News from the Votemaster
It's been a little less than a week since the Paris attacks, and the Republican presidential candidates are in an all-out race to see who can do the best job of posturing in an effort to curry political favor. Their responses fall into five basic categories:
- Take the offensive: Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
the time has come for a direct invasion—"boots on the ground" to use the
parlance du jour. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
entirely. Kasich has also
for a government-run propaganda agency to promote Judeo-Christian values throughout the Middle
East. On that point, the South Carolina senator
from his colleague, saying, "I don't think we should be promoting
Judeo-Christian values in the Arab world. I think that was the Crusades." Kasich
may want to pause and reflect on the wisdom of an idea that is too extreme for
Lindsey's Graham's tastes.
- Secure the borders: All of the GOP's candidates
prefer to bar Syrian refugees from entering the United States, with the
exception that Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) would let the Christians in.
Ben Carson has gone so far as to
an editorial explaining his position, saying that we cannot let "political
correctness" get in the way of national security. Mike Huckabee wants to go even
refugees from any country where ISIS has a presence. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants
to go further still,
all immigration from France, while also
to people from about 30 countries with "significant jihadist movements." The
Senator might want to take note that two of ISIS's most feared
jihadists—Khaled Sharrouf and the deceased Mohamed Elomar—came from
Australia, while the notorious executioner Jihadi John (real name: Mohammed Emwazi) was
British, so we may need to add two of America's closest allies to the list.
Also, everyone seems to assume that potential terrorists are too stupid to fly to London and then on to Toronto,
buy a used car there, and then drive into the U.S. posing as a tourist.
- Blame President Obama: This is the most popular
line of attack, one in which a great many of the GOP candidates have indulged.
that Obama has no strategy for dealing with ISIS, thus plunging the U.S. into a quagmire.
with Bush, blaming the Paris attacks on the President's "ignorance." Carly
Fiorina, for her part,
"completely inadequate" over "ignorant." Rudy Giuliani isn't even a candidate (yet?), but he's still
gotten into the game,
that ISIS is "an Obama creation." Someone should tell him that ISIS was founded
in 1999, when Obama was still an Illinois state senator, and probably not on the
radar of too many militants in the Middle East. Chris Christie
does not believe
that Obama created ISIS, but he does think the President created the Syrian
refugee crisis. George Pataki not only
on Obama, but also on Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. The harshest rhetoric,
however, has come from Ted Cruz, who
said on Saturday
that, "Barack Obama does not wish to defend this country." Obama lobbed a few choice words back at the GOP and at the Senator,
"At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the
debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn't seem so tough
to me." This outraged Cruz who,
the President to a debate on Wednesday and dared Obama to "insult me to my face." Perhaps
next the senator will suggest that he and the President step outside with their swords or pistols and settle this
like real men.
- Rein in American Muslims: Though Ben Carson's "I
would not vote for a Muslim president" is somewhat in this vein, the only
candidate who has thus far suggested direct action against American Muslims is
Donald Trump, who has gotten more forceful in his
that some American mosques would have to be shut down. It is unclear where he
believes the legal authority to do this would come from. The Donald has also won
the race to
the first advertisement that makes use of the Paris attacks.
- Fundraise: As noted below, following his Saturday declaration that the attacks on Paris were a "wake-up call" in a "war against Western Civilization," Marco Rubio has been a bit too busy fundraising to focus too much on ISIS. He is multitasking, however, as he as already begun using the Paris attacks as part of his fundraising pitch.
Meanwhile, as the various dramatics unfold on the home front, President Obama is in Turkey working on a potential alliance with Vladimir Putin to defeat ISIS, which recently blew up a Russian airliner. The possibilities for what Donald Trump will do with that are just endless. (Z)
In a sharp speech yesterday, President Obama said that Republican attacks on Islam and their willingness to admit Christian Syrian refugees to the U.S. but not Muslim ones is helping ISIS. The President noted that ISIS wants to exploit the idea of a war between Islam and the West and by making these remarks, the Republicans are doing precisely what ISIS wants, which helps them recruit new terrorists. Obama also said that refugees are thoroughly vetted before they are let in to the U.S., which greatly reduces the chance of a terrorist getting in. He also mocked the Republicans for telling him to stand up to ISIS while they are scared of Muslim widows and orphans, many of whom are fleeing ISIS. (V)
While the majority of the angry post-Paris rhetoric may be coming from the red team, Republicans certainly don't have a monopoly on ill-conceived, knee-jerk reactions. It was a Democrat—Roanoke, Va. Mayor David Bowers—who delivered what is surely yesterday's prizewinner for most absurd and offensive statement of the day. As quoted in the Roanoke Times:
I'm reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from [ISIS] now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.It is not easy to squeeze so many different types of wrong into such a short statement. Among the obvious issues:
- A substantial majority of the internees were not "Japanese foreign
nationals" but instead American citizens (by virtue of having been born in the
U.S.). Most of the remainder were noncitizens because discriminatory
laws—the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1870—prohibited them from
obtaining citizenship. Some of those "foreign nationals" had been in the U.S.
longer than the 63-year-old Bowers has been alive.
- FDR was motivated by two concerns, in this order: Political pressure from
west coast Democrats, and a fear that Japanese-Americans, left to fend for
themselves, would be targeted by vigilante groups. Despite any rhetoric to the
contrary, he was not at all concerned by "the threat of harm to America." Most
of the internment camps did not begin operation until summer of 1942, after the
Battle of Midway (June 3-7, 1942). The crushing U.S. victory in that battle
denied the Japanese the base of operations they would have needed for attacks on
the U.S. mainland, and also committed them to a defensive war. If FDR was
truly concerned about security, he presumably would not have left the Japanese
population of Hawaii—50% of the islands' population—untouched.
- Internment was such an obviously
that (1) The victims were eventually compensated, (2) Congress specifically
passed a law, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, forbidding the United States
government from doing that again, (3) President George H. W. Bush issued a
formal apology, and (4) the Supreme Court allowed the "internment is ok" portion
of its decision in 1944's Korematsu v. United States to be effectively
vacated by a writ of
the only time that has happened in U.S. history.
If Bowers had any knowledge of the history he's referencing, he would know that Japanese internment was about (illegally) imprisoning American citizens for partisan political purposes. and had nothing to do with admitting refugees from anywhere. (Z)
The U.S. government is in a running battle with Apple, Google, and other tech companies about encyrption. The government wants mobile devices that use encryption to come with a back door built in so the government can read everyone's email and text messages and listen in on all phone calls. The tech companies oppose this because they say if they give the government all the keys, their users won't trust them and foreign customers who don't want the U.S. government snooping on them won't buy American products any more.
The government's argument that it needs to read all email and text messages to catch terrorists took a hit yesterday when French police found the phones the Paris terrorists were using to communicate. None of them used encryption, so even if the government had the ability to decipher all messages, it wouldn't have been needed and it wouldn't have helped. The battle between the government and the tech companies has become political, with Republicans siding with the government and the Democrats supporting the private sector. Politics makes for strange bedfellows sometimes. (V)
Yesterday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is a member, were given a special classified briefing not available to other senators. At that briefing, the intelligence community officials presented what they knew of the Paris attacks to the senators. However, Rubio was not present as he was at a high-dollar fundraiser in Newport Beach, California. Rubio is already under attack for his poor Senate attendance record. Up until now, it was just his voting record that was under attack, but now his Democratic and Republican opponents are going to say he puts fundraising above American security. (V)
After the disastrous 2012 election, RNC chairman Reince Priebus commissioned an "autopsy" of the election. The report said the party had to change and stop emphasizing issues that were driving away minorities, women, and younger voters. The party completely ignored the report. Now the Democrats have issued an autopsy report of the disastrous 2014 election. It is 1/5 the length of the Republican report and basically tells how wonderful the party is. The only actionable advice in it is that the party needs to build a three-cycle strategy for taking back state legislatures so the Republicans can't gerrymander state and federal districts. However, the report doesn't explain how this is to be accomplished. Two things are needed, but are not mentioned in the report. First, Democrats need to find a way to get their voters to the polls for all elections, not just presidential elections. Second, Democrats need to get their big donors interested in financing races for state senate and state assembly/house races as the Republicans do. (V)
In past election cycles, the same scenario has played out: a very conservative candidate wins the Republican caucuses in Iowa, but then New Hampshire brings the party back to Planet Earth by going for an electable moderate. In 2008 it was Huckabee/McCain. In 2012 it was Santorum/Romney. This year any one of several conservatives might win Iowa, but there might not be a moderate savior in the Granite State this time. In fact, Donald Trump has led in every New Hampshire poll since June. In a Fox News poll released yesterday, Trump is first at 27%, followed by Rubio at 13%, Cruz at 11%, and then Bush and Carson tied at 9%. In past cycles, insurgent conservatives like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich didn't even come close to winning New Hampshire, a state where moderate Republicans make up about half of the Republican electorate and evangelicals less than a fifth.
The obvious danger for the GOP is that lacking a firewall in New Hampshire, someone like Ted Cruz could win Iowa followed by a Trump victory in New Hampshire and then more conservative victories in South Carolina and Nevada, at which point the establishment would be in complete disarray unless it somehow manages to coalesce around one candidate. But coalescing is a lot harder to do if the chosen candidate hasn't won even one primary yet. That is why New Hampshire is so important for the Republicans. (V)
In an attempt to conteract the effect of the large donations from wealthy donors unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, Seattle voters have approved the nation's first political voucher plan with 63% in favor. It works like this: Beginning in 2017, each Seattle voter will get four $25 vouchers that can be donated to qualifying candidates for city council or city attorney. Starting in 2021, mayoral candidates are also included. To qualify, a candidate must collect a certain number of small-dollar donations and agree to spending limits, private contribution limits, and participation in at least three debates. The voucher program will cost the city about $3 million a year. (V)
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is updating its voting guide that instructs the faithful how to vote. The section of the guide that deals with "Intrinsic Evil" lists same-sex marriage, along with racism and abortion as intrinsic evils and instructs voters that good Catholics may not vote for candidates who support intrinsic evil. Despite the Constitution's mandate of the separation of church and state, giving voting instructions is not listed as an intrinsic evil. It is perhaps noteworthy to mention that when Pope Francis visited the U.S. recently, he didn't even bother to mention same-sex marriage, despite its intrinsic evilness. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
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