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Anyone who has watched a Red Sox game at Boston’s legendary Fenway Park will have seen the iconic Citgo sign in the background.

It’s particularly thrilling when someone hits a home run and, as the ball nears the sign, fans yell out ‘See it go!’

The sign is on a building belonging to Boston University. The university intends to sell that property, potentially leaving the sign in limbo.

New owners might take it down or have it moved elsewhere. Despite efforts in 1983, Citgo sign fans have been unable to persuade the Boston Landmarks Commission to grant it landmark status, thereby protecting and ensuring its future.

A petition to grant preservation status now has more than 5,000 signatures. That healthy response has resulted in the Boston Landmarks Commission to vote unanimously to examine the possibility of granting it landmark status. On July 14, 2016, the Boston Preservation Alliance explained:

This is just the first step to designating the sign an official Boston Landmark. Within a few months, another vote by the Landmarks Commission is required, and the Mayor and City Council will need to approve official designation.

You can read more at the Alliance’s website and find out more about this American icon.

Never mind that Citgo has been owned by Venezuela’s PDVSA — specifically, PDV America, Inc. — for many years. Citgo started life as Cities Service Company in 1910. It was a highly successful corporation that supplied gas and electricity to small public utilities, furnished 100-octane aviation gasoline to bomber jets in England during the Second World War and had many petrol stations across America. The photo at right shows one of them. The sign was a trefoil shape, white with green trim and lettering.

PDVSA did not enter the picture until 1986, with a 50% share in the company, by which time Cities Service had been rebranded as Citgo. In 1990, the Venezuelan state oil company took full ownership through its American subsidiary.

Returning to Boston and the topic at hand, millions of us around the world hope that the Boston Landmarks Commission, the City Council and the Mayor ensure that the Citgo sign remains in situ for many generations to come.

Photo credits: Wikipedia

The latest edition of The New Yorker, 11 & 18 July 2016, has an article from one of their writers, George Saunders, who summarises his encounters with Donald Trump supporters in ‘Trump Days’.

Saunders doesn’t tell us anything new in his lengthy article, except for a delightful, incisive paragraph or two in the middle. (Scroll down to ‘Who are they? (Part 1)’.)

Trump’s appeal

Americans who purposely ignore Trump because he is perceived to be ‘unclean’ in some way — spiritually, intellectually or politically — might not realise how popular he actually is. The media will never tell them. Yet, it is mid-July and he continues to be within striking distance of Hillary Clinton. Less than 5% separates them in the polls, both nationally and state-specifically.

Saunders rightly observes (emphases mine):

I didn’t meet many people who were unreservedly for Trump. There is, in the quiver containing his ideas, something for nearly everyone to dislike. But there is also something for nearly everyone to like. What allows a person not crazy about Trump to vote for him is a certain prioritization: a person might, for example, like Trump’s ideas about trade, or his immigration policies, or the fact that Trump is, as one supporter told me, “a successful businessman,” who has “actually done something,” …

That is what is attracting tens of thousands of people to his rallies around the country.

Saunders adds:

The Trump supporters I spoke with were friendly, generous with their time, flattered to be asked their opinion, willing to give it, even when they knew I was a liberal writer likely to throw them under the bus. They loved their country, seemed genuinely panicked at its perceived demise, felt urgently that we were, right now, in the process of losing something precious.

This is also pertinent:

Some (far from all) had been touched by financial hardshipa layoff was common in many stories—and (paradoxically, given their feelings about socialism) felt that, while in that vulnerable state, they’d been let down by their government.

In that sentence Saunders seems to want Trump supporters to equate a hand up with socialism. They do not, because they understand such a measure is only temporary. They also think that the government has let them down because no one in Washington or state government cares about a middle class or working class person losing his job.

Despite his bankruptcies, which are more complex than the average person understands, Trump keeps going and going.

This is also true of his campaign. It is not unusual for him to have more than one rally — in different states — in one day and give lengthy interviews to television media. He turned 70 on Flag Day — June 14 — and only needs four hours of sleep a night. I don’t know how he does it. I couldn’t.

This is not an appeal to get non-Trump people to change their minds about him other than to say that people do find something that connects them to him. Love of the Great Republic is high on that list of common interests.

In many ways we are seeing a resurgence of the socio-political scene of 1968 which, in the United States, Great Britain and France, featured a denigration of the working and middle classes as useless, unthinking mugs deserving of derision.

Unforgettable 1968

On July 9, The Atlantic published a considered article on the events that led to the unrest that year. Those who were not alive or sentient then would benefit from reading it in full.

Much of the unrest had its roots in Lyndon B Johnson’s Great Society initiatives of 1964 which, ironically, should have helped to equalise an unequal society. Instead, riots erupted in 1967 — the long hot summer — and, the following Spring, Martin Luther King was assassinated in cold blood. A spate of university protests also took place, which culminated at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer.

I was a child then and was transfixed by the news coverage which did cut into prime-time viewing. (That didn’t matter much, because most of the programmes were reruns.) My family, nearly all blue-dog Democrats, were bemused and angry, especially when it emerged that a number of the students engaging in violence against the police were actually from upper middle class homes. What did they have to protest about?

There was a general election that year. Hubert H Humphrey was the Democratic candidate and Richard M Nixon the Republican nominee. To the surprise of my family and the other residents of the overwhelmingly Democratic city where we lived at the time, Nixon won.

Interestingly, Nixon’s popular vote was only 0.7% more than Humphrey’s, however, the Electoral College result went for Nixon 301-191.

It is also worthwhile noting that, in his acceptance speech, Nixon said:

Working Americans have become the forgotten Americans. In a time when the national rostrums and forums are given over to the shouters and protesters and demonstrators, they have become the silent Americans.

One year later, on November 3, 1969, he revived the expression ‘silent majority’:

And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.

Silent majority

Incidentally, the expression was coined in the 19th century and was a polite way of referring to the dead.

By the early 20th century, an advertising man working on Calvin Coolidge’s presidential campaign — Bruce Barton — began using it. Coolidge was billed as the candidate speaking for the ‘great silent majority’, voters who felt they had no voice.

