of throwing in the towel.

          • @Eeyore: Thanks for the assist. This is exactly what I meant.

          • No, these guys propose nothing that would help (and much that would hurt), but the people listening to and applauding them think that they will help, and also think that by supporting them they are helping, too. They don’t think they are throwing in the towel; they think they are throwing punches.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I believe these guys represent not Hope for a fix or a return to “greatness” but a despair, a throwing in of the towel.

            And taking as many of THEM with you for Payback.
            Scorched Earth Revenge.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This reads the same way as the Cruz post – it is unmitigated evidence that Christianity has exited the main-stage of American culture; we can finally be done with that ‘Christian Nation’ nonsense.

      Isn’t an animal the most dangerous when it’s wounded?
      And True Believers the most dangerous when their side is losing?

      Like the Taliban and ISIS, they will use Any Means Necessary to not only prevent their exit, but to put themselves on top, FOREVER. And if they’re losing with the ballot, there’s always the bayonet.

      First the Coup, then the Cleansing, and Everything Will Be Perfect Forevermore.

  8. And, to toss more kindling onto the fire of discussion, here is The Atlantic’s take on the speech and its wider implications…

    “Trump is currently leading among white evangelical voters, many of whom are willing to forgive his theological lapses in favor of other appealing qualities. ‘Spirituality is a big issue, but we need somebody who’s strong,’ a Kentuckian named Charles E. Henderson told the New York Times. ‘Lots of times the preachers and everything, they have a tendency to be just a little bit weak.’ Trump’s success with this group exposes a rift in the religious right akin to the one in the broader GOP: Its leaders don’t necessarily speak for their followers. As Matthew Lee Anderson put it, ‘While the evangelical leadership has gone other directions, the laity has its own attitudes and impulses—and those have more in common with Trump than most evangelical leaders would like to admit.’ Leaders like Moore, who urge tolerance and compassion for gays, immigrants, and refugees, may be out of step with elements of the evangelical rank and file.

    In this as in so much else, Trump’s candidacy will prove clarifying. The Republican Party has relied on ‘values voters’ for decades without, in their view, faithfully representing their interests. As Falwell put it in his introduction of Trump: ‘For decades, conservatives and evangelicals have chosen the political candidates who have told us what we wanted to hear on social, religious, and political issues, only to be betrayed by these same candidates after they were elected.’ In Trump, these voters see someone who shares their true priorities.”

    The Religious Right’s Donald Trump Dilemma

    • ‘While the evangelical leadership has gone other directions, the laity has its own attitudes and impulses—and those have more in common with Trump than most evangelical leaders would like to admit.’

      And of course, it’s not the leader’s fault with their rhetoric, theology, and teaching.

      I blame evolution.

      • Christiane says:

        the real ‘culture’ of fundamentalism is not far from basic ‘Westboro Baptist Church’ mentality

        the real ‘culture’ of evangelicalism abhors any public connection to Westboro by comparison

        HOWEVER, if you place a continuum with Westboro Baptist at one end and the most healthy entity in evangelicalism at the other end;
        I think the skew would be more towards the Westboro end because fundamentalism IS very present in much of evangelicalism, even if not as ‘open’ and vividly acted out . . . but it’s there, it’s there . . . like a slow poison it acts on the health of evangelicalism and brings harm to it that I’m not sure can be reversed

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          To those outside the Christianese Bubble (with its Thomas Kincade-decorated walls), Born-Again Christians are just Fred Phelps with a more genteel coat of paint.

  9. Bluesurly says:

    Trump voter here. Don’t like the evangelical pandering but not a deal breaker. Kind of like the pandering to blacks we saw on the Dem debate Sunday night.
    I’m middle class, blue collar and usually vote Republican. I’m 52 and a veteran. It was asked above what “greatness” means to us as a nation. I can’t answer for anyone but myself. It would be great if we enforced laws that are on the books from gun laws to immigration, especially. I think a little nationalism is just what we need. The last sixteen years has seen nothing but globalization. How’s your 401 k after last week?
    Many of you stated he is a divider. But he cannot be more so than the last eight years. Any gun crime the current regime weighed in on was the fault of the gun or racism.
    To go on with the statis quo whether R or D is going to bring more of the same. Hell, to go with Trump may do so as well. But I’m tired of Clintons and Bush tribe and the chamber of commerce pandering repubs.
    And before any of you say go with the Bern…at least he is honest that he is a socialist. Won’t vote for a socialist.

