Tag Archives: Trump

A View of Trump’s Immigration Policy

Standard

Well, the whole world has blown up, apparently, now that President Trump has actually done what he said he was going to do – start restricting immigration from certain countries, and limiting refugees from entering the country.

As a Catholic, I think it is incumbent upon me to try my best to separate politics from the moral questions that come into play with certain complex issues.    I don’t think there is a strict right or wrong way to look at this.   It’s complicated, there are a number of considerations that come into play, and in many ways this is a good example of looking at an issue and trying to come up with the least problematic of bad options.

So, let’s start with our moral obligation to others, just on a general basis:   Every individual has the infinite dignity that comes with being made in the image and likeness of God.   Every individual needs to be treated with this dignity and respect.   Further, Jesus is very clear that we have an obligation to the poor.   In particular, those in dire situations who are the victims of war or civil/social unrest, forced to leave their homes are people who desperately need our help.   To completely turn our backs on these people is morally reprehensible.

Now, let’s move first to the administrative approach of the President’s order.   It is clear that there are some deficiencies in the details here.   Whatever one might think of the temporary ban of people from the seven specific countries and the stay on refugees, it is hard to imagine that it was intended that people in flight should be held indefinitely at an airport, or that anyone with an approved green card should be refused entry back into the country.    It certainly does seem like there are some holes in the declaration as issued, and that corrective action is in order.

Now, we get into the muddy waters of conflicting moral questions:  (1) Our obligations to help those in need of help, and (2) the safety and security of our nation.    The Catechism itself recognizes (and the Pope – sympathetic to the plight of immigrants as much as any Pope has ever been – recently recognized) the authority of a nation to define its border and immigration policy.   The Bible also recognizes the borders and governance of nations as being divinely ordained.    While this doesn’t automatically suggest that a country can do whatever they want without there being moral implications, it does suggest there is latitude that is given to countries to make governing decisions they feel is appropriate.

The question is one of intent.   In the medical field there is an issue of double-effect, when treatment for one condition could lead to the death of a fetus, or even the individual.   If the intent is to treat the medical issue, and the intent is NOT to cause death, then a death caused by that treatment is tragic, but not morally problematic.     Likewise, as a country, our leaders have primary duties and obligations, and the defense of our nation is at the very top of that list.   This primary duty has always been, in traditional times, defense against a nation-aggressor.    But times have changed.   The real threat of terrorism, and terrorists themselves saying they plan on coming into our country to do us harm, has made the defense of our nation more complex, and almost by the terrorists’ own intent intermingled with the debate on how to deal with immigration questions in our country.

People are concerned, and rightly so, that the Executive Order may cause harm to innocent refugees who now have one less place to go.   It is a difficult thing to say that “there is no room at the inn.”    People also are concerned that there is a purposeful targeting of Muslims with the Executive Order.   This also is a difficult question of intent.   Nobody who is rational can deny that the threat of terrorism rests squarely on Islamic extremism.   It can be a difficult thing to bifurcate the subset of perpetrators of evil from the whole set of the religion that they practice.    These concerns are considerations in the debate, but in the end they cannot outweigh the more rational consideration of what is the right thing to do to protect our nation.