In 1955, John F Kennedy used the expression in his Profiles in Courage, a copy of which he gave to an enthusiastic Nixon, who was serving as Vice President to Dwight D Eisenhower at the time.

Yet it was probably labour leader George Meany who inadvertently got Nixon using it. In 1967, Meany spoke of fellow union members who supported the Vietnam War:

the vast, silent majority in the nation.

It is possible that, one year before the presidential campaign, that Nixon’s speechwriters seized on the expression and began using it in some form.

Conclusion

This year, 2016, is likely to be compared with 1968 in many ways. The United States has the protests and the unrest. Americans will soon have a new president. Could the silent majority make themselves heard once again in the polling booth? We will find out after November 8.

The Brexit result will further energise Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

It is easy to portray both Leavers and Trump supporters in the usual binary way: unenlightened, uneducated racists and bigots. However, there is more to the story.

Brexit

In the case of Leave, perspectives were much more nuanced, regardless of what politicians, the media and Remainers say.

As a Leaver on PoliticalBetting.com put it on June 25:

The Leave coalition is quite a diverse one, lefty leavers were for Leave as a vote against globalization, centrist leavers supported Leave as a vote for democracy, right leavers supported Leave as a vote against mass immigration.

As Leave politicians said in the televised debates, their supporters favoured common sense over expert opinion.

The EU Referendum was won by people who rejected the political class, the media, corporatism (including big banks), experts and the elite.

On June 20, Tom Harris wrote an excellent column for The Telegraph, one which took issue with the haughtiness of the Remain camp. An excerpt follows:

Not many people would say it outright, but it’s implicit in some of the discussion around this that merely having a referendum is in itself a dangerous thing, a risk we should avoid.

This is obviously stupid on a surface level. We are a democracy, and democracy entails uncertainty. If we’re going to worry about “jitters” whenever we go to a vote, we might as well give up on the idea of voting at all. Focus groups including Welsh plumbers and single parents in Teesside could be disbanded in favour of specialised all-City panels (better dressed, better canapes). We’re not going to do that, so we’ll all have to find it in ourselves to accept the occasional market wobble.

But on a deeper level the saga of the pound also reveals the suffocating, restrictive groupthink which has dominated the last few months. Remain supporters talk less and less of the “positive” reasons for voting Remain, and more and more about how, since everyone else agrees with them, so should you. And another aspect of the same groupthink is the increasingly frequently stated view that, in fact, referendums in general are a bad thing, and that this should be the last one ever.

The little people (those who live outside SW1) just aren’t clever enough to decide on such a complicated issue as membership of the EU. All those facts and figures are just too difficult to analyse for themselves. That’s why we have a parliamentary democracy, so that our MPs can get on with running our lives while we focus on what’s important to us. Like whippets. Or eating fry-ups.

Harris rightly notes that, were it left up to Parliament, nothing would have been done about our place in the EU. David Cameron worked hard at renegotiating various aspects but, in reality, left Brussels with very few concessions.

We cannot be sure that the EU even ratified them.

The innate superiority of Remain was ever-present, as evidenced by this tweet from actor Robert Webb, a Cambridge graduate, who took issue with Boris Johnson’s Independence Day speech in the final debate on the BBC:

Johnson offers ‘hope’ with a clenched fist as a prelude to invoking ‘Independence Day’ to wild applause from thick people.

Television and talk radio journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer addressed similar sentiments in The Telegraph on June 22:

… perhaps you are afraid of being called a xenophobe or a racist or a Little Englander if you want to vote to control our borders? Well, rest assured that the many millions of people who are voting Leave on 23 June are not nasty, bitter old racists who want to go back to the 1950s. This isn’t about closing our borders and turning our backs on the world. On the contrary, this is about escaping the chains of the past and a positive vision for our future in the 21st century global economy. There is absolutely nothing racist or xenophobic about being concerned about the pressures on housing, schools, the NHS, our roads, public transport and community cohesion that years of mass uncontrolled immigration has brought.  

In closing on the ‘little people’, betting patterns were interesting, with Remain on top until shortly after 2 a.m. on June 24. A PoliticalBetting.com reader contributed this comment on June 21 explaining why (emphases mine):

Ladbrokes political betting man on Sky News.

Says those betting on REMAIN bet an average of £450 whilst those betting on LEAVE bet on average less than £100.

So rich people placing bets on REMAIN and poorer people placing bets on LEAVE – no doubt based on the opinions of the people they mix with.

Hence the difference between the betting odds which strongly favour REMAIN and the pollsters’ 50/50.

On June 25, The Telegraph published an article discussing Vote Leave’s man behind the scenes, strategist Dominic Cummings, said to have won the referendum. He carefully ran various talking points by focus groups. In the end:

With a group of only 60 staff inside Westminster Tower and minimal resources, Mr Cummings virtually single-handedly plotted an “asymmetric” campaign against almost the entire political and financial establishment

By early May, he had settled on the three key points that would form the basis for the final weeks of the campaign: a promise to take back control of £350million a week of taxpayers’ spending from Brussels; a promise to take back control over immigration; and warnings that countries such as Turkey and Serbia were in line to join the European Union in the years ahead.

The Remain team brought Obama over to tell us that if we didn’t vote to stay in the EU, we’d be at the ‘back of the queue’ with regard to the United States. More Project Fear. Ho hum.

Lord Ashcroft Polls has this helpful graphic which explains the reasons both sides voted the way they did:

https://i1.wp.com/lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Leave-vs-Remain-podium-rankings-768x989.jpg

Note the risk averse reasons from the Remain side versus the ‘take back control’ principles from Leave.

The disagreement about national sovereignty was acute. Remain did not even mention it, which recalls this quote from 1939 saying that national sovereignty is the root of all evil:

This Leaver’s letter to the editor (Telegraph?) further illustrates the Remain mindset:

I’ve just mugged a ‘Remain’ supporter — I took £350 out of his wallet, but he didn’t seem to mind.

I felt a bit sorry for him, so I gave him half of it back, but only on the condition that he spent it on things I say he can and that everything he buys should have a picture next to it of me saying I paid for it. He agreed!

We are meeting again tomorrow to do the same thing. He said that it was a fantastic idea and that he wouldn’t be able to survive without me.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed on June 23. The Telegraph published this letter on June 25:

SIR – An email that I received early on Friday from a dear Swedish friend said it all: “What you have done will mean so much for so many, and gives us all hope that democracy will survive and is stronger than all those who wish to control us. Thank you.”

Trump

What is Donald Trump gleaning from Brexit?

Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton and Obama sided with Remain. Trump, by contrast, saw it this way. In May, when asked of the possibility of leaving the EU, he said:

I would say that they’re better off without it, personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation. Just my feeling.

On June 24, he issued a statement on Brexit:

Statement Regarding British Referendum on E.U. Membership

The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.

Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.

He soon followed it up with a tweet:

Many people are equating BREXIT, and what is going on in Great Britain, with what is happening in the U.S. People want their country back!

When he was in Scotland last week to reopen his newly refurbished golf resort at Turnberry, he gave an interview to The Times in which he predicted the breakup of the EU:

“The people have spoken. I think the EU is going to break up. I think the EU might break up before anybody thinks in terms of Scotland.” Trump said in an interview with The Times.

“I really think that without the immigration issue [the EU] wouldn’t have had a chance of breaking up … the people are fed up, whether it’s here or in other countries. You watch: other countries will follow.” Trump added.

I’m less sure that immigration was the primary overall reason. It was the continual loss of sovereignty that many of us found frustrating. Regardless of what pro-EU people say, many European nations’ laws come from EU directives that must be enacted and obeyed, whether those concern weights and measures and fruit shapes or — coming soon — defence policy and tax ID numbers.

Just before Trump went to Scotland, he gave a well-received speech on June 22, in which he explained why he was running for president, his reasons for opposing Clinton — and how he perceives the current state of play in America.

This sounds very similar to Leave’s perspective:

Everywhere I look, I see the possibilities of what our country could be. But we can’t solve any of these problems by relying on the politicians who created them.

We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place.

The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power and in the money.

That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement: so together we can fix the system for ALL Americans. Importantly, this includes fixing all of our many disastrous trade deals.

Because it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.

It’s rigged by big donors who want to keep down wages.

It’s rigged by big businesses who want to leave our country, fire our workers, and sell their products back into the U.S. with absolutely no consequences for them.

It’s rigged by bureaucrats who are trapping kids in failing schools.

It’s rigged against you, the American people.

That is the Leviathan that Leavers opposed on Thursday, June 23.

Americans will have that same opportunity on Tuesday, November 8.

Brexit proved that every vote counts.

The same holds true for American voters.

On May 6, 2016, Russell Moore, a prominent Southern Baptist, wrote an editorial for The New York Times (NYT) explaining why Evangelicals should not support Donald Trump.

Yesterday’s post showed to what extremes his views have been taken by other Protestant clergy and laymen, including church discipline. Yikes!

Yet, not one of them is warning Christians against voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, both of whom are pro-choice. Clinton could also be asked any number of questions on unresolved topics over the past few decades.

Therefore, we appear to be receiving a particular sort of message from Moore and those who agree with him.

Unpacking the message

What a number Southern Baptists saw in Moore’s message was the mention of their denomination. Therefore, many of them are taking to heart the advice not to vote for Trump.

Some Evangelicals saw that his article, or citations of it elsewhere, concerned them. Gosh, they thought, it is time to sit up, read and reconsider.

Moore crafted his message cannily and cynically. In essence, he implies that white Evangelicals are inherently racist, beginning with the title, ‘A White Church No More’.

The body of his op-ed piece — which might have been more relevant in the early 1970s rather than now — includes insults to the intelligence such as:

If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.

No one ever said He did.

The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus …

Wow …

And finally:

The Bible calls on Christians to bear one another’s burdens. White American Christians who respond to cultural tumult with nostalgia fail to do this. They are blinding themselves to the injustices faced by their black and brown brothers and sisters in the supposedly idyllic Mayberry of white Christian America …

A white American Christian who disregards nativist language is in for a shock …

Mayberry, for my readers who are not from the US, refers to two 1960s television shows that took place in a fictional small town of the same name: The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. There are very few Mayberries left. America is widely integrated today.

Moore is barking up the wrong tree.

I attended integrated churches — Catholic and, later, Episcopalian — in the US in the 1970s and 1980s. We had Hispanics in the former (suburbs) and blacks in the latter (metropolis). The white congregants made them feel most welcome. They played prominent roles in the guitar Masses (Catholic) or were ushers and greeters (Episcopalian).

I also once attended one of the first big-box Evangelical churches in the area where I lived in the 1970s. There were several black families, all greeted and treated like anyone else in the congregation.

No one cared what colour anyone else was then, nor do they now.

Moore’s Wikipedia entry says that prior to entering the ministry, he was an aide to a Democrat, Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi.

On this note, in 2015, Moore interviewed some of the presidential candidates at a missions conference during the summer. Interestingly, he did not issue invitations to fellow Southern Baptists — Republicans — Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. Yet, he invited Methodist Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. She declined.

Regardless of his politics now, deep down he appears to be playing a Democrat game. So do the other men mentioned in this post; go to the linked essays therein and read the comments.

In 2016, as the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Moore opposed the views not only of Trump but also Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. He objected to Cruz’s call for a religious test for refugees wishing to enter the United States. He opposed Clinton’s pro-choice stance.

Then, in March, he wrote, also for the NYT, that Christians should vote for a third-party candidate if faced with Clinton and Trump.

Now — in May — he mentions only Trump and gives Clinton a pass.

There is also the matter of churches making money off of resettling refugees and immigrants arriving in the United States. I saw a news show recently that said that immigration officials know where to direct newcomers. There is a list of local churches and charities who will take them in immediately and begin their resettlement.

