Media

Contempt for Trump Undermining European Civility

Deal W. Hudson
October 11, 2017

When was the last time you told a visitor from another country that their head of state was a “fool” or a “disgrace”? When is the last time you visited a country and lectured those you met on the “horrors” of their elected national leader?

The perpetrators of mass slaughter come to mind when such remarks would have been appropriate.

But after hearing President Trump excoriated each day on a 9-day trip to Germany and the U.K., I am left wondering if my manners need updating. Rudeness has become the accepted norm of behavior on the other side of the Atlantic when it comes to our president. This rudeness reveals an astonishing level of ignorance about the history of the United States and the deep division and repressed fury created by the Obama presidency.

President Trump has become objectified, stripped of any humanity, and made the target of any remark no matter how offensive to visiting Americans. Attempts to explain his election, or cast him in a positive light, are met with scornful astonishment rather than a listening ear.

Yes, there were exceptions — an Irish bookstore owner in Rye, a French businessman, a German entrepreneur, a British hotel clerk. All of them had one thing in common — a distaste for media groupthink.

This was a golf trip for me, three hickory tournaments in three different locations — South of Munich in Bavaria, the northeast coast of Edinburgh, and the historic town of Rye on the coast in Sussex. I liked everyone I met, without exception, even those who bashed my president around. I don’t require my friends to hold my political or religious beliefs.

But why do these comments arise at all? Part of the problem is that people commonly “google” those they meet and this would have led associating me with support for President Trump and, before that, President W. When these hooks are thrown towards me, I don’t bite which surprises them. They’ve become accustomed, evidently, to provoking Pavlovian political outbursts.

Did I defend my president? Of course, but in a very measured way, correcting some basic errors about his tweeting, the “popular vote,” and, sadly, his wife, Melania.

What kept me so detached? As I said, I don’t require friends to share my political convictions, that seems simple, doesn’t it? Second, I was on vacation from the world of Washington politics, in search of golfing euphoria, which I captured for a few moments along the way. Third, these accusers read and hear media that contains nothing but vituperative attacks on the president and his family, so I can understand what feeds their mindset.

What I cannot understand is their evident lack of self-awareness that their treating of an elected American president as if he was evil incarnate. Wouldn’t a moment of self-scrutiny raise questions about why Donald Trump won the election when absolutely no one, except the candidate and his inner circle, though he could win? Surely such a man and his achievement is deserving of a more understanding than condescending dismissal.

And, surely, the American visitor need not endure the implication that his own political judgment is foolish.

In my lifetime, I have watched as the social habits of meeting people and making friends has been misshaped by the intrusion of politics. As dearly held moral views became less and less a matter of faith, tradition, or, even, reason, a person’s political stances, or mere affiliation, became sole standard of judgment about whether he was worthy of a relationship or not. There was no longer a higher vantage point from which to judge a person’s character than his or her politics, no ground for toleration of opposing views.

Now all the pastimes where people of diverse opinions used to mingle freely have been affected. Communities once formed by faith, education, sports, hobbies, the arts, and neighborhoods have allowed politics to intervene — need I mention the recent mess in the NFL over “taking the knee”?

I recall my Shakespeare teacher at the University of Texas in the late 60s. He was an Englishman whose constant wit kept me on the edge of my seat. I forget the context, but I once asked him what he thought of Americans. “They lack urbanity,” he said. Once I looked up the word, meaning detachment, I understood what he meant because our Austin campus was constantly riven by protests over Vietnam and the Nixon presidency. Shouting protesters deliberately provoke police and intimidating passers-by had become culture heroes. The detachment had been replaced by existential engagement.

It was the issue of engagement that famously destroyed the friendship between Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. When Sartre pressed Camus to support Communism and its “necessary” use of violence, Camus demurred. The detachment required by friendship was sacrificed by Sartre for the sake of “the cause.”

