A response to Christianity Today

Galli [of Christianity Today] gives six reasons why Trump should be removed, either by impeachment or at the next election: (1) He attempted to “coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of his political opponents,” and this was “a violation of the Constitution.” (2) This action was also “profoundly immoral.” (3) “He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals.” (4) He has “admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women,” and he “remains proud” about these things. (5) His Twitter feed contains a “habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders,” and this makes it “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.” Finally, (6) although the president has admittedly done some good things, “none of the president’s positives” can outweigh his “grossly immoral character.” Later he says that Trump has a “bent and broken character” and is guilty of “gross immorality and ethical incompetence.”

Townhall.com

Galli fails to say exactly what part of the Constitution he thinks that Trump violated. He claims that Trump tried to “coerce a foreign leader,” referring to a phone call from Trump to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine on July 25, 2019.

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My response is that I see nothing wrong with the president doing things that will bring him personal, political benefit. In fact, I expect that every president in the history of the United States has done things that bring him personal political benefit every day of his term. It is preposterous to claim that it is unconstitutional for the president to act in a way that is politically beneficial. In addition to that, when someone announces that he is running for political office, that does not mean he can no longer be investigated for prior wrongdoing. The opposite should be true.

So what happens to Mark Galli’s claim that the president violated the Constitution? His article provides no basis for this claim, and my conclusion is that it is incorrect.

Another reason to remove Trump from office, according to Galli, is that he hired and fired people who later became “convicted criminals.” This is a new argument. Previously, I was under the impression that our country holds a person responsible for his or her own wrongdoing, but not for the wrongdoing of others (unless the supervisor knew about the wrongdoing and failed to do anything about it). However, now Galli is implying that Trump should be held accountable – and removed from office! – for the wrongdoing of people who worked for him. This is the unjust principle of “guilt by association.”

Galli also wants to remove Trump from office because he has admitted to “immoral actions in business and his relationship with women.” At this point Galli must be referring to actions done before Trump was elected president, because he has not admitted to any immoral actions while in office. In addition, I am not aware of Trump admitting to any immoral actions in business, so Galli’s accusations seem overly broad.

Galli claims that evangelicals “brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior.” But I know of no evangelical leader who “brushed off” Trump’s words and behavior, for they were roundly condemned.

I myself wrote on Oct. 9, 2016, in Townhall.com, “I cannot commend Trump’s moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election. His vulgar comments in 2005 about his sexual aggression and assaults against women were morally evil and revealed pride in conduct that violates God’s command, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14) … His conduct was hateful in God’s eyes and I urge him to repent and call out to God for forgiveness, and to seek forgiveness from those he harmed. God intends that men honor and respect women, not abuse them as sexual objects.” My call for Trump to withdraw made headlines in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and elsewhere.

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So what should the American people do now? Does Galli still want us to remove him from office because of some vulgar comments and actions back in 2005? The problem with this is that the American people were aware of those things in the 2016 election, and we elected him anyway. Claiming that we should remove him now for those things is simply an attempt to overturn the results of the election.

But what about Trump’s Twitter feed? Galli says it contains “a habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders,” and is “a near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.” But is this true?

Before people condemn Trump’s tweets by merely reading about them in a hostile press, they should read them for themselves. Anyone can do this at Twitter.com. I just read through every one of Trump’s tweets from the entire past week (December 19-25), to see if Galli is correct in his accusation. 

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My question for Mr. Galli is this: how can you say that such tweets are “a near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused”? The expression “near-perfect example” suggests that something like 90% or 95% of his tweets reflect morally evil choices. But, after reading these tweets, it seems to me that Galli has made a false accusation. The most objectionable thing that I see in these tweets is that Trump labels his political opponents with derogatory nicknames (Crazy Nancy Pelosi, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, and Adam Shifty Schiff), but that impoliteness is a comparatively trivial matter that comes nowhere close to being a “near-perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”

I see in these tweets a president who is rightfully proud of a healthy economy, a stronger military, and the appointment of 187 federal judges who are committed to judging according to what the law says and not according to their personal preferences. Such accomplishments are morally good benefits for the nation as a whole, and they have been accomplished by Trump in the face of relentless opposition from Democrats. Far from being “morally lost and confused,” Trump seems to me to have a strong sense of justice and fair play, and he is (I think rightfully) upset that the impeachment process in the House was anything but just and fair.

Galli also claims that Trump’s tweets contain a “habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders.” Do Trump’s tweets contain lies? Galli himself gives no examples, but the Washington Post on December 16 carried an article, “President Trump Has Made 15,413 False or Misleading Claims over 1,055 Days.” 

What exactly are these alleged lies?

The Washington Post article contains a link to their “Track Checker” webpage, where the “lies” are listed by category. The most common one (repeated 242 times) is Trump’s claim that that the US economy is now “perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history.” But the Post says this is a lie because “By just about any important measure, the economy today is not doing as well as it did under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson or Bill Clinton – or Ulysses S. Grant.” 

