Throwing cold water on “Oprah 2020”

Prediction: Oprah Winfrey is not going to run for President.

Winfrey has spent decades making herself a beloved figure in the media, and even many on the Right express a lot of admiration for her even as her partisan affiliation has been more direct. But the reality is that the minute you run for President you automatically become a polarizing figure, and Winfrey will be no exception to this rule. Her Leftist views and kooky conspiracy theories (especially playing to anti-vaxxers) will bring attacks hard and fast. In fact, that has already happened across conservative media.

I do not believe Winfrey has any appetite for becoming a polarizing figure, despised by half of the country. That will happen if she runs, and for the last several decades she has been comfortable with being generally loved or at least admired. The inevitability of being hated by half the country is not a slam on Winfrey: That happens to every major party candidate for President, win or lose. I cannot imagine her wanting that.

The scorn heaped on her over the last week since the “Oprah 2020” speculation started is a tiny taste of what she will get if she actually runs for President. The prospect of being a historic President (second black and first woman) would fade in comparison to the partisan rancor that will come. Winfrey is not Hillary Clinton, who has endured brutal political attacks for decades. She will quickly determine that this is not for her and drop out well before the 2020 primary season starts in the summer of 2019.

No, Trump is not too mentally unstable to be President

OK, folks, let’s chill out about Donald Trump’s mental stability and fitness to be President. That was already decided when he won the 2016 election, and (apart from his outbursts on Twitter) he has been a stable President with solid conservative policy and a good team around him.

Now, let’s be clear. Trump is a very mercurial personality. He is a narcissist who has a need to be the center of attention at all times. He is way too thin-skinned, as we saw when he overreacted to mild criticism from Megyn Kelly and then was such a pathetic coward that he would not attend a debate she moderated. He is far too prone to post childish memes on Twitter, which is not just unpresidential but unprofessional. We would not tolerate this from the head of any major corporation.

But while being a childish, thin-skinned narcissist are bad character traits, they are not evidence of insanity or mental instability. Trump is not as bright as he claims to be but he is not stupid by any means. He leveraged his brand into being an international celebrity and won a Presidential race that he frankly should have had no hope of winning and would not have won had the Democrats not chosen a completely toxic nominee.

The reason people do not understand Trump is because we have not seen anything like this before – at least not at the level of the President. Trump has the tendency to cut a boastful pro wrestling heel promo. It is not that he even believes what he is saying, but he is not necessarily lying. The key is to take him seriously, but not to take every single word he says literally. Freaking out every single day about Trump venting frustration on Twitter or stroking his own ego in a speech is not good for your own mental health or your stomach lining. It is best to focus on policy and the way the administration is being managed.

As usual, the cover-up is worse than the crime

Sexual sin happens. Some men are sexual predators, and will exploit and abuse those under their care. Sadly, some of these men will be Christian pastors, elders, deacons and youth group leaders, because we are all corrupted by sin. This is why the true test of a Christian church is not whether these sins happen in a congregation, but how the church leadership responds to the sin. Does the church hold the perpetrator accountable? Does the church protect the victim? Or do they abandon the gospel of Jesus Christ by doing neither of those things?

Here is what we know. An assistant pastor at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas (now known as Stonebridge Church) had a 17 year old high school senior perform a sex act on him and then groped her breasts. Obviously, this is very bad – exploiting a position of trust an authority is reprehensible.The alleged reaction of the “church” leadership was even worse. The victim claims the “church” covered it up and sent the perpetrator away. This is exactly opposite of what a Christian church should do.

As I said, sexual sin will always happen. Sexual crimes will always happen. The church is to be a place where perpetrators are held accountable and victims are supported and protected. To fail to do this is one of the worst things a church can do. Any church that fails to do this is not a “church” at all. They embrace “cheap grace” that does not require repentance, and they do not bring crimes to the civil magistrate that God has placed in authority over us for our benefit. They embrace “forgiveness” too easily, leaving more innocents vulnerable. This is why sexual predators target churches, because Christians can be really stupid.