Closer to home, we watched the always urbane William F. Buckley completely lose his composure during a near-violent exchange with novelist Gore Vidal at the 1968 Democratic Convention. The Buckley who often shared charming banter with liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith subsequently became embroiled in more acidic exchanges and subsequent libel suits. The Buckley-Vidal episode, like that between Sartre and Camus a decade earlier, showed that cultural currents were flowing which could test the detachment of our most-schooled public intellectuals.

Now nastiness is the norm on both sides of the Atlantic, though nastiness is easier to accept when it comes from Americans about America. There was a time when Americans looked to Europe and the UK for its civilizing norms of education and manners. That time is long past, and Americans should access the deeper wells of our own cultural legacy to recover the spirit of tolerance that made the Founding possible.

As de Tocqueville wrote, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”

Read Newsmax: Contempt for Trump Undermining European Civility | Newsmax.com
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Mass Hysteria Driving Attacks on the President

Deal W. Hudson

August 30, 2017

I know I am not alone in being bewildered by the daily pummeling of President Trump throughout the media. We are witnessing something more than the usual criticism any politician can expect. Instead, it’s become a kind of madness, where the president can be depicted with his head cut offstanding naked, or being hung from a tree.

All these images were reported by the major media. In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Virginia the president has been repeatedly called a “racist” in the mainstream media, including The Washington Post. But that’s not the worst. The president has also been routinely compared to Hitler and the Nazis.

The German magazine Stern published a cover depicting President Trump giving a Nazi salute while draped in an American flag. In England, The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland said, “We thought the Nazi threat was dead. But Donald Trump has revived it.”

Freedland went on to predict an American outbreak of anti-Semitism based on the fact that many white supremacists have free speech rights. Entertainers fantasize about “killing the president.” Rosie O’Donnell tweets to her 1,000,000 plus followers about a game she plays, “Pushing Trump off a cliff.” A New York Times reporter calls The first lady a “hooker.”

These attacks defy the standards of commonsense and public civility. Their sheer viciousness points towards an deep and more disturbing explanation — a mass hysteria elicited by the surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton. One could hardly find a better description than this published by John Waller of the British Psychological Society, “‘[M]ass hysteria’ are cases in which groups of people act upon beliefs which gain exaggerated credence in times of social and economic distress.”

This hysteria outbreak should have been widely recognized the day after the election.

Recall how college campuses across the nation responded to the election of President Trump with support groups, cancelled classes, creating “safe spaces,” and “self-care guides.”

Dan Gainer of Fox News described the media’s reaction to the election as a “primal scream.” In California, Washington, and Oregon, efforts are launched for those states to secede.

The central symptom of hysteria is “ungovernable emotional excess,” which in this case has become a case of mass hysteria, one largely due to the incessant use of social media to wage political and ideological war.

Writing in The Atlantic,  Laura Dimon connects increasing outbreaks of mass hysteria, or mass psychogenic illness (MPI), with the impact of Facebook and Twitter. Formerly people had to be in the same room to share in the hysteria, but that’s no longer the case. Today, social media has become “extensions of our eyes and ears.” It has made hysteria a global phenomenon.

Just think about it, Rosie O’Donnell has over 1,000,000 followers on Twitter. Many Trump-haters have far more. Katy Perry has over 100 million followers; Justin Bieber, 99,000,000, Rhianna, 76,000,000; Ellen DeGeneres, 70,000,000; and Lady Gaga, 69,000,000.

High-minded conservatives who sniff at these numbers and their cumulative influence are dissociating themselves from the way we live today.

Writing in Psychology Today, Romeo Vitelli, Ph.D., describes the symptoms of mass hysteria: including having “no known organic basis,” meaning no basis in fact; occurring in a specific group; extreme anxiety; spread by world of mouth or popular media; spread from older to younger victims; and predominately female.

