Are the Democrats Screwed?

That seems to be a growing consensus among some political journalists.  Usually known for mincing words when it comes to the Democrat Party, the talk was a lot more direct at a recent panel hosted by the Midwest Political Science Association:

A session chaired by Jennifer Lawless of American University and Danny Hayes of George Washington University included a panel with journalists Molly Ball (The Atlantic), Steve Peoples (The Associated Press) and Nia-Malika Henderson (CNN).

 

“I think the Democrats are kind of screwed at this point,” said Henderson, underscoring what’s clearly the current consensus. “They thought Hillary Clinton would win and their bench is really, really thin.”

 

Ball was especially interesting in part since she’s among a younger generation of journalists that, as Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan would note to me at another session, takes academic research seriously. That’s as opposed to many more senior counterparts who’d often scoff at academics as removed from the nitty-gritty reality the journalists prided themselves on covering.

 

“It will be fun to cover the Democratic civil war for a change,” she said. “It’s hard to underestimate how screwed the Democrats are.”

In other words, reporters (well, these reporters at least) are starting to get a sense of what’s been glaringly obvious to anyone who exists outside of the DC media bubble:  Hillary was a horrible candidate.  Bernie Sanders was well past his sell-by date.  And the rest of the Democrat leadership is old, tired and should have left the stage long ago.  Now all they’re left with are septuagenarian socialists, who sharp-elbow anybody younger, more moderate and with broader appeal.

That is the very definition of screwed.

Before they congratulate themselves on being so clever, though, the panel should know that there are a couple of areas in which their analysis falls short.  First off, any notion of a civil war within the Democrat Party got squashed even before the election of the new DNC chairman.  When your choice is between Tom Perez (hard left) and Keith Ellison (even harder left), the battle for the soul of the party has already been lost to the extremists.  Secondly, the news organizations that employ these journalists haven’t taken any steps to correct the systemic bias that led them to predict a Clinton blowout.  In fact, in many cases the bias has actually gotten worse (I’m talking to you, CNN).  So long as this is the case, it won’t matter how good their polling data is.  The analysis will remain hopelessly flawed with that much confirmation bias baked in.

But there’s also this part, which is worth repeating:

Ball. . .takes academic research seriously. That’s as opposed to many more senior counterparts who’d often scoff at academics as removed from the nitty-gritty reality the journalists prided themselves on covering.

That’s research–as opposed to good, old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting.  This is probably the greatest weakness in modern journalism, the belief that databases, Google and a subscription to Lexis-Nexis can take the place of getting out in the world and observing events firsthand.  Yes, it’s important to have the data to back up your conclusions, and to provide hard facts for your analysis–but data can also become subjective, especially when disconnected from the “nitty-gritty reality” that often challenges our preconceived views.

You know who got the 2016 election right when so many others got it wrong?  Salena Zito.  She actually went out into the country, into the kind of Rust Belt towns that are largely ignored by the media, and talked to people.  They were the kind of people that Democrats used to care about:  working class, largely white, most of them hit hard by the recession of 2008 and many still hurting.  A lot of them had voted for Barack Obama, but told Zito they were receptive to Donald Trump’s message of restoring America’s greatness–and with it, their own lives and futures.  In town after town, Zito heard similar stories, and because of that–and because she kept an open mind–she sensed the coming tsunami.

The journalists at the Midwest Political Science association would do well to follow that example.

Blue States Consider TRUMP Acts for Ballot Access

Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns was a controversial issue for many during the election. Now some blue state legislators are proposing a “TRUMP” law for ballot access in future elections. A proposed law in New York is actually named the “Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public” Act, the TRUMP Act for short.

According to the Washington Post, lawmakers in California, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Maine will introduce bills that require candidates to release their tax returns to appear on ballots in their states. The proposal is obviously directed at President-elect Donald Trump, who said in 2014 that he would release his tax returns if he ran for president, but failed to do so during the campaign.

Although not required, presidential candidates have long released their tax returns to show that they had nothing to hide. The tradition goes back to George Romney, Mitt Romney’s father, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968.

At issue is whether to codify the tradition or let the voters decide how much weight to place on whether a candidate releases tax information or not. “We all expected anyone who is going to be in front of the public and lead our nation would be transparent,” said Maryland Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s County) in the Post. “He chose not to be, and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future from any candidate.”