But the cover-up actually gets worse. Highpoint Church admitted they knew about the abusive sexual exploitation when they hired Andy Savage as a pastor. First, such a thing should automatically disqualify someone from serving as a pastor, so the “church” is obviously run by fools. Did the “church” notify the congregation publicly? Did the “church” have Savage publicly confess his crime and submit to the civil magistrate? Or did the “church” betray its congregation by leaving them in the dark about a “pastor” who admitted to church leadership to sexually exploiting an underage teen girl under his authority?

This whole episode has brought shame on the name of Jesus Christ. It has caused unbelievers to mock and blaspheme, and it has shaken the faith of many Christians. It will cause some to fall away from the faith. A young woman has been permanently damaged and souls have been permanently scarred. Our prayer should be that this is an example to real churches about how to deal with sexual sin and sexual crimes in the church, and how important it is to hold perpetrators accountable – including going to the civil magistrate if necessary.

A serious lack of priorities

If you are more upset that President Trump (allegedly!) used an obscenity to refer to Haiti than you are about President Clinton using American military power to re-install murderous tyrant Jean-Bertrand Aristide, then you have a serious lack of priorities.

I am much more concerned with how the American military was used to make Haiti a s******e by keeping Aristide in power than whether Donald Trump (allegedly!) called Haiti a s******e.

Policy matters a whole lot more than what Trump (allegedly!) said in a closed door meeting with other adults.

Get a freaking grip.

This is not about what is legal. This is about right and wrong.

This is an open letter to Indiana University president Michael McRobbie.

Mr. McRobbie,

I saw that Indiana University has been successful in getting the courts to strike down parts of Indiana’s ban on trafficking aborted baby parts. I am not writing you to argue the decision or the law. I am writing you about right and wrong.

Abortion is wrong. It is the extermination of an innocent human being made in the image of God. Scripture tells us that when the nation of Israel was burning their babies in sacrifice to the demon Molech, it was an act of such great evil that it never even entered into the mind of God that they would do this. In our nation, we murder over a million babies every year, a bloodshed that is far worse than the child sacrifice of ancient Israel and her pagan neighbors. Then we use the corpses of these murder victims for “scientific research.”

Worse yet, the bloodshed is growing in Indiana University’s back yard. There were 822 babies murdered by abortion in Monroe County in 2015, but 2016 was far worse with 1,016 babies murdered by abortion. That is a 23% increase during a year when abortions declined overall statewide by 8%. In this “progressive” community that features a prestigious institution of higher learning, we are murdering our own children at a shocking rate. Indiana University should not benefit from this bloodshed for “scientific research.”

Mr. McRobbie, you have a position of civil authority in a state university because God placed you there. (See Romans 13.) Jesus told Pilate that he would have no authority if it had not been given to him from God, and the same is true with your office. You should then honor God with the civil authority He gave you by putting an end to the abomination of trafficking aborted baby parts.

This May will be twenty years since I graduated from Indiana University. On May 9, I would love to be able to point to my Alma Mater while swelling with pride about how I.U. abandoned unethical, gruesome experiments on the remains of murder victims. I sincerely hope you can make that happen. Thank you for your time.

Can we be a little more organized?

So I am in a department store the other day. I go to the coffee aisle to get some filters. I find filters, but not filters for 4-cup coffee makers.

Hmmm. That’s the entire reason I am here. I would hate the trip to be for nothing.

So I go to a different place in the store, where the coffee makers themselves are. I find filters, in the size I need.

Because it makes sense to not have all of the coffee filters in one place.

Way to go.

President Trump needs to stop trolling on Twitter

It is long past time for President Trump to stop trolling on Twitter. Some conservatives love it when Trump posts a meme of him with a bloodstained shoe and the CNN logo, but let’s be honest: Those who love it do not matter. They are going to love Trump no matter what he does. Trump’s most loyal followers will not abandon him if he behaves in a more presidential and professional manner.

What Trump needs is wavering Republicans and blue-collar Democrats to stick with him. He needs former #NeverTrump voters who are happy with his conservative policies. Acting in an unprofessional and unpresidential manner does not help him where he needs it. That behavior harms him where he needs help. And if you think a silly “bloody shoe” meme does any actual political harm to CNN or provides any political benefit to Trump, you are a fool.

