Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sic Semper Tyrannis, El Comandante

What's to like about the man who created and ruled for nearly half a century the Communist police state and economic sinkhole 90 miles off the beaches of Florida called Cuba?

Well, apparently, quite a lot, according to some people.

The death of Fidel Castro last Friday has brought into very sharp relief the longstanding political polarization of America, in place for over a century now, between the progressive and the traditional worldviews.  Or to put it in another way, the Left and the Right.

Those on the Left of the political spectrum like and admire Fidel Castro. Those of the Right despise and loathe him.  It's really that simple.  (I locate myself on the Right these days, so you know how I feel.)

You can read a sampling of post-mortem opinion from more conservative-leaning sources of Castro and his crimes here, here, here, here, here and here.  If you want to sample the Left, well, just turn on the television (except for Fox News) or open virtually any newspaper (except perhaps the Wall Street Journal or the Miami Herald).

Castro was, as I said above, the founder and ruler of a Communist dictatorship that has lasted since the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, for God's sake.  Since I can't even remember Eisenhower (though I was a young child at the time), that is code 'for a long time now'.

Democracies can almost be defined by the fact that the 'ruled' get the chance to change their rulers fairly regularly.  (We just changed ours, to the great consternation of the Left, both domestic and foreign!)  Dictatorships on the other hand?  Not so much.  If you as a citizen want a change in leadership, then YOU have to leave, not the dictator!  Which over a million Cubans did, with many of them ending up in neighboring United States.  And they appear to be celebrating as I write.

(Oddly enough, a Caribbean cruise ship we were on last spring came across a raft with some Cuban citizens fleeing Castro.  Six months ago, they were still risking their lives to flee the Cuban revolution!  What more do you have to say, really?)

Fidel Castro came to power as a young socialist revolutionary in 1959, and his despotic regime lasted until his health was so bad he could no longer manage, at which point in 2006 he just turned power over to his younger brother, Raul, as if Cuba were his personal property, his own island fiefdom.  Which, in a way, is exactly how he viewed it.

The Right is really into history and the study of the past, mainly in order to avoid its tragic mistakes, especially the Marxist/Leninist one.  The Left, on the other hand, is really into ideology and the study of the future, to try and create a social paradise of perfect social justice and peace.  As a result, they are still being seduced by the utopian promises of the Marxist vision.  Fidel Castro was the seducer, in this case.

For the global Left, Fidel Castro was their idealized social justice warrior, storming the ramparts of injustice and greed.  It must have been quite depressing for them to see him in his pajamas, so old and feeble.  And now dead.

If I knew Castro personally or were a member of his family, I guess I would be obligated to mourn his death, at least ritually.  But since I knew him not nor am I family, my attitude right now is the same as it is toward all earthly tyrants: Sic semper tyrannis, El Comandante!

The Sticky Wicket of Muslim Immigration

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 20, a recent Somali immigrant, was shot dead on Monday by a campus police officer on Ohio State University in Columbus, after running down with his car and then stabbing 11 persons on the campus.

A little over two months ago, on Sept. 17, Dahir Adan, 20, another recent Somali immigrant, was shot dead by an off-duty officer after stabbing 10 people in a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan
And who can forget the bombs set off by Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, in New Jersey and Manhattan that injured 32 people the very same day as Dahir Adan above, viz. Sept. 17.  Rahami immigrated from Afghanistan in 2000.

That's 53 victims, including three police officers.

Notice any pattern here?  The attackers were all young men, and all were recent immigrants from Islamic societies.

And I haven't even mentioned the Orlando slaughter in July perpetrated by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, where 49 were killed and 53 injured, and the San Bernadino attack last December, where Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured 22.

Which, added to the above victims, comes to a grand total of 128 injured and 63 killed in just four incidents.  And frankly, it's amazing that there weren't more killed.

And that's just in America, in the last year.  When you add in the recent attacks in France and Belgium, the number rises rapidly into the many hundreds of victims.  Attacks like this have been going on all over the world now for decades.

Houston, we have a problem.

Is it any wonder that a majority of Americans support some kind of limitation on immigrants from Muslim societies?  Is it crazy to think that Donald Trump's call for such a limitation could have helped him win the 2016 election for President?  I think not.

Americans are not especially prejudiced against people of other religions than their own.  Indeed, we in the United States have one of the most diverse populations, religiously speaking, in the entire world.

But Americans are also not stupid (despite what some liberals may think).  They can see what's happening around them, both here and in Europe.  And they find it hard to believe that it's just an odd coincidence that so many recent multiple-victim, violent attacks are being perpetrated by young Muslim men.

Why import more trouble from abroad when we've got enough home-grown problems already? After all, nobody has a 'right' to immigrate to America.  It is a privilege and opportunity given to a select few (relatively speaking) people around the world.  And it is our right as US citizens, through our elected representatives, to choose who can come and who cannot.

Caution and security would seem to be the order of the day in this matter.  My guess is that the Trump administration is going to be making changes in our immigration policies and processes very quickly in the new year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Rebellion of 2016

The writer and intellectual Michael Novak, who more than any other was responsible for first turning me away from the Left back in 1983, writes here on the website National Review Online concerning the election of Donald Trump.

Novak sees the "Rebellion of 2016", as he calls it, as a repudiation of Progressivism and, in a more theological vein, "a work of Divine Providence".  Given that I basically said as much myself in my pre-election post, though not so elegantly ("If somehow, on the other hand, Donald Trump wins, it won't be because he had much going for him, because he didn't. It will simply have to be chocked up to divine intervention, because there is no way in hell he could have won on his own!!"), it's nice to see someone else more respectable and intelligent than I say it.

