At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Vol. 4)

The cruelty of looking forward on this day of all days! Such historical disaster is surely not a portent of good vibes for the near future. On August 24th in years past, our human race has undergone the eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroying Pompeii (AD 79), the sacking of Rome by German barbarians (410), the capture of Washington D.C. (#RedcoatRetaliation) in 1814, the landfall of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and--in the ultimate disgrace--the 2006 downgrading of Pluto to a dwarf planet, mocking both the periphery of our solar system and Peter Dinklage all in one fell swoop. And getting Dinklage into "angry elf" mode is simply not a good idea.
Certainly there are good and holy moments of August 24 in days of yore (#ThatRhymes). Baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti did what so many pitchers failed to do, and that is keep Pete Rose off the base paths, this time by keeping him out of baseball (#WhatAreTheOddsAskGamblingPete). But even a moment like that cleansing the national pastime's colon is balanced out by the designation of the fourth and twentieth of this month being United Nations Day (#OhTheInertia!).

Nonetheless, we look forward, not behind, and an army of Crusaders invades from the land of O'Fallon. Although headed by head coach Blake Markway and not by Richard the Lion-Hearted, the hordes from St. Dominic pose a stout challenge for the Westminster Wildcats, matters of X's and O's that have been prime fodder for the grist mill over a plate of fish and chips (#ScottishArms). We go to the preview.

The offense begins and ends with the running game, as 45 of the Crusaders' total 60 offensive snaps in their upset win over John Burroughs stayed on the ground. The 277 yards were split among four backs, none doing more damage than the rugged Jake Larson. His 21 carries for 127 yards kept the ball out of the hands of the defending Class 3 state champions, and there are few more damaging between the tackles. Then again, that's where the Wildcats' defensive strength gained in potency over the course of their win over St. Mary's, much like the won-over undecided voters in the final week of the Brexit campaign (#ByeByeEU). Keith Beckman and Theo Pardee bring more flavor to the mix, so that's it's not a one-man show, like Penn without Teller. 

The pivot is where the game can turn. Not only did Dominic Demerath score the win with his touchdown pass to Alex Hoff with thirty seconds to play, he is a fine runner. In fact, his roving ability is so maddening and quick, it makes legendary University of Georgia and Minnesota Vikings scrambling man Fran Tarkenton look like an obese buffalo on Quaaludes. Although able to strike at a moment's notice, Demerath simply has to get his completion percentage up from his 4-of-15-for 74 yards stat line to keep Crusader drives moving along and not fizzling out like their namesakes' siege of Tunis in 1270 (#RIPLouisIX). One simply cannot expect two wins in a row with those stat-lines, as lightning simply does not strike twice in the same place.

Unless you believe Jim Trott in the third episode of The Vicar of Dibley.

Jim Trott: "Oh yes, my father was struck twice by lightning."
Hugo Horton: "Oh, how did he feel?"
Jim: "Heavy. We buried him the next day."

The keywords for the Wildcat offense? Protect and advance. Win the turnover battle. Mix the run and pass and keep the ball moving. On a humid afternoon that contends with any steamy day in the Palmetto State (#SouthCarolinaGamecocks), keeping the St. Dom's defense on the field and getting them worn out will only help things.

On defense, the stop troops need to ramp up their containment, as they simply cannot allow Demerath to bust outside and cause havoc. But have faith, because like Rick Astley, the defense will never give us up. Or give up. Whatever. (#CueTheManHimself)

Expect a dogfight. This is not last year's St. Dominic's team that got steamrolled by the Wildcats. Then again, this isn't last week's Wildcats. Improvement coming. Guaranteed.

