The Dishonoring of the Oval Office

The White House is out of control. Governing by tweets, firing Comey, battling news media, investigating everything, kowtowing to Russia, booting Spicer, slamming Sessions, unleashing Scaramucci, spewing profanity, canning Priebus, and it can all be traced to the disgracing of the presidency by the unstable Donald Trump. Don’t stop reading. Let me explain.

Those who follow my posts know that I was not a Trump fan before the election. I couldn’t imagine him as president and didn’t vote for him (or Hillary). However, during his first weeks as president, I sought and saw some glimmer of hope. I agreed with most of his ideology, I praised his dream-team cabinet appointments, I applauded his Supreme Court justice nomination, I celebrated his religious freedom stance, and I welcomed his regulation reversals.

But, the real Donald Trump kept surfacing. President Trump is apparently going to be no different from candidate Trump. Granted, there is something refreshing about his break with traditional Washington thinking and political norms. I can take some of his unorthodox comments and behaviors as a strategy for anti-bureaucratic governing. However, he is going way beyond the pale and making a mockery of the presidency, democracy, and basic American values.

Thursday, Attorney General Sessions referred to the president as a different kind of leader. I have studied, taught, and practiced leadership almost all of my adult life. The president is not any kind of leader–a successful operator maybe, but not a leader. He has been a great business man who has profited billions. But, a lot of prominent business men have accumulated wealth by bullying, coercing, threatening, and making shady deals. That is not leadership. Leadership is bringing followers along side with positive incentive and reward sharing. True leaders are respected for their character and caring, not dependent on intimidation and egoism.

I do believe President Trump is a man with a genuine heart for America. Make America Great Again is more than just a slogan to him. But, he is a man who is psychologically unstable and unable to change. The bombastic and erratic personality that served him well in real estate development is hamstringing the governing of America. He realizes his need for wise counsel as evidenced by the caliber of cabinet and staff with which he surrounds himself. But, because he can’t change, he doesn’t heed their advice. His answer to conflict is to fire somebody. An organization is an organism that takes on the air of the person at the top. The dysfunction of the White House staff is nothing more than a reflection of the man in the Oval Office.

I know he is being constantly attacked by the Democrats and the news media, probably unfairly and more than any previous president. But, he brings most of that on himself. The way to handle it is through civil discourse with both the antagonists and the public, not hate speech and fiery tweets that offend friends and foes alike.

I have held this post in reserve for weeks hoping time would reverse the bizarre behavior of the president causing raised eyebrows of disbelief across America. I have celebrated small examples of rational thinking and action only to be disappointed by the next bombshell. His behavior can’t change without providential intervention. I pray for that intervention. I really do want him to succeed. Unfortunately, however, I doubt his being able to continue as president for a full term. I don’t wish for that, and it would be disastrous for our nation. Nevertheless, we survived Nixon, and we would survive Trump. The silver lining would be Mike Pence as the heir to the Oval Office to lead the positive initiatives of his predecessor without the negative baggage.

I invite your comments. Please “like” and “follow.”

Senate Health Care Act Simplified

The health care debacle is the most confusing of the current abundance of political issues. It involves many more factors than can be covered in a blog post, but I will narrow them down to what I consider the three most contentious. If these three aspects of the bill could be resolved, I think it could pass. Health care is a fifth of the economy and greatly impacts us all personally. It behooves us to understand as much as possible about it.

The American Health Care Act, or AHCA, that barely passed the House is being re-drafted in the Senate as the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or BCRA. Here are the simplified summations of three main issues over which Congress is split.

Medicaid. This is the most elusive of the issues. Making health care insurance affordable to almost every American supposedly takes a lot of government subsidy. The BCRA draft would make huge cuts in Medicaid while reducing the number of people eligible for it. These cuts would help offset the costs of health insurance including premium supplements. Democrats and several Republicans complain that the poor and elderly will suffer from the Medicaid reductions and that Medicaid reform should not be part of BCRA. Proponents argue that most poor and elderly should be able to afford the supplemented policies and be freed from Medicaid, and that each state should decide how to best distribute reduced Medicaid.

