Category Archives: Politics

Bernie Sanders may be staying the race in case Clinton gets indicted

Bernie Sanders announced yesterday that he is staying the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  He was able to articulate, we suppose, a rationale, though it’s hard to understand why the nominal continuation of his campaign increases his ability to achieve his stated goals of defeating Donald Trump and influencing the party platform.

The only logic we can think of is that he is hanging on to be the default choice in case Hillary Clinton is indicted for mishandling classified information via her home-brew e-mail server and/or corruption for dealing favors to foreign governments though the Clinton Foundation.

Perhaps President Obama has assured Clinton that he won’t indict her but hasn’t let Sanders in on the news, either out of a sense of propriety or just for fun.

We can see Sanders wanting to remain technically a candidate to preempt Vice President Biden or someone else riding in on the proverbial white horse if Clinton goes down.  It’s a long shot that this logic would work even if she does get indicted, but he has little to lose.

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Debates about guns and Muslim immigration don’t explicitly discuss trade-offs

I am willing to tolerate higher levels of gun violence in America in exchange for having a Second Amendment.  We don’t often hear our fellow rightists state the case so explicitly, but most probably have arrived at this cognitive consonance.

(It is true that more guns means less crime in general.  It is also true that America has the highest rate of mass shootings and other gun violence of any industrialized country, and this is due at least in part to the wide availability of firearms.  America’s unique history, culture, legal environment, and demographics all contribute to these seemingly contradictory realities.  The quote above is the position of this blog, and we also believe that the best way to counter the threat of Islamist terrorist attacks like the Orlando night club shooting is to facilitate more people being armed.)

The alternate universe in which the U.S. never had a Second Amendment, in which there were not hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, in which the police have all the firepower, and in which mass shootings and other instances of gun violence were extremely rare, is easy to envision.  That’s the situation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and most other industrialized countries (as well as in most police states).  Count ours as one vote in favor of the American status quo.

The left doesn’t really possess the vocabulary to present its own arguments about the trade-offs associated with gun rights (or most other issues).  We rarely hear progressives espousing the values of individual liberty anymore—except in a few specific scenarios that turn the Bill of Rights on its head—and they are even less sympathetic to the concept of individual self-defense.  The left apparently isn’t able to comprehend the main reason why the founders included the Second Amendment to begin with:  protection from government tyranny.  We will have a social contract in which only the benevolent government will have guns, and in exchange the citizenry will trust the government to use them to protect citizens’ liberty and well-being is also not a scenario that liberals articulate very often, even if this is what they believe.

It is a legitimate political stance to try to persuade the American electorate to move our country in that direction, although we don’t see the left doing so very often:  as opposed to openly arguing for repeal of the Second Amendment, they usually use stealthy Federal and local legislative, regulatory, and judicial actions to end-run around it.  Fortunately democratic means couldn’t succeed nationally at this point.

The debate about Muslim immigration, or immigration in general, similarly seems devoid of a discussion about trade-offs.  We would like to hear Donald Trump state, Of course in principle I don’t like the idea of banning an entire group [Muslims] from visiting or immigrating to the U.S.  Such a ban would certainly affect some innocent people who don’t intend to harm the country.  However, we are in a time of war, so we need to accept this trade-off in order to reduce the number of Muslim terrorists we admit.  We presume that Trump feels this way—and he has implied an understanding of the trade-off in his call to pause Muslim immigration until we “can figure out what’s going on”—but it would be nice for him to make it explicit.

Similarly, it would be nice if President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or other liberals made explicit their own views of a trade-off.  The U.S. is the most multicultural, open country in the world.  I want to accept more Muslim immigrants, and in fact all types of immigrants, because they make America better.  I acknowledge that, in so doing, we might inadvertently admit some people who will go on to commit terrorist attacks, but a few hundred or a few thousand dead Americans is a reasonable price to pay for the vibrancy that immigrants contribute to our society.  We have little doubt that Obama, Clinton, and most of the cosmopolitan left, including the mainstream media, feel this way.  (Though even this may be a charitable portrayal of their views:  the hard left, like President Obama, has demonstrated that it thinks that traditional American culture is an anachronism that should be replaced by a culture that is more collectivist, authoritarian, and brown.)

A sympathetic article, “What Obama Actually Thinks about Radical Islam,” by Jeffrey Goldberg (h/t James Taranto) seems to serve as a rare reveal of Obama’s view:

Obama believes that the clash is taking place within a single civilization, and that Americans are sometimes collateral damage in this fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.

Taranto rightly expresses puzzlement at the phrase “collateral damage” as it relates to Americans being killed in a “fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.”  One way to reconcile this apparent misreading of the current state of the world—there doesn’t seem to be much of a “fight” pitting Muslim modernizers against Muslim fundamentalists, especially on American soil—is to speculate that Goldberg misinterpreted Obama’s statement.