What the Post doesn’t tell you is that it depends on what you are measuring. The total economic output of the United States in Eisenhower’s last year (1960) as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) adjusted for inflation, reached a record high of $3.26 trillion. By 1968 (Lyndon Johnson’s last year) it had risen to $4.8 trillion. In Bill Clinton’s last year (2000), GDP was up to $13.1 trillion. The current projection for 2019 is that GDP under President Trump will reach $21.4 trillion. Therefore, judging by the total economic output of the United States, it is completely true to say that we are currently living in “the strongest economy in our country’s history.” Trump is not lying, but the Post is using some other measurement (such as percentage growth rate) in order to claim that Trump has told this lie 242 times. 

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And so it goes with one supposed “lie” after another. Upon closer inspection, the accusations do not hold up.

Galli’s final reason for removing Trump from office is that “none of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.”

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“You are a bad person” strategy of the Left: Although I do not believe that Galli himself is part of the political Left, it is also important to realize the kind of political climate in which Galli’s claim occurs. One Fox News commentator rightly observed that the political Left has realized that it can’t beat conservatives by arguing, “You have bad policies,” so it has shifted to attacks that take the form, “You are a bad person.” And the result is that President Trump has been the target of incessant character assassination by the media for the past three years (as have many other conservatives).

But Jesus told us how to evaluate someone’s character: we should look at the fruit that comes from his life. “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush”

We now have three years of results (or “fruit”) that have come from Donald Trump’s presidency, and, in my judgment, the fruit has been overwhelmingly good.

1. The appointment of two Supreme Court justices, 50 judges to federal circuit courts of appeal, and 133 federal district court judges (plus two other judges to specialized courts). All of them are committed to interpreting the Constitution and the laws according to the original meaning of the words and not according to their personal policy preferences.  ….

2. Significant tax cuts that have resulted in remarkable growth in jobs and wages. The good results are already seen in the paychecks of millions of workers, with the highest percentage growth occurring in low income jobs, the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, and the lowest black and Hispanic unemployment rates ever recorded.

3. Massive elimination of wasteful government regulations, giving a strong boost to business and job growth.

4. Strengthening our military with passage of the largest defense budget in our history.

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20. Promoting more ability for parents to be able to choose their children’s schools by appointing Betsy DeVos, a veteran school-choice advocate, as Secretary of Education.

Many more items could be listed.

I do not think a man of “grossly immoral character” (as Galli alleges) could produce this many good results

What about the negative results?

At this point someone will ask, “But what about the negative fruit from Trump’s presidency? Isn’t he responsible for the toxic, highly polarized political atmosphere we now live in?” 

I don’t think there is only one cause, and I’m willing to admit that Trump’s name-calling is one factor. But remember that it is the political Left, not conservatives, who have rendered themselves “the Resistance” and have continued to do everything they can to prevent the Trump administration from even functioning. 

Capitalism: Folks Doing Stuff

Although the term “capitalism” has long worked as a shorthand signifier for a market economy, there is a sense in which to use it at all is to accept the socialist’s premise that a market economy is a consciously created system, manipulated by its creators for their own material ends. But it isn’t that. A socialist economy is, by definition, a system—it must be created, planned, vigilantly monitored and forcefully regulated in order to function. But a market economy has no plan. It begins to exhibit the qualities of a system when its wealthiest actors are allowed to bend governmental policies to their advantage, but that is a vastly different thing from a system deliberately designed for stated goals from the beginning.

We will surely go on using the terms “socialism” and “nationalism” and “democracy” without knowing quite what we mean by them. We can hardly do otherwise. But at least those things exist. “Capitalism,” in the sense in which its leftist critics use the term, never did.

Wall Street Journal

The problem with the term “Capitalism” is that it was a label bestowed by opponents of capitalism, or at the very least, supporters of the planned economy alternatives. They approach the issue from the belief that the economy must be designed, and must have a designer. As a result, they bestow upon capitalism the assumption that it, too, is designed and planned.

It’s not. It’s just the result of folks doing stuff.

Bernie wants to raise taxes and it’s going to hurt — Bookworm Room

In 2016, I wrote several posts for my I Don’t Like Bernie blog. With Bernie rising in the polls, this post revisits his terrible tax proposals. The website I Like Bernie, But…, created in 2016 and updated for 2019, tries to calm people’s fears about Bernie Sander’s socialist extremism. It states questions reflecting concerns that people…

Bernie wants to raise taxes and it’s going to hurt — Bookworm Room

Quotation of the Day…

(Don Boudreaux) The principal job – certainly the first job – of the economist is to explain to the general public how economic order arises spontaneously, guided largely by market-determined prices. This job, I believe, is a high calling. Without a correct understanding of the emergence and maintenance of economic order, the typical person supposes that the economy is created and run consciously, and the only question then being whether the conscious directors of the economy are to be private parties or government leaders (with the former always acting only to promote their own narrow interests, while the latter at least have the potential to act to promote the public interest).

