The Confirmation Circus

Confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominees have become quite a circus. It was to be expected, unfortunately. I remember when Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin was putting forth his agenda a few years ago. Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature ran away to Illinois so there wouldn’t be a quorum to conduct business. Senate Democrats seem to be copying that strategy, refusing to show up to vote on whether to send nominees to the full Senate.

It’s a tried and true method used by toddlers, angry juveniles, and immature people everywhere.

Republicans had to alter the rules even to get the nominees out of committee. Perhaps it’s the only way to deal with temper tantrums.

In the Democrats’ crosshairs now is Betsy DeVos, slated to be the new education secretary. Since she’s an advocate for private schooling, the teachers’ unions are up in arms. They’ve been busy consolidating their support with the Democrats:

I’m always amused by cries of “influence” when aimed at various conservative groups who donate to Republicans. The National Education Association (NEA) and its allies practically own Democrats; they have more money to throw around than all conservative groups combined.

Soon we’ll be treated with the confirmation hearing for Neil Gorsuch, chosen to take Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. The circus will continue. Over a decade ago, Gorsuch received a unanimous vote for his current judicial position. That’s history.

I trust Gorsuch is prepared for what he is about to experience:

Will Republicans have to turn to what is called the “nuclear option,” not allowing a filibuster on the nomination?

What a shame that this scenario has turned into an unbridgeable political divide. Democrats have become unhinged over these nominees, using their outrage to raise even more funding for their theatrics.

I know that theatrics have played a role throughout American political history, but I don’t believe we’ve ever witnessed the kind of role-playing that has come to the forefront ever since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, at least not on such a sustained basis. We are a nation that is verging on a complete cultural and political division not seen since the Civil War.

What will be the result?

Arizona & Utah: Significance?

Ted Cruz 4I had to go to bed last night before any results came in from the Utah caucuses. I awoke this morning to an incomplete accounting of those results, but Cruz has won in a blowout, currently at 69% of the vote, while Trump came in slightly behind Kasich at only 14%. Cruz gets all 40 Utah delegates.

Arizona went for Trump, but once again, despite all the talk of a race being “over,” he was unable to break the 50% mark, getting about 47%. Kasich, in what is supposedly a three-man race (if you really think he’s still in it), came in fourth, behind early votes for Rubio.

Early voting is the big culprit this year. Cruz lost Louisiana only because so many voted early, later regretting their support for Trump after his debate-stage antics. If you recall, Cruz won the vote in Louisiana among those who waited for the actual day of the primary.

Trump probably would have won Arizona anyway, but once more the early voting, I believe, was a factor in the spread of victory, with Cruz coming in a distant second at 24%. Most of Rubio’s voters would have switched to Cruz without that early-voting process.

The other factor that has worked against Cruz is the stubbornness of candidates who refuse to leave the race when it is obvious they can’t win. Rubio staying in as long as he did led to Cruz losing two states he probably would have won—North Carolina and Missouri. Kasich’s woebegone campaign took enough votes in Illinois that Cruz fell short there as well.

I continue to believe that if this had been a true two-man race from South Carolina on, the delegate count now would be extremely tight between Trump and Cruz.

The Cruz campaign is looking to a win in Wisconsin next. It’s time—no, past time—for Governor Scott Walker to come out publicly on Cruz’s side. His support could be crucial for a Cruz victory.

So how is the media going to play last night’s results? Look for an increasing theme that touts Trump’s eventual nomination, focusing on Arizona primarily. Cruz’s Utah triumph, far more smashing than anything Trump has won, will be largely ignored as an anomaly.

No, this is not over, despite what the media will tell you. The upcoming primaries are still crucial as to how this all will play out.

Walker’s Withdrawal

Scott Walker SuspendsWisconsin governor Scott Walker last night withdrew from the GOP presidential nomination race. All things considered, it is understandable that he did so, but I believe it says a lot of things—mostly bad—about our current nominating process and the expectations of the electorate. I’ll explain in a moment.

First, I want to examine Walker’s comments in his withdrawal statement. They say a lot.

One of the points he made was how disappointed he was that this entire campaign “drifted into personal attacks.” One candidate, in particular, has excelled in doing so, and that is Donald Trump, who has disgraced himself by the way he has handled legitimate criticism from the other candidates. Walker is correct about that.

Then he said that the best way he can show leadership at this moment is to help clear the field “so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field.” He called on other candidates with little support in the polls to follow his example “so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner.”

With that statement, he made it abundantly clear that he does not consider Trump to be a genuine conservative who deserves the Republican electorate’s support, and that the only way to stop him is to coalesce around someone who can give him a true run for his money. Most surmise that Walker is encouraging his supporters to make Rubio that challenger, and indications are that his top people are already moving in that direction.

What to say about Walker’s failed candidacy? First, it’s sad that two governors with superb credentials as fine leaders with courage—Walker and Perry—are the first to drop out. In the rush to thumb their noses at anyone who has held office, far too many voters are looking for any alternative, no matter the consequences.

It is the height of foolishness simply to lash out at anyone who has experience in government. Walker has a stellar record as a courageous conservative in a blue state who has accomplished pretty much all he set out to do. His demise is grievous to me.

I’ve read a number of autopsies of his campaign, and I agree with some of the criticisms leveled at him for how the campaign was run. Neither did he help himself by the debates, where he failed to shine.

Yet that is another issue for me: voters are looking for charisma and audaciousness more than competence. That does not bode well for the Republican party or the country.

I admire Walker and pray the best for him as he continues to lead Wisconsin, knowing that his foes will now redouble their efforts to smear him and overturn the advances he has made there.

May those efforts fall flat, and may his reputation as a Christian man of conscience repair whatever damage this presidential bid may have done to his reputation. He deserves better.

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.

Unfair Debate?

Fox Debate ModeratorsThe conspiracy theories about the first GOP debate abound, mostly centered on the questions posed by the moderators. I’ve read that Fox was conspiring with Jeb Bush or with the GOP establishment or with the Democrats or with . . . well, you fill in the blank.

In my view, Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly, and Bret Baier did a valuable service for all the Republican candidates on that stage. They made them come up with answers to some hard questions that they will have to face throughout this campaign. In one instance, there was some unfairness, but not where you may think. I’ll come back to that.

The first question of the debate, in my view, was a masterstroke and unquestionably fair. Asking the candidates to pledge support for the eventual nominee and not to run on a third-party ticket that would ruin the chances for that nominee was essential. Was it targeted at Donald Trump? To be sure. But he’s the one who has been hinting all along that he might bolt and do the third-party thing if he’s not nominated. Putting him on the spot to make a public declaration was a significant moment.

That he refused to take the pledge was quite informative. And if you listened carefully to his answer, he was pretty much saying he has no respect for any of the other candidates. When asked later when he became a Republican, he never gave a straight answer to the question.

Donald Trump at DebateTrump was not singled out. Each candidate was confronted with either controversial statements made in the past or with views that he would have to defend. Only Trump, afterwards, went into whining mode, accusing the moderators of being “unfair.”

As is his habit, he let fly with the “loser” designation freely; during the debate, he also loved to use the word “stupid” with regularity, always referring to almost anyone in the government with whom he disagreed.

When the Frank Luntz focus group afterward revealed that he had lost significant ground with them, he attacked again, having his people call the group a “setup” designed to derail him.

Further, he descended upon Twitter to unleash other comments, specifically calling Kelly a bimbo and saying Fox should fire Charles Krauthammer, who had the audacity to say that the debate was the beginning of the end for Trump’s run for the White House.

Scott Walker GOP DebateNow, let’s contrast Trump’s responses with how Scott Walker handled what I consider an uninformed, misleading question. When Kelly challenged him with being out of touch with 83% of the country on abortion because he didn’t include a “life of the mother” exception, he stayed calm and answered directly, correctly noting that there was no need for that dichotomy—either kill the baby or let the mother die—because there are all kinds of ways to keep the mother alive during a crisis pregnancy.

The Association of Pro-Life Physicians clarifies:

When the life of the mother is truly threatened by her pregnancy, if both lives cannot simultaneously be saved, then saving the mother’s life must be the primary aim.  If through our careful treatment of the mother’s illness the pre-born patient inadvertently dies or is injured, this is tragic and, if unintentional, is not unethical and is consistent with the pro-life ethic.  But the intentional killing of an unborn baby by abortion is never necessary. [emphasis mine]

Kelly needs to be better informed on this specific topic, but it’s one that many believe because of pro-abortion propaganda.

Walker simply stated his strong pro-life position and concluded by alluding to the atrocities of Planned Parenthood, against which he has stood as governor of Wisconsin.

After the debate, no one heard one word of whining from Walker. He praised the moderators as tough but fair, as have all the other candidates.

If Trump’s antics at this debate didn’t convince a person to stop supporting him, I don’t know what will. Yet I will continue to appeal to conservatives to recognize that he is no true conservative, and I will exhort my fellow Christian believers not to be deceived. Donald Trump is not the Christian conservative candidate we need. He is a disaster in the making.

The President’s Magic Beans

That sort of, kind of beginning of some type of understanding upon which some future agreement might be based—otherwise known as the Iran “deal”—seems to be falling apart, if indeed there ever was anything to fall apart to begin with. It’s as if the Obama administration got a little ahead of itself. No surprise there. They tend to overlook some genuine concerns about dealing with Iran in their haste to achieve something they consider historic.

Fine Print

This so-called deal allows Iran to keep its underground facility that no one has been allowed to inspect. Neither are snap inspections part of the “understanding,” thereby letting Iran prepare for any inspection by covering up anything that’s really going on.

Inspection

Then they try to sell this to Americans as a bargain that just can’t be passed up. Look what a great deal we have made!

Magic Beans

Don’t worry, we’re told. We’ll keep a close watch on the Iranians so they won’t cheat. And if they do, well then . . . um, well, what then? Might that not be a little too late?

Captain Obvious

Then President Obama has the audacity to criticize Gov. Scott Walker on his lack of understanding of foreign policy. Let’s examine the results of Obama’s foreign policy.

My Foreign Policy

I think we understand it pretty well. It’s hard to miss.

Introducing Barack Chamberlain Obama

Rudy Giuliani got himself in hot water with the Obama media a few days ago when he declared that he doesn’t think Obama loves America. It’s fascinating how a media that doesn’t seem to have much love for America itself jumped all over that statement. And of course they then tried to tie that to Scott Walker, asking him if he thought Obama loved America. He made a smart move politically, not directly affirming what Giuliani said, but not forthrightly renouncing him either.

It probably wasn’t the best move on Giuliani’s part to say it the way he did. As one commentator noted, quoting Scripture, “by their fruits you will know them.” Far better to point to the One’s actions and/or inactions as evidence of where his heart is.

For instance, he can’t bring himself to say that what we’re battling is really connected to Islam. He won’t blame Islamists for anything. Yet when three Muslims are killed in North Carolina, over what local officials say was a parking dispute, he immediately inserts himself into the situation, warning against a climate of Islamophobia:

It's About Religion

We’re supposed to ignore, of course, that the murderer is an atheist, a supporter of gay marriage, and in every way possible, a man who probably would have voted for Obama. No, this has to be about people who hate Islam—in the president’s mind.

He really goes out of his way to absolve Islam from any blame for atrocities. His wording at times is downright ludicrous:

Pen Is Mightier

Since he blames the West for the “grievances” of those who become terrorists, he rather simple-mindedly believes that if we give them more money and make them feel secure with jobs, all this nastiness will magically go away. One cartoonist recently gave his suggestion on the kinds of jobs we could offer the terrorists:

ISIS Employment

There are historical precedents/similarities that I see here. In the 1930s, most of the Western world fooled itself into believing that Hitler was a problem that could be controlled. He had “legitimate grievances” that could be addressed, and once they were, he would cease being aggressive. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain infamously sold out the Czechs in the Munich agreement in 1938. All that did was spur Hitler on to greater expansion of his power. We have a new Neville Chamberlain today.

Man in Mirror

I fear that if we have another modern-day Pearl Harbor, our president’s response will be something like this:

Edited

By the way, I’m predicting another Pearl Harbor/9/11 event. If it occurs on Obama’s watch, we will be in dire straits.