Top Ten Ways to Re-Elect Trump

Not too early to think about 2020. Hillary only got more than 1.5 million more votes than Trump and we can’t assume WikiLeaks, Putin and the FBI will always be there for him. As he did in 2016, he’s going to need Democrats and liberals to help him win in 2020. Here are 10 practical steps you Blue Americans can take to make sure you lose again:

  •  Focus on the past: A unified front is hard to defeat. If Trump is to win in 2020, Bernie fans must continue spending the intervening time villainizing the Democratic National Committee and obsessing about Hillary’s imperfections. Meanwhile, Hillary fans need to keep devoting their posts to how Bernie and his bros cost her the election by fighting too hard in the primaries.

  • Riot: Protesting peacefully is so passé. Sure, it worked for MLK and Gandhi, but what did they know? Loot and be violent instead. You’ll help keep independent voters away and give Trump the excuse he needs for a law-and-order crackdown.

  • Do it all: Why focus on meaningful opposition when you can feel good while accomplishing nothing? For example, sign an online petition pleading with the Electoral College to vote against Trump. You’ll not only get to turn your email address over to a stranger, you also will have expended your time on something that has zero chance of succeeding and that would cause a civil war if it did.

  • Avoid change: Treat this like any other loss and return to the old ways of doing things. Ignore Brexit and blue states turning red; focus on traditional polling methods, plus assumptions that voters can’t be that gullible/foolish/uninformed, etc. Also disregard the voice of millennials. Sure, Hillary would have won in a landslide if millennials were the only group voting, but they’re so young. And not full of good ideas like you were at their age. They see the world as it might be. Quiet them down while we reminisce.

  • Avoid creativity: Liberals have an unfair advantage with so many comedians, musicians, actors and satirists on their side. Democrats get unusual enjoyment out of things like donating to Planned Parenthood in the name of VP-elect Mike Pence. All such tendencies must be quashed. The Donald Trumps of the world hate being made fun of and we should respect that. Creative political dissent risks more people paying attention and ideas slipping through the armor we all have come to wear against views that are not already ours. Lay down your weapons.

  • Assume the best: Remember that if you act nobly, everyone else automatically will too. For example, if you promise not to criticize Trump, then the GOP and tea party will do the same if Trump loses in 2020, just as they showed only politeness and respect to the president and first lady the last eight years.

  • Treat Trump as normal: Believe your friends/relatives when they say this is no different than when Ronald Reagan got elected. If you don’t remember Reagan being a Muslim-hating, genital-grabbing, Mexican-labeling, disabled-ridiculing, white-supremacist-appointing sort of president, instead focus simply on the fact that he and Donald were actors before entering the White House. See, they’re not so different after all. Geez, relax a little, won’t you?

  • Assume opposition is free: As soon as you start to fear opposition to Trump is going to cost you (say, a Facebook friend, golf partner or business opportunity), drop it. How pleasant your life is right now matters much more than the world you leave your nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren. You’ll probably be gone by the time climate change kills millions — and whose grandchildren wouldn’t enjoy living closer to the beach?

  • Cancel your subscription: You could save some $3.50 a week for each newspaper subscription you cancel or don’t sign up for in the first place. Rely entirely on Facebook for your news. The crowds elected Donald; now trust them to tell you what’s what. The fewer the reporters to do the digging, the fewer the scandals to be uncovered and cause you alarm. Think of all the money and time saved if the Washington Post hadn’t had the staff to devote to Watergate coverage.

  • Tune out and give up: You’ve tried it for a couple of weeks now and liked it. You’ve joined those who don’t follow the news and found it’s easier on the gut than paying attention and fighting back.

Imagine: “TRUMP RE-ELECTED.”

[This originally appeared in the November 22, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald.

The Day After Trump Loses

Wow. Hillary Clinton won with a bigger electoral and popular vote margin than seen since the 1980s. So much for that “50-50 nation.” Democrats also took the Senate. Between Democratic Party gains in the House and the defection of tea party supporters, Paul Ryan accepts that he will have to rely on some Democratic votes to be re-elected speaker of the House.