There is a clear and obvious example on a personal level that has been used many times before, but is worth repeating.   As the father of my family, I have a lot of obligations.   Setting aside the obligation to raise children who believe in God and to set them up as best I can to live a life that gets them to heaven, I also have obligations in the material world.   Foremost among those obligations is to protect them as best I can.   If I kill an attacker who wishes to kill or harm in a violent way my wife or children, this is a tragic obligation.   But I also protect them in other direct ways, and in other passive ways.    Firstly, I may choose where my house is to raise my family in a safer area.   Some may see this as discriminatory or judgmental, because a safer neighborhood may look different from an unsafe one.    It may also place more distance between us, so my ability to help make that neighborhood a better place to live is more difficult.   That’s all too bad, but my primary moral obligation is to my family.   My obligation may change if I were single and only have myself to worry about.   But that is not the case.   Secondly, I lock my doors.   yes – I keep out those who I have not invited.   Not because I hate everyone outside of my home, but because I don’t know who might come in, or their intent.   People are free to come over, even uninvited, and make the case for why I should let them in.   But it is up to me entirely who I let into my house.  I may turn people away.   I mean no ill will, and perhaps my criteria for selection is overly cautious and even discriminatory.   But these considerations do not outweigh the assessment that this is what I must do to protect my family.    Now, I may be misguided in some ways, and I may learn to relax my standards, but nothing I have done is morally wrong.   (Now, this doesn’t mean I can’t find ways to offer aid and kindness to others.   I need to do that – it is an obligation.    But I will find other ways that do not breach the fundamental responsibility of protecting my family.)

This is directly analogous to our country and its borders.   Those who claim it is not are not thinking reasonably, in my opinion.

So, good and honest people can disagree as to what is the right or wrong way to go about protecting our country.    We can and should have a discussion about how we may be able to help people in other ways whom we otherwise refuse to let in.    We may even have a reasonable discussion about the moral balance of the position we are taking, and learn and grow from it so that we find the proper moral balance wherein we maximize our ability to help and aid others without compromising the primary obligation of defense.

What I am seeing, mostly, at the moment is not rational argument.    I am seeing horrible claims that if you worshiped Jesus on Sunday and you agree with the Executive Order, you are a hypocrite and un-Christian.   [Most of these claims come from people who aren’t particularly religious]    I’ve seen claims that you need to rip the Pro-Life sticker off your bumper if you agree with these immigration reforms.   [Usually these posts are from people who aren’t Pro-Life, except apparently in the case of Syrian refugees]

The main issue is the hyperbole of all this:

Jimmy Carter suspended immigrants from Iran.   Barack Obama (remember him?) suspended immigrants from Iraq.   This may be on a wider scale, but it is not without precedent.

The suspensions are temporary.    The idea is to ensure a vetting process sufficiently rigorous to better know who is coming into the country.

The suspension of Refugees is similar.   The order does not eliminate an inflow of refugees.  It puts the number (50,000) at approximately the levels prior to the previous couple years.

Yes, the countries are Muslim.   But what are you going to do?    It’s an unfortunate reality that these countries have produced terrorists.   If anything, it seems more reasonable to argue that this order didn’t go far enough.   Saudi Arabia, for example, is not on the list.   Nor is Pakistan.     If anything, the criticism might be that the countries selected are not internally consistent and other considerations were made that may have had more influence than it should have in our national security conversation.

The discussion is a good one, and Christians do need to step back and try and do whatever we can to make sure that our intent here is not to harm or discriminate, but to protect our country.   In my opinion, it’s a bit sloppy and needs improvement, but the primary goal here is to protect our country.   That there may be the “double-effect” of some harm to immigrants and refugees who could benefit from entry into our country is unfortunate, but it is not morally problematic because that is not the aim.    It does mean we have an obligation to expedite our vetting, establish clear parameters for entry, and do everything we can to aid them in other ways in the meantime.

 

All Hail the Wisconsin Recount

Standard

Diatribe time.

This Wisconsin Presidential recount is the most stupid, pointless, time-wasting, money-wasting, asinine, desperate,politically irrelevant and inane thing I’ve seen in some time.

I live in Wisconsin.   The recount started today.   Even here, it’s not really news.    Nobody expects anything to change, and everyone is rolling their their eyes.   It’s remarkably idiotic.

Anyone who got scammed out of any money by contributing to this epic fail deserves to have had that money scammed.    Thank you for sending your funds to Wisconsin.   We appreciate it.   All the vote-counters will have a little extra money to spend on Christmas presents.   Maybe pro-Trump items will fly off the shelves after he wins here a second time.   Everyone loves a winner.

Jill Stein is probably going to clear a million by the time she’s done.   You guys who sent her money are morons.

 

Post-Election Thoughts

Standard

OK, I won’t overdo this.   There are literally millions of articles on the election, and I doubt anything I have to say is a unique insight.   So I’ll just do some quick hits on the things about this that most interest me.

  • During the Primaries, it became clear to me that the media gave Donald Trump all sorts of air time to, in a roundabout way, promote him to the top of the ticket on the Republican side.   The reason for this was to be able to give Hillary the best chance of winning – a near certainty in their minds – and to tie all other Republicans to Trump by association.   The goal was not just to help effect a Hillary win, but to tip the Senate – and even possibly the House – to the Democrats.   It is entirely sweet irony that this backfired entirely.  Trump wins, and the GOP holds both the House and Senate in a year where the GOP had to defend a lot of seats.   The left is apoplectic now that the GOP controls the Presidency and both houses of Congress for the first time since 1928.
  • The left will want to make this all about bigotry, racism, and misogyny.    This election had little or nothing to do with that.   If anything, Trump could have done even better had he held his tongue in a number of instances.    But this was about a relative of that.    The overzealous approach of the left to silence all opinion and criticism of anyone on anything not white or not Christian was pure bullying.   Trump brought the disease of political correctness to the forefront and emboldened people to call BS on the PC left.    Instead of tiptoeing and apologizing for every little bit of harshness and claims of hurt feelings, he basically told us we need to grow up and toughen up, and that this is killing us.    Now, he may have gone too far in some cases – he will still be the President – but people were willing to get behind a guy who stands up against the PC culture even if at times we all recognized that there is still a balance.
  • All the people claiming that they have the moral high ground and that it’s now “love” against all of us mean Trump-voters..   you’re simply wrong.    Just because your sense of morality differs from mine does not by default give you the moral high ground.   And your consistent claims of the moral high ground is one of the very reasons why we tire of you and the policies you support and the cultural and moral change you support.
  • Ultimately, despite how anyone else wants to paint this, Trump proved to us that there are rich folks who are entirely out of touch with every day Americans (political and leftist elites, celebrities) and that there are rich people who are in tune with every day Americans (Trump, in this case).    The demonization of the rich has to stop.   The demonization of corruption and crony capitalism is appropriate.

The Faux Righteousness of NBC

Standard

One of the interesting things to come of this Presidential election isn’t a bad thing.    While the entire process seems like – as a coworker put it – one big garbage fire, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with the realization that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes.    All the revelations about how horribly insipid all aspects of society seem to be is not pretty, is not comfortable, and ultimately may be somewhat catastrophic to life as we know it.    But if all the world is built on lies and corruption, then what good is all of this anyway?   Better to present what it is, tear it down, and build it back up again the way it’s supposed to be.

There are direct revelations, and then there are those where one needs to contemplate a few things and put the pieces all together.   The political-media complex has been unearthed for what it is in the  Wikileaks e-mails.   Newsflash:  Democrats hate Christians, the media hates Republicans, and they collude together to impact the outcome of elections and promote a secular agenda.    WOW!   Who ever woulda guessed!?   Um, yeah.   Most of us.   But until it was laid bare, it was surmising an opinion based on circumstantial evidence and logic, which could be easily enough met with denials to convince the apathetic among us that it was all imagined.    No more is this the case.

Alas, the breadth of all this is vast.   So, let’s focus on one of the aspects of the release of the tapes by NBC from a “hot mic” episode in 2005.    Unless you’ve been in a coma with earplugs in for the last week, you know about the derogatory language Trump was picked up saying on a leaked video.    And I’ve already discussed the fact that NBC and the Clinton campaign held the tape until now, which basically means they don’t care about anything but themselves and their political chances.   Otherwise they would have done the right thing and released it during the primaries.

