President Trump is Like Who?

Every time a new administration comes into power in Washington, pundits fall all over themselves trying to figure out who they govern like. Is it Kennedy? Is it Reagan? Is it Hoover? (OK, maybe not so much that last one) Donald Trump is no exception. Supporters try their best to compare him to Ronald Reagan. Opponents try their best to compare him to Attila, just without the brains and charm. So, here’s my two bit opinion, for what it’s worth.

The first 100 days of the Trump administration are eerily like the first 100 days of the Clinton administration. Both were filled with scandals both private and governmental. President Clinton had questions about business dealing and investments before he became president. The same for Trump. Both Clinton and Trump were (are) accused of using the office to further private business dealings for themselves and supporters. President Clinton was accused of manipulating energy policy to benefit supporters. There have been questions concerning the Trump family’s private business dealings in light of some of their policy decisions. President Trump fired the FBI director. President Clinton fired an FBI director. President Trump has had some nominees step aside due to controversies real and imagined. people forget President Clinton too released an assistant attorney general and had to go through three AG nominees before settling on Janet Reno. Because of all this, Clinton was seen as so inept that he may not make it to the midterms before either leaving office or being forced out by scandal. There are already calls for Trump to be impeached.

In both cases, there are so many scandals some wonder if the administration “likes” it. With Clinton, it was postulated that the Clinton’s used the scandals to provide cover for their legislative agenda. A similar theory has been put forth for Trump. In both cases, if you are someone who takes governing and the affairs of government seriously, the constant din of scandal and loud repudiations that the media is “out to get me” gets old in a hurry. Anyone who knows me knows that to this day I don’t see the “charm” Bill Clinton is supposed to exude. I also am waiting for someone around Donald Trump to have the guts to take his smartphone from him and smash it against the nearest wall.

(BTW: Notice I’ve stayed away from comparing Bill Clinton’s constant high color with Donald Trump’s “Hulk Hogan circa ‘85” orange hue.)

So there it is. Donald Trump is Bill Clinton with an R in front of his name.

We are well and truly screwed.


Please Stop Saying This: An Easter Message

I have a few pet peeves: bad drivers, dishonest salespeople, the Pittsburgh Steelers. All of these subjects produce differing amounts of irritation for me. By far, however, the biggest irritant is people who say they were “crucified.” Politicians, entertainers, and athletes always say “The media crucified me” or “The fans crucified me.” Let me make this as clear as I can to any of these folks who may happen by this: YOU WERE NOT CRUCIFIED!!!! A crucifixion was one of the most horrific tortures ever devised. The totality of The Crucifixion is far beyond our meager ability to fully comprehend or explain.

Lets start with the physical crucifixion. A prisoner was stripped and nailed to a wooden cross. When they say “nails” were driven through the hands, understand we are not talking about roofing nails. The closest thing we can think of today would be 19th Century or early 20th Century railroad spikes. A five to nine inch long, ¾ inch diameter spike driven through each wrist. Then another driven through both ankles. After this, the cross (about the size of a telephone pole) is set into the ground. The person being crucified is suspended on this apparatus all day. Death comes not from exposure or blood loss, but from suffocation. As the subject tires, they slump down, which compresses the diaphragm and cuts off the air supply. In order to breath, they must press themselves up by pushing on the spike driven through their feet. One can only imagine the pain they must have endured. The cycle continued all day, tire and slump down, push yourself up to get a breath. The Bible makes a point of saying that the Romans did not break Jesus’ legs (John 19:33). This is mentioned because if a day hanging on a cross did not finish the tortured prisoner, the Romans would break their legs. The shock to their already weakened system would finish them.

Now lets talk about The Crucifixion. Not only did Jesus go through the physical torture just mentioned, but also mental and spiritual torture. Jesus broke no laws, committed no transgressions, and yet was hung on a cross between two thieves. He suffered the same punishment they did, but was guilty of nothing more than exposing the hypocrisy of the political and spiritual leaders of His day, and demonstrating to the world the true nature of a loving God. Spiritually, for the first time in existence, Jesus was separated from The Father. There is no way we can really understand what that must have been like. Yet Jesus suffered this separation to take the punishment for our sins and rebellion. He suffered all of this out of love for each and every one of us.

