Monday, September 16, 2019

Wake up, GOP challengers: This is Trump’s party now

The Trump campaign in 2016 did not transform the Republican Party: It revealed the Republican party.

The elements of Trumpism already were there: the skepticism of trade and the loathing of multilateral trade pacts; the hostility toward immigration, which is not limited to illegal immigration; the nickel-and-dime attitude toward US leadership abroad and our relationships with our allies; the hysterical dread of China as an economic competitor; the implacable hatred of the commanding heights of American life from Silicon Valley to the Ivy League; the cable-news histrionics; and, above all, the desire to be led in a social-media Kulturkampf against progressive condescension and self-righteousness.

Trump’s union with the Republican Party was neither a hostile takeover nor a marriage of convenience — the embrace was mutual and ecstatic.

And that is why the half-hearted primary challenges to Trump are going nowhere. The GOP is not William Weld’s party of WASP propriety and Chamber of Commerce libertarianism, and it hasn’t been for a long time. (Alas.) Neither is it the party of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, with his quaint scruples about debt and the deficit. Sanford is typical of the craven posture of contemporary conservatives: He already has vowed to vote for Trump just as soon as he loses to him.

Former Republican contender Carly Fiorina may complain about Trump on social media, but she apparently has no interest in challenging him. (Making a big noise on Twitter while doing approximately squat in the real world — who does that remind you of?) It is not John Bolton’s party, even on foreign policy, as Bolton has been forcibly shown.

On the other hand, Dan Bishop just enjoyed a come-from-behind victory in a North Carolina congressional race by promising to make himself as abject and slavish as possible in service to Trump, whom he celebrates as “the greatest fighter ever” to serve as president, Generals Washington and Eisenhower be damned.

Trump was a genuine celebrity before he was president, and Republicans have a weakness for that kind of thing. (Cf. Nugent, Ted.) But, personality cult aside, the Republicans are victims of their own success: They succeeded with Trump’s nationalist-populist agenda in 2016 and may very well succeed with that again in 2020. So, that becomes the playbook. They didn’t win on balanced budgets, constitutionalism or George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

The question for Republicans going forward will be whether “Build the Wall!” and the talk-radio drum circle will be sufficient to carry them forward without the novelty and celebrity of Trump.

A smaller related question is whether Buckley-Goldwater-Reagan conservatives can be kept in the Republican coalition and whether there are enough of them to bother with.

Those of us who saw Trump as an aberration in 2016 were wrong. A predominant number of Republicans hunger for exactly what Trump is serving up. We’ll see how that tastes to them on Nov. 3, 2020.



Here Are 4 Ways the Left Is Grabbing Power in America

The left is setting aside constitutional norms in a ruthless power grab according to a recently retired Congressman.

Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah, who served on and chaired the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and is now a Fox News contributor, made the case that the left is using a variety of underhanded strategies to fundamentally change American elections and tilt them in their favor.

Chaffetz lays out his argument in a new book, “Power Grab: The Liberal Scheme to Undermine Trump, the GOP, and Our Republic.” He argues that the left is using underhanded strategies to fundamentally alter the nature of U.S. elections, making them less stable and subject to rigging.

Chaffetz explained his argument in a talk at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday. Here are four of the tactics he highlighted on the left.

1. Trolling at Town Halls

One of the left’s more effective tactics, Chaffetz said, is using activists and media allies to go after conservative politicians at town hall events.

That’s what happened to Chaffetz during his last term in Congress.

He said Democrats mobilized a group called Indivisible Utah, which “had a specific manual to take over a town hall meeting.'”

Their strategy was to create the impression that Chaffetz was being attacked by his own constituents on account of President Donald Trump, even though he represented a predominantly conservative district.

“[T]hey wanted to create this illusion that a conservative Republican in a safe district—who just happened to be chairman of the Oversight Committee with the newly minted president of the United States, Donald Trump—that his voters were mad,” Chaffetz said.

“It was used as a tool and a prop. They paid people to come in. There were people from all kinds of states there,” Chaffetz said. “But they wanted to create this media illusion that it was an organic Utah phenomenon in a conservative Republican’s district.”