Regarding the last symptom, I would offer the observation that both the viciousness and sobbing character of the anti-Trump hysteria does have, at least to me, a curious female aspect. Just as Esther Goldberg has described former FBI Director James B. Comey as talking “the way high school girls talk,” the catty displays of commentators like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews are positively feline, “One good thing Mussolini did was execute his son-in-law,” said Matthews — referring to Jared Kushner.

Some theorists of mass hysteria say that these outbreaks usually pass quickly. That’s not been our experience. The hysteria over the bogus Duke University rape allegation did not subside until all charges were dropped over a year later. Similarly, it took over a year for the Charlottesville, Virginia police to find no evidence of the rape on campus reported by Rolling Stone for which they paid heavily in civil damages. In the meantime, in both cases, all the mainstream media joined in the chorus of defamation.

Who will play similar role in the case against President Trump? Who will help calm the hysteria? Perhaps, it will be people like Sen. Diane Feinstein , D-Calif., who recently stunned an audience in San Francisco with her refusal to support impeachment, saying Trump “could be a good president.” A reporter at the meeting said, “the crowd reacted with stunned silence, broken only with scattered ‘No’s’ and a few hisses and some nervous laughter.”

It’s in a moment of silence like the one elicited by Sen. Feinstein that the much-needed injection of reason and civility can take place and the mass hysteria can begin to pass.

Read Newsmax: Mass Hysteria Driving Attacks on the President | Newsmax.com
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Artists Who Slam President Trump Slamming Rest of Us Too

Deal W. Hudson
July 24, 2017

“I don’t do idiots,” says composer Philip Glass, is the latest in a long list of derogatory comments by prominent artists about President Trump. Recall all the performers who self-righteously announced their intention not to perform at the inaugural, even if asked, including Elton John, Garth Brooks, Kiss, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Charlotte Church, The B Street Band, Jennifer Holliday, Rebecca Ferguson, and, sadly, the Rockettes.

Bearing in mind that 62,979,879 Americans voted for the Trump-Pence ticket, is it going too far to say that in turning their backs on the new president these artists are dissing his voters as well? I don’t think so. There is more to this disrespect than immediately meets the eye. Throughout the entire arts community, including film, music, museums, theatre, literature, critics, and academicians, there inhabits a deep disdain for the Americans who value the defense of innocent life and marriage, the value of patriotism, respect for the military and police, the rights of parents to educate their children, and reject the threat of globalism.

To put it more simply, if you can be labeled Republican, pro-life, pro-marriage, conservative, or a traditionalist, the artistic world will turn its back on you, unless, of course, you happen to be wealthy. The wealthy are treated with respect as long as the checks arrive on time onto the desk of the development director.

Some months ago, I addressed this situation from another angle, “A Cultural Outcast Asks: Who Can I Turn To, When Nobody Loves Me?” This complaint was prompted by the barrage of articles disparaging Trump shortly after his election in the magazines and on the websites I regularly read about books, music, films, and other cultural matters. Messages sent to a few editors received either no reply or snide ones declaring that “artists have always been on the side of the progressives…”

Am I the only one to notice that it has become tiresome practice in reviews of anything artistic to throw in an aside that it “has become terribly relevant to the age we live in,” meaning Trump and Brexit? I dare anyone to cite a single issue, since November 7, 2016, of the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books (et al) that does not take a cheap shot at President Trump and, by implication, those who voted for him.

Here you have millions of Americans, many of whom love the arts, engage the arts, donate to the arts, and look to the arts for insight and inspiration who are being told, basically, “you’re an idiot” (“but we will take your money”). Why is there such a deep disconnect between artists and the social conservatives in their audience? If they are such idiots, why do they still read good books, collect classical CDs and downloads, buy films from the Criterion Collection, attend concerts and operas, go the theatre and the ballet, and visit museums around the world? Why do they listen to the music of Philip Glass, which I first met and admired in his score to the 1988 documentary, “The Thin Blue Line”?