So no, you self absorbed dilettantes, when someone questions your game or your acting, you are not being “crucified.” You are being criticized. Never, ever compare the two again.

For my sake if nothing else.

Have a nice day!

You’ll Let Us Know, Right?

The Freedom Caucus in the House is being blamed for the recent health care bill not passing. Some, including Republican leadership in the House and the President, are not only blaming them, but making asinine statements about them. President Trump went so far as to question whether they are really Pro-Life. The idea of a president who has only been Pro-Life since he started running for the office questioning anyone’s Pro-Life credentials is silly at best and offensive at worst. One columnist said that people who opposed the bill are “purists” who let a good thing go by the wayside because they wanted perfection. He urged them to remember the old saying “The Best Is the Enemy of the Better.”

This bill neither repealed or replaced the Affordable Care Act. It simply tweaked around the edges. After seven years of pledging to repeal the ACA, these members of the House and their counterparts in the Senate are being criticized for holding their compatriots to their word. Every time a Conservative questions this President other Republicans chastise them, usually with the already tired refrain “At least it’s not Hillary.” We raged for eight years at each occurrence of President Obama and others blaming George W. Bush for their own shortcomings. How is this any different?

I have a question for these critics. When is it OK to question this Administration? What is the step too far? What will be the “that’s all I can stands” moment that will make it alright to disagree? Threatening to limit the First Amendment (like when he threatened to expand libel laws to make it easier for him to sue people who “said bad things about him”)? Using executive orders to place limitations on the Second Amendment (which he wanted others to do before he ran for office)? Since so many of you have shifted positions on so many topics from “We must stand firm” to “This is OK for now” you’ll excuse us if we need a little clarity. You will let us know right? And after you let us know, you will stick with that position, right? We would hate to start going one way and then run into you folks as you shift quicker than my waistline when I walk in a pair of sweatpants (It’s really an ugly scene, believe me!)

Since you want me to understand where you are coming from, give me the same consideration and allow me to explain my position. This is not about holding out for an unattainable perfection. This is not about “setting my sights too high.” Believe me, I am well aware that there is no perfection in this fallen world. But if we truly believe what we say, we should stand on that. Every time we settle for something far less than the position we claim to hold, we make it easier to settle the next time. Every time we move closer to the Progressive position in an effort to get something, we lose ground. The aforementioned columnist stated that we must take these “small victories” because the most important thing is the complete defeat of Progressivism. How can we defeat them by moving closer to their positions? We already see Progressives trying to convince Libertarians that they are kindred spirits by saying they are “Social Libertarians.” They never tell the part about when their Political Progressive side tells their Social Libertarian side to sit down. shut up, and get with the program. If we are to overcome a philosophy that will say anything and take any position if it means they gain power, we must explain ourselves with as much clarity as possible. Make the differences clear and do not allow the Progressive movement to define us. That’s why after seven years of telling the American people that if they gave us majorities in both houses of Congress and the presidency we would repeal the ACA, we must not back off of that. If we just exchange one bad program for another, the people will rightly say “They’re no different than the other guys. They say what they need to say to get votes.” We are at a point where cynicism will consume another generation. We know Progressives will not stand by their word, we must. If we do, the defeat the columnist spoke of will happen.

If we are to attain the lofty goals we have set for the Conservative movement and show the American people just how effective a smaller, more efficient, and much less intrusive government can be, we cannot squander this opportunity by settling for half measures. I hope I have explained myself well. Thank you for your consideration.

There Is A Difference Between Freedom Of And Freedom From

Recently, my friend Rick Canton wrote a blog post entitled “Give Free A Chance” (please follow the link at the bottom of the page) in which he encourages young people lost in the wilderness of Progressivism and bummed out about the recent election to explore their God given, Constitution protected freedoms. I would like to add my own assistance by clearing up a subject that has been muddied over the years: the difference between ‘freedom of’ and ‘freedom from’ something.