An excerpt:
The founding generation of Americans (and many generations after that) were a Biblical people. As John Adams pointed out, the American Constitution was written for a Biblical people and would not work for any other. The founding generation held that the lucky discovery of the treachery of Benedict Arnold of September 21, 1780, came at the hands of a Providence favorable to the American cause.
In that spirit it cannot be wrong to regard the surprising election of Donald Trump, like the surprising election of Barack Obama before him, as a work of Divine Providence. And as we know, from the selection of the adulterous King David, and the Christ-denying Saint Peter, God’s Providence often acts through sinners.
As the greatest American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, often pointed out, the besetting sin of large American majorities is moralism. Americans love to talk too much about high morals and too little about the grubby interests and powers that make up the stuff of political decision-making. It is moralism to regard as the single criterion of sound political action the moral behavior of the agent. To concentrate on moral behavior so centrally as to lose sight of the powers and interests at play gravely weakens sound political judgment.
It was one of the great satisfactions of the election of 2016 to see so many American religious people — 81 percent of Evangelical Protestants and an unusually high 52 percent of Catholics (and an even higher 60 percent of white Catholics, or Reagan Democrats, as we used to call them) — avoid the error of moralism. They seem to have kept their eyes on the real interests, powers, and swollen ambitions of the ruling elites of the land.
The historical reputation of the Rebellion of 2016 will depend on how successfully it reintroduces classic humanism and Biblical realism into the working equipment of our media elites. In any case, it will be wonderful if our nation gains a proper respect for the dignity of those without college educations, those who work so hard, those who have been displaced during the recent global expansion.
The Rebellion will succeed if it produces more civic amity among the several races, cultures, and social bodies that make up this great nation. The whole country must be lifted up by new business start-ups, some millions of new jobs, rising incomes, and a quick start toward 4 percent growth per year. Because the current elites who have brought so much division, disappointment, and discouragement into our national life hate him so much, and their hatred is so deep that they expect very little of him, President-elect Trump is in a position to prove them wrong by a very wide margin.
God bless the new president of the United States.
(BTW, the book of Michael's that was responsible for my political 'conversion' more than 30 years ago was The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, which can still be purchased at Amazon.)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Viewing Trump as a Mindless Boob

It seems to me that comedy sketches making fun of political figures generally need to have a foundation of reality and truth in order to be successful.  A funny caricature or impression has got to have enough resemblance to the real thing for it to be funny....otherwise, it's just pathetic.

In my opinion, the opening skit for Saturday's SNL show (shown below) was mostly pathetic.  What you see in that skit is an unrecognizable Donald Trump, a stupid Trump, a clueless Trump.  If that's the Trump you think exists in reality, it's no wonder that the Left thinks the people who voted for him are deplorable and ignorant boobs.

The real Trump is a smart, savvy, experienced business (and now political) operator, who first demolished the rest of the Republican primary field, then beat Hillary Clinton in what has got to be one of the most astounding events in American political history.

If the Left want to continue to view Trump as a mindless reality show entertainer after all that has happened in the last two years, be my guest.  Go ahead, wallow in your own ignorance and liberal bubble bath.  Because that will only make his task of changing the direction of this country that much easier.

(And for God's sake, at least make Kellyanne Conway someone who smiles and can talk!  Kate McKinnon, who did a very good Hillary, failed utterly in impersonating Conway.)

The Wrong Side Of History

Rich Lowry on History, its right and wrong side:
President Obama won’t explicitly say Donald Trump is on the wrong side of history, but surely it’s what he believes.
The president basically thinks anyone who gets in his way is transgressing the larger forces of history with a capital H. During the 2008 campaign, he declared Sen. John McCain “on the wrong side of history right now” (the “right now” was a generous touch — allowing for the possibility McCain might get right with History at some future, undetermined date).
Obama has returned to this phrase and argument obsessively throughout his time in office. It is deeply embedded in his, and the larger progressive, mind — and indirectly contributed to the left’s catastrophic defeat on Nov. 8.
The notion that History takes sides ultimately traces back to the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and borrows heavily from the (genuine and very hard-won) moral capital of the abolitionists and the civil rights movement.
Obama is given to quoting Martin Luther King for the proposition that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. Whoever is deemed to be on “the wrong side of history” by progressives is always loosely associated with the opprobrium directed toward the Southern Fire-Eaters and the defenders of Jim Crow.
This means the left wields History as a weapon and makes it an occasion for constant self-congratulation. But there’s a downside.
For the left, History isn’t a vast, unpredictable, untameable force, but just like someone who might be standing in line next to you at Whole Foods. History is a board member of Planned Parenthood. It reads the Huffington Post and Vox, and follows Lena Dunham on Twitter. It really cares whether transgender people are allowed to use the appropriate bathroom. History was probably hanging out at the Javits Center on election night and collapsed into a puddle of tears right around the time Wisconsin was called.

Alexander Hamilton and Mike Pence

Christopher Manion writes:
A long time ago there appeared in the once-revered New Yorker a cartoon. The scene was a concert venue, where a string quartet was about to perform. As the audience grew quiet, the cellist coughed, laid his bow to one side, and said: “Before we begin, I would like to say a few words about the war in Viet Nam.”
Back then it was funny. Today it is a farce.
My first reaction to the 'Hamilton' incident, where Vice President-elect Pence was first booed by some in the audience and then addressed (lectured?) by the cast at the conclusion of the musical, was negative. It seems to me that the cast chose to deliberately (and unnecessarily) politicize what should have been a non-partisan cultural event, and in doing so, demonstrated the nature of the 'liberal bubble' that so many otherwise great people live in.

