That Benghazi Report

The far-too-long-awaited Benghazi Report has now been released. Democrats naturally call it a partisan witchhunt; some conservatives are criticizing it for not going far enough, since it just relates the facts and doesn’t come to concrete conclusions.

The facts should be enough. The report is less a commentary on the administration’s actions during and after the terrorist attack than it is a primary-document exposé of the fecklessness and political cover of the Obama administration as it headed into the 2012 election.

One doesn’t have to read an official “conclusion” to conclude that those who were under attack and those who died were political pawns, sacrificed to electoral gain. The report makes it clear who is to blame for this deadly fiasco.

Hillary Clinton says there’s nothing new here and time to move on. I remember that “move on” phrase—it was used during the Bill Clinton impeachment process. Nothing here, move on. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.

Both Right

Remember Hillary’s infamous rejoinder before a congressional committee that first sought to uncover the truth about Benghazi? She would probably use it again, except it’s become a standard joke about her insensitivity to those who lost their lives:

Benghazi Report

Whatever excuses one might concoct for the lack of action by the administration to rescue those in harm’s way (incidentally, the report reveals that it was former members of the Qaddafi regime who rescued them—that was the regime that Obama and Clinton ousted), it was the coverup afterward that may be the most repugnant aspect of this reprehensible event. Blaming it all on a video hardly anyone saw was an attempt to deflect from the truth that our people were abandoned by their own government.

Hey, maybe she can use that ploy again to help win the presidency:

Upon Further Investigation

She lied to the victims’ families and made sure that the producer of that nondescript video was sent to prison. When Susan Rice was sent out to the various talk shows on the following Sunday, she went full video for the blame. Documents in the report show that State Department officials were shocked that the administration was using that line; none of the communication during the “event” placed blame on the video. Not even Hillary’s communications. In fact, she explicitly stated it was not the case.

So go ahead and spread the lie because no one will ever read those communications. Fortunately, that is not the case. All has been brought to light.

President Obama played along with the game as well, checking the video-is-to-blame box for another two weeks, giving speeches publicly pushing that lie.

Want to blame a video? Here’s the one that now needs to be produced.

Liars

Strangely (well, not really), the news media—you know, that wellspring of objective reporting—has largely ignored the Benghazi Report. Why? It would upset their cozy relationship with She Who Will Finally Break the Glass Ceiling.

Rapid Deployment

Most of the mainstream media are just as feckless and dishonest as the one they are trying to protect. “Feckless,” by the way, as used twice in this blog, means “having no sense of responsibility.” Just wanted to be sure you understood why I chose that word.

I half expect the “news” anchors to rely on Hillary’s own words in their reporting.

What Difference

She should never be allowed in the Oval Office. Unfortunately, Republicans are on the verge of making official the one nominee who will make that possible. Will they come to their senses in time?

Trump’s Difficult Path Unchanged by NY

Donald Trump and his media allies (Fox, because they are blinded by the Trump persona, and the others, because they know he will lose in a landslide to Hillary) are attempting to turn his New York primary win into some kind of final judgment on the Republican nomination.

NY Loves Me

If you, like me, believe in a Ted Cruz nomination, let me offer some down-to-earth reassurance: New York didn’t change the difficult path Trump faces toward getting 1,237 delegates.

First of all, everyone—Cruz included—knew Trump was going to walk away from the New York primary with a big win. That was no surprise. There’s a reason why politics in the state of New York includes a conservative party that can’t stand the Republicans: New York Republicans, by and large, are some of the squishiest in the nation. Cruz’s oft-despised comment about New York values is actually pretty accurate.

NY Values

More New Yorkers voted in the Democrat primary than they did in the Republican, and Cruz tellingly noted that he got more votes in his home state of Texas than Trump did in his home state of New York. In the general election, New York is a lost cause for Republicans no matter whom they nominate.

Next week will be another boasting time for Trump and his media, as he will take the majority of delegates in other East Coast primaries, but after that, his momentum will come to a screeching halt. The Pennsylvania primary, even if Trump wins overall, may not yield the majority of delegates because 54 of that state’s 71 are unbound and can vote for whomever they wish at the convention. Cruz’s team says they have locked up the majority of those.

What we witnessed in Wisconsin and Colorado will come back into play as the Cruz ground game pulls out all the stops. Trump’s ground game is virtually non-existent, and where it does have a semblance of some organization, it has proven woefully and embarrassingly incompetent.

Not In Colorado

May 3 is the Indiana primary. Cruz already has been lining up sympathetic delegates for a second ballot at the convention (as he has been doing in all the upcoming states). The Cruz campaign is bringing in all the people and strategy it used in Wisconsin, and although there are some differences between those two states, there is more in common with Indiana than there are differences. If Indiana governor Mike Pence—who truly can’t stand Trump—comes on board with a Cruz endorsement, everything shifts in Cruz’s direction there.

Then there are many states after that where Cruz is expected to win outright: Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, and possibly even New Mexico.

One statistician has predicted that even if Trump should get up to 120 delegates of the 172 available in California, he will still fall short of that magic 1,237.

No Republican convention, on a second ballot where delegates are free to choose whomever they wish, is going to nominate Donald Trump.

Of course, that is why he complains so much now, as he looks forward.

Game Rigged

He says the game is rigged, but in reality, he’s not even playing the same game. He depends completely on personality and large rallies, ignoring the “real reality” of how a nomination is won.

Trump and his people have issued threats of all kinds that if the party doesn’t treat him nicely, there will be consequences:

Elephant Gets It

All of that is perfectly in line with the thuggish Trump persona and the type of “best people” he has hired to orchestrate his campaign.

This man as the Republican presidential nominee would be a total disaster. Thankfully, he’s not the lock on the nomination that the media narrative would have you believe.

The Trump Titanic?

Here’s the ideal political world: each candidate, out of sincere love of country and its people, rises above pettiness, lays aside ego, bases a campaign on issues, treats opponents with respect, and does his/her best to be a statesman for the good of all and not merely a politician out for personal glory.

That’s the ideal political world. This is what we see instead:

Make America 8 Again

Also in an ideal political world, the media would be careful to present each candidate fairly, showing favoritism to none. Yet what do we find now?

Got a Temper

Rather than treating someone who is all bluster and insults and no substance as an embarrassment, that which is painfully obvious is ignored by many:

Black Hole

When asked what the role of government is, this candidate, with nary a nod toward constitutional authority, offers opinions unburdened by such constitutional qualms:

Top 3

And untold numbers of supposed conservatives, who should know better, aid the cause, not realizing it will ultimately lead to their own destruction:

Gangplank

There are signs, though, of an awakening. What started as a ball-of-fire campaign that surprised virtually everyone, may end in a ball of fire itself if this candidate goes to the convention not having locked up the majority of delegates:

Greatest Landing

If he fails to win the nomination, the nation will have dodged a YUUUGE bullet, and perhaps the Republican party will come out of it wiser . . . perhaps . . .

In the Long Run

May the Trump Titanic sink quickly. May we all regain our common sense just as quickly.

Let Fox Be Fox Once Again

Today’s post will be tinged with sadness—sadness over some loss of trust in what was, and still can be, the best news organization in the nation.

Two decades ago, I received my news primarily through CNN and MSNBC. Fox was not yet on my cable system. Both CNN and MSNBC leaned left, but there were enough sensible people, at least a hint of balance, that I could reasonably watch them.

Fox News LogoI was delighted when Fox News finally became a staple on every cable system; my first experience with Fox on a regular basis came in 2001 when I moved to the northern Virginia region.

It was truly a breath of fresh news air. For the first time, my beliefs—Christian and conservative—were treated with respect. I never expected a channel that mirrored me precisely, but Fox was a source I could trust better than those other two options, and both CNN and MSNBC shifted even more to the left during this time.

I still make Fox my “go to” network, my default, so to speak. Yet this election cycle has punctured its vaunted image of being fair and balanced. No, it hasn’t become a left-wing clone of those other two channels; it has, though, via a number of its on-air hosts, veered dangerously close to becoming a cheerleader for Donald Trump.

Now, I realize that commentators comment, and they are perfectly free to say what they think, but the obvious bias for Trump appearing on far too many of its programs has made watching Fox much less appealing than before.

I’ve always loved Fox and Friends in the mornings. The hosts are witty, yet serious about the kinds of issues I am serious about. Lately, though, some of the coverage has become cringeworthy, particularly when Trump is allowed to phone in his views nearly every day and is not challenged on anything he says.

Eric BollingThe Five always has been an interesting exchange from hosts with varying angles of thinking, but Eric Bolling, who sits right in the middle, has become such a Trump sycophant that he is now difficult to watch. His Saturday program on the economy used to have a place for Michelle Fields, the reporter manhandled by Trump’s chief of staff, but once that incident occurred, Bolling banned her from returning. The excuse is that now she can’t be objective. If so, why does that standard not apply to Bolling as well?

As an aside, one of The Five‘s co-hosts, Greg Gutfeld, noted on the program how the Trump issue is dividing the network. Someone needs to listen to him.

Sean HannityThe Fox evening lineup has constantly demolished its competition. Now I see Greta Van Susteren and Sean Hannity practically panting at the opportunity to highlight Trump. Greta gave him a full hour last night; Hannity is doing the same tonight. Two nights in a row? Really?

To be fair, Hannity has also hosted Cruz a couple of times, and he complains that Cruz has not been open to more interviews. Yet his affection is so clearly for Trump that it oozes out of every pore. The Cruz people say they have no real desire to appear on Hannity’s program again because he has resorted to using Trump talking points. I noticed that in the last interview he did with Cruz.

Bill O’Reilly has been more balanced overall than Greta and Hannity, but even he seems to enjoy those Trump visits in a chummy kind of way. Yes, he has been better at challenging Trump on occasion, but he never gets to the bottom of the Trump falseness the way he seeks to do with others.

Megyn KellyThe only bright spot of complete integrity with respect to coverage of Trump is Megyn Kelly, and you know she is being a genuine journalist just by Trump’s obsession with her and his ongoing Twitter war demeaning her publicly.

Kelly is to be commended for not allowing Trump to dictate her coverage. She is now, for me, the only fresh air on the network’s evening lineup, and the only one I trust to bring a fair and balanced perspective. She has shown class by not responding to Trump in kind even while suffering his Twitter barrage of insults. She has shown herself to be the most professional of all the hosts.

Cruz has an hour with Kelly this evening. I can understand why his team chose her for this. She has never refrained from asking him the tough questions, but she has allowed him to answer without being interrupted by another Trump talking point.

Let me add here that when Fox hosted Republican primary debates, I think the network shined. All the candidates were treated equally and all were asked the hard questions they had to know how to answer if they went to the general election. So kudos on that front.

So, where am I on my view of Fox? It’s a mixed bag at the moment. As I said at the top, this commentary is tinged with sadness. I want Fox to be a trusted source. I sincerely hope it can restore its former image. I will continue to watch as much as I can, but the remote control can easily change to something else if Trump adulation becomes more than I can stomach.

Let Fox be Fox once again.

Establishment: What Does It Mean?

The media keeps throwing around the word “establishment.” In the almost-immortal words of The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

What is the Republican establishment, and once we have identified it, does it really hate Donald Trump?

The problem is that the Republican party is particularly divided right now, and analysts keep insisting on confusing different groups who have different concerns.

Divided Elephant

They insist the “establishment” is trying to deny Trump the nomination. By that, they mean the power brokers in the party, the leadership of the Congress, and the donors. Perhaps they are trying to dump Trump, but I’m not entirely convinced. I think they are all too ready to be won over to his side simply because they are beginning to believe his Trumped-up claims of being a winner.

Yet those same analysts seem to lump into the establishment people like me. I fit into their predetermined classification of establishment because I’ve always gone along with whoever was chosen as the nominee, no matter how disappointed I’ve been with the picks.

But I’m not that easily categorized. You see, I will never be bought off like the established establishment might be. My concerns for the Republican party are secondary. Instead, I vote primarily for who most closely corresponds with the principles I believe in.

And if the Republican party crowns a nominee that undermines those principles, I will be AWOL.

So there are two different groups within the Republican party that are concerned about a Trump nomination. The first seeks power and influence above all, and if convinced Trump will allow that power to continue, no problem.

The second, to which I belong, says that if that power will corrupt constitutional principles, it would be immoral to lend support to anyone who will advance that corruption.

So, please, mainstream media, don’t lump me in with the first group. I am motivated differently. My concerns are not identical with those more devoted to party than principle.

As I’ve been saying in previous blogs and will reiterate here, I identify as a Christian principled constitutional conservative. That is who I am, and that identity will determine my vote.

Tuesday’s Elections: Not a Conventional Analysis

Primary ElectionsFour states on Tuesday held either a caucus or a primary. As with last Saturday’s results, one can again go with the conventional analysis and give the night to Donald Trump or one can look a little deeper. I choose the latter.

Now, there’s no denying that Trump won three of those four states and that it moved him closer to the nomination. But it didn’t get him as far as one might want to think. Neither are the trends going in his direction.

Let’s look at each state individually.

Mississippi

This was a two-man race only. Kasich and Rubio were so far behind as to be nearly nonexistent. As with Louisiana, according to reports, more than 40% of the voters had already turned in ballots early, meaning they had made up their minds prior to witnessing the last two debates, both of which were problematic for Trump. In Louisiana, those who voted on primary day went for Cruz over Trump. I have to wonder if the same scenario played out in Mississippi. How many early Trump voters regretted their haste afterward?

Michigan

This one was quite interesting in that Cruz didn’t put any effort into the state. According to one report, his campaign spent about $1100 overall. In election terms, that’s like spending nothing. Yet he came in second, overtaking Kasich, who had labored to make Michigan his lead-in to Ohio next week. It’s amazing to hear some talking heads remark about Kasich’s “strong” showing in Michigan while seeming to miss the fact that he came in third out of four candidates. Comments about Cruz’s surprise finish, when he had pretty much written off the state, were few and far between.

I know it has become fashionable to blame the media for how much time they give Trump over Cruz, and I don’t want to jump on a bandwagon just for the sake of jumping on, but . . . the accusation is all too true.

Rubio, by the way, took last place by a convincing margin.

Ted Cruz 3Idaho

This was a runaway victory for Cruz, pulling in more than 45% of the vote; Trump was under 30%. Yet somehow it gets lost in the shuffle. Cruz spent more time here, giving an indication that when he concentrates on a state, he can make significant gains. Again, neither Kasich nor Rubio were major factors.

Hawaii

No one knew what to expect here. Trump won over Cruz by about 42% to 32% in a state known to be one of the most liberal in the nation. Cruz won liberal Maine, so that 32% in Hawaii may indicate more strength than some are willing to admit.

Delegates

As I noted in an earlier post, the number of states won, at this point, means less than the delegate total. While Trump won more delegates on Tuesday, it wasn’t a massive take. In fact, Trump, despite winning three states to Cruz’s one, earned only 12 delegates more than Cruz on the night.  Overall, he now has either a 458-359 or 459-364 lead over Cruz (depending on which network is doing the calculation), still within striking distance.

The Media

Okay, I have another comment to make about the media’s role. After Trump won Mississippi and Michigan, he staged (I use that word advisedly) a so-called press conference that turned into an infomercial for his business “successes.” Yes, I put that word in quotes. He had steaks on the stage, but his steak business went bust; he had water and wines, but he doesn’t really manage those anymore. The water bottles on stage were just the typical kind you get at the nearest grocery store.

Donald TrumpHe then boasted that his defunct and fraudulent Trump University would rise from the ashes of the current lawsuits and be “great.” Have you noticed how often he uses certain words—great, tremendous, wonderful, etc.? Have you noticed that instead of substance, he simply keeps repeating the same words and sentences over and over?

Yet the media never broke away from his ramblings. They gave full coverage to this lovefest for himself. He truly is a media creation. And a juvenile one at that.

What Next?

The big states next week are Florida and Ohio. I really don’t mind Kasich staying in the race right now if there is any possibility he could take Ohio away from Trump. It won’t be the start of Kasichmentum no matter how often he says it will be.

In Florida, I sincerely doubt that Rubio can win. I live here. I have access to a lot of disgruntled people who believe he betrayed them on immigration, and they are not very forgiving, even a few years later. Rubio won’t step down before Tuesday, I’m pretty sure, so he risks his entire political future if he ever decides to run for governor. Losing a presidential primary in one’s own state is a badge of dishonor that will stay with a candidate for a long time.

Cruz’s decision to make a stronger play for Florida might be too little too late, but he is on an upswing while Rubio is heading in the other direction. Trends do matter. Even if Cruz cannot win Florida, if he puts in a surprisingly strong showing, that could help propel him into victories elsewhere.

If Rubio should lose Florida, his run is over, and he will need to acknowledge it, sooner rather than later. That will be the only hope for Cruz to overtake Trump. Despite some of the bad blood between the two campaigns, I find it hard to believe that the majority of Rubio supporters would migrate to Trump.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing has been decided for sure yet, no matter what you may hear in the media.

C. S. Lewis: Impact on Americans (Part 5)

This week, I’m sharing some of the comments respondents to my Wade Center survey gave regarding the movie versions of Narnia. For the sake of brevity here, I’m excluding comments on earlier productions, such as a 1979 animated Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe and BBC productions of four of the Narnia books back in 1988-1990. So here is the amended question I asked:

Have You Viewed Any of the Narnia Hollywood Productions? If So, What Is Your Opinion of Them?

The Chronicles of NarniaSome respondents were fulsome in their praise of the recent movies, such as the one who commented simply, “I love them. Excellent films and all seem to follow the book fairly closely.” Added to that was another’s perspective: “I thought these films portrayed Lewis’s books very well. They made Lewis’s characters come to life.” And a third contributed, “I believe they are a creative representation of the Biblical narrative that can penetrate hearts and souls.”

All of these responses concentrated on the substance of the films and a sense of satisfaction that they conveyed the essence of what Lewis sought to communicate. Another thought the quality of the production highlighted Lewis’s themes: “Amazing! I love the graphics, the film quality supported the story line and made it so real to me.”

Others, while supportive of the movies, noted some concerns about alterations of the message and about parts that were omitted and/or the addition of extra material that Lewis himself had not introduced. For instance, one respondent commented, “I have seen all three Narnia theatrical films. I enjoyed all three and thought they were generally well done. I was a little disappointed that they ‘watered down’ the Christian elements a bit, but I still thought they were good films and largely faithful to Lewis’s ideas and vision.”

Prince CaspianAnother seemed to suggest that there are natural limitations whenever one tries to convert a book into a film: “I appreciated how they brought the Narnia books to the big screen and made them understandable and attractive for a wider audience. I don’t believe that the movies could ever have quite the depth of the books but I did appreciate the translation of some elements to visual art.”

Similar in tone was this remark: “I have viewed the first two Narnia films. I enjoyed them, but felt that the content of the Narnia stories is better communicated in book form. Film diminishes the charm of Lewis’s authorial voice.”

Despite those positive and semi-positive reviews, comments decrying the loss of Lewis’s vision and disappointment with some of the decisions on how to communicate the message of the books on screen were more numerous. Here are the most representative samples in this grouping:

Voyage of Dawn Treader 2I have seen all three films based on The Chronicles of Narnia. I think they are well done cinematically, although some scenes hint at a low budget and inexperienced actors.

They maintain the integrity of Lewis’s characters and stories in name and outline, but the deviations therefrom are numerous and sometimes so great as to ruin almost entirely the theological, personal, and practical insights and applications made available in the books.

I watched the Chronicles of Narnia films. I think they were good, but commercialized. I think that C.S. Lewis has saturated the market, which is good, but I believe people begin to miss the depth that he provided. Also, the struggle that C.S. Lewis had with the Christian faith. I believe that the popularity of these movies has brought popularity to C.S.Lewis, but I hope that people explore more of his works and begin to wrestle with the different thoughts and ideas that he presented.

I have been SO upset about the ways in which the movies, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, diverged from the book. The book is my favorite of the series, as it is many others. The movie just took liberties that were “unforgivable.” Wardrobe was good, and Caspian was a “B” also because of things like having the White Witch show up.

I felt very disconnected from the Disney/Walden Media death scene (and movie as a whole) and felt the newer live action films lacked the understanding of the spiritual undertones of the works and Aslan’s character. . . . Disney/Walden’s LWW was the strongest of the recent films. Most people I’ve talked to felt that Prince Caspian was a huge letdown and Voyage could not make up the difference.

How to summarize? Of the three Hollywood films, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes across as the best. There is a strong sense of disappointment in Hollywood’s renditions of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Finally, there is strong criticism of deviations in the Hollywood scripts and depictions.

Next Saturday, I turn to my final question, which allowed the respondents to say anything they wished about the influence of Lewis on their lives. The survey turned up some fascinating comments.