Insurance Company Supplements. The draft bill takes the position that insurance companies will have to be subsidized substantially by the government in order to provide needed coverage at an affordable price for almost all Americans. This is a left-over concept from Obamacare that even many Republicans believe is necessary. Democrats and some Republicans are adamant that the insurance companies could still make adequate profits supplying needed coverage with reduced or no supplements.

Preexisting Conditions. BCRA ensues coverage for people with health problems already diagnosed. This is the biggest complaint about the plan from insurance companies. Under this concept, people can elect to not carry insurance and plan to purchase it only if they develop a major illness. Insurance companies refer to this as adverse selection, or the “death spiral,” and argue that the way insurance works is for healthier people’s premiums to offset the cost of care for the unhealthy. Otherwise, the companies say, coverage would be too expensive. Insurance not covering preexisting conditions is incentive for the healthier people to be insured and avoid the risk. All Democrats and most Republicans favor coverage of preexisting conditions, higher premiums notwithstanding, but some Republicans want more incentives for the young and healthy to be insured.

These three hot issues have one thing in common: significant government subsidies. The BCRA draft bill would continue to substantially supplement insurance premiums for much of the nation as well as profits of insurance companies. This violates conservative ideologies of less government spending, debt reduction, and government staying out of the free market. But, all Democrats and some Republicans believe considerable supplementation is necessary. That is the crux of the standoff.

Obamacare has failed miserably for many reasons, but the House ACHA and the Senate BCRA sure look a lot like their failed predecessor. Is that what it takes to have affordable health care for almost all Americans? Or, can the Republicans find enough common ground that requires much less government spending and involvement? If they can’t, we are headed for single-payer health care–everyone in America relying on the equivalent of Medicare and Medicaid with the government in control of one-fifth of our economy. Your thoughts?

 

 

Is There a Balm in Washington?

It is easy to become cynical about whether God is even present in Washington, D.C. anymore. With all the hate speech, violence, polarized gridlock, and ungodly laws and policies, one could conclude that God’s Spirit no longer resides inside the beltway. But, let’s take a deep breath and look at the evidence that He is still present and active at the world’s power center.

In the seventh century BC, the nation of Judah was rejecting God, worshiping other gods and things, and celebrating immoral lifestyles. The prophet, Jeremiah, was warning them constantly against the direction the nation was headed. He wrote, “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Gilead was a city famous for its healing balm, or ointment, considered essential medication and exported widely. Jeremiah was asking rhetorically if God’s healing powers had been removed from Judah.

With the depressing craziness observed in America’s capital city, we might ask the same question. Obviously, our three branches of government have essentially rejected God and biblical precepts. However, there is still reason for hope. This past Monday, 30 evangelical leaders visited the White House having been invited to discuss various issues with liaison, Jennifer Korn. Vice President Pence and Jared Kushner dropped in. Then, to the surprise of everyone, President Trump called them into the Oval Office where they prayed for him at length.

Each day’s session of Congress is opened with a prayer by a clergyman. Many congressional committee meetings begin with a prayer. There are numerous prayer groups of officials in all branches that meet regularly for prayer time and fellowship. I had the privilege of attending one of those. Jesus said,  “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” So, God must still be in the midst of Washington.

On the exterior of the Supreme Court building is the sculpture of Moses and the Ten Commandments. In the capitol building’s rotunda, large paintings depict our Christian heritage. Engraved in gold letters above the House Speaker’s rostrum are the words, “In God We Trust.” The Capitol Prayer Room contains an open Bible on an altar and a stained glass rendering of Washington in earnest prayer. Behind him is etched the first verse of Psalm 16, “Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.” Many other buildings in the area including the Library of Congress, the National Archives, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials contain affirmations of dependence on God.

A recent post on this blog highlighted the honoring of God in the Declaration of Independence. I believe America’s founding fathers and an abundance of founding documents laid a foundation upon which was built the heritage that still shapes our government’s guiding principles.

Our government’s respect for the Creator is not what it once was and should be, but I am confident there is still a balm in Washington that can heal our land. May we be spared the fate of Judah which was destroyed for its rejection of God Who made it His chosen nation .

 

America’s Population Explosion: Births vs. Immigration

According to Pew Research, America’s population will reach 438 million by 2050. That’s a 35% increase in the next 33 years. If that doesn’t give you pause, realize that our nation’s current negative birth rate does not sustain our current population. Therefore, more than the entire increase in population will be from immigration. The white race will decrease from 60% to 45% of the population as all other races increase. We would not recognize the America of our grandchildren.

Economist Magazine reports that it takes a 2.1 birth rate (average of 2.1 births per mother) to maintain a stable population in America. The birth rate of our nation has been below that for several years and now stands at 1.8. This means our population from new births is declining. Yet, virtually uncontrolled immigration, legal and illegal, is growing the population exponentially. Many experts predict that American babies born now will likely live in a country of a billion people by 2100.

Hispanic and Asian immigrants are the fastest growing contributors to America’s population, both with birth rates above 2.1. Muslims, with a birth rate of 3.1 are the fastest growing religious group in the world and an increasing complement of America population.

Unchecked immigration is leading to an unprecedented cultural shift in this country. Our history has been one of benevolence toward those foreigners who sought a better life among our free and welcoming people, but those immigrants blended into our culture. Now that immigrants are becoming a preponderance of our population, they are more inclined to impose their culture on this host country.

I believe this places America at great risk of losing the culture, traditions, and mores that have made it the greatest nation on earth. Notwithstanding the positive contributions of immigrants, it is time to become much more selective in inviting legal immigrants and to enforce illegal immigration with a vengeance. I support President Trump’s temporary immigration ban and his plan to implement extreme vetting of all applicants.

I think a good argument could be made for maintaining about 325 million in population with immigrants filling only the deficit caused by the negative birth rate. Those immigrants would have to satisfy major needs that America lacks in skills and talents. Sharing the vast resources and benefits of our country with immigrants is a noble act of kindness, but at this point, opting for the greater good, including our security, is necessary for our survival.

I invite your comments and encourage you to share this post.

 

God in the Declaration of Independence

As we celebrate the 241st birthday of the greatest nation in the history of mankind, may we contribute to its healing by first giving Almighty God credit for its existence. He is prominent in the founding document that established the miracle of America. I believe, more than any other single factor, that His presence in that document has ensured our exceptionalism among all other nations. Let’s look at how the founding fathers clearly wrote God into our national fiber from day-one.

Debate and controversy seems endless as to whether God was really acknowledged and cited by the patriarchs of our nation as part and parcel to its inception. Yet, a cursory review of Declaration of Independence makes obvious what was in the minds and hearts of the author and congressional ratifiers. The first sentence references the people’s independence… “to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them.”

The second paragraph begins with the self-evident truths that all men… “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” According to the Declaration, our rights are not from man or government. They are from God.

The final paragraph, which concludes with the people’s demand for independence, begins with an appeal to… “the Supreme Judge of the World for the rectitude (moral correctness) of our intentions.” In other words, they were not depending on themselves for getting this right; they were depending on God.

The Declaration closes with a final sentence stating that the bold demand was being made… “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”

I know of no other nation in history that was founded on the rock-solid faith in, acknowledgement of, and dependence on the God of all Creation. Due to that position, He granted many miracles allowing the rag-tag Revolutionary Army to achieve victory over the otherwise undefeatable British. Miracles abounded in subsequent wars, economic growth on an unprecedented global scale, rights and freedoms never experienced by any other society, and unmatched scientific and technological development.

Governor Mike Huckabee said, “There is no explanation for this country outside the providence of God.” This Independence Day, seriously consider the intentional providential blessing of your citizenship as an American.  Also, please take a moment to pause and thank God for immersing Himself in the affairs of our great nation beginning with the original ink from the quills of our founding fathers.

Please share this post as a tribute to America’s birthday.

 

 

 

 

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