The following editorial by the New York Post was right on target:
Brandon Victor Dixon’s remarks Friday night came from a good place. But they also yet again revealed the peculiar failure of liberal America to practice the empathy it preaches.
The actor who plays Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” thanked Vice President-elect Mike Pence for coming to the show, then spoke up for “the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us . . . or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us.”
The words were perfectly respectful — but the implication was downright rude. And blindly condescending. All the marches and media hysteria have made it quite plain how much alarm many feel over Donald Trump’s victory.
More important: Pence had already sent a darn clear message by coming to see the show. He had just listened to the very voices Dixon (speaking for the cast) was asking him to hear. (Plus, facing scattered boos on the way into the theater, he’d also told his family, “That’s the sound of freedom.”)
Yes, the president-elect took to Twitter to vent his displeasure; we’d rather he’d let others comment.  (Stevie Van Zandt’s tweet was on point: “There has never been a more outspoken politically active artist than me. He was their guest. You protect your guests. Don’t embarrass them.”)
But Pence took it all in stride, saying on “Fox News Sunday” that he and his family “really enjoyed the show” — “an incredible production and incredibly talented people.” He “wasn’t offended,” he said, and most important: “I just want to reassure people that what President-elect Donald Trump said on election night, he absolutely meant it from the bottom his heart. He is preparing to be the president of all of the people of the United States of America.”
In Sunday’s Post, Michael Goodwin asked liberals to consider that they might be “ignorant” about the lives of Trump voters — that they wrongly “swallowed, hook, line and sinker” the “caricature of them the Democratic Party and the national liberal media created.” Liberals dominate the national media (and most local media, too) — as well as Hollywood, Broadway and Silicon Valley. Red America has no choice but to listen to Blue America all the time.
And, sorry, it’s Blue America that routinely screams “shut up” to voices it doesn’t want to hear. That’s the essence of political correctness, and not just on campus: Recall, for example, the PC condemnation of the incredibly sensitive and nuanced “red” film, “American Sniper.” When you can’t understand how your fellow Americans could make “that man” our next president, maybe it’s time you stopped assuming it hasn’t heard you, and started listening yourselves.
The only person in this whole thing who demonstrated true grace was, in my opinion, Mike Pence. He managed to cheerfully rise above it all and show magnanimity and class.  Kudos to you, sir, and congratulations to Donald Trump for having chosen you for his running mate.

Liberal Bubble

Unlike most of liberal/left media, which continues residing in the bubble in which it has been living for quite a while now, the TV show Saturday Night Live has admirably decided to apply its considerable comedic talents to that same 'liberal bubble'.  The following skit, along with an equally scathing skit about the CNN 'robots', was quite satisfying for those living outside that bubble.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

General James Mattis as Possible Secretary of Defense

The word coming down is that retired Marine General James Mattis is being seriously considered for the post of Secretary of Defense.  Whoa!  That would be interesting for sure, if these quotes are anywhere near accurate.  Talk about being politically incorrect!

Here's a sample.

“The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.”

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all.”

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

And last, but not least....

“Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”

Can't help but think of General Patton, as portrayed by George C. Scott in that classic movie Patton.

Semper Fi, General!

General Michael Flynn and the Fight against Radical Islamic Jihad

One of the hallmarks of the Obama administration was its inexplicable refusal to name the phenomenon of violent Islamic jihad, despite the fact that it was responsible for most of the acts of terrorism taking place around the world.  They went so far, led by the President himself, as to rule out the use of words like 'Islamic' or 'Islamism' or 'Muslim' or 'Jihad' in trying to explain or define modern terrorism by the American military or intelligence or law enforcement.

Instead, they preferred to use such innocuous terms as 'workplace violence' or 'extremism' or just 'terrorism'.

If you find this kind of political correctness difficult to believe, especially when it comes to this life and death subject, join the club.  The critics of such a policy, some of whom were fired from their positions (like General Flynn himself in 2014), believed that it had the effect of the tying the hands of intelligence, law enforcement and counterintelligence in the fight against such terrorism.  And that criticism makes perfect sense to me.

Clearly, the days of refusing to name, define, and adequately deal with radical Islamic terrorism and Jihadism are over.  President-Elect Trump made it his practice during the election campaign of speaking the taboo words over and over again, and it was one of the reasons he won, I believe.  Despite liberal preconceptions, the American people are not as stupid or lacking in common sense as they might think.  If it looks and sounds like a duck, it's probably some kind of duck.

And his first big national security appointment, General Michael Flynn, is of a similar mind to his boss.  You can read all about the good general and know this fact is true here.  For an even more extensive analysis of the views of Gen. Flynn, you can read his book 'The Field of Fight' here.

I'm feeling safer already, knowing that our professional defenders and warriors are soon going to be able to better identity and search out one of the true enemies of what we in the West hold good, true, and beautiful.

Friday, November 18, 2016

This is the Jon Stewart that I always enjoyed and appreciated, whether I always agreed with him or not....

Steve Bannon, Trumpian Visionary

The MSM has been going crazy about the appointment of Steve Bannon as Trump's chief White House strategist.  Bannon has a long and varied background in the military, business, Hollywood, journalism, and now, politics, and his bio can be read here.  He, along with a handful of other campaign insiders, is responsible for the election of Donald Trump as President.

In response, the MSM is calling him an outright racist, sexist, anti-Semite, and those are just the slurs I have heard myself.  Now, I suppose that should not be surprising, since these same insults were being hurled at Donald Trump for the better part of two years now.

