Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roy Moore Was Never A Good Candidate

One year into the Trump revolution it now appears almost certain that a Senate seat in deep-red Alabama is going to end up in the hands of the Democrats. The slim Republican majority will likely be eroded to a single seat, which will effectively put the brakes on the Republican agenda. It’s worth looking back at how the Republican Party got here.

The Alabama Senate race began simply enough. Incumbent Jeff Sessions left to become the attorney general with the full expectation that the governor of Alabama would appoint a Republican to take his place and the state’s conservative voters would rubberstamp the governor’s pick.

Enter Luther Strange. Strange was the state attorney general and was responsible for the investigation of Gov. Robert Bentley. Bentley picked Strange to be the new senator in a move that many Alabamans thought smacked of an insider quid pro quo after impeachment proceedings against the governor were delayed for six months.

Although he was endorsed by President Trump and the majority of the Washington Republicans, the scent of corruption was too great for Strange to overcome. Strange and Moore were the top two finishers in the Republican primary in August. Moore, backed by Steve Bannon and the populist wing of the GOP, went on to defeat Strange in the runoff to become the Republican nominee.

Things went bad for Moore almost immediately. A Fox News poll in October, weeks before the sex scandal broke, showed that Moore was tied with Democrat Doug Jones at 42 percent. The poll was a shock to Alabama Republicans.

In a moment that may turn out to be prophetic, President Trump had argued at a September rally for Luther Strange that “ Roy has a very good chance of not winning in the general election.”

Moore had a long history in Alabama. Twice elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, he had finished neither term. He was removed from the court in 2003 for refusing to comply with a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state building. In 2015, he was removed again for refusing to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision mandating same-sex marriage. Between his partial terms on the court, Moore mounted two unsuccessful campaigns for governor in 2006 and 2010.

Even before Moore partnered with Steve Bannon to take on Strange, there were warning signs about Moore. The most obvious red flags were Moore’s connections to fringe conspiracy beliefs. Moore debuted as a columnist for World Net Daily, a prominent fake news site, in 2006. One of the columns that Moore authored argued for a religious test for office that would prohibit Muslims from serving in Congress. Moore was also a prominent birther, claiming that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen as recently as December 2016. In a September 2017 interview with Vox, Moore claimed, “There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country.”

Even before the sexual assault allegations, there were questions about Moore’s character. In 2002, Moore founded the nonprofit legal organization, the Foundation for Moral Law. Moore said in public that he did not take a “regular salary” from the group, but the Washington Post reported that the charity paid Moore a salary of $180,000 per year, which amounted to more than $1 million and was far more than the foundation disclosed on IRS filings.

In 2002, the Montgomery Advertiser hinted that there was an unknown, dark side to Roy Moore. “Some of those who worked with Moore roll their eyes when asked about him but keep their mouths shut,” Todd Kleffman wrote for the Advertiser, “There are plenty of stories to tell, the longtime secretaries, parole officials and lawyers said, but not on the record and not now, while Moore sits atop the state court system and controls its purse strings.”

Jimmy Hedgspeth, the Etowah County DA, said at the time, “If Roy wasn't the chief justice, I'd tell you anything you want to know. I think we have to have respect for the office, even if we don't like the people who hold it.”

Teresa Jones, who worked with Moore at the District Attorney’s office in Gadsden, said in a tweet, “It was common knowledge about Roy's propensity for teenage girls. I'm appalled that these women are being skewered for the truth.” Other locals in Gadsden say that Moore was banned from the mall for harassing teenage girls.

Looking back, there were plenty of warning signs about Roy Moore. If the Washington Post could hear the whispers about Moore and seek out witnesses to his behavior, why couldn’t opposition researchers from other Republican campaigns? Why didn’t Alabama’s party establishment intervene to spare the state the disgrace that it is currently experiencing?

The answer is that the Republican Party is caught up in irrational populist anger. The party’s voters rejected Luther Strange because he was too corrupt and too connected to the party establishment. They rejected Mo Brooks because he was insufficiently subservient to Donald Trump.

In the end, Alabama Republicans violated the basic rule of William F. Buckley to nominate the most conservative candidate who can win. In Roy Moore, Alabama Republicans picked a candidate who was known to have embraced conspiracy theories, who was vulnerable to questions about his business dealings, who had two failed campaigns for statewide office and who, after winning elections, had failed to fulfill his term of office twice. Even without allegations of sexual misconduct, Moore should have been toxic as a candidate.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Major Conservative Donor Dumps Steve Bannon... For Mitch McConnell

Politics is a finicky business. One week you’re the kingmaker, sitting atop the GOP and the next you’re cast aside for your arch-enemy, the establishment RINO in charge of the Senate. This is the month that Steve Bannon is having.