    • A sincere thanks for weighing in, Bluesurly. People such as yourselves perfectly illustrate why there’s an impasse politically. Rising tides clearly haven’t lifted all boats, as has long been promised. (And you’re right about the 401k. Ouch!)

      On the one hand, free trade has negatively impacted many blue-collar workers in the US. Massively. Yet if you believe in “free enterprise,” current orthodoxy insists that this include completely free trade. It’s all or nothing. Get the government out of the way, etc.

      On the other hand, most Americans are like yourselves and “won’t vote for a socialist.” Yet if the upper xx% is benefitting from the current way things are arranged, then taxing them a bit more — effectively transferring wealth to those lower down the ladder — surely has to be part of the solution. But that’s “socialism” or “punishing success” and so is easily shouted down.

      So we’re sort of stuck. People hate free trade and unions equally, etc.. We need something to break up the pack ice — and you intuit this as well as anyone — even if I think Trump is not remotely the man for the job.

    • Burro [Mule] says:

      I don’t understand the reluctance against socialism. We’re already a socialist state for the donor class and a red-in-tooth-an-claw laissez-faire libertarian state for everybody else.

      • That doesn’t mean we need to keep going in that direction. Just cuz we are there? I don’t throw out what you are saying here, to a point, you are right. However, wealth transfer should be avoided, no matter which direction it is going in my opinion. I realize that it WILL happen no matter who is in power. There are abuses in capitalism, obviously. Sanders talks about taxing the rich and middle class to support the US “free” college and health care plan. That IMO would cause more abuses in our bloated bureaucratic education system than what is already there. Not to mention what govt intervention in health care has done. My premiums have gone up. My taxes have gone up. My wages have not. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or mine. We will get along just fine. We just want to be left the hell alone so we can provide for OURSELVES without having someone come along, government or otherwise and tell us who needs taking care of, who we should feel sorry for or what problem we’ve caused because we go to work and do our part in society.

      • It’s a kneejerk thing, I think. There’s a mental block, don’t want to be associated, papa didn’t raise no fool. Almost all of us have one on some topic or another.

      • My belief is that some of us would rather die than throw an extra dime into the plate for our fellow Americans, while others would rather die than earn an extra dime to put into the plate. A truly Socialist America would, in my opinion, truly live by Christ’s instruction, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

    • pandering to blacks ??

      • Christiane says:

        socialism is not communism . . . it is not some extreme form of taking away the person liberties of individuals UNLESS those individuals are of ill will and actively involved in bringing harm to the public (usually for personal gain)

        For those who would poison children, permanently crippling their future, and just to make a buck for the rich, maybe a good dose of socialism might be the way to respond . . . make these villains pay to clean up the poison, make them pay to provide help for their victims (for life) . . . make them pay for the repair of the environment they have violated . . .

        that will help them know that there are consequences for THEMSELVES when they have hurt innocent people for the sake of making money . . . otherwise we don’t have anyway to protect the common good in our free society . . . when people are openly poisoning children, they no longer deserve to be ‘free’ to do it in our country . . . the common good protects the innocent from these creeps . . . a simple justice demands it

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I think a little nationalism is just what we need. The last sixteen years has seen nothing but globalization. How’s your 401 k after last week?

      “Remember that 401k you HAD?
      Hope you have some gold ingots stashed under your bed!”
      — Morning drive-time wags last week

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        ” A little nationalism….”

        Remember 1914? Nationalism can make all of these other -isms look pretty tame….

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      As StuartB said – “pandering to Blacks”??? The racism is thick with this one.

  10. Still not takers for Brother Nathanael ? http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=1058 He’s big “O” Orthodox…

  11. I find it interesting that Trump supporters love him because he’s an outsider (same with Carson, but he is plummeting faster than a barometer in a hurricane). Yet, whenever I’ve asked supporters of either one if they would want their new manager, or CEO of their company, or their police chief to be someone with no experience in that field to take the helm, the answer is almost always “No.” The presidency is not an entry level position, but far too many people seem to think it is. Wasn’t one of the big criticisms of Obama that he didn’t have enough experience?