In any case, I don't have any reason to believe these accusations to be true.  A more interesting and responsible look at Bannon can be found in this article by Michael Wolff found, of all the places, in The Hollywood Reporter.  Bannon was a fixture in Hollywood for a number of years, which is why they have an interest in him.  He is one of their own.

Name Calling

Deplorable!  Racist!  Anti-Semite!  Homophobe!  Sexist!  Islamophobe!  Bigot!  Fascist!  Nazi!  (Repeat as needed until the selected target cries uncle.)

The cool thing about this kind of name-calling is you don't really need any evidence or facts to accomplish your goal.  Rather, this technique acts like the old Pavlov's Dog experiment, with its 'classic conditioning'.  Pavlov presented a stimulus (rang a bell) and then gave his dog food, at which time the dog salivated.  After a few repetitions, the dog learned to salivate in response not to the food but to the stimulus.

The Left and their allies in the MSM have trained their followers to automatically respond with disgust to the above-listed words.  Call Steve Bannon, for example, a racist and anti-Semite, and you don't need actual evidence or proof of such an awful charge.  The well-trained liberal pups respond with hate and scorn toward the person.

"Love trumps hate", the signs read.  Well, not really.  The truth is that when you violate or disagree with one of their precious radical principles, the Left responds not with reason, but with loathing, vicious name-calling, and at times, even violence.  In other words, they often practice exactly what they condemn.

The labels and 'names' that the Left throw around so promiscuously have helped elect Trump, in my opinion.  People outside the New York, D.C., and Westcoast liberaldom are really, really sick of them.

Just saying.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and Foreign Policy

As I write, the rumor spreading like a virus across the internet and media is that Trump is meeting with Mitt Romney on Saturday, and that the subject may be a Cabinet position as Secretary of State.

My first reaction is that reaching out to Republican Never Trumpers like Romney is a good idea.  It demonstrates that Donald Trump doesn't hold political grudges and that he is willing to reach out to former political opponents, even those who went out of their way to criticize and undermine him right up to the end.  Very smart and very diplomatic, President-Elect Trump.

My second reaction is that Mitt Romney would make a very good Secretary of State, based on all I know about him.  He is very intelligent, well-read, well-traveled, and experienced in executive capacities like running a business and a state like Massachusetts.  He is moderate in his conservatism, excellent in character, and has a diplomatic nature about him.  I hope that Trump is serious in considering Romney, because he deserves something of significance after his loss to Obama in 2012.

One of the primary reasons that I supported Trump was because he brought a distinctive approach to foreign policy, one that I did not hear from any other candidate in either party.  In a word, he refused to demonize Russia or Vladimir Putin as everyone else was doing.  Instead, desiring to leave our half-century-long Cold War behind us because the old Soviet Union is now dead as a doornail, Trump seeks to normalize the relationship between the United States and a newly non-Communist, reChristianized, Russia.

And that's a good thing in my opinion.

The other side of that coin, of course, is that Donald Trump also recognizes that the West is being challenged by Islam in a way that has to be recognized and addressed.  But that's a topic for another post.

[Update: I came across the following article by J. Marsolo on the American Thinker website, and he makes a cogent case for why Romney shouldn't be considered.

There is much talk on all the TV news and opinion shows and the political journals that Donald Trump will appoint Mitt Romney to secretary of state, or some other important office.
This would be a mistake.
Mitt Romney did not want Trump as the nominee.  He could have shown some class and loyalty to the Republican Party by keeping his opinion to himself.  Instead, he went public with repeated savage attacks not only on Trump's policies but mostly on Trump's character.  This was completely uncalled for.  Trump won the primaries; he was the nominee.  Trump had endorsed and supported Romney in 2012.  Romney should have either endorsed and supported Trump or stayed quiet and not attacked Trump.
I could understand Romney criticizing Trump's policies during the primaries and Romney endorsing another candidate during the primaries.  But he did not do that.  He attacked Trump after Trump won the nomination.  This helped Hillary, not Trump.  It was disloyal and stupid.
Simply stated, Romney does not deserve any important office in the Trump administration, especially not the secretary of state.  The secretary represents the president in dealings with all nations.  Along with the secretary of treasury, attorney general, and secretary of defense (originally of war), it was one of the first four Cabinet positions created.  It is an important and prestigious office. 
Trump will not gain anything from his loyal supporters by appointing Romney.  The MSM will cheer him for a few days, but the decision will send a message to Trump's supporters that disloyalty gets rewarded.

Reflections on the Election of Donald Trump as the 45th US President and on the Media

As readers of my blog will know, I voted for Donald Trump a week ago.  I explained that vote in a long essay which I posted the day before the election on November 8th and which can be found here. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you do so if you want to understand where I'm coming from.

Without a doubt, the grief that the losing side in a Presidential election always feels has been greatly magnified this year throughout the nation.  The weeping and gnashing of teeth--to use an appropriate biblical metaphor for extreme anguish--may be unprecedented virtually everywhere we look.  It's certainly more than I've ever seen before in my six+ decades on this earth.  The closest analogy I can think of is the actual death of a President.

I still find it hard to believe that Donald Trump won.  I certainly wasn't expecting it, given the strength of Hillary Clinton's campaign, the money behind her, the mainstream media support she got, and the 'all-in' campaign support she got from a popular President Obama and his wife Michelle.  And it was very, very close.  If the four heartland and industrial states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania had gone the other way (and they easily could have), the President-Elect would have been Hillary.