Source: Quotation of the Day…

Fake religion from Timothy Cardinal Dolan

(Scott Johnson) Even more surprising than fake religion from Pete Buttigieg is fake religion from the formidable Timothy Cardinal Dolan. In his Christmas Eve New York Post column “A Christmas lesson on housing the poor,” Cardinal Dolan writes: “The Son of God was homeless; his earthly parents were immigrants and refugees.” I’m not Christian and mean no disrespect.

Source: Fake religion from Timothy Cardinal Dolan

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Era of ‘Good’ Fascism? If and when fascism comes to America, it will …

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Era of ‘Good’ Fascism? If and when fascism comes to America, it will not arrive with jackboots, stiff arms, and military uniforms. The attempt to suppress political opposition in anti-constitutional fashion, to regiment the economy by denying constitutionally protected freedoms, and the efforts to change the Constitution to reflect political utility, will come under the auspices of “equality,” “fairness,” “saving the planet,” and “social justice”—as a way to combat “climate change,” “racism,” “homophobia,” and “sexism.” The old Confederate idea of state nullification of federal law—the great bane of a century of civil rights movements—is now a progressive trademark.

Source: VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Era of ‘Good’ Fascism? If and when fascism comes to America, it will …

"Transferism" — Not socialism, just plain greed

When polled, Americans express relatively well-defined views on both. And while nowhere near a majority of the American electorate favors a completely socialist system, a recent Gallup poll indicates that more than four in ten Americans think “some form of socialism” is a good thing. But what is “some form of socialism?” A society is either socialist or it isn’t. The state either owns the means of production or it doesn’t. There is no middle ground. Even our openly socialist politicians rarely advocate anything near as drastic as government control of the means of production.

FEE.org

These four in ten Americans, and the politicians who speak for them most vocally, are not advocating socialism at all; they are advocating what we should really call “transferism.” Transferism is a system in which one group of people forces a second group to pay for things that the people believe they, or some third group, should have. Transferism isn’t about controlling the means of production. It is about the forced redistribution of what’s produced.

Federal transfers are money the federal government gives directly to people or to state and local governments. These are not purchases. To be a transfer, the money must be given in exchange for nothing. The earned income tax credit, income assistance, and payments from various welfare programs are transfers. So, too, are Social Security benefits. While workers tend to regard Social Security benefits as returns on their Social Security taxes, legally, Social Security taxes are simply part of the government’s tax revenues. Workers are not entitled to Social Security benefits. Who says so? The Supreme Court in Flemming v. Nestor (1960). In reality, Social Security benefits are simply transfers—gifts—from the federal government to retirees.

ibid

Contrary to type, politicians speak in very clear terms about the benefits they would like to finance by transferring money from one group to another, and they have had predictable success with it. Most Americans cannot imagine a country without Social Security, Medicare, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. And politicians never seem to run out of new ideas regarding what they might be able to achieve with even more transfers of wealth. New ideas are typically well-defined, at least on the benefit side. Student loan forgiveness, universal basic income, Medicare for All, and every other piece of proposed redistributive legislation offers an obvious benefit for an equally obvious group of people.

The lack of clarity comes when the politicians get around to explaining who will pay for all of it. Their answer is inevitably some form of “the rich,” who will finally, we are told, pay “their fair share.” None of this is ever defined, which explains the United States’ present $23 trillion debt. Transfers are tricky political business because politicians need to point to who benefits and by how much while at the same time hiding who will actually be paying.

ibid

Socialism Is A Political Movement For People Whose Reasoning Never Advanced Beyond Childhood

From Advice Goddess:

The New York Times’ David Brooks outgrew socialism, he writes , a movement he was enamored with in his early 20s: The best version of socialism is defined by Michael Walzer’s phrase, “what touches all should be decided by all.” The great economic enterprises should be owned by all of us in common.

Source: Socialism Is A Political Movement For People Whose Reasoning Never Advanced Beyond Childhood

Climate Change: How Lucky Do You Feel?

Ronald Bailey is becoming less skeptical about climate change as he accumulates more data.

“The age of climate panic is here,” declared David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (Tim Duggan Books), in a February 2019 New York Times op-ed. He’s certainly right about the panic. University of Cumbria Professor of Sustainability Leadership Jem Bendell predicts that man-made climate change will result in a “collapse in society” in about 10 years.

Source: Climate Change: How Lucky Do You Feel?

Tolerance and Intolerance: A Blast from the Past

The Writer in Black

Not one word needs to be changed.

So there’s this going around:

popper paradox

A popular interpretation of this is that it allows the use of force to shut down people who aren’t using force but simply engaging in speech that the person finds objectionable.  Some of the common expressions of this is “bash the fash” and “punch a Nazi”. In neither case do they actually mean folk rounding up minorities or other “undesireables” and sending them to concentration camps or engaging in any other actual violence or use of force.  No, they mean people who simply speak in ways they find objectionable–arguing in favor of policies they don’t like or voting for and speaking in favor of politicians to whom they object.

When you use force to shut down others speech, however repugnant you may find that speech to be, you aren’t resisting intolerance.  You are the intolerance that needs to…

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