Voluntary agencies (Volags) — religious and secular — helping out in this regard are paid by the US government, i.e. the taxpayer. Refugee Resettlement Watch has more, including the following:

Below are some of the sources of income for Volags:

a.  $1,850 per refugee (including children) from the State Department.

b.  Up to $2,200 for each refugee by participating in a U.S. DHHS program known as Matching Grant. To get the $2,200, the Volag need only show it spent $200 and gave away $800 worth of donated clothes, furniture or cars.

c. The Volag pockets 25% of every transportation loan it collects from refugees it “sponsors”.

d. All Volag expenses and overhead in the Washington, DC HQ are paid by the U.S. government.

e. For their refugee programs, Volags collect money from all federal grant programs – “Marriage Initiative”, “Faith-based”, “Ownership Society”, etc., as well as from various state and local grants.

The program is so lucrative that in some towns the Catholic Church has lessened support for traditional charity works to put more effort into resettlement …

Public money has thoroughly driven out private money.

Therefore, voluntary refugee and immigrant agencies — including churches — make a lot of money from the taxpayer. Readers may consider this at their leisure.

Evangelical churches in the United States

It is unclear as to why Moore works on the presumption that white Evangelicals are, by definition, anti-immigrant.

Evangelicals are truly a broad church and have different affiliations. Some, like the ELCA, are Lutheran. Others are Pentecostal. Others are independent but affiliate with broader Evangelical groups with similarly-minded theology.

Some are inclined towards the Democratic Party, even when they interpret the Bible literally. Others lean Republican but are openly accepting and welcoming of all who attend their churches.

I have read a lot of Evangelical commentary since I started this blog in 2009. I have not read one racist comment from anyone — layperson, elder or minister.

Why Trump is winning the Evangelical vote

Like every other American, Evangelicals also need to put food on the table and clothes in the wardrobe.

They have homes and health insurance to pay for, cars to run and jobs to keep — or find.

Evangelicals are concerned about the future, especially that of their children and grandchildren.

Trump is the only candidate who talks about job creation and improving the economy. Is it any surprise that people, including Evangelicals, like that message?

For the record

For the record, a Trump insider says the billionaire changed his mind about abortion once his youngest son Barron was born ten years ago. He sometimes tells the story as being about an anonymous third person, because it was an intensely private journey for him to make.

As for enemies foreign and domestic, Trump is the only candidate to point out that terrorism is an issue. He has said in a number of his rallies that he has Muslim friends and business associates in the US and in the Middle East. His proposals for immigration or travel among this religious group have always included either the words ‘temporary’ or ‘until we figure out what’s going on’. Note that, only a few days after he first said this in December 2015, the San Bernardino attack took place. He spoke of Brussels’s dire situation in January. Two attacks on that city took place in March. Meanwhile, the Belgian and French security forces already knew there was a hotbed of extremism in parts of Brussels. That became clear when Paris was attacked on November 13, 2015.

Also note that the no-fly list has been in place since Bush II’s administration. A Muslim family from the UK were banned from flying to the US just before Christmas — under the Obama administration — because Homeland Security suspected a family member of having links to extremists.

With regard to immigration, Trump is careful in his speeches to specify that he supports legal immigration. Can he help it if people like Moore and the media take it out of context? And, yes, there is a rape epidemic affecting Mexican women crossing the border into the US. Even PBS has pointed that out. Why can’t Trump?

In conclusion

Personally, I do not care for whom you vote. That is your business.

However, let’s not be taken in by people saying voting for this or that candidate is immoral and is subject to church discipline. That is absurd and wrong. Voting is an intensely private matter. Let’s nip this in the bud — now!

Singling out one candidate when the others are all equally sinners in one way or another is, in and of itself, morally objectionable.

You can read what clergy have to say at Time.

Some Christians say that voting for Donald Trump is a matter of church discipline.

This post on another site lays out the full case.

Why isn’t voting for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders worthy of church discipline?

There are scandals that took place during Bill Clinton’s administration, and his wife was at the heart of the action. Her term as Secretary of State has also had its episodes: Benghazi, then the classified emails which are still being investigated.

One could equally question whether Bernie Sanders represents a Jewish God-fearing perspective. One has to wonder about someone who went to the USSR on his honeymoon and who thinks that a highly-taxed populace is acceptable, when, in fact, excessive levies on a population could be construed as a form of theft.

More importantly, what about the Democrats’ pro-choice positions?

First, voting has always been considered a private activity, one of conscience. If your pastor or elders demand that you tell them who you are voting or have voted for, it’s time to find another church.

Secondly, do a bit of research and see who is making these statements. I shall look at one of these clergymen tomorrow. He is not a Republican — rather, a Democrat — yet he is advising conservative Republican Christians how to vote.

The second name mentioned in the post linked to above is that of a man who came to the Republican Party when James Dobson and the Religious Right began meddling in it during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. He is upset Ted Cruz is out of the running and a moderate Republican is in.

The third man mentioned in that post is one who, like many of his ilk, voted Republican only because of the party’s stance on social issues. He says (emphases mine):

We voted Republican because of the issue of abortion and a desire to protect our religious values against government coercion. Sometimes we went in for the various economic arguments, but we never really dug in deeply to understand them, and they didn’t actually come from any kind of long-standing conservative root system. For a variety of reasons, not all of them honorable, the GOP was not our home. We were just a passin’ through. And so now we have our opportunity to begin leaving it for good. We do not need to do this all at once, but we need to begin preparing ourselves to do so, and the Donald gives us our best opportunity to get started.

That is an honest assessment. (Incidentally, this man also admits to being partial to ‘distributivist theocracy’.)

It also calls into question what the word ‘conservative’ means. For him and his people it primarily means a biblical social policy.

For people like me ‘conservative’ means small government and fiscal responsibility.

In any event, the party is called the Republican Party. Until 1980, most of its members and unaffiliated supporters considered it a secular party that upheld the values upon which the United States was built. It was a broad church, so to speak, of people — including centrists — who loved America. They sought to preserve the Great Republic.

Donald Trump is a centrist candidate who loves America and wants to make the Republic great again. The Religious Right recoil because he rarely brings the Church or social issues into the equation.

In conclusion, one Democrat and two Religious Right men are mistaken in telling Christians that voting for Trump is a cause for church discipline.

This comment to the post cited in my second paragraph says it all:

I believe there to be some confusion between Christianity and politics here. Christians ought to be cautious when the church starts playing politics. There is only one mediator between man and God and He assures every man the right to his own conscience before God. The church is truly deceived if she looks to politics to fulfill her her responsibility to spread this truth. Perhaps in need of discipline herself.

Your vote is private, between you, God and the ballot box. No pastors, no elders — and, for women — no husbands or elder sons. Keep it that way.

Tomorrow: Russell Moore

Now that Ted Cruz has dropped out of the Republican race, right-of-centre Christians are concerned about whom to vote for in November 2016.

Ted Cruz was seen as the ‘moral’ choice for many churchgoers. I was never a supporter, and it emerges my instincts might have been right, especially as he suspended his campaign the day a startling family allegation, complete with photographic evidence, came to light. And it did not involve his wife Heidi.

What do these Christians do? They could vote for the Constitution Party.

The presumptive GOP nominee

However, the following questions should be asked and answered with thought and consideration:

  • Which candidate will best serve my family’s and my needs?
  • Is there a candidate who pledges to raise the profile of Christianity in America? (Yes, and he’s a Presbyterian.)
  • How much do I know about the presumptive Republican nominee?

As the past two posts have described — here and here — much media manipulation of the American public has occurred during the past eight years.

The media are now directing the narrative for the 2016 elections.

The candidate they dislike the most is the one who has pragmatic policies that will fix a broken America.

Yet, churchgoers say it would be immoral to vote for a man who is on his third wife and who speaks as he finds. Did it ever occur to them that the media are pushing certain themes — including accusations and quotes out of context — to steer honest Americans away from the man most likely to help them? Are the widespread negative optics influencing people unduly?

Have the churchgoers absorbing the media narrative and negative campaign advertising ever gone on YouTube to watch and listen to the candidate in question address the public — by now, hundreds of thousands of them?

If so, they would find a highly listenable extemporaneous speaker, one who puts forth his thoughts conversationally without the aid of a teleprompter. They will discover his plans for job creation and discouraging companies to leave the United States. They will hear how often he uses the words ‘love’ and ‘amazing’ — positively. They will understand why the US must stop being the world’s policeman free of charge to foreign countries. They may even see his immaculately-groomed wife and children. All of his children, bar the youngest (aged 10), are gainfully employed. They have families of their own. They have never been in trouble with drugs, alcohol or the police.

Nor has the candidate in question, who is stone cold sober every moment of the day and night. He only needs four hours sleep, so is able to take calls from world leaders. He enjoys working and he enjoys challenges.

He will not start a war. For him, that would be defeat. He prides himself on his negotiating skills. He even speaks highly of his opponents — Cruz or Paul Ryan — and wants to get along with them. He is not the problem at this juncture. They are. The same goes for protesters attempting to disrupt and destroy private gatherings of his supporters.

‘God qualifies the called’

You may remain unconvinced at this point.

However, in 2013, I read one of the Revd Walter Bright’s posts which has stayed in my mind ever since.

It is called ‘God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called’. I hope he does not mind my borrowing it for use in a political context, but this election cycle has me thinking of the title at least once a day.

The opening paragraphs, excerpted below, come from a Facebook post:

Isaac was a day dreamer, Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper and denied Christ, David had an affair and tried to cover it up with murder, Noah got drunk. Elisha was suicidal, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer and he was way too religious.

The post has this important message:

God is not looking for the qualified, he’s looking for people who would just avail themselves to him. When Jesus called the 12, most of them were not even educated. Yet, Jesus equipped them and they turned the world upside down …

Those whom God calls, He equips.

This same principle can apply to many people in this life, including in a secular context.

Rahab and the Wall of Jericho

Rahab was a woman of ill repute. Bible translations describe her as a ‘harlot’ or ‘prostitute’. Women in the Bible tells us the Bible story of the woman who ran an inn with her family:

They made their living by running a tavern: down- rather than up-market. It was a rowdy place, frequented by men who were not troubled by scruples. Rahab ‘comforted’ her customers from time to time. In short, she was no better than she should be.

Was she an upstanding, godly person? No.

Joshua 2 introduces her to us and describes her fearless work for the God she would come to know and love.

As Women in the Bible points out (emphasis in the original):

  • Even an ordinary person can further God’s plan. Rahab was definitely from the wrong side of the tracks, but God used her to help His people.

She hid two Hebrew spies from soldiers who sought them.

She later negotiated with the Hebrew men, telling them that their people were a threat to her city, Jericho. She told them she put her life and those of her family members at risk by hiding them. The men promised to protect her and her family in return.

She worked with them to plan their escape and signal with a red cord that she and her family would not perish.

Again, she had no belief in the God of Israel at this point. She had a bad reputation. Yet, she was actively helping God’s people and risking her life in the process.

Joshua 6 describes the fall of Jericho. It took a week:

15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.[b] Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent …

22 But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel …

25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Rahab’s story reminds us that even those we do not perceive as godly can — and are called — to do the Lord’s work. Through that, those such as Rahab come to the Lord — or renew their relationship — with Him through grace by faith.

Before we get too self-righteous about our moralistic beliefs and personal purity, may we recall Rahab in the coming months and consider her story when deciding for whom to vote.

A final thought

In closing, the presumptive GOP nominee is a baptised Presbyterian who has also been confirmed. He is hardly the perfect Christian, but he does attend church at least twice a year and worshipped publicly on Easter Sunday 2016.

May conservative Republicans also remember that their party is called the Republican Party, not the Conservative Party. As such, moderate candidates should be made to feel welcome.

All political parties and world leaders have at least one spin doctor.

Many have writing qualifications and professional experience in that field.

Over the past week the name Ben Rhodes has been popping up in the news. An online search reveals that he is the spin doctor behind Obama’s Iran deal.

On May 5, the New York Times Magazine published David Samuels’ investigative article and interview with this heretofore anonymous man. Yes, American media know him, but the public did not. Now they do. ‘The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru’ is an eye-opener.

Ben Rhodes was born in 1977 to a Jewish mother from New York and an Episcopalian father from Texas. He never felt very comfortable with either Judaism or Christianity.

After graduating from Collegiate School in 1996, he worked on Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral campaign in New York. He then went to Rice University in Houston, where he majored in English and political science, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2000. He returned to New York and, in 2001, worked on Diana Reyna’s city council campaign.

He attended New York University and earned an MFA in creative writing in 2002. That same year, he launched his career as a speechwriter. He also worked on the Iraq Study Group Report and the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

He began working for Obama in 2007 when the Illinois senator launched his first presidential campaign. For the past few years, Rhodes has created, shaped and disseminated the ‘narrative’ of the Iran deal to the media, who then sell it to the American public.

Rhodes is married to Ann Norris and has a daughter. Norris works in the State Department and used to be chief foreign policy adviser to California senator Barbara Boxer. Rhodes’s brother David, incidentally, is the president of CBS News.

David Samuels’s article for the NYT Magazine is lengthy and disturbing; it reveals Rhodes’s work. It begins with 9/11 as Rhodes watched it happen in New York. That event led to the aforementioned speechwriting and 9/11 assignments. He had originally intended to write fiction, then got interested in foreign policy.

When Rhodes began working for Obama in 2007 he was barely 30 years old. His youth earned him the moniker The Boy Wonder.

He is the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and, as such, not only manages it and writes speeches but also arranges Obama’s trips overseas. However, Samuels says that this barely begins to describe Rhodes’s importance (emphases mine):

He is, according to the consensus of the two dozen current and former White House insiders I talked to, the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from Potus himself. The president and Rhodes communicate “regularly, several times a day,” according to Denis McDonough, Obama’s chief of staff, who is known for captaining a tight ship. “I see it throughout the day in person,” he says, adding that he is sure that in addition to the two to three hours that Rhodes might spend with Obama daily, the two men communicate remotely throughout the day via email and phone calls.

Also:

On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.

Although his work is political, his writing talent helps him to:

navigate and shape this new environment

which

makes him a more effective and powerful extension of the president’s will than any number of policy advisers or diplomats or spies.

Yet:

His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.

It’s also startling that a community organiser turned junior senator has occupied the Oval Office for eight years. And he has the nerve to take a verbal shot at Donald Trump, saying that job is not ‘reality television’? However, I digress.

Rhodes’s White House colleagues repeatedly told Samuels that he has a ‘mind meld’ with Obama, meaning that he knows what the leader of the free world is thinking. Rhodes admitted:

I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.

Rhodes and his assistants have CNN on in their basement office all the time. Rhodes will watch the news coverage and work out an angle when the optics look bad. He has an entire network of water carriers in the media who will tweet and write articles based on what he says. Rhodes and his staff have been the ‘senior White House officials’ and ‘spokespeople’ quoted.

This is worrying, because Rhodes is purposely playing the media and, through them, the American public:

All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

In this environment, Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once.

Jon Favreau, who was Obama’s chief speechwriter when Rhodes came on board in 2007, found himself in sync with him. He told Samuels:

The idea of someone with a masters in fiction who had also co-authored the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission reports seemed perfect for a candidate who put so much emphasis on storytelling.

As for the way the public understands the Iran deal, Samuels warns:

The way in which most Americans have heard the story of the Iran deal presented — that the Obama administration began seriously engaging with Iranian officials in 2013 in order to take advantage of a new political reality in Iran, which came about because of elections that brought moderates to power in that country — was largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal. Even where the particulars of that story are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false.

He adds that the media are to blame because so many reporters lack seasoned experience:

I was struck by how naïve the assumption of a “state of nature” must seem in an information environment that is mediated less and less by experienced editors and reporters with any real prior knowledge of the subjects they write about.

Samuels explains at length how the Iran deal unfolded and Rhodes’s role in disseminating a particular perspective. Rhodes said that he had different ways of presenting it to the average American, to special interest groups and more. Samuels explains:

In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

Rhodes told Samuels that he and the Obama administration doubt whether Iran can reform.

In closing, some of Samuels’s readers thought he was fawning over Rhodes. While the two seemed to have a good rapport, I did not walk away with the impression that he approved of Rhodes’s pulling the wool over the eyes of doe-eyed reporters — and the American public.

Finally, one of Samuels’s readers posted this on the many media connections within the Obama administration:

You cannot have a free and objective press when the media is in bed with the government.

People like Rhodes were not hired for what they know, but WHO they know. The corruption runs deep.

CBS President David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications.

ABC President Ben Sherwood is the brother of Obama’s Special Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood.

CNN President Virginia Moseley is married to former Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Secretary Tom Nides.

ABC News executive producer Ian Cameron is married to Susan Rice, National Security Adviser.

ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman is married to former White house Press Secretary Jay Carney.

ABC News and Univision reporter Matthew Jaffe is married to Katie Hogan, Obama’s Deputy Press Secretary.

The list is is deeper than most would ever dream.

NBC General Counsel Kimberley D. Harris served as White House Deputy Counsel and Deputy Assistant to the President.

It is no doubt the same around the world, but it is still mind-boggling.

Tomorrow: Molly Button, ex-spin doctor

Obamacare has pushed many Americans’ insurance premiums and deductibles (‘excess’ in the UK) through the roof.

Jonathan Gruber helped develop and present the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Some say he was its ‘architect’.

In 2014, both Gruber and the Obama administration denied he had much of a role in that policy, however, he gave several interviews and public speeches on the topic. It was also known in January 2010 that he had a $297,000 contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services. He was promoting Obamacare during that time. Some journalists and pundits called this a conflict of interest.

Gruber has long had an interest in economics and health care. After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), he went on to obtain a PhD in the subject at Harvard University. His thesis was Changes in the Structure of Employer-Provided Health Insurance.