#PawsUp #ClawsOut #BlueReign

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Vol. 3)

The maxim is "Defense Wins Championships", but whoever was the provenance of that glorious quote took a savage beating this past weekend. In a contest that seemed more like old-time Tecmo Bowl video gaming than old-school three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust (#WoodyHayesWeRememberYou), the Wildcats of Westminster ran into some rough headwinds in the Dragon fire of St. Mary's. Right out of the gate, much like Ronda Rousey against Holly Holm, we got kicked square in the jaw. Unlike Rousey, however, (#SecondRoundKO) the Wildcats refused to stay on the mat, clawing back for a 49-47 triumph sealed by a late interception, making the defensive gem quite ironic. (#ChannelingAlanisMorissette)

Within minutes, the Cats were tested severely, with St. Mary's mixing pass and run in expert fashion. The young and green Wildcats snarled with ferocity but, like Arsene Wenger during halftime adjustments, had few answers for the initial onslaught (#ArsenalProblems). The score was a disconcerting 13-0 before Westminster asserted its muscle in the second quarter, with Dyllan Conway taking an eighteen-yard toss from field general Chad "Air Raid" Briden and smoking into the end zone with the speed of an F-16 Fighting Falcon (#AirForceFlyboys), leaving a clan of Dragons sputtering in their heat vapors. The Wildcat running game asserted itself, with the indomitable Steve Webb lighting things up with 16 carries for 207 yards and three scoring jaunts. Before the crowd knew what hit them, Westminster had snapped back for a 14-13 lead. The Dragons stole another score and had the ball with under two minutes in the half and a 20-14 lead. To sit on it or want more? Like Stephen Douglas did in penning the Kansas-Nebraska Act, they wanted more, and like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster (#IdiotFranklinPierce). Dyllan Conway gathered in an interception near midfield, the ball nestling into his arms like it was his firstborn child, and there was no Gandalf raised up against him on the return journey to stay his ilk from pay dirt (#YouShallNotPass). 21-20 was the score as the teams broke for the locker rooms after a half as vexing and exhausting as the historic Salem Witch Trials (#PuritanShame).

The fast break tempo continued in the second half, hearkening back to the halcyon days of yore when NBA teams knew what a fast break was and Magic Johnson led the way (#RedHotChiliPeppers). Re-born pivot man Gus Dattolli chiseled away at the Wildcat defense, finding wideouts like Jalen Bethany and Antonio Burks at the end of improbable frozen ropes. Burks himself plucked an eye-popping 16 receptions for 324 yards, absolutely inhuman numbers--or at least Jerry Rice-like stats (#GreatestOfAllTime). Briden answered the bell and took on the challenge, finding Grant Lavalle for two second-half scores as part of his 16 of 26 for 226 yards stat line. At no point in the second half did the Wildcats trail, but at no point were they out of danger, for Dattolli's heroic effort of 29 of 50 for 528 yards (you read that right) kept the pressure on (#BringBackAndreWare). Although running back Jordan Grant (104 yards) inflicted early damage, the Wildcat stop troops adjusted as the game went on, bringing the Dragons' rush average down to their pregame defensive goals, and the swagger from the Cats went from #MeowKitty toward #RegalRoar. Westminster gave the ball over on downs deep in St. Mary's territory late, and here came the Dragons again down the field. In the press box above, the sentiment was it was strange a defensive play was needed to secure a Wildcat win. No sooner had that sentiment turned into functional carbon dioxide than Steve Webb stepped in front of a Dattolli zip line to take it back safe from threat of loss.

So, the takeaways:
(1) The Wildcats showed themselves to be a team with much work to do, but a team of much spit-and-polish grit. Not since the town coal miners in Richard Lleweylyn's How Green Was My Valley has one seen such a lunch pail effort in the face of hardship. You can argue with the fact that St. Mary's came to our house and plunked down nearly 700 yards of offense, but you can't argue that it was a win, and to gain the first victory of the Chris Pederson era, these Cats needed to pull themselves up and face threats square in the eye and plunge into danger as if facing a meteor (#DeepImpactOrArmageddonMovies). Remember that we still have players--I'm looking at you, Cooper Moore and Josh Pottebaum--who can split players in twain in Roman Reigns-like fashion. 

(2) As much air yardage as Dattolli got, the Wildcats managed to improve their clamps on the Dragons' ground game as the contest progressed. In talking to Coach Pederson, it was clear that they had a goal of limitations for their Job 38:11 defense ("Here thou shalt come, and no farther") and the yards-per-carry average was one of which the staff was pleased (#ProjectStuffTheRun).

(3) The offense is still clicking for Westminster. Chad Briden has not skipped a beat in taking the baton from Evan Johnson in a smooth stride (#UsainBolt). Conway is complemented by receivers Grant Lavalle and Logan Sells, so that Briden has several dangerous weapons. Webb is...well, vintage Steve Webb, always at full throttle. So all these ingredients add up to a fully loaded offensive cache (#DaddyWants).

(4) To the critics who felt that was a very un-Westminster-like performance: Your team took it on the chin, between the eyes, and in the groin, and STILL got up and came back to throw haymakers. The slumbering giant awoke upon invasion like a throwback to the Falkland Islands when Great Britain flexed its muscle against bully Argentina (#MaggieThatcherGoesFreakingNinja). What happened last Saturday might not have been pretty. Then again, neither was Manuel Noriega. But unlike the Pulveriser of Panama, your Wildcats are unparanoid men of character. Better to face adversity now and grow stronger through it than to coast easily and never learn at all. We can leave behind the Dragons as if it was a bad memory from Game of Thrones (#JonSnowLives). I guarantee you they're already preparing at full steam for St. Dominic.

Speaking of which, that'll be the subject of the next post when we preview this Saturday's game against the Crusaders from across the Missouri River. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Vol. 2)

And away we go...

Welcome to the first game preview issue of the entire 2016 Westminster football campaign! It's a new year, but the same principles remain from the coaching staff: run the ball well, stop the opposition's running game, protect the ball, limit mistakes, take adversity head-on. The dream re-ignites this Saturday at 1 p.m. on the verdurous gridiron at Westminster Stadium. The Wildcats are stoked like the bonfires at Texas A&M during Rivalry Week (#CollegeHijinks). Will we see high-impact plays? Of course. Will our younger team make some mistakes. Probably, although one doubts it will be a mishap of the severity like drafting a dead guy (#CanadianFootballBlunders). The St. Mary's Dragons are coming to give us their best shot and, although the Southsiders from Grand Boulevard have fallen on more difficult times as of late, they like their late alum Yogi Berra, might truly say it's not over till it's over.

Despite St. Mary's 1-9 ledger last year (#MilkThatDubourgVictory), the Wildcats can take nothing for granted. Three Dragons' losses last season were by razor-thin margins: four against Confluence, three at Priory, and a 50-49 heartbreaker at home against a Borgia team that gave us all we could handle on Carnival day. Nothing lasts forever, whether it be a Watergate prison term, Elizabeth II's reign (#GodSaveTheQueen), or a bad spell for a high school football program (although Houston [TX] Scarborough came close).  Fans may be quick to forget that just four years ago, when our Wildcats slogged into the playoffs to a loss at Sullivan, St. Mary's was enjoying its own Cinderella 11-3 season that didn't end until a loss to state power Webb City in the state semifinals. Head coach Corey Bethany and his army will bring the fire this Saturday.

Among the charges that come forth from the shadow of Dad's Scotch Oatmeal Cookie factory, Gus Dattoli has matured in his time at quarterback. Leading impressive offensive outputs against Borgia and Dubourg last year, Dattoli is back and will look for brothers Alex and and Jacob Fesi to get open out wide. In the backfield, bruising running back Corbin Lee returns for his senior season, and the 5'11" bowling ball is capable of running over his share of barriers. Fellow backfield mate Jordan Grant can scurry for yardage and displays speed that--while falling short of Usain Bolt--at least comes closer to Carl Lewis (#OlympicGlory) when chasing down runners on special teams. And look out for Lee on defense; he's a monster from his OLB spot.