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore County) disagrees. “To me, it just looks like sour grapes over the election,” said Jennings. “We don’t reveal our tax returns as legislators. Why are you doing it for the president and not every other office too?”

If the legislation passes, it could become an issue if Trump decides to run for re-election in 2020. At that point, the previous four years of returns will show the presidential salary as well as Trump’s business income since he has said that he will not divest himself of his business empire. The Trump Organization’s ventures around the world provide many opportunities for Trump opponents to accuse the new president of conflicts of interest, charges that might be confirmed by Trump’s taxes.

In 2016, the five states in question were all won by Hillary Clinton. In four of the five, the Democrat won by more than a 10-point margin. The sole state where TRUMP laws are being considered and might significantly impact the race is Maine.

In Maine, the winner of the popular vote gets two electoral votes and one electoral vote goes to the winner of each of the two congressional districts. This year Clinton won the state popular vote by 2.7 percent as well as the first congressional district. Trump won the second congressional district, which entitled him to one of Maine’s four electoral votes.

Whether TRUMP laws would be constitutional is also an open question. In 1995, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot impose additional requirements on candidates beyond those listed in the Constitution when it struck down term limits. Rand Paul had hinted at suing the State of Kentucky over a ballot access law that prohibited a candidate from being listed for two separate offices on the same ballot. The Supreme Court has allowed states to set some requirements for ballot access, such as requiring signatures of voters, but struck down others, such as filing fees.

While TRUMP Acts might impact a future election, they have a long way to go. Most bills never become law and, with only one electoral vote at stake, we’ll bet that Donald Trump won’t lose any sleep over TRUMP Acts yet.

 

 

Christians for Trump: 5 Things I Don’t Understand

Donald Trump is a WWF candidate. He is the Hulk Hogan of presidential politics.

As recently as 2007 he was in the ring. Literally.

He’s been behind the scenes of pseudo-wrestling shows for over 25 years. But that should come as no surprise.

Think about what he has done in the campaign thus far and see if it doesn’t more resemble a WWF event than a bid to the highest office in the land–an office defined by its first holder George Washington, the epitome of both civility and courage.

I shudder to think what George Washington would say about the one-man wrecking ball that is Donald Trump.

I understand people are ticked off. I am too. I understand people are fed up with the spineless Republicans and Democrat alike. I am too. I even understand the desire to have someone who will cut through the PC blackness, who will bust some heads, take names, and “make America great again.”

But electing Donald Trump to the Presidency would be like nominating Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court—you really have no idea what you are going to get.

And by the time you find out, it will be too late.

If you thought Romney was flip-flopping phony, the Donald makes Mitt look like a life-long conservative. Trump has been all over the place in his views on social issues, but mostly left, and even farther left on issues like partial birth abortion.

Yet many Christians support him thus far. Some of them are friends of mine and will continue to be (I hope). But I really do not understand at least 5 things about Christians who support Donald Trump.

After the 2012 election, I wrote a piece entitled 5 things I don’t understand about Christians who voted for Barack Obama.  As I considered my concerns about Donald Trump, I realize most of the concerns were the same or similar.

I know Trump fans will hate me for saying so, but Trump has more in common with Obama than they would like to admit.

Replacing a community organizer masquerading as a sophisticated bully with an actor pretending to be an unsophisticated bully isn’t going to change things for the good.

While Obama has proven to be a petulant and vindictive force for the Left, Trump gives every indication he would be a petulant and vindictive force for, well, Trump.

A bully by any party affiliation is still a bully.

At least Obama pretends to be compassionate as he bullies his way forward. Trump insults and drowns out any opposition. He doesn’t reasonably listen and respond in a substantive way, in spite of what his fans say. Even my kids observe his behavior and ask, “Who would vote for someone so rude?”

In that sense, he reminds me of some pastors who rule their churches with an angelic fist through a cult of personality (Does the name Jack Hyles ring any bells, evangelicals?).

5 Things I Don’t Understand about Christians Who Support Trump

So here are five things I do not understand about Christians who support Donald Trump based on the original five things I didn’t understand about support for Obama in 2012:

1. Life. No two ways around this one Trump fans. Trump had been a strong supporter of abortion, even partial-birth abortion until recently when he began positioning himself to run for office.

His position is that taxpayers should continue to fund Planned Parenthood, the leading provider of abortions and of baby body parts. (Although he adjusted that yesterday, so who knows.) In the debate Saturday, Trump defended Planned Parenthood by saying they “do wonderful things.”