Gruber has been teaching economics at MIT since 1992. He took leaves of absence to work for the public sector, initially for the US Treasury in 1997 and 1998. He later worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in devising Romneycare between 2003 and 2006 when Mitt was governor. In 2008, he advised three Democratic Party campaigns. Between 2009 and 2010, he worked on Obamacare.

After that, he worked for the State of Vermont in crafting Green Mountain Care, the first state-level single-payer health care scheme. That was in 2010 and 2011. N.B.: Vermont governor Peter Shumlin cancelled Green Mountain Care in 2014, because it was too expensive!

Odd that an economist should get his numbers wrong, don’t you think?

Obamacare Facts has a page on Gruber, featuring quotes and videos.

In 2013, at a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Gruber at one point explained that it was essential for the Congressional Budget Office not to portray the Obamacare bill as a tax or a mandate, even though it is (emphases mine):

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in -– you made explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money — it would not have passedLack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass. And it’s the second-best argument.

Remember Nancy Pelosi saying, ‘We have to pass it to find out what’s in it’?!

The media pushed Pelosi’s lie.

Going back to Gruber’s statement, it was important to not present Obamacare as a tax, otherwise Joe and Jane Public, understandably, would have been on the blower to their legislators demanding the bill not be approved.

However, there was a more important legal reason:

It wasn’t until the National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius that the mandate’s fee was declared a tax.  Given the status of Gruber this statement could not only be used to sway public opinion away from the Affordable Care Act, it could be used in lawsuits against the ACA moving forward …

CNN’s S E Cupp has more Gruber quotes. Her article was published in November 2014, when all his proclamations were first broadcast to the American public. That was the point when some in government began to distance themselves from him. Pelosi denied knowing who he was even though, in 2009, she had praised his work. Obama referred to him vaguely as ‘some adviser’.

In 2010, Gruber told the following to an audience at the College of the Holy Cross:

… quite frankly the American public doesn’t actually care that much about the uninsured…..What the American public cares about is costs. 

Indeed they do. Shouldn’t an economist?

In 2012, at the Honors Colloquium at the University of Rhode Island he said:

It’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.

Cupp was rightly aghast at Gruber’s arrogance:

For one, it was hardly a secret that the law relied on healthy people to pay in so that sick people would get coverage. Most of us — even the stupidest — know that’s how insurance works.

And just to be sure it was clear, Republicans and opponents of the law reiterated this fact ad nauseam during the public debate of the Affordable Care Act. Heck, even Obamacare supporters were insistent on explaining this point for the express purpose of getting healthy people to sign up for it. The administration spent millions on a marketing pitch to convince young, healthy millennials to invest in health insurance many didn’t appear to want.

For another, despite Gruber’s insistence that the administration maintained a necessary opacity about the law, there were plenty of warnings about its potential fundamental problems, and numerous advocacy groups, impartial economists and media outlets were steadily fact-checking the President’s rosy predictions about the law.

The point at which Gruber became unstuck on Obamacare was when he spoke with great certainty of state-specific health insurance exchanges in 2012. People who could not afford the premium would be able to apply for tax credits that the exchanges would honour. Obamacare Facts has the quote, excerpted below, then explains how wrong it all went in reality. At the time their page was published, there were three lawsuits (emphasis in the original here):

Gruber: Yeah, so these health-insurance Exchanges, you can go on ma.healthconnector.org and see ours in Massachusetts, will be these new shopping places and they’ll be the place that people go to get their subsidies for health insurance. In the law, it says if the states don’t provide them, the federal backstop will. The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it …

The problem here is that in Gruber’s opinion, and remember he helped to create the law, that if a state doesn’t set up an exchange then its citizens can’t get tax credits.  Well that is exactly what three lawsuits are currently charging.  Two of those lawsuits have initial rulings against citizens getting tax credits.

FACT: About 87 percent of people enrolled in ObamaCare’s Health Insurance Marketplaces receive subsidies.

When asked in November 2014, Gruber said he made a mistake. He told the New Republic:

I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it.

During this era, at this time, the federal government was trying to encourage as many states as possible to set up their exchanges. …

Breitbart wrote about the Gruber controversy in June 2015, confirming that he really was the architect of Obamacare, observing:

once again, the media eagerly helped Obama shape a painful news cycle with falsehoods, and the truth comes out literally days before the Supreme Court rules on the subsidies – too late to influence the Court, while Obama was given a clear field to bully them into protecting his health care con job again.

Cupp nailed Gruber with this:

Gruber’s misguided sense of accomplishment reflects not so much elitism as it does the arrogance of liberal “solutionism,” or the tendency of technocrats to assume they can solve complex social problems easily …

he decided what the problem was (in this case, that healthy people were paying too little for insurance) and assumed we were all too dumb to ask any questions.

There is only one presidential candidate who promises to repeal Obamacare. You know who it is. And, if elected, he will ensure it’s done.

The Obama administration is not bowing out quietly.

On May 8, the New York Post reported that Housing Secretary Julian Castro has plans for Section 8 which will see more affluent suburbs integrated with families from the inner cities.

The programme — Small-Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMR) — comes into effect in October 2016:

The scheme involves super-sizing vouchers to help urban poor afford higher rents in pricey areas, such as Westchester County, while assigning them government real-estate agents called “mobility counselors” to secure housing in the exurbs.

The Post says that Castro paved the way for this in two ways.

Last year, he implemented Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing:

that pressures all suburban counties taking federal grant money to change local zoning laws to build more low-income housing (landlords of such properties are required to accept Section 8 vouchers).

In April 2016, he threatened to sue suburban landlords if they refused to rent to people with criminal records, on grounds of discrimination.

When SAFMR comes into effect, it will forcibly lower rent subsidies for areas like Brooklyn and raise them for wealthy suburbs such as those in Westchester County (emphases mine):

In expensive ZIP codes, Castro’s plan — which requires no congressional approvalwould more than double the standard subsidy, while also covering utilities. At the same time, he intends to reduce subsidies for those who choose to stay in housing in poor urban areas, such as Brooklyn. So Section 8 tenants won’t just be pulled to the suburbs, they’ll be pushed there.

This is not a new concept. Bill Clinton tried something similar in 1994, with disastrous results. In an effort to socially and economically improve the lives of the urban poor, his Moving to Opportunity Initiative took families out of urban public housing and transferred them to more middle-class neighbourhoods and communities.

Clinton’s initiative died a death in 2009. In 2011, HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) sponsored a study which found that:

adults using more generous Section 8 vouchers did not get better jobs or get off welfare. In fact, more went on food stamps. And their children did not do better in their new schools.

Worse, crime simply followed them to their safer neighborhoods, ruining the quality of life for existing residents.

“Males…were arrested more often than those in the control group, primarily for property crimes,” the study found.

That is really sad.

The Post pointed out that quiet, industrious Dubuque, Iowa, is still suffering from increased crime rates after an influx of Chicago inner-city residents moved there, subsidised by Section 8 vouchers.

The article went on to say that left-wing experts looked at Dubuque’s situation and concluded that it would have been less likely to happen if Section 8 families had been relocated to affluent suburbs instead.

As a result, in 2012, HUD decided to experiment with the Dallas area. They ‘sweetened’ Section 8 vouchers and encouraged inner-city residents to move to communities furthest away from the city.

What happened? The same thing as in Dubuque:

Now Dallas has one of the highest murder rates in the nation, and recently had to call in state troopers to help police control it. For the first time, violent crime has shifted to the tony bedroom communities north of the city. Three suburbs that have seen the most Section 8 transfers — Frisco, Plano and McKinney — have suffered unprecedented spikes in rapes, assaults and break-ins, including home invasions.

Although HUD’s “demonstration project” may have improved the lives of some who moved, it’s ended up harming the lives of many of their new neighbors.

Come October, the same results may well be replicated across the country.

Not only will residents feel and probably be less safe, but their property values will also plummet.

It’s interesting that Julian Castro’s name often comes up as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton. Ironically, Chappaqua, the town where the Clintons live, is currently fighting Section 8 housing because of the crime wave it brings.

Back in 2008, reports circulated that ruining the peaceful life of suburbs and exurbs was one of Obama’s plans. It is not surprising that nothing happened until now. Americans should expect more social re-engineering between now and January 2017.

Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after the Indiana primary on Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

Donald Trump won the state with 53.3%. Cruz’s share of the vote was 36.6%. John Kasich picked up the remainder.

A number of Cruz’s supporters will not be supporting Trump — at least for now.

However, it is worth noting two things.

One is that Trump’s life has been an open book since he entered the Manhattan property market in the 1970s. I have been following his life and career since 1980. Everything worth knowing about him — good and bad — appeared in the media as it happened, not years later.

The other is that he is the only Republican who can defeat Hillary Clinton in the general election. He has the facts and the rhetoric, whether one likes his style or not, to reveal who she is.

The possibility of Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic Party nomination is rather narrow at this point. However, should he win, Trump will prevail.

Trump struck a chord with Hoosiers (Indiana residents) because he understands the economic climate. While Cruz focussed on conservatism, Trump spoke of jobs and lamented the number of firms going overseas. Indiana’s governor Mike Pence heard this and praised him for it. Pence’s fine words for Trump greatly outweighed his tepid endorsement of Cruz, no doubt pledged sometime earlier.

As I write, it is unclear as to what the exact catalyst was for Cruz’s withdrawal from the race was. The first few days of May were difficult for him, even though he went to Indiana at the end of April to make the state his. At the time, it seemed possible.

Soon, things began to derail. Cruz called a basketball hoop a ‘ring’ in a basketball-mad state. Then, with just over half of Trump’s delegate total, Cruz strangely named Carly Fiorina — another of the failed GOP presidential hopefuls this year — his running mate. On Monday, the day before the primary, she lost her footing at one of Cruz’s rallies and fell off the stage. Was it a sign? One cannot help but wonder.

Also that day, five out of six polls for the state showed Trump in the lead between two and 15 percentage points.

Then, on Tuesday morning, the polls had been open only a few hours when Cruz launched into an attack on Trump, who had spoken of a National Enquirer story linking Cruz Sr with Lee Harvey Oswald. (Wayne Madsen’s story about the two, complete with photos, has been on the Internet for several weeks now.) CNN described Cruz’s lengthy tirade as:

extraordinary even by the standards of the 2016 campaign …

Trump responded, in part, with this:

Today’s ridiculous outburst only proves what I have been saying for a long time, that Ted Cruz does not have the temperament to be president of the United States.

There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding Ted Cruz and his parents: his father’s political involvement before and after leaving Cuba, his mother’s possible Canadian citizenship in years past and, more importantly, Cruz’s own citizenship story. He appears not to be a natural born citizen of the United States, a requirement for both the presidency and the vice presidency. No one can say for sure because his records are sealed. However, all that can rest unless, heaven forfend, he has a major role to play in a possible Trump administration or puts his hat into the ring in 2020.

For the moment, we can focus on Donald Trump. Let us hope that it is he and not Hillary Clinton who nominates Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court. The next president may also have to make between one and three more Supreme Court nominations between now and 2020.

Thomas L Friedman wrote a considered editorial for The New York Times called ‘Trump and the Lord’s Work’. The last two paragraphs read in part (emphasis mine):

It’s clear: Free trade with China has hurt more people than originally thought. It’s clear: Low-skilled illegal immigration has hurt more American workers than we’ve fully understood. (And more high-skilled immigration in a knowledge age would enhance our economy more than most people understand.) It’s clear: Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare all need fixes to remain sustainable. It’s clear: Capitalism driven more by machines and robots poses new challenges for both white-collar and blue-collar workers.

Every one of these challenges can be met if we put our heads and hands together. For that to happen, though, this version of the Republican Party had to be destroyed, so a thinking center-right party can emerge. If that is what Trump has done, he’s done the Lord’s work

Amen!

This evening, my better half and I will celebrate with lobster and a glass of Meursault.

May God bless Donald Trump and keep him and his family safe from harm.

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