For the Wildcats, it all comes back to the basics as we begin the Chris Pederson era: block, tackle, run, encourage. Whatever the specific play calls, look for the Cats' skill position players to put pressure on the edges of the Dragon defense to wear them down. For the defense, keying on Lee is a must. A fast start, a plus-margin in turnovers, and staying within themselves means that Westminster could very well prevent the Dragons from celebrating at the Iron Barley later in the evening (#BallisticElvis). All that being said, the curtain lifts on Saturday, and the new-look Wildcats are ready! #PrepareToRoar

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Vol. 1)

It's back. No, not the Reform Party under Ross Perot (further advancing proof of a benevolent God). It's pigskin bliss at 800 Maryville Center Drive, where behind the hallowed gate leading into Westminster Stadium, we have the proverbial changing of the guard. With all the anticipation and even more confidence than the dawning of the Jose Mourinho regime at Old Trafford for Manchester United (#IHaveNothingToSay), the Chris Pederson era dawns on the Wildcat horizon.

After the historic playoff run by last year Blue Surge (#PawsUpClawsOut), one asks questions about the coming campaign. Specifically, who will carry us through the fields of conquest as Joshua led the Israelites through the milk and honey of ancient Canaan (maybe with less bloodshed)? And while graduation hit the Wildcat ranks with a stiff blow, there are more soldiers rushing to fill the phalanx. Are we rebuilding or reloading? Are we as well stocked as Diana Ross' luggage for a road trip with the Supremes? On exploring the team's outlook, I have to say it has me like the Nordic posse in Reykjavik celebrating Iceland's epic EURO2016 run (#VikingClap)

On offense, over eighty percent of our rushing yards and touchdowns scored return for the 2016 season. Steve Webb and his 1874 yards and 23 TDs are in everyone's cerebral cortex right now, but Coach Pederson rightly points out that the offensive line earned those yards. An offensive line that is entirely graduated and gone like Barbara Hershey in Beaches (#SappyChickFlick) means putting new personnel storming the Dardanelles of defensive fronts. It means our line will not average 300 pounds per man this year (unless Luke Vasel survives consumption of five gallons of pulled pork before Saturday's game), but it can be a more mobile unit that thrives on increased misdirection. The key, as always, will be getting feet into the neutral zone like Wile E. Coyote invading the comfort zone of the Road Runner (#ChildhoodMemories). For the running backs, the key questions is: Will they have great vision, shiftiness, and the ability to run over people like last year? The illustrious Steve Webb has those qualities in spades, as do backups like Altin Hall and LB Battle. What will matter is how they respond to getting hit at the line of scrimmage. Misdirection, counter, zone reads...all these are known parts of our game. The question will be how we maximize them to shatter defenses like the late Madeline Kahn's voice could do to wine glasses. (#DaddyWants)

The passing game brings a new, yet seasoned, face to the Wildcats' pivot. Chad Briden can turn his attention from the Missouri gubernatorial primary elections (#OnToNovember) and bring his leadership skills to bear as he succeeds the record-snapping Evan Johnson. According to Pederson, Briden exhibits the football intelligence needed for the position and works incredibly hard. He picks up the offensive system with the speed of Secretariat, has the vision of Seattle Slew, and displays the epic tenacity of American Pharaoh (#TripleCrownWinners). The way of improvement comes with thousands of reps and dedicated practice, and Briden is showing synergy with the receiving corps, both with returning veterans (#OfferDyllanConway) and rising members from last year's junior varsity. Conway and Logan Sells will mentor upcoming snag-men like Jeremiah Thompson, Grant Lavalle, and Caleb Layton, among others. And of course, the dangerous Conway can hit you from any direction, running, catching, or throwing (#FirstScoreAgainstBurroughs).

The defensive side of the ball contends with its own losses, although we come off looking better than the Spartans against the Persians at Thermopylae (#300). Despite the losses of three defensive backs and practically the whole defensive front, the cupboard is hardly bare. Three returning players logged more than 100 points each in the team's defensive point system. Cooper Moore and Jimmy Thomas give the Cats a seasoned look at linebacker, and hard-hitting Josh Pottebaum returns in his role as High Priest of the Church of the Painful Beatdown (#JackTatumFlashback). As Coach Pederson states over and over, it's all about finding the right combinations of personnel, for the sets that are most effective to stuff the run and force opposing offenses into the discomfort of a lifetime.

Moving to special teams, it's interesting to note that out of all the plays of the past year in which Westminster had the ball at the start of said play (scrimmage, kickoffs, punts, field goal attempts, conversion attempts), an astounding 23% of those were some variety of special teams. (#NotEvenFiguringInPuntReturnsOrKickoffReturns) Knowing full well the high-chance possibility of this area to shift a game and field position, Coach Pederson gave huge props to assistant coach Greg Schoenberg and his preparation of the Wildcat special teams. Andrew Kempen returns as placekicker, and Grant Lavalle and Kempen's older brother Alex have taken reps at punter. Setting the bar high, Pederson declared they're shooting for a net punt average of 35 yards. Additionally, fans can look forward to Dylan Conway's shifty speed on kick returns, although Pederson mentioned it is imperative to have someone shoulder the load there to protect Conway's focus on plays from scrimmage, for one can't let in exhaustion the way Hope Solo lets in Swedish penalty kicks. (#TooSoon?)

Nothing is a given, and the work ahead for the Wildcats is still daunting, even as they are bedecked with the #4 ranking in the state in Class 4 (#PreseasonHonors). But the journey begins this Saturday at 1 p.m. on the verdant turf of Westminster Stadium, as the Cats claw with the St. Mary's Dragons (#YogiBerraAlmaMater). Look for the upcoming preview of that game in another post tomorrow. For now, we in the Wildcat Lair bid you a temporary Tchuss! for now as we #PrepareToRoar.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Broadened Broadcasting

One more week, and I'm back in my sanctuary.

Teaching? Oh no. That begins Tuesday with a new crop of students. I meant I'm back in the press box at our football stadium, ready to make more games come alive for Westminster fans.

It's a new season as we come off a sizzling 2015 campaign in which we went 13-1 and got to the Missouri state Class 4 semifinals before falling to eventual state champ Kearney (in weather that would've made the South Pole look like a balmy upgrade). We are replacing two wide receivers, our record-setting quarterback, our starting offensive line (which averaged 300 pounds per man!) and defensive front, plus three defensive backs.

Yet new coach Chris Pederson is not rebuilding but reloading. We have talent.

But that waits until mid-week when I do my season preview issue of our unofficial team newsletter, the Wombat.

PA announcing dominates my thoughts now. I'm not going to repeat what I've said before. Right now, I'm excited about getting back in the booth and capitalizing on some areas I've grown over the last couple years as a broadcaster. To wit:

1- Anticipation: Doing the little things in between plays is essential to smooth storytelling. Notice who breaks from the huddle before the play. Have an understanding of the team's playbook. Keeping track of who is on the field will help you get a call right of who snags a 17-yard reception or who makes a dazzling open-field tackle.

2- Preparation: Research the history between teams and share details of the series, who's won the most recent game, and so forth. Announce who the opposing coach is, how many years he's been there, and anything else. 

3- Get the little things right: I always go to the opposing coaches' room in the press box with their team's roster and go over players' names and pronunciations. It takes only about five minutes, and it promotes good relations between schools. Plus, you're more guaranteed to prevent a parent from MICDS, John Burroughs, Priory, or Borgia from getting upset their son's surname got mangled on air. Well, maybe not Borgia. They tend to hate me no matter what.

4- Celebrate the milestones: I study the regional stat sheet at the week before each game. If a player is close to breaking 1000 yards rushing or passing for the season, or throwing his 20th touchdown pass, I keep running stats during the game while I'm announcing. That way, if he breaks the milestone, I acknowledge it on the microphone and the fans get to cheer. Yes, this goes for opposing teams, too. (You have to be objective) When a Westminster player breaks a school single game, season, or career record in any category, I'm always on top of it. That always gets a roar from the crowd.

