BREAKING: Donald Trump Issues Comprehensive Apology

Washington D.C – In an impromptu moment of transparency, one that is without precedent in modern politics, President Trump spoke to the nation last night and issued the following apologies:

“I would like to apologize that my economic initiatives have produced record low unemployment for 14 states, and near record lows for many, many others. Not to mention how many new jobs were created in my first year in office. I feel terrible that so many more people are having to work for a living. I would further like to apologize that my racist policies have created the lowest unemployment rate for the African American and Hispanic communities in the history of our country. My bad. That’s on me folks. Also, it’s totally my fault that the stock market continues to break record after record in gains. If there was something I could do to slow it down to Obummer level numbers, I would. This I can tell you.”

The President continued with off-the-cuff frankness.

“I feel terrible that for the first time in decades, my administration has actually pressured North Korea enough to bring them to the table to discuss denuclearization. Personally, I would love to live in a world where we constantly had to worry about that little guy (Kim Jong Un) having nukes at his disposal, but you can’t have everything you want. Well, I can but I’m super rich. But most people can’t have everything. Because they are not rich like me.”

President Trump closed his address with a few more moments of candor and self-reflection.

“I’m really sorry about the tax cuts. It was a great idea because it would be letting so many people keep more of their money. But the results were not that great. Not that great. Your average middle-class family will only get about $1,000 to $2,000 of benefits from this tax cut. San Fran Nan (Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) said that these cuts are like crumbs to most people. I am rich so I agree with her on that. Obviously. I was hoping it would be a lot more but people in this country make so little money they couldn’t get a bigger tax break. People just need to do a better job of being rich. It’s not that hard to be rich. Just inherit a lot of money. DONE! You know what I’m saying? Anyways, that’s all I have for today. I can make this promise though – I will continue to do everything I can, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my tweeting and golf, to make America great again. We’re getting there. We are winning right now but we will win even more in the future. Just so much winning we are all going to get tired of it.”




The Flag, the Protests, and Finding Some Common Ground (The NFL on REO Special Edition)

Last week on The NFL on REO, I highlighted a few areas where the NFL needs change. While it was not my intention to use an entire article to deal with any one of those issues, sometimes events and cultural conversations become too large to handle in a paragraph or two. As most everyone is aware, over the weekend, President Trump made some very pointed and controversial comments about national anthem protestors in the NFL. The NFL and its players responded forcefully on Sunday during the games. That is the immediate context. The larger context is much more complicated.

Generally, I try to stay away from a few topics when I write about the NFL and the Titans. I avoid politics as much as possible. I avoid religion as well, for similar reasons. The majority of people that read articles about the NFL want to read about just that – the NFL. They don’t want another political screed, diatribe, or pontification. I hope this is not that. But, this topic is so big, so intense, and so interconnected with the sport I love the most, I feel it would be a massive oversight on my part to completely avoid it.

Instead of simply writing down my thoughts on this issue, which are tangled and not entirely coherent, I decided to bring some of the other REO writers to the table for a conversation. Joining me today are Gowdy Cannon and my brother, David Lytle. Hopefully, something said here will help those of you that are struggling with making sense of all of this.


Phill: To kick things off, I want to lay down some groundwork. First, I believe I speak for everyone at REO that the NFL players have a right to speak out and stand up for issues they are passionate about. Second, there are injustices in our country that need to be confronted, addressed, and corrected. And finally, this weekend was a mess.

Prior to this weekend, what did you think about the limited anthem protests that have been happening in the NFL for the past few years?

Gowdy:
Prior to this weekend my thoughts towards the protests were very mixed. My very first reaction was that the time, place and manner were unwise and that instead of creating dialogue and awareness, they only further divided the country along racial and political lines and brought about a new angle of racial justice promoters vs. Veterans and not just police. At first, I thought, that can only be a bad thing.

Yet at the same time I never for one second thought Kaepernick or anyone else should be disciplined or muted and especially not fired. Because of US history and current politics, I felt that could be yet another step to dividing us. I think the protesters need to be heard.