    Sadly, as evangelicals see their influence slipping, they are latching on to the only anchor they see. Trump. If only we get a strong man on our side, we’ll regain that lost glory. They don’t grasp that they’ll be tossed aside once they are no longer useful to gaining & keeping power.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “They will call for The Strong Man. And The Strong Man will come.”
      — line of a possessing demon from a Seventies-vintage Spiritual Warfare novel

      • Christiane says:

        Hi HEADLESS

        ah, that ‘strong man’ script was written a long time ago . . . the story ends badly

    • Burro [Mule] says:

      Don’t tremble, prepare.

      http://image.syracuse.com/home/syr-media/width960/img/post-standard/photo/2015/12/11/-9eccb5159ae06db8.jpg

      Honestly, I just can’t fathom this country’s boundless hatred of non-college educated white people. Look at the cartoon. Look at the sneering redneck and the leering skinhead in the lower right-hand corner. These are meant by the cartoonist to represent my neighbors and the majority of my co-workers. They don’t read The Atlantic. They don’t shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. They’d feel kind of out of place at Atlantic Station or just about anywhere in the Hudson Valley.

      I can tell you with a straight face that most of the people I deal with on a daily basis would look upon the brownshirts harassing the gentleman in the sombrero as upstanding Americans, and for $56K a year with benefits, wouldn’t mind serving a stint themselves. What the hell is so bad about the picket fence and the grill out back? Couldn’t we have found a way to get that for everybody without making Lockheed Martin, Bechtel, and Goldman Sachs masters of the Material Universe?

      We brought this on ourselves. i don’t know when our politics got so damned polarized. I voted for Carter. My roommate voted for Ford, but we recognized each other as patriotic Americans. By the time I voted for Fritz in ’84 [something I still don’t regret. Hell, I wish we had that choice today], I was beginning to be looked at askance by him.

      I’m redoubling my prayers. I don’t know if I can take on sufficient protective coloration to survive this.

      • David Cornwell says:

        “We brought this on ourselves. i don’t know when our politics got so damned polarized. I voted for Carter. My roommate voted for Ford, but we recognized each other as patriotic Americans.”

        Yes, I remember those days with fond nostalgia. In the Kennedy-Nixon election, I sat up late in the apartment of some college friends. Most of us were for Nixon, but one or two were very pro Kennedy. Nothing about any of this threatened our friendship, but more than that, it nourished and bonded it. We all loved America. Back then we knew how to debate, not yell. And we could laugh at each other and ourselves.

        And also: some are now labeling Bernie Sanders as a communist. Fine, if he is one, so am I, and proud of it. I personally think he is as surprised as anyone that he is doing as well in the polls. And I think that he and his team have done little to think about actually winning and governing.

        • Back then we knew how to debate, not yell.

          This. Also, you said this was in college…where intellectualism exists. But now we have a sharper divide, and when you can’t reason and debate facts, you argue and shout instead. You aren’t debating possible opinions, you are now fighting against Truth. And if our pastor Rush Limbaugh argues and fights this way with such certainty, so shall we.

      • country’s boundless hatred of non-college educated white people

        I tend to hate them, because I know I came from them. Not something I’m super proud of, and I work against it, but I don’t ever want to end up like them, for a number of reasons.

        But nationally, it’s probably because of the anti-intellectualism. It’s one thing to be un or undereducated. It’s another to be anti-education. It harkens back to the circuit riding preachers, the salt of the earth simple folk, who don’t need no bible teaching to understand God’s word.

        America has always had large areas of anti-intellectuals. But for the most part, the colleges and seminaries and clubs have guided this nation. Many of which were started by believers, out of a sincere love for God and his word. Yet one group, the anti-intellectuals, denies and sometimes hates that.

        I don’t know. It’s not a simple thing. We shouldn’t hate them, we should help them. But they hate us and sometimes it’s returned.

      • Honestly, I just can’t fathom this country’s boundless hatred of non-college educated white people.

        I think you make a good point. However, it isn’t a whole lot better for we college-educated white folks who hold liberal arts degrees. I’m presently working a job that a high school graduate, or even a reasonably intelligent dropout, could do well. At the same time, I’m grateful to have work; I was out of work for a long time and I know several folks who were laid off last month shortly before Christmas. I frankly wish the presidential candidates would discuss what they will do to improve the lagging economy, declining wages and dismal job prospects.

      • turnsalso says:

        To be fair, look at the Frito Bandito on the left as well.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I can tell you with a straight face that most of the people I deal with on a daily basis would look upon the brownshirts harassing the gentleman in the sombrero as upstanding Americans, and for $56K a year with benefits, wouldn’t mind serving a stint themselves.

        Make that $56K a year, benefits, and a chance to take a crack at those who took your job, landed you in poverty, and took away your country. Is there an additional pay hike for handling Zyklon B?