The First Amendment of the Constitution provides for Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Political Speech. This means we can exercise our “Rights of Conscience” without fear of government interference. Being able to worship, or not worship, as we see fit is guaranteed. The ability to express our disagreements with the government without fear of reprisal is guaranteed. The government cannot pick and choose winners in the public arena. The free flow of ideas is vital for a healthy society.

We are not guaranteed, however, to never hear something we don’t like. If we are free to express ourselves, others are just as free to disagree with us. The validity of our ideas should be judged by the strength of our arguments in support of those ideas. While schools think they are helping young people by establishing “safe spaces” and talking about “microaggressions,” they are doing folks no favors. There is a whole big world out there, and we will inevitably meet people we disagree with. Rather than hiding from it, we should be encouraged to hear these other ideas. At worst we will be offended, at best we can learn something. Either way, we will ultimately be better for it. I would encourage all who read this to examine their own ideas, step into the proverbial town square, and participate in the free flow of ideas. The more of us that share our thoughts, the stronger we become as a people.

Lastly, for the record: calling people names and trying to shout them down is not a free flow of ideas. Think about the other side of the argument, whether you are a Democrat or Republican. Does it make you more inclined to listen to someone when they act like a boor? Of course not. Give others the same consideration you would expect from them. You’ll be surprised how often it works.

Now, reinforce your ideas, get out there, and participate.

What is A Conservative Part 2 – The Establishment Clause

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment is short and to the point, yet powerful. The First Amendment deals with what have come to be known as the “Rights of Conscience.” This is the right to dissent without fear of reprisal from the government. The history of Europeans on this continent prior to the Revolution dealt, in no small part, with religious oppression in Europe. Whether the Anglican Church in England, the Church of Denmark, or religious orders in other places, Christian denominations throughout Europe had been corrupted by becoming intertwined with governments. Religious leaders would appoint or endorse kings and other political leaders while these same leaders would appoint religious leaders. The intertwining of religion and politics corrupted the message of the church to the point where governments would punish people whose denomination differed from the state sanctioned religious order.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was written to prevent this type of oppression in the United States. This clause is meant to keep a single sect from gaining control of the congress and by law imposing their view of God on others. This clause is also intended to keep religious discourse open so that people of different faiths can have a dialog without fear of someone being silenced by the government. The Founders did not see this as proselytizing but as the free flow of ideas. The validity of a person’s views should be decided by the strength of their debate not by government edict. Keeping the government neutral on matters of conscience is vital. The government should not have a rooting interest.

Does this mean we should “leave our faith inside the doors of a church?” Well, according to President John Adams, no. Adams said “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people”. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” For Adams this was not a statement of faith but of governance.

The Founders strove for the Constitution to be a minimalist document. Rather than legislating every aspect of life, the restraints on illegal or immoral behavior should come from a sort of “national conscience.” When we strive to legislate morality, inevitably the morality being legislated is dependent on who is in power. The 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol in the country was a knee jerk reaction to pressure from the Temperance movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. After a decade, it was abundantly clear that rather than solving a problem, the Amendment created a whole group of other problems. Speak easys, bathtub gin, open gang warfare in cities like Chicago, all demonstrated graphically that the government could not enforce the law. In 1933, the 20th Amendment repealed prohibition.

A law will never change a person’s heart. Human nature is to dig in when someone tries to change us. The only way we can make genuine, lasting change in people is to share our beliefs and faith with them openly. That is why the free flow of ideas, especially those influencing the culture and society, is vital. The Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment protects that right. We must be diligent to never allow it to be infringed.

When A Binary Choice Creates A Singular Conclusion

During the 2016 presidential campaign, much has been made of this election as a “binary choice.” The idea is that if a person does not vote for one candidate it is automatically a vote for the other. This is not only atrocious math but a false equivalency. In an election with over a dozen presidential candidates, to not vote for a specific candidate does not automatically give that vote to another. Each ballot is cast for the person selected. Hillary Clinton doesn’t get extra credit for Jill Stein votes any more than Donald Trump gets a piece of each vote cast for Gary Johnson.