The rest of the world — Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange excepted — breathe a collective sigh of relief. Celebrations break out around the globe as the world’s citizens toast what did not happen.

Donald Trump has not conceded, but only his loyalists (about 20 percent) continue to admit they voted for him. They’ve quit calling themselves the “tea party.” Now it’s “the Trump Party.” To no one’s surprise, Trump’s team is announcing the launch of a media empire. Not IRT (“It’s Rigged TV”), nor WYT, but PUR (“Purity TV”). Fox News is terrified. It is right to be so.

Donald will wake up in a sweat at 3 a.m. tomorrow, terrified that he is no longer newsworthy. The Franklin Grahams, Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwell Jr.s likewise are panicked. Their brand of Jesus-loves-you-but-I-hate-you theocracy has been defeated by a new generation of evangelical leaders who prefer caring for the downtrodden to seduction by the siren song of political power.

Conservative thought leaders acknowledge the culture wars are over. No one cares about same-sex marriage anymore. The conversation on abortion turns to how to come together to actually reduce the need for and number of them, rather than obsessing over Roe v. Wade. The surviving GOP leaders (Reince Priebus is not to be among them) announce plans to improve rather than abolish Obamacare. Comprehensive immigration reform is visible on the horizon, the Hastert Rule having died the painful death it and its namesake so richly deserved.

Given the Trump (and Bernie Sanders) phenomenon, both political parties look seriously at ways to shrink what for decades has been the growing chasm between the wealthiest and the rest of the citizens.

Trump and his 1st Regiment of the Army of Deplorables promise to fight on. In the years ahead, they will win a rare election here and there, more often claiming victory for having ensured the electable Republican loses in the primary. These victories will be a replay of the Battle of Palmito Ranch — a skirmish the Confederacy won in May 1865, near Brownsville, Texas.

The problem is the Civil War had been over for more than a month, after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9. As with the Battle of Palmito Ranch, each casualty in Trump’s war will die in part from malignant futility.

Historians will wonder at the year that America came close to electing someone who showed every sign of a dictator-in-the-making, from gigantic ego to thin skin, from scapegoating to media-bashing. Future students will ask: Was it because of sky-high inflation, skyrocketing unemployment or the ravages of a contagious disease that the country almost did this?

No, their teachers will answer. It was because some people started telling themselves lies and eventually they believed them. And their lies got bigger and still they believed them. And eventually they could not tell truth from fiction. But it was stopped by record-setting numbers of voters turning out to say, no, we don’t believe it, you’ve gone too far, pull it back, you’ve left us.

Why did it take more than 230 years to elect an African-American and then a female, the students then will ask. No good answer.

Originally appearing in November 1, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald, where David is a member of the Board of Contributors. Submitted to the paper October 25, 2016.

Election Day Antichrist Hunting

I was fascinated with all things Antichrist growing up. Whether the 1972 film “A Thief in the Night” or Salem Kirban’s novel “666,” I couldn’t get enough about the end times and this villain of villains.

I was terrified to realize that Ronald Wilson Reagan had three sets of six-letter words to his name. When Pope John Paul II was shot, I pondered if this would be the survived injury that I saw my Bible as predicting the Antichrist would miraculously recover from. The one thing I was sure of was that the Antichrist would be revealed soon, what with living in the end times and all.

Imagine my great disappointment upon eventually learning that the Antichrist of the biblical book of Revelation likely was code for the Roman emperor Nero, not someone on the evening news. Thankfully biblical scholars are not often listened to, so the game of Antichrist-hunting continues to provide hours of unabated entertainment among Christian fundamentalists and others worldwide.

The idea of the ultimate evil one tricking the world into worshiping him is forever appealing, particularly when knowing that in the end he is to be defeated and cast “alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

The idea of decoding the 666 secret and identifying his helper, “the false prophet that wrought miracles before him,” heightens the intrigue. One popular theory is that bar codes have a symbol for six at the beginning, middle and end, so the prophecy is fulfilled that we cannot buy or sell without this mark; perhaps we all will be tattooed with a barcode. Again, how crushing that the author of Revelation was signaling to Christians of his time that their persecutor Nero would be defeated, not us about bar codes.

An Internet search of “antichrist Hillary Clinton” turns up about 480,000 results, while one for “antichrist Donald Trump” turns up around 494,000. If there were any doubt that one can prove almost anything by stringing together small excerpts from any book a couple of inches thick — whether the Bible, the collected works of Shakespeare or the Quran — check out these websites.

You might as well squander time on Sudoku or Pokémon hunts as try to align micro-clues from scattered Bible verses with each wannabe leader crossing the headlines.

A more useful if devilish deduction is actually consistent with the idea of the Antichrist (i.e., contrary to the teachings of Christ) and requires far less tea-leaf reading. Asked the most important commandment, Jesus said loving God, then immediately added loving your neighbor. Asked who is a neighbor, Jesus used a parable involving the much-despised Samaritans to say it is likely the person you least find likable.

You could hear a thousand modern sermons and never guess it, but Jesus said nothing in the Bible about getting politically involved, abortion, homosexuality, protecting the environment or universal health care. Instead, the much harder assignment is loving your neighbor.

The essence of the Antichrist would thus be someone who teaches us to hate our neighbor. One who identifies a group (e.g. Samaritans) as despicable and scapegoats them. The genocidal hall of fame — with members like Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot — is full of leaders constantly on a purge, forever seeking an elusive purity in ethnicity, belief or both.

Proceed with your Antichrist quest this election season. Just don’t waste time decoding names. Instead ask yourself which candidate(s) spend the most time telling us whom to hate and why, encouraging collective punishment of those impure in ethnicity or belief. Then cast them alive into a ballot box of fire, lest you too be culpable.

[This column originally appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald on October 16, 2016.]

A Christian-Muslim Wedding Ceremony

 A few years back I performed a wedding ceremony for a couple with whom we are friends, with a Christian bride and Muslim groom. I was sadly surprised I could not find multiple sample ceremonies to work from. So here’s what I put together, in the hope someone out there finds it of use. Feel free to use and adapt as you see fit. And may your marriage last forever.

Marriage of BRIDE [Christian] & GROOM [Muslim]

          BRIDE and GROOM, you have come here today to seek the blessing of God, family, and friends as you join in this marriage of two faiths.

          First we hear these words from a translation of the Qur’an, referring to “People of the Book,” a group which includes Christians:

          This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers, but chaste women among the People of the Book, revealed before your time,- when ye give them their due dowers, and desire chastity, not lewdness, nor secret intrigues[–] if any one rejects faith, fruitless is his work, and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).

          Also these words from the Qur’an:

          Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.

          And these:

          Interact with your wives in a good manner for if you feel dislike for them, it may well be that you dislike something in which Allah places much good.

          And finally these:

          Whoever marries has completed half of his faith. So let him beware of Allah regarding the other half.

          Now we hear these words from the Bible:

          But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no one separate.

          And these:

          If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

            If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

          GROOM, you have taken BRIDE to be your wife.  Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, to be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?

          [The Husband answers: I do.]

          BRIIDE, you have taken GROOM to be your husband. Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, to be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?

         [The Wife answers: I do.]

         BRIDE and GROOM will now exchange rings, as gifts that will remind them of their love and commitment to each other.

          By the power vested in me by the State of Texas, I declare you husband and wife.  You may kiss the bride.

          Now, may the peace, mercy, and blessings of Allah be upon you and your marriage. For we ask the Lord to not only bless your marriage, but also to keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

          Amen.

Trump Criticizes Christ; Goes Up in Polls

Proving he is the hugest thing ever to hit the American political scene, Donald Trump’s poll numbers actually went up this month after his recent criticisms of Jesus Christ. Trump bragged that by contrast, even the Beatles fell in popularity when, 50 years ago, John Lennon asserted that Christianity was in decline and the group was “more popular than Jesus.”

Trump’s controversial comments came in a wide-ranging interview for Decision Magazine with Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham. In the article, Franklin describes the 2016 presidential race as “the most important election of our time” and Donald Trump as “The Chosen One.” Franklin invited Trump to “open up for our readers about your views on Jesus.”

After clarification from Franklin that he was referring to “Jesus Christ — the one in the Bible,” Trump said, “OK, that guy. I admit it. I’ve got some reservations about him. For one thing, he allowed himself to be captured. In my book, that’s not what a hero does. They don’t turn the other cheek — you know, choke. I wish he had punched the Romans in the face. Knocked the crap out of Judas. Judas was a very bad dude. Had it coming.”

The transcript reflects Franklin Graham breaking into a coughing spell at this point, while Trump continues to propound on what Jesus had done wrong. “He praised the Samaritans — people who wouldn’t have been around if not for open borders. He said the meek were blessed. Did you get that? The meek are blessed. The other religions — I mean — they’re laughing at us.”

When Franklin resumed his composure, he pushed back, questioning if Trump meant what he said. “Oh, I know more than the generals about ISIS, and more than Jesus about living right,” Trump assured him.

Trump went on to list other areas of disagreement:

“Blessed are the peacemakers? It’s very weak. I’m going to make America so unmeek you’ll get tired of it.”

“Blessed are you when you are persecuted? I guess he couldn’t afford lawyers to stand up for his rights. Or maybe Roman laws were like ours: too much protection to people who tells lies about you.”

“Praying in private and secretly giving to the poor? I mean, what’s the point if the cameras don’t catch it? If it’s not on TV, it didn’t happen. Just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Asked if he could name one thing Jesus did right, Trump cited the ability to express memorable things in a tweetable 140 characters or less: “The Golden Rule, you know, that ‘Treat others like they treat you’ — Jesus said that in less than 40 characters and everyone in the world knows about it. It’s great, really great. Walking on water, that’s another thing I admire. Believe me, I really do.”

Franklin pegged religious freedom as “the No. 1 issue” and Trump as “100 percent right on it.” He compared this to Hillary Clinton being a Methodist, “which in the end is only nine letters away from Muslim.”

Trump noted with pride that he does “very well with the Jews, a lot of them are voting for me and are my close friends. They count my money. I trust them.”

Franklin wrapped up by admitting he resented Trump for making Christians choose between “political power and the Prince of Peace” but that Trump was right: Jesus spent “too much time with the needy — if Jesus focused more on flattering the political elite like I do, Herod and Pilate would have been his buddies.”

Trump nodded his hair in agreement.

 

[Originally appeared in September 27, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald at 4A.]

My (Pitiful) Trump Endorsement

In response to Sammy McLarty’s Sept. 4 pro-Trump column in the Tribune-Herald, I also start with a quote:

“In religion and politics, people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.” — Mark Twain

Behold how many areas of agreement McLarty and I have (with minor exceptions noted):

• Like the Founding Fathers, Trump will be independent of “the Establishment — the ruling class” (except the Founding Fathers feared mob rule as much as a king and, on the downside, excluded over half the population from voting).

• Trump “will not be bound by shady alliances/allegiances or beholden to special interests” (except for his ties to the most dangerous of our totalitarian enemies, Vladimir Putin, and his support from American nationalists who wish to overthrow our system of civil rights and due process for all). Trump surely will disregard the interests of big business (other than those of himself, his family and his cronies).

• Trump speaks “plainly, no matter whose sacred cow or favored groups are offended” (and only in one out of two speeches does he show disdain for women, “the blacks,” “the Mexicans” or some combination thereof).

• He will deal with “uncontrolled immigration” (by doing the same things President Obama is now doing: stopping entry at the border, prioritizing deportation of immigrants who commit crimes, increasing spending on the U.S. Border Patrol and keeping the net immigration of Mexican nationals at zero or lower).

• He will stop “unfair trade causing billions in trade imbalance” and “globalization at the expense of working Americans” (by devoting less time to his businesses that have relied on illegal immigrants, imports of cheap clothing from China and cheating small businesses out of the money he owes them that they would use to make payroll).

• He will stand up to big news media (except he embraced as a campaign adviser Roger Ailes, who headed the hugest U.S. news network — Fox — and was deposed over blocking career advancement of females not returning his sexual advances).