    • This is what worries me. The last time this kind of rhetoric (and response, even by people who should know better) put a leader in office was in 1933 (and things went down hill for everyone from there).

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “EIN VOLK! EIN REICH! EIN FUEHRER!”

        • After giving it some thought, I doubt that Trump has any Fuehrer ambitions – this is just to feed his ego. But, given that, I still think a Trump presidency would be a disaster of, um, biblical proportions.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I saw something similar with Ross Perot in 1992 — like Trump, a billionare trying for the White House as an ego trip. Playing a similar Messiah Politics shtick like Obama in 2008 — never get pinned down on anything specific, “Just Trust Me”.

            My parents were Perotistas up until Perot took his ball and went home. Only way I can describe it was Perot was their Personal LORD and Savior, and they kept Witnessing to me to Accept Him Into My Heart. I especially remember my stepmother going on about how President Perot would Solve Everything — No More Filthy Mexicans! No More Filthy Orientals! America for REAL Americans (like Me)! Everything Will Be Set Right!

            “They will cry out for The Strong Man. And The Strong Man will come.”

  12. I just read in Tillich’s “Systematic Theology” that religious leaders, once they lose the power of superstition over their masses, turn to political power to regain the same control. I will cite the quote once I find it again. When I read it the first time, I immediately thought of Falwell and his moral majority.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      This is relevant IF you believe the are religious leaders attempting to assert or retain control. I do not believe this, and think the evidence for this is scany. The Culture Wars are so named because that adequately describes them. This is driven by cultural despair [well founded or not]. A demographic block – of which the pastors are merely a PART – provides the power base for these demogogs; this fight is about the image of white-picket fence grillin’ on the back deck America vs … what America has actually been for most of its citizens since the mid point of the 20th century.

    • “The basis of a genuine heternonomy is the claim to speak in the name of the ground of being and therefore in an unconditional and ultimate way. A heteronomous authority usually expresses itself in terms of myth and cult because these are the direct and intentional expressions of the depth of reason. It is also possible for nonmythical and nonritual forms to gain power over the mind (e.g. political ideas). Heteronomy in this sense is usually a reaction against an autonomy which has lost its depth and has become empty and powerless.” – Paul Tillich, “Systematic Theology Vol. 1”; pp. 84,85.

    • I don’t believe the moral majority ever had a mythical nor superstitious grasp on its audience. I believe post-modernism and post-Christianity were well established in the late seventies and early eighties. Evangelicals really never had a mythical or superstitious hold on its followers, except perhaps in the form of Pentecostalism and revivalism. This is no comparison to the medieval church’s power over the masses through withholding the mystical power of the sacraments. American evangelicals have long relied on political power, either in Washington or the church elder board meeting.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I don’t believe the moral majority ever had a mythical nor superstitious grasp on its audience

        +1 This is an issue with the ‘Evangelical Wilderness’ meme; the interpretation of too much through a religious lens when religion is, at best, a fiddler on the sidelines.

        This movement grew as the awareness that the nation’s **highly subsidized** suburban middle class was fiscally unsustainable – and they felt ever more besieged. The human impulse to ignore a problem and double-down rather than face it.

        • I think religion was more than a fiddler on the sidelines. I think it was a classic case of co-dependent behavior: pandering to religion by politicians brought votes with false promises; politics gave religion the power to draw and control a crowd through fear and anger. Religion has been complicit in this despicable attempt at herding and milking the populous. Ayn Rand would be ashamed of the brainless masses led around by the nose by these manipulators – the same masses waving their copies of “Atlas Shrugged”.

          Yes, time for the the standard qualifier: both political parties are guilty; however, I don’t think religion is an unwilling victim of either party. If the church cannot stand up and declare an independent prophetic voice, it will be judged (read Hosea chapter 4).

  13. More amusing was Trump’s bid to actually quote scripture — from “Two Corinthians 3:17.” (And, yes, I know that much of the Anglosphere follows the “Two” vs. “Second” usage, but I somehow doubt that’s the explanation.)

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/18/politics/donald-trump-liberty-two-corinthians

    In any case, the Evangelical vote has evolved over the years:
    2004: “We’ll vote for Bush — he’s one of us.”
    2008: “We’ll vote for McCain — at least he’s a conservative Protestant.”
    2012: “We’ll vote for Romney — at least he’s a religious conservative.”
    2016: “We’ll vote for Trump — at least he’s ‘trying to connect’ with us.”

    • Brianthedad says:

      +1 on the vote evolution.

    • In 1980 it was Reagan, saying to the Religious Right, “I know that you can’t endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you are doing.”

      In 2000, Billy Graham stood beside George W. Bush and said, “I believe in the integrity of this man.” And this from an evangelist who no longer endorsed candidates after he got burned by Nixon.

  14. From someone who is not that involved and knowledgeable in politics in general, while the POTUS is probably the most powerful man in the world, at the same time, aren’t there enough checks and balances in the government to prevent total chaos from ensuing (no matter who is elected president)? It’s not like the president has the power to just do whatever he wants(?).

    On a side note, I kind of wish Romney were running again…he seemed like the most reasonable republican candidate from the little that I observed.

    • > It’s not like the president has the power to just do whatever he wants.

      It is apparent that you have not been paying attention for the past seven years. BHO does whatever he wants through the use of something called “executive actions” – as have other presidents before him. You really do need to start paying a little more attention.

      • Yes, but I am referring more to things that are just absolutely crazy (like banning all Muslims from entering the country)–that would NEVER pass regardless of how bad Trump advocates for it.

        • Or requiring all department store cashiers to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” . . .

        • Executive orders are basically end runs around and bypassing Congress, which would not have power to stop them. You need to take American Government 101.

        • Executive orders are basically end runs around and bypassing Congress, which would not have power to stop them. You need to take American Government 101. Sort of like restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba or releasing Osama bin Laden’s close associates from Guantanamo.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            But their downside is they get everybody (including the guy in the White House) used to President effectively ruling by Decree.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Well, Woodrow Wilson made Federal Civil Service “Whites Only” by executive order/decree…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > BHO does whatever he wants through the use of something called “executive actions”

        Nope. You are **extremely** over-reading some limited events.

        • That Other Jean says:

          Indeed. Check out the chart at the bottom of this article from 2014. There haven’t been that many since.

          http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/every-presidents-executive-actions-in-one-chart/

        • I would be inclined to defend been there if he is referring to our drone assassination program, but I doubt he is.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            The problem with this logic is simply that Executive Orders can easily be over-ruled by congressional action. All congress has to do is DO SOMETHING. Claiming omg-he-did-not-ask-our-permission …. while not using the Constitutionally delegated power to, you know, do something…. yeah, whatever. The Evil Of The Executive Order is pandering of the first-order; what persists by Executive Order has the tacit consent of congress. But they get to make a fuss about it.

          • Brianthedad says:

            Not necessarily. The same guy who issues the EO simply will veto the bill. A supermajority veto override or a new president would be needed to undo it, aside from court intervention. This is the case in the current SCOTUS review of the immigration action, and still assumes president would abide by the decision.

          • Brianthedad says:

            Not saying BO won’t follow a court order. Just saying that the court system depends on voluntary compliance with their orders or enforcement by the executive branch.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Speaking of “drone assassination program”, Liberty U got in on the ground floor of that one.

    • Brianthedad says:

      I agree. The cartoon of fuehrer trump was a little over the top. It’s author would presumably object to the right’s characterization of Obama as an autocrat implementing ‘leftist’ ideas in the same manner as the cartoon shows trump implementing ‘rightist’ ideas. A president trump would be as limited by the constitution as our current president.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        To which Trumpits would say “Better Fuehrer Trump than Dear Leader Comrade Hillary.”

        Speaking of which, back in 2008 there were these political cartoons of Her Inevitableness based on either a Stalin-era Russian or Mao-era Chinese propaganda poster (either photoshopped or originals with the style captured perfectly) with Hillary in Mao jacket and cap and a caption in pseudo-Cyrillic reading “For The Collective Good”.

  15. I recall evangelicals treating the Citizens United case as an attack on religious freedom. Now, they despise politicians who are no more than bought puppets on a string.

    • But for someone touted as ‘not a puppet on a string’ Trump sure seems to do a lot of obvious pandering.

  16. Steve Newell says:

    I don’t care for either Sen. Cruz or Mr. Trump for complete different reasons. The one thing about the supports of Mr. Trump that I don’t get is how do they square his past support and positions with his current position. For example, Mr. Trump has given money to Mrs. Clinton’s political campaigns in the past, he has supported a single payer healthcare system just to name two things.

    With Sen. Cruz, he has remain consistent about his positions over the course of time, even if I don’t agree with many of his positions.

    Is this is a case of emotions trumping the facts?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > how do they square his past support and positions with his current position

      Are they aware? I doubt angry people engage in much fact checking. My experience is they have zero interest in history, economic data, etc… That is must a distraction from The Message.

  17. I’m trying to ignore Trump. He’s not so much a parody as he is a reflection of the parody that is now the Republican Party.

    What I find more frightening for evangelicals and for God’s other creatures is what Liberty University has become. It’s now the go-to institution for Republican candidates, supplanting Bob Jones University. And worse, it has become a testing ground for the military and the arms industry, with its research and training in unmanned aircraft (drone) technology, and with President Falwell as a voice for gun ownership and concealed-carry—and for his students, on-campus!

    God save us.

  18. I despise Trump, but I think this piece identifies the legitimate grievances that drive his popularity. For myself, I think the piece underestimates the appeal of hatred for scapegoats, but it is often the case in America that populism melds legitimate grievances against elites with bigotry against minority groups.

    http://theweek.com/articles/599577/how-obscure-adviser-pat-buchanan-predicted-wild-trump-campaign-1996

    Apologies if someone else has already posted this — I haven’t read the whole thread.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > underestimates the appeal of hatred for scapegoats

      Is such an underestimation possible? I am kind of shocked. Humans *REALLY* love their scapegoats. 🙂

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Legitimate grievances that were pushed under and left to ferment for 30-40 years while Our Morally Superior Betters in Activism, Bureaucracy, and Media righteously scolded the grieving with wagging fingers and twelve-syllable euphemisms. While emotions ran higher and higher and Conspiracy Theory has become the new normal.

      The Strauss-Howe Cycle theory of generational succession has long predicted a major crisis (on the level and intensity of World War II) peaking around 2020, just from the 80-90-year pattern of generational types in American history. Around 2020, we will be in the same generational pattern as around 1930-1940. We’re currently transitioning from the pattern we were in around 1860, from a pattern more conductive to a French-style Revolution (One True Way All-or-Nothing Idealist factions) to an American-style one (where a more pragmatic lost generation such as the Gen-Xers ages into position to act as damper rods).

  19. Donald Trump is the incarnation of Fox talk radio.

    For years I have listened to the likes of Rush, Hannity, Beck and even Levin – usually to keep me awake on a drive and sometimes for entertainment. Every rant has had its effect on a subset of America who have faithfully listened to the Devil whispering in their ears, telling them that we are victims and not willing participants in our government. At the heart of this message is ingratitude.

    Trump and Cruz personify these thoughts.

    Trump is Fox made Man.

  20. Donald Trump and original Jerry Falwell would probably have liked each other and gotten along well. I recall hearing Falwell and Larry Flynt talking together on a radio show with great civility and perhaps even affection. If I remember right, Falwell’s father ran a tavern and they lived upstairs over it. He was no stranger to the blue collar mindset or life on the street.

    It is hardly surprising that the Donald is able to present a persona that sways so many on the right. It is more surprising that he has so many on the left knee jerking all the way around the world. It appears that the great majority of iMonks and Monkettes are not looking at the little man behind the curtain either. Trump is really good at what he does, every bit as good as Ronald Reagan, possibly even better in his own way. Most everyone seems convinced that he is trying to become Emperor. Perhaps an Oscar is in order. No, not our Oscar, the Hollywood one.

    • It appears that the great majority of iMonks and Monkettes are not looking at the little man behind the curtain either.

      But Charles, a little man can be a very dangerous thing; history has shown that again, and again, and again…

      • Big or little, it seems to me the first thing to question is what a person is actually trying to accomplish and how does it affect me. Sort of like any critter seeing another critter. Who is lunch? In this particular case, I am finding much different answers than what I am being programmed with. I see 99% of people transfixed watching what the left hand is doing and immediately look to see what the right hand is doing. But I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone’s fun.

        Now I would call Ted Cruz as dangerous as the Islamic State, for the very same reasons. Someone fiercely dedicated to imposing theocracy on everyone at any cost with themselves as translators of God’s will for you and me. But I am not afraid of this. The most forgotten commandment in the Bible, fear not. Living in fear is the quickest way to become a little man or woman.

        • Pardon me for replying to myself, Robert, I caught it from a friend. I just wanted to mention that contrary to what I sometimes detect in you as what I might privately call blather, you are the absolute winner of the title of Haiku Master, not only here at the Monastery, but I would think possibly at large, this side of Japan. I always sight your three lines with eager anticipation and am never disappointed. You rock. I wonder if W might not agree with me on these sporadic seventeen syllables.

          • Thank, Charles.

