Never Trump Fatigue and the No Man’s Land in between Enemy Lines

As we careen toward Election Day in a world that might rival Alice in Wonderland for its oddities, I have been thinking about the effect of the criticisms of Trump in the press and on social media. Actually, I have been thinking about it since before the last election, but my thoughts are gaining traction now.

Prior to the last election, the press latched onto everything (so it seems) Trump said and did. It didn’t matter that 14 Republicans were in the running at one point; the press couldn’t get enough of Trump. He was a novelty, a media circus. What seemed like a side show to begin with became the spectacle in the center ring..

I assume that Trump was good for the news and media businesses. They like train wrecks and that sort of thing. It sells.

I was thinking as I watched the Republican primary lurch and stutter that the media gave Trump all the fuel he needed to become the front runner. He couldn’t have possibly asked for or gotten more press than he did. I assume that someone like Trump likes any press is good press. Without shame, the more the merrier.

I was aggravated at all the press coverage during the primary because, it seemed to me, the media was ignoring more solid candidates and handing Trump the Republican nomination. As the Primary was settled and the presidential campaigning shifted into high gear, the media attention turned increasingly more judgmental, but it didn’t matter. It was all fuel to the fire.

It was a kind of symbiotic relationship. Trump was propelled along by the inertia of press coverage, and, let’s face it, Donald Trump sold the news.  They played virus and host to each other in the truest of symbiotic dances.

I will never forget the looks of chagrin on the faces of the media pundits as the numbers came in on election night. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing, but I could. They created this Frankenstein and shouldn’t have been wondering at the power they gave him.

By the time Trump became the Republican frontrunner, the press was decidedly weighing against him. He wasn’t just an amusement anymore. Many of the stories carried their own moral weight, but those in the press who were aghast didn’t trust the public, the common people, to judge rightly what they were seeing. Facts, themselves, are apparently no longer sufficient to carry their own weight.

People are smarter than the average bear (to mix another metaphor). They know condescension when they see it. Americans, in particular, don’t like to be told what to think or do. We love our freedoms. We boast about them. Americans are nothing, if not free, right?

Another element at play was the unending, unceasing, constant and continual criticism of Trump by all the Clinton supporters and Trump haters (who were not necessarily the same people). Trump couldn’t do anything or tweet anything or say anything that wasn’t immediately denounced, condemned and decried. Not that they had any lack of ammunition.  

The Trump critics have proven to have the stamina of a racehorse and marathon runner combined. They don’t stop. They never stopped.

For over four years now, going back well before the last election, and continuing to the present time, the Never Trumpers have carried their torches boldly and loudly and often, posting unceasingly to all the world everything Trump says and does wrong on a daily basis. Not that they have lacked for material.

As the next Election Day approaches, it seems to me that Never Trump Fatigue set in somewhere along the line. I have been seeing it for awhile. People are tired of hearing it. People seem to have begun wondering, perhaps, whether the Trump critics doth protest too much.

I am not talking about the Trump supporters, who have been emboldened as the constant drone of criticism has continued to whine and increase. People on both sides of the divide have become more vocal as people in the middle, looking for some common ground or reprieve or sense of “can’t we all get along”, seem to be left, abandoned in the no man’s land in between.

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When the Meanings of Words Change at the Speed of Light

So this happened yesterday in the confirmation hearings. Senator Diane Feinstein asked nominee Barrett if she would “vote to roll back hard-fought freedoms and protections for the LGBT community.” Barrett replied, “I have no agenda. I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”

The comment triggered a virtual fire storm of reaction, beginning with follow up comments from Hawaii Senator, Mazie Hirono. She took the opportunity to state that “sexual preference” is a term “used by anti-LGBTQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice. It is not,” she said. “Sexual orientation is a key part of a person’s identity.”

That idea has been around since the assertion that people are “born that way” that I remember going back to the 1970’s. Though, it was a novel idea then, the groundswell of common opinion seems to side with it, now, 40 some years later. I wasn’t aware that it was scientific fact, but I might have missed that discovery.