As I stated in my pre-election essay mentioned above, it was clear to me that most of the mainstream media--print, network, and cable--were 'in the tank' for Hillary Clinton.  The only major cable news channel that was at all balanced was, oddly enough, FOX News.  Normally we think of FOX as the conservative opposite of the left leaning MSNBC, with CNN trying to be the 'fair and balanced' network.  That wasn't the case this year, as many observers have rightly pointed out.  CNN was as totally in for Hillary as MSNBC (just trying to be a little more subtle about it, I suppose), and FOX was conflicted, with a number of their anchors having no love lost for Trump (like Megyn Kelly, for example).  You know it is a very strange year when the fairest and most balanced Presidential debate moderator was Chris Wallace of FOX!

Even more disheartening to me was how unfair and unbalanced the New York Times and the Washington Post--the two major national newspapers--were in their coverage of Trump and Clinton.  There was not even an attempt to be even-handed in either their news coverage or their editorial coverage.  Even the two regular NYT 'conservative' columnists--David Brooks and Ross Douthet--were anti-Trump, so that except for an occasional guest column, there was virtually no good word for the Trump/Pence ticket to be seen.  Which when you realize that half of the country voted for Trump and Pence, makes the political slant of the MSM very problematic, to put it mildly.

This says several things to me, as many have pointed out.  First, our elite media, segregated as they are in New York and Washington, DC, are totally out of touch with much of this country.  They live in a liberal/left cultural and ideological bubble that is largely impervious to any other view of reality.  And for the most part, they look down on the rest of the country as hicks and rednecks, people to be ignored if at all possible.  When Hillary used the word 'deplorables', it was clear to me that the media elite mostly agreed with her, though they may have thought it to be unnecessarily impolitic.  In other words, it's okay to believe it, just don't say it in public!

Second, alternative media--most of it online--is replacing the MSM as the primary source of news and opinion for a vast swath of the American populace.  Some of that alternative media is out there on the extreme (Alex Jones and Infowars, for example), but some of it is quite good.

And third, if you are regular consumer of the MSM but you have no alternative source of news and opinion, you are making a big mistake.  You will not, you cannot have, have all the information, facts, and views that you need to see the entire picture, the forest for the trees, about what is going on in this country and in the rest of the world.  This year's election has proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My 2016 Vote for President, Explained: Why I Voted for Trump after Voting Twice for Obama

Well, here we are.  One day away from Election Day 2016.  At times over the last 18-24 months, it almost seemed like this day would never come, it was that agonizing.  Mercifully, the election is literally at hand.

I've been through, let's see, thirteen Presidential campaigns since I became eligible to vote in January 1972, and this one has been by far the most traumatizing on the country and on most of us.  At times, it has seemed that we might be going through a national nervous breakdown.

In this extended blog post, I want to explain my vote tomorrow, partly for the record (kind of like an internet diary), partly for my family and friends, and partly for anyone else who cares to know.  (If I don't write it down now, I'll probably have forgotten it all in the not-too-distance future!)  I have no intention or desire of changing anyone else's mind in terms of their vote, only to explain my own.

In my case, over the years I have voted in what I would call a fairly independent manner.  Though I've always registered as either a Democrat or Republican, I have changed parties several times, as my thinking on matters political has evolved.

Having grown up in a rather staunchly Republican family back in the 50s and 60s, I started out voting as a Democrat in the 70s for about 10 years, then became a Republican for most of the 80s and 90s , then switched (again) to the Democratic side around 2000, having voted most recently for Barack Obama (twice).

I'm not exactly proud of that record of political flip-flopping, but then again I guess it does show a certain flexibility (or just confusion perhaps)!  I like to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson on this, who once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

So the primary process in 2015-16 ended up giving us Hillary Clinton (HRC) as the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump (DJT) as the Republican nominee.  In both cases, the primaries were hard-fought contests and there were hard feelings on both sides, with many voters seriously upset and bitter.  Add to that the fact that you had two nominees who had quite high 'unfavorability' ratings and some quite undesirable traits, and you had the makings of an excruciating general election campaign!

Honestly, I have, almost instinctively, disliked the Clintons for many years (not in a personal way because I don't know them personally, but in a political way).  It was at times hard to put your finger on why that was so, but it was.  I was one of those Democrats who more recently gladly voted for Obama rather than HRC in the primaries in 2008.  And then back in the 90s, I always had the feeling that you couldn't really trust either Bill or Hillary.  (Given that this was my Republican period, I didn't vote for Bill either time.)

Then when the Monica Lewinsky scandal came along, and the Big Dog ended up lying about his sexual liaison in the Oval Office with a young White House Intern, leading to his impeachment by the House and trial by the Senate, that was more than I could take.  From the pulpit in my Highlands (NC) church, in what was literally the only 'political' sermon I have ever preached, I called for Clinton to resign the Presidency and spare the country any more agony.  Needless to say, that didn't happen, because one thing we've learned about the Clintons: they never voluntarily give up their grip on power.  It has to be pried from their cold hands, like that musket from the hands of Charlton Heston.

So needless to say, I probably don't need much of a reason to not to have to vote for Hillary Clinton.  All the recent scandals coming out about her emails and Foundation have only added to that desire.  I ended up voting for socialist Bernie Sanders in the primary election, since I'm still registered as a Democrat and Bernie appeared to me to be honest in his basic statements and political positions.  He was a breath of fresh air compared to HRC.

On the other hand, the Republicans ended up nominating Donald Trump, clearly one of the most unusual, even bizarre, political candidates in a long, long time.  There were times during the numerous Republican debates when you just wanted to scream because of what was being said.  I'm sure I wasn't the only observer who pleaded with God to allow anyone but Trump to win the Republican nomination!  How about John Kasich, we wanted to know?  He's experienced, articulate, smart, moderate, moral, etc., etc.  But NOOOOOO!   Kasich barely won his own state and nowhere else.  Same with all the other candidates except for Ted Cruz, who was almost as weird and creepy as DJT, who won a serious number of states.

