By attacking Assad’s air base, we’ve pressed a real RESET button: Tyrants beware—America is no paper tiger.

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Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

Love him or hate him, Trump just reasserted America’s lone superpower status. And though I don’t like our president, I’m grateful that we’re off the sidelines and back in the game. Hooyah!

Punching an evil tyrant in the nose is EXACTLY the right response to war crimes. It’s eight years overdue, but better late than never. Our missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat air base sends this vital message to Assad and Putin and others like him:

If you commit acts of barbarity against civilians, expect anything and everything from the world’s greatest military.

By the way, how does Trump’s treatment of Russia and its ally make the howlers of Russia/Trump election collusion look? Silly, that’s what.

Cool as Key lime pie

I have to give it to him: How cool is it to order the strike and then sit down to dinner with a tyrannical leader of another amoral regime? I wonder if Xi Jinping was just beginning to enjoy his Key lime pie when an aid whispered the news in his ear.

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What Trump seems to get and others should, too, is this:

Evil leaders, regimes and terrorists—and this includes Iran, North Korea, ISIS, Al Qaeda, et al—only consider altering behavior in response to brute force and the fear that crossing “red lines” will likely result in violent consequences.

There are those who claim that Assad’s gas attack is somehow a product of Trump’s supposed “hateful” words. Based on Assad’s previous behavior:

This horrendous act would likely have happened had Hillary been elected. It would likely have happened had Trump not even run. It would’ve even more likely have happened if Obama were still in office.

In each scenario, the timing and other factors may have been different, but the salient issue is this—the gassing of civilian men, women and children was not about Trump or his words. Every neophyte president gets smacked in the face with the reality of real-world intelligence. It happened to Obama and now to Trump.

Any self-respecting tyrant

Does any reasonable person truly think Assad is such a two-bit tyrant that he takes his cues from Trump’s “hate” words and acts accordingly? He’s an evil dictator with a weak chin—why would he need motivation from a loose-cannon-mouthed president? To those who blame Trump for this—STOP giving him so much power.

I’ve written time and again that I don’t like Trump. Though he’s petty, thin-skinned and a bit buffoonish, he’s not evil nor is he the devil. That said, I’m glad he just reestablished America as the muscle behind right responses to international war crimes committed by thugs and their minions.

Finally, America is back as the world’s enforcer of international law and order and common, civilized morality. My first shout out was in Navy speak—here’s the Marine Corps version—Oorah!

Being back sure feels good. It’s RESET time, baby.

From Russia with Love: Did Putin help Trump win the election?

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That pesky Putin and his friggin’ Fancy Bear hackers … did they help Trump win? The startlingly shallow exposé that follows uncovers nothing, but answers everything. Enjoy.

Election interference. A KGB connection. An East-Meets-West Bromance of Trumputinian proportions. It reads like a scintillating spy novel and plays in the press like an international crime of the century.

Did the Russkies influence the outcome of the election? Did the press blow it? “Fake news” hurt Hillary?

Here’s the cold, hard truth—it doesn’t matter one whit who did what—Trump is our president, and there’s not a dang thing we can do about it.

But it IS fun to point fingers. And conspiracy theories about Russia haven’t been this juicy since the Cold War.

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Let’s dig deeper

Suppose the Russians DID influence our election. How’d they pull this off and why? Does Putin despise Hillary? If so, perhaps it’s because of that silly RESET button that translated to “overload” in Russian.

Did Putin take this as a subtle snark attack on his manhood? Like maybe he thought Hillary was zinging him for his many manly shirtless horseman photos? Or for his overcharged martial arts machismo?

Granted, Putin and Hillary don’t seem to like each other. But I figured it’s because he’s a man and she’s a woman. Does the hatred run deep enough to sic his Fancy Bear hackers on her?

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What we know and don’t know

The DNC servers got hacked, and WikiLeaks laid bare Hillary’s operatives’ election misdeeds. Did this influence the election? Probably. Should whoever hacked the DNC servers also have hacked the RNC’s? Who says they didn’t?

If they did, but chose not to release Trump’s nefarious election dealings, is it because there was nothing to release? Okay, I know what you’re thinking—are you kidding me? Trump and his Trumplings are as crooked as the day is long. You’re probably right.

But we don’t know they’re crooked based on any hard evidence. We DO know about Hillary’s minions’ odious dealings concerning Bernie Sanders. Everything else is innuendo and blind Trump hatred. You can run with innuendo all you like—it’s a free country. Uber Doofus rolls with facts.

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But it isn’t FAIR

What does fairness have to do with anything? The virtue making of fairness is a uniquely American construct. The rest of the world doesn’t play that way. And if we’re honest, neither do we. For sure, Putin’s (former?) KGB operatives don’t trouble themselves with fairness.

How hackers “interfered”

Let’s analyze this election interference stuff.