            Though, personally, I consider my haiku mediocre at best, and think more highly of my blather.

            Lol.

          • This is probably not either here nor there, but the term Haiku Master reminded me of this poem I wrote a few years ago.

            Haiku Master
            Rick Rosenkranz (2011)

            “Come to your senses,”
            urges the teacher of haiku,
            leaning in, but his breath
            smells of stale bread and his fingers
            upon my shoulder leave sweaty prints;
            so excuse me, my master, for not wanting
            to come to my senses, thank you very much.

          • Because the master’s
            breath stinks, and fingers sweaty,
            the student’s made wise.

        • I am not immune to fear, even of the most pedestrian kind. If you want to judge people for “living in fear”, nobody can stop you. But there can also a smallness in denying fears we truly have, and there can even be a cowardice in it.

          A man who can brazenly propose in a public forum that we should as a matter of policy “take out” the families of terrorists, and receives applause from many for saying so, and nary a peep in objection to it from others, makes me fear for the moral survival of this nation. Trump wants to target women and children, and he has the approval of vast hordes for this intention; he doesn’t bother with the moral niceties of collateral damage, he just says we should go straight for the kill. And I believe he means it. Why shouldn’t I?

          • >>Trump wants to target women and children

            Or so you interpret his words, or other’s words about his words.

            >>he has the approval of vast hordes for this intention

            Well, “vast hordes” is a bit vague, but you’re right that a lot of people are on board. People who are doing the best they know how but maybe are still operating in the lower grades of spiritual school. People who are easily targeted for reasons beyond their comprehension. Like selling life insurance with weekly premiums. Profit motives have different levels too.

            >>And I believe he means it. Why shouldn’t I?

            Uh, maybe because you haven’t thought about it beyond a knee jerk level and don’t have all the information? Not that I or anyone else here is privy to all information at that level of operation in world affairs. But when things don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, sometimes it helps to step back and see if there might not be alternate explanations or second opinions. Things are not always as they seem.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Trump wants to target women and children, and he has the approval of vast hordes for this intention; he doesn’t bother with the moral niceties of collateral damage, he just says we should go straight for the kill.

            In World War II, we targeted women and children without bothering with the moral niceties of collateral damage. Unlike the recent remake of Memphis Belle, a formation of B-17s or B-24s over an obscured target area with civilian schools nearby would drop anyway; if the bombs hit the schools that was still killing Krauts. (And this was nothing compared to Germans vs Russians on the Eastern Front.)

            Then on the other side of the world in the Pacific Theater, remember General Lemay’s use of a thousand B-29s, each loaded with ten tons of napalm (that’s why napalm was invented) on Tokyo and other Japanese cities. Ten thousand tons of napalm a night, every night after night after night.

            It’s called Total War, of which WW2 strategic bombing and their successors the nuclear strike SIOP plans of the Cold War were the ultimate expression. Depopulation targeting — no more enemy population, no more enemy country. Problem solved, War Won.

            “No SOB ever won a war by dying for his country. You win a war by making the Other SOB die for HIS country!”
            — General George S Patton, after Lemay the second-most aggressive American general in WW2

            P.S. I remember reading WW2-vintage LIFE magazines in Jr College archives. Did you know WW2 war souvenirs from the Pacific included charred Japanese skulls? I remember an article about a Marine who sent such a Jap skull to his girlfriend in the States who used it as a paperweight in her war-production office. LIFE was very approving of it. V for Victory and all that.

    • Daniel Jepsen says:

      —“Politics driving the gospel rather than the other way around is the third temptation of Christ. He overcame it. Will we?”

      —“Trading in the gospel of Jesus Christ for political power is not liberty but slavery.”

      —“This would be hilarious if it weren’t so counter to the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “#TrumpatLiberty

      —“Evangelicals can love a golden calf, as long as Aaron promises to make Mexico pay for it.”

    • Daniel Jepsen says:
  21. Crazy Chester says:

    Should we be surprised? In the last presidential election, evangelicals favored a Mormon candidate over a professed Christian candidate. I found it amusing when some evangelical leaders justified their support of Romney by reconsidering the cult status of Mormonism.

    • But Jimmy Carter is still a godless liberal, and Obama a Muslim.

      Yet Trump is “one of the greatest visionaries of our time” according to Jerry Falwell Jr., and “lives a life of helping others … as Jesus taught in the New Testament.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        As Crazy Chester said above, when Romney secured the nomination for Great White Hope, suddenly Mormonism ceased to be a CULT CULT CULT. Franklin Graham said so!