After Roy Moore’s victory over incumbent Senator Luther Strange in Alabama, the former White House strategist and alt-right media mogul was on top of the world. He had just bumped off the establishment pick for the seat of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and there was talk that Bannon was now the de facto head of the Republican Party. The insurgent strategist announced plans to challenge every sitting Republican senator who came up for re-election in 2018. Luther Strange was to be only his first victim.

Even before the story of Roy Moore’s affinity for underage girls broke, things were starting to crumble for Bannon. In early November, Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire and major conservative donor, announced that he was selling his stake in Breitbart, Bannon’s alt-right website. In his announcement, Mercer cited differences with Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right firebrand elevated to stardom on Breitbart who was revealed to have links to white nationalists and a soft spot for pedophilia.

The hits seem to just keep on coming for Bannon.

Now Sheldon Adelson, another billionaire conservative donor, has announced that he is breaking ties with Steve Bannon. To add insult to injury, Adelson is making clear that he is not just breaking off relations with Bannon, he is declaring war on the populist wing of the GOP.

“The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts,” Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman, told Politico. “They are supporting Mitch McConnell 100 percent. For anyone to infer anything otherwise is wrong.”

Adelson’s break with Bannon comes a day after he addressed the Zionists of America and called on the Jewish group to “work as partners” against the Republican establishment per Haaretz. Adelson, who is Jewish, was originally slated to introduce Bannon at the gala event.

The break between Adelson and Bannon seems to have little to do with Zionism or Bannon’s alleged but unproven anti-Semitism and everything to do with Bannon’s attempted hostile takeover of the Republican Party. With little to show from the Republican control of Washington and retirements mounting from experienced congressional Republicans, last week’s Democrat sweep of the off-year elections and the sudden implosion of Roy Moore’s campaign were apparently the last straw.

Bannon’s problems with Moore and Yiannopoulos were both due to insufficient vetting. Internet sleuths found embarrassing videos of Yiannopoulos while the Washington Post investigated longstanding rumors about Moore. With Bannon openly supporting Kelli Ward in Arizona, a Republican senatorial candidate who once hosted a town hall meeting with chemtrails as the subject, Adelson must have been wondering what other surprises he could expect from Bannon’s handpicked candidates.

Mitch McConnell may not be the most charismatic or conservative of Republicans, but he is a survivor who helped to rebuild the party after the Democrat wave election in 2008. Sheldon Adelson has apparently decided that the Bannon revolution has run its course and decided to choose experience over populist anger.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Monday, November 13, 2017

No Surprise That Evangelicals Are Standing By Roy Moore

In the wake of last week’s revelations about Alabama Republican Roy Moore, a new poll shows that more than 70 percent of evangelical voters in Alabama still support the man accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl. About half of the evangelicals who still support Moore say that the charges make them more likely to vote Republican, a statistic that shows how little regard Republican voters hold for the mainstream media.

The poll by JMC Analytics found that 37 percent of evangelicals are more likely to vote for Roy Moore in the wake of the sex scandal than before. An additional 34 percent said that the allegations made no difference in their vote. Only 28 percent of evangelicals were less likely to vote for Moore after the revelations. The same poll showed that 38 percent of voters at large were less likely to vote for Moore.

The poll’s findings will be assumed to show hypocrisy on the part of evangelical voters, but this isn’t necessarily true. CNN exit polls show that 56 percent of Protestant voters voted for Donald Trump. In contrast to Trump, Moore’s sex scandal is more easily explained away.

Roy Moore tacitly admitted to Sean Hannity that he dated girls “as young as 17.” At the same time, Moore called the more damaging allegation that he improperly touched a 14-year-old girl “completely false.” In contrast, evangelicals have already voted en masse for Donald Trump, who admitted to sexual assault in a taped conversation on “Access Hollywood.”

In Trump’s case, the tape was made in 2005 and other allegations of sexual misconduct were even more recent. The allegations against Roy Moore are almost 40 years old. Moore has been happily married (to the same woman, unlike Donald Trump) for the past 32 years. Moore’s wife, Kayla, told Breitbart that they met when she was 23.   

With no allegations of sexual misbehavior in more than three decades, it is easy to argue that Roy Moore is a changed man. Christians believe in in the power of God to change hearts and lives. They also believe in repentance and forgiveness. It is much easier to believe that Roy Moore is a changed man who has repented of his long-ago actions than Donald Trump.

The second reason that evangelicals have not abandoned Roy Moore is a simple one. They believe that Democrats are a bigger threat than someone who may have exercised bad – and, in at least one case, criminal – judgment four decades ago.

Democrats have worked painstakingly hard to convince the country that they are no friend to Bible-believing Christians. The list of attacