Category Archives: Donald Trump

Religious and family-values conservatives who view Trump as “profoundly immoral”

Evangelicals need to follow Christianity’s morals, not Trump’s

President Trump in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)
President Trump in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Saturday. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

The Washington Post, by  Michael Gerson, Dec. 23, 2019

Though it won’t be remembered as a classic Christmas movie such as “Elf” or “Die Hard,” “Bombshell” richly deserves your time this holiday season. It tells the sordid story of how powerful men at Fox News tried to gain sexual favors from some young women in exchange for professional advancement. At the drama’s center is the lardaceous, lecherous, loathsome Roger Ailes, who once ruled the conservative world from behind a bodyguard of enablers, before Gretchen CarlsonMegyn Kelly and other courageous women exposed his predation.

My first reaction to the movie was to suppress a gag reflex at the thought of Ailes with his zipper down (which is, mercifully, implied, not shown). I was also struck by the fact that the single most influential conservative institution of the past few decades was run by men who combined social Darwinism and the Playboy philosophy, resulting in the survival of the scummiest. Millions of conservatives, including religious and family-values conservatives, absorbed their view of the world from a source characterized by misogyny, cruelty, immorality and contempt for the powerless.

It is in this context that the recent commentary by Mark Galli in Christianity Today calling for President Trump’s removal from office should be read. Here, in contrast to Fox News, is an institution trying to use a specifically Christian lens to examine the president’s conduct in office. Galli argues that cheating to influence a presidential election is not merely a threat to the Constitution but also “profoundly immoral.” Trump’s lies and slanders on Twitter are “a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.” The corruption and cruelty of the president and those around him have “rendered this administration morally unable to lead.”

Trump’s swift, disproportionate, mendacious response to the editorial — falsely accusing Christianity Today of a leftist slant and promising he would never again read a magazine he has likely never read before — indicates how crucial to his political survival he believes lockstep evangelical Christian support to be. The president’s most visible evangelical Christian supporters — doing their best to mimic Trump’s tone and approach — brayed in agreement. And some conservative writers were highly critical of the editorial. My colleague Hugh Hewitt pronounced himself “bewildered” that anyone would “seek an absolutist political opinion from a website about evangelical faith.” “Whether Trump is good or bad for the republic isn’t a theological question,” said Hewitt. “It is a political one.”

Evangelical institutions such as Christianity Today, in other words, should be content to stay in their lane. They should defer to the political experts. Like Fox News. Like conservative talk radio. Like conspiratorial Internet sites. Wouldn’t it be easier for all involved if evangelical Christians simply accepted the proposition that a political coalition with ethnonationalists, led by a malicious, immoral buffoon, is good for the cause of justice and for the cause of Christ? Isn’t it obvious that the appointment of conservative judges should satisfy all the other moral convictions of Christian citizens?

This, after all, isn’t a theological matter. It isn’t a theological matter that evangelical Christians — influenced by conservative media and white identity politics — have become the religious group most hostile to refugee resettlement and most supportive of a policy of family separation at the border. It isn’t a theological matter that loyalty to Trump is making an older generation of evangelical Christians look like crude hypocrites in the eyes of their own children, who are fleeing the tradition in droves.

From the perspective of Trump partisans, a less carnal version of the Ailes arrangement still applies. Evangelical Christians will be given rhetorical deference, White House access and judges and regulations of their liking. All they need to do is set aside their criticisms of cruelty, deception, misogyny, racism and contempt for the vulnerable. All they need to do is forget decency and moral consistency.

From the standpoint of committed evangelical Christians, the calculus should be more complex. Christians are called to be representatives of God’s kingdom in the life of this world. Betraying that role not only hurts the reputation of evangelicalism; it does a nasty disservice to the reputation of the Gospel. It is time, and past time, for Christian believers to listen to Christian sources on Christian social ethics, including the small, clear voice of Christianity Today.

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    Here’s How Benicia, Nearby Lawmakers Voted On Impeaching Trump

    A bitterly divided House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump. Here’s what your representatives had to say.

    By Maggie Fusek, Benicia CA Patch,
    United States President Donald Trump Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, became the third American president in history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.
    United States President Donald Trump Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, became the third American president in history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. (Shutterstock)

    BENICIA, CA — The congressional representative for Benicia, Democrat Mike Thompson, voted with his party on Wednesday’s U.S. House of Representatives’ vote to approve two articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump and charge him with abusing his office and obstructing Congress.

    The nation’s 45th president became just the third person in the office to be impeached. He now faces trial in the Senate and the unlikely possibility of being removed from office for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    Last week, a bitterly divided House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abusing the power of his office and obstructing Congress. However, given the Senate is controlled by Republicans, it’s considered highly unlikely.

    Impeachment is not a conviction, rather the rough equivalent of a grand jury issuing indictments. Senators act as judge and jury.

    California has 55 members of Congress and 48 of those members belong to the Democratic Party.

    Here’s how lawmakers for Benicia and nearby communities voted on both articles of impeachment, as well as what they had to say about it:

    U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, Fifth District

    Thompson, a Democrat who represents Napa County and parts of Solano County — including Benicia and Vallejo — along with parts of Lake, Sonoma and Contra Costa counties, said he voted in favor of both articles of impeachment in part because “Trump jeopardized our national security.”

    Here is Thompson’s full statement:

    “Impeachment is a solemn duty outlined in the Constitution and one that I do not take lightly. I did not run for Congress to impeach this President, but rather to help our community get ahead and to serve the country I love. Unfortunately, the President brought this on himself by putting his own personal and political interests above those of the people he serves. This jeopardized our national security.

    “The two articles I voted to pass today outline serious breaches of the public trust committed by the President, rising to the bar of high crimes and misdemeanors spelled out in our Constitution. As a combat veteran and having served eight years on the Intelligence Committee, I understand the threat that foreign actors can play in our elections. Every elected official must dedicate themselves to protecting our democracy. No one should invite a foreign country to interfere with our most sacred act of voting. It was a severe abuse of power for the President to ask a foreign nation to interfere in our election to benefit his personal and political interest and to condition bipartisan and Congressionally-approved aid on that interference. And it was an unacceptable obstruction of Congress for the President to order his officials to defy legally-issued subpoenas.

    “Unchecked, these actions could lead us down a path that will unravel the fabric of our nation. I am saddened to have had to vote in favor of these articles of impeachment. But, in the interest of defending our nation, I was compelled to vote to ensure our country holds the same values for our children and for generations to come. Ben Franklin, one of our most influential Founding Fathers, wrote that we have ‘a Republic, if you can keep it.’ I believe we must fight to keep it.”

    U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, Third District

    Garamendi, a Democrat whose district includes Yolo County and parts of Solano County including Dixon and Suisun City, said he voted in favor of both articles of impeachment to “preserve and protect our Constitution and my promise to my constituents to carefully analyze all issues before me.”

    Here is Garamendi’s full statement:

    “Impeaching a President is one of the most solemn and consequential decisions the United States Congress can make. It is not an action I, or my fellow House colleagues, take lightly. Impeachment exists to protect our democracy. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, the impeachment clause in the Constitution exists to address ‘the misconduct of public men,’ which involves ‘the abuse or violation of some public trust.’

    “The investigations and hearings conducted by the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees provide overwhelming evidence that President Trump abused his power of office and endangered our national security when he coerced the president of Ukraine into investigating his likely rival in the 2020 presidential election by withholding $391 million in critical military aid and a White House meeting from the Ukrainian government. Withholding this military assistance to Ukraine as it enters the fifth year of its deadly war against Russia endangers Ukraine’s sovereignty and safety as well as the United States’ national security interests.

    “President Trump has also issued a blanket order prohibiting all executive office personnel from testifying in Congressional impeachment hearings, responding to subpoenas, and turning over documents. Therefore, he has obstructed the legitimate and Constitutional obligation Congress has to conduct an impeachment inquiry when there is evidence of wrongdoing by the President.
    No one is above the law. The President’s actions leave me no choice. President Trump has violated his oath to ‘faithfully execute the Office of the President of the United States,’ and to, ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.’ Now I will uphold my oath of office to preserve and protect our Constitution and my promise to my constituents to carefully analyze all issues before me. I will vote in favor of both articles of impeachment against President Donald John Trump.”

    U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, Second District

    Huffman, a Democrat who represents Marin County, part of Petaluma and parts of Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties, voted in favor of impeachment. Huffman said Trump “compromised national security to cheat his way to re-election.”

    Here is Huffman’s full statement:

    “Madam Speaker, as we take this solemn, necessary step of impeaching President Trump, my Republican colleagues have made up their minds; we can’t persuade them to do the right thing. So, I address my remarks to the future. Because today’s vote will be judged by future generations including my precious children Abby and Nathan. Maybe grandkids.

    “Historians will study what members of this Congress did when our democracy was tested like never before by a President who put personal interests above country; who compromised national security to cheat his way to re-election; and when caught, not only lied and refused to admit wrongdoing, but flouted Congress’ authority. He even called the Constitutional impeachment mechanism ‘unconstitutional.’

    “Historians will marvel how some members continued to stand by this man; how they put blind partisan loyalty – or fear of Donald Trump – above their duty to defend the Constitution; how they made absurd partisan arguments and tried to obstruct these proceedings; and how, instead of pushing back when their party fell under a dark spell of authoritarianism, they embraced it – as if the Constitution, the rule of law, and our Oath of Office mean nothing.

    “So, Madam Speaker, for our future generations, our children, and the judgment of history, let me be clear: I stand with our Constitution, with the rule of law, and our democracy. I’ll be voting ‘yes’ to impeach Donald J. Trump.”

    U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, 11th District

    DeSaulnier, a Democrat whose district encompasses Concord and Pleasant Hill and parts of Martinez and Contra Costa County, voted in favor of impeachment, saying in part that failing to hold Trump “accountable for his actions will lead to more violations.”

    Here is DeSaulnier’s full statement:

    “The reality and urgency of this moment could not be more consequential to American democracy. President Trump violated the law by soliciting foreign interference in our elections.

    “With the President’s pattern of escalating behavior, failing to hold him accountable for his actions will lead to more violations. This President is a threat to our national security. That is why today I voted to defend our democracy, uphold our oath of office and the Constitution, and impeach President Trump.”

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      Benicia and Vallejo residents’ thoughts on impeachment vote


      [BenIndy Editor: Thanks to Times-Herald reporter John Glidden for including my comment in his report.  – Roger Straw]

      Locals mostly positive toward historic vote

      By John Glidden, Vallejo Times-Herald, December 18, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      As President Donald Trump became just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached, many residents in the local area reacted favorably to Wednesday’s impeachment proceedings.

      “We cannot allow a sitting president to usurp the United States Constitution, and use his office as a political weapon,” said Thomas Bilbo, chairman of the Solano Pride Center Board. “Donald Trump has failed the American people by using the power of his office in a way that threatens to destroy our democracy, and the Republican Party seems to be willing to let him do it.”

      The House of Representative impeached the president on two charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Impeachment proceedings began after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for a formal inquiry into the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

      “The divisions we’re seeing on Capitol Hill is based on one party using facts to determine actions by our President damaged our democracy and credibility around the world,” added Bilbo, who is also a candidate for the Solano County Democratic Central Committee. “The other party is just blustering and name calling because they are unwilling to look past party politics and see that the validity of the US Constitution is at stake.”

      Supportive of the impeachment, local Gretchen Zimmermann said she was still worried for the future of the country.

      “Never before in my lifetime have we been so far removed from being able to agree on basic facts. People now feel entitled to believe any version of reality that pleases them,” Zimmermann said prior to the House votes. “I’m not hearing any rational debate from the Republicans in the hearings, only loud declarations of a different version of reality. Orwellian dystopia is here now.”

      Zimmermann said she didn’t feel the lead-up to Wednesday’s House votes had the same energy when President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998.

      “I’m old enough to remember (President Richard) Nixon, too. I was a kid, but, by this stage of the Nixon impeachment (process), people who paid attention to the evidence raised during the hearings, including Nixon’s supporters, came around to thinking Nixon had done wrong,” she added. “We had the Fairness Doctrine back then. We didn’t have Fox News screaming alternative facts.”

      Vallejoan and business owner Ken Ingersoll also spoke about the parallels between the Clinton and Trump impeachments.“I think the impeachment is political theater,” he said. “No different than what the Republicans did to Clinton. Back then, Republicans took their best shot in a good economy, well today, the way I see it, it’s just desserts for them.”

      Benician Roger Straw said he wasn’t surprised by Wednesday’s votes.

      “Trump’s uncivil, ignorant and malign leadership and lack of leadership has been on display constantly over the last three years, and the clarity of Trump’s actions involving Ukraine and his open contempt of Congress give no other recourse but to impeach,” he said. “Congress and the public have remained vigilant throughout, and stand by the Constitution’s right — and responsibility — to hold no one above the law, including a corrupt president.”

      With Trump’s impeachment, a trial in the Senate will take place. Two-thirds of the Senate must be present to agree to remove Trump from office.

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        “Nobody Is Above the Law” Events

        By Roger Straw, December 5, 2019
        Nobody Is Above the Law. That’s why we’re calling on Congress to Impeach & Remove Donald Trump.  —   impeach.org

        Groups all across the nation – including many here in the Bay Area – are planning to hold rallies on the evening before the announced HOUSE vote.  That’s coming up pretty soon.

        Stay alert for the announcement of the vote and plan now to attend a nearby rally.  You can find details for nearby rallies and RSVP your intention at https://www.impeach.org/event/impeach-and-remove-attend/.

        Roger Straw

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