2. Weaponizing Nonprofits for the Democratic Party

In addition, the left has been effective at manipulating loopholes to weaponize nonprofit groups, Chaffetz said.

Nonprofit groups often hire for-profit groups to do fundraising using what’s called a 990 form, and one of the most prominent fundraisers for liberal groups is Grassroots Campaigns Inc.

“They will put on t-shirts—ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood—and then they’ll start knocking on doors,” Chaffetz said.

“Planned Parenthood will say ‘Hey, we’re raising money, 50 bucks, you know, for Planned Parenthood. You with us or against us?”

The person then might reply: “Oh, I love Planned Parenthood. Yeah I’ll give you $100.’ What does that tell you about that voter? … You think they are going to vote for a Democrat or do you think they are going to vote for the Republican?”

This process allows Grassroots Campaigns Inc. to collect data on voters that can help predict voting behavior. The problem, Chaffetz said, is that people working for these groups can then carry the collected voter data when they go to work for campaigns or a political party, like the Democratic National Committee, “bypassing all of the campaign finance rules.”

3. Nationalize and Skew Elections

Another big initiative of the left, according to Chaffetz, is to change the rules of elections to stack the deck in favor of Democrats and progressives.

This strategy can be seen in the legislative priorities of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Chaffetz said:

“If you look at the priorities that they have put forward in Congress and you look through any poll that’s out there about what are the most important issues, you’re going to hear about health care, you are going to hear about the economy, you’re going to hear about immigration.”

But this isn’t what the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives prioritized.

“Why is it that Nancy Pelosi has H.R. 1, House Resolution 1 … what is her first bill? Does it have anything to do [with] Pew’s top 20 or top 50 issues? No, it doesn’t,” Chaffetz said.

“H.R. 1 is about how to reconfigure elections. [Pelosi] wants to reconstitute how we do elections in this country because it’s their calculus. This is my theory that I lay out in the book, that they have to reconfigure how we do voting in this country for them to win long-term.”

H.R. 1, which the House passed but was never brought up for a vote in the Senate, would have made a number of changes to America’s election system. Among them are mandatory voter registration, a mandate that states allow felons to vote, and a ban on states setting their own rules about voting by mail.

These are just a few of the bill’s many proposals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill a “naked attempt to change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.”

4. Ballot Harvesting

A fourth strategy is the practice of “ballot harvesting,” which H.R. 1 did not address, Chaffetz said.

Ballot harvesting is when an individual doesn’t have to be present to cast a vote. Instead, their vote can be cast by someone else.

“Democrats, in legislation, have supported the idea. They want to make this [the] law everywhere you go, that you do not actually have to be present to vote,” Chaffetz said.

“Vote harvesting allows someone [to] go around … collecting ballots from all of you. [They] can go knock on your door and say, ‘I know that you didn’t get to the poll, I know that you didn’t fill out your ballot, I know it’s inconvenient for you, but if you just give me your ballot, you know, fill it out, I’ll turn it in for you.”

A lot can go wrong with this process, Chaffetz said. He noted that even in Utah, thousands of votes for Democrats are alleged to have rolled in “after the deadline.”

Ballot harvesting made a huge impact in recent California elections, where the tactic threw a huge number of House Republican seats to Democrats. Thousands of new and unexpected voters showed up to certain districts and flipped seats.

“I don’t know how you win an election in California when Democrats play by different rules than Republicans and engage in this type of vote harvesting,” Chaffetz said.



Democrats Finally Fly Their Gun-Control Fascist Freak Flag in the Open

In all of the decades that the modern version of the contentious debate in America over guns, freedom, and the Second Amendment has been going on, the gun-control advocates have repeatedly assured gun owners of one thing: they don't want to take our guns away from us.

My, what a difference one presidential primary full of unabashed Democratic statists makes.

After years of being told that we are paranoid for saying that the anti-gun Left wants to confiscate our weapons, the anti-gun Left is letting us know in no uncertain terms that they want to confiscate our weapons.

Loudest among them is Robert Francis "Horse Mouth" O'Rourke who, seeing his relevance as a candidate dwindling by the hour, has decided to go all-in on making a pitch for being America's gun-grabber-in-chief:

This Soviet turn marks a departure for Beto in a couple of ways.

Last year, when the only constituency he was trying to woo consisted of residents of the great state of Texas, O'Rourke was still paying lip service to being a supporter of legal gun owners.

So much for that.

As recently as a few weeks ago, Beto was talking about a federal "buy-back" of AR-15s. Yes, that's euphemistic garbage -- the government can't buy back something it never owned in the first place. It's semantic whitewashing of what the program really would be: a huge first step to federal gun confiscation.

As of Friday, Cory Booker was still pretending a bit, but tipping the Democrats' hands nonetheless:

"Yeah, it’s mandatory. You have to set up a system to pull them off. But this idea, this imagery that the fearmongers and demagogues try to say of somehow armed police officers showing up & confiscating weapons, that’s the fear mongering."'s a mandatory surrendering of the guns to the federal government that will no doubt be unpopular with 99.9999999999% of the people it targets and we're supposed to believe that there will be no heavy-handed enforcement by the feds.

Has this clown even met the Internal Revenue Service?

Kamala Harris got out in front of everything earlier in the year when she promised that she would almost immediately become an executive-action nightmare on gun control if Congress didn't give her what she wanted.

While the Democrats keep referring to the AR-15 specifically, they also repeatedly use the phrase "weapons of war," which puts the slippery in "slippery slope."

"Weapons of war" is a catch-all that can also refer to sidearms, knives, and anything else ever used in a battle. They used to use rocks back in the catapult days, you know.

They naturally dismiss this idea as just more paranoia, even as they work to prove that none of us are actually paranoid.

Even -- let's just pretend for a moment -- if they were sincere and didn't intend to come after all firearms, when has the federal government ever shown restraint in matters like this? Give the bureaucratic behemoth an inch and it will immediately seek ways to take every mile on Earth.

The obvious takeaway from all of this is that we were right all along about the Democrats' intentions, which provides a perfect example for future debates when they're pretending to be anything other than what they truly are: Soviet-esque control-freak statists.



A rare Trump fan in the media

Lou has always been big on immigration restrictions

On Friday evening, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs told his viewers, “Have a great weekend. The President makes such a thing possible for us all.” Dobbs did not elaborate as to why or how President Donald Trump makes weekends possible.

Dobbs is a strong supporter of the President and often praises him on his show Lou Dobbs Tonight. His show has faced controversy in the past; he has argued that a “deep state” exists in the Justice Department to undermine Trump and he has been criticized for using anti-semitic language against Democratic donor George Soros.

On Sept. 12, Dobbs concluded his broadcast by praising Trump and the White House, adding, “The joint is hopping.”



Attacks on Saudi oil facilities by Iran-backed Shi-ites

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has told US President Donald Trump the kingdom was "willing and able" to respond to the latest attacks by Yemeni rebels on its oil facilities, state media reported.

"The kingdom is willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) told Trump during a phone call on Saturday, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

MBS was referring to Yemen's Houthi rebels, who earlier in the day attacked two state-owned Saudi Aramco oil plants, triggering enormous fires and disrupting global energy supplies.

According to a release by the Saudi embassy in Washington, Trump told MBS that Washington was ready to cooperate with the kingdom to protect its security in the wake of the drone attacks.



Trump has confirmed Hamza bin Laden, son of slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and suspected leader of the militant group, was killed in a US counterterrorism operation

In a statement issued by the White House, Mr Trump said the operation took place in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, but he offered no further details.

"The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives Al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group," Mr Trump said.

The group was responsible for orchestrating the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US, which remain the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history, with almost 3,000 casualties.

A US official said Hamza had been killed months ago near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr Trump was briefed at the time on the operation.

Washington believes Hamza, who is thought to have been about 30 years old, had succeeded his father as the head of what remains of Al Qaeda, the official said. Osama was killed by US forces in 2011 at his Pakistan compound.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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