Hackers hack DNC servers. In doing so, they uncover bad and “unfair” stuff. WikiLeaks publishes it. Hillary takes hits in the form of distractions that slow her momentum. Trump capitalizes by bloviating nonstop about her untrustworthiness.

Seems like politics as usual.

Did the hackers make this stuff up about Hillary’s campaign? Did they create fake emails and disguise them as John Podesta’s or Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s? I haven’t heard or read any denials from either of these schmucks. Have you?

They screwed up and got caught.

Hackers uncovered damaging information, and WikiLeaks simply revealed it to us voters. Is this election interference? Nope. Did it influence voters? Yup. But there’s a big difference between influence and interference.

As voters, we influence each other. The media influences us with their bias. Voter fraud is election interference. So is tinkering with vote counting systems.

If this “interference” is actually influence by information giving, please, Russkies, interfere EVERY time. And make sure you do so with both or all the candidates.

When voting for president, I like raw information. We don’t get it from our media, so why not get it from WikiLeaks? It’s funny how every other scrap of info WikiLeaks has provided—NOT Hillary-related—is praised with none of this handwringing over fairness.

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The BIGLY question answered

Did the Russian (or whoever) hackers help Trump win? Who knows? But here’s what we DO know:

Damning emails helped Trump win. Sleazy Hillary operatives helped Trump win. Hillary’s arrogance, secret server and elitist and dismissive deplorable comments helped Trump win.

Trump’s capitalizing on an eight-year anger build helped Trump win. INFORMATION helped Trump win.

American voters helped Trump win.

 

Does Putin have a bromance with Trump? I don’t know, and I don’t care. 

But I doubt it because Putin is all about Putin. He’ll do or say whatever he thinks will best preserve and expand his power while, secondarily, furthering Russia’s interests. Trump’s probably the same way, except for a niggling streak of patriotism that may counter his power trip.

Perhaps that’s why Putin and Hillary hate each other. They’re more alike than they are different. Maybe it’s a matter of conflicting interests:

Hillary wanted to reign in Putin’s power and Russia’s influence through sanctions and pressure. Putin wants to do the same to us by any means possible.

Trump wants to work with Putin by schmoozing and making deals. At least for now.

Siberian-cold, hard election truths

Those who keep beating this dead horse wouldn’t give a Russian rat’s arse about any election interference, if their candidate had won. Stop whining, and give our electorate a little more credit.

But they don’t and won’t because they can’t accept the idea that Trump voters may not ALL be the caricatures the “resistance” and our media portrays them as: Angry, ignorant, deplorable Bible-clingers and gun toters.

Maybe, just maybe, many are thoughtful, value-driven, high-information voters who carefully consider any and all information about the candidates—no matter how it’s acquired—and then vote accordingly.

Is it possible that some Trump voters voted for the platform and not for the pervert? Should they have voted for his criminal opponent? If they had, there’d still be a pervert in the palace—a prowler of interns with a presidential wife to protect him by destroying even more women.

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Next steps

Hey, Russian hacker/Putin monster makers—Get over it. The election is done and in the books. Instead of chasing Russian ghosts, let’s secure our servers.

Intelligence agencies—Show us what you’ve got on this election interference jazz. Otherwise shut up and stop hassling Americans who don’t deserve your carte blanche surveillance.

Angry protesters—Hack this: Your candidate lost because she sucked a little more than her opponent.

It’s high time to let it go.

Trump’s our president. Like him or not, we’re stuck with him until 2020, at least. Let’s make the best of it.

Putin and the Russians will.

Trump’s press war a threat to democracy? Get over yourselves, media—you’re not all that.

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Cartoon used with permission from Ed Stein. All rights reserved.

Trump’s war on the media is a THREAT to democracy? Please. Here you go again with hysterics, hyperbole and chicken-little reports.

Dear, media, your estimation of your importance to our democracy is vastly overblown.

As a journalist, I know. Here’s one reason why:

Too many of you journalists are way too full of yourselves. Your vaunted “objectivity” is an antiquated notion believed by numbskulls. I don’t blame you for this—you’re only human. But humans are incapable of objectivity. Especially those who scribble in newsrooms.

And, most especially, those who still fancy themselves part of the … dun dun DUN! … Fourth Estate. What? Is this a secret snobby society? It’s not secret, but it IS secretive … and, yeah, kinda snobby.

Fourth Estate?

The Fourth Estate can be defined as: A societal or political force or institution whose influence is not officially recognized. The Fourth Estate commonly refers to the news media, especially print journalism or “the press.”

In 1841 England, Thomas Carlyle, borrowing the phrase from Edmund Burke, used it to trumpet the power of the press in the reporters’ gallery in Parliament. He saw the press as an essential fourth estate tasked to “check” the three traditional estates of the realm: the church, the nobility and the commoners.

In the U.S., the fourth estate—better known as “the media”—has no direct equivalent to the English estates of the realm. But it DOES serve as an independent check on our three government branches.

