Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Questions for the Candidates

In case anyone's listening, here are some serious questions I'd like to see asked of the candidates. All are related to security and foreign relations.

Clinton: You've said that we will never have boots on the ground in the Middle East again. Since we already have a large number of Special Forces training and aiding our allies, are you saying that you would withdraw them?

Follow-up: Doesn't this mean that you are ceding the Middle East to Iran and Russia?

Trump: The past couple of years have shown that air power by itself is not enough to defeat ISIS. How will you handle the need for American boots on the ground?

Clinton: The Iran treaty was negotiated in secret while members of the Obama administration lied to Congress about sanctions and the intentions of Iran. It was never formally presented to the Senate to ratify, it is in force by executive order. Among the conditions for the treaty to continue, the US has to refrain from interfering with Syria's Bashir who has repeatedly used poison gas on his populous. Will you abide by the terms of the treaty? If not, how will you change it?

Trump: Same question.

Clinton: Your anti-terrorism plan basically consists of increased spying on Americans. Is there anything else to your plan?

Trump: You have also called for increased spying but more targeted at Muslims. Given your reluctance to engage Islamic extremists overseas, how will you stop self-radicalization?

Clinton: President Obama scaled back on American pro-democracy efforts across the globe. Will you continue his policies or return them to the levels they were under President Bush or even your husband?

Follow-up: Obama opened relations with Cuba without any human rights concessions. Will you follow his lead in dealing with the Castro brothers or will you apply pressure on them to improve human rights?

Trump: You have talked about withdrawing from NATO and closing overseas bases. American protection is more than a matter of defense. It is also a huge bargaining chip in trade negotiations and international crises. It would also give Russia and China a great deal more international influence. Given these factors, don't the benefits of overseas bases balance out the costs.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Birtherism, the notion that Barack Obama was born outside the US, has become a hot topic recently. Trump, a birther since 2011, finally agreed that President Obama was born in Hawaii, as claimed.

There are a few interesting things about the media coverage. The first is the blanket denial that Hillary Clinton's campaign was responsible for birtherism in the first place. Politifact gave it a false ruling. While I used to have a lot of respect for this site, they've been getting more and more partisan over the years. While it is true that there is no record of Hillary Clinton ever questioning Obama's birthplace, there is no question that this was part of a general campaign against Obama when the two were competing for the 2008 nomination. The Clinton campaign's surrogates quietly suggested that Obama was a secret Muslim. When asked to deny it, Hillary always said things like "Obama's a Christian... as far as I know."

Two reporters have come forward saying that Clinton campaign operative Sidney Blumenthal pushed stories about Obama's birthplace and his religion.

Remember, this was early 2008. The Republicans were still a long way from settling the nomination and Obama was still the underdog. No one but the Clinton campaign had any reason for spreading doubt about Obama's qualifications to be president. Even if the Clinton campaign didn't start the rumor they were the reason it spread.

Politifact's ruling rests on the construction that there is no evidence that Clinton's supporters invented the claim while admitting that they spread it. They also accept Hillary's statement that this was unauthorized. The statement they were fact checking said, "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy." Even Politifact admits that people in the Clinton campaign were involved in spreading birtherism. It takes no stretch of the imagination to picture Hillary approving this. It's in keeping with her treatment of the women Bill had affairs with.

Everyone in the news media in 2008 knows this. Hillary covered her tracks (on a private email server?) but there were no other suspects.

So the news media is covering for Hillary.

Even worse, they are insisting that birtherism is racist and that Trump should apologize for it. This is my second point. The media knows full well that birtherism began with Hillary but rather than admitting it and calling her a racist, they are throwing that insult at birther-come-laty, Trump.

For the record - birtherism was always a dumb idea. It required foreknowledge that the newborn Barack would need to claim American citizenship at a time that a black president seemed inconceivable. Regardless of where he was born, Obama's mother was an American citizen, just as McCain's and Cruze's so he'd be a citizen regardless.

One thing that makes me leery of Trump is that he revived this silly idea after it died out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Did Hillary Just Lose the Election?

Very few people are actually planning on voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. They will be voting against the worst candidate. Over the past weekend, Hillary made her case for being the worst.

First it came out that she's been saying that half of Trump's supporters are a "basket of deplorables". She later had to back off from that, saying that she had over-generalized. This did not stop her supporters from doubling down and insisting that she'd lowballed the figure when she said that 1/2 of Trump's supporters (and 1/4 of the nation) are irredeemable racists.

Given the low bar that the left has for labeling people as racists, homophobes, xenophobes, and islamiphobes, a lot of possible voters are going to assume that Hillary included them. Not the proper action for a close election that needs to attract voters from the other side.

A phrase like Basket of Deplorables isn't going to mobilize the Left but the Right won't forget it.

But that's minor compared to September 11 when Hillary left a 9/11 commemoration early and was seen collapsing while waiting for her van. After weeks of denying that Hillary had any health problems, the campaign was caught in a lie - again.

Actually, the campaign was caught issuing a series of excuses. First they said that Hillary was dehydrated. Then they said that she had pneumonia. But they kept falling back on the dehydration excuse, too.

There is a familiarity to this. Hillary went through a long list of excuses and prevarications about her private email server. For now, most people are accepting the pneumonia excuse but there are flaws in it. The official story is that she had only had a cough for a week but people were talking about it long before that. Then there's her detour to her daughter's apartment instead of a hospital. Someone with pneumonia collapses and doesn't go to the hospital?

Given Hillary's problems with the truth, flaws in her story look like possible lies. Hillary never tells a truth that will hurt her. She lies, she prevaricates, she misdirects, she stonewalls, but she never comes out and tells the truth. It's a major character flaw and it hurt her greatly over the weekend. There's a good chance that voters will be skeptical of pat explanations about her health and any other statements she says about major topics. That could cost her the election. 

Monday, September 05, 2016

Trump and Racism

It's a ritual - once the Republican candidate is chosen, the left talks about how racist he is or must be because he's a Republican. In some cases they delight in making fun of any dark-skinned grandchildren that the candidate has. The unusual thing about this election is that they've admitted that they did it in previous elections. The current message is, "Yes, we said that every candidate since Nixon is a racist but they weren't really and we regret saying it because Trump really, really is a racist and you won't believe us now."

There's a problem with this approach, it's hard to find actual racism from Trump. The usual examples are from Trump's statements on illegal immigrants. He's claimed that Mexico sends its worst over here. These are generalizations based on anecdotal stories and are exaggerated by Trump. They are certainly hurtful to law-abiding illegal immigrants (although they did break a law coming here). BUT, illegal immigrants are not a race. They are people who have come here illegally.

Then there is Trump's Muslim ban. He hasn't said that he will ban Muslims. He said that he will put a hold on accepting Muslim refugees until we have a better screening process. This seems like common sense to many people, especially after the spate of terrorist attacks in Orlando and Europe this Summer. Granted these were by long-time residents but people feel unsafe because of these and need assurance that new terrorists aren't being brought in.

Consider the stress that accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees has put on Europe. Accepting unlimited refugees is causing the rise of nationalist, anti-Europe parties. The Left is being foolish to emulate policies that are so unpopular in Europe.

Again, refugees are not a race. Neither is Islam - it's a religion.

Then comes the biggest problem with Trump being a racist - trying to find examples of racism against blacks. If it existed then it would be all over the airwaves. That's a problem when claiming that Trump is Hitler.

And here's another huge problem with claiming that Trump is a racist - he used to be a Democrat. Didn't anyone on the Left notice this back when he was one of them? President and Secretary Clinton were guests at his last wedding. Were they really willing to attend the wedding of the next Mussolini? Or were they willing to look the other way as long as he kept writing checks?

Given the Left's history of crying wolf (or "Hitler"), it's hard to believe that this time they are finally correct.