Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Trump's Big CON: A Man Without Principles Demands Allegiance to a Symbol and Not the Ideal

UPDATE V:  "The most fitting slogan for Donald Trump’s populist campaign, which continues nearly a year after the 2016 election ended, might be “us against them.” I don’t know Latin, but I do know that what we saw from the president this weekend is the opposite of e pluribus unum. He is the divider in chief.

Trump, who was a developer before he became a reality TV star and then a politician, has long been a builder of straw men. Everyone knows that he trades on controversy, but his chaotic approach to governing also depends on constantly presenting the American people with false binary choices.

Picking a fight with professional athletes who kneel during the national anthem, a controversy from last year that had mostly blown over, is just the latest example. . .

Trump talks about the world in black-and-white terms: You’re either with him or against him. He’s been around long enough to know that this is a time-honored form of civil disobedience, but he recognizes that his base hates such displays. So Trump is using the bully pulpit of the presidency to seize a political opening that might keep his core supporters from losing faith in his leadership.

He is also looking for distractions. Trump went all-in last week on the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill, which could fail this week. The candidate he endorsed in Alabama could go down in a GOP primary. Puerto Rico has been ravaged by a hurricane, and there are mounting questions about the federal response.

This is part of a pattern. Trump is still campaigning against Hillary Clinton as a foil because he wants conservatives to judge him against her, not on his own merits. He called her 'Crooked Hillary' during his Friday rally in Alabama. 'Lock her up,' the crowd chanted. He didn’t stop them. At this point, what difference does she make? . .

Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote 'The Art of the Deal' for Trump, identifies what he believes are deeper origins for the president’s divisive behavior: 'To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world,' Schwartz wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post this spring. 'It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it … This narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. 'When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,' he told a recent biographer, 'I’m basically the same.' His development essentially ended in early childhood.”

Read the Washington Post, Why the divider in chief embraces culture wars.

UPDATE IV:  "They’re both Christian football players, and they’re both known for kneeling on the field, although for very different reasons.

One grew up the son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines. The other was baptized Methodist, confirmed Lutheran, and attended a Baptist church during college.

Both have made a public display of their faith. Both are prayerful and devout.

This is the tale of two Christian sports personalities, one of whom is the darling of the American church while the other is reviled. And their differences reveal much about the brand of Christianity preferred by many in the church today.. .

The bifurcation of contemporary Christianity into two distinct branches is leaving the church all the poorer, with each side needing to be enriched by the biblical vision of the other.

Biblical Christianity should be, as Walter Brueggemann expresses it, “awed to heaven, rooted in earth.” We should, as he says, be able to “join the angels in praise, and keep our feet in time and place.”

Sadly, with the suspicion and animosity shown toward each side of the divide by the other, I can’t see a coming together any time soon.

In the meantime, Christianity remains on its knees in the West."

Read the Washington Post, Colin Kaepernick vs. Tim Tebow: A tale of two Christians on their knees.

UPDATE III:  "IN 1943, with the nation mobilized for war against fascism, schoolchildren in West Virginia were required each morning to salute the American flag. The purpose, seemingly unexceptionable — and in fact not objected to by many — was 'teaching, fostering and perpetuating the ideals, principles and spirit of Americanism.'

However, to Jehovah’s Witnesses the flag was an 'image,' which, under their religious beliefs, their children were forbidden to salute. Students refused to do so and were expelled from school; parents were prosecuted; eventually, the case reached the Supreme Court.

There, in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, Justice Robert Jackson wrote for a 6-to-3 majority that the state could not compel children to salute the flag. Reversing a court decision from just three years earlier, Jackson wrote, in the midst of war, what remains one of the enduring statements of confidence in what truly makes America great. 'To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine,' he wrote, 'is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.'

What brings this to mind, of course, is President Trump’s latest bilious eruption. The first inclination, when he starts calling people 'sons of b-----s' and waxing nostalgic for days when more concussions were inflicted for the entertainment of football fans, is to look away. It’s embarrassing, after all, to have to explain to the children that we have a president who speaks so rudely. It’s playing into the diversion he may seek when he finds himself flummoxed by Kim Jong Un or Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). And shouldn’t we be worrying about more important things — health care, tax reform, the inundation of Puerto Rico, the dangers of nuclear war? . .