How it’s supposed to work

Let’s say the executive branch, the president, acts in ways that are potentially criminal or “undemocratic.” Journalists ferret out information and evidence that exposes wrongdoing. They “blow the whistle” on the president just like they did when breaking the Watergate scandal. Boom! Busted.

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By the way, members of the fourth estate—I’ll call them “Estatesmen” because it’s fun—raise the specter of Watergate any time they perceive an abuse of power by an administration. After all, breaking Watergate is the American press’ 20th-century crowning achievement.

Justices have more fun

So, what of the other two government branches? The judicial branch seems untouchable by Estatesmen. But then, legal decisions take much more time and effort to understand in order to attack. Plus, many of the big rulings have lately gone the way Estatesmen think they should.

The legislative branch—Congress—has always been open season. And it’s easier to take them down than it is a president. So, in a sense, the media does serve as a check on at least two of three genuine branches of government.

Which begs the question: Who CHECKS the media?

 

Check, yes. Government branch, no.

The notion that the modern media is a “Fourth Estate” that functions unofficially as a branch of government is merely a rhetorical device, not a serious statement of fact. It’s used to describe the power of the press in the realm of politics.

The American media is supposed to be this—a standard bearer for our right to freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. Journalists, as citizens and members of the press, simply exercise their freedom of speech for a living—and are SUPPOSED to do so to INFORM us.

Specifically, journalists are trained to ask effective questions and craft stories for our information consumption. They inform us about our government by gleaning information through access to politicians, press conferences, and other info-gathering opportunities.

This should be the media’s function. There’s no mysterious, monolithic “Fourth Estate.” The fourth estate nonsense sounds impressive, but it’s fantasy and the stuff of Hollywood. It’s merely a media self-importance construct borrowed from an old English idea.

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From informers to influencers

The fourth estate biz is silly. But it’s not dangerous like this truism:

Our media no longer merely provides information; they seek to shape public opinion. And what’s worse—they use their power to influence government policy so that it conforms to what they think is best for us.

That’s why, as a trained journalist and thoughtful citizen, the following relatively new teaser headline approach irks me … to the fourth estate.

It goes like this:

“Issue X: Here’s what you need to know” yada yada. Uh, excuse me; don’t tell me what I need to know. I can decide what I need to know based on raw information.

Hey, media—just do your jobs—INFORM me. Don’t try to INFLUENCE me by telling me what YOU think I NEED to know. The attempt to influence us and shape our opinions used to be more subtle. Not anymore. It’s obvious, ubiquitous … and dangerous.

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The media’s self-appointed mission to shape opinion and effect change—change they deem best for us— THIS is the threat to democracy.

Journalists not entertainers

Just to be clear, when I refer to the media, I’m not talking about entertainment/partisan media—Fox, MSNBC, HuffPo and others. O’Reilly, Hannity, and Maddow aren’t journalists; they’re personalities and “opinioneers.”

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It’s not about you, Bill. O’Reilly: Passion and pompousness in one “pithy” package.

I’m talking about hard-core news media like ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, et al.

We should expect over-the-top, red-hot, partisan and biased “news” from “opinioneers” and those who are under no illusions about what they provide and the bias they bring with it.

The real pretenders are the “venerable” journalists—the stodgy Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Woodward and Bernstein and now Jake Tapper types who claim objectivity and professionalism, but deliver biased, often overwrought opinion news.

And, by the way, media bias is not a right-wing conspiracy theory. Bias transcends media—it’s a uniquely and inextricably human characteristic.

Giggling grad student

While sitting in classes earning my master’s degree in journalism at the University of North Texas, I often had to stifle giggles when listening to one of my professors teach Media Ethics. As if the seriousness of the fourth estate stuff wasn’t funny enough, he ventured this hot opinion:

“You know, this thing about the media being biased, it’s not really true. The media is remarkably objective.”

I nearly fell out of my chair. At the time, I had recently finished a few months of internships at two local TV stations. The freshly tenured professor, I’ll call him Dr. Lane, was 10 years or so into his career, first in media development in Africa and the previous three years on faculty at UNT.

The professor probably had less recent newsroom experience that I did.

Typically, I would’ve challenged him on his ludicrous statement, as I had on a few others, but I couldn’t trust myself to choke down laughter. Plus, from the looks of a few of the other grad students, I didn’t have to. It was rich.

How do newsrooms seek to influence public opinion and, by extension, government policy? Allow me to show you the ways.

Media bias: Tricks of the trade

Story/no story
Now this is timely. Have you noticed how the media treats virtually identical circumstances involving Republican and Democratic presidential administrations in polar opposite ways? Positively/neutrally or negatively?

Look at these photos and tell me; is there an issue? And if there is a legitimate issue, how are the circumstances any different?

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Conway and Obama. Both work(ed) in the Oval Office. Both have at least either a foot or a shoe on a piece of furniture in the Oval Office.

