Saturday, December 21, 2019
Daniel J. Summers
As I write this, we are on the other side of the House's impeachment vote, though some legal analysis says that it's not official until those articles are sent to the Senate. Our hot take culture is filled with people sharing their view of what's happened. That's not really my thing, though; the early take is often completely wrong. (Exhibit A for this was the circle game non-troversy at the Army/Navy game; so glad the wokescolds wasted our military's time investigating that.) Another of our culture's pasttimes is giving the worst possible reading to anything that happens, and assuming the worst possible motivation behind it. (See “Exhibit A” again…) Again - not my style and not my speed, because doing that rarely leads one to the truth. So, I've been following the reporting, transcripts, defenses, analyses, and prosecutions from an information gathering viewpoint, trying to cut through the partisan bovine excrement and resistance-disguised-as-objective reporting to determine what happened, how severe it was, and what should be done about it.
“These are the established facts” rarely is followed by established facts as I've found them, using primarily the transcript of the alleged dastardly call and the testimony of the Ukrainians involved. The Congressionally-approved aid was not discussed as much as Ukraine's desire to buy more missiles. Then, in the most quid pro quo part of the call, a White House visit was offered in exchange for Ukraine announcing an investigation. Note what this wasn't - it wasn't a request to do an investigation, it was a request to announce an investigation. It also wasn't part of the previously-approved military aid or the future missile sales. The announcement would have been embarrassing to Joe Biden, whose son Hunter would be implicated; interestingly, Biden's lowest polling to date occurred when this was the main story occupying the news. Ukrainian leaders have also said that they did not feel like they were being extorted.
The above are the facts, as the dictionary defines facts; other characterizations are something other than facts. It was neither a perfect call nor a gross abuse of Presidential power.
That being said, what President Trump did with Ukraine was not good. If there is an investigation needed, then encourage them to do it. Unless there are allegations that Joe knew that his son was trading on a connection to the US government, though (which I've rarely seen alleged), doing a “guilt by association” attack on Joe through his kids is way more objectionable than someone making a pun with one of his children's names. And, connecting requests like this with a call that had discussed foreign aid is worthy of official censure…
...which brings us to his detractors. The House of Representatives, and the Democrats within it, have behaved even worse. From Adam Schiff's creative interpretation of the transcript to open the hearings, to their misrepresentation of the facts (holding up Congressionally-approved aid for personal political reasons), to their lack of objectivity and transparency - they seem to be hanging on to a thread of legitimacy. They focus-grouped their prosecution, settling on the term “bribery,” which they repeated ad nauseum until it was time for official articles to be drafted. Then, we get a charge called “obstruction of Congress,” which isn't even a thing, especially as applied to the executive or judicial branches. My more cynical nature thinks that they were hoping that reporters would say “obstruction of justice” (because that's a thing, and a thing to which most people are opposed), or that people would at least think it. Given the misconduct, a motion to censure would have been much more appropriate; interestingly, until they forward the articles to the Senate, that's exactly what they've done.
Those defending the President are just as bad. The call was far from perfect and the aid did not flow when it was expected to flow. Republicans have (rightly) long complained about how Presidents Clinton and Obama (especially Clinton) traded access and overnights at the White House for political gain or favors; how is this now just the way it is when it's someone in the same party? You don't get to claim to be the party of principle if you abandon those principles to keep or maintain power or influence. And, while Trump's impeachment was conceived 60 days before he took office, and has been executed in a purely partisan way, Senators McConnell and Graham deciding to double down on the lack of objectivity bewilders me. In an impeachment trial, the Senate is the jury; juries aren't supposed to pre-judge the case to which they are assigned.
One of the strangest aspects of this administration is how evangelical Christians (among whose number I count myself) wholeheartedly defend Trump not just as a politician, but as a person. This is the crux of an editorial posted at Christianity Today entitled "Trump Should Be Removed from Office." In the editorial, the author says that this removal can come from either the Senate or the next election, but it's hard not to view the headline as intentionally incendiary, particularly given the current context. And, true to form, I've seen liberals and atheists sharing it far and wide saying, “See? Even Christianity Today thinks he should be thrown out!” (It doesn't.) It's also prompted responses from prominent evangelicals, including Franklin Graham (Billy Graham's son), whose defenses fall into the category of the paragraph above. Christians should be better than this; Scripture emphasizes the importance of truth, and of being quick to hear yet slow to speak.
I continue to be an evangelical Christian, believing that our problems will not be ultimately solved by government, but through the transforming work of Christ in each of our lives. This is a key point missed by those who paint Billy Graham's silence on civil rights during his early years as racism. God working in human hearts can eliminate racism, but people in racist cultures (both oppressed and oppressor) need eternal salvation far more than earthly salvation; he was focused on the former. When government follows biblical principles, government flourishes; however, our government cannot follow biblical principles simply because they're biblical. Our government operates “by the consent of the governed,” and forcing behavior does nothing to change the ultimate state of a soul. To be sure, the current administration has appointed many people who protect life and religious liberty; that should not cause us to sweep bad behavior under the rug.
While my Christianity has not changed, the Republican party to which I belonged through 2016 has changed immensely. The GOP has been known, at different times in history, as the “party of Lincoln” and the “party of Reagan.” Both these men were inspirational leaders who presided over difficult times in our nation's history, and the legacy of both only increased once they left office (with reconstruction and the end of the Cold War). The GOP is now the “party of Trump,” demanding sycophantic loyalty to a leader, and looking to use the same heavy-handed government intervention on social issues that the liberals do - just to different ends. This does not align with my conservative principles at all. No leader is perfect, and our presidents put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. And, while the life issue is very, very important, a host of other issues need less government, not more.
Hello, Libertarian Party. You have a new member whose sole dissent with your platform is preborn life, but I know I'm not alone in that. I look forward to working with you to advance the cause of freedom and conservative less-government principles, and I encourage my Christian friends to consider the same things I have. I will write more about how I've aligned my faith and the LP platform in the months to come.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Daniel J. Summers
In recent US Presidential elections, legislators typically lose to executives. Going back to 1952, this hasn't always been the case, but since 1976, whenever a legislator has opposed an executive, the executive has won. As clarification, legislators are people who develop and pass laws; listed below is an impressive array of Representatives and Senators. Executives are people who are responsible for enforcing laws and for the direction the organizations they lead take; mayors, governors, and military or business leaders fall into this category. These two jobs are different branches in our government, so a legislator running for President, the chief executive office, is an attempt at branch-hopping. (This isn't wrong - it's just an observation.)
In 1952, Eisenhower, a military leader (executive), defeated Adlai Stevenson II, a former governor - twice.
Kennedy was a legislator, his 1960 opponent was Nixon, whose only executive experience was as Ike's VP, so this was legislator v. legislator.
Kennedy's VP, legislator Johnson, assumed the presidency when Kennedy was assassinated, and defeated legislator Goldwater in 1964.
Nixon then defeated former-mayor-turned-legislator and Johnson VP Humphrey in 1968, and legislator McGovern in 1972.
With Nixon's resignation, legislator-turned-VP Ford lost to executive Carter in 1976.
Executive Reagan defeated executive Carter in 1980, and defeated legislator-turned-Carter-VP Mondale in 1984.
Reagan's VP, George H. W. Bush, does not neatly fit into our categorization. He was a legislator-turned-VP, but he also served as the director of the CIA for the last year of Ford's presidency, an executive position. However he's categorized, he defeated executive Dukakis in 1988.
In 1992, executive Clinton defeated Bush, and he also defeated legislator Dole in 1996.
Legislator-turned-VP Gore lost to executive George W. Bush in 2000, who went on to defeat legislator Kerry in 2004.
2008 brought legislator v. legislator again, with Obama defeating McCain (a rare pairing of legislator for President with executive for VP).
This brings us to 2012, where legislator-turned-President Obama faces a challenge from executive Romney. Of course, presidential political patterns are made to be broken, but they remain interesting just the same. This breakdown doesn't fall neatly into one party or the other; both vacillate between nominating executives and legislators, sometimes choosing legislators over executives in the primary elections.
(And, just a quick note for Joe Biden - if Obama wins a second term, things don't look too good for you. Pure legislators-turned-VP (Ford, Mondale, Gore) have done even more poorly than legislators running for the presidency.)
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Daniel J. Summers
Yes, in 100 days I've gone from “skeptically optimistic” to hoping that 3 terms of Republicans can stem the tide from 4 years of our current administration. For all of the left's making fun of Bush, and VP Biden's history of gaffes, who knew that the current administration would make them look downright composed? It's Amateur Hour at the White House, and our kids get to pay billions of dollars for us to watch!
Economics: F (only because F- isn't technically a grade)
You would think that this would be the current administration's strong spot, seeing that they won the election last year based on the crappy economy (or so they'd have you believe). Yes, the fiscal irresponsibility of the final year of the Bush v2 administration looks miserly compared with this stimporkulus and budgets we're being asked to finance. The graph to the right gives an illustration of the impact of the current budget, compared to budgets under Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2. Just as the New Deal lengthened the Great Depression, these artificial attempts to “fix” the economy are actually doing it more harm. Then they label those who are against it as dangerous - but more on that later.
National Security: D-
This one was not an F due to his quick response to the Somali pirates who had captured the captain of a US ship. Regarding the F/A-22 cutbacks, these were being discussed even in the previous administration, and even so, the “cutback” still result in more airplanes being built and delivered to fill the order. I don't really have a good feeling one way or the other. The F/A-22 has been in work a long time, and had a lot of money already. To throw that away, when we used its predecessor for over 30 years, seems foolish to me. However, with the services merging more and more operations, perhaps it's smart to have a plane that's built to specifications from all interested parties. Time will tell. The release of the CIA memos, though, was a bad move, which I discuss in the next subject below.
And, the release of the CIA memos has made us look even worse. We have people hyperventilating on both sides over whether waterboarding is torture. The ones who do us harm know that they don't have to do anything for a while, because we're doing it to ourselves. What the administration doesn't seem to have thought through is that, though in this country, it may be easy to pin all that on the Bush administration, to the rest of the world, it's still “America” that did it. And, if they know that we don't have the stomach for it (would it really have been that out-of-line to put a caterpillar in a room with a terrorist?), their job is easier. The CIA agents are demoralized, and the enemy is emboldened. Call it what you will - naive, oblivious, amateur hour - it's dangerous, and it's made our country weaker because of it.
And, to those hyperventilating - if you're ever captured by them, you'd better pray that waterboarding is the worst thing they do to you. Because we're humane, we've come up with ways to make people think that they're being tortured, when they're really not. Torture has lifelong implications to your health and mobility; John McCain can't lift his hand above his shoulder - that didn't come from waterboarding.
(Even the decision to stick by the Iraqi withdrawal timetable couldn't raise his grade in this subject.)
I believe I covered Obama's revocation of the Bush executive orders regarding federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. (I've bolded the important parts, because I'm sick and tired of the liberal “You're opposed to science!” mantra. No, we're not - we're opposed to the government paying for research that destroys unborn humans, especially when it has shown no signs of finding anything, but other, similar, non-lethal-to-the-donor research has. (And, check out #1 under "Adult Stem Cell Advantages.") What you fund, you get more of - fund more experiments on dead babies, you get more dead babies. I happen to be against dead babies, born or unborn.) When Obama rescinded that executive order, he also rescinded one that allows funding of ethical experiments. A good analysis of what that means is here.
He gets a pat on the back for supporting traditional marriage; however, I think that battle is lost. The demise of marriage came not from non-traditionalists, but from people who decided that a promise of forever can be undone by a piece of paper signed by a judge.
Well, he's got a solid 0.2 GPA headed into day 101 - nowhere to go but up, eh?
Lost amid the race vs. gender war that is the Democrat primary season and the focus on the next administration is the pure genius in the current administration. Sure, they say Bush is still the mindless dolt that somehow managed to outsmart them twice; and yes, he's certainly given them enough anguished English ammunition to come up with quite a rotation for their “Bushism of the Day” quote machines. However, Bush has flashes of political genius, and one of them cam during his speech to the Knesset, the Israeli governing body, celebrating 60 years of Israeli independence. (The below quote is found about half-way down the page.)
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is - the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
There are no names in this. Really, it could apply to a host of people who call for diplomacy even once diplomacy has failed, or those who call for diplomacy with terrorist organizations or terrorist-supporting nations. However, as Jeff Foxworthy once said, “There's no sense confessing to something she don't know about yet.” (This is in response to an upset wife - do you start saying “sorry” for everything she might be mad about, or do you simply ask "What's wrong?")
Being all sophisticated and everything, the Democrats must not be aware of this technique, and through their responses showed us that President Bush struck a nerve. Barack Obama (D-IL) was livid, blaming the current administration for strengthening Iran. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that such words were “beneath the dignity of the office of the president.” Joe Biden (D-DE) threw the BS flag (literally), and Harry Reid (D-NV) said that Bush should explain the “inconsistency between his administration's actions and his words today.”
So, basically, here's how it went down:
Bush: "Appeasers are dangerous." Obama, Pelosi, Biden, and Reid (in unison): “No we're not!”