As the race came into focus last May and June, I decided that the only way I was going to be able to emotionally handle this election year was to limit my intake of politics, especially on TV.   And that's what I did all summer long.  I barely watched any political shows, which as anyone who really knows me will tell you, is quite unusual!  (It helped in that regard that we were traveling in our trailer without cable for most of the summer!)

While all of this was going on, three other things were happening inside me, which I would like to explain at some length, because they have changed my thinking about politics in ways that will most likely continue long after this election is over.

The first shock to my political sensibility came during the summer of 2015, when Bruce Jenner announced, to great media fanfare, that he had decided to become a woman.  Let me state very succinctly my view of this, as unpopular as it seems to be.  It is not possible, in my opinion, to do what Jenner tried to do, because you cannot change the sex with which you were born.  Every cell in your body identifies you as either male or female by whether you have an X or a Y chromosome.  Getting some fake breasts implanted or your penis cut off doesn't change that genetic reality that you are still a man trying to look like a woman.  I feel sorry for Jenner's confusion but lots of people are confused about lots of things, so join the club!

The whole transgender issue took me completely by surprise, as did the complete surrender of the MSM to any honest discussion of it.  I suddenly understood at a deeper level what 'political correctness' meant: one is not allowed to say certain things in public, or you risk being censored, fired, pilloried, or stigmatized.

This new insight was reinforced when the so-called 'H2 Bathroom' issue broke out in North Carolina last spring, also having to do with transgenderism, suddenly a very hot political topic. The hysteria that it seemed to engender on the political left and the invective and abuse that started to overwhelm North Carolina, mostly from outside the state--from the media, LGBT lobbying groups, corporations, and the Obama administration--made me realize that I was missing something here.  So I started to dig into the transgender issue in a much more thorough way.  That in turn led into the larger LGBT agenda and, frankly, into a review of the entire sexual revolution that our society has been transiting through for many decades.

What I began to understand is how thorough has been the radical deconstruction of our traditional sexuality morality going on in our country, going all the way back to the sex research of Alfred Kinsey in the 30s and 40s of the 20th Century.  Slowly but surely, through such things as no-fault divorce, rampant sexual promiscuity, pornography, abortion, illegitimacy, gay liberation, transgenderism, child sexual abuse, and on and on, our society is becoming a brave new world of sexual anarchy and decadence.  As a result, traditional marriage has been in rapid decline and the stable nuclear family, the bedrock of a healthy society, with father, mother, and kids living long-term in one household, is endangered across the land.

What all this did to me politically was to move me in a more conservative, traditional direction.  Especially it made me increasingly suspicious of today's Democratic Party, which seems to me to be in lock-step not only with the increasingly radical LGBT agenda, but also with the sexual revolution in general.

The second thing that happened to me was that, due to extensive reading I was doing on the Islamic faith for a Sunday School class I was teaching at our local Methodist church, I came to the realization that what I thought I knew about Islam was simply wrong.

I had always thought that Islam was, as President Obama has put it, a "religion that preaches peace". To the extent I had ever studied the Muslim faith in school, that was my impression as well: that Islam was one of the great Western religions and that it ultimately taught 'peace on earth' as the goal and end of ethics and religious faith.

But a year ago, I realized that as much as I know about Christianity and Judaism (and I know a lot, having done 9 years of higher education in religion and pastored for another 35 years), I actually knew very little about Islam.  I knew in detail the life of Jesus and the history of Christianity (along with the basic history of the Jewish faith found in the Old Testament), but I knew literally nothing about Muhammad (though I thought Muhammad perhaps was like Jesus) or the history of Islam.  So I decided to go deeper.

And what I found out blew my mind, I think more than anything else has ever done.  I realized that Muhammad, the founder of and exemplar for Islam, the giver of the Koran, was nothing at all like Jesus.  Far from being a lot like 'the prince of peace', a healer and teacher of love, the prophet of Allah was essentially an Arab warlord, who commanded his Muslim warriors to engage in raids and pillaging, forcing his 'infidel' victims to convert to Islam or die (with a third possible option--surrender and 'dhimmitude'--for Christians and Jews).  Anyone who attempted to stand up to Muhammad was either killed in battle or assassinated, their wives and children sold in slavery (including sex slavery), and their possessions taken as booty.

What Muhammad established in Medina in 622 AD (or Year One in the Islamic calender) was the first Islamic State, not all that unlike the most recent Islamic State founded in Raqqa, Syria by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  A totalitarian theocracy, run by God's chosen messenger through the use of coercion and violence, desiring to dominate the world and establish a world-wide caliphate, where God's law--Sharia--would reign supreme.  Everything that Islam became flows from that initial event, including the violent conquest of half the known world (mostly Christian) by Islamic forces within the first hundred years after Muhammad's death in 632 AD.

What I realized was that virtually everything I had been taught about Islam, everything that I had been hearing about Islam from the MSM and from other politically liberal sources was essentially wrong, and that the conservative sources were right.  At first, I was so disoriented by this new understanding that I didn't know what to believe, but after months of continued reading and reflecting, it sunk in that the Western Liberal/Left--both in Europe and America--was either intentionally or ignorantly in denial about the truth of Islam, its origins, its nature, and its intentions.

These two issues--the ongoing sexual revolution (as seen in the transgender controversies) and the true reality of Islam--have pushed my thinking in an overall conservative direction, to put it mildly, over the last year and a half.  I now have much less confidence in Liberal/Left political thought in general, as well as the liberal mainstream media, on a whole variety of issues.  I am more inclined now to support more conservative policies and more conservative politicians.  So that when you mix in my long-standing mistrust of HRC along with these new perspectives, "Houston, we have a problem!"

Which brings me to Donald Trump.

When DJT first entered the race, most of us thought that he would be a flash in the pan because of his weirdness.  Having said that, there was, besides his being boorishly outrageous as times, also something quite interesting and entertaining about him.  He said things that none of the others were saying, and he said them, yes, in sometimes wild, even vulgar, ways.  But let me focus more on WHAT he said, rather than HOW he said them.

The first thing that caught my attention was his emphasis on the issue of deindustrialization in America and the foreign outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, along with the resulting negative impacts on the American working class.  You didn't really hear that from the other candidates, and DJT said it in a way that made you feel like he meant what he said, and that he wasn't just saying it for political reasons.  One isn't sure, of course, that he has a real solution that will work to reverse what has happened, but at least he seemed to think that there is a problem here.

The second thing that caught my attention were his statements on Russia.  DJT was the only candidate of all seventeen Republicans who didn't try to demonize Russia or paint them as our primary enemy in the world.  Instead, he talked respectfully about Russia and their current leader, Vladimir Putin, and emphasized the importance and possibility of working with them as two great world powers, instead of going back to old, now antiquated Cold War stereotypes.

I have in recent years felt like a real outlier in my views on Russia.  While the MSM and the political establishment have basically taken to viewing Russia as if nothing has changed from the old days of the Communist-era Soviet Union, and in the process painting Putin as essentially an expansionist tyrant, I see Putin as a talented Russian leader who has brought his great country back from the brink of social, political, and economic anarchy and chaos.  And he has done it while rejecting Communism, encouraging the growth of Christianity in Russia after decades of persecution, establishing the basic rule of law, and reaching out to the countries of the world to establish a variety of normal international relationships.

My research on Russia go back to around the 2012 Sochi Olympics.  It was clear that the US was going to effectively boycott those Olympics for all intents and purposes, which led me to do a lot of reading about the issues related to Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union and the evolving relationship between the US and Russia.  I found myself taking the contrarian view expressed in the preceding paragraph and opposed to this ongoing effort by many in the US Establishment to isolate and demonize both Russia and Putin.

So how is it that Trump shares this contrarian position on Russia?  No one seems to be able to explain it, yet I think it tracks better with the reality in Russia and around the world than other views.  We don't need to return to a Cold War-style relationship with Russia, and in the process risk a nuclear confrontation.  That is truly foolhardy and dangerous.

The third thing that caught my attention about Trump was his attention to the issue of illegal immigration.  Again, here was an issue toward which few in either Republican or Democratic establishments were paying attention.  And DJT made it crystal clear that illegal immigration needed to be brought under control, and that those in who had entered and/or remained in the country illegally had no right to stay.  That is just common sense to me, as it is to many millions of Americans.  A country like ours has to have controlled borders, or as DJT is wont to say, you don't really have a country.  No one should be able to enter and stay in the United States except those who are invited to do so.  And that should be true for every self-respecting nation in the world.

And the fourth thing that I liked about Trump's approach, given my changing views on Islam, was his willingness to question the conventional wisdom about immigration from Muslim-majority countries.  This suggests that, given the the rise of jihadi terrorism around the world and what Samuel Huntington called 'The Islamic Resurgence' in his book 'The Clash of Civiliations', perhaps he is correct about this.

Clearly, Donald Trump's rise in the Republican Party has created intraparty tensions that haven't been seen since Barry Goldwater came on the scene half a century ago, partly because of WHAT he was saying and partly because of the WAY he said it.  A number of his Republican opponents have basically written him off, refusing to endorse him in any way.  Leading the way in that have been the most 'moderate' of the Republican candidates, Jeb Bush and John Kasich.  Joining them have been a quite a large number of conservative pundits and intellectuals, such as George Will, Bill Kristol, and Rich Lowry.

This has created quite a drag on Trump's ability to unite the Republican Party for the purpose of winning this election.  Yet Trump had from the beginning a number of key Republican politicians who were strongly supportive: Newt Gingrich, Rudy Guiliani, and Chris Christie, to name three.  The result has been a campaign that has been gaining some momentum over the months, but still trailing the Clinton campaign even coming into the final week of the 2016 campaign.

So what do I see as the possible benefits of a Trump Presidency?

First, simply denying the election to Hillary Clinton.  With Clinton as President, the liberal/left agenda in all of its economic, political, and cultural aspects will be laid upon our country in a semi-permanent way, especially given the predicted changes in the Supreme Court and in the political changes brought about by massive illegal (and legal) immigration.

Second, tamping down the growing tensions with a nuclear-armed Russia and pulling back in general on our hawkish interventionism around the world, in a realistic appreciation that we cannot 'run' the world and turn it into our image.  Hillary Clinton is one of the most hawkish politicians in the Democratic Party and there is a lot at risk, in my opinion, in turning her loose in the Presidency. Think of her statement about Libya's Gaddafi--'We came, we saw, he died'--and multiply that by all the powers of the Oval Office.  That's a very scary thought to me.

Third, having a unified conservative government--legislative and executive--to try and move ahead on a wide range of policy items, in a more conservative way.

Fourth, controlling our borders and making sure that non-citizens who enter and remain in the US do so legally.

