Donald Trump Defies Definition, or Does He?

The experience of watching Mr. Trump on the national political stage has been an interesting trip through a near vertigo-inducing change of persona on a regular basis.  Just as we think we have begun to understand him, he pulls some stunt that makes us go back to square one and begin the quest for a better definition of the man.

Seemingly the only personality traits we can even begin to rely upon are that Trump is bombastic and given to instantaneous descriptions of political positions that are not always well-thought.  At least not well-thought from a purely political point-of-view which probably is simply indicative that the man has never felt the need to be “correct” in the political sense of the word.  Trump is accustomed to creating his own “reality”.  The current brouhaha centering on the abortion question is a case in point.

Somehow spontaneity does not seem to be an attribute we seek in our Presidents unless that spontaneity is similar to the wit/wisdom that was integral to President Reagan.  We seem to have the need for a well-grounded person sitting in our Oval Office more than we have the need for instant changes in direction and mood, or for the bombastic threats that seem regularly to come from the mouth of Mr. Trump.

We really don’t know his true political beliefs.  He may be a Democrat one day and a Republican the next.  He may be pro-abortion one day and anti-abortion the next.  He may be pro-Israel one day and anti-Israel the next.  He is more a chameleon in that he seems to take on the coloring of his surroundings; and, we don’t know if that is real or simply expedient given circumstances.

Can we begin to imagine how he might react to a Vladimir Putin edict?  Are these men possibly two-of-a-kind with potentially very dangerous consequences if each  chooses to react to a given situation?  Putin is the more polished and politically-correct of the two, but both seem to have some basic similarities that might not indicate they’d be able to play well with each other.

Mr. Trump has almost always gotten his way and those who get in his way most often regret the experience.  This is his M.O. and we have no valid reason to expect anything to the contrary if he resides in the White House and calls the Oval Office his own.

That is scary.

Have We Been Trumped?

Wisconsin was ‘blessed’ with the presence of Donald Trump yesterday, and will be so blessed off and on until our primary vote is taken next Tuesday.  Among other revelations by Mr. Trump was the statement, as reported by Vicki McKenna, about the $2+ BILLION DEFICIT we have accrued through the courtesy of Governor Scott Walker.  The only problem with this revelation is that, as McKenna said, it is FALSE.  Trump also believes that Governor Walker erred by not increasing our taxes, and thus endeared himself to those whose incomes are largely or entirely paid by taxpayers.  That sounds like an attempt to buy votes with our money.

All this is now ‘on the record’ for accidently unknowing or intentionally unknowing people who choose to repeat this or that ‘fact’ since they heard it from an unimpeachable source, Donald Trump.  His claims are made and we are days away from the primary election in Wisconsin.  How many voters will be influenced by these statements and others to the point of deciding based upon those statements to cast a vote for Trump?

These are not small verbal inconsistencies.  As reported, these kinds of things make his other iron-clad statements seem to require substantiation through careful investigation, but we are simply expected to take every word from Trump’s mouth as truth.  And, unfortunately, too many of us do seem to take his words as truthful and correct without any further questioning.

The possibility of a distinct personality disorder has been hinted at or stated outright, and one sees those possibilities very often in Trump.  He does appear to have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and that cannot be a good thing for the President of the United States since that person actually is essentially the ruler of all he or she surveys for four years with only Congress and/or the U.S. Supreme Court riding to our defense after the fact.  That person has the ability to make decisions that have potentially significant effects on us and on our worldwide neighbors.

We Wisconsinites have been Trumped, and we will continue to be Trumped for so long as he is in this race.  That is his nature and if the reported diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder by professional observers is accurate, it isn’t going to go away even if he is elected to the highest office in our land.

I have concluded my search for the person for whom I will vote on Tuesday, April 5th.  I will vote for Ted Cruz.  I would also hope that Gov. Kasich would remove himself from the equation simply because he can be a spoiler but I doubt can be a winner as he seems convinced could be the case, but I am almost certain that won’t happen.  I see more indication that Trump will carry our state on Tuesday given the siphoning of votes from Cruz by Kasich supporters.

This is one time that I earnestly hope my feelings prove to have been wrong but I won’t know until April 6th with the rest of our state.  It is imperative that we all exercise our freedom to vote on April 5th.

Do You Feel The Love?

The national politicians are sweeping Wisconsin by storm this coming week, and you can almost feel the love…if you can get beyond the contrived smiles, the carefully concocted talking points and so on.  You can almost feel it, the love that is.

