Archive

February 26th, 2016

Trump's glitzy style is attracting evangelical voters

    Donald Trump seems the unlikeliest Republican candidate for evangelical voters, with his three marriages, his ownership of casinos and beauty pageants, and his belated opposition to their core issues of abortion and marriage.

    Yet he captured the votes of 33 percent of evangelicals in South Carolina Saturday-a big factor in his win, since evangelicals made up a whopping 72 percent of Republican primary voters there.

    Sen. Ted Cruz seems to be the quintessential evangelical candidate: a pastor's son who can strut a campaign rally stage like it's a revival and who pledged to inspire millions of supposedly apathetic evangelicals to vote for a resurgent Christian America.

    Cruz amassed the endorsements of more over 300 pastors and other religious leaders in South Carolina. Glenn Beck, one of Cruz's most high-profile supporters, told voters at a South Carolina rally that the Texas senator was "raised for this hour" by the "hand of divine providence." Cruz was supposed to be a messianic figure to save Christian America from its downward secularist spiral.

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The pope said what about whom?

    Before discussing what Pope Francis said the other day, let's discuss one of the most Christlike things a U.S. president has done lately.

    That was when President Obama brought soothing words to an American mosque, words like, "You're not Muslim or American. You're Muslim and American."

    Marco Rubio, the junior robot from Florida, said the visit was meant to "divide the country." Within the next 30 seconds, we can be certain, he repeated it.

    In the event of a Rubio presidency, I'm curious which Americans he would seek to represent — which Americans he'd soothe with a visit, and which ones he would shun.

    Traveling through Africa recently, Pope Francis said, "Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters." He can say that because he is not on the Republican primary ballot.

    It's the same reason that he could say the other day: "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian."

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Sanders is blowing it by refusing to attack Clinton over her scandals

    Conservatives have always argued that the left believes in unilateral disarmament, but now we have proof: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., faces a primary opponent whose use of a private email server is under investigation by the FBI, but he refuses to attack her on the issue.

    His failure to do so cost him victory in Iowa. It cost him victory in Nevada. And ultimately, it could cost him the Democratic nomination.

    In the one state where Sanders has won - New Hampshire - exit polls showed 34 percent of Democratic voters said that honesty was the most important factor in their decision about whom to support. These voters chose Sanders by a stunning margin of 92 percent to 6 percent, helping put him over the top in the Granite State. By contrast, Clinton won by a wide margin among those who said the ability to win in November was the most important factor. But these voters made up just 12 percent of the electorate, not enough to make up for Clinton's gaping honesty gap.

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Rockefeller really was a lot richer than you are

    Today's discussion involves a visit to the here-we-go-again files. The website Cafe Hayek, in a post titled "Most Ordinary Americans in 2016 Are Richer Than Was John D. Rockefeller in 1916," asks a seemingly simple question: What is the minimum amount of money that you would demand in exchange for going back to live as John D. Rockefeller did in 1916?

    The obvious point here is that we are doing better than the richest man of a century ago. Yet there's a subtext (which becomes pretty clear by looking at the comments on the post): that all of this talk about wealth and income inequality -- an important theme in this year's presidential election -- can and should be ignored. After all, as some have noted, even many of the poorest Americans own a smartphone today, whereas a century ago not even the wealthiest person on Earth had one.

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The Devil in Ted Cruz

    When Ted Cruz announced this week that he was firing his campaign’s communications director for circulating a false insinuation that Marco Rubio had belittled the Bible, he told reporters, “Even if it was true, we are not a campaign that is going to question the faith of another candidate.”

    Really? Huh. Then I must have been hallucinating last month at a Cruz event in Iowa where several of his hand-picked supporters, who spoke just before him, mocked and dismissed Donald Trump’s professed Christianity.

    They marveled at a past comment of Trump’s about never asking God for forgiveness. One of them chose a bizarre, religiously coded analogy for a boast Trump had just made about how much voters loved him, saying that the billionaire’s bragging was an echo of John Lennon’s infamous claim — an outrage to American Christians in the 1960s — that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.

    But no, Cruz’s campaign would never question the faith of another candidate.