Judging from media coverage, one is a HUGE story; the other is a non-story. Granted, the press covers stuff that sets Twitter and partisan media on fire. I get that. But if they cover one instance, shouldn’t they cover the other? They should, but don’t because they’re biased and agenda driven.

If either is disrespectful, shouldn’t the President of the United States be held to a higher standard? Wait? Is it disrespectful of a race? Does this look disrespectful?

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More media bias

Story selection
Subjective editors select stories, headlines and photos that reflect their news entity’s voice (politics). Reporters write stories that push viewpoints they hold.

Perspective omission
This is the practice of omitting a perspective by ignoring it. Try this: Familiarize yourself with conservative and progressive perspectives on an issue. Then look for both viewpoints in an article. This is Journalism 101.

Story placement
Hiding a story is as simple as burying it. Because most people read only headlines, one can downplay stories supportive of an opposing view by burying them deep in a Web or printed page.  

Photo bombing
Want to make someone look foolish? Drop in an unflattering photo. Better yet, match it with a subtle dig in the headline.

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Dominick Reuter/Reuters

The bomb above offers a two-fer bias benefit: Unhinged “hate” and small-handed compensation.

Story suppression
Want to suppress a story that could hurt your candidate’s election chances? Don’t cover it or give it short shrift even though you know that if it were about the opponent, you’d run it with everything you’ve got.

Labeling
The media’s power to label people is subtle, but potent. Conservatives are stigmatized as “alt or far right,” “ultra-conservative,” or “right-wing extremists,” while far lefties are “progressives,” “liberals,” or “moderates.”

Wait a minute, doofus—I haven’t noticed any of this. Prove it.

You prove it—to yourself. Gather information. Make up your own mind. But don’t be influenced by anyone you don’t know and/or respect.

Misdirected passion

It only takes a tiny twist to turn information dissemination into influence shaping. I’ve worked in newsrooms. I understand journalists and what many think about government. They’re smart and passionate, which makes them prone to activism.

Think journalists aren’t biased when it comes to politics? Trust me—they are. And like most persuasive, passionate people—they want you to think like they do. And they’re willing to help you think like they do by shaping your opinions on the issues.

Journalists know that influencing today’s media consumer is child’s play.

Most media members aren’t hacks. They know exactly what they’re doing. Activist journalists are blinded by their sense of the “rightness” of their causes. And whether they realize it or not, they sacrifice journalistic integrity for it.

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Objective journalism? Humanly impossible

Journalistic objectivity is an impossibility. We all have our bents, perspectives and preferences. Objectivity is merely something to strive for. The problem is that many in the media don’t even bother striving anymore.

They seem more interested in helping craft the nation into their version of what America should be. And they want us on board. If for no other reason than to help elect leaders who share their vision.

This is activism not journalism. And IT, not Donald Trump’s silly, immature war with supposed “fake news,” is a threat to our democracy.

Hey, media, will you please stop the over-the-top apocalyptic warnings about threats to democracy and focus on your true calling? Strive for objectivity. Leave your politics in the break room. Inform us.

No president can revoke the First Amendment. Trump’s press war is nothing but thin-skinned, childish behavior. The threat you face is our distrust.

And no one can make you irrelevant, but you.

The “resistance?” Its followers wouldn’t know a real reason to resist, if it punched them in the face.

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Warning: This post is intended for mature readers who can disagree agreeably, resistance soldiers and those who are considering joining the resistance.

Dear resistance,

I’m trying desperately to understand what drives your resistance.

It seems that you’re watching the implosion of our country and its values at the hands of a misogynistic, bigoted, ill-suited-for-the-job monster of a new president. You’re still reeling from the loss of your preferred candidate and feel galvanized to resist the tyrant at every turn.

You witness the 120-day ban on immigration from seven countries, and you see a “Muslim ban” that reeks of discrimination and bigotry and fear of a religion. But let’s consider—Is this a ban based on a religion or on points of origin? Muslim emigrants and refugees from Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan can come.

If it’s a ban on a religion, why are they welcomed?

Discrimination is not always a dirty word

This temporary ban IS discrimination. But it’s discriminatory not of a religion, but of citizenship. And though the seven listed countries are majority Muslim— Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Scientologist emigrants from those nations would also be denied immigrant status under the ban.

Also, let’s be factual—this discrimination against citizenship doesn’t apply to green card holders or to those with legal status—only to those seeking a path to citizenship via immigration.

The ban also discriminates based on behavior. Consider this hypothetical scenario:

Let’s suppose you have a guesthouse on your property, and you advertise it for rental. Among the applicants are three guys, let’s say, who are devout Satanists. You do some research and discover that according to their satanic bible, they’re required to offer animal sacrifices to their god.

You also discover that other Satanists have used house cats and dogs captured in neighborhoods where they live as sacrifices. You have dogs and cats—and young children. And there are other applicants—one is a retired schoolteacher and the other is a “gearhead” who was sporting a greasy t-shirt when he came to see about the rental. What do you do?

You discriminate against the gearhead because you don’t want drip pans filled with oil sitting around the back yard. Now you’re left with two applicants: the retired schoolteacher who could be a potential positive in the lives of your young children as a very close neighbor and three young committed Satanists. How do you choose?

You discriminate based on potential behavior and politely tell the Satanists that you’re renting to someone else and secretly wish them bad pet hunting—somewhere else.

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Actions AND words

How does this relate to the behavior of Muslims?

While most Muslim refugees who seek to immigrate are fine, upstanding, good-hearted souls in search of a better life, there are other Muslims who may want to come who’ve pledged to follow Islam to the letter of the Quran and who burn with desire to force infidels to embrace their religion or die.

What do you do, resistance? What does a president who’s responsible for protecting Americans—Muslim or of any other faith—do to prevent those committed to perpetrating more 9/11s, more San Bernardinos, and more Orlandos from coming here posing as immigrants?

We can agree that the ban is discrimination. Do you truly believe it’s based on religion? Do you care what it’s actually based on? I fear that you don’t care—that you employ the ban-on-Muslims narrative for effect. Tell me the truth—I want to believe you.

This temporary immigration ban is NOT a ban on a religion. It’s not a Muslim ban. And we have yet to see if all its provisions will become permanent, or if it can stand up to legal scrutiny. In my view, At THIS POINT, it’s not a legitimate reason for resistance.

Here is, to my mind, the logical, rational truth:

Your resistance is a farce. You’re fighting phantoms. You’re breathing fire because you’re fearful of what you think a president will do based on his foolish words and an equally frightened media. Please get a grip and some perspective.

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When the delirium hits home. Quincy, CA 3/3/17

Worthy of resistance?

Is this temporary country-based ban on immigrants worthy of resistance?

How about past and potential discrimination by high-ranking officials in government agencies toward businesses and religious groups they disagree with?

How about Muslim Americans who push for the adoption of Sharia law, which calls for the subjugation of women and sanctions honor killings?

Or resistance to the drug cartels who exploit open borders and use human beasts of burden to provide drugs to addicted millions? Do you really think resisting the building of a wall that could help reduce this double enslavement is more worthy of your resistance?

How about resisting terrorist-sanctioning theocracies’ that want to wipe a country and an entire race off the map?

Do you actually think that resisting attempts to get sanctuary cities to enforce state and federal laws regarding illegal aliens more worthy of your resistance?

Here’s a challenge

Try explaining your reasons for resistance to someone who understands real racism. Talk to people who have experienced the hatred and intolerance and fear that genuine fascists use to foment the murder of “undesirables” and infidels and Jews.

Could it be that partisan political and ideological agenda drives your resistance, not a reaction to real injustice? Do you not see the absurdity of your resistance when compared to resistance to the Third Reich or to the Pol Pot regime or to Stalin’s reign of terror?

You’re clamoring for resistance to “fascist” actions that have yet to happen. And you’re calling for others to join you based on fears filtered through election disappointment, ideological bias and personal disgust.

Your fear and loathing of a thin-skinned, heavy-handed, loose-cannoned neophyte of a president has shaken your grip on reality.

Yes, Trump says foolish, objectionable things. And I know—his thoughtless words and machismo do nothing to allay fears. But is it possible that he uses bravado to mask inexperience and dispel doubts about whether he’s up to task? Have his actions risen to the level that warrants the intensity of the resistance thus far?

It IS possible that you’re resisting a bogeyman. Let’s wait until the bogeyman shows himself a tyrant, then let’s resist him. With everything we’ve got.

But until then, open your fists, and get a grip.

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Get real.

Suppose the tyrant orders suppression against Muslim Americans with a form of Kristallnacht—German for “night of crystal”—during which hordes of Nazis broke windows and vandalized Jewish-owned stores and property throughout Germany and Austria.

Resist.

Say that devil Trump signs an executive order to round up and illegally deport Mexican Americans suspected of harboring or aiding undocumented workers.

Resist.

I’ll join you in a heartbeat.

Now I’ve heard about fascist Trumplings smashing windows and scrawling swastikas on mosques and minority-owned businesses. This monstrous stupidity is worthy of all our resistance. To the point of resorting to our resistance fists, if necessary.

Here’s my point:

In my view, at present, your “resistance” is much ado about nothing. I grant you—Trump’s actions have crossed ideological lines. But they haven’t crossed legal or moral lines, in my opinion.

I know. You probably hold that Trump HAS crossed legal and moral lines, or that he’s about to. That’s your perspective, and I invite you to persuade me on this score. Persuade. Don’t dodge questions and call names.

Let’s talk about it. But first, let’s talk about words.

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Racist, bigot, hater, intolerance

You in the resistance hurl these words like toxic grenades to neutralize and demonize opposition. Do you realize the damage you’re doing to honest debate?

Scroll up to the five-fisted recruitment banner at the top of this page. Spread the deliria? Really? Do those in the resistance even know what they’re calling for or to what they want us to join?

To “spread the deliria” is to propagate:

A more or less temporary disorder of the mental faculties, as in fevers, disturbances of consciousness, or intoxication, characterized by restlessness, excitement, delusions, hallucinations, etc. A state of violent excitement or emotion.

I hope that you those in the resistance who crafted this message simply couldn’t be bothered with the meaning of deliria. Or maybe they just thought it sounded rad. I fear it’s worse—to them, meaning is irrelevant—it’s  all about effect.
 resistance

Soldier Tim

Is it possible that most of you in the resistance have yet to face real bigotry or genuine hate? Will you consider the possibility that much of the intolerance is coming from your side?

I posted a question on the Facebook page of John Pavlovitz, a former pastor and now blogger, speaker and author who appears to align closely with the resistance. I also posted a link to my Trump is not the devil. And God is not a clockmaker post, in which I argue that God rigged the election.

Based on the tone of his answer, I made the mistake of commenting (subjectively) that he seemed angry and arrogant, for which I later apologized. He hasn’t responded, but one of his followers did. I’ll call him Tim.

Tim’s world

Here’s a portion of Tim’s opening comment:

“Realistically, no politician in America is going to FORCE you to do anything, but in the case of many of the things Trump has done and continues to do, it really is a choice between his views and God’s. Trump’s immigration policies are plainly contradictory to what the Bible teaches about loving refugees and welcoming immigrants.

You can’t be a strong Christian and succumb to fear of Mexicans and Muslims. You feared that Hillary would be the one to make you choose between your faith and the US government, but in fact Trump has done just that. You probably don’t regret your vote just yet (I’m quite sure you voted for him) but you will.”

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My world

Here are the top and bottom sections of my reply:

“Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that American politicians don’t force us to do anything and didn’t mean to imply that in my blog post. Glad you pointed that out though, so I can tweak it. I think we just disagree about Trump’s immigration policies.

To my thinking, placing a temporary immigration hold until extreme vetting processes can be developed and implemented is wise. I think many who decry Trump’s immigration policies are assuming the worst and inflating his intentions based on bias and actions that have yet to happen.

I don’t regret anything about my vote—my vote is irrelevant—I live in California. Unless you’re into the popular vote nonsense. I don’t regret it and won’t regret it because I believe God is in complete control and that he appoints leaders—good and bad—not for our comfort or sense of rightness, but for his master plan.”

Blame gamer

Tim:

“I believe you’re a coward. Sorry, I know that’s blunt, but i believe it to be true for a couple of reasons:

1. You believe more “vetting” of refugees is necessary- even though NOT ONE SINGLE American life has ever been taken at the hands of a refugee. This means your fear (yes, it is FEAR) of those refugees is based not on facts or reason but by something else completely–the fact that they look different and worship differently than you, perhaps. Irrational fear of different cultures is cowardly.

2. You refuse to take responsibility for your vote. If Trump leads us into WWIII, I am 100% sure people like you will throw your hands in the air and say “It’s in Gods hands” when in fact YOU were the one who elected him.

Take responsibility for your part in this. I don’t care that you live in CA. You’re sitting here blogging about how we should “submit to our new leader.” You did this. If you’re not comfortable with that, then repent. It’s not too late. The resistance is just starting.”

I added italics because it’s more spooky and fun that way. Not to mention creepy. The resistance is just starting? V for Vendetta?

resistance

Name caller

After repeatedly telling me what I think and how I feel, Tim proceeded to call me—sprinkled throughout our combined 18 comments and replies—coward, fearful, irresponsible, irrational, hypocrite, foolish, apathetic, denier, satanic, and an embarrassment.

I encouraged him to read my post decrying name-calling, Uncivil Discourse: How we’re vilifying viewpoints, warping words and destroying debate. His response? To tell me that he’s not Jill, the open-minded, big-hearted modern progressive “thinker,” of the post’s hypothetical debate scenario.

From this point our “conversation” plunged downhill and eventually off the cliff despite my many attempts to engage him respectfully and ask clarifying questions. I spent most of my time trying to get him to stop telling me what I think and to accept my telling him what I think.

Unhinged

During the free fall, Tim came up with these highly empirical stats and predictions:

“Trump has proven himself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be 100x more dangerous than any Syrian refugee.

Trump’s careless pen stroking has already cost the lives of over 30 civilians and a US Navy SEAL. So yeah, trump has killed more Americans than Syrian refugees have. It’s proven and measurable. Perception doesn’t change the fact that those people are dead and many thousands more will die if the ACA is repealed.”

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Hier [sic] Trump. Courtesy of the anti-fascists at the Tuluwat Examiner

Unanswered questions

Dear resistance,

Does a president “cost lives” by “pen-stroking” (signing executive orders)? Did Trump’s predecessor’s pen-stroking cost lives?” Is the costing of lives based on your agreement or disagreement with the merits of an executive order?