Except, we have been there and done that.  We should be able to remember all the politicians who have stormed through Wisconsin on their way to somewhere else.  We should be able to remember how many promises were kept by those whom we voted for and who ultimately gained the office after which they lusted.

The political world is too often that of exuded love one moment and feigned tolerance the next moment.  To say that too many politicians are shallow mimickers of what they have been told we seek is probably not quite the truth.  Most probably have our interests in mind somewhere, albeit further down the line than are their own interests.  Many probably believe what they’re saying to us (and I believe that the majority of our state-based candidates are in that group, by the way).  They live here in the ‘off season’ and still have personal lives among us.  I had a nice chat with one of those elected officials in the aisle of our local Walgreens store a few weeks ago, for example.  I see some on a regular basis simply in passing since they remain members of the community and of the area.

There are those politicians who are genuinely sincere, honest and diligent.  Then there are those who simply live up to the old tagline of the ‘carpetbagger’.   They are the opportunists of the group.  It is interesting to note that the local and state level politicians are generally very much concerned with their constituency.  They still live amongst us voters and they remember the promises they made.

The travelling group that will hit the state this week is the group that bothers me more since they who are elected will be in a position of power that is unequalled for a state official.  First of all, there is a lot more money flowing around the halls of Congress, and the White House, than in our state offices in Madison.  We can get to see our Madison-based officials if we choose.  Making that happen in Washington is much more difficult, even for state-based organizations.

For many of our citizens, there simply is no opportunity to talk with the top politicians even if you desire and not that many desire to do so, interestingly.  You may attend a rally, but those are tightly controlled and typically only heavy-hitter contributors gain real vs. contrived access.

You can almost feel it; the love that is.

Easter Sunday Reflections

It is Easter Sunday afternoon and I have read my Sunday newspaper following three services and breakfasts at our church, and I expect we’ll learn that some 750 to 800 people or more attended Easter services today. Easter and Christmas are the two most well-attended church holidays in the year from my experience.  That is fitting since we celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas and the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion on Easter.  We expect some who are not regular attendees to be in church in each of those celebration periods, as well as a solid turn-out of members and guests.  (For the record, we are members of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Hubertus, WI. and we’d love to see you there one of these Sundays.)

I followed this wonderful experience by reading an article in the newspaper this afternoon that recounts the results of a new study which analyzes responses to four decades of data compiled by the University of Chicago’s ‘General Social Survey’.  This data is from polls of 58,893 respondents who are all U.S. adults administered from the early 1980s to 2014.  The findings follow:

  • Those who identified their religion as ‘none’ increased from 7% to 21% in that period.
  • Those who never attend religious services doubled to 26%.
  • Those who say they never pray rose from 3% to 15%.
  • Those who say they don’t believe in God rose from 13% to 22%.
  • Those who say they believe in an ‘afterlife’ stayed flat at 79%, but non-churchgoers who believe in an ‘afterlife’ increased from 7% to 15%. (That doesn’t make sense to me.)
  • Millenials are the least religious generation in memory according to San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge who is an author of the study.

I understand from my own life experience that things change in our lives and that some of those changes tend to remind us that we really do need God in our lives, that we are not able to make this life journey as we need without His help.  I am saddened to think that we Christians are apparently losing ground in our work, or are not working hard enough, to bring people to faith in God, or so it would seem from the results above.  There are many distractions that have a compelling allure for people, especially if they are searching for grounding.

I have experienced both sides of this life-altering decision and can tell anyone who is interested that following God is fulfilling beyond anything this world can bring to us.

Perpetual Political Devolution

We seem, as a people, to be in a state of perpetual political devolution; current national, state and local campaigns, unfortunately, bear that premise out.  We have watched the national stage which has been dominated by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, each of whom is very skilled at setting opponents up for the proverbial slaughter at the hands of the ever-inquisitive press.  Slanted truths, half-truths and outright lies are the tools of the trade today in politics.  The campaign run without using such ‘tools’ is hard to find likely because it would be unsuccessful going up against other campaigns. Ted Cruz is now trying to move beyond a National Enquirer story about his fidelity, or lack thereof, to his wife.  Trump denies anything to do with the story, but we wonder, don’t we?  After all, that is “Lyin Ted” we’re talking about isn’t it?

We see similar political tools at work on the state level.  This skill set appears a requirement for involvement in politics above the local and county levels. Fortunately, the use of this devastating tool has not surfaced often in local politics but it has, occasionally, reared its ugly head even at this level.  Milwaukee’s mayoral race is an example of a borderline race moving in this direction.  Our state Supreme Court race is threatening to move further in this direction.

