Whoever did the research to find this clip found a humdinger indeed. In it, Jimmy Carter says that, if he had to pick a Republican candidate, he’d go for Trump, because he has no fixed principles and is malleable, unlike Ted Cruz, who is a staunch conservative, and cannot be manipulated. It reminds me that I’m unimpressed by the list of Cruz’s enemies — the politicians who array themselves against him having consistently proven to be the worst type of quislings. They will always sell out the conservative voters who elected them in order to curry favor with the drive-by media, the Hollywood crowd, and the Chamber of Commerce types (who, if you recall, will always back foreign workers against American labor).
I’ve made no secret over the past few months about the fact that I support Ted Cruz, and hope very much that he will be the Republican nominee. His intelligence, his political courage, his quite unexpected ability to speak to ordinary people in accessible ways about complex matters, his grasp of the issues, his consistent conservativism, his wicked sense of humor and, above all, his fealty to he Constitution make me believe that he is the best candidate for what is proving to be both a troubled and pivotal time in American history.
I’ve also been open about the fact that the possibility of having Donald Trump as the Republican candidate concerns me. I truly admire the way he’s bulldozed the media stranglehold and ridden roughshod over political correctness. I also recognize that he’s made all the right noises for a vast American middle that’s fed up with unlimited illegal immigration and worried about radicalized Muslims riding into the US on the illegal immigrant train. I believe I’ve said all along that Trump has added something important to this campaign season. It’s just that I can never get away from a few major concerns, such as my sense that the campaign is more about Trump than it is about America, and that he’s a performer and will say whatever he needs to get to his current audience (whether he really means it or not).
Most of all, though, I worry that Trump does not value the Constitution any more than Obama does. To me, an America without the Constitution as its political centerpiece is just another First World leftist country heading downhill fast. After eight years of Obama’s deep and abiding disdain for the Constitution, I’m not sure we can handle any more of that and still be the unique, exceptional country we are.
I won’t lie, therefore, and pretend that I’m anything but delighted about the outcome in Iowa. To me, the strongest constitutionalist won, and that’s the correct outcome.
I watched the first 40 minutes and then stopped. My problem was the moderators, who I thought were dreadful. (Since I read my news and don’t watch it, I approached them with an open mind, since I had no idea what shtick each brought to the table.) I wanted to hear substantive answers on pressing issues, and they were playing “gotcha.” Watching the moderator/candidate interactions was unpleasant and, I quickly realized, a complete waste of my time.
I found particularly reprehensible the fact that they gave Rubio and Cruz only a minute to respond to those gotcha videos on immigration. I prefer Cruz’s immigration stance to Rubio’s, but it was an insult to both men to force them to distill complex ideas and actions down to a single minute in the face of out-of-context video clips. The tone of the debate was such that I expected to see everyone “perp walked” off the stage with reporters shouting questions at them about their future prison of choice.
The low, hostile, tabloid tone was especially disappointing because I’d hoped that Trump’s absence would clear the air and allow for a more substantive and meaningful debate.
The poster below isn’t just a good poster that makes an excellent point about the need to free the American economy from taxes and crony capitalism. What makes it really great is that a young relative of mine is the one who created it. I am so very lucky with my family:
I think Trump is very clever for getting as much airtime about not showing up at a debate as he would if he did show up at the debate — all without the risk of saying something at the debate that might backfire. Rather than add to that airtime, the only thing I’ll say is that, because of the media obsession with him and because of his larger than life personality, Trump’s presence debates makes it difficult for the other candidates to get the time they deserve to give their message to the American people. I am therefore happy that he won’t be there, simply because I want to hear what everyone else has to say.
It wasn’t just women who were attacked on New Year’s Eve in Cologne. When I first read about the hundreds of sexual attacks that Muslim immigrants perpetrated against women in Cologne, Germany, on New Year’s Eve, I only vaguely recorded the fact that the Muslims were also setting off fireworks. It was only in the back of my mind that I asked myself “Are over-the-counter fireworks part of the European New Year tradition?” It turns out that, whether or not they’re part of the New Year tradition, they were definitely fired as part of the “We are Muslims and we don’t allow any other religions to function around us” tradition:
Barbara Schock-Werner, who served as cathedral architect between 1999 and 2012, was present at the well-attended religious service along with several thousand other worshippers. Shock-Werner told the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, that the cathedral experienced an unprecedented and massive rocket and ‘banger’ fireworks barrage that lasted the whole service.
“Again and again the north window of the cathedral was lit up red, because rocket after rocket flew against it,” she said. “And because of the ‘bangers’, it was very loud. The visitors to the service sitting on the north side had difficulties hearing. I feared at times that panic would break out.”
Cardinal Rainer Woelki, who presided at the New Year’s mass, also complained about the “massive disruptions.”
“During my sermon loud ‘bangers’ could be heard,” Woelki said in the paper, Die Welt. “I was already annoyed beforehand about the loud noises that were penetrating into the cathedral.”
Shock-Werner believes the religious service was deliberately “targeted for disruption” due to the attack’s timing. The mass took place between 6:30 p.m. and 7:45 p.m., which, she said, “is actually no time to be already shooting off New Year’s rockets in such great volume.”
If anyone tells you that more Muslims mean less violence, don’t believe them. That’s a fable that belongs in the “Lies, damn lies, and statistics” category. While nations under the jackboot of theocratic Islam may have less violent crime between Muslims within a given Muslim nation’s borders, the reality is that Muslims don’t play well with others (and “others” means everyone else in the world, including women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, gays, the wrong kind of Muslims, etc.).
Rome goes full dhimmi. Iranian president Rouhani is heading to Italy and, in his honor, the Italians are temporarily wiping out their culture (or, at least, for now the wipe-out is temporary). Here it is, the grandeur that once was Rome:
In it’s purest form, there’s nothing too terribly wrong with eminent domain. It says that the government may take property to benefit the public at large provided that it compensates the property owner for the taking. In America, the government’s obligation to pay for the land it takes for public use is enshrined in the Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. (Emphasis mine.)
Republican voters have a very stark choice facing them: Do they vote for the candidate who promises to resurrect American greatness through the power of his will, or do they vote for the candidate who promises to resurrect American greatness by recognizing the Constitution’s centrality in American governance? Maybe I’m being foolishly reductionist, but the answer to that question seems to lie within the question itself: You cannot “resurrect” America unless you first resurrect the Constitution to its rightful place in American politics.
I don’t doubt that Trump will fulfill his promises to undo some of the damage Obama has done, both at home and abroad. And I fully understand the appeal of a candidate who seems likely to carry out an agenda with which a voter agrees.
The problem is that Trump’s free-wheeling stump promises, well-known history, and uber-alpha personality make it clear that he’ll carry out his promises the same way Obama did it: Through executive ukases, crony capitalism, and smearing his political opponents. There’s no room in Trump’s rhetoric for the Constitution. Indeed, as far as I can tell, the only allusion Trump has made during the primary season to the Constitution is to express support for the Second Amendment (and believe me, I appreciate that).
While it’s tempting to go for the quick and easy fix Trump promises, doing so betrays the Constitution and, in doing so, undercuts everything that makes America exceptional. The men who wrote the Constitution were trying to create a government free of Obama’s executive legislation, crony capitalism, and power plays through personal attacks — political sins that were all rife in British government in the 18th century. The Founders rightly understood that these malevolent government practices concentrated power and wealth in the hands of a small group of people, while denying liberty to each individual.
Had the Founder’s wished to, they could have gone the socialist root, which was already bubbling up through the Enlightenment, only to flower in the French Revolution. They understood that this approach to government had nothing to do with individual liberty. The only thing that a socialist government does is to transfer power from a monarchy to an all-powerful government body that purports to represent the people’s collective. Individuals in a socialist society have as little freedom and as few rights as individuals in any tyrannical system, whether its communist, monarchist, theocratic, or oligarchic.