But this goes far beyond silly political feuds with politicians, celebrities or news media personalities. His rhetoric on Pakistan was grossly irresponsible. It is true that Pakistan has been a poor ally. Substantively, President Trump not wrong. The problem is that he should not be saying that on Twitter. The correct response is to take a harder diplomatic line behind the scenes and pivot on policy. You do NOT blab about it on social media. That is both unprofessional and unpresidential.

I have become a Trump supporter because he has been right on policy: Cutting taxes, rolling back ObamaCare, rolling back job-killing environmental regulations, and solid picks for the judiciary. But he is reckless and undisciplined. If he would just shut up and do his job, he would be a great President. His ego will not allow that. He has a narcissistic need to be the center of attention at all times, and being President has not satisfied that need. It has made his narcissism worse. That does not inspire optimism.

And yes, of course we should “push back” against the Left. One of the big reasons we have Trump as our party’s standard-bearer is because the grassroots was fed up with Republicans who did not fight back. But you can “push back” in a disciplined and measured way: Harsh but truthful, hard-hitting but not personal. That is where Trump has failed, and where he needs to do better: For his own sake, for the Republican Party, and for the good of the nation. Trump’s closest advisors (starting with Mike Pence, who cannot be fired by Trump) need to work harder to restrain his worst impulses. Let’s show some courage, people.

Principles, ethics and civility in 2018 and beyond

I’ve often been bashed by the Left for being “uncivil,” and even my allies on the right have been critical of me for the language I have used politically. But while I’ve always been a firebrand, much of the conservative movement has passed me by to the point that I feel like an old fuddy-duddy longing for the old days. This mentality can be summed up in this Tweet, which I quoted and criticized last month: “First rule of politics- there are no rules. Those who play by a code get beaten up by those who have no code.”

David French warns against this mentality at National Review:

Our founders knew that Americans would persistently and constantly disagree. So they both protected the means of expressing that disagreement (through the First Amendment) and included multiple mechanisms for implementing legal and structural change. Discarding core civic values, by contrast, is a real threat to the nation. Even robust republics are strained by constant application of “principles” like “free speech for me, but not for thee” or “by any means necessary.”

The idea that we must discard all rules of decorum and civility, along with our principles against even outright lying, is dangerous and counterproductive. As French explains, tearing down these basic rules leaves us with no moral standard to fall back on. We have no complaint when the Left lies about us or tries to destroy us personally when we engage in the same behavior and use the same tactics. For Christians, it is even worse, as it is a betrayal of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our Lord never advocated a mentality that we have to win “by any means necessary,” and He hates that mentality today.

Yes, I understand the Left abandoned many of these rules decades ago, and they are especially fond of “free speech for me, but not for thee.” That is why we must hold fast to these civic values, because we are the only ones defending the principles that are holding our society together and providing a framework for non-violent political battle. If conservatives abandon those things, then those principles will die.

But then we cannot win, you say. Wrong. We have won for decades holding to these principles. I can point you to all kinds of campaigns that have won without embracing “by any means necessary” mentality that the cult of Donald Trump advocates. Plus, if we campaign on policy and principle, we have a mandate to implement a conservative policy agenda when we win elections.

This, of course, is not to say we cannot fight back when attacked, or that we must behave as if we live in some utopian Pleasantville where everyone is perfectly cheery and polite all the time. No, going negative is absolutely essential and is often morally necessary. Bad policy must be dissected and shown to be destructive, hypocrites must be called out, and liars must be exposed and their lies must be refuted. Severe character defects must be revealed and attacked. But we can do that while being both factual and truthful.

(As an aside: It is impossible to be truthful without being factual, but it is possible to be factual without being truthful.)

This starts at the grassroots, with how we use social media. We need to carefully vet what we share. I was utterly disgusted to see Barack Obama’s hypocrisy in decrying social media and how it is used, knowing that he was directing his complaints only at Republicans and Trump. We know very well that there are plenty of myths, lies and smears pounded out by the Left daily. Let’s not pretend one side is spreading lies while the other side is using social media responsibly. There are terrible people on both sides, and people who post responsibly.

So how do we do better? Civility, respect for free speech, and rejection of “the ends justify the means” starts with each of us. We need to kill that idolatry in our own hearts first, and call out those on our side who engage in it. We have to be better, and we have to stop justifying bad behavior just because it comes from our side. We cannot continue down this path.