This stems from the idea that there are only two viable parties in the country: The Republicans and the Democrats. Since these are the two major parties, who is responsible for the corruption in Washington? It must be these two parties. That corruption will not change with this election. Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt politician in generations. Donald Trump has spent the last 40 years bank rolling the corruption for his own personal gain. To think either of them will challenge the status quo is folly at best. If there was ever a time to look for a third party, this is it. If not now, when? In four years, there will be another Republican and Democrat. Each side will make the “binary choice” argument. “You can’t vote for ‘fill in the blank’, you know what they’ll do?!” “The country will never recover from four years under ‘fill in the blank’!” It never ends.

Consider this example: In 2008, the Republicans said “If we get control of Congress, we will be able to stop President Obama.” In 2010, they got control of the House. Then the narrative became “We can’t do much with one house of congress. We need both the House and Senate to really make a difference.” In 2014 the Republicans got control of both houses. They then said “In order to really do this right, we need Congress and the Presidency.” It is never enough. If the Republican wins in 2016, the narrative will be “We now need to retain both Houses in 2018 to make a lasting change.” When will we learn it’s not about what is right for the country, but rather what is right for the given Party? It is long past time for the people to seek a genuine alternative to the two major parties. I can’t tell you what that alternative will be, but if this mess doesn’t spur us to seek a change nothing will.

There is an old saying: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Maybe it’s time we do something different.

What Does It Mean To Be Conservative?

In an interview Donald Trump was ask to define a Conservative. Mr. Trump’s answer was “Someone who wants to conserve.” While it is difficult to argue with this type of insightful commentary, I would like to explain what being conservative means to me. There is a difference between a movement Conservative and being conservative. A movement Conservative is someone who, after study, holds a set of positions that have been fleshed out over the last 70 years beginning with people such as Senator Robert Taft, continuing through Senator Barry Goldwater, President Ronald Reagan, and to modern Conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. For people who are conservative, it is not a matter of ideology, these beliefs are who we are. We are not conservative because of a comparative study. These beliefs are almost in our DNA. So what are some of the things that make a person a Conservative?

1. The Supremacy of the Constitution

The United States Constitution was debated over a period of years. The official end of the Revolution was in 1783. The Constitution was ratified in 1789. The debate over what kind of government we would have after the war began well before the end of the war. What came of all of this debating is a document unique in human history: a country built on the idea the government governs best that governs least. While many sought to define government to the letter, the Founders of this nation, especially James Madison, considered the father of the Constitution, wanted to leave the majority of the decisions in the hands of the people. Indeed, the Founders spelled this idea out in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. During the debate over the Constitution, a number of people wanted to have certain “guarantor freedoms” enumerated. These rights are considered the ones that allow us to have the freedoms Jefferson referred to as “unalienable,” in other words rights we gain not from the whim of government but from being born.

People who are conservative believe that the Constitution does not change with the times. Technology may change, but human nature and the ideas of how best to govern do not. We again look to Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence for guidance:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Let me give a few examples of the difference between necessary changes and “light and transient” changes. Necessary changes include:

The 13th Amendment ending slavery

The 14th and 15th Amendments dealing with citizenship

The 19th Amendment dealing with women suffrage

Unnecessary changes include:

The 18th and 21st Amendments dealing with Prohibition of alcohol

The 16th Amendment creating a Federal income tax

The 17th Amendment changing the way we elect Senators

The 22nd Amendment creating Presidential term limits

The necessary amendments deal with unalienable rights denied by the government. The unnecessary amendments deal with changes to the government done not to increase freedom but to expand the power of the government or change the relationship of the government to the people.

As someone who is conservative, I believe we should have a vigorous public debate before we make changes to the way we govern. These debates should end with changes made by legislation, not by the whim of executive orders or judicial precedent. In both of these cases, the changes are made either by a single president or by a small group of judges and not by the majority of the people. In many cases the desired changes will come about in the normal order of our society and without government intervention of any kind.

When next we meet, I hope to give you my feeling concerning freedom of speech, the First Amendment and the first of the guarantor freedoms. Until next time.


P.S. Below you will find links to our nation’s founding documents if you would like to do more reading.