As each new political season arrives, I wonder how much our society will devolve during its course.  The electronic linkage we enjoy today makes for almost instantaneous targeting by one candidate of another candidate.  The act does not have to be performed by the attacking candidate; any number of surrogate ‘hangers on’ are only too willing to engage in these acts to permit their chosen candidate to hide behind them with the “I know nothing about this” statement.

I still remember earlier political times when this kind of fallacious attack was not used.  Instead, the candidate, him or herself, would deftly place his or her opponent in a delicate position while maintaining plausible personal deniability.  Those were what we now fondly refer to as “the good old days”.  It is difficult to imagine how much more degradation of our political discourse will have to occur for this period to someday be referred to as “the good old days” by another blogger.

What passes for political discourse seems unbefitting of a modern Christian democracy, and yet we hold no feet to the fire in any meaningful way.  We go “cluck, cluck” and then move on.  That only perpetuates the downward spiral; and some, maybe too many, of us, are apparently willing participants who enjoy mud wrestling too much to cause it to be put to an end.

Marquette University Doubles Down

Blogging can get one in trouble, especially if the person publishing the blog is a professor of political science at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.  The professor is/was John McAdams who made the grievous mistake of blogging about a graduate student teacher who refused to permit opinions on same-sex marriage to be made in her class.  Professor McAdams felt this was something to be recognized given the reputation of Marquette as a bastion of academic freedom.

McAdams obviously thought wrong since he was suspended with pay and benefits in December 2014.  The wheels of Marquette’s decision-making seem to move very slowly since the decision was finally made yesterday.  McAdams will be accepted back if he apologizes for what he wrote.  He has to make that apology within the next two weeks or he will be officially terminated.  He says he will not apologize.

There is another side to this story:

Marquette University President Michael Lovell claims his decision implements the Faculty Hearing Committee’s unanimous recommendation but says he cannot provide specific details of that recommendation because it relates to a personnel matter.  The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty says that this committee actually “found that Marquette had improperly suspended Dr. McAdams in violation of his due process rights under the Faculty Statutes and disagreed with the University’s desire to terminate him.”  Obviously, this is a ‘he said/they said’ situation.  We may never be able to determine accurately where the truth actually lays unless there are further revelations from those in the know.  If this action is any indication, there will be less rather than more light shined upon the inner-workings of Marquette University.  However, there may be further legal proceedings that will reveal the inner workings and machinations.

So much for free speech and so much for academic freedom, at least at Marquette University.  One has to wonder what would’ve been the outcome if a fully tenured professor made a politically acceptable statement of a liberal nature.  I suspect that there are large contributors who are taking a second and even a third look at planned contributions given this decision.

Had this occurred in Boulder, CO with its decidedly liberal bent, it could be more easily understood and accepted.  Time will tell how those who provide significant financial support to Marquette will come down.  Time will tell how long President Lovell continues in his present position.

Wisconsin a Battleground State?

Wisconsin’s April 5th primary election could prove to have been instrumental in the selection of a national Republican presidential candidate…believe it or not.  If the latest polls are at all accurate, our state can play a significant role in the presidential race.  Cruz appears to be stronger in Wisconsin than has been the case prior to now.  That is not at all surprising since those who have tired of the Trump approach are reaching the ‘point of no return’ if there is to be a challenge mounted to him.

Cruz seems to be polling better nationally than has been the case up until now.  Limbaugh has come out for Cruz. Etc., etc., etc.  And a national Fox News poll has Cruz and Trump in a national statistical dead heat.

The Republican Party Convention in Cleveland looks to be where this may all be brought to a head with all the mysteriousness associated with national political party maneuvering.  If the current polls are accurate precursors, and that is a big IF, then our turnout will be very big as state and local government officials have been predicting; something in the range of 40% or more of registered voters.  Let’s hope that there are sufficient ballots on hand…and given some recent embarrassments that will probably not be an issue.

The Republican convention follows some arcane rules that can turn races upside down as we novice political observers would see the outcome.  Not all attendees with a vote are tied to a particular candidate after the first ballot; some are freed up to vote their will on and after the second ballot and virtually all can vote their preference after the third ballot.  We, of course, have somewhat a vested interest given that a Wisconsin person, Reince Priebus, is the chair of the Republican Convention.  He had a decent head of hair when he accepted that position.

As is always the case, your vote is important.  In this election, your vote might actually be more important than at other times.  But your vote doesn’t count a whit if you don’t turn out and cast that ballot.  April 5th is the magic day.