• Trump will end “juvenile” collegiate angst about “safe spaces, safe speech and safe thought” (except he wants to change the First Amendment to make it easier to sue journalists who criticize him; a couple of his followers have the habit of whining to the Trib when one of my columns ribbing Trump invades their safe space).

• Trump honors his supporters’ “madder’n hell” view of the world (except that their griping is odd given they live in the wealthiest nation in human history and claim to be oppressed whenever it is suggested others might be given the opportunities they were).

• The alternative is a return of “Bill and Hillary back in the White House” (and who among us could bear the economically prosperous, pre-9/11 world of the 1990s?).

• “Someone so opposed by so many must be doing something right” (except that opposition by those who traditionally support the GOP nominee could be a sign that Trump truly is a danger).

• In short, Trump will bring a political revolution, an earthquake of change in Washington (though the middle class tends to get screwed in revolutions and earthquakes create great destruction).

Frustration over the lack of “trickle down” to the middle class of the prosperity experienced by the 1 percent is understandable. We merely disagree over whether a huckster, influence-buying, small-business-busting billionaire is the solution.

This column originally appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald  on Friday, September 9, 2016.

Bears in the Woods v. the Custodians

In lieu of a petition to the Waco City Council

Hidden deep among the cottonwood and cedar trees along the Brazos river, a meeting was being held of the Venerated Council of Sovereign North American Black Bears. While the business at hand was quite important, we use only first names to protect identities.

Bruiser: Order! Order! Come to order! What is our business today?

Joy: I have an idea for reducing poverty among the bear populations.

Joe: I have an idea for preserving the bear middle class!

Ted: I have an idea for attracting bees that produce more honey.

Bruiser: All great ideas. But we have one agenda item left from the last council meeting.

Joy: Surely it could not be more pressing than stopping the cycle of poverty!

Bruiser: Oh, much more important. It is an idea to save us 294,000 jars of honey a year.

Ted: Fantastic!

Joe: Too good to be true!

Bruiser: All we have to do is contract out the custodial work.

Ted: This is better than Pooh’s Spring Cleaning Mystery!

Joy: It’s a no brainer. We’d have to have fluff in our ears not to know that.

Bruiser: We get to pay someone else to pay the custodial bears for us.

Joe: They do it for free?

Bruiser: No, they take the smaller amount of honey we give them and they take some of it out for their trouble, but they let the custodial bears have the drops that are left.

Joy: I bet the custodial bears will be happy not to have to worry about having insurance cards to carry around anymore.

Ted: And no more having to count vacation days.

Joe: And no more having to find a place in a tree to store retirement statements.

Bruiser: This is the best idea we have ever had! We can use the honey we save to spread around to bring new businesses to the forest. When they open, they might create jobs that provide more honey to our fellow bears!

Joy: The problem with giving the custodial bears honey is that they will just use it up.

Ted: But what if the custodial bears get angry?

Joe: They claim to be working too hard to show up for our meetings, but I think that just proves that we should contract them out. They don’t care about us.

Bruiser: I’m sure one of those custodial bears will suggest contracting out this Venerated Council of Sovereign North American Black Bears. But that won’t happen — the other bears rely on us to protect their quality of life.

Joy: To attract new jobs with honey saved by cutting ones we already have.

Ted: Exactly! Even the custodial bears will be grateful once they realize that their losing honey, insurance, leave and retirement benefits might just maybe someday help create a job for another bear that provides all those things.

Joe: Let’s promise to use most of the honey we save for programs to stop bear poverty. That way even the do-gooder bears can’t complain.

Bruiser: It’s unanimous then. A round of tea and honey for everyone!

Joy: You have forgotten, Brother Bruiser, that we end all our meetings with a reading of a randomly picked verse from our Beloved Bear Bible.

Joe: (Flipping open the Beloved Bear Bible, putting his claw down) Here it is, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least paid of these bears, you refused to help me.”

Ted: Not sure what it means, but I like it.

Joy: As Pooh remarked, “They say nothing is impossible, but I did it today.”

This column originally appeared in the August 13, 2016 Waco Tribune-HeraldUse of the names of Baylor mascots in the story above does not constitute the endorsement by real bears of the actions described.