Repairing the Damage

by Tom Riehl3/6/17
How do we proceed under Trump, our surprising President?  •  The options are limited in a political context. One could go with the current flow and trust in the American people to orient our leadership properly. One could argue vehemently against the current flow, but there’s so much healing necessary for our economy and culture that such a course might be counterproductive. One could look backward and analyze what caused the current flow, but what does that produce?

Is it possible that a view of politics that assumes autocracy is always possible and that must be guarded against at all costs is not relevant in America? The examples of autocrats run amok have never been in America. Obama was the closest we ever came to allowing such unbridled power, and the consequent vicious reaction of our society is where we are now. Trump is an expression of the very singularity of the American Idea.

It is important for those in our society who feel unhinged by the abrupt transition in our government to regain their footing and again feel a part of our good country. We are going to need all the help we can muster to re-balance our culture and undo all of the Progressive/fascist damage that has been done over decades of unconstitutional governance. Clear thinking about how we proceed is what we need, not more analysis of who is to blame for our predicament. Of late, the writers at American Greatness and American Thinker have helped me understand the definition of what conservatism has been and what it is morphing into, and that such a redefinition is a positive and necessary transition.

I appreciate Trump for breaking up the fancy party that the dubiously labeled elite have been having at the citizens’ expense. That the party extended into the globalist realm only made the situation more dire for the US. Trump is exploding the status quo and will roll back some of the legal damage, the cultural damage, and the personal damage to individual citizens. We, the huge block of our society that has been ignored, demeaned and robbed in broad daylight, have said it’s time for positive change. We have been called various names such as the Silent Majority, the Tea Party, and the deplorables. However we are labeled, we demand sanity for a change. For example, returning to the simple idea that there is no free lunch could drive a stake through the black heart of governmental transfer payments, sucked from the life blood of middle Americans, clothed as “help” for the poor.

One could go on all day about such topics, but the point is that we are headed in a new direction, and, albeit a tad trite, together we are stronger and more capable of building a truly fair and loving society.

Tom is a retired aerospace systems engineer. His interests include Koi ponding, photography and fifth-wheel travel. • (943 views)

Tom Riehl

About Tom Riehl

Retired aerospace engineer and a veteran. Actually like our constitution!
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42 Responses to Repairing the Damage

  1. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    But, to quote Lenin, “What is to be done?”

    Lenin addressed this question in the above mentioned pamphlet and his solution was not nice. To keep things on a proper keel, I think you need to give some instructions, guidelines, even hints as to what to do and how to do it.

    I think we have long been ruled by Lenin’s idea of a “Vanguard”, but we didn’t realize it.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      “What is to be done?” is of course the nub of reality, KFZ. My intended point was limited to reassuring those so completely surprised by Trump that he is in fact a desirable, normal and necessary leader for the present. The path he and Congress will take is partially under the citizens’ control, so the more of us who participate, hold their feet to the fire, and express our desires or condemnations directly to them, the better. Interesting times, to be sure, but exciting.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    It’s certainly desirable to clean out the corruption of Versailles-on-the-Potomac, but this will require reducing government power. So far, it isn’t clear that Trump has any plans to do this, and there aren’t enough people in Congress who want to do this to push the issue.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Of late, the writers at American Greatness and American Thinker have helped me understand the definition of what conservatism has been and what it is morphing into, and that such a redefinition is a positive and necessary transition.

    I’m sort of with Mr. Kung, Tom. I’d love to hear specifics. What is conservatism morphing into? And can a lion morph into a zebra and still be a lion?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Trump isn’t a conservative, though he has a lot of conservative appointees and policies. The House plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare has some good points, for example, but an awful lot of bad ones as well. Part of the problem may that, politically, reducing the amount of “free stuff” isn’t feasible.

