One Mall, Three Groups: Who’s to Blame?

So who is to blame for the raucous, divisive incident at the National Mall involving three very different groups: white, male Covington Catholic High School students, members of the radical Black Hebrew group, and/or the Indigenous Peoples, who were present to march for world peace? The media and commentators have been all over this story, which is, unfortunately, emblematic of the disunity and dissention in the United States today, and which tragically occurred the very weekend before we reverently remembered the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

First off, let me say unequivocally that no matter who “started it,” the very adult Black Hebrews ought to be held accountable for their incendiary, vulgar shouts and taunts at the high schools students, and should even be held legally accountable for any and all threats made against those boys, (and we are, after all, talking about minors.) There is simply no excuse for calling high school boys “incest babies” and other gross names, and threatening to “harvest the organs” of an African American student. And, by the way, where is the outrage over this?

Second, though, the chaperones of the Covington Catholic High School boys are culpable in all this if for no other reason than the fact that they failed to move the students away from the situation, that is, away from the Black Hebrews. Where were they, anyway, and what were they thinking? Mature, levelheaded adults would have removed the boys some reasonable distance from the vulgar, incendiary group and then surrounded them as a kind of protective barrier. This is, after all, the sort of thing chaperones are supposed to do, yet these boys were left to basically choose their own course.

Third, where the students themselves are concerned, instead of backing away from the Black Hebrews, they formed a semi-circle around them, began chanting “school spirit” chants (ostensibly, at least), hooping and hollering and jumping up and down… One young man even ripped off his shirt and started doing a kind-of-sort-of-whatever “dance,” much to the amusement of his classmates. None of this served to diffuse the situation at all, and even the junior, Nick Sandmann, whose image we see smiling, or smirking, at Mr. Phillips said as much in his interview on the Today Show. 

Fourth, when Mr. Phillips and the other Indigenous Peoples entered between the two groups ~ the Black Hebrews and Covington Catholic High ~ Sandmann and his classmates should have simply turned and walked away some distance. Again, even Sandmann now says as much … but they didn’t do this. Instead, the junior stood his ground in order to show Mr. Phillips that he was not going to be, in his words, “provoked” or “intimidated.” What??? No viewing of any of the video footage would lead anyone to believe that Mr. Phillips was attempting to provoke or intimidate.

Besides, when did it become appropriate for some young, wet-behind-the-ears, whipper-snapper to stand his adolescent ground in front of an adult, Marine veteran? No “if, ands or buts” about it, this was just plain disrespectful, but again, where were the chaperones? Yes, these students had been subjected to an hour-long (at least) barrage of insults from the Black Hebrews, but when Mr. Phillips intervened they had yet another opportunity to back off to some safer place. Instead they directed their hooping and hollering, now with offensive tomahawk chops, toward the Indigenous Peoples. Wow … Just wow!

Finally, who in the world was stupid enough to allow students to wear any political clothing or paraphernalia to a Right to Life march? Of all the important issues in the world, one would think the Sanctity of Life is one that does not need to be politicized … at least not more than it already has been. Aside from the fact that many, many people consider MAGA hats (and shirts and whatever) to be offensive for a variety of reasons, why would any religious school allow its students to display/advertise politics on or at the school and school functions? Just enforce a non-descript, uniform dress code!

Well, I will say at least one more thing about all this, which is a broader point and, perhaps, a take-away lesson, and that is: Perhaps young people should not be carted to state capitals and D. C. for marches and demonstrations. Yes, it’s important for high school students to learn about civics, history, the political process, etc. but maybe they’re not quite mentally and emotionally developed enough to actually be directly involved? Or at least if they are, then they really should be held to the same standards as adult participants… No pass for the stupidity of youth!

Peace in the Middle

Lady Liberty cries as angry words fly and malice stains the palates
Of youth untaught in the ways of grace when coming face to face
With elder glory in story boldly told in chanting prayer for peace,
And yet on the other side another mob from another world of hate,
Who throw out the bait by taunting, vaunting their own religiosity
In some monstrosity of twisted history with apocalyptic prophecy,
While one veteran man stands in the gap to quell the rising storm
As the foundations are being shaken to awaken our sleeping souls

Beyond Washington, What Do the Locals Say About the Border ‘Crisis?’ Part II

In yesterday’s “Beyond Washington, What Do the Locals Say About the Border ‘Crisis?’” we looked at what New Mexico and Arizona residents, local papers, and Border Patrol officials have to say about the President’s proposed Wall and the alleged “crisis” at our shared border with Mexico. Today, let’s at least glance at the State of Texas, especially since POTUS just visited there to drum up support for the Wall, and see if we can get at least a bird’s eye view of what the situation looks like from there.

President Trump visited the city of McAllen, Texas on Thursday, January 10th, to advance his case for his promised Wall along the Southwest border as an essential necessity in combating illegal immigration, especially focusing on drug smuggling and other contraband, terrorism, gangs and other critical problems allegedly tied directly to illegal immigrants crossing over from Mexico. His simple point remains the same as it has since at least 2015: The U. S. needs a wall all along the Mexican border for security.

If this is true, then one might logically expect the fairly elected mayor of McAllen to agree with the President. One might reasonably expect the mayor to fully support the President’s assertion that there is, indeed, a “crisis” at the border … but this is simply not the case. Following Trump’s visit, McAllen’s mayor, Jim Darling, told Time pointblank, “We don’t feel a crisis in our city… We live day to day in a very safe community.”

Darling further pointed out that McAllen is “a vibrant area” and “the safest city in the state of Texas, and we’re right on the border, so that kind of rhetoric,” about crisis, “resonates and sells newspapers, but it hurts our area.” He added the fact that McAllen had “no murders last year in a city of 150,000…” In a city of that size, especially along a border in “crisis,” one would expect things to be grimmer.

Furthermore, Julie Hillrichs, who represents a coalition of border mayors, judges, and other officials, told Time that “the real way to increase security at the border would not be a wall, but increased investment in the legal ports of entry that already exist in their area. ‘We have never supported the wall,” Hillrichs says. “The Border Coalition has consistently over the years stated we believe the wall is a wasted investment.'”

But the Attorney General for Texas, Ken Paxton, claimed fencing along the border in El Paso has helped to substantially reduce crime in that city, which, he further claimed, had previously had one of the highest crime rates in the nation. “After that fence went up and separated Juarez, which still has an extremely high crime rate, the crime rates in El Paso now are some of the lowest in the country,” Paxton said. “So we know it works.”

El Paso may not quite agree, however. In a January 10, 2019, article the El Paso Times investigated the AG’s claim and found that this is simply “not the case.” The paper further, and importantly, explained:

Looking broadly at the last 30 years, the rate of violent crime reached its peak in 1993, when more than 6,500 violent crimes were recorded. Between 1993 and 2006, the number of violent crimes fell by more than 34 percent and less than 2,700 violent crimes were reported. The border fence was authorized by Bush in 2006, but construction did not start until 2008. From 2006 to 2011 — two years before the fence was built to two years after — the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent. 

Point in fact, in January 2018, community leaders and law enforcement officials in El Paso credited a number of developments, programs and efforts that have resulted in lowering crime rates … not border fencing. 

Meanwhile, Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Trump during his Thursday visit to McAllen, except it wasn’t really a discussion. Saenz said, following the event, he felt rather “disenfranchised” because he was, quite frankly, not able (or allowed) to make any contributions whatsoever. On Friday, January 11th, the Laredo Morning News reported him saying:

There was a disconnect. Maybe he (Trump) gets information, but really he ought to take into account the border leaders, the mayors and county judges – input that he didn’t get because there was no opportunity for us to provide that information… We need to make our own evaluations locally to come up with the best plan.

The editorial board of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times judge the proposed Wall would be “like setting fire to billions of dollars,” and that “money would be better spent on stronger administration and enforcement at the ports of entry and better technological monitoring of the remote places where Donald Trump envisions a tall physical barrier.” In its December 2018 article, simply concludes that the Wall is “not the solution.”

Once again, seemingly not much support for the Wall, at least along the borders in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll take a look at California, or more appropriately southern Cal, to gain some local perspective there. So far, though, it seems folks along the border, with the majority of Americans, favor better and tighter border security, but by other more effective means than a wall.

Beyond Washington, What Do the Locals Say About the Border ‘Crisis?’

There have been a few articles on how residents along the Mexican border feel about the proposed Wall, illegal immigration and related issues. For example, the New York Times recently ran one entitled, “On the Border: Little Enthusiasm for a Wall,” on January 9, 2019. But I’d thought I’d do some snooping around myself, so I began with newspapers in Arizona and New Mexico.

I thought, reasonably enough, that if there’s really a border crisis with a flood of illegals crossing every day, smuggling in drugs and weapons, trafficking in sex and generally putting the lives of everyday, ordinary Americans at high risk, then of course I’d run across articles and editorials about this issue. In doing so, I also limited myself to local opinion and perspective. In other words, no nationally syndicated news or op-eds.

To make this research easier on myself, at least initially, I utilized the convenient “clearing house” of newspapers provided by USNPL. I also narrowed my research, this time round, to the states of Arizona and New Mexico, leaving the much larger states of California and Texas to tackle independently at a later date. Finally, I made any and all local news reports on immigration-related issues top priority — that is, above opinion articles.

Well, I searched a little over 30 newspapers and, much to my surprise, found only five that in any way addressed the Wall and/or border and/or illegal immigration issues. Only five out of approximately 32, if my count is right. That is, only about 15.5% of the local news sources I examined had anything to say about these issues, even after the President’s address on what he continues to describe as our “border crisis,” and all but one was an opinion-editorial.

This rather shocked me, to say the least, and it may seem unbelievable to some … but that’s why I provided the above link to USNPL. This site lists newspapers in all 50 states, so anyone if free to conduct their own research and correct me on my findings. In fact, I heartily welcome any and all contributions to this discussion. For now, though, what did I find? In short, the following:

In a recent statewide survey, of which results were published January 10, 2019 in The Arizona Daily Sun, fully 40% of residents said education was their top concern followed by immigration and border security at a distant 29% and healthcare at 8%.

In an op-ed published by The Fountain Hills Times, local resident and editorialist Ann Schweers bluntly said, “The assertion that there is a crisis on the border with thousands of terrorists and criminals apprehended is false. They are playing with statistics to instill fear.”

Susan Sanders of Green Valley, Arizona, had to say this about the Wall and border security in an op-ed for the Green Valley News on January 10, 2019:

We don’t need more physical wall. Those who work and live along the border know its ineffectiveness. Physical walls have proven damaging to the environment, to personal property, to business, to tourism and they are downright unfriendly.

We do need border security…

Eventually, we need immigration reform with consistent and enforceable laws!

The Albuquerque Journal editorial board noted in its January 5, 2019 opinion article that it is a “fact (that) immigrants commit fewer crimes than their U.S.-born peers,” but also argued that “border barriers in some form would help with the humanitarian crisis by sending the message we do care about border security and funneling crossers into safer, more manageable areas…”

The editorial board of the Sana Fe New Mexican also stated in its January 9, 2019 editorial that “clear statistics … show undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens.” They also went on to point out:

Trump said the wall is needed to keep out illegal drugs; most drugs come through official ports of entry, not along the border between entry points. As we have pointed out before, too, illegal immigration is hardly a crisis, despite Trump’s claims. Border crossings are at their lowest point in decades. The humanitarian crisis Trump said he is addressing has been caused by his administration’s wrongheaded policies.

Finally, another perspective, which, although published in the Wall Street Journal, nevertheless comes from local Border Patrol agents. In its article published back in 2016 the Journal reported:

[S]ome border patrol agents like (Matthew) Eisenhauer, who typically work in remote areas, see it differently. Eisenhauer told CBS News that a “great wall” is not really the solution.

“Border fortification means a lot of things in different areas,” said Eisenhauer. “In areas where we can’t have a physical structure, we use the environmental challenges to funnel traffic into certain areas to identify and apprehend [individuals] in a more effective manner.”

And in the same article, Joe Agosttini, the assistant port director in Nogales for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, asked rhetorically, “Do you think a wall is gonna stop them from coming in?” And then answered himself, “The fact that you have a house, would that stop a burglar from coming in … I used to live about 30 feet from the fence, OK? I’ve been seeing these things for 30 years.”

Perhaps tomorrow, or sometime in the fairly near future, we’ll take a look at California and Texas, probably separately (!) to see if we can drum up some local perspective on the wall issue in those states, but again, it shocks me to find so little about this “crisis” from local news outlets. One would think that if their communities were being overrun and endangered, the local papers, so very dependent upon local advertisers and subscribers, would consistently cover this unfolding, tragic drama. What I found instead, by and large, were the newspapers of relatively quiet, sleepy little towns reporting common, everyday, ordinary news you’d expect to find in small town newspapers.

Trumped Up ‘Crisis’ and Reality: Will It Just Go Away?

In an 1861 address delivered in Cleveland, Ohio, Abraham Lincoln said, “This crisis is altogether artificial. It has no foundation in fact. It can’t be argued up, and it can’t be argued down. Let it alone, and it will go down of itself.” Ah, well, tragically enough the crisis at that time did not “go down of itself,” but his words still sound very applicable to the present situation we face in our country.

Trump has created an artificial crisis at the southern border, all in order to build an unnecessary and (would-be) largely ineffectual wall. We discussed the proposed merits of building such a wall in a previous article, “To Build or Not to Build: Educate Thyself.” Looking at the raw facts, we found (I believe) that a wall all along our southern border with Mexico is simply unnecessary at best.

However, the President dragged out his same worn-out arguments, false claims, and misleading (mis)information in his address to the nation last night to hopefully convince the American people that we really do, indeed, face a “crisis” in illegal immigrants flooding into the U. S. from Mexico. As we showed in the above-cited article, and as plenty of media outlets, think tanks and other groups have reported, this is not true.

What is, perhaps, more disconcerting at this point, though, is the seeming intransigence of the Republican establishment. They seem determined at all costs, no matter the consequences, to follow Trump even should he lead them into the depths of hell itself … but why? It has been amply proven there is no crisis at the southern border, but if there is, does it make any sense to keep the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) largely shuttered in a continuing (non-sensical), partial government shutdown?

Think about it? If we were at war, would we expect the President and Congress to do something stupid to cripple our Armed Forces? Ha! would you lay off more than half your army smack dad in the middle of an armed conflict with another nation? Of course not, so it would only make sense for the Republicans ~ and particularly the Republicans, because they supposedly believe there is a crisis ~ to push to at least temporarily fund DHS … if not the other gov’t departments as well, but at least DHS!

Some other things to note regarding the curious Republican lemming-like devotion to Trump: 1) the President’s approval ratings have never been high, but now they’re hovering somewhere around 38 to 40%, 2) Most Americans believe, adamantly, that the continuing government shutdown is nonsensical, detrimental, and completely unnecessary, 3) a majority of Americans fault Trump for the government shutdown, as opposed to blaming Democrats, and 4) most Americans really don’t want a wall anyway!

So, what are these GOPers thinking? Especially Mitch “Turtlehead” McConnell? Do they imagine they’re gaining anything? Perhaps they’re just playing politics and protecting their positions of power… Maybe. But even though I’ve never claimed to be a political prophet, I fully expect two (or three) things to happen:

1) the Republicans will lose control of the Senate, which means, of course, that several GOPs will lose their bid for reelection, 2) Democrats will very easily maintain control of the House, and 3) if Trump even makes it to 2020, he will most assuredly not be reelected.

It would really be nice if this manufactured “crisis” would “go down of itself,” but that’s not going to happen. So … it seems Trump and his Republican cohorts will have to go down, and go down they surely will. Independents and moderate Republicans are more than tired and aggravated by this administration, and they’re growing impatient with Republican senators, especially, who refuse to exercise the duties of their office, all in blind adherence to POTUS. Time will tell … but that time is quickly drawing near.

 

To Build or Not to Build: Educate Thyself

As controversy continues to swirl around Trump’s proposed border wall ~ THE Wall ~ along the U. S. — Mexican border, and with 1/4 of the government shutdown over the issue, including 800,000 federal employees now going without paychecks, it is perhaps a good idea to take a step back and look at some salient facts in considering whether or not building this proposed barrier would be a good idea or not. In fact, it’s always best to educate oneself on an issue before jumping to conclusions … as so many on both sides have been doing for more than two years now (at least).

So, what do we have to consider? First, a couple of practical facts:

The length of the U. S. — Mexican border is 3,145 kilometers, or 1,954 miles (take your pick! LOL)

The southern border extends across four U. S. states, including 24 counties, and traverses desert, mountains and rivers, including the 100,000 square mile Sonoran Desert, the hottest of all North American deserts, which extends along the Arizona border over into California, as well as most of Baja California and the western half of the state of Sonora, Mexico. 

Read more: https://www.desertusa.com/sonoran-desert.html#ixzz5bw911x00

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated the cost of a border wall at about $22 billion, and would take more than three years to complete, according to an article by Reuters based on the same DHS report.

The Wall is said to be necessary as an effective deterrent to illegal immigration. Here are some interesting facts about recent illegal immigration according to the Pew Research Center’s November 2018 article,5 Facts About Illegal Immigration in the U. S.Quoting straight from the source:

kidscrossborderThere were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2016, representing 3.3% of the total U.S. population that year. The 2016 unauthorized immigrant total is a 13% decline from the peak of 12.2 million in 2007, when this group was 4% of the U.S. population.

The number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants (has) declined since 2007, (while) the total from other nations changed little.

The U.S. civilian workforce includes 7.8 million unauthorized immigrants, representing a decline since 2007.

A rising share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. About two-thirds (66%) of unauthorized immigrant adults in 2016 had been in the U.S. more than 10 years, compared with 41% in 2007. A declining share of unauthorized immigrants have lived in the U.S. for less than five years…

Would the Wall effectively reduce the inflow of illegal drugs? This from Politifact, also quoting a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, as well as the co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

“Traffickers have a variety of mechanisms at their disposal on how to overcome the wall,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Some of those tricks are outlined in a 2016 Drug Enforcement Administration report. Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations “remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States,” and their most common method of smuggling drugs remains vehicles legally coming through U.S. ports of entry. Illegal drugs are smuggled in concealed compartments in passenger vehicles or blended with legitimate goods in tractor trailers, the report said.

Smugglers also attempt to get drugs into the United States using catapults, drones, boats and tunnels. At least 225 tunnels were discovered on U.S. borders from 1990 to March 2016, according to the DEA.

“Traffickers have been very innovative in finding strategies to circumvent existing walls and border control thus far, and more of the same strategy (i.e. more of a wall) doesn’t offer much promise as a successful strategy,” said Rosalie Pacula, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center.

Also of some possible interest might be the sheer number of U. S. citizens involved in drug smuggling across the Mexican border (as compared with non-U. S. citizens.) The Daily Beast ran an article on this subject back in 2013, in which they rely upon reports and statistics from “an analysis of records obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting.”

Of at least equal importance is the possibility, or some claim reality, of terrorists crossing over the southern border into the U. S. Is this true? And would The Wall prevent them from infiltrating the country? The threat may be real. This from a January 2017 Christian Science Monitor article:

terrorist-640x480From November 2013 to July 2014, officials apprehended 143 individuals listed on the US terror watch list trying to cross the Mexico border and enter the US illegally, according to a confidential Texas Department of Public Safety report obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

And last summer, the US military’s Southern Command warned in an intelligence report that Muslim extremists were using existing migrant smuggling rings in Latin America to gain entry to the US across the Mexico border, according to an account in the Washington Free Beacon.

But significantly, in an interview with White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace pointedly contradicted the claim that terrorists are flooding in over the Mexican border, according to the New York Post:

“Special Interest Aliens are just people who come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist. They’re not terrorists themselves,” Wallace said to Sanders after showing a clip of (Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen) Nielsen’s remarks.

“And the State Department says that there is, quote, their words: ‘no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico,’” he added.

The 2016 report referred to by Wallace states very clearly:

Counterterrorism cooperation between the Mexican and U.S. governments remained strong. There are no known international terrorist organizations operating in Mexico, no evidence that any terrorist group has targeted U.S. citizens in Mexican territory, and no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.

Finally, it is worth noting that there are other proposals for combating illegal immigration, such as that made on Scientia Media back in 2010. This is merely one of many examples, but the point here is simple: The Wall is not the only possible solution to the problem of illegal immigration. 

Falwell Jr.’s New Religion?

Did you hear? Evangelical “Christian” leader Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a recent interview that “Jesus never told Caesar how to run Rome. He went out of his way to say that’s the earthly kingdom, I’m about the heavenly kingdom…” Really? No, Jesus didn’t try to tell Caesar how to run Rome; neither did he condone the abject wickedness of Rome. But more importantly, when Christ taught his disciples to pray ~ what is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer ~ he specifically taught them to say, “… your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Falwell also claimed, “There’s two kingdoms. There’s the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom the responsibility is to treat others as you’d like to be treated. In the earthly kingdom, the responsibility is to choose leaders who will do what’s best for your country.” Presumably, then, doing what’s in the best interest of the country may include harming innocent people? In other words, the Golden Rule to do unto others what you would have them do unto you has no bearing, or should have no bearing, on national policy? Well, this evangelical “Christian” leader seems to think “that’s what Jesus thought, too.” 

Really? Jesus simply said things like, “if you’re one of my followers, then you will not act like others in the world, that is, lording it over each other, seeking power and wealth and prosperity… No. In fact, the ‘first’ among you will be the least … will be the servant of others, just like me.” I wonder what difference this might make if it were applied consistently by conservative, Bible-thumping, evangelical Christians, especially those who hold elected positions? Of course, if Falwell is right, then it doesn’t apply to public life. How he proposes separating the two is a bit of a mystery. How does one go about following the teachings of Jesus privately, in one’s “individual” life, without also following those teachings publicly and, where the Church (called the Body of Christ) is concerned, communally?

Ah! This is a good question, isn’t it? After all, an individual is elected to public office as an individual. It’s hard to see how s/he can stop being an individual. It’s also difficult to see how an individual can be completely amoral ~ moral or immoral, yes, but not completely amoral. But if that’s the tactic Falwell wants to take, then he’s really destroyed his own foundation, at least where an awful lot of his pet issues are concerned. For instance, upon what grounds does he continue to oppose abortion? Remember, by his own recently-admitted standard, he can’t quote the Bible, or anything religious; he must demonstrate how outlawing abortion would be “for the good of the country” without resorting to any religious or religious-type argument(s).

The same goes for his opposition to homosexual rights. On what grounds can Falwell now continue to oppose homosexual marriage, for instance? Not on biblical/religious grounds … not anymore. Please note that I am not presently presenting my own perspectives on these issues; rather, I am simply wondering just how Falwell, as an evangelical “Christian” will continue to make his case on these, and other, issues without resorting to anything remotely religious. I may be wrong, of course, but I think it will be exceedingly difficult (if not impossible) for him to do so, but I also know he will keep on pounding the pulpit (literally!) against abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other issues. And he will do so without any qualm about the hypocrisy of it all.

Many things intrigue me about what the evangelical “Christian” community has become in recent years. But now Falwell is promoting an altogether new religion totally divorced from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. No wonder more and more Protestants are dropping the “evangelical” label, not wanting to be identified any longer with the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr. Oh! And isn’t it interesting that Jr.’s father, Jerry Falwell Sr., started the Moral Majority movement precisely to influence the government, all political discourse, and, indeed, the very course of the life of this nation. Wonder what daddy’s thinking about baby boy’s recent comments? But, then, all of this seems to me to be one very good reason not to listen to religious leaders’ commentaries and endorsements of politicians and policies. So maybe I kind of, sort of agree with Jr. in separating religion ~ at least institutionalized religion ~ from government and political discourse in general… I just wish he’d follow his own lead on this and separate himself!

(Everyone reading his remarks should also note, importantly, that Falwell Jr. heavily insinuated that following the teachings of Jesus would not be in the best interest of the country … only in the best interest of the individual. Wow!)

The Parting Song of Jakelin Caal

Tell me, please, do I look like an outlaw, criminal drug dealer or terrorist?

Did I make a fist in your face, or was I just a child needing to be kissed?

And did I even resist being taken into custody for your political reasons

In this season of xenophobia, when love of another is seen as high treason?

Did I mock you as you’ve mocked us, dear president, or did I merely cry

For water and bread with no more said to those who imprisoned me?

And can you not see how many more boys and girls want more than toys

At Christmas time this year ~ we just want to be safe and full of cheer…

But you didn’t even try, you let me die, and so now here I lie in state

For having taken the bait of an empty promise of safety in a land of plenty,

But do you even know as you string another bow, taking aim for fame?

Ah! But for me it’s okay now … for I am at peace … can you say the same?


You may read about this story reported by USA Today on 12/15/2018 or by NBC on 12/14/2018, which reads in part:

Before the group left Antelope Wells by bus to be transferred to a border station, Jakelin’s father reported that she was ill and vomiting. By the time she arrived at the border station an hour-and-a-half later, she was not breathing. She was revived twice by emergency workers and then transported by air to a hospital in El Paso, Texas, where she died of cardiac arrest with her father by her side.

Jakelin was severely dehydrated; however, officials say that migrants were given access to water at Antelope Wells…

The incident raises questions about CBP’s emergency procedures and the Trump administration’s policy of delaying immigrants at legal ports of entry, forcing them to decide between waiting for weeks to months in dangerous border towns or traveling through dangerous areas along the border.

By the Book: Assessing Trump by Evangelical Standards

Since recently writing (for the second time) about evangelical Protestant support of Donald Trump and their unflinching defense of (seemingly, at least) everything he does and says  ~ or, at least, their very noticeable silence ~ I wondered just how well Trump lines up with biblical doctrine, especially since evangelicals consider the Bible the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

Mulling this over a good bit, I’m wondering just how much conservative Protestant Christians (and, I suppose, some Roman Catholics, too) are left with of Donald Trump to defend. Of course, I have to say I’ve been prompted to this by some vitriolic reactions on Facebook, and one reactionary pointedly said, “I’m willing to bet you’re not perfect either!”

Well, no I’m not perfect … but neither is the whole evangelical world defending me as both an awesome President and respectable Christian (with, perhaps, some “rough edges.”) Besides, there are some important comparisons to be made, as I did in my recent blog, for example: G. H. W. Bush professed to be a Christian; however, he did not shamelessly use his religion to gain the support of an entire block of voters.

Also, and importantly, Bush simply lived a life of upstanding character and integrity, and he was a truly patriotic (not nationalistic) public servant, who was an excellent husband, father, grandfather, war hero, statesman and gentleman. I also think of “the buck stops here” President, Harry Truman. He was an outstanding statesman and family man, honest, patriotic, and unwavering in his commitment to God and country.

Naturally, our 39th President, James Earl Carter, comes to mind, as well as his 1976 opponent, then-President Gerald Ford. Many great women come to mind, too, of course, such as: Elenore Roosevelt, first lady for a little over 12 years and, later, an ambassador to the United nations, who helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Dixie Bibb Graves, the first female senator from Alabama, and the first married woman to serve in the Senate. Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush also quickly come to mind.

But I digress… Back to my original question: How does Trump line up with the biblical standards evangelical Protestants claim to hold so dear (as the inspired, infallible Word of God)? Well, let’s take a quick look. What do the holy Scriptures of Judeo-Christianity say about:

Strangers, Sojourners and Immigrants?

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22. 21, RSV)

You must never do wrong things to a foreigner. Remember, you know what it is like to be a foreigner because at one time you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23. 9, ERV)

Do not mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19. 33 – 34, CEV)

Then the king will say to those on his right, “My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me… (The Gospel of Matthew 25. 34 – 35, CEV)

The Poor?

You shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19.10, ESV)

And this next passage is particularly poignant:

If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbour. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be… Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.  (Deuteronomy 15. 7 – 8, 10, NRSV) 

Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, was very plain spoken when it came to riches on one hand and poverty and the poor on the other:

Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ (The Gospel of Matthew 19. 21, NRSV)

And also, of course, this famous statement:

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (The Gospel of Mark 10. 25, NRSV)

If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? (Epistle of James 2. 15 – 16, RSV)

Care for the Environment?

The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to work the soil and take care of the garden. (Genesis 2. 15, ERV) In other words, to be the steward of creation. 

And God shows just how much he cares for creation by condemning those who “defile” it, and turn it into an obscenity:

I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination. (Jeremiah 2. 7, RSV)

This next passage is particularly appropriate for our day and age, and one must justly wonder what bearing (if any) it has on the horrible practice of fracking, on damaging oil spills, on air pollution and global warming, deforestation, and so much more … and also the fact that Trump has not only denied the scientifically proven fact of global warming, but also refused to sign the G 7 Agreement on Climate Control:

The earth dries up and withers; the world languishes and fades away; heaven fades away, along with the earth. The earth lies defiled beneath its inhabitants; because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse keeps on consuming, and its inhabitants are declared guilty. Furthermore, the inhabitants of earth are ablaze, and few people are left. (Isaiah 24. 4 – 6, ISV)

Scripture makes it quite clear that one day God will take vengeance on behalf of this tortured earth. Has Trump considered this? Is he even familiar with the verse of Scripture?

‘We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty, who are and who were, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come, and the time for judging the dead, for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’ (Revelation 11. 17 – 18, NRSV)

On Speech and/or Conversation?

Donald Trump said, “You know, it really doesn’t matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” And he also said, “My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well been documented, are various other parts of my body.” But what do the scriptures say?

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. (Epistle to the Ephesians 5. 4, ESV)

But now you must get rid of all such things–anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. (Epistle to the Colossians 3. 8, NRSV)

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm; for them the deepest darkness has been reserved. For they speak bombastic nonsense, and with licentious desires of the flesh they entice people who have just escaped from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them. (Second Epistle of Peter 2. 17 – 19)

Donald Trump falsely claimed, “There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down.” In so doing, he slandered an entire segment of our population. What does the Bible have to say about this?

Beware then of useless grumbling, and keep your tongue from slander; because no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys the soul. (Book of Wisdom 1. 11, NRSV)

Promiscuity/Adultery

Did he really say this? Yes, indeed he did: “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p**sy. You can do anything.” On top of this, and paying off at least two women with whom he fraternized, he is on his third marriage… Wonder why? But what do we read in Scripture?

You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20.14, NRSV)

But he who commits adultery has no sense; he who does it destroys himself. (Proverbs 6. 32, NRSV)

Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. (Epistle to the Romans 13. 13, RSV)

Lying and/or Bearing False Witness

“From a moral standpoint, I believe in it. But you also have to get elected,” Trump said. “And there’s no way a Republican is going to beat a Democrat when the Republican is saying, ‘We’re going to cut your Social Security’ and the Democrat is saying, ‘We’re going to keep it and give you more.” And he said this privately to explain to Paul Ryan why he supported cutting Social Security even though he was saying the opposite in his public campaign. This is but one of many examples of outright lying, but what does the Bible say about deceit? 

Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (Proverbs 12. 22, RSV)

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. (Exodus 20. 16, NRSV)

For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds. (Second Epistle to the Corinthians 11. 13 – 15, NRSV)

For perverse thoughts separate people from God, and when his power is tested, it exposes the foolish; because wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, or dwell in a body enslaved to sin. (Book of Wisdom 1. 3 – 5, NRSV)

Well, perhaps this is more than enough. I will only finish by noting that it was the evangelical Protestant community that berated Barak Obama so fiercely and unrelentingly, falsely accusing him of being Muslim, and even referring to him as the anti-Christ. Funny, though, he conducted himself in a far more presidential way, has always been a family man, still married to his first wife, and during the funeral for G. H. W. Bush, he could be seen and heard, along with Michelle, reciting the Apostles’ Creed ~ so much for his being Muslim ~ and singing the hymns! But has the evangelical community cut him any slack yet? No, of course not … but, thank God, they now have an authentic, evangelical Christian as POTUS, right???

Trump and the Irremissible Blindness of Evangelicals

Except for, perhaps, the funeral of Sen. John McCain, there has been no greater, more poignant contrast between gentleman and statesman on one hand, and the putrid demagoguery of Trump on the other than our national farewell to George H. W. Bush. Our 41st President was a war hero, lifelong public servant, exemplary husband, father, friend and family man, who led this nation as Commander in Chief for four very crucial years. The current occupant of the White House is an unthinking, irresponsible, and promiscuous man on his third marriage, who has done nothing in his life apart from serving himself, often to the detriment of those around him.

Hardly anything could be more appalling than having such an individual seated in the Oval Office, except for, perhaps, the unwavering support he enjoys from the vast majority of evangelical Protestant “Christians.” It does not seem to matter that the Trump campaign quite possibly colluded with Russia in its attempts to meddle in the 2016 elections. It does not seem to matter that, during this same period, Trump was planning on building another Trump Tower, this time in Moscow. It does not seem to matter that Trump forced the resignation of Jeff Sessions, whom many consider to be a truly Christian statesman, as Attorney General simply because Sessions refused to compromise the integrity of his office to serve the President’s personal interests.

No, and it does not seem to matter that, as is now being revealed, Trump may very well have violated the Constitution’s restrictions on receiving payments from foreign governments due to his continuing involvement in his businesses during and after the Saudi government spent an estimated $270,000 to pay for a total of 500 nights in the Trump International Hotel following the 2016 elections. It does not seem to matter to evangelicals that the President has done nothing to advance their anti-abortion, pro-life cause. It does not seem to matter that Trump continues to engage in vulgar and offensive “tweets,” and race-baiting. In fact, it does not seem to matter that, while standing on the front row with other past Presidents at Bush’s funeral, he did not recite the Apostles’ Creed ~ the most basic statement of Christian doctrine with which evangelicals certainly agree … along with most of the rest of the Christian world ~ and did not even participate in the hymns.

At this properly reverent fare-thee-well to an outstanding statesman and true gentleman, there stood, shoulder-to-shoulder, former Presidents Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, Barak and Michelle Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Bush family including, of course, George W. and Jeb Bush. Many other names could be named, but all were somber and reverent. All participated fully in the service … except Donald Trump. And this is the great evangelical President, who can do no wrong??? Excuse me for lecturing the evangelical Protestant community, to which I no longer belong, but it is high time ~ far past time ~ for those who are sincerely sincere about their life and faith to come to their senses! Message to the evangelical Protestant churches: You are making a damn laughing stock of yourselves, but even worse, you are bringing nothing but shame to the name of the Lord and Savior you purport to serve, in aiding and abetting an unethical, villainous miscreant! And especially to the evangelical leadership: Hold your President accountable! You say he really is Christian, then charge him and expect him to act like one!

Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Democrat and Republican, both respected the Office of the President, and they respected themselves and the American people, whom they served. George W. Bush and Barrack Obama, Republican and Democrat, both set appropriately high standards for occupancy of the White House, and they made it their sacred duty to serve the people of this country to the best of their God-given abilities. Above all, this was also George Herbert Walker Bush, who remained unwavering in his commitment to God, family, country, and the world in which he lived. And there are so many others, too, who never made it into the Oval Office, at least not as Commander-in-Chief: Walter Mondale, Robert Dole, George McGovern, Alan Keyes, Bill Richardson, Ben Carson, and, of course, John McCain and on and on… (And the point here is character and integrity, not political perspectives or stand on particular issues.)

We can all hope and pray ~ as we should ~ that the overwhelming majority of American voters will save the executive branch of our government from further ignominy by placing it into the hands of someone of upstanding character and integrity who, like George H. W. Bush, is intent on serving our country rather than her/himself … an individual with hands unsullied and spirit undefiled … someone who has and still leads an exemplary life, who genuinely has the ability to preside over this great nation. And if evangelical “Christians” cannot see through the Trumpian fog and commit themselves to this most worthy, fundamentally important goal, then perhaps it is time for their ship to sink, even as it is now taking on the dingy water of bad repute. This would be a somewhat sad ending to the community of faith, which included the likes of Billy Graham and (the lesser known) D. James Kennedy, but … come to this end if it must.