[W]hen the president uses his bully pulpit to declare some speech legitimate and some beyond the pale; when his response to protest is to question patriotism rather than engage on the issue of unequal policing — then it is Mr. Trump who 'disrespects our Flag & our Country.'

As Justice Jackson wrote three-quarters of a century ago, 'If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.'"

 Read the Washington Post, This is what the flag stands for, Mr. President.

UPDATE II:  "Despite President Trump's harsh words about NFL players protesting racism, there's one thing you aren't likely to hear him say: 'Stay in your lane.'

Trump respects — even invites — athletes to weigh in on political matters, as long as they are pro-Trump policies. During the 2016 election, Trump counted legendary boxing promoter Don King, storied former college basketball coach Bobby Knight and NASCAR chief executive Brian France among his supporters."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s problem isn’t with athletes being political. It’s with athletes speaking out against racism.

UPDATE: "Talking to reporters on the tarmac of a New Jersey airport as he left his golf club in Bedminster, President Trump insisted Sunday that his barrage of tweets about protests in the NFL were simply a defense of patriotism.

'This has nothing to do with race,' he said. 'I’ve never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag.'

And, of course, race.

It’s somehow become trite to note the difference in Trump’s tone when criticizing the NFL protests, in which a number of players have chosen to sit or kneel during the national anthem, and his tone when discussing the protests in Charlottesville last month. But it’s still worth noting.

Trump was slow to condemn the white supremacists and overt Nazi sympathizers who crept from the shadows to defend a Confederate statue in Charlottesville. The president eventually offered a forceful condemnation, read from prepared remarks — that he then undercut the next day in a news conference by saying that “many fine people” had joined the racists and Nazis at that protest.

The NFL protests? Anyone engaging in them was a 'son of bitch' who should be fired, he said at a rally in Alabama. On Sunday, he retweeted a call for a boycott of the NFL, along with a number of other complaints. That the participants in the NFL protests happened to be black and that Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (whom Trump disinvited from the White House on Saturday) is, too, was cited as evidence that Trump was more aggravated at black protesters than white ones.

Whether that’s the case doesn’t really matter. What matters is the reason for those protests. They are one of the endpoints of a years-long racial divide that Trump leveraged explicitly as part of his 2016 campaign. . .

Trump’s entire campaign was about race, explicitly — whether he realizes it or not. So, too, was his fervent insistence about the NFL over the weekend. If he truly doesn’t realize that (which is certainly debatable), it shows a remarkable lack of awareness of the nuance that drives much of our politics at the moment."

Read the Washington Post, Of course Trump’s outrage at the NFL protests had to do with race.

A flag is just a symbol, a constitution gives substance to a country's principles.

So of course, a man without principles would worship a symbol while contemptuously rejecting the country's ideals.

Read the Washington Post:

In showings of protest and solidarity, NFL teams respond to Trump’s criticisms, and

The NFL beat Trump. Soundly., which noted:

"At a rally in Alabama on Friday night, Trump shouted: ‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!' You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, 'That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.' And that owner . . .  they’ll be the most popular person in this country.’

It’s all part of his new agenda: To put the sports world — which happens to be full of rich athletes, many of whom are minorities, who have huge followings and aren’t afraid to live as independent thinkers — in its supposed place. How dare ESPN’s Jemele Hill call Trump a ‘white supremacist,’ even though he treated Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville with more fairness than Steph Curry? How dare Curry and the Golden State Warriors not jump at the chance to visit him at the White House? The invitation is withdrawn! And how dare these NFL court jesters have concerns about equality? Stand for the flag! And while we’re talking football, change the rules back and let them beat their brains out like they did during the good ol’ days!

What’s another player suffering from CTE and committing suicide mean to the current president? It’s as far down his list of priorities as the fears of the oppressed. It shouldn’t be shocking that Trump cares so little about NFL players. They’re just the latest on a long list of people he wishes would shut up and allow life to be shoved down their throat. . .