Come to the 2018 Rally for Life

Printed in the Herald-Times, January 5, 2018.

To the Editor:

January 22 will be the 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that allowed the massacre of fifty million innocent babies. The day before this anniversary, you can speak against this slaughter. Christian Citizens for Life will hold the 2018 Rally for Life on January 21, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn.

It is a new year, so let’s have some new year’s resolutions. First, the county council and city council should resolve to stop handing corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood, which operates our abortion mill downtown. Abortions in Monroe County skyrocketed between 2015 and 2016, with 23% more babies butchered in 2016 than the year before. This happened at the same time that abortions declined overall statewide by 8%, so this increased bloodshed is even more abominable.

Let’s be honest about what actually happens when a baby is aborted. This is a fully recognizable human being made in the image of God.

CCFL will be collecting diapers for the Hannah Center, so please bring plenty of them. The biggest need is size 4, 5, and 6 diapers and pull-ups. We want our delivery person to have to make more than one trip.

More thoughts on being a former #NeverTrump voter

I made no secret about being a #NeverTrump voter in 2016, and I stand by my decision then. However, Donald Trump has done much better than I expected, and Rich Lowry points to an impressive list of conservative policy accomplishments. But I think we need to be clear about something: #NeverTrump was always a Republican movement, first aimed at denying him the nomination, and then signifying Republicans who would not vote for him in the general election. It does not mean a lot for Democrats to be #NeverTrump, like it did not mean a lot for Republicans to be #NeverHillary.

When Trump as elected President, that upended the reason for the movement to exist. I did not think he was qualified to be elected President in 2016, and I still don’t. Trump is still by far the least qualified of the 2016 Republican field. But he is the President. So now that he’s President, what is he doing? And how do former #NeverTrump voters like me react to something we never expected to happen?

Like I said, I do not think Trump was qualified to be elected President. He has proven over the last year that he lacks the maturity and discipline needed to be in such an important position of authority. But there he is, anyway. Anything that is going to happen at the federal level, from a conservative standpoint, is going to go through Trump. So conservatives really only have one choice: Work with Trump and support him when he is right, while holding him accountable when he is wrong.

On policy, Trump has been right far more often than he has been wrong. He has not governed like the Manhattan liberal many of us expected him to be – and what he was for many years. Trump has compiled an impressive list of conservative policy accomplishments, despite limited legislative success. (The House has been much better at passing legislation than the Senate.)

To name a few: Trump has removed a bunch of harmful regulations on business implemented administratively by the Obama administration, which will prevent job losses. Trump also pulled us out of the Paris climate accords – which will have a direct impact saving middle class jobs. The tax cut will be an economic stimulus, and will directly impact millions of middle class families once the tax tables are updated in January.

One of the big reasons I was #NeverTrump is because I did not trust him. I did not believe that he would govern as a conservative. Had the Democrats not immediately committed themselves to “resist” everything Trump does, he may well have embraced a much more centrist agenda – especially on free trade and protectionism.

But if Trump has one good instinct, it is that he knows who his enemies are and who he can cut deals with. If he wants to accomplish anything it will not be a populist/progressive alliance with Democrats. Just has conservatives have to work through him, his only chance of having accomplishments attached to his name is to work with conservatives. The “resistance” has given conservatives a lot of leverage to influence Trump in the right direction. For that reason, being “anti-anti-Trump” is politically smart.

I have never praised Trump as a messiah. Even over the last year, I have ripped into Republicans who treat him as such. I can provide link after link where I have done that. I’ve criticized Trump when he was wrong, and supported him when he is right. Praise for Trump when he is right does not make me a Trump cultist.

Other former #NeverTrump voters have come along too. Along with Lowry, David French and Ben Shapiro (who made no apology for being #NeverTrump conservatives in 2016) have also praised and defended Trump when they think he deserves it. They’ve criticized him when they thought he deserved it too.

That is where I am. On policy, I have been much more happy with Trump than not, and certainly much more happy than I expected to be given his history. I have attacked him when necessary, and praised him when deserved. And as long as he continues to do well as President and implement solid conservative policy, I will vote for him in 2020. That does not invalidate my #NeverTrump stance in 2016. It is simply a recognition of the shifting realities of national politics.