But forget about all that for now.   Let’s focus on the sheer and laughable response by NBC.    Let’s lay it all out in context:   in 2005 Trump was picked up having this discussion with Billy Bush.   Billy, a “reporter” for Access Hollywood played along like a good Hollywood sex-driven lunatic would be expected to do.    He laughs with the Donald, engages in his own commentary (reports are that NBC edited the tape to minimize for the public Bush’s part of this, but that he had a lot more to say) and encourages a woman to hug Trump after the conversation took place.    For ELEVEN years, this behavior was known by NBC.   In the meantime, Billy Bush kept his job on Access Hollywood, and ultimately was promoted to the Today show.

Not only that, but NBC – who I repeat, knew about this tape – put Donald Trump on the air and made oodles of money from The Apprentice.   Word has it that in both the cases of Bush and Trump, there are many cases of crass and rude language.   And you know what?   I would bet that if all the media personalities on NBC had all their “hot mic” or edited segments released, we would find very few sinless people there.   And I am willing to bet that the pattern of behavior with respect to sexual commentary is constant.

But now that we’re in the world of politics, the tape has been released.   Remember, NBC could have released this months ago.  In doing so, they decided that the “common good” for the country outweighed sacrificing one of their own.   They have managed to avoid a lot of scrutiny implicating them on enabling this kind of behavior by rewarding it.    But now that the tape is released, well BY GOD, THAT BILLY BUSH NEEDS TO BE PUNISHED!    It’s stupid, it’s sickening, and it’s irrational.

Listen, I didn’t even know who Billy Bush was before this.   Don’t really care on a personal level that he’s suspended.   In a morally upright universe, both Bush and Trump would have been told that it’s unacceptable behavior and they should try to find another network.    But none of that happened.   So to fake moral outrage now is so disingenuous that it reveals only that the folks at NBC are hypocritical, political, and not wearing any clothes.

Trump and Bush are symptoms of the problem.   NBC is the problem.   Or, more accurately, part of the system that is the problem.

Paul Ryan’s Conscience and Politics

Standard

I’ve spent a lot of time on Politics here lately, for a blog called “Catholic Diatribes.”   In my opinion, everything in life can be, and indeed should be, viewed from a lens of faith.   It need not be the only lens, but it should be part of the equation.   In our world, but in particular the country of the United States, we are overly consumed with politics.

Politics can be very difficult to be viewed through a lens of faith.   And even when attempted, two people can come to startlingly different conclusions.   I won’t re-hash the debate about how a good Catholic can vote for Hillary, but I’ve discussed it before.   I never have, and will never understand, how a person of faith can ever support a pro-abortion candidate, among other problematic moral issues.

I do think there is a legitimate struggle with Catholic and other Christian voters who do not plan to vote for Hillary, but who also cannot move all the way to the idea of voting for Trump.    While I’ve argued here that no matter how much it may stink, we have no other reasonable option.    It might be different if there were a viable third party candidate who extols the virtue we all seek in our public servants from  a Christian worldview.    That candidate does not exist, at least not in any of the four top candidates who are picked up by the polls.    And if you aren’t even registering, the you realistically do not exist and casting a vote there is no different than a no-vote.

So, ignoring the Christians (I exhibited great restraint not putting quotes around that, but still couldn’t not mention that I had great restraint, so I guess it’s only a bit of restraint) who are voting Hillary, we have those who are voting Trump, not voting at all, or voting for a Third party candidate.    I’ve heard some people say they are voting Gary Johnson “just to send a message.”   Egad.   This is stupid if you are a social conservative.   Because the only message that says is that you want social issues removed as issues from the GOP platform.   People need to think a little bit about the message they are actually sending before they do it.

Things get trickier when you move to Catholic politicians who actually are Catholic.  Take Paul Ryan.    As a bit of an aside, one of the things that really bothers me is how personal everyone seems to take things that politicians say, do, and how they vote.    Paul Ryan is a good man.   He is a man of faith, and he is a man of character.   Now, he ticks me off sometimes because I think he tries to find a viable political solution while maintaining certain principles, and I think he’s doing what he thinks is right.   But I don’t always agree with him that he’s right.   In fact, there are many times I don’t agree with him.    But is he the kind of person I want in Congress?   Absolutely.