Obama possibly seems himself as the “Muslim modernizer”; inasmuch as he is not actually a Muslim, he could be fairly called a “‘Muslimist‘ modernizer,” to use Steve Sailer’s term.  Obama may not identify precisely as a Muslim, but he was raised in a Muslim environment and considers himself an enlightened exponent of the Muslim faith (as does Hillary Clinton).

Goldberg posits that “Obama sees the problems affecting parts of the Muslim world as largely outside American control,” though he cites the president asserting that the way we address Muslims around the world talking about the problem of radical Islam—including his infamous refusal to label the motivations of terrorism as such—plays an important role in addressing it.  And Obama has strongly condemned Trump’s call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration to the U.S. while increasing admission of people who claim to be Syrian refugees.  Obama probably sees himself as playing a righteous, central role as a “Muslim modernizer,” by importing more Muslims to the U.S., by his imposition of political correctness on all government discussions of terrorism, and by the virtue-signaling language he insists on using to assert solidarity with Islam.  If these accommodations carry some costs, then it’s worth it.

So, if Goldberg is accurately portraying What Obama Actually Thinks about Radical Islam, then it appears that what Obama is really saying is, The United States can play a role in the clash between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists, by, among other things, welcoming Muslim immigrants to the U.S.  A few dead Americans as collateral damage is a price that I am willing to pay to promote Muslim modernization.   Such a viewpoint would fall within the bounds of legitimate debate within our political system—as taking sides in any war involves the conscious sacrifice of American lives—though we assume that vast majority of Americans would vehemently disagree with it and would redeem their disagreement through all democratic mechanisms available.  Let’s have the debate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hillary Clinton can’t have a white running mate

The Democratic party is mostly about identity politics.  We just can’t see the base accepting an entirely non-white national ticket; of course having Hillary Clinton at the top checks off some of the identity boxes, but this probably isn’t enough.

We predict that Clinton’s running mate will be one of the four following individuals:  Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, whom the party has been grooming for a national role; New Jersey Senator Cory Booker; former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; or Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

The latter brings the advantage of credibility as a hard-left activist.  The two blacks on the list have portrayed themselves as more moderate, “clean” (as Joe Biden might say), modern black politicians; that is to say, geared toward acceptance by whites.

A Hispanic (even one who doesn’t speak Spanish) would also bring the advantage of novelty.  The party has done the black thing, and now the woman thing.

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Obama displays a certain lack of cynicism: White male sacrificial lamb for SCOTUS plays it safe

President Obama has nominated D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.  We had figured that Obama could never nominate a white male, and would go all-in and nominate someone who shares his judicial philosophy—i.e., a leftist in the mode of Sonia Sotomayor.

That would accomplish two things:   (1) Put someone up that he truly would like to see on the Court, in the event that Republicans were to cave and move the nomination.  (2) Failing that, rile up the base, adding the charges of RACISM to the usual OBSTRUCTIONISM.

We figure that if President Obama felt that he had a high probability of getting someone confirmed, and/or was bracing for a fight, he would choose someone like D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan, who has the benefit of a somewhat stealth philosophy as well as a history of being approved by a recent Senate with unanimous Republican support.

Instead, we read the choice of Garland as a resignation on Obama’s part that he won’t get confirmed.  It’s a safe choice in that sense, as Garland will go back to his important job, and probably won’t risk having any dirt dug up.  We assume there isn’t any:  Garland has been a typical career-government liberal Circuit Judge for two decades, and the circus surrounding his nomination won’t change his life much, nor will it diminish his chances to be nominated by a future Democrat president (though he’s getting a bit old).  There’s little down-side to the president or to Garland.

(Of course, choosing someone as a sacrificial lamb displays a certain type of cynicism, but if he believed that he has no chance at confirmation, then Obama’s choice of Garland is less cynical than some possible alternatives.)

We can imagine Obama’s conversations with the likes of the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, and other leftist groups, to the effect of, I have decided that my nominee has no chance.  I won’t put up a minority as a token/martyr who would be harmed by the process.

We find it hard to imagine Obama being so magnanimous when faced with an opportunity to engage in racial rabble-rousing.  So we remain open to alternative explanations.

Maybe Obama is just lazy, phoning-in this nomination of an easy choice, as he has been doing with so much else toward the end of his term?

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Advice to Marco Rubio for positioning for a future presidential run

There will be plenty of postmortems dissecting how Marco Rubio went from Tea Party darling Senator-elect in 2010 to a humiliating flame-out in this year’s presidential election.