That is, the Founders understood that switching rulers always leaves the way open for another tyranny. The only way to prevent tyranny is to change the government’s fundamental structure. That’s where the Constitution comes in, with its truly revolutionary approach to allocating power between the people and their government.
To keep government weak and individual liberties strong, the Founders created a government with divided powers so that no one branch could become too powerful, especially because they assumed that each branch would zealously guard its power from any encroachment by the other two branches. The Founders would have been horrified to see Americans, whom they envisioned as a collection of individuals, rather than a people’s collective, willingly vote for an executive who wants to aggregate power. They would have been even more horrified to see a Congress, whether because of laziness, cronyism, or fear, lie supine in the face of executive overreach.
Both the age of Obama and Trump’s astonishing rise to prominence show that too many Americans don’t understand that the Constitution’s entire thrust is towards individual liberty, not government power. The Constitution does not impose its obligations on “We, the People;” instead, it imposes them on the federal government itself.
Unlike laws, which are limitations that governments impose upon people, the Constitution is a contract by which the People impose limitations on the government. To that end, the main body of the Constitution defines a functioning limited government. It is structured to ensure that, when it functions properly, no single branch can function alone.
Once having structured a government that was theoretically immune to dictatorship, the Founders were then able to turn their attention to protecting the People’s unalienable under that government. They understood that, if the government can “giveth” something and then “taketh” it away again, that something is not a right; it is, instead, a mere privilege.
Rights belong to the People independent of government. The Constitution’s first ten amendments describe rights that are fundamental to the individual and, therefore, transcend government. The Founders stated them explicitly because they understood that even the most beneficent, well-intentioned government, once it got the bit between its teeth, could not be relied upon to protect these rights. It was therefore necessary to err on the side of caution by defining each individual’s inherent rights and warning federal government away from touching them.
Even more importantly, the Founders vested the most important power of all — the power of the purse — in the House of Representatives, which is the branch of government closely connected to each individual American. House members serve for much shorter terms than Supreme Court justices (life terms), executives (minimum 4 year terms) and Senators (minimum 6 year terms). In addition to a Representative’s short term of office, which means the people can quickly punish or reward legislative conduct, the House of Representatives mirrors population dynamics. The Senate is fixed at two representatives per state, there’s only one president, and there are nine Supreme Court justices. The House, by contrast, is reconfigured every ten years to represent accurately the number of people in various population centers and deserts throughout the U.S. All of this means that, if the People are not pleased with the government, they can quickly, and in proportion to their numbers, make their displeasure known through the House.
The Founders also envisioned each branch zealously guarding its power from any encroachment by the other two branches. They would have been horrified if they could have seen the current relationship between Congress and the White House. Since 2010, even though the majority in Congress was elected by citizens who disapproved of the executive branch’s overreach, a toxic blend of crony capitalism, corrupt collegiality, laziness, and craven fear has seen Congress willingly cede its power to the executive branch. Sadly, as Obama’s election showed and Trump’s candidacy promises, the People are just as ready as their Congress people to hand their rights over to a demagogue.
We’ve now had seven years to see what happens when people elect a charismatic leader who promises to carry out his agenda no matter what signals the People send when they vote for their Representatives and even their Senators. When the People made clear through Congressional elections that they did not like Obama’s agenda, Obama simply went it alone. He went it alone on border security, he went it alone on treaties, and he went it alone on Obamacare. Each time Obama did so, he not only damaged our national security and our economy, he damaged the liberty-focused constitutional underpinning that makes up American exceptionalism.
The fact that the next president can use that same presidential pen to rescind Obama’s overreaching executive orders does not remedy the situation. To begin with, Obama’s extra-constitutional acts have already caused profound damage that may take years or decades to remedy. Even worse, unless we elect as president someone whose first and last loyalty is to the Constitution rather than to the government, Obama will have set a precedent for executive overreach that, unchecked, will see political power in America devolve solely onto one person: the president. Another word for that kind of president is “dictator.”
We already know that Hillary and Bernie have no intention of allowing their administrations to be subject to constitutional limits. Whatever Obama did, they promise to do too, only more so. It’s also entirely reasonable to believe that Donald Trump doesn’t intend to limit himself either. He repeatedly makes clear that he’ll get things done through the power of his personality, through his manipulations, and through his will. The Constitution doesn’t fit into the repertoire of a man whose entire career has been based upon making a deal in whatever way he can. Trump may well do everything he’s promised, but at what cost to America?
As best as I can tell, Ted Cruz is the only candidate who has true reverence for the Constitution, seeing it as the sublime document that it is. He recognizes that it is the first and, so far, only document in the history of human kind that vests power, not in a monarchy, or an aristocracy, or an oligarchy, or a people’s collective, or a theocracy, but in each individual. The Constitution’s obsessive focus on the individual is why it is a bulwark against tyranny and why we must elect a president who understands that.
Ted Cruz will most certainly exercise his executive authority to void Barack Obama’s extra-constitutional legislative activities. After that, though, he’s been explicit about the fact that he will return power to the People through their representative legislative body, and that he will nominate to the Supreme Court justices who understand that the Constitution is meant primarily to create a limited government that preserves individual liberties.
A vote for Ted Cruz is not a vote for this agenda or that agenda. It is a vote for America itself. No matter how much you agree with Trump’s stated goals, please think twice about voting for a person who will be nothing more than a populist, vaguely conservative Obama. Ted Cruz has an admirably conservative agenda — strong national security, strong military, strong borders, free market capitalism not crony capitalism, freedom of worship, Second Amendment rights, friend to Israel, enemy to jihadist Islam — but he’ll implement it through the Constitution, not without it. Voting for Ted Cruz means that we’ll get the values we seek in a conservative president without destroying American exceptionalism and individual liberties.
Jonah Goldberg nails why I continue to prefer Ted Cruz to Donald Trump, despite the fact that Donald Trump is playing the media beautifully and sounding the right notes on his horn:
While Ted Cruz may be slippery on this issue or that — like most politicians — he is obviously and clearly a conservative. Unless you are willing to take Donald Trump at his word — and a great many are for reasons that baffle me — he’s not a conservative. Or if you think that’s too harsh, the case that he’s a conservative requires an enormous amount of subjective good will and credulousness. Even those who hate Ted Cruz readily concede he’s a conservative, because that’s an objective judgment. There’s nothing in the record that requires Trump’s critics to make the same concession.
Think of it this way: There were Christians who were opposed to the Roman Empire and there were barbarian pagans opposed to the Roman Empire. One could, for strategic or conversational simplicity, refer to both groups as “anti-Roman” or even “anti-establishment” but that doesn’t mean the pagans should be confused for Christians or vice versa.
In pretty much any fight between Trump and Cruz, I side with Cruz unapologetically because Cruz is an ideologically consistent conservative (for instance, whatever flaws a president Cruz might have, I don’t worry about the kinds of Supreme Court justices he would look for). Indeed, among the reasons I hope Cruz beats Trump in Iowa, one of the biggest is that I want Cruz to be rewarded for opposing the crony capitalist moonshine known as ethanol. Governor Terry Branstad came out against Cruz — violating his pledge of neutrality — because as the living embodiment of the GOP establishment in Iowa, he sees Cruz as a threat to the ethanol racket. Given Cruz’s need to win in Iowa, that makes his position a profile in courage. Trump meanwhile is pandering to the ethanol lobby. Perhaps pandering is the wrong word, given that support for industrial policy and crony capitalism is perfectly in sync with his economic philosophy. And that, again, is one of the many reasons I don’t think the guy is a conservative.
Also, if you want principled conservativism, Ted Cruz is refusing to bow down before the corn lobby in Iowa — despite the fact that Iowa’s governor, after promising to remain neutral, is now supporting Trump because, within conservative circles, Trump will say just about anything to get the votes and polls. I’m not accusing him of lacking principles. I believe this is simply decades of showmanship. He makes a good show, but can he govern?
What do you think when you think of California values? Probably you first think of Hollywood: anti-gun, never mind all the gun play in movies; hysterically politically correct, never mind the blacks who never make it to the academies; wedded to climate change, as long as they can keep their mansions, their private jets, and fancy cars; and fanatically pro-abortion.
Perhaps you also think of the San Francisco Bay Area. It was hippie central during the 1960s and Marin County was self-fulfillment central during the 1970s. Thanks to these two influences, the San Francisco Bay Area isn’t West Coast; it’s Left Coast. UC Bezerkley is the academic crown jewel of Bay Area Leftism, with San Francisco the standard-bearer for extreme Leftist thinking supported by massive amounts of money from the next generation of hard Left young internet millionaires and billionaires who are making San Francisco home to their businesses and themselves. Bay Areans are just as anti-gun, PC, climate-crazy, and pro-abortion as their LA neighbors to the South, they just do it with less glitz and more granola.
Or maybe you think of the State of California as a whole. Once upon a time, it was the crown jewel of American states, with the best education, the best business climate, and the best standard of living. It was the American dream played out across a state with extraordinary natural beauty and natural resources.
Unusually for me, I had time to watch some of the debate and I had access to a television. (Yes, I can watch debates on my computer monitor, but I do my best debate watching stretched out on the couch staring at the big screen.) I lasted all the way through to the fight over trade with China, and then my family called me away. Once they were done calling, I discovered that I was too tired to resume. I just couldn’t get my head back in the game.
Since I wasn’t taking notes, I can only comment on a few specific and memorable phrases, issues, and arguments. Otherwise, the best I can do is give my impressions of the candidates.
Preliminarily, Kasich and Carson should not be on that stage — especially Carson. I like Carson. I think he’s a very intelligent man and a good human being. I thought his response about Obama’s rules of engagement against ISIS was spot-on. (Speaking of Obama’s refusal to bomb oil tankers that are funding ISIS, meek, mild Carson said “Tell them if you put people in them, we’re going to bomb them, so don’t put people in them.” Exactly.)
Other than that, though, Carson was passive. In response to each question, he basically said, “I’ll put the experts on it.” Well, yes, that’s what a manager should do, but a really good manager sits down with his experts and begins with his own goals and ideas, before then asking for ways his plan can be done or reasons it cannot or should not. Leadership begins with the leader, not the advisers. A bad manager, such as Obama, listens only to himself and ignores the experts entirely.
My favorite drug in the world is Valium. That’s the reason I never take it. I’m a fairly tightly wound person, and Valium is the only thing that leaves me slow and mellow. If I take Valium, I probably look just like Dr. Carson. Again, he’s a good man, but he’s not presidential material.
Yesterday, I got around to reading Michael Crowley’s ‘We Caved’ : What happened when Barack Obama’s idealistic rhetoric collided with the cold realities of war and dictatorship in the Middle East and beyond. I recommend it. It’s a depressing look at what happens when the Progressive Ivory Tower meets the real world. Or if you don’t have time to read it, I can sum it up in one sentence: The Ivory Tower loses every time.
The article is filled with statements reflecting the fatal combination of cluelessness, hardcore ideology, and arrogance characterizing the Obama administration from its first day in office, and from the top man down. Even those who weren’t blinded by seeing their own glorious brilliance reflected back from the Ivory Tower’s windows were too damaged in other ways to change the horrible Obama dynamic.
The article begins with Obama’s many missteps in Egypt: First telling Mubarak, a long-time American and Israeli friend to leave because, despite his fair dealings abroad, he was a horrible man at home. Then inviting in Morsi, who was an enemy to America and Israel, and a horrible man at home. And finally trying to kneecap Sisi, despite the fact that he was once again a friend to America and Israel (although, as with all Egyptian leaders, a horrible man at home), as well as one of the few prominent Muslims to speak in favor of Islamic reform. Get a gander of this paragraph: