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For the past few months, Democrats have enjoyed telling Republicans, “You brought this on yourselves” in regard to the Trump nomination. Never mind that most Republicans opposed him. Had there been a runoff between Trump and anyone not named Cruz, Trump may well have lost. The story went that by constantly opposing the President and encouraging allowing voters to think that the impossible was possible (ie. one could enforce a Republican agenda even with a Democrat in the White House), the GOP set itself up for takeover by a demagogue who would promise voters anything.

The Democratic establishment, meanwhile, actively chose someone it knew roughly half the country disliked and distrusted. There is a good reason for the distrust – from cattle futures to the travel office to discrediting Bill’s paramours to the private server, Mrs. Clinton has shown a propensity for playing by her own rules and then playing the victim when she’s caught. Now, it’s the emails again. FBI Director Comey’s announcement reminded voters of why they have strong reservations about Clinton’s candidacy: she is excessively secretive and she and her husband don’t tell the truth.

In pushing her candidacy anyway, when you knew all this – even to the point of gaming the system to ensure her weak campaign’s victory over Bernie Sanders – Democrats, you really did bring this on yourselves. There were more likable, more trustworthy – and yes, more competent – options than Mrs. Clinton. But a combination of identity politics and fear caused you to choose this hopelessly divisive person as the one you wanted to rule over the country. When her campaign proved poor and Sen. Sanders’ stronger than expected, leaders of the DNC had to tilt the playing field to ensure her victory. Now – after literally decades of people weighing in saying they don’t trust her – you appear surprised that people still don’t trust her. The fact that she’s running against a terribly flawed candidate doesn’t wash her own sins away.

Hillary Clinton is locked in a tight election against the weakest candidate the Republicans have put up in modern times. She has no one to blame but herself. And Democrats, you have no one to blame but yourself for backing such a flawed candidate. You brought this on yourselves.

-1TF

-1TF

Damon Linker’s article in “The Week” on the chances of Hillary Clinton winning a mandate is the triumph of hope over experience. Mr. Linker writes Mrs. Clinton is likely to have a mandate based purely on the percentage of people voting for her. I respectfully disagree. Clinton won’t have a mandate – “Not Trump” will have a mandate. Clinton hasn’t run on her policies; she has largely disappeared from the campaign trail and let Trump slit his own throat.

Think about Clinton’s TV ads. How many are positive visions based on her policies? Compare that with how many are about Trump. Mr. Linker says that “Not Trump” people could have voted for Johnson or Stein or McMullin. He neglects the idea that many have (incorrectly in my opinion, but they have it), that this is a binary choice – that a vote for one of the minor candidates is effectively a “half-vote”, and that only a vote for Trump or Clinton is a full vote against the other major candidate.

Virginia already has some experience on this. Terry McAuliffe won the governorship over Ken Cuccinelli in 2013 in a remarkably nasty and expensive campaign. But McAuliffe didn’t win a mandate; “Not Cuccinelli” did. McAuliffe can’t get his priorities through the legislature, because the Republicans hold it and everyone knows McAuliffe has no mandate.

“Not Trump” is a strong candidate this year. Hillary Clinton is not. “Not Trump” will have a strong mandate. Hillary Clinton will not.

-1TF

 

 

It appears Iowa Democrats are thinking, “Say what you will about Bernie Sanders – at least he’s honest.”. The same cannot be said of the national front runner. I think this will matter next Tuesday – Iowa Democrats appear more concerned with both liberal ideology AND ‘good government’ than most. Honesty matters a bit more in Iowa than it does to Dems in some other quarters of the country (parts of the Northeast in particular).

At this point, it appears Sanders is going to win Iowa; the only question now is by how much. He is then likely to win his neighboring state of New Hampshire (which temporarily saved Secretary Clinton in 2008). Both of these results were highly unlikely six months ago. It’s not that Senator Sanders is that great a candidate. It’s that Secretary Clinton is notably weak and the problem isn’t something she can fix. It’s not organization; it’s not messaging. It’s her – her cozy relationship to Wall Street [which isn’t very popular in Middle America these days] her history of dissembling (which even allies attempt to minimize rather than defend), her obsessive secrecy and sense of victimhood, and the idea that the rules that apply to other people don’t apply to her and her husband. People left, right and center all have issues with her. It is remarkable – and remarkably sad – that no other significant establishment Democrat took her on in the primary.

In the book Game Change, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann relate Mrs. Clinton’s reaction to her upset loss in Iowa: “Maybe they just don’t like me.” I think she got it. And as the book relayed, the dislike was mutual. She doesn’t enjoy being there. She’s one of those dangerous bureaucrats – she likes policy a lot; people not so much. The dirty little secret is Sanders is actually somewhat similar that way. The one Democratic candidate who has actually run a state (albeit not well) and appears to actually be a people person, Governor O’Malley, can’t seem to get any traction. Unlike the GOP, the Democrats have a two-tier voting system in Iowa. Whom O’Malley’s people prefer between Sanders and Clinton will matter. It might be the difference between a solid Sanders win and a rout.

– 1TF

Well, we’re one week out from the Iowa Caucuses. On the Republican side, Donald Trump leads Ted Cruz with only Marco Rubio also above 10%. It remains to be seen whether the Trump voters will actually come out and vote. I suspect Cruz’s voters are a bit more committed.

In the end, however, Iowa will settle little for the Republicans, other than to show how unlike the Iowa GOP is to much of the country. These folks put fundamentalist gadfly Pat Robertson ahead of George H.W. Bush in ’88. They helped the similarly unelectable Michelle Bachmann chase the only plausible Republican general election candidate, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, out of the primary race in 2011. On the other hand, they also sent the socially liberal Jim Leach to Congress for three decades.  This a state where ethanol is a third rail issue; that’s just not a big issue in most of the country. (That’s not to say energy independence isn’t a big issue, but corn’s role in that is not.).  The Iowa GOP is just a distinctive animal.  I don’t think the caucus settles much. New Hampshire is likely to be more consequential.

In the great Trump-Cruz battle for the nomination, my money is still on “none of the above”.  Expect the winner of the “establishment primary” in New Hampshire (that is, the Bush/Christie/Fiorina/Kasich/Rubio contest to finish 2nd behind Trump) to become a serious contender. If that person can consolidate the support of the others (and that of Gov. Huckabee who is unlikely to support either Trump or Cruz) coming out of NH, that person will then have a strong shot at the nomination.

-1TF

 

Back in the Spring, I compared the Left’s reaction to Indiana’s religious protection law to the French Revolution. It appears that was just the appetizer. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the Left is out in force seeking the spoils of war. A recent scan of the newspapers indicates that liberals are moving on to new territory. One Time magazine column is on legalizing polygamy, another ( from a New York Times religion columnist no less) was a recommendation to end the tax exclusion for non-profits including churches. Another wanted to end tax exclusion only for churches who didn’t support gay marriage. In recent years, conservative predictions that this kind of thing would happen were scoffed at by the left with charges of conservative hysteria. Well, turns out once again, conservatives were right to worry. Together with the calls for getting rid of any vestiges of the Confederacy (not only the battle flag, but now monuments, names of schools, etc.), it is evidence that many on the Left simply don’t like us on the Right and now that the tide is high for them, they mean to make us pay.

Two articles that caught my attention today were by Richard Cohen and Peter Beinart. They’re both usually good writers, even if I usually disagree with them. But today, neither could muster much grace. Cohen thought Republicans had failed in part because they had been “wrong” on every social issue. Not incorrect, not mistaken. Wrong, in a way that made it seem he thought us bad people. I was sad he included abortion in the mix. Cohen used to be more thoughtful on that issue, thinking he may have gone too far in supporting it as a matter of sexual freedom in his earlier days. Alas, he appears to have backslid; it’s always remarkable to me now people can be so cavalier about the untimely death of others.

As for Mr. Beinart, he accused Republicans of lacking empathy, utterly unaware of the irony that he and his fellow Jacobins have shown virtually none toward this country’s more traditional citizens in the past couple of weeks. I would remind Mr. Beinart that the vast majority of both conservatives and southern citizens are good, open-minded, caring people (and represent a large portion of the guardians of our society (military, police, fire, etc.)). The fact that none of the Presidential candidates fell in line after the Supreme Court decision shouldn’t surprise anyone. Did the Democrats fall in line and accept Citizens United? No, they still thought it was wrong and vowed to fight it. It’s once again different rules for different parties.

Several major nations including the US are engaged in talks with Iran to supposedly halt the Iranian nuclear weapons program.  Reports indicate that a deal may be at hand.  The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is deeply concerned that this deal will be a bad one for Israel.  Word is the deal only hold Iran back for ten years – and that’s if Iran keeps its word, which appears unlikely.  Iran is keenly interested in getting its economic sanctions listed.  Once those are lifted, Iran may well look for an excuse to get moving again, which would unleash a nuclear arms race with Saudi Arabia.

A quick word for those Americans, especially those on the left, who find Mr. Netanyahu’s views incomprehensible:  First, understand that, while the US has strategic depth in dealing with Iran (ie. we’re so big, Iran couldn’t destroy us no matter what), Israel doesn’t have that comfort.  Two large bombs hit Tel Aviv and western Jerusalem and the Israeli state as we know it is done.  It will be cold comfort to survivors if the US responds to an Iranian attack; nuclear strike on Iran won’t get Israelis their country back.  Second, I recommend watching the film Operation Thunderbolt about the hijacking of an Israeli airliner in 1976.  The plane lands in Uganda; the non-Israeli hostages are released, but the Israelis are held, and Israeli commandos have to storm the plane.  Before the raid, the commando leader makes an impassioned speech about how Israel is alone and that they must help themselves.  They storm the terminal, kill the hijackers and  rescue all but three hostages, but the commando leader is killed.

Know that the story is true.  And know that the slain leader was Yonatan Netanyahu – Bibi’s brother.

This isn’t some academic exercise for Netanyahu or for Israel.  They feel alone and vulnerable; they simply cannot accept a deal that they believe Iran will easily circumvent.  They live in a dangerous neighborhood and are always two nuclear bombs away from extinction.  That’s why Netanyahu is the way he is on Iran.  It may seem difficult, but it’s utterly rational.

Now as for why he acts like he does regarding the West Bank settlements?  That one’s a bit harder to understand.

1TF

The polarized reaction to the State of Indiana’s passing of its version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has been as surprising as it has been depressing. Opponents of the bill, ranging from social liberalism’s usual suspects to several super-rich business executives see in the RFRA some misplaced equivalent to the racial discrimination of the 1960’s. (One hotel executive’s description of the bill as “idiocy” was particularly over the top.) It is no such thing.

The recent state RFRAs were a response to some surprising court cases in which a wedding photographer and a baker were forced to pay damages for not wanting to be a part of a gay wedding ceremony. Could Indiana’s law have been drawn more artfully to make this point? Perhaps. But the RFRAs are not a license to discriminate but merely an attempt to protect individual conscience in an environment where traditional mores appear to be crumbling in the face of rapid social change.

There appears to be great triumphalism and little grace on the part of the ascendant order. It feels to this Christian that a certain anti-evangelical zeal bordering on hysteria has gripped the ranks of the left. It’s a bit like the French Revolution, where the new order kept moving its policy goalposts further and further left, and then seeking the destruction of anyone not fully on board with the new plans. This was how Lafayette, hero of Yorktown and then a supporter of republicanism at the outset of the French Revolution, nearly wound up guillotined by the Jacobins. And then the Jacobins themselves got caught up in the whirlwind they had unleashed and were swept away. I would respectfully caution my fellow Americans, particularly those on the triumphalist left, to tread lightly on this explosive issue. Individual conscience is no small thing.

1TF