5- You're there to announce, not coach the game. I still have to learn this in spots, because I can still go back to my coaching days and get into the play-calling chess match on occasion. Or, even worse, I just go nuts. I mean, absolutely nuts...albeit with the microphone turned off. Last year, when we beat John Burroughs in a huge game, our lead was sliced before halftime after we got hit with two personal fouls and Burroughs took advantage. I got so blistering mad that I jumped out of my chair and punched the seat of a steel chair next to me. Didn't even think about it. The newspaper guy next to me looked as if I'd lost my mind (I wrote him an apology three days later), and that was nothing compared to how my pinky knuckle swelled up and bled. At halftime, my wife looked at me and said gently, "Remember, you're not coaching anymore." Yep, room for growth.

All that being said, I'm anxious to get in the booth again and being back in my game storytelling mode for another season. If you're in the area, come to Westminster at 1 pm on Saturday, August 20th, as we take on the Dragons of St. Mary's.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Wayne Grudem and the "Morally Good" Question

In the theological world, an interesting article was put out there this past week. Wayne Grudem, a professor of theology at Phoenix Seminary, wrote a post at Townhall that posits the point "Why Voting For Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice." Just click on the link in the previous sentence to read through it if you haven't and then what I say next will be more clear. Or maybe less murky.

First of all, I’ll put a few things out there. (1) I’m a registered independent with strong neo-Libertarian leanings. (2) I didn’t vote for Trump in the Missouri GOP primary. (3) I agree with Grudem that we need to respect one another and keep talking to each other over the angst that is coming with decision-making in this very unusual election. (4) I don’t have the time or volume to interact line-by-line with Grudem on Trump’s qualifications or character, so this will be somewhat selective.

Now, to my impressions of what Grudem has said…

I respect people who have come to a thoughtful conclusion that they believe Trump is, on balance, a better choice than Clinton. I even understand that, especially given the way Hillary has conducted herself—not only as Sec of State, but throughout her career in government (and a “career in government” tag should send a lot of people tilting the other direction in the voting booth, IMHO)—people conclude Trump is the wiser option. Could the GOP population have nominated someone better than Trump (cough, Rubio, cough)? Yes, but they didn’t and we have what we have.

However, I think Grudem needs to stick with teaching systematic theology and give ethics a rest. To say voting for Trump over Clinton might be a better strategic choice, even a wiser choice, is within bounds. To say it is a morally good choice is not.

First, Grudem never develops what a “morally good choice” is. He needs to do the Francis Schaeffer thing and define his terms. He may have tried when he spoke about Jeremiah 29:7 and the “seek the welfare of the city” and then he tied that to “By way of modern application, I think Christians today have a similar obligation to vote in such a way that will “seek the welfare” of the United States. Therefore the one overriding question to ask is this: Which vote is most likely to bring the best results for the nation?”

Secondly, by way of agreement, I will say Christian should seek the welfare of the places where they are “in exile” (i.e., the secular culture of our day). However, Grudem shows a lightning tendency to tie it to the fact that “[t]his year we have an unusual opportunity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the pro-abortion, pro-gender-confusion, anti-religious liberty, tax-and-spend, big government liberalism that she champions.”

Well, if Clinton loses, you’ve defeated a candidate. You have kept one person from becoming president. But is that a thoroughly effective "morally good" choice?

You have not stopped “pro-abortion liberalism”, whatever one means by that. People will still hold their beliefs.

You have not stopped “pro-gender-confusion liberalism”, whatever one means by that. People will still believe what they do.

You have not stopped anti-religious liberty liberalism”, which many try to define anecdotally through court cases involving Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor (by the way, I support both Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters in each case and believe they were in the right).

You have not stopped “tax-and-spend” policies. If you want to do that, you need to build a bonfire as big as Connecticut and hold Congress’ feet to it constantly.

You have not stopped “liberalism” in general. If by that you mean a more paternalistic government intervening into individual life, you need to have patient, persuasive dialogue with the wider culture, and you need to be involved in your local communities to make impact and assist in breaking the stranglehold of dependence on government. That attitude is a cultural phenomenon, and putting Trump in office instead of Clinton will have impact that is closer to zero on the Richter scale. Sorry, but it’s true.