The little good they may do does not justify the evil they certainly do. And plenty of others provide those “good things.”

What kind of nominations would Trump make for the Supreme Court? Nothing he has done—not just what he now says–convinces me that he would select justices who would defend life.

He may have truly changed his views. If so, that is a good thing. But why would I take a chance with a guy who defines unpredictable when there are other candidates with a lifetime record of fighting for life? The next President will, not may, decide the direction of the Court for a generation.

If you are honest with yourself, you have no idea what kind of nominee Trump would choose. I know the kind of justices Cruz would pick. I am pretty sure I know the kind of justices Rubio would pick. Trump? He said his pro-abortion sister would make a “phenomenal” judge. Doesn’t that concern you?

2. Marriage. The Obergefell decision abolished marriage. If you doubt that, read our new book You Will Be Made to Care. Anthony Kennedy (more proof we need to know what someone will do before they take office) struck it down with a fit of tyrannical love poetry. After having been divorced twice, Trump now says that the gay mafia should expect “forward motion” on their anti-family agenda.

Defending marriage just does not appear to be an important issue for Trump. With Iowa at stake, he told Chris Wallace he “would strongly consider” appointing justices to overrule the Obergefell decision. That should have been an easy yes answer instead of Trump’s stock answer for everything he has no position on.

He’ll think about it and let you know later. Don’t hold your breath. Marriage is sacred. Ordained by God to be between one man and one woman. There is no room for compromise on it, Donald. We can’t just talk it out together and reach some middle ground.

Morality cannot be negotiated.

3. Private Property. Trump’s fondness for using eminent domain for private profit should be most troubling for Christians. But given the shallow theology taught in most churches these days, I am not surprised they do not grasp its significance.

Taking private property for public benefit is one thing if the person is compensated fairly; taking it from one private citizen and giving it to another deemed more worthy is nothing more than socialism. It is legalized theft and a violation of God’s command: “You shall not steal.” The converse is that “You shall own private property.”

The Western understanding of private property finds its foundation in this command and the command comes directly from the very nature of God. He created all. He gives His creation to us to steward and holds each of us responsible for what we do with it.

But most importantly, Trump’s lack of concern for private property should be most troubling for Christians who value our most precious property—our conscience. In You Will Be Made to Care, Erick Erickson and I make the case that conscience is our most precious property:

James Madison, who is often referred to as the father of the Constitution, declared our freedom of conscience to be our most treasured possession and demonstrated why any just government must defend it impartially: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.… Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right [emphasis added]”.

When it comes right down to it, our freedom of conscience is what makes the First Amendment worth defending. If we are not free to believe, then we have no religion to exercise. If we cannot think our own thoughts, we have no speech that is truly ours. If we are not free to assess the powers that be, there is no freedom of the press no matter how many cable channels we may enjoy. And what’s the point of assembling if we’re all required to embrace the same beliefs anyways? You can forget about private property or gun rights if you’re not free to think capitalistic thoughts or believe some things are worth dying for.

If Trump won’t even defend my right to keep my house when he prefers a parking lot, why would I think he would lift a finger to defend my right to believe?

His call to ban all Muslims after the SanBernardino terrorist attack demonstrates how quickly ho would restrict rights based on faith if those beliefs suddenly became inconvenient for his agenda. His call also betrays how little he comprehends about the nature of sincerely held religious beliefs.

4. Leadership. Scripture speaks to leadership extensively. It gives the qualifications for those who hold office in the church as a template for what we should look for in leaders. Take a look and see how Trump’s leadership style holds up:

[He] is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Temperate? Self-controlled? Respectable? Not quarrelsome? Good grief. I could go on, but do I even need to? At least he’s not conceited. [snort]

And if he is now truly a conservative, he is a recent convert at best and should not be placed at the head of the Republican party until he has been tested. One undecided voter captured this concern: “He said he did not know if Trump really had a ‘road to Damascus’ moment or just converted because he was dating the preacher’s daughter. He suspected the latter and therefore wouldn’t be going with Trump.”

“The rise of Donald Trump is everything the founders feared,” says Erick Erickson. I agree. When people act out of fear, they tend to make poor decisions. They gravitate toward a strong personality who claims to be the one to fix everything. It’s the equivalent of pushing the national Easy Button.