      • pst4usa says:

        I think taking “free stuff” from… fill in the blank.. the government, the rich through government, or just anyone else that is not family, is as about as hard of a drug as there is to kick. Once you bite that apple, very few can wake up from the sleeping curse.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Perfect question, Brad. It’s a huge topic that has been brewing in the guise of an amorphous GOP civil war for quite a while, but was firmly and spectacularly launched pseudonymously by Michael Anton, now in the White House staff, into the general conservative consciousness with this publication:

      I may say more about this once I synthesize and summarize the evolving literature, and combine that with my personal attitude and point of view. This might help yield some honest arguments and informing answers to Tim’s assertion below that Trump isn’t conservative. We’ll see…

      Your second question may need different creatures to offer a good metaphor. The metamorphosis will be from some lesser and ineffective creature into a much more powerful and effective one.

      For now, HDAHA!

      • pst4usa says:

        Tom, here is my choice for weak Republican animal metaphor. I do not remember who I stole this from, but it was not mine. I do not like to call the John McCain’s of the world RINO’s because the rino is a powerful fear inducing animal. I prefer the term SQuIRL Status Quo Incumbent Republican Liberal, now who has ever been afraid of a SQuIRL? (there is a chance that is misspelled). :})

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Or “Asshole”: arrogant sissified snakes hellbent on liberalizing everything

          • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

            You two crack me up. I like the squirrel choice since my dog believes in the depths of her heart that squirrels are intrinsically evil and deserve to die without dignity, and hates them without reserve because they are frustratingly difficult to catch. McCain will croak before he’s outed. There’s also much merit to Brad’s choice, although it needn’t be an acronym.

          • pst4usa says:

            I like it Brad! I am afraid I choose yours all too often without the acronym.
            I thought about the proper spelling of squirrel and though I should up date the acronym.
            Ignorant or Incumbent

            For any spelling Nazis we may have.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              Squirrels-Rats with bushy tails.

              • pst4usa says:

                Sounds a lot like most Republicans these days. Rats with bushy tails that is.

              • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

                Indeed! They are sorta cute rodentia that carry many awful disease vectors. I have a splendid pellet rifle just for their amusement.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Try Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Shotgun Boogie”, which includes a stanza about hunting squirrels. (“Watch out, bushy-tail, you’ll soon be in the pot.”

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    What this health care bill shows:

    + Trump’s lack of a coherent ideology means everything is but a deal to be made, regardless of whether it’s a constructive one or not. He is feckless regarding these complex matters.

    + Republicans are useless as a party of reform. Sad to say, but they don’t deserve your vote. We need a new party.

    + Nothing in the universe can stop the inevitable now: a single payer totally socialized health care system.

    + Paul Ryan is worse than a snake. And I feel bad for needlessly besmirching snakes. Snakes at least eat rats.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      The new party idea used to seem crazy, but now it seems existentially necessary for survival of our Idea. The only point above I take any issue with is the first one. It’s simply too soon to see what this ridiculous process yields.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The positive point about Trump being an amoral, non-ideological deal-maker (assuming this is the case) is that he may then listen to some of the criticisms of this proposed “fix” to Obamacare.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Here’s an article on how to stay relevant in a post-Christian nation and one that has lost the culture wars. It starts with a bit of a realistic assessment.

    That was 2003. Today the culture war as we knew it is over. The so-called values voters — social and religious conservatives — have been defeated and are being swept to the political margins. Moral issues may not be as central to our politics as they once were, but the American people remain fragmented, often bitterly, by these concerns. Though Donald Trump won the presidency in part with the strong support of Catholics and Evangelicals, the idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.

    The article, of course, provides plenty of word salad but no answers. It seems to be saying, “Don’t expect too much. Create a Christian bubble for yourself and do what you can,” which is pretty much my advice as well.

    I do think the culture wars are thoroughly lost and the next stage is the playing out of the “values” of the Progressive utopianists. We might expect a fair amount of crashing and burning.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Funny you should link to that article. I posted the below link of an interview of the author yesterday. Here it is for your convenience.

      Great minds think alike!

      the idea that someone as robustly vulgar, fiercely combative, and morally compromised as Trump will be an avatar for the restoration of Christian morality and social unity is beyond delusional. He is not a solution to America’s cultural decline, but a symptom of it.