And as I have read and listened to people like Benjamin Watson, Lecrae, John Perkins and a whole host of others on racial issues in the United States, the more sympathetic I have felt towards the message behind the kneeling and I had changed my perception of it greatly. It may be divisive but I think I have to believe that either wise, Christian black people are way off on this, or that attention desperately needs to be brought to racial injustice in the US in 2017. I do not believe the former is correct. For that reason, I think it is worth making some people mad to start the national discussion. Surely some people will never change their minds. But some, like me, will.

I had some disagreement towards Kaepernick and Michael Bennett for reasons that were not specifically related to kneeling. But the act itself to me was something I would not condemn.

Phill:
I had a similar reaction Gowdy. If the NFL allows this sort of protest, which actually goes against the operations policy it distributes to each team, then these players have a right to kneel, or sit, or raise their hand. I have no problem with any of that. I’m not sure how much good it does in the long run, considering most fans didn’t agree with the protests, but it was their right to do it. My biggest issue stemmed from Kaepernick’s comments after his protest started and some of the other things he said, did, or the clothing he wore – police as pigs on his clothing. He made positive comments about Fidel Castro, which were ill-informed at best, and that completely ruined his credibility among many, myself included.

The issue was dying down. Most of the players that had protested with Kaepernick at the beginning had moved on to other ways of bringing awareness to what they saw as racial inequality in our country – one-half of one percent of the players were still protesting. The protests were going to be mostly gone, probably this season. And then Trump happened.

This has the potential to be a source of debate with our readers, but I don’t believe Trump acted wisely by saying what he did. In fact, it all feels very opportunistic and calculating. Trump gets beaten up on a daily basis by the media, unlike any other president I have seen in my lifetime. He is criticized for things he deserves and for things he does not. The media reacts to him like a petulant, angry, child would. So Trump occasionally makes comments where he knows he has the majority behind him – and he does on this issue. Most people dislike the anthem protests. His most rabid supporters hate the protests. Many of them have already turned their back on the NFL. He was preaching to the choir on this one and he knew it would ignite a firestorm because that is how he likes to operate. And the media played right into his hand, as we all knew they would because that is who they are.

So, I guess my question is, how do we deal with this? How do we condemn what Trump said but still understand the anger and the frustration many Americans feel when they see wealthy athletes kneeling or “disrespecting” the flag, the country, and the anthem? And how do we do all of those things while acknowledging that there are real problems with injustice in our country?

David:
It is a shame that Trump is bringing a new level racial tension and political division into America’s favorite sport. By having such strong and vulgar words aimed at NFL players, he made standing for the National Anthem a referendum on his presidency, when it was just a side issue having to do with basically one former player. He backed NFL players as a whole into a corner and forced the issue. When bullied, people punch back. I was not upset with the Titans for staying in the locker room. It seemed like a respectful way to let the president know that he shouldn’t bully. It won’t do any good, because its Trump, but it was an effort. An effort that did not infuriate me as much as the President’s words, but still bothered me deeply.

Gowdy:
I will echo you guys that Trump’s comments Friday were a disaster as far as national dialogue and unity. It is incomprehensible to me that a US president would speak using those words, as loudly as possible, completely unashamed. Other presidents have definitely helped divide us but the whole spectacle was unprecedented in delivery and pejorative, at least in my lifetime. I’m not one who gets outraged about everything any president does or says, but I am still stunned by the comments. My sympathies for the kneelers are at an all-time high as a result.

I don’t have many answers. Something that I have seen good, balanced Christians post to social media (that often gets drowned out) is James 1:19. As a Christian, I absolutely should be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen. Yet this is so poorly practiced, by me and others quite often. But thanks to godly people in my personal life and on social media, I am trying to get better at it. I want to listen when Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator in the US, says that he had been stopped by police seven times in a year for driving a nice car and no other reason. I want to listen to Ben Watson when he says there is a fear in the black community of the police. I want to listen to an unnamed friend that talks about how they once had a gun pulled on them by police for playing their music loudly while driving. A good friend just lent me a book by “Coach” Wayne Gordon, a pastor in Chicago, called Do All Lives Matter? I read it in a day. It helps me want to live out James 1:19

I don’t have to agree with everything someone says to listen to them. But I will not argue with a non-white on this topic, especially if they speak of their experience. Data can be argued but I will not even do that because I personally feel that is counterproductive in most cases. Others may feel differently and that is fine. This is a topic and a time for me to practice James 1:19. At the very minimum, I wish people would stop talking in cliches and posting and tweeting without trying to understand others. Especially face to face. (Tim Scott and others have launched a huge movement of inviting other races into each other’s homes for Sunday lunch. Let’s do this, people!)

However, I am not a veteran or a cop and if I were I may feel differently. I can only imagine what it is like to be in battle and view the flag as a source of pride. I can only imagine because I’ve never been in battle. Right now I remain convinced it is worth the controversy because many veterans and cops support the kneeling and because many protestors have tried to be clear that people will not listen unless we go to extremes sometimes and they truly mean no disrespect to the flag, veterans or policemen. Based on US history, I personally am not comfortable constantly telling black people or other races or ethnicities how and when they should peacefully protest.

Phill:
I don’t disagree with any of that. I completely agree that dialogue is important. Listening is important. Empathy is important. We do too little of all those things. We are quick to speak and quick to anger and very slow to listen. Here comes the but…

We could spend hours and way too many words discussing the validity of these protests. We could talk about statistics, evidence, facts, and all those other things. I’m not really interested in that and I am definitely not qualified to speak intelligently about it. I want to keep this focused on the NFL, Trump, and how everyone can do a better job of having this public debate.

As David said, there has to be a better way to do this. And this is not saying minorities need to find less uncomfortable ways to protest. I would simply urge people to find wiser ways to protest – ways that will not give off the appearance of disrespect for our nation. They are less likely to change minds when you start from a position that puts people on the defensive.

The fact is, for too many, this protest is attacking everything they think the flag and the anthem stand for. For too many, these NFL players are showing contempt and disrespect for the flag and our country. These people will never be able to see past this form of protest. To them, it feels completely un-American. Kaepernick’s original comments were very pointed in their criticisms of the US. Too pointed for many. And they made it clear that he was showing contempt for the flag and the nation because he felt the nation was showing contempt for minorities.

And for people who agree with Trump, the NFL has only further confirmed in their mind that it is full of players that hate our country. I believe the overwhelming majority of these players love their country and meant no disrespect to the flag or anthem this weekend. But that is not how many people see it. And a productive conversation on this issue will never happen if we are starting on such polar opposite ends.

Without sacrificing their voice and their position, what can NFL players, the league, and the owners do to make their statements without alienating, angering, and inflaming millions of fans? And what can fans do to listen and understand what is truly being said through these protests?

David:
At the end of the day (or beginning of the game), kneeling for the anthem or even staying in the locker room is counterproductive. Perhaps attention is called to an area needing reform, but players can do a lot of good with their money and influence in ways that don’t make the nation think they hate their country. The flag and our national song about it, however, stand for the ideals of this nation, not the problems. The first and greatest of those ideals is that “all men are created equal.” Those who cannot stand up for this ideal are either tragically uninformed (like Kaepernick) or worse (like the dictator on his T-shirt).

I think Trump has been wanting to get back at the NFL going all the way back to his days as a USFL owner days. He resented being excluded from their club and now he is using his power to revive a dead issue and forcing the nation into a false dichotomy–Boycott the NFL or hate America. I won’t be Trumped.

Gowdy:
The events of this past weekend are still fresh so this is a quick reaction and could easily be ignorant in hindsight, but…is it too idealistic to think what the Cowboys did is a reasonable alternative? If you missed it they knelt as a team, including coaches, staff and even Jerry Jones, before the anthem. Could this still bring awareness and yet placate many veterans and others who feel that honoring the flag and anthem are important?  Again, my first reaction says it could work. But I also know if you try to please everyone you often please no one. I know there were boos by the Cardinal fans, though they could have been just a knee-jerk reaction/assumption without realizing what the Cowboys were actually doing. Or could be that they were just booing the Cowboys! And I can theorize on the other side some protesters still feeling silenced or unheard or feeling that kneeling before the anthem totally misses the point.

So I don’t know. Just some raw thoughts mere days after the incidents.

Phill:
My suggestions would be pretty simple: Listen more, react less. And while you are at it, ignore the media as much as possible. Don’t allow the media or the fringes to frame the issue. Those that are angry about the protests are not all racists and white supremacists. Those that are protesting are not all anti-American traitors. In fact, I would argue that there are very few on either side that fit those descriptions. There are real problems with equality and justice in our country – so even if we disagree on what those problems are or how widespread they are – we need to be willing to listen to people that feel strongly about them. And for those that are on the other side of the debate, be willing to empathize with those that don’t see eye-to-eye with your position and be very careful about labeling them as racists or evil because of their differing perspective.

We are much closer on most of these issues than the media, Trump, etc… would have us believe. Having real conversations where we really listen will go a long way towards helping us see that.




Stop Making Trump Look Good By Being Worse!

I need a media fast. Instead I’m contributing to the circus. Maybe it will provide clarity, but chances are my contribution will either be ignored or ignite vitriol. Vitriol…something we are not in short supply of here in America.

Let’s start with the protests, the hatred. I have no love for Trump. I couldn’t vote for him. He said way too many terrible things about other people. He has the moral compass of, well, most other Americans, unfortunately. I did not feel comfortable voting for someone that I felt had no integrity. (This is also why I didn’t want Bill Clinton to have access to the Oval Office. I care about women too much to have him force any more interns into sexual favors.) Thanks to his inflammatory and derogatory statements, Trump has allowed the left to paint him as the embodiment of hatred of women and minorities. All the hate-mongering still couldn’t get enough people to the polls to support Clinton. The result: Trump wins. The response: “Love Trumps Hate.” The irony: The sign is now being held up next to “Rape Melania.” This is our America. Our response to a “hateful” president-elect is violence, hatred, and fear.

But Trump is a liar! We all have seen the videos of him contradicting himself. So how do the Trump haters respond? More lies. My liberal friends have posted fabricated news stories and click-bating, misleading headlines in abundance this week. When Trump appointed African-American, Ken Blackwell, to head his domestic transition team the headlines read, “Donald Trump’s war on LGBTQ people has already begun.” Another one that said, “Trump’s Domestic Transition Team Leader is a Hate Group Member” Why? Because Blackwell believes that homosexuals can and should change their sexual habits. These kinds of headlines are lies. We HATE Trump because he is hateful and lie about him because he is a liar!

What about the openly anti-Semitic, anti-gay, white-supremacist appointment of Steve Bannon? What about all the race-hatred coming from those on the alt-right? I have no doubt that there is plenty of racially charged hatred to go around, but I don’t think there is anyone in this country who could define “alt-right” well enough to be able solidly link actual acts of violence or discrimination to it. In fact, no one even knew what the term meant until five minutes ago. That’s not surprising, given that it has only been around for about that long.

I did some research on Bannon. I read article after article about how Bannon is anti-Semitic or homophobic or misogynistic. I was shocked and even more disappointed with the President-elect. Then I noticed a problem. The problem with all those articles is that they didn’t have any evidence. After lots of digging, I found one piece of evidence. In Divorce court, his ex-wife said that he said he didn’t want his kids in the same school as Jewish kids. As horrible as that sounds, I’m pretty sure that is what we call a biased source. Can we have some real evidence before we tell everyone we know that he is a white-supremacist?

The other evidence is his website—Brietbart. He was president of this conservative news organization and presided over thousands of articles from a variety of authors. I saw a list of headlines that used offensive language about Jewish people, women, and homosexuals. They were shocking and disgusting. There is a problem with this as evidence against Bannon as a bigot. The offensive comments were made by Jews, women, and homosexuals. The headline in Brietbart of Bill Kristol being a “renegade Jew” was made by David Horowitz, who is himself Jewish. Far from being anti-Semitic, Brietbart articles are consistently, and at times, uncritically pro-Israel. I have been told Bannon is anti-Semitic, but as far as I can tell, that is a lie.

Isn’t Bannon anti-gay? The most popular contributor on Bannon’s website is Milo Yiannopoulos, an openly gay man who believes the left is authoritarian and regressive. He calls himself “the world’s most dangerous faggot.” He is extreme in many ways, but Milo doesn’t want to persecute homosexuals; he wants to protect them from Sharia law. He may be misguided, but this is not evidence that Bannon is a bigot. Bannon could very well be dangerous. I wouldn’t be surprised. But am I supposed to think that he is an anti-gay, anti-Semite because his website allows Jews and Homosexuals a platform to reject political correctness? I don’t know what to believe about Bannon because all I keep hearing are lies.

Breitbart isn’t much help. The website is full of those extreme, click-baiting headlines that fan the fires of culture wars. Much of it is the same kind of distorted truth that people are saying about Trump’s appointments, just from a right-wing perspective.

This is the problem: I can’t trust anything I read or see on TV and that scares me. We have a president-elect that is proven to us all his lack of integrity. How is anyone going to be able to keep him in check if no one is capable of telling the truth about him? How will we know the truth if the rest of us are no longer able to believe anyone? How will we have political discourse if we keep throwing out the term racist or anti-Semite to everyone who disagrees with us. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not endorsing Trump or Bannon. As much as I dread the possibility of racists running our nation, I detest even more the fact that I can’t learn the truth. The truth may be out there, Mulder, but I sure can’t figure out where.

This is our post-modern dilemma: We have killed logic sufficiently enough so that we can respond to hatred with hate. We can respond to lies with more lies. We are swimming in a violent sea of hatred and lies. From where I am standing the waves are coming in mostly from the left.

I need a media fast.




Things We Would Rather Do Than Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election.

Tomorrow, November 8th, 2016, is Election Day. It’s the day when millions of Americans will cast their vote for the next President of the United States. We are not here to tell you how to vote. Your vote is between you and God. (Or you and Satan if you vote for Hillary.) No, we would not dream of trying to sway the vote in any way. Everyone on staff at REO plans to vote. None of us is excited about it. It is our civic duty, with a really strong emphasis on duty. So, to pass the time, we decided to make a list of things we would rather do than vote this year. We hope that in some small way, this list will provide assistance and enlightenment during this difficult and confusing time.


 

  • Light myself on fire. – Mike Lytle
  • Light Mike on fire. – Ben Plunkett
  • Root for the Cubs. – Phill Lytle
  • Start P90X. – Mike Lytle
  • Hold a 24-hour movie marathon of Kate Hudson films. – Phill Lytle
  • Listen to a lecture on methods of differentiated instruction. – David Lytle
  • Listen to a 45-minute lecture by Skip Bayless on how Tom Brady is the Greatest QB of all time. – Gowdy Cannon
  • Decapitate myself. Twice. – Ben Plunkett
  • Create my own “Best of Justin Bieber” playlist on Spotify. – Mike Lytle
  • Get a second vasectomy. – Phill Lytle
  • Get a first vasectomy. – Mike Lytle
  • Go shopping with Johnny Weir. Or go shopping. – Ben Plunkett
  • Wear sweatpants in public. – Phill Lytle
  • Turn around and shake hands at church. – Gowdy Cannon
  • Participate in hot yoga. – Phill Lytle
  • Do detention with Deloris Umbridge. – Gowdy Cannon
  • Use the term “micro-aggressions” with total sincerity. – Phill Lytle
  • Wallow in freakish misery. – Ben Plunkett

 


So there you have it. This is only a small fraction of the numerous things we could think of that would be more fun and more fulfilling than voting this year. But, we are honor bound to participate in this key aspect of our democratic republic. When you go to the polls tomorrow, we want you to remember one thing: You get to live with the shame of your choice for the rest of your life. Happy voting!!!




Five Reasons I Hope Donald Trump Is Our Next President

Is there anything in American society that is more obnoxious, loud, and infuriating than the current state of politics? It all feels so corrupt and useless. When I think of the current presidential race in general, and Donald Trump specifically, I pretty much run the entire emotional gamut: frustration to anger to laughter to sadness. We have a country of over 300 million people. Many of those people are amazing, intelligent, moral, and respectable. Somehow, our system has missed all those people and we are left with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as our final two options for the next President[1. Sorry Bernie. Not really, but way to give it the “old college try.”] Really? As a nation, we couldn’t do better than that?

So, it might seem like the title of this article is a bit incongruent with the actual content. Very observant of you. I don’t really want Trump to be President. That’s a dumpster fire waiting to happen. Even so, I can think of a few really good reasons I would be okay with Trump being our 45th President.[2. Or maybe they are terrible reasons, but this whole thing has me so confused I don’t know what I am talking about anymore.]

1. We deserve Donald Trump, President of the United States.
Is that too harsh? Too judgy? I don’t really care anymore. As a nation, our values our so screwed up that President Trump not only makes sense, it feels right. Just watch the nightly news if you don’t understand what I am saying. We value money above almost anything. We celebrate success at all costs. We care more about animals than we do human life.[3. Piece of evidence #1.  Piece of evidence #2. Piece of evidence #3.] If there is anyone that can be the face of our national insanity, it’s Donald J. Trump.

2. President Trump would be wildly unpredictable and occasionally hilarious.
The simple truth of the matter is, it takes a pretty big ego to run for president. You have to truly believe you are capable of running the world’s most powerful country. That takes some serious self-confidence.[4. Bill Raftery helps explain things.] And Trump might actually have more confidence in his ability to lead than anyone that has ever even dreamed about being president. President Obama likes to talk about his accomplishments. He likes to remind us of all the great things he has done. President Trump would be like that on steroids. Every action would be HUGE! WONDERFUL! AMAZING! He would yell at reporters.[5. I’m actually kinda okay with this.] Mock foreign dignitaries that questioned him or his actions in any way. Make up stuff on the fly and when called on it, he would say that everyone is just jealous of all his money, success, women, fame, buildings, children, looks, blah, blah, blah…

3. We would have a giant wall just like China. Only ours would be so much bigger and nicer and more luxurious, you wouldn’t believe!
Seriously, we are the most powerful and wealthy nation on the planet and we don’t have a giant wall already? What have we been waiting for? I want a wall I can see from space. I want that wall to be so big, you could land Air Force One on it. A Trump Presidency = The Best Wall of America. So much better than that Great Wall of China.

4. Lots of sanctimonious liberals would leave the country.
I’ve lost track of how many liberal celebrities have threatened to leave the country if Trump is elected president. We can only hope they follow through on their threats. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want them to leave because I dislike them. I enjoy being constantly reminded what a horrible human being I am as much as the next white, conservative male. No, I want them to leave because it’s the honest thing to do. I wouldn’t want them to have to live with that broken promise for the rest of their lives.

5. Christians could start choosing faith over party.
In all seriousness, this is not a judgment of anyone that has voted or will vote for Donald Trump. I understand the reasoning and the logic behind such a vote. Contrary to what some have said, you can be a Christian and vote for Trump.[6. Here is one example of people that have said just that.] What I am suggesting is this: If you are a conservative Christian, if and when Donald Trump says or does something that goes against biblical teaching, side with Scripture. If Trump treats a woman with disrespect, speak out against that. Don’t support it or excuse it because he is a Republican. If a Trump policy violates Christian belief in some way, be prepared to take a stand against that instead of turning away in silence simply because of what political party he represents. To be honest, I’m not holding my breath any of this will happen. Conservative Christians have been too willing to go along with the Republican party for years. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

This November, get out and vote. Though you might need to shower after you do.




Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Conservative Christians: A Match Made in Hell

A few days ago Donald Trump excitedly tweeted that he received an endorsement for President from Jerry Falwell Jr. Donald Trump is known for his arrogance, his greed, his moral failures, his pro-choice stance on abortion, and his desire to stop all Muslim immigration and build a wall between United States and Mexico. He is proud to be everything about the Republican Party that Conservative Christians hoped wasn’t true when we began to support them in the 1980s. Jerry Falwell Jr. is the heir to Jerry Falwell in more ways than one. Not only has he taken over from his father the largest and most influential Christian university (Liberty) in the country, he has taken over his father’s penchant for jumping in bed with the Republican Party. Yet this time, it’s different. What Christian values is Mr. Trump supporting? Is it our compassion for the poor and oppressed? Is it our defense of the unborn? Is he the voice of our “moral majority?” After more than 30 years of support, it is clear that Conservative Christians are being used for their vote.

The brutal fact is—we’ve been lied to.

The Republican Party is a married man that has flirted with us (Conservative Christians) for too long. We’ve been told that He want’s to marry us. We’ve been told that the relationship between his wife (big business) is on the rocks and he plans on marrying us. He’s taken us to his hotel, stolen our purity, and left us totally embarrassed when He “decided” that he would stay with his first wife. Even after all of this, we are still tagging along with him hoping that maybe, just maybe, he will change. He will never change and it looks like we are going to stay around to give him the one thing he wants.