What?

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The torrent of lies that come out of the Trump administration and the Republican Party are just too difficult to keep up with.

I know.

I’ve tried.

But some of it reveals underlying opinions that can’t be allowed to pass without comment. As a warming, comment in this case requires a little longer post than I normally make.

7/3/19 Tweet from @realDonaldTrump

If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!

I have a lot of problems with this statement, but let’s start by what it implies. The implication is that ALL southern border immigrants are illegal. That is not true. The bulk of those entering the country right now are seeking asylum. Rather than sneak into the country, they present themselves to border officials. Our laws REQUIRE us to hear their case before we make any determination whether they are legal or illegal.

Unfortunately, Trump’s lies about the border are broadly reflected in tweets supporting Trump.

Agree on that sir. If they don’t want to be detained then don’t come!

I am a U.S. citizen. I work hard everyday to take care of my family and pay my taxes. I’m a pipe welder and a pipe fitter. Everyday I go to the grocery store to buy food for my family there are people buying there food with food stamps that are not citizens. That’s not right

Everyone who thinks we should allow anyone to walk across our southern border should have to take them in their homes. The ones that scream the loudest to let them in live in gated communities or has walls and fences around their homes. Hypocrites…

POTUS, YOU ARE 100% RIGHT!!!
IF THEY DON’T LIKE THE DETENTION CENTERS TELL THEM THEY ARE FREE TO GO HOME!!!

Can you imagine sneaking into any other country in the world illegally;
Be appropriately placed in a detention center; and
Complaining about the conditions in the facility?

Exactly and for the woman who compared them to concentration camps, I see no one working them literally to death. I see no guards ready to shoot them without question, no fas chambers, no crematoriums. They can go back to their homes if they like, etc

Agree !! Come in legally or don’t come in at all. Keep the pressure on POTUS !!

Here’s how the NYT summarizes the situation.

A record number of asylum-seeking families, many fleeing persecution, violence or poverty in Central America, have filled facilities along the southwestern border that were built to only briefly hold adults before they were deported.

The Trump administration has tried to deter the immigration surge by raising fees on asylum applications, limiting the daily number of migrants who can apply for asylum at ports of entry and forcing more than 13,000 migrants to return to Mexico to wait for the outcome of their asylum cases.

In April, the administration also tried to deny bond hearings to migrants who illegally entered the United States, which would have kept them in jail until their immigration cases were resolved. The Justice Department’s order was blocked on Tuesday by a federal judge in Seattle.

In a statement on Wednesday, the White House said the Seattle ruling was “at war with the rule of law.”

“The decision only incentivizes smugglers and traffickers, which will lead to the further overwhelming of our immigration system by illegal aliens,” the statement said.

AND

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, also on Wednesday called for the firing of Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, who was appointed last week to lead the agency.

Mr. Schumer, Democrat of New York, criticized Customs and Border Protection for the findings in the government report. He also excoriated the agency over a secret Facebook group of former and current Border Patrol agents that featured jokes about migrant deaths and obscene images of members of Congress.

“The horrid conditions C.B.P. has subjected children and families to at the border are nothing short of inhumane and downright inexcusable,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “Too much of C.B.P. has been an out-of-control agency for too long, and it must be reined in immediately.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee has demanded that Mr. Morgan and Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, testify at a hearing next week to discuss the problems.

I think it is reasonable to ask WHY the administration is trying to subvert existing laws, separate families, and treat children harshly. The result of this is a culture in the CBP which reflects the attitudes of the President and his supporters. The hypocrisy of a lawless culture as the best way to respond to “illegal aliens” is remarkable and difficult for any fair minded person to defend.

So why does it continue?

I believe that Trump feels that this is a winning strategy.

While his tariff announcement was in many ways a surprise, it also had a tinge of inevitability. According to current and former aides, who requested anonymity to speak freely, when Trump feels he has lost control of the narrative, he grasps at two issues: border security and trade. Those aides said he sees these topics as reset buttons, ways to rile both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and draw attention away from whatever dumpster fire is blazing in a given week. “Whenever a negative story comes around, his instinct is to pivot to immigration or trade,” a senior campaign adviser told me. “It’s kind of like his safety blanket. He knows that Fox and conservative media will immediately coalesce and change what the base is talking about.”

That tactic often works: By the end of a week in which the lies of the White House’s representation of the Mueller report became more apparent than ever, reporters, pundits, and the stock market were all responding instead to Trump’s latest attempt to curb immigration at the southern border. (The Dow Jones closed Friday at four-month lows in response to the tariffs.)

It is all a cynical exercise of controlling the news cycle. Whether or not it works is a different question that brings this into even more focus.

On trade it is not working.

[Trump’s] protectionist trade policies haven’t produced the kind of political boost in critical swing states that his backers are depending on. “Voter approval on trade policy appears to be no higher in key competitive states than in other states,” Goldman finds, “and overall presidential approval in those states has declined by more than the national average.”

One reason why Trump’s trade policies haven’t lifted his approval rating is that, aside from the original $50 billion of tariffs on Chinese imports announced last June, voters have on balance disfavored every one of his subsequent trade actions, including recent tariffs on China. … Voters’ disapproval is particularly severe when it comes to tariffs targeting U.S. allies such as Canada and Mexico.

While the Goldman study doesn’t take into account Trump’s newest threat against Mexico or the possibility of penalties on Australian aluminum, there are several reasons to believe both acts would be highly unpopular.

As a result, that’s why we are seeing a softening of Trump’s position. He has pivoted to a plan where he will announce weak agreements with China and simply misrepresent them as a big win for the country.