      Sounds like he read ST analysis of earlier last year.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        He had me at “facade” in reply to when the host mentioned that 75% of Americans still identify as Christian. He may be right or wrong, but he’s seeing what you and I are seeing. What is deemed “Christian” these days is an entirely new and different thing (aka what the author deems “feel-good, squishy Christianity”).

        Here’s the Kindle edition of Rod Dreher’s book.

        Here’s the take-away sound byte which could well be aimed at those who see Daniel in Donald Trump, for instance:

        We have to wake up as Christians and realize the situation we are actually in and quit telling ourselves happy, flappy stories about America and get back to traditional Christianity and return to our roots about what be believe.

        He also agrees with Pope Benedict that Christianity is at the place it was at the fall of the Roman Empire. I might indeed download the free Kindle sample of this book and at least read the free part.

        His message is similar to mine: Withdraw from the world to some extent so that you can heal yourself first.

        Whether it was Pascal or someone else, it’s a well-known Christian idea that you have to have your own stuff together first if you think you have any chance of changing anyone else. And I seem to be in agreement with Dreher that if you are gobbling down unconsciously and unreflectively the premises of the current culture, you’re likely to call a cat a dog and be happy with the change in language having lost the concept of truth. I paraphrase from him inexactly but I doubt he’d disagree.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Actually, at the time the Roman Empire fell, Christianity was dominant in most of Europe, though there would be some difference between whether you’re talking AD 476 (the deposition of the last Western Emperor, Romulus Augustus) or AD 1453 (the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks). It did not survive by retreating into bubbles against militant Islam, but by fighting back (e.g., Tours and Lepanto, Granada and Vienna).

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I don’t know. Watch the video or read the book. But a history of the ebb and tide of Christianity would be enlightening. After watching that excellent series on Christianity that I had mentioned a couple months ago, it was clear that Christian orthodoxy slacked off quite a bit once it became the accepted and bureaucratized state religion of Constantine and the Empire. Instead of just true believers a social phenomenon took hold whereby if you wanted to climb the greasy pole or be accepted in society, it became advantageous to identify as a Christian.

            What makes a Christian a real Christian? I suspect that’s a difficult topic and would intersect on an article I read yesterday which said that 95% of the people think they are in the top 50% of “nice” people in society. That is, we humans tend to over-rate how good we are. As I’ve stated about myself, if I find a wallet, I’ll return the money. I won’t spread false rumors about you. I won’t steal your car. I won’t rape your daughter. I won’t apply a five-finger discount at Walmart. But it’s unlikely I’ll be washing the feet of lepers anytime soon.

            “Nice” as a concept has been divorced from good, in practice, although the two words are obviously (and narcissistically) conflated. I would think a good Christian would start by calling a spade a spade and then dealing with it, not painting pretty pictures. Trump, for instance, is likely going to do some things we would consider good, just, and all-American. But he’s going to also be a mixed bag. The man does not appear to be guided by any grounded philosophy that you and I would general recognize as American, Christian, or constitutional.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              There’s a certain tendency for words that have a generally similar meaning to become synonymous instead of reflecting tiny distinctions. Consider that “mean” still refers to “miserly” in British (e.g., “Mean Mr. Mustard”, or the reference to Seddon as the “mean murderer” in the standard biography of Sir Bernard Spilsbury), but in American is just another “not nice” word. I suspect something similar happened with “naughty”.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Speaking of crashing and burning, here’s a report from Stephen Moore about Europe starting to dump it’s “green” energy. Let’s hope Trump stays true to his word (I think it’s his word) not to replicate that same folly here.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        In Britain, to comply with renewable energy requirements, power stations are burning hundreds of millions of pounds of wood pellets (pellets imported from the U.S.). Environmental experts confirm that burning wood is much worse for the environment than burning natural gas or even coal.

        To make this sound better they call those wood pellets, “bio-mass” and it isn’t 100’s of millions, it will be billions of pounds.