Thirdly, Grudem commits a fallacy by pulling a perceived future into the present when he lifts a curtain of sorts and shows what he believes will happen under a Clinton administration and a Trump administration. I’m not going to nail all the particulars (you can read them in the article), but my larger point is this:

How do you know what is coming down the pipe in the next 4-8 years? Do you really have that much foresight?

No, Grudem doesn’t. One can give their best prediction, but ultimately you don’t know what will happen.

You don’t know the makeup of the Senate and the House of Representatives, so you don’t know what sort of legislation will pass the President’s desk.

You don’t know what the relative health or implosion of the market will be in the next 4-8 months, let alone the next 4-8 years. If insurance companies jettison Obamacare, for example, en masse and the contraption collapses of its own weight and unwieldiness, then several issues (religious liberty among them) end up looking better for fans of liberty. But then again, that’s a “future possibility”, and I am willing to say that may or may not happen.

You don’t know what world events will shape the next President’s term and cause a shift in policy. The September 11, 2001, attacks made George W. Bush’s time in office a lot different than what was envisioned when he gave his inaugural speech on January 20th of that year.

[Also, on the criminalizing dissent and freedom of speech issues, Grudem criticizes Clinton (rightfully so, I’d say) but ignores that Trump has been willing to—if he becomes President—go after outlets that talk smack about him. Granted, that was a few months ago, but still…]

Also, on the Supreme Court issue, Grudem says Trump has said he would rely primarily on advice from the Federalist Society, the organization that promotes the “original meaning” view so strongly exemplified by Justice Scalia before his death…If Trump would appoint a replacement for Scalia from his list of 11, and probably one or two other Supreme Court justices, then we could see a 5-4 or even 6-3 majority of conservative justices on the Supreme Court. The results for the nation would be overwhelmingly good…Such a Supreme Court would finally return control of the nation to the people and their elected representatives, removing it from dictatorial judges who repeatedly make law from the bench.”

No problem there. I like the Federalist Society. I loved Scalia. Any tipping point edge on the SCOTUS is key for a President. Supreme Court nominations are critical.

But don’t go thinking that solves everything. Conservative Christians hailed George W. Bush’s selection of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

You do recall who made the critical choice that saved Obamacare in National Federation of Independent Businesses vs. Sebelius by a 5-4 vote, and wrote the majority opinion, don’t you? Yep, that John Roberts.

Admit it, we don’t know how the choices a President will make will be entirely different than what we might imagine.

And, oh my goodness, the abortion issue, according to Grudem? He states that
“[s]uch a court (i.e., with Trump’s fingerprints on it) would likely overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion laws and the regulation of abortion to the states.”

Word to Grudem: You don’t know that this will happen. Also, a SCOTUS decision on abortion means nothing other than changing the law. Changing the culture and ensuring that society tethers itself passionately to an ethic of life takes more work.

Okay, let me end the rambling and pull some things together…

I think we have two tremendously flawed candidates, more so than any election I can recall. But if you are wanting to have a say and a stake in the process of our Republic (yes, it’s a republic; we are NOT a democracy), then you need to be in the voting booth on November 8th.

There are strategic elements that go into the decision-making process. Which person is more effective. What is the wiser option for me—given what I can guess about the near future?

But there is a distinction between strategy and wisdom and a clear moral division on the other. At what point along the way of that spectrum do we call Trump the morally good choice? When I hear “morally good”, I think of an action that is crystal clear; the same goes for “morally bad”. Murder is a morally bad action of heinous levels. Fidelity to one’s spouse is “morally good” behavior of the highest quality.

If one is going to say “This is a morally good choice”, the choice had better be quite clear. Political leanings aside, that reality remains.

Out of the Big Two candidates remaining, Trump may well be a more strategic choice for America’s national health.

But to cast a political vote in moral terms? I really don’t know that Grudem has clinched it.

And now, to lift my spirits, I’m going to watch the “age question” moment from the Reagan-Mondale debate. Because however you label it morally, that was funny!