But we’ve seen how this plays out in history. After the Roman Senate floundered and failed to address the problems of the Republic, the people turned to the alpha male Julius Caesar to get things done. The Republic did not survive.

Reacting to Obama’s tyranny with another bully who tells people they are behaving stupidly isn’t saving the republic. It’s accelerating Her demise.

5. Fruit. When challenged by Pope Francis, Trump recently said “to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.” Not so. It is Christian.

Scripture tells us to evaluate the fruit of those who claim to be followers of Christ. Trump has been divorced twice, has engaged in multiple extra-marital affairs and spoken publicly about his sexual exploits, his mouth spews obscenities often, he routinely devalues and degrades women without apology, and has done it all while saying he has never felt the need to repent.

Sorry, folks, but there ain’t nothing Christian about a belief system devoid of repentance.

Don’t get me wrong, his immigration views are not the standards Pope Francis’ should have used to evaluate his faith (Francis is wrong about Christians and immigration.) Trump’s life, actions, and words are and they are inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. Jesus said you will know those who are his by their fruit. Trump’s fruit is rotten.

He regularly misrepresents his successes and insults all who dare to suggest otherwise. If he were in this post now, he would be typing over everything I write.

Trump is the kind of arrogant jerk Christian parents used to warn their children about. Now they are voting for him. I don’t get it.

There is much more to be said about concerns about Donald Trump, from his misleading allegations about self-funding his campaign, to the many people taken for a ride via “Trump University” and his close attachment to those who have steadfastly attacked everything Christians stand for.

But the end result is this: if the same polls that say Trump is in the lead are to be believed, Donald Trump is the one Republican nominee who would lose to Hillary.

As a Christian, I don’t think I could—with a clear conscience—lift a finger to help him.

The Online Off and the Offline On

Were one to follow Texas campaigns for the last few weeks, it would seem Ken Paxton, RedState’s choice for Texas Attorney General, was destined to lose. The stars had aligned against him because he made a small mistake his opponent had seized on. The Texas establishment had rallied to his opponent. Paxton was doomed. Twitter said so. Facebook said so. Email said so.

Congratulations to Ken Paxton, who is now the GOP’s nominee for Attorney General in Texas. He won last night.

After the shootings in California, hashtags sprung up to focus not on mental health, but on misogynist men. Like many o the organized gay mafia attacks on Twitter to harass, silence, and intimidate those who disagree, a bubble of conversation filtered online and off. Newspaper articles were written about hashtags.

But very little of the sound and fury online ever filters offline. Certainly it can happen. Certainly many a reporter has been forced to cover a story they’d have never even heard of but for an organized effort online to get their attention.

For those who spend a lot of time online — particularly of the political consultant class — it is worth remembering that much of what happens online stays online and never translates into the real world. Organized campaigns on twitter, Facebook, etc. might move stories, but in and of themselves rarely move needles.

For those who rarely spend time online, however, it is worth also noting that a sustained online effort can help shape the news you read, see, and hear. There is a disconnect, but that does not mean connections are not possible. Just don’t judge how big a story really is from twitter.

The post The Online Off and the Offline On appeared first on RedState.

Stealing Minnesota: If at first you don’t succeed, change the rules

What is it about guys named Al trying to change election rules ***after*** the election is over?

Geez.

Franekn has filed suit with a favorable judge in a favorable county demanding the right to dig through rejected absentee ballots. It’s against the rules, mind you, so Franken is demanding the rules be changed.

Opening up the rejected-ballot question is also a recipe for potential fraud. When the Franken campaign filed its initial lawsuit demanding access to the voter lists, it used as an example an 84-year-old woman in Beltrami County whose vote was supposedly rejected because she’d had a stroke, and therefore her signature on her absentee ballot did not match the one on file. After some outside investigation, the Franken campaign admitted that the story was not true, and that her ballot had been rejected for entirely different (and legitimate) reasons.

In other words, Franken is lying to sow doubt about the election. Stealing it during the canvassing process didn’t work. Now he has to change the rules.

Of course, even the media in Minnesota is getting tired of his antics.

Franken needs to trust the secretary of state and the 87 county auditors to do their jobs and do them well. The system in place is open and transparent. A lawsuit at this point is like trying to change the rules of a football game during the overtime period. Let’s play by the rules of the existing recount lawbook.