        This after a truly crazy primary season of God’s Anointed Next President of the Week after God’s Anointed Next President of the Week crashing and burning to a chorus of “Not the Mormon! Not the Mormon! Not the Mormon!” while Romney plugged ahead primary after primary.

  22. It was cold today
    Tonight it’ll be colder
    and the wind will blow

  23. As much as I believe that the Trump Phenomenon is a direct result of a technical malfunction in the engine room of Heart of Gold, and as much as I despise Falwell as a pompous antichrist windbag, I have to admit that Falwell has a firm grasp on why Trump is even a candidate at all – there are some Americans who are so hopelessly simpleminded that they actually believe that “not a career politician” is congruous with “would make a good political candidate”. I hadn’t even considered it before reading this article, but if voters can be convinced of such monstrous idiocy and repudiation of logic 101, then anything is possible.

  24. It was just announced that Sarah Palin endorsed Trump. This just gets more surreal.

    • >>It was just announced that Sarah Palin endorsed Trump.

      That, if true, is a major game changer. I would expect Trump to be jumping up and down somewhere in private and Ted Cruz to be gnashing his teeth, not that we will be allowed to see either.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      “It just keeps getting weirder and weirder.”
      — Johnny Bravo (baby!)

  25. Dana Ames says:

    I probably would not be able to vote for Obama again (if that were possible) because of the continued bombing and drone program. I can’t vote for anyone who advocates carpet-bombing IS – that is playing into their hands.

    On a separate note, I understand the economic frustration. My husband is a Federal employee and has not had even a COLA adjustment for the past FIVE years. What some people fail to remember is that “getting the government out of my life” means crumbling roads and bridges, no Medicare, no accountability for fiascos like the Flint water situation, limited police and fire departments, no roadside rest areas (many were closed in California during our budget crisis – tough when you gotta pee while crossing the desert where there are no trees to stand behind) and lack of lots of other services. Our parents and grandparents of “the greatest generation” did not count it robbery to contribute toward the good of the country, and in an era under Eisenhower where corporate taxes were three times as much as they are now and Glass-Steagall was the rule of law.

    I would also like to mention that in California up until 1970, if you had the grades to get admitted to the University of California, you paid no tuition – only a fee that crept up to $300 per year for an undergraduate student at the end of the ’60s, but still no tuition. The citizens of my state prioritized education, from K through college, and we had a State College system (Cal State and UC) that as a whole was world-class. Theoretically, no-tuition college for true academic study and a real vocation education program (which we also had) it is still possible, but I don’t know if we have the will or common sense needed. Same for universal health care – our system is crazy, and we put up with it in the name of – what?

    /end rant

    Dana

    • our system is crazy, and we put up with it in the name of – what?

      In the name of defending *my* slice of a shrinking pie of benefits. As long as I get MY bennies, the rest of the country/ world can go hang.

    • David Cornwell says:

      “I probably would not be able to vote for Obama again (if that were possible) because of the continued bombing and drone program. I can’t vote for anyone who advocates carpet-bombing IS – that is playing into their hands.”

      I agree. If the Presidential contest turns out to be as predicted I’m seriously considering abstaining from the Presidential ballot in the next election.

  26. Clay Crouch says:

    Even more troubling than Donald Trump are the Koch brothers. If we are to believe what Ms. Mayer has written, what they are doing is far and away more troubling and dare I say, diabolical than Trump, who will prove be a flash in the pan – even if nominated and elected.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/books/review/dark-money-by-jane-mayer.html?_r=0

    • >>Even more troubling than Donald Trump are the Koch brothers.

      That’s a good reminder, Clay. All of the major players represent some interest or they wouldn’t be there. It isn’t always obvious who or what those interests are. Some we might not recognize the name. This world system is a lot deeper than what you see on the evening news and it isn’t some monolithic block, there are sides and factions and wars going on behind the scenes. Certainly interesting to follow as best able at this distance.

  27. The victory party’s at my house, Mike. We’ll be eating bacon, drawing cartoons of Mohammed, and flying Confederate flags all night long, praise Jesus. We know all about your long march into the institutions, including the church, and guess what? We’re taking back our churches, we’re taking back our nation, and we are not going to let you commies destroy our families, our faith, or our nation any longer. Repent or reap the whirlwind, you phonies!

  28. In 2012 I threw away my vote by voting for Gary Johnson. Seems to be a very good probability I will do the same this November.