Could it be, after all, that artistic taste is not determined by moral and political outlook? Going even further, could it be argued that the extreme liberal attitudes of some artists doesn’t get in the way of their creation of beautiful works of arts? I think that is exactly the case, with one caveat: There are artists and audience members who allow their morality and politics to overly influence their creativity and receptivity.

Thus, they view the making of art as primarily a platform for delivering a message, while the audience takes all it sees or hears and filters it through moral, political, or religious criteria to determine its worth. When neither the artist nor the audience put the beauty first, the artistic experience is inhibited if not destroyed completely.

After calling President Trump an “idiot,” Philip Glass went on to say that he was grateful for his election: “It is wonderful: for the first time even children are getting politicized. Even my children, who used to be sunk in video games, now go to demonstrations and get involved politically. We should be grateful to Trump for having shaken us up.”

It’s sadly ironic that an artist would celebrate his children’s embrace of politicized art. I’ve read countless pleas for donations from groups that celebrate the arts as a vehicle for human solidarity, freedom, unity, transcendence, and the overcoming of divisions within society. Music itself is supposed to the “universal language of mankind” according to American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Music also contains in innate spirituality, or as Leonard Bernstein put it in his 1973 Norton Lectures: “Through music you can reach the unreachable and communicate the unknowable.”

According to Philip Glass, President Trump, evidently, does not quality as worthy of being exposed to the wonder of great music, and neither do the rest of us “idiots” either.

I supposed if Trump decided to quadruple the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts some of this nonsense might be tamped down, but not that much. Trump would be accused of attempting to buy respect. The disdain in the arts community is far too ingrained to be mollified by gestures of good will from “idiots.”

I’m saddened that I don’t have a solution to this state of affairs. I will continue to seek out and promote good books, music, films, and plays regardless of what these artists think of my president and me. After all, what the artists themselves seek is far more important than the politics hold as absolute.

Read Newsmax: Artists Who Slam President Trump Slamming Rest of Us Too | Newsmax.com
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Some Don’t See Blessing in Trump’s Protecting Religious Liberty

Deal W. Hudson
May 17, 2017

Some conservatives were less than pleased by President Trump’s May 4 executive order on religious liberty. I guess they didn’t read it very closely. Had they done so, they would have realized that it was a promise of welcome changes to come. It doesn’t declare any new rights, but it does direct the administration to amend regulations and issue guidelines to protect the free exercise of religion from the power of the federal government. After what had seemed like a war on religion under Obama, that’s an enormous sea change.

Still, the executive order didn’t satisfy “Never-Trumpets” such as Princeton’s professor Robert George and Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation — who have always been quick to attack the president. They announced that it was “meaningless” and “woefully inadequate.”

Shamefully, George pointed the finger at the President’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law, “Ivanka and Jared won. We lost.” Such acrimony from a leading Catholic figure, and former Chair of the United States Commission on Religious Liberty, is both unjust and unbecoming.

Now let’s look at the record. President Trump has repeatedly declared his intention to remove the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which dramatically limited the political participation of houses of worship along with their priests, pastors, and rabbis.

As a first step towards that end, the executive order specifically instructs the Department of Treasury “not to take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues.  . . . ” We can expect Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to make sure that happens.

President Trump’s order also contains specific language on the ongoing litigation regarding the impact of Obamacare on Little Sisters of the Poor and other institutions refusing to provide contraceptive healthcare coverage to their employees. Trump ordered the Departments of Treasury, Labor (DOL), and Health and Human Services (HHS) to, “consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive care mandate.  . . . ” There can be no doubt that HHS Secretary Tom Price will be doing just that — and vigorously.

What is likely the most important section of the executive order is addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, “In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.” As head of the Department of Justice, which is still pursuing the case against Little Sisters of the Poor, Sessions has been effectively charged with realizing the promises made in the Rose Garden on May 4.

Given his conservative, pro-life record as an Alabama senator, no one doubts how Jeff Sessions will shape the Department of Justice. Session’s leadership is surely one of the reasons civil rights groups immediately announced their intention to oppose the executive order.

Not surprisingly, a group of atheists, under the banner of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed suit against the president and the IRS, fearing the IRS would “selectively and preferentially discontinue enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of the tax code against churches and religious organizations, while applying a more vigorous enforcement standard to secular nonprofits.”

The notion that the IRS would apply more “vigorous” standards to secular nonprofit organizations is of course bizarre. But again, much of the daily media bombardment of the Trump administration contains allegations based upon hearsay, leaks, unnamed sources, and postmodern paranoia. Today the progressive left has bought into the idea that freedom requires that all their opponents be silenced, even when they are exercising their sincere religious beliefs.

Sister Loraine Marie Claire Maguire, Mother Provincial of Little Sisters of the Poor has figured it out. Her statement was forthright and unqualified, “Today’s action by the government confirms that the government never needed to create this false conflict between women and religion.” One can imagine a smile coming to her face when she added, “The government never needed the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide these services,” that is, hand out contraception.

President Trump has been accused of making a media event out of his statement on religious liberty.

These critics should be asked: What is wrong with the president of the United States calling two of the Little Sisters of the Poor to the podium in the Rose Garden? How often have we seen a religious order of the Catholic Church featured in a nationally televised White House ceremony?

The image of President Trump, with a beaming Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. standing behind, welcoming the two sisters is a powerful affirmation to the nation’s 70 million Catholic citizens that they’re fully members of the American community.

You’ve have thought that that was pretty obvious. But apparently some people needed reminding.

Read Newsmax: Some Don’t See Blessing in Trump’s Protecting Religious Liberty | Newsmax.com
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Catholic Bishops Caught in Conflict of Interest Over Immigration

Deal W. Hudson
March 30, 2017

Since Donald Trump became president, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released ten statements regarding immigration. Each of these statements oppose the policies of the new administration regarding travel restrictions, building a security barrier, immigration resettlement, deportation, and sanctuary cities.

However, what none of these statements disclose is this: The USASpending.gov website reveals that the USCCB received more than $91 million for resettlement programs for Syrian refugees. The average Catholic who reads about the bishops’ ardent opposition to President Trump on immigration issues is not aware of this startling conflict of interest. It’s fair to assume, also, that when the USCCB claims to help resettle “approximately 30 percent of all refugees entering the U.S. each year,” American Catholics assume their donations are funding this effort.

It might fairly be asked, does it matter whether or not the USCCB’s resettlement program is funded in part, or in full, by the federal government? Assuming the program is fully in line with the Church’s teaching on immigration, what does it matter where the money comes from as long as the job gets done? How else would over 100 Catholic dioceses in the U.S., Guam, and Puerto Rico have refugee resettlement offices?

Doesn’t the Church compromise its prophetic voice when she becomes dependent on the state for not only programs but also maintaining infrastructure? And what becomes of bold proclamations by the bishops for or against immigration and resettlement policy, when they have a vested interested in keeping those monies flowing. Finally, why aren’t Catholics made aware that when the plate is passed annually for donations to the USCCB, Catholic Charities, and CRS, they are being asked to pay a second time, assuming they are taxpayers?

Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services received $202,000,000 and $426,943,000 respectively in 2016. For CRS, federal monies accounted for 64.70 percent of its total annual budget, for Catholic Charities, 11 percent. In total, Catholic institutions in the United States received over $500,000,000 in federal funding in 2016. (It’s interesting to note that Planned Parenthood received nearly the same amount of government funding in 2016.)

With these amounts of money flowing through Church budgets, it’s hard to know where the Church ends and the State begins. The Obama years, by the way, added to the largess: there was a $120,000,000 increase in CRS funding during Obama’s first year in office, and the $91,000,000 paid directly to the USCCB was unprecedented.