        The European Union spent an estimated $750 billion on green-energy handouts over the past decade, and all it’s bought them is a doubling of power costs. This has given American steel, auto manufacturers, light manufacturers, agriculture businesses and technology firms a big competitive edge in world markets.

        It’s no wonder that European nations and Australia are desperate for the U.S. to move to the same dimwitted green energy policies that they have adopted.

        This is the same type of thinking which made many large American companies support Obamacare. They see the fact that other nations have socialized their healthcare costs and would like to have the same advantage in the USA. “Let everyone pay for healthcare so we can take it off our books as an expense.”

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          One of the tenets (fetishes) of the Religion of Leftism is aping what Progressives are doing in Europe. Europe is considered the standard, no matter how much that standard defies facts, logic, or common sense. It’s akin to the old adage your father might have taught you: “Son, if your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do it as well?”

          In the case of the European fetish, the answer is “Yes.”

          • Timothy Lane says:

            But they make it look like so much fun. Or so liberals think. Of course, they’re never the ones who’ll pay the price for their fetishes.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Here’s an extraordinary article by David French who is talking about Russell Moore, a prominent baptist. Although this type of thinking used to be more common, it’s still extraordinary to hear it put so well. This is worth a read.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Sorry, I don’t agree with French. As a matter of fact, a few bells went off about Russell Moore. The disagreements the SBC have with him are more than just about support for Mosques. I will have to go back and find old reports which I read about this guy. If I recall correctly, he is not someone I would want in power around the Church. As I recall, some large Baptist Churches withheld funds from the SBC due to Moore’s actions. And although I do not remember the exact problem, I do recall that I agreed with those Churches who decided to withhold funds because of Moore. If I remember correctly, he sounded like just another young leftist.

        As to French, I think he is missing the point when he writes things like:

        Perhaps the most dispiriting aspect of the Christian role in the 2016 election was the sad absence of faith. It was as if millions of Americans believe that the government is the prime defender of the faith, not Christ,

        It is not that millions of American believe the government is the prime defender of faith. It is just the opposite, they are afraid the government will turn into the prime oppressor of faith, particularly the Christian faith. That was one of the main reasons to vote against Clinton, she would have tightened Christians’ religious freedom even further.

        And then French writes:

        On a broader level, Moore was mapping out a vision for Christians that declared the church to be more than just another interest group. Rather than narrowly seeking its own perceived political interests, it should offer a God-honoring moral voice that is concerned with ends and means. In other words, those who lie to secure power are still liars, even if they prove to be marginally better politicians than the candidates they defeat. The church does not glorify God when it aligns itself with corruption in either party.

        I find this to be somewhat silly. Name me a politician who doesn’t lie? Which party is not corrupt? This is a very superficial argument. If French wants to make the case that Trump is something special as to liars, which you and I have made, then he should make the case.

        French really gives away his position when he writes:

        In other words, Moore was echoing the values and priorities of a large number of younger Evangelicals, men and women who were dispirited by partisanship, weary of persistent racial divisions in the church, and deeply concerned that longtime religious-right leaders had failed to make a compelling case for religious freedom.

        In other words, Moore was echoing the “Snowflake” generation’s emotions. Sounds like a bunch of leftists to me. Go ahead and give in to the leftist philosophy of the modern world and call yourself a Christian. You’ll like it.

        I can’t agree with your assessment of this piece. Sometimes French is ok, but sometimes I find him less than convincing.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          In other words, Moore appeals to evangelicals who really don;t believe in, or practice, their religion. Those are the sort who helped nominate Trump last year (genuine evangelicals mostly preferred Cruz), and they offer no resistance to Liberal Jihad.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I did a quick study of Moore and my recall as to the man’s leanings was correct.

        Before he became a preacher, he was an aid to a Democrat Congressman.

        He says people should not display the Confederate Flag.

        Would appear to be a “social justice” warrior. He harps on racism often. And calls for justice for the “undocumented.”

        Supports Syrian refugee resettlement in a big way.

        Criticized Cruz for calling for a religious test for refugees.

        Accuses Trump of stirring up “racial animosity.”

        Accuses Trump of using “racist and sexist language about immigrants, women and the disabled.”

        He would appear to be the type of Christian who would be happy to let Islam take over the country in the name of freedom of religion. What an idiot.

        I think the SBC should get this fool out of any position of power asap. And the fact that French supports him lets me know that French is another faux-conservative.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Clearly, Moore is a typical liberal, which means liberalism is his real religion and his Southern Baptism is just a veneer at best.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I think Mr. French made some important points even if he did use an imperfect messenger.

          It’s certainly true that some have a bias whereby “non-political” equates more with the Left. Others have a bias…well, as one poster stated:

          Kudos to Moore for standing up. I’m not Baptist but he voiced a lot of what I was thinking this whole election. It was especially hurtful to have a handful of brothers and sisters tell me I was going to hell because I could not vote for Trump. Many people I know did hold their noses and vote for Trump, but some did so with such (pardon the word) evangelical zeal that there was no room for disagreement or to pause and reflect on this candidate who did not reflect many of the values they help up against the other side’s candidates for so many years. You were either for them or cast into the cold. I remain a very confused conservative Christian who feels alone much of the time in this America.

          I took the overall thrust of the article to be, “We got to get a grip and gain some perspective.”

          But I’ll bow out of this argument. I don’t think either of you even attempted to comprehend what French was saying. I think he made some very good points.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I hadn’t read French’s article till now (I haven’t read him much lately). To the extent that his point was that a devout moralistic Christian would reject both Trump and Clinton, he has a good point. But he doesn’t seem to look at the rest of Moore’s record as exposed by KFZ. This is important, because the key issues in religious liberty revolve around government imposition of sexual libertinism. Someone who supports that in general is likely to be a poor defender of (e.g.) Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Elayne Photography, or Flowers by Arlene.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I don’t think either of you even attempted to comprehend what French was saying. I think he made some very good points.

            Au contraire, mon ami.

            If you will recall, during the primaries and in the months prior to the election, I made some similar points about Christians, and Evangelicals in particular, as regards their unquestioning support of and utterings on Trump. I simply didn’t use a horribly flawed social-justice leftist as the point around which I built my argument.

            French screwed up completely by bringing Moore into the discussion. I seriously doubt that French is a true conservative. A neo-con, perhaps.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            Now even Fox is writing about this.


            Question for Dr. Moore. If there is such a problem with racism in the SBC, why, according to this article, are more blacks and latinos joining SBC churches?

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Obviously there’s a history of racism among Southern Baptists, since they split off from the Northern Baptists because of slavery. And no doubt there are plenty of racists today, if only because there are plenty of racists all over (and including a lot of black racists, though I don’t know if Moore lets himself be aware of it).

              But on the other hand, you have people like Elizabeth’s father (who considered everyone a descendant of Adam and Eve, and equal in God’s eyes) and her church (which includes at least one black woman in its choir).

  6. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, Trump’s OMB head (Mick Mulvaney) came out with their budget proposal today, and from what I’ve been able to read it’s pretty good from a conservative viewpoint. It emphasizes national security (and veterans’ benefits, which are one of the prices of national security) and cuts most domestic agencies significantly. Some, such as the CPB, are eliminated entirely. (I think the NEA and NEH are in this category, too.) We shall see how much of it survives in Congress, especially after all the piglets do their usual squealing.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      From what I have been able to ascertain so far, it appears to be a good first step. Since Trump is a trader, I suspect this budget is a far cry from what he expects to come before him for his signature. I would be amazed if he could actually cut 30% from the EPA and some other agencies. Wouldn’t that be great?!

      The cuts in the CPB, NEA and NEH remind me of an episode of “Yes Minister” when a fight breaks out between Sir Humphrey and the minister over government subvention of the arts (Covent Garden). It turns out the government also supports soccer and other things as well. Which explains part of the reason government subvention never gets cut.

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