Archive for the ‘ Politics & Government ’ Category

The Debate Fallout

I did watch the GOP debate last week before embarking on my trip to Texas for the C. S. Lewis Foundation retreat. Normally, you might expect I would comment on it before now, but I hope these belated few comments will suffice.

As many have noted, this was a landmark debate in the sense that it brought to the surface once and for all the biased nature of the questioners. CNBC’s moderators (hardly the correct title this time) were about as hostile as one could find. The experience caused the GOP to cancel NBC’s sponsorship of one of the later debates.

Even though I have drawn attention often to the lopsided politics of the mainstream media, I was stunned by the manner in which these questions were asked and the remarkable double standard when compared to the kinds of questions Hillary Clinton has received:

Questioning

The moderators couldn’t have been more obvious about their own political views. As Ted Cruz noted, he didn’t expect any of them would be voting in a Republican primary. They probably just should have made it clear from the start:

Debate Rules

I wasn’t at the debate in person, of course, but if I had been, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the parking lot outside might have offered some clues as well:

Media Van

What this ham-handed approach actually accomplished was to unite all the GOP contenders; it was them vs. the media throughout the debate. If the goal of CNBC was to humiliate the presidential hopefuls, it boomeranged on them:

Bad Shot

So the loser in the debate is clear. Who won? Everyone has their own opinions, of course. I think the following candidates helped their cause the most: Rubio, Cruz, and Christie. A high honorable mention goes to Fiorina, who always comes across as articulate and firm in her convictions. Carson held his own, as did most of the others.

Some of those instant online polls taken after such events are about as unscientific as they come. One, for instance, said Trump won. Well, he didn’t do anything to stand out and, as more than one commentator said later, this was the first debate in which he was not the center of attention.

Maybe the next debate, moderated by Fox Business Network, will be more worthy of our time.

The False Benghazi Hearing Narrative

Hillary Clinton’s testimony before the Benghazi Committee has been declared a “win” for her by the mainstream media. They report, almost breathlessly, how calm and collected she was. At the same time, they paint a picture of Republicans on the committee as out of control and frustrated by the answers offered by the smartest woman in the world.

Well, that’s the narrative from the usual suspects. In fact, that narrative wasn’t anywhere close to the truth.

Benghazi Narrative

What we got was a performance without substance. Sadly, performance is what counts in the media. Never mind the truth—or lack thereof. It would have been better, I think, if the scene had been set up differently:

Polygraph

“No new discoveries.” “No smoking gun.” Really? How about the e-mail Hillary wrote to her daughter and the other one to the Egyptian government official in which she admitted the attack had nothing to do with some obscure video? Is that not newsworthy? Is that not some kind of gun emanating massive amounts of smoke?

Of course not, we’re assured. Nothing to see here. The real story is that she made it through all those grueling hours. Why, she is the real victim, not those who died in the terrorist attack. After all, Ambassador Stevens knew what he was getting into, right? Again, never mind all those appeals he sent for more security that she apparently never saw. Why, she is the real story here.

I Survived

Unscathed

The outright dishonesty and lack of integrity shown by both Hillary Clinton and her media supporters is becoming legendary. It’s almost as heinous as the love affair between the media and Barack Obama.

You see, the true villains in this drama are those who are seeking answers and demanding that documents be turned over so that the truth can come to light. Such tactics are pure evil, we’re told.

Stop Asking

Fortunately, there are some with integrity who will keep on asking. They deserve our thanks and appreciation as they continue to contend with the stonewalling and the false media narrative.

Trey Gowdy, Hillary Clinton, & Truth

I just read through Congressman Trey Gowdy’s opening statement to the special committee to investigate what happened at Benghazi. Unless you live under a rock somewhere, you know Hillary Clinton was called to testify to the committee yesterday.

Gowdy-Clinton

I am so impressed with that opening statement that I want to share some of it here. It’s a heartening example why we should not stereotype all politicians as grubby, dishonest moral reprobates. I applaud the clarity of Gowdy’s statement and its brutal honesty. First, he speaks of the four men who died trying to stave off the attack:

Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods served our country with courage and with honor.  They were killed under circumstances most of us could never imagine.  Under cover of darkness, terrorists poured through the front gate of our facility and attacked our people and our property with machine guns, mortars and fire. . . .

We know what they gave us.  What do we owe them? Justice for those who killed them.  We owe their families our everlasting respect and gratitude.  We owe them – and each other – the truth.

Gowdy then turns to what kinds of truth we need to know:

The truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was on the anniversary of 9-11.

The truth about what was happening and being discussed in Washington while our people were under attack.

The truth about what led to the attacks.

The truth about what our government told the American people after the attacks.

Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington?

Those were only a few of the truths he listed that we need to know. He then took aim at critics of the committee and provided a sad history of the lack of real investigation until now:

This committee is the first committee to review more than fifty thousand pages of documents because we insisted they be produced. . . .

This committee is the first committee to thoroughly and individually interview scores of other witnesses, many of them for the first time.

This committee is the first committee to review thousands of pages of documents from top State Department personnel.

This committee is the first committee to demand access to relevant documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Department of Defense, the State Department, and even the White House.

This committee is the first committee to demand access to the emails to and from Ambassador Chris Stevens.  How could an investigation possibly be considered credible without reviewing the emails of the person most knowledgeable about Libya?

Hillary Clinton wanted to make it seem this committee was set up only to derail her presidential run. Gowdy would have none of that, pointing out how everyone, from the State Department to congressional Democrats on the committee to Hillary herself, has done their best to stonewall the investigation. She was being called to testify solely because she was secretary of state at the time of this attack.

Finally, he gave what I consider a rousing conclusion:

There are certain characteristics that make our country unique in the annals of history.  We are the greatest experiment in self-governance the world has ever known.  And part of that self-governance includes self-scrutiny – even of the highest officials.

Our country is strong enough to handle the truth.  And our fellow citizens expect us to pursue the truth, wherever the facts take us.

So this committee is going to do what we pledged to do, and what should have been done long ago, which is interview the witnesses, examine the relevant evidence, and access the documents.  We are going to pursue the truth in a manner worthy of the memory of the four men who lost their lives and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens.

We are going to write that final, definitive accounting of what happened in Benghazi.  We would like to do it with your help, but we are going to do it nonetheless.  Because understanding what happened in Benghazi goes to the heart of who we are as a country and the promises we make to those we send into harm’s way.

They deserve the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  The people we work for deserve the truth.  The family and friends of those killed representing this country deserve the truth.  There is no statute of limitations on that truth.

I am impressed. May the truth win out.

2016’s Worst-Case Scenario

Joe Biden says he is out of the 2016 race, then proceeds to give a 25-minute campaign speech. Why? Commentator Charles Krauthammer thinks he is positioning himself should lightning strike Hillary Clinton in the form of a federal indictment.

Any indictment that may come will be the result of an FBI investigation into her e-mail scandal, but there are other reasons to fervently oppose a Hillary nomination, with Benghazi being a key one.

Today the House special committee investigating Benghazi will have her testify. Four Americans died in that terrorist attack that she tried to blame on a hardly seen video. When she appears before the committee, perhaps they should also have empty chairs next to her as a remembrance for the four who died.

There’s actually a fifth victim here as well:

Empty Chairs

Another cartoonist picked up on that theme rather pointedly also:

Waste of Time

For me, it doesn’t matter which of the possible candidates Democrats will offer to the public; I could never vote for any of them. Why don’t they just get it over and change the name of the party officially to the Socialist Party? Or how about the Kill Innocent Children and Sell Their Body Parts Party? The Let’s Destroy Marriage Party? You get the drift. There’s no way I can ever support what Democrats now stand for. How any Christian can give support for them is beyond my comprehension.

Then there’s the Republican side where Donald Trump continues to lead in the polls. Some, like this cartoonist, view him this way:

Trumpet

His candidacy certainly has been long on bravado, a cult of personality, and the ability to hit hot-button issues that appeal to angry voters. But he’s far from lacking substance; what bothers me the most is the substance I see.

Trump, in my view, has only latched onto a type of conservatism because it’s what will get him the nomination. He, by his own admission, has always aligned himself more with Democrats than Republicans, and now mouths conservative platitudes that I don’t really think he believes.

Ronald Reagan underwent a serious rethinking of his New Deal liberalism over a number of years, coming out of the period of rethinking as a confirmed conservative in principle. Trump is, I fear, nothing more than an opportunist jumping on a bandwagon of reaction against the Obama years.

That’s not enough. It’s also dangerous to put one’s trust in an opportunist. It will come back to bite.

His latest foray into the Loony Left’s talking points is the insinuation that 9/11 was somehow George Bush’s fault. Whatever critique we, and I, may have of Bush’s actions, anyone who even hints at his complicity in letting 9/11 happen is wandering into the fever swamps.

There were so many daily threats Bush was given that there was no way to single out ahead of time what actually happened on 9/11.

Further, Trump then asserted that if he had been president, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened, indicating that his immigration approach would have prevented it. Does he not know that 15 of the 19 terrorists that day came into the country legally? And does he really want us to believe that he would have rounded them up and deported them in the short 8-month span he would have been in office prior to 9/11?

Hitching a ride on the Trump Train will spell disaster for the GOP.

911

Can you imagine a worse scenario than what we may be facing as an election choice in 2016?

Miss Those Days

As noted above, I’ll never vote for Hillary or any other Democrat. But please, Republicans, don’t force me to vote for a third party.

John Adams & Integrity: The Boston Massacre

Boston, on 5 March 1770, was the scene of an ugly incident. Having the King’s troops stationed in the city to ensure Bostonians followed Parliament’s edicts created a constant tension. The presence of those troops made citizens feel as if they were being treated like traitors to the Crown.

Some of those troops, poorly paid, were looking for part-time work, which only increased the tension, as they would take jobs away from the locals. Clashes between soldiers and citizens were becoming more common.

On this night, a single sentry was set upon by an angry crowd. That brought out more soldiers to face the crowd. Snowballs, sticks, and stones were thrown at the soldiers. In the confusion, some of the soldiers thought they heard their captain shouting to shoot; in fact, he was saying just the opposite.

Thinking they had heard the “fire” order, they shot into the crowd, resulting in five deaths.

All of Boston was in an uproar over this incident. Paul Revere quickly published what has become a famous engraving.

Boston Massacre

The problem with this depiction is that it made it seem like an orchestrated action by the soldiers. It only made the situation worse.

Those soldiers had to go on trial, but who among the Boston lawyers would take on their case? Who was willing to face the storm of criticism by defending them?

Two lawyers undertook the task: John Adams and Josiah Quincy. Adams took the lead and, although he was a patriot who objected to the Parliament’s actions, he knew the soldiers deserved a fair trial.

Adams worked hard for his clients. He successfully got the captain acquitted of all wrongdoing; only two of the soldiers were convicted, but not for willful murder. They were punished and sent back to England, but their lives were spared.

John AdamsJohn Adams knew that the truth had to come out, regardless of the position he took on political matters. One of his comments from these trials has come down to us today, used by many people in all kinds of situations, mainly because it is applicable across the board. Adams said,

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

What was exhibited here? Integrity. John Adams had that quality, and he proved that fairness could be achieved even in an emotional and tension-packed situation.

Later in life, Adams pointed to his defense of those soldiers as his most honorable act. I would have to agree. May we learn from his example.

Hillary the Winner?

I didn’t watch last week’s Democrat debate. As I said at the time, I have better things to do than watch five socialists argue about how to destroy America even more. I also could have given you their answers to every question ahead of time.

From the analyses of that debate that I’ve read and heard ever since, I don’t regret my decision to spend my time more usefully. I do believe, though, that the debate did accomplish one thing for CNN—it reestablished that network’s old identity from back in the Bill Clinton years:

Clinton News Network

In one way, it’s kind of nice to know that there are things you can count on in life—that there are “constants” on which you can depend.

Hillary’s makeover as she attempts to draw away Bernie Sanders’s corps of socialists, communists, anarchists, etc., remains in full swing. We’re not supposed to ask, though, about the blatant hypocrisy of her new rhetoric:

Dropping Out

Hillary has been a Wall Street Occupier for most of her life—on the other side. She has been quite comfortable there, siphoning off their cash for herself for years.

“Everyone” who watched the debate has declared her the winner, the inevitable nominee, the unquestioned frontrunner. Well, she has good reasons to be running fast; the facts are catching up to her:

Frontrunner

If she is the nominee, she not only will have to somehow cover up her own misdeeds, but she will have to answer for the myriad misdeeds and the results of the current administration, of which she was a vital part. E-mails may be the least of her troubles:

Back to the E-mails

I actually hope Hillary Clinton is the Democrat nominee. It would be hard to find a worse campaigner or one with more baggage. If Republicans are smart (a big “if”) they have a golden opportunity here. Wouldn’t it be nice to relegate the Clintons to history once and for all?

Principle & Compromise: Not Always at Odds

I’ve called this blog Pondering Principles because I’m dedicated to laying a principled foundation for whatever subject I scrutinize. I also want to see principles—Biblical principles—become the basis for all public policy. Those of us oriented toward principles have a natural aversion to compromise; we have a tendency to see all compromise as a step backward. I would like to argue that is not the case.

Let’s start historically and work our way to present-day issues.

At the Constitutional Convention, a major disagreement erupted between states with lesser populations and those with greater. The less-populated states desired representation in the Congress to be based on equality; they wanted an equal vote for all states. Their concern was they would be outvoted on everything if population became the cornerstone of representation. Larger states naturally felt the opposite: since they had the most people, they should have a greater say in legislation. Who was correct? I think both had valid points. Their concerns were genuine and needed to be addressed. The convention came up with a compromise that divided the Congress into two houses, one based on population, the other on equality.

That is an example of an excellent compromise because it didn’t sacrifice principle on either side. Without that compromise, there would have been no Constitution. The nation might have split into three or four warring factions, with all the misery that would have been connected with such a division.

Then there’s the example of New York state during the governorship of John Jay at the turn of the nineteenth century. Jay, an evangelical Christian, had often worked for the abolition of slavery in his state. Now, as governor, he had the opportunity to sign into law a gradual emancipation bill. This bill did not free all slaves immediately; rather, it laid out a plan that would eventually eliminate slavery in the next generation. As someone who believed slavery was contrary to God’s purposes, should Jay have signed such a bill? He had no hesitation in doing so. Why? Because it set slavery on the course of extinction in New York. Long before the Civil War decided that issue nationally, New York had resolved it gradually.

Was Jay disobeying God in signing that bill? I believe just the opposite. His was a principled position. The compromise of gradual abolition achieved the long-term goal of his principle—getting rid of slavery once and for all. The new law made a step in the right direction. Therefore, I consider his action to have been consistent with his principles. Not to have signed it meant the perpetuation of the slavery institution, not its demise.

Now let’s bring this up to date. Let me offer two more examples.

First, let’s look at the issue of abortion. I firmly believe that the taking of an innocent human life is immoral. It is opposed to God’s moral law. My principled position is that all abortions should be outlawed. What if, as a legislator, I were faced with a decision on a particular bill that would eliminate 95% of all abortions in America? Should I vote for it? If I were president, should I sign it into law?

There are some who would say no. Why? They consider it a compromise of principle. Any law that doesn’t eliminate all abortions is less than what God requires. Consequently, support for a proposed law that would take care of “only” 95% of them would be a sin.

Again, I disagree—vehemently. If I have the opportunity to save 95% [or even 50% or 10%] of all babies who would otherwise have their lives snuffed out arbitrarily, I must take that opportunity. I would be advancing the principle in which I believe. By supporting such a measure, I am moving my society closer to God’s purposes. If we take an all-or-nothing approach, I believe we are deceiving ourselves in believing we are standing on principle. I would call it stubborn foolishness instead.

Congress is going to be dealing with raising the debt ceiling again soon. I am opposed to doing so. I am opposed to raising taxes in any way that will harm those who provide jobs for others. I wholeheartedly seek spending cuts. Now, do I hold out for everything I want or is there a way to advance what I believe is principled even while compromising temporarily?

One thing that all principled conservatives have to recognize is that in politics you don’t always get everything you want immediately. We can, though, push for as much as may be possible.

If an agreement is reached, for instance, that raises the debt ceiling, yet also includes “real” spending cuts, a cap on future spending, no increase in taxes, and at least a vote on a balanced budget amendment, why would I not support this? Enacting measures like these would lead us further on the path toward a principled and sane tax-and-spend framework.

Here’s how I summarize it: a compromised principle leads to unrighteousness, but a principled compromise is a step closer to the principle’s ideal.

I wish I could convince everyone of the wisdom of this perspective, but I’ll settle for whoever has ears to hear.