The Catholic bishops’ latest release from March 22 is a “pastoral reflection” from the Administrative Committee of the USCCB calling upon Catholics to, “Call, write or visit your elected representative and ask them to fix our broken immigration system in a way that safeguards both our security and our humanity through a generous opportunity for legal immigration.”

But to tell the truth, the bishops have shown little or no concern for border security, which is one of the reasons Catholic voters supported Trump/Pence 52 percent to 45 percent. A common argument being used against border security is that the “first duty” of the government is not to protect its citizens but, “to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. Persons have the right to immigrate and thus government must accommodate this right to the greatest extent possible, especially financially blessed nation.”

This explanation of immigration policy from the Office of Migration and Public Affairs of the USCCB, to my mind and many other Catholics, describes exactly how the United States has been trying to accommodate immigrants and refugees for many years. America has been generous with its bounty, not out of duty but out of its identity as a nation of immigrants.

What the bishops fail to realize is that what they call the “second duty is to secure one’s border and enforce the law for the sake of the common good” has been ignored for too long. That’s why there are both duties, to make sure that generosity does not become a danger, or that national security does not close our open arms. It was Donald Trump, not the bishops, who recognized this imbalance and is seeking to correct it. And it was voters, especially Catholic voters, gave President Trump the mandate to “enforce the law for the sake of the common good.”

After the election, instead of reaching out to the new administration, the bishops began their barrage of press releases, but even worse, this past February twenty-four bishops signed what was called the “Message from Modesto.” This statement was nothing less than a declaration of activist war on the Trump administration. It quotes Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego at length, calling for a grassroots strategy of “disruption” against those, “who would seek to send troops into our communities to deport the undocumented, to destroy our families.”

The Catholic Bishops should stop for a moment and reevaluate whether this is the posture they want to take against a president who doing precisely what they describe as the “second duty” of government. They also need to ask themselves whether after the $91,000,000 from the Obama administration in 2016 they retain the high moral ground to address the immigration issue.

Read Newsmax: Catholic Bishops Caught in Conflict of Interest Over Immigration | Newsmax.com
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Trump Rejects Portrait of Chaotic White House in Attack on Media

Deal W. Hudson
February 16, 2017

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump rejected portrayals of chaos in his administration and claimed “incredible” progress in his first four weeks in office, lashing out at media organizations he said, “will not tell you the truth.”

Trump opened a snap news conference on Thursday with a 25-minute tirade in which he pointed to the stock market’s performance as evidence of his early accomplishments and said news organizations work “for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very broken system.” The president has faced a slew of reports since the weekend that his administration is reeling over disclosures about Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser Trump dismissed on Monday.

“I’m here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that’s been made the last four weeks since my inauguration,” Trump said. “I see stories of chaos. It’s the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

“There’s zero chaos,” he said later.

He said that a Rasmussen poll found that he had 55 percent approval — Gallup’s most recent tracking poll found he had 40 percent support — and said: “the stock market has hit record numbers, as you know.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 20,584 as of 1:24 p.m. in New York; it had not hit 20,000 before this year.

“To be honest I inherited a mess,” Trump said. “It’s a mess. At home and abroad.”

Trump made a number of misstatements. He said for the third time in two days that he had won 306 Electoral College votes in his election. The correct number was 304. He called it “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan,” when in fact his predecessor, Barack Obama, won 332 electoral college votes in 2012 and 365 in 2008.

Asked about the discrepancy, Trump said he meant that he had won the most of any Republican candidate since Reagan. Told that former President George H.W. Bush had won more, Trump said, “I was given that information. I have seen that information around.”

He also claimed that “jobs are pouring out of the country.” Unemployment was 4.8 percent in January, up a tenth of a percentage point from December, according to the first employment report of Trump’s presidency. Fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week.

Read Newsmax: Trump Rejects Portrait of Chaotic White House in Attack on Media | Newsmax.com
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