Giving Bernie His Due

I feel bad for focusing so much on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I’ve given short shrift to the other candidate still in the race—Bernie Sanders. Since today’s primaries may be Sanders’s last hurrah, I’m now going to make up for this oversight.

Bernie’s candidacy is historic. It reminds me of a particular historical era that I lived through long ago (unfortunately, though, it wasn’t in a galaxy far, far away):

Take Party Back

Never have we had a candidate who is so proudly and vocally associated with the failed philosophy of the twentieth century as Bernie Sanders:

Comrade

I’ll give Sanders credit for not hiding what he really is, unlike the current occupant of the White House and his Democrat opponent in the primaries. He is fiercely loyal to a system that has never worked, and he has energized a significant portion of the Democrat base to follow him, zombie-like, into the failed economies of the past. Well, not all are in the past; we have a wonderful example today of what Sanders’s policies would do for us. And if his supporters are genuine, they should want to live in such a place:

Moving to Venezuela

Sanders rails against the evils of capitalism and extols the wonders of such socialist havens as Venezuela, where people are rioting over not having food and other necessities. If we put Sanders in charge, he will make sure those evil capitalists will be held in check:

Not Right

Of course, if we really desire Bernie’s outcomes for our society, there is another way to get them:

Sanders-Meteor

What is it that attracts people to his philosophy? Ignorance? Greed? Loss of historical perspective? Downright stupidity? I think we might be able to check all of those boxes, but resentment over what others have and the desire to take it from them is probably at the top of the list.

Against Greed

This basic selfish instinct is captured perfectly in this classic Calvin and Hobbes cartoon:

Bigger Piece

Once Sanders officially loses the Democrat nomination, he can continue to stay in the news cycle if he decides to run as an independent. That would cause quite a commotion in the Democrat ranks, the equivalent of the angst currently being experienced by Republicans.

Run, Bernie, run?

No Trump Train for Me

Come on, Snyder, get on board the Trump Train. We’re going all the way to the White House, so don’t you want to take whatever meager credit you might get for being part of the Team? Besides, if you don’t get on board, we’ll blame you if we lose. You wouldn’t want that, now, would you? We’ll make you responsible for Hillary’s presidency, and you’ll never be able to live that down.

Yes, the pressure builds. But it doesn’t change my mind because I’m not tied to a political party or any political savior. I wanted Ted Cruz to be the Republican candidate. If, though, Cruz should come out tomorrow as a full-throated supporter of Donald Trump, I would not follow him into that swamp.

Just as I’m not following Republican leadership into the moral morass known as Trumpism.

Stephen HayesStephen Hayes, in the Weekly Standard, wrote some poignant words yesterday that speak for me. As he described Trump’s campaign as a “con,” he took aim at all those Republicans now lining up at the train station, hoping for a good seat:

Three months ago, most GOP officeholders and conservative opinion leaders understood Trump to be an ignoramus and a boor, a vain reality-television star and a longtime donor to Democrats who had built his candidacy on the kind of progressive populism most of them had spent their careers fighting.

Today, many of those same Republican elected officials and prominent conservatives are hailing Trump as the future of their party and the ideological movement it houses and excoriating anti-Trump conservatives who hold to the same position they took just a few weeks ago.

And in case you’ve missed what Trump has done since he has become the presumptive nominee, Hayes provides a detailed breakdown:

In the time since he effectively captured the GOP nomination, Trump has doubled down on his slanderous claim, borrowed from the National Enquirer, that Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald months before the JFK assassination; refused to apologize for attacking Heidi Cruz’s looks, once again calling her “fair game”; picked a fight with David Cameron, leader of America’s longest-standing ally; distanced himself from his own tax plan; recommitted himself to releasing his tax returns and then declared defiantly that those returns are his private business and would not be released; backed off his proposal to ban temporarily entry to the United States for Muslims and then reiterated his support for such a ban; and, finally, lied on national television about a 1991 audio recording in which he created a fake persona—”John Miller,” a made-up spokesman played by Trump himself—for an interview with a gossip magazine, in order to boast about his virility and his virtue.

Pick and choose your favorite out of that list. The most abhorrent are the accusations against Cruz’s father and Trump’s continuing claim that Heidi Cruz was “fair game” for his team’s attacks on her. The silliest, and in some ways the most insightful, gambit was his attempt to say he wasn’t the fictional “John Miller” or “John Barron” when he publicly admitted he was years before.

I think if Trump had his way completely, his administration might look something like this:

Dream Team

All through this campaign season, I kept hoping that Republicans would come to their senses. It didn’t happen. We went from one inconceivable scenario to another:

No Way

I don’t want a Hillary presidency. It might destroy the country. I don’t want a Trump presidency. It might destroy the country.

That’s where I stand, and that’s why I won’t vote for either one. I’m not boarding the Trump Train—not now, not ever.

Trump, Integrity, & the Lack Thereof

Donald TrumpNo, Donald Trump is not a racist because he is concerned about illegal immigration. Neither is Donald Trump a fascist because he believes radical mosques ought to receive greater scrutiny. Those are not the reasons I don’t favor him as the Republican nominee for president. I have deeper reasons.

I’ve written before about what I consider to be Trump’s iffy conversion to conservative policy positions, his supreme arrogance with respect to how much money he has, his assurances that all will be right with the world because he’s so good at making “deals,” and his demeaning attitude toward any other candidate who threatens his poll numbers.

I’ve also been put off by his undisciplined manner of speaking that has led to making some truly absurd statements, none of which have yet come back to derail him, but should have.

His latest claim is demonstrably false, yet many of his conservative supporters are making excuses for him once again. Let me quote Trump—his words unaltered—earlier this week:

Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.

Now, there certainly were Muslim extremists in America who rejoiced over 9/11. That’s not the point. Trump is claiming that he saw, with his own eyes, “thousands and thousands” in Jersey City “cheering” as the buildings fell.

Only one problem: there is no video of any such rejoicing by those thousands in that city. No Jersey City official can back him up. The current governor, Chris Christie, has no recollection of this. In fact, no one saw it. Why? Maybe it’s because it never occurred. By continuing to insist that it did, Trump has put himself in some rather disreputable company:

That Never Happened

Jim Geraghty of National Review wrote yesterday that when he called Trump out on this falsehood, Trump supporters sent him videos of what they said was evidence of Trump’s truthfulness—Muslims celebrating 9/11. The problem? The videos were of Palestinians rejoicing in Jerusalem. Geraghty was amazed how they never even bothered to check where that celebration took place. For those with Geography Deficit Disorder, Jerusalem is not Jersey City.

Then there’s been a rush to defend Trump because of a Washington Post report from September 18, 2001, that his supporters say validates Trump’s remembrance. That report stated,

In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.

As Geraghty correctly notes,

Police questioning “a number of people” after reports of celebrations is not the same as “thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down”, an event that Trump contended was televised and was “well-covered at the time.”

It’s time to be honest: Trump was shooting from the lip when he made his statement. There is no truth in what he said. What bothers me even more than Trump’s lack of integrity is the willingness of those who should know better to defend the indefensible.

Trump is taking the Republican party for a ride, and it’s more than a little scary to me.

Political Minefield

Trump may win the nomination. Trump could conceivably win the presidency. While anything would be better than a Hillary Clinton presidency, a Trump victory might be the second worst scenario because he could bury Republicans once and for all.

Suicide Vest

I know there are some in my readership who would like to see that happen. However, going forward something would have to replace the Republicans in order for Democrats not to become ultimately triumphant. Can we reasonably expect a Phoenix to rise out of the ashes of the utter destruction of the Republican party?

Some people, I fear, are far too optimistic that a pure, undiluted conservatism grounded in Biblical principles will come to the forefront. While I would welcome that development, there is the basic truth that all political parties are coalitions of different groups with different emphases. Currently, Christian conservatives still have a strong voice within the Republican party. I’m not yet ready to surrender that voice.

Meanwhile, I will continue to warn Christians, conservatives, and particularly Christian conservatives, to beware the Trump mystique. His penchant for saying whatever he wants, his unwillingness ever to admit to a mistake, and his basic lack of integrity should be more than enough to move us toward a better candidate.

Hillary, Biden, & Trump–Oh, My!

I understand there’s a Democrat presidential debate this week. Forgive me if I’m not really interested in watching it. I have more important things to do than listen to five socialists argue about how to destroy the country even more.

The presumed frontrunner for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, has a lot on the line. A bad performance—because let’s be serious, that’s all these debates are—may throw her erstwhile supporters into an even greater panic than what they’re currently experiencing. I’m sure, though, that her friends at CNN will do all they can to make her seem presidential and inevitable.

Sinking Poll Numbers

There’s also one person missing at this debate, one who is standing by just in case, watching Hillary disintegrate:

Crumbling

Of course, she also has her loving husband to turn to for comfort and encouragement:

Cheer Up

Let’s be real: the eventual Democrat nominee will be either Hillary or Joe Biden. The first may be indicted for offenses that send others to prison; the second is a national embarrassment with a long history of verbal gaffes and a mean streak toward Republicans that knows no bounds.

Either choice, in normal times, ought to lead to an overwhelming Republican victory. Republicans, however, have to step back from the Trump cliff first if they are to have any hope of winning the general election.

Beat Donald Trump

Will Republicans regain their moral backbone or will they enhance their sad reputation as the “stupid party”? The Iowa caucuses are still almost four months away; there’s time to reverse course and make a wise decision.

Pondering the President’s Policies

Some random thoughts today about the recent highlights of the Obama administration.

The Iran deal looks like it’s going through. This is the latest in a long line of great deals brokered by this president:

Really Bad Deals

Our president’s dubious accomplishments have spanned both the foreign and domestic realms, as the above cartoon shows. The economy has been moribund for his entire tenure in office, with a falling unemployment rate masking the fact that the labor force participation is at its lowest ebb in decades. More Americans than ever are on food stamps, etc. While a president’s policies need to have time to work, one can be excused for wondering why 6+ years hasn’t caused a turnaround.

No Idea

Then there’s this: fifty intelligence analysts have officially complained that their intelligence briefings have been altered by someone somewhere in the administration. While they have been brutally honest in detailing the rise of ISIS and other threats, the White House has been downplaying those threats all along. Again, one might be excused for wondering how that could happen without the approval of the man at the top:

Intelligence Briefing

Then there’s the other side of Washington dysfunction:

Do-Nothing Congress

If only things would change in Congress, there might be more confidence in the federal government. Even if Obama resists Republican efforts to reverse course, the public would be better informed as to the true nature of the problems we face.

Gleanings from the Second Debate

I loved the setting of the second Republican presidential debate: the Reagan Library with Air Force One in the background. I was there almost a year ago; it’s an impressive place.

Fourteen Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, former New York Governor George Pataki, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pose before the start of the second official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, United States, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS1HC6

Not as impressive was how CNN conducted the debate. Jake Tapper, the moderator, attempt to be the whole show; the other two questioners, when allowed a stray question or two, were no more than window dressing, virtually non-existent.

It also became evident from the very start that Tapper’s goal was to create as much divisiveness, bitterness, and “good television” as possible by trying to make everyone attack Donald Trump. For CNN, this was just a moment to try to relive its glory years when people actually watched this news channel rather than Fox News.

Overall, reaction to CNN’s ploy has been largely negative.

But enough about CNN. My aim today is to provide whatever analysis I can of the candidates. Let’s get Trump out of the way first, since he has been the headline grabber now for weeks.

His petulance showed immediately. Upon getting his first question, he decided instead to turn to Rand Paul at the far end of the line and tell him that he didn’t deserve even to be on stage with everyone else because of his low poll numbers.

What did that have to do with anything substantive? It was Trump being Trump, annoyed because Paul has been one of his most vocal critics, and he will never let a criticism go without response. His thin skin won’t allow it.

I’m not a Paul supporter, but this was patently unpresidential and rude. Paul’s rejoinder was that Trump was revealing his “sophomoric” attitude. I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps I might change the word to “juvenile” or “childish.”

The most cringeworthy moment was when Trump attempted to walk back his insult of Carly Fiorina’s face by shouting into the microphone that she really is beautiful. The only reaction from the assembled crowd was a groan because it was so obviously a fake comment. Fiorina, for her part, didn’t even look at him and retained her dignity.

Beyond that, when one looks at whatever Trump offered as substance, one might ask, as in the old Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?” No specifics on foreign policy except to say that he will get along with everyone and will be respected. Putin, apparently, will be so overwhelmed with Trump’s personality that all Russian aggression will cease. I seem to remember that being Obama’s approach in 2008.

Trump wasn’t any better on domestic policy. All we can do is believe grandiose promises that everything will be great once he’s in charge.

Unscientific polls afterwards indicate he was the runaway winner of the debate. Those are the kinds of polls that Ron Paul always won. I don’t recall his presidency.

Let’s go on now to the real candidates. The field, of course, is much too large. How to begin? How about Mike Huckabee’s comment later that he felt like he was waiting in line at the DMV? Huckabee and Scott Walker received the least time to speak than all the rest, yet they are two of the governors who have shown how to be an executive.

Life isn’t fair, right?

Rather than go down the long list and say something about everyone, I would like to provide my view that only candidates with strong conservative/Christian principles be allowed to participate in the next debate. I know, that’s a pipe dream. But given complete dictatorial power, I would immediately suspend the campaigns of Paul, Kasich, Bush, and Christie (and Trump, of course).

Half the Candidates

Ben Carson I put in a special category. He is a wonderful man, thoroughly Christian, with whom I would love to sit down and talk and enjoy his presence. However, I don’t see him as the next president. His answers on minimum wage and foreign policy, for example, are not clearly thought through; I just don’t believe he is ready to be president. Few successful neurosurgeons can make that leap, no matter how pure their intentions and impeccable their character.

For me, that leaves, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Rubio, and Walker. I would love to add Bobby Jindal to that list if he ever breaks out of the lower tier.

Ted Cruz was forceful, as always, and principled in his answers. I don’t doubt his commitment to constitutional concepts and his bravery, shown by his willingness to buck the system and tackle his own Republican leadership. The only down side to Cruz, for me, remains his rather speechified way of talking, as if every answer is an invitation to go into speech mode. I would prefer someone who comes across as more human and less robotic.

Carly Fiorina certainly benefited most from this debate. She was sharp, knowledgeable, and courageous. Many commented that, at times, she seemed to be the real adult in the room. She was the anti-Trump, full of specifics and well informed on all the issues. Regardless of what happens in the future, I will always fondly remember her masterful takedown of Planned Parenthood and the complicity of Democrats in supporting its atrocities.

She was eloquent in her defense of the unborn in a way that few have been. Some have questioned her real views on abortion, but I don’t see how anyone can have said what she said—and with the kind of vehement conviction with which she said it—without her pro-life stance being genuine.

I agree with others who have concluded that she was the standout speaker of the night. Whether that translates into the presidency is still another matter.

Mike Huckabee was, as usual, an effective communicator. I was particularly pleased that he came out and said he would definitely have a litmus test for judges. He called out the hypocrisy of the Democrats who say they have no litmus test when, in reality, they would never vote for a pro-life nominee or anyone with even a hint of constitutional principles.

Huckabee was strong in his condemnation of the Iran deal and how the consequences of that deal can lead to the destruction of Israel and undermine the security of America. He deserves to be heard.

Marco Rubio was, like Fiorina, well versed on the issues and effective at communicating his views, particularly on foreign policy and national security. Even though he damaged himself with conservatives by his dalliance with the Gang of Eight immigration reform plan, he clearly knows we need to tackle that problem, and I believe he has learned a lesson about attempting some sort of comprehensive plan.

The weakest part of Rubio’s evening was his defense of his voting record in the Senate. He’s missed votes, he said, because nothing would have been accomplished by being there since the measures he would have voted for were doomed anyway. My response is that he was elected to represent, so he should be there as the representative of his (my) state whenever possible.

Finally, there is Scott Walker, the candidate who was given the least amount of time to speak. Many have now written Walker off since he doesn’t come across as strong in these forums as others. I think that’s a mistake.

Walker was better this time than in the first debate, but he had to try harder to be heard. He is the only candidate who has come up with specific plans to replace Obamacare and reform the federal government unions. Tapper never asked about those; he was interested only in controversy.

I refuse to dismiss Walker because he has an outstanding record as governor of Wisconsin. He not only has manifested courage in standing up to opponents who wanted to take over the Capitol building and remove him from office, but he has succeeded in getting his reforms through his legislature. In other words, he has been an effective governor.

If conviction and competence were the only factors that Republican voters were to consider, Walker would be the nominee.

I feel like I’ve been writing forever here. I don’t claim any special insight that others haven’t offered, but I hope my thoughts will spark a fresh perspective for some who read these words.

May God extend His mercy to our distraught nation once again as we move forward to make what might be the most crucial political decisions in the history of this nation.

Clinton’s Fading Star

Hillary Clinton is probably delighted with all the attention Donald Trump is receiving, allowing her troubled campaign to fly under most people’s radar. But not mine.

Hijacked

If you have been out of the Hillary loop for a while now, let me update you. The investigation into her e-mail server continues apace, and despite the protestations, it is a potential criminal investigation. Not only did she conduct official government business on a personal server, but it is now obvious she lied about the e-mails having nothing to do with national security.

Further, she wants everyone to just trust her that she turned over everything relevant to her time in office, and we are to ignore that she deleted more than 30,000 of those e-mails, ostensibly because they were personal.

Yes, she is getting more attention, but she’s trying very hard to spin that attention into something positive.

Lot of Attention

Polls are revealing the consequences of her actions, even among Democrats:

What Difference

As in 2008, her party support is losing steam:

Not Again

The Joe Biden camp is giving off some rather huge hints lately that he is considering a run after all. Of course, there is a segment of the political world that would love that:

Editorial Cartoonists

So, Democrats, here are your choices: a probable criminal (whether or not the evidence can be found now after all the “scrubbing”—this is a tried and true Clinton practice), an old Vermont socialist, or someone who will provide excellent fodder for the political cartoonists with silly comments and weird behavior.

All things being equal, this should be a golden opportunity for Republicans—if they don’t blow it again.