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God wasn't on Trump's side in South Carolina

    Perhaps the hardest thing to understand about Donald Trump's victory in South Carolina is how a twice-divorced, dirty-mouthed recent supporter of abortion who hardly ever goes to church could have carried a Bible Belt state where exit polls showed almost three-quarters of the Republican voters identifying themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians.

    Matching such self-identification with church attendance wouldn't be easy, though, and, having spent some time talking to pastors and parishioners in South Carolina, I don't think Trump won over the truly devout voters. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio got them. Trump won the xenophobes, and though they may be an overlapping constituency, that's not quite the same as getting the support of evangelicals.

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Ted Cruz's missplaced embrace of gold

    Ted Cruz has come down with a bad case of Midas delusion.

    Now, it usually only afflicts people wearing bowties, but the politicians those people donate to are also at risk. We can't say for sure if that's how Cruz contracted it, but the fact that his biggest benefactor is a goldbug means that we can't rule it out either.

    What are the symptoms? Well, chief among them is a belief that the price of gold doesn't just matter, but actually matters more than anything else. In other words, that we could fix the economy if we fixed the dollar to always be worth a certain amount of gold. That, at least, is what Cruz hinted at when he said that "one of the problems is the volatility of the dollar" and that the best way to stop "these rapid oscillations in commodities markets" due to "unstable currencies" is to adopt a "rules-based monetary supply, ideally tied to gold." That way, Cruz says, the dollar would always be worth the same. "We don't want a strong dollar or a weak dollar," he told voters, but rather "want a stable dollar."

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Britain was never a real EU member anyway

    One could argue -- and some, like UKIP leader Nigel Farage, already do -- that the concessions British Prime Minister David Cameron obtained from other European Union leaders to stay in the bloc are meaningless. Or one could rejoice in a victory as Cameron does. That won't change a fundamental fact: Britain is not really part of the EU anyway.

    The negotiations that resulted in Friday's deal were an elaborate public-relations charade played out for Cameron's domestic audience and for the international media with its "EU is falling apart" narrative.

    Cameron asked for the right to curtail benefits for migrant workers from other EU countries for 13 years, but he got seven years instead. Cameron asked for an effective veto over EU legislation but instead got an assurance that any such legislation will take into account the interests of countries that aren't part of Europe's monetary and banking unions. Cameron wanted an opt-out of the EU treaties' goal of an "ever closer union" and got a declaration explaining that this only applied to those countries that wanted it.

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Obama makes Guantanamo tribunals more difficult

    Buried in the middle of President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday on closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was a remarkable statement very close to a repudiation of the military commissions trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and nine other terrorists.

    Obama first said that the "costly" commissions hadn't resulted in a conviction related to the Sept. 11 attacks. He noted that the commissions had been reformed under his administration -- neatly implying that he hadn't initiated them -- and said he was proposing more changes, which Congress would have to approve. And he went on to praise the civilian criminal courts, known as the Article III courts for the section of the Constitution that established them, for convictions in other terrorist attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombing.

    Then the president essentially threw the existing military commissions under the bus. He said that they represented a chapter that should be closed. The commissions shouldn't be a precedent for how terrorists should be tried, he said, but should be reserved for battlefield detentions, as they had been in previous wars.

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Before Trump, the sad history of when Christians anointed another political bully

    Evangelical Christians have just delivered Donald Trump - the Republican presidential candidate most out of sync with their biblical values - a resounding victory in South Carolina. Of the 65 percent of Republican voters who identify as evangelicals, a third of them cast their ballot for Trump, more than any other candidate. Why?

    For roughly the same reason that a medieval pope, Leo III, anointed another political bully, Charles the Great, better known as Charlemagne. Put simply, they want a Protector in Chief. Facing a political culture increasingly hostile to their beliefs-and a government riding roughshod over their religious freedoms-evangelicals believe Mr. Trump will be the best guardian of their liberties.

    "Trump is a fighter," Mark Burns, pastor of the Greenville, South Carolina-based Christian Television Network, told Fox News. "He is the one to fight for Christianity and for our conservative values we hold dear."

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