Much like Bush with the Iraq War, it is hard to deny that Trump’s approach to immigration has made the situation worse on the southern border. Nonetheless, there is also a real crisis there, and Americans believe immigration to be one of the most important policy issues facing the country. Unless Democrats can proffer a coherent and credible plan about what to do on the southern border, then Trump will be able to own this issue.

Even though this is a problem that Trump has created, at the moment he is the only one who claims he has a plan. His plan resonates with his supporters.

That plan has three components.

1.Characterize all immigrants as illegal even though asylum seekers are not illegal. This works because it appeals to the conservative moral foundation of respect for law.
2.Punish all immigrants through harsh treatment, family separation, and mass deportation. Much of this plan is illegal, but it also appeals to the conservative moral foundation who believe that is it more important that every lawbreaker be punished than it is to protect the rights of the innocent.
3.Lay all of the blame for the current conditions on his political opponents who are “soft on (fill in the blank)”. This finishes the trifecta of authoritarian appeal. He is the only one who is willing to take this stand. He will break the law if he has to because the end justifies the means. Those who oppose him are biased, can’t be trusted, and should also be punished.

I’m not surprised that Republicans have fallen in line behind Trump. That’s what Republican Party is good at. They gave way to the Tea Party when it had momentum. They marched into Iraq, supported torture, and domestic spying because Bush II claimed war powers. They even supported Reagan through the S&L and Iran Contra scandals because he was good at demonizing liberals. That’s because of another of the conservative moral foundations – respect for authority even if it is misplaced.

But you would think that those who respect a higher authority than the government would come to different conclusion. Unfortunately, white evangelicals remain some of Trump’s strongest supporters.

Approval for President Trump among white evangelical Protestants is 25 points higher than the national average. And according to a Pew Research Center survey, “White evangelical Protestants who regularly attend church (that is, once a week or more) approve of Trump at rates matching or exceeding those of white evangelicals who attend church less often.” Indeed, during the period from July 2018 to January 2019, 70 percent of white evangelicals who attend church at least once a week approved of Trump, versus 65 percent of those who attend religious services less often.

Peter Wehner of the Ethics and Public Policy Center has a good article in the Atlantic describing the damage the is being done to the evangelical movement as a result of their political position.

There’s a very high cost to our politics for celebrating the Trump style, but what is most personally painful to me as a person of the Christian faith is the cost to the Christian witness. Nonchalantly jettisoning the ethic of Jesus in favor of a political leader who embraces the ethic of Thrasymachus and Nietzsche—might makes right, the strong should rule over the weak, justice has no intrinsic worth, moral values are socially constructed and subjective—is troubling enough.

But there is also the undeniable hypocrisy of people who once made moral character, and especially sexual fidelity, central to their political calculus and who are now embracing a man of boundless corruptions. Don’t forget: Trump was essentially named an unindicted co-conspirator (“Individual 1”) in a scheme to make hush-money payments to a porn star who alleged she’d had an affair with him while he was married to his third wife, who had just given birth to their son.

While on the Pacific Coast last week, I had lunch with Karel Coppock, whom I have known for many years and who has played an important role in my Christian pilgrimage. In speaking about the widespread, reflexive evangelical support for the president, Coppock—who is theologically orthodox and generally sympathetic to conservatism—lamented the effect this moral freak show is having, especially on the younger generation. With unusual passion, he told me, “We’re losing an entire generation. They’re just gone. It’s one of the worst things to happen to the Church.”

and

Labberton speaks about what it means to live as people in exile, trying to find the capacity to love in unexpected ways; to see the enemy, the foreigner, the stranger, and the alien, and to go toward rather than away from them. He asks what a life of faithfulness looks like while one lives in a world of fear.

He adds, “The Church is in one of its deepest moments of crisis—not because of some election result or not, but because of what has been exposed to be the poverty of the American Church in its capacity to be able to see and love and serve and engage in ways in which we simply fail to do. And that vocation is the vocation that must be recovered and must be made real in tangible action.”

There are countless examples of how such tangible action can be manifest. But as a starting point, evangelical Christians should acknowledge the profound damage that’s being done to their movement by its braided political relationship—its love affair, to bring us back to the words of Ralph Reed—with a president who is an ethical and moral wreck. Until that is undone—until followers of Jesus are once again willing to speak truth to power rather than act like court pastors—the crisis in American Christianity will only deepen, its public testimony only dim, its effort to be a healing agent in a broken world only weaken.

At this point, I can’t help but wonder whether that really matters to many of Donald Trump’s besotted evangelical supporters.

I wonder as well.

Evangelicals have allowed themselves to be seduced by political power. Now that they have it, they want to use it to exact some sort of revenge for past injustices. As a result, they fear that if they lose that power, “liberals” will exact some sort of revenge in return.

Many white evangelical Christians, then, are deeply fearful of what a Trump loss would mean for America, American culture, and American Christianity. If a Democrat is elected president, they believe, it might all come crashing down around us. During the 2016 election, for example, the influential evangelical author and radio talk-show host Eric Metaxas said, “In all of our years, we faced all kinds of struggles. The only time we faced an existential struggle like this was in the Civil War and in the Revolution when the nation began … We are on the verge of losing it as we could have lost it in the Civil War.” A friend of mine described that outlook to me this way: “It’s the Flight 93 election. FOREVER.”

Trump is an expert at tapping into this fear.

The result is that people who claim to have faith, have lost their faith in Jesus. Instead they have placed their faith in one of the false prophets that the bible warned us all about. They have replaced humility with hypocrisy. They have replaced fidelity with tribalism. They have replaced love with hate. These people are right to fearful, but the judgement is not going to come from “liberals”. God will be their judge and His judgement will be righteous.

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