In many stadiums, fans booed players who took a knee and chanted for them to respect the flag. That was expected after Trump’s version of a pep talk Friday night. It is also within those fans’ First Amendment rights. Protesting during the anthem, with the flag on full display, is a complicated and infuriating gesture. But that’s the essence of a protest. If you meekly stand behind your concerns and follow every rule, no one will notice and care about your cause. Disobedience gets attention. It’s unfortunate, but it’s not like the athletes are fighting for more money. They want our country to stop moonwalking on equality. Bury the sentiment with your disgust, but that’s the origin of the disagreement. And it’s unlikely to end without an honest recognition of the issue. . .

Unity defined Sunday — not oversimplified tripe about unity, not an attempt to make everyone obey and seem unified — but true unity. The stadiums weren’t full of like-minded players or fans. Players didn’t stand for the same reasons; they didn’t kneel for the same reasons. Fans didn’t boo for the same reasons; they didn’t show support for the same reasons. But they came together, tens of thousands of people all over the place, and they made the points they needed to make. And hostility couldn’t measure up to how good it felt just to be heard.

Then the games started, and people rooted for their favorite colors, and a good sports meal wasn’t ruined because you had to eat your vegetables first. The NFL beat Trump. Soundly.

To twist the sports cliche du jour, perhaps Trump should stick to trying to run a country that barely resembles itself right now. The sports world will continue what it does best: embrace differences and manage conflict on a field of play."

The End of the World, Again, Cont., Again, Part 2 (It Never Ends! (Pun Intended!!))

 UPDATE: Who ever thought that after the Rapture I'd have to update this post ;)

"The man whose biblical doomsday claim had people worried about Sept. 23, 2017, is not backing down.

The world did not end over the weekend, and David Meade, a self-described 'specialist in research and investigations,' is saying that’s exactly what he had expected. Now, he is focusing on another date, Oct. 15, 2017, which he claims is the beginning of the world’s destruction.

It is 'the most important date of this century or millennium,' Meade wrote on his website. The action starts that day, he claimed, when the world will enter what’s called a seven-year tribulation period, a fairly widespread evangelical belief that for seven years, catastrophic events would wreak havoc on Earth.

'Hold on and watch — wait until the middle of October and I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed,' Meade wrote, before going on to promote his book, which he claims has all the details.

'You don’t have long to read it,' he added."

Read the Washington Post, The man who had people worried about a Sept. 23 apocalypse is peddling a new doomsday date.

Trump's a CON Man, but who cares!

"Unsealed, an evangelical Christian publication, foretells the Rapture in a viral, four-minute YouTube video, complete with special effects and ominous doomsday soundtrack. It’s called 'September 23, 2017: You Need to See This.'

Why Sept. 23, 2017?

Meade’s prediction is based largely on verses and numerical codes in the Bible. He has homed in one number: 33.

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.”

And Sept. 23 is 33 days since the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

He points to the Book of Revelation, which he said describes the image that will appear in the sky on that day, when Nibiru is supposed to rear its ugly head, eventually bringing fire, storms and other types of destruction.

The book describes a woman 'clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head' who gives birth to a boy who will 'rule all the nations with an iron scepter' while she is threatened by a red seven-headed dragon. The woman then grows the wings of an eagle and is swallowed up by the earth.

The belief, as previously described by Gary Ray, a writer for Unsealed, is that the constellation Virgo — representing the woman — will be clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets. The planet Jupiter, which will have been inside Virgo — in her womb, in Ray’s interpretation — will move out of Virgo, as though she is giving birth.

To make clear, Meade said he’s not saying the world will end Saturday. Instead, he claims, the prophesies in the Book of Revelation will manifest that day, leading to a series of catastrophic events that will happen over the course of weeks."

Read the Washington Post, The world as we know it is about to end — again — if you believe this biblical doomsday claim., which notes that Hedgehog News published a "story with a headline that appears to give credence to the doomsday claim — and was published in the Science section under the label “Planets.”

Republi-cons are such suckers for snake oil salesmen.

Any question how The Donald got elected.