Regardless whether it is fact or popularly accepted theory, Barrett replied, “I certainly didn’t mean and would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community.” Her initial response was that she “would not ever discriminate” on the basis of sexual preference. By my way of thinking, if she wouldn’t discriminate on the basis of preference, she would be even less likely to discriminate on the basis of “a key part of a person’s identity”.

But what do I know? Barrett’s words of clarification only seemed to fuel the firestorm of response that followed. 

That firestorm spread so rapidly that Webster’s dictionary online even changed the definition of sexual preference that same day (yesterday to be exact). The term is now officially defined as being “offensive” when used “to refer to sexual orientation” according to one of the venerable dictionaries of the modern age.

I would point out that the change occurred after Barrett made the statement, but it seems from the quick and decisive public response that she should have anticipated it.

Dictionaries, these days, change the meanings of words at the speed of light (or speed of sound, perhaps).  It’s hard to keep up, but one must ever be on guard to adapt and get out of the way of the tsunami that follows a misstep. In a culture that is increasingly attuned to what many have called “political correctness”, a person can never be too quick to change. Barrett is obviously behind the times.

Just for the record, though it wasn’t that long ago, according to the Washington Post, that people more attuned to such things, like Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose seat Barrett has been nominated to replace on the high court “also used the phrase”. (Should overlook the facts on grounds that the Washington Post is a right-wing publication?)

Only a couple years ago Leon Panetta, Obama’s Defense Secretary, wrote for CNN that “Trump is not who we are” since “we are all created equal under God, regardless of our race, creed, religion, color, sexual preference.” But what do I know, again? Maybe he didn’t mean by it the offensive connotation: “to refer to sexual orientation”.

Even if we take Barrett’s words at their most pernicious meaning (that sexual orientation is a preference and not an immutable characteristic), her statement is actually quite a bit less evil than the quickest objectors have speedily supposed. She seems to be saying that, even if gender is only a preference, it deserves protection, and she stands in favor of protecting that preference. That’s good, right?

Black Lives Matter: What Is Different Now?

All photos by ALEX CLANEY PHOTOGRAPHY • 311 S. 2ND STREET • ST. CHARLES, IL 60174 • 630.587.3866

I was born in 1959, just before the Civil Rights Movement. One of my earliest memories of things happening in the world was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I was 3. My mother turned on the vacuum cleaner to try to hide the fact that she was crying, but I noticed.

I remember seeing the footage of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. being shot on live TV when I was 8, but the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just a couple of months before that, has stayed with me much more than the Kennedy assassinations. Maybe the reason is that the Kennedy assassinations were national tragedies, and personal tragedies for the Kennedy family, but the shooting of Dr. King was a human tragedy.

The Kennedy assassinations mark a tumultuous time in American history when change was in the air, and many forces were fighting for footing in the changing political, social and economic seas. Many people, my parents included, put their hope in the Kennedys, who represented a vision of positive change, our very own Camelot.

With the death of President Kennedy that vision died; with the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the  coffin was nailed shut; with the death of Robert Kennedy, Jr., that coffin was buried.

Over 50 years have passed since those chaotic times, and some things haven’t seemed to change all that much. People are still people, and the cancer of endemic and systemic racism continues to live on. It’s hard to say whether it is any less ingrained for all these years. Modern technology keeps it burning in our collective consciousness.

We have made strides, right? I think we have.

Though racial prejudice  is not as overt or “accepted”, and racism has gotten more subtle and underground, modern technology is like a kind of chemotherapy that targets the cancer and exposes it for treatment. Will Smith said recently that racism is not any greater now than it used to be; it’s just filmed more.

It seems like this cultural cocktail of COVID isolation that has given us more time to reflect, even as our collective pent up energy grows, and the most recent examples of hidden racism exposed to the sunlight have opened the floodgates to a current of active response like I haven’t really seen before. Not just the usual suspects, many people of all political, religious and socioeconomic stripes are coming together in unity, saying, “Enough is enough!” Continue reading

Public Trust at Stake in the COVID-19 Crisis


An article in the Washington Post, explains some things about the comparison of COVID-19 to the flu. There’s a more accurate way to compare coronavirus deaths to the flu (by Christopher Ingraham May 2, 2020) explains that flu deaths are estimated based on confirmed reports.  The confirmed reports are much, much lower, as a result, than the number of flu deaths the CDC reports.

As an example, he author cites to the 2018-2019 numbers published by the CDC. Confirmed flu deaths were 7,172 , from which the CDC estimated between 26,339 and 52,664 deaths for the year. They do this, apparently, to account for what epidemiologists believe is a sever under-count in the confirmed deaths.

(If you want to know how this works, you can refer to the abstract, Estimating influenza disease burden from population-based surveillance data in the United States, published March 4, 2015.)

Does anyone see an issue with this in light of what we are learning about the reporting of COVID-19 deaths per the CDC guidelines?

The writer cited to the 63,259 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 (as of May 2, 2020), and speculates that estimating COVID-19 deaths in the same way would result in a number that is “a full order of magnitude” more than the estimated flu deaths. (Today, as of this writing, there are now 87,841 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the US according to the Johns Hopkins Resource Center.)

The author says the comparison “gets complicated as soon as you realize that flu mortality is not reported as a tally but as an estimated range, which is far different from the individual counts, based on testing and diagnoses, used for COVID-19”. He assumes, as well, that “COVID-19 deaths are probably underestimated”.

But are they? Someone would have to compare the CDC guidelines for reporting flu deaths and compare those guidelines for reporting COVID-19 deaths. I am not an expert in these things, so I will leave it to someone else, but I will address the way COVID deaths are reported below.

The author goes on to highlight how tricky it is to do the comparison. People usually cherry pick the figures that seem right to them: the figures that support what they feel is correct. What else is a non-expert in these things to do?

Thus, the author says, we should trust the experts. When the experts don’t agree, we should trust the consensus. That’s science, right?

More or less, that’s true, but we have a crisis of trust right now that is being exposed by the current epidemic. “Science” or not, people don’t trust the experts. We can speculate all kinds of things about the psychology and sociology of “those people” who don’t trust the experts, but I see some reason to be legitimately concerned, even without giving any credence to crazy conspiracy theories.

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It Never Should Have Come to This

Remains of Berlin wall, detail of old concrete wall, Germany

My family, on both parental lines of ancestry, have been in the United States for generations, and some of them for centuries. Still, the current immigration tension hits home with me. All my family were immigrants (unless I have some Native American blood in my ancestral lines, though I am not aware of any).

We live in a nation described as a “Melting Pot”. Various streams of immigration have occurred over the relatively short history of colonization that characterizes our past. The English, the Spanish, the French were the first streams of immigrants. At various times the Irish, the Chinese, the Italian, the German, the Puerto Rican, the Vietnamese, the Mexican and many other people groups have added to that stream.

I am neither a blind patriot nor a self-loathing radical when it comes to this nation’s history. This is no time for naked idealism. Our past indiscretions in the way we treated Native Americans shouldn’t be brushed under the rug, but the great Democratic experiment that has been a shining city on a hill to the world should not be discounted either.

The truth is nuanced. The truth is messy. Idealists doesn’t necessarily create falsehoods (though sometimes they do), but they emphasize the truth that serves them and ignore the truth that doesn’t. We should not be blind to any portion of the truth. As a wise man once said, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” (or something like that).

The aspects of that experiment that shine a light in the world include the bedrock value of freedom and a welcoming attitude toward the streams of foreigners who have come here to make a better life. This has been a land of opportunity, if not always perfectly available to all, that is still exemplary in the world despite its warts…. until recently.

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Facebook Censorship — Navigating by Faith

Dude with duct tape


“We all have a conscience and a desire and need for the cleansing of “our consciences.

This was the theme of an article I posted (linked below) on another blog I operate. I went to post the article on Facebook and got this message:

“Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.”
Please read the article and let me know what you think about the Facebook message. You don’t have to like the article or agree with any of the ideas, opinions or conclusions that are expressed. In fact, I would like to hear from those who don’t share my perspective of the world. Whether you like the article or not, though, please respond and express your thoughts about the Facebook censorship. Thank you!

Linked article: God is the Fulfillment of the Desires He Built into Us — Navigating by Faith