These are the kinds of questions I asked Tim. Ad nauseam. Each and every time, he either ignored or twisted my laser-focused questions into assumption-bloated, over-generalized and absurdly false caricature.

It was like playing catch with someone who kept throwing the ball AT me, instead of TO me, and so ruined the game.

Missed opportunity

Had Tim reigned in his zeal and buffered his bias for a nanosecond, had he addressed my questions and points, had he taken me at my word concerning my thoughts and feelings, we both might have learned something.

Instead he engaged in talking points, bullying and name-calling—the most uncivil of discourse. We missed an opportunity to better understand one another’s perspectives on some crucial issues.

Here’s a question for you, resistance: Is Tim the exception or the rule of the resistance? To me, he seems to have embraced the call to spread the deliria by waving and brandishing both fists.

Shared joke

The resistance’s call to spread deliria is apparently being taken quite literally by groups like the actionnetwork.org. Here’s their statement of purpose from their Website:

“This election has shaken us to our core. Millions of Americans are feeling desperate to find ways to get involved. We need to show the whole political establishment that there is a massive progressive force that will fight against Trump’s extreme agenda of greed and hate every step of the way.”

Agenda of greed and hate? Really? It’s silly, lazy fighting phrases like this that make the resistance difficult to take seriously.

Here’s a more militant sounding call to action from The Donald J. Trump Resistance (at least they’re respectful in adding his middle initial.) And they seem to think that making Each Word Start With Uppercase Letters Makes THEIR Tagline That Much More Impressive:

“Where WE Make Hatred, Bigotry, Xenophobia, Sexism, Racism, and Greed Pay the Price”

What IS the price, exactly?

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Good advice

Here’s some advice for you, resistance that, if heeded, would make your cause much more attractive to doofuses like me:

Shelve your exertions until the time comes when resistance is truly necessary. Wait for genuine governmental abuses of power—and then act. If presidential overreach in the form of executive orders is the standard, shouldn’t we have resisted during the last eight years? Where was the “resistance” then?

And finally—and perhaps most importantly—resist the urge to engage in uncivil discourse. We can disagree agreeably. Ask and ANSWER clarifying questions to better understand another’s point of view. Listen, THEN talk.

I believe in resistance. If I were in the Star Wars universe, I’d join the Rebellion. Or better yet, the Jedi Knights. Or even as a third with Han Solo and Chewbacca.

But I won’t join a joke.

I resist you, resistance. In fact, in light of events as they stand AT THIS TIME, I wouldn’t join any of you jokers—even if you offered me the Millennium Falcon.

Stop muddling meaning and lobbing word grenades. Get a grip on the gravity of our issues. Save your powder for the real battles, if and when they come.

Get serious, not delirious. Then, count me in.

Trump is not the devil. And God is not a clockmaker. (REVISED)

Used with permission from Lalo Alcaraz

Resistance. I’ve been called to resist posting about politics. By my wife. By my peaceful nature. But today, I was called to resist—wrongly. And by people I love and respect, but who, I believe, have lost perspective on what warrants worthy resistance.

They’ve done so for worthy reasons—sympathy for refugees, respect for women, a desire for the elimination of racism and reaction to the oft-misused-now-talking-point-words like hate, bigotry, intolerance, ad nauseam.

My friends have tolerated the ridiculous and insulting comparisons to Hitler and fascism—ridiculous when examined in light of historical perspective and insulting to reason, logic and intelligence— and, most egregiously—to victims of the holocaust, genocide and real racism.

Dump Trump

Donald Trump is a flawed person and president. So was Barack Obama, FDR, John Kennedy—and yes, even Ronald Reagan. Trump is a short-fingered vulgarian—a cleverly concocted cut-down by Graydon Carter, the long-tenured editor of Vanity Fair. He’s thin-skinned and vindictive, which means he’s insecure and petty. Trump is also charismatic (in person only, I believe), persuasive, pugnacious, clever and patriotic.

I wish the Russians would disable his Twitter account—permanently. And his reliance on the shadowy Steve Bannon, who reminds me of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s ruthless spymaster, troubles me.

Is Bannon to Trump as Vader is to Emperor Palpatine? Or is it the other way around? Hard to tell with these two. And Trump’s shrill press secretary, Sean Spicer, doesn’t impress me.

Not a Trumpling

I, like many other citizens, never thought it would come to this. A billionaire, misogynistic, orange-yellow, cotton-candy-haired former (former?) reality TV star is now the most powerful man on the planet. Oops.

I’m not a Trumpling. He doesn’t inspire me like Reagan did. He doesn’t carry himself with dignity like Obama. I wish Huckabee or Bush or Rubio were president. Not Hillary. Never Hillary. If she had won, I would’ve avoided watching her or reading about her or thinking about her and would’ve cringed every time I heard Madam President or President Clinton uttered.

But I would not have resisted her authority … UNLESS. If her actions prompted a choice between submission to government or obedience to God, then I would resist. As I will do, if Trump’s actions prompt the same choice.

Divinely appointed

I have qualified my resistance to Trump’s authority because, ultimately, it has not been granted solely by Congress nor by the constitution nor by any other founding document nor by the American people—but by Almighty God.

Let me explain. Or better yet, let the Apostle Paul explain. In his—and God’s—own words:

Romans 13:1-7

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

As a Christian and a believer of Jesus Christ, I trust that the words of the Bible are true and reliable. And, here’s the kicker, that they reflect God’s sovereign will. Essentially, they are his words, written by men he appointed in order to make his will known. If God is truly God—all-powerful, pure and good—he is intimately involved with the affairs of this world.

Bigly questions

Trump is a chump. Not because he’s easily deceived, but because he’s a foolish man. But he’s not evil. He’s a sinner—like me, like you. Here are some “bigly” questions that emerge from the Romans passage above as it relates to Trump:

Did God make him president? We know that God doesn’t vote; did he influence voters to vote for Trump? Rather than influence voters, did God create and manipulate circumstances to cause voters to elect Trump?

Does God care about elections? If he does, did he want Hillary elected and is now wringing his hands? Is God above politics and merely uses presidents to work his will? How does free will fit in?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. But I do know this—God is in complete control of everything. He’s an active, loving, holy, all-powerful, omniscient God with an agenda that trumps (pun, not cared about) all others.

I think God allowed/facilitated Trump’s win because more people in critical electoral states voted for him than voted for Hillary. More voters exercised free will to vote for Trump in states that mattered most.

Two options, both bad

Did God influence voters to vote their consciences? He did me. I faced two disagreeable options:

One, a career political criminal who strikes me as an arrogant, condescending power-tripper and serial liar and who embraces ideology that I cannot stomach and with which I disagree utterly.

The other, an arrogant, buffoonish, sexist creep who is thin-skinned, petty and a political neophyte, but who embraces ideology that, in some ways, I agree with. Such as, but not comprehensively:

Smaller, less-intrusive government, reduced taxes and regulation, pro-life, pro-law and order, pro-business, pro-truth concerning hot issues regarding gender, morality, education and the environment.

In short, I voted for a platform, not for a person. And I voted my conscience. So, there.

Image by permission of Greg Olsen, https://www.gregolsen.com/

The clockmaker maker

I know, I have yet to offer any opinions regarding my questions about God’s role in the election. I can offer this—my opinions will not be satisfactory—to me or to others. Allow me to offer what I KNOW about God:

He made the universe and has a hand in everything. God is pure and good. If her were not pure and good, but merely all-powerful, if he were the clockmaker God; his interest in creation would begin and end with construction and maintenance. We would be as cogs for his machine. Or worse, playthings for his pleasure.

God’s character is one of pure goodness, which means that he cares about people, nations and leaders, about every aspect of creation. God is active, not passive. He’s not a clockmaker—he’s a clockmaker maker.

Free will and free grace

God allows us to exercise that which makes us in his image: Free will. And he gives us insight to parse candidates’ words and to form opinions on critical issues—insights based in truth and goodness and rightness.

God cares about elections because he cares for his children. If you’re a Christian, you are his child, and he loves you dearly. If you aren’t his child, you can be—God has made a way to forgive your sin and to adopt you. He loves you so much that he sent his son to die for you.

We all have a sin problem. So does Trump. So does Hillary. Our sin separates us from a holy God. But God’s grace and Jesus’ sinless life and death bridges the gap. All you need do is come to him in repentance and be forgiven and adopted.

Fear God, not Trump

At this juncture, I cannot, in good conscience, resist President Trump. Not because I wouldn’t want to, but because I want to obey God more than I want to give in to fear or outrage over immigration bans or so-called hate speech or perceived intolerance.

Donald Trump is our president and authority. And if Hillary Clinton had won the election, she would be our president and our authority. Until he abuses his power and/or his actions warrant resistance, I’ll submit to God-given authority.

James 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

Resistance is not futile

Meanwhile, if you want to resist someone, resist the devil. If you want to fight Trump’s policies, do so respectfully—don’t misuse words like hate, bigot and racist. Pray for him. Pray that God draws Trump to himself, and that he becomes a new creation and God’s redeemed child, and that he listens to God’s leading while leading us.

Resistance against authority, when unwarranted, is for pagans. Now if Trump orders the killing of civilians or the internment of muslims or something somehow more evil than a temporary travel ban, then, yes, let’s resist. I’ll lead the charge. If he forces me to choose between civil obedience and spiritual disobedience, it’s on.

But until then, submit to God by submitting to the one he placed in the presidency. Don’t give in to the fear mongers and fascism flingers of the world. God is our ultimate commander-in-chief, and he knows what he’s doing.

If this article stimulates, annoys and/or encourages you, please tell me how and why below. I value your feedback.