Fifth, stop trying to solve everything nationally, as the liberal/left is wont to do, and as much as possible, return to the 50 states the authority to make decisions in areas like education, marriage, abortion, crime, etc that were traditionally within the state's purview.  There is nothing wrong with the diversity provided by 50 states innovating and experimenting in public policy on many issues, within the basic framework of the US Constitution.  It's no accident that our national motto is E Pluribus Unum, 'out of many, one'.

Sixth, obviously there are things that can only be done at the national level, but even here, it is better for the legislative branch--the most democratic and representative of all the branches--to have a more significant role whenever possible in making fundamental decisions that affect our lives.

Seventh, encourage judicial restraint by the Supreme Court by appointing conservative justices who approach our fundamental constitutional law in that way.  In all but the most extraordinary cases, five judges should not be making radical new national policy (e.g. same-sex marriage) via judicial activism.  THAT seems to me to be is a form of anti-democratic authoritarianism.

What are the risks of a Trump Presidency?  There clearly are some, without a doubt, given what we've seen in this campaign.  He can be boorish, too quick to speak, too defensive of his personal vanity and businesses, and so on.  His 'temperament' has been questionable, without a doubt, making it difficult for many people to support him, even when they agree with many of his policy positions, such as they are.  He will have to have strong 'handlers', if he is to be a successful President.

I think it is accurate to say that Trump's campaigning has definitely improved as time has passed, with fewer and fewer mistakes being made.  What has particularly haunted him most are some ill-considered statements that he made early on.  The Clinton campaign has put a number of those statements into an ad which they play over and over again (as I thought they would at the time), and I'm sure it's hurting Trump vote-wise.

Presumably if Trump were somehow to win, he would be surrounded by experienced political advisors, like Newt Gingrich, Rudy Guliani, and Mike Pence, as well as majorities in both the House and Senate, the leaders of which he would have to work.  And if he turned out to be a huge mistake, then the House and Senate could impeach him and still have the more reliable Mike Pence as their President (I would think that a Speaker Paul Ryan would be itching to do such a thing, actually, as would the Democrats!)  I know that sounds weird, and perhaps it is, but that's the kind of strange election year we are in!

But, as I said elsewhere, it is true--though not commented on enough--that Trump has been around the block in life.  He's worked with businessmen and politicians at all levels in the US and around the world, negotiating and making deals.  He's actually built things, high-quality things.  He knows how it's done.  And I believe, despite the denigration he's received, that he respects the American system of government, and is actually trying to preserve those things which have made our country great over the centuries, including the Constitution.  I know the Liberal/Left disputes such a notion, seeing Trump as they do as a fanatic and right-wing radical of some kind.  But many others see him as a no-nonsense reformer and pragmatist, who often hugs the political center.

Given our situation this year, there is no good choice, just a choice of lesser evils.  Yet we shouldn't sit on the sidelines and hurl sarcasm at those slogging it out on the playing field.  Everyone has to simply hold their nose and pick one of these choices.

As for me, for the above reasons and others, I'll be voting tomorrow a straight Republican ticket, including the Donald.  It will be the first time in 20 years that I've voted such a ticket, and I'm sure it's bound to feel weird.

And then I'll say a prayer for America, because no matters who wins tomorrow, we're definitely going to need divine grace and blessing, for sure!

Actually, I fully expect Hillary Clinton to win tomorrow, partly because she has an awe-inspiring political machine built up over decades (that's really not a compliment), and partly because Barack "The Uniter" Obama and his wife Michelle will have done their best to politically drag her over the finish line.

If somehow, on the other hand, Donald Trump wins, it won't be because he had much going for him, because he didn't.  It will simply have to be chocked up to divine intervention, because there is no way in hell he could have won on his own!!   Lol.

Let me conclude with a just few more observations relevant to this election season.

I think it is tragic and dangerous how the mainstream media went this year from being journalists to being advocates for Hillary Clinton.  I'm not talking here about columnists, who are supposed to have an opinion, but entire newspapers and networks, like CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, The New York Times, and the Washington Post, even in their news coverage.  Oddly enough, the FOX network was divided between Trump supporters and Trump haters, giving them a strange 'balanced' perspective which is normally missing.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of the American population has lost all trust in the MSM, and that is not a good thing.  Of course there is an alternative media, mostly on the internet and/or talk radio, to help provide a modicum of balance, but those sources also has their obvious problems.  I read both the MSM--how can you avoid it?--and alternative media and have for many years now, but I doubt many people do that.

And one word about a really nasty habit of the Left these days.  The Liberal/Left tends to want to label their opponents, who disagree with them on their assessments of the latest radical sexual policy, or Islam, or welfare, with some really vicious slurs.  I'm talking about words like 'racist', 'bigot', 'misogynist', 'homophobe', 'Islamophobe', 'xenophobe', 'Nazi', 'fascist', and so on.They throw these insults around these days like beads during Marti Gras in New Orleans, and then turn around and claim that it's their opponents who are judgmental and intolerant.  This practice is ridiculous, and frankly, I'm sick of it.  Just stop it.

Well, there's a lot more that could be said, but I'll leave it at that, at least for today.  I'm sure I've said things that have surprised or disturbed you.  But I'm here speaking from my heart and mind, telling you honestly how I've seen things this election year.  I freely acknowledge that I could be wrong in some or all these judgments.  And I'm sure my views will continue to evolve as the months and years go by.

But over the years, I have found that when I refuse to allow myself to be tied to the conventional wisdom or some kind of ideological straight jacket or a previously held position, I end up in a better place.  Besides, being a political contrarian seems to be in my DNA (though it didn't show up in my test)!  Lol

So, for better or worse, this is where I stand, the day before Election Day 2016.