The five obvious reasons, in order of importance, we think, are:

1.  His leadership of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty scheme.

2.  His leadership of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty scheme.

3A.  His robotic persona in the debates.

3B.  His resemblance to Barack Obama in 2008:  a blank slate, with few accomplishments and no executive experience, who says the right things on the surface—allowing voters to project whatever specific viewpoints they wished upon him—and checks the diversity boxes.  (Notwithstanding (3A), Rubio’s rhetoric is, of course, more substantive than Obama’s.)

3C.  Later in the race, his association with the D.C. establishment.

 

Although we are glad that the primary campaign served its purpose of vetting candidate Rubio, we can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that he didn’t live up to his promise.  To take one example, his speech after President Obama announced his appeasement of Cuba in December 2014 was outstanding.

It is certainly plausible that he could come back.  At 44, he has decades of opportunity left in him.  How he uses the first of those decades will speak to his character and his seriousness to be a viable presidential candidate.

The best course of action for Rubio would be to run for governor of Florida in 2018, when Gov. Rick Scott (R) cannot run again due to term limits.  Rubio needs the executive credentials and gravitas that would come from such a stint.  Of course an electoral loss would derail him (though it didn’t in Richard Nixon’s case, though he had already accumulated a more substantive resume), but he needs to take the risk.

Another alternative would be to angle for a cabinet position—something far away from immigration—like Secretary of Education or Secretary of Transportation.  A university presidency would not be as beneficial, but if he governs like Mitch Daniels, then it could be a step in the right direction.

Of course he should repudiate his actions as part of the “Gang of Eight.”  We don’t think that this will be a major challenge, as President Trump will provide cover by, in concert with Congress, completely changing the way that the U.S. implements immigration policy.  (If Hillary Clinton wins, then no one as conservative as Marco Rubio is ever likely to be elected president again, so this whole discussion would be moot.)

A Fox News gig in the meantime would be OK.  We hope that he doesn’t sit out the political debate and then come riding back onto the scene out of nowhere.  We hope that he does not take the petulant step of resigning from the Senate early.  Though it would give the Republicans the benefit of incumbency following an appointment by Gov. Scott, such a move is not statesman-like.

What he especially should not do is to trod the familiar path of retired establishment politicians and take a high-paying, non-work job in a law or lobbying firm, investment bank, or private equity firm—and then present himself to us again in eight or twelve or sixteen years’ time with only that additional resume item.  Such an occupation would do nothing but reinforce his lack of executive credentials and his membership in the D.C. establishment.  Spending his prime years as a high-class Republican community organizer wouldn’t mitigate the perception of him as another Barack Obama.

No doubt Rubio, who has suffered financial challenges, wants to cash in—and we never begrudge someone that—but if he’s serious about mounting another presidential campaign, he’s going to have to find a way to do more than that.

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Trump chooses not to play the liberals’ grovelling game

The latest phony outrage surrounding Donald Trump’s campaign is his refusal to “disavow” statements of support from some group or other.  Good for him.

The left loves to play the game of denounce, apologize, and grovel.  The MSM attempts to define the bounds of legitimate debate, and never passes up an opportunity to manufacture outrage to serve its own ends.  It is unbecoming of the right to fall into this trap.

Donald Trump plays the no-apology game well.  Even if he believes that the Ku Klux Klan, or David Duke, or whoever, does not bring to the table a point of view that is legitimate in our political discourse, it does not necessarily follow that he must jump on the bandwagon to condemn them.  He gains nothing from it.  He understands that to apologize for something that he didn’t do only weakens him.  He never avowed the KKK in the first place, so he has nothing to disavow.

His honesty is also refreshing.  He “doesn’t want to tick off anybody that might vote for him.”  People will vote for him based on all kinds of motivations, which are irrelevant to Trump.  No obligation is created by accepting someone’s vote.

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Postmortem on Jeb Bush: Donald Trump was the perfect foil

James Kirkpatrick in the Unz Review, citing Peter Beinart in The Atlantic and Michael Warren in the Weekly Standard, makes that point that we raised back in September:  Donald Trump was the perfect foil to Jeb Bush, due to the contrast in their personalities and Trump’s masterstroke to raise the immigration issue.

We agree with him that the Republican establishment will likely learn nothing from this history.  Will their reflection consist of:  See, We Told You So.  Trump was wrong on temperament and wrong on the issues.  Now how do I get an invitation to the ceremony where President Clinton signs the Gang of Eight Law?  Or:  Well, we lost with our best shot.  Now let’s take to heart the concerns raised by the majority of Republicans who voted to nominate Trump and fight President Clinton on these issues.  (Yes, it’s a rhetorical question.)

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