Paul Ryan is a man of legit faith, in my opinion.   We Christians should not demonize him over budgetary policy and tax policy.   We Christians should push back with issue-oriented arguments, but still muster respect for him.   As Speaker of the House, he has a lot of responsibility, and I trust that he does things that he believes are in the best interests of the country.   I don’t always agree that it actually is, and I am sick of compromise in many areas.    And I’l get angry with him from a logistical level.   But I don’t hate the man, and neither should anyone else.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has attempted to walk the tightrope between not supporting Trump while not unendorsing Trump.   I think if we look at this from the Christian perspective, we can be honest and understand the desire to do this.   Despite my continued call to vote for Trump, it is not because of anything particularly favorable towards the man.   It is entirely due to the worse alternative, and the fact that I must judge my choice at this point not on character but on a presumption that the probability he will do certain things I align with far outweighs the probability that the other will do anything at all that I align with.   And, in my opinion, a man like Paul Ryan should have the clarity of mind to say exactly that.    I understand not wanting to campaign with Trump.    But most certainly he is smart enough to find a way to make this situation work.

Politically speaking, it is my belief that his attempt to navigate this situation is, at best, not helpful to his cause (which is keeping the House Republican) and is at worst an unmitigated disaster.    There are very few people who are going to vote for down line GOP candidates because Paul Ryan has told people to distance themselves from Trump.   It’s just not a realistic expectation.    However, there is a great possibility that anyone who distances themselves from Trump will get a bunch of “kiss my you-know-what’s” from his ardent supporters and jeopardize their races.    Paul Ryan’s move here, which may have been both principled and a political strategy, is simply a horrible mistake and could prove costly.

If it’s costly, I suppose they’ll blame Trump.   It’s not as though Trump is helping matters and he could certainly handle this better.   But Ryan had to know going in that Trump doesn’t care who he chastises.   This may be an immature response, but it is not unexpected, which still places the ultimate culpability on Ryan for kicking the dog in the first place.

I empathize with Ryan.   I am sure it is difficult being asked to not only support verbally, but to also campaign with someone who you find distasteful.   It is a moral dilemma.    But there had to be a better way of navigating this.   That horse has left the barn, which is regrettable.

 

The Hypocrisy of Feigned Shock

Standard

It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the problematic moral issues completely flooding the Presidential campaign.   And with each issue, there are multiple facets to what is being discussed.    It is not only about the shocking sin of the day, and who did it, it’s also about who’s casting the stones and who is “shocked and disturbed” by the new revelation of the day.

Today I’d like to address a different aspect of the lewd Trump/Bush tape from 2005 that was unveiled to the world last Friday.   You know, because we need to be fully informed on every piece of dirt on everyone.

While there is rightful disgust at the words of Trump on the recently released video, let’s also contemplate the fact that this information was known and purposefully held for maximum political benefit.  The self-righteous indignation from those complicit in NOT making this available a year or more ago is pathetic.  These people wanted Trump to win the Republican nod, not for good of country or process, but for their own gain.   If they truly believe he is dangerous and would bring harm as President, then they had a duty to inform well before a month before the election.

Secondly, this was clearly held until the Wikileaks drop, which is damning to Hillary on her dishonesty regarding private versus public beliefs and illegal coordination between her campaign and Super PACs.

And we all play along and allow the manipulation.   It’s all a game.   Hillary doesn’t care one iota about what’s best for the country, or you, or me.  She cares about Hillary.

And Trump is demeaning and obnoxious.  Agreed.  I’m still mad at my fellow Republicans for making him the guy I need to compare to Hillary (who is demonstrating how horrible of a candidate she is by not running away with this).  But enough of the hand-wringing sanctimonious BS.

We get the leaders we deserve.  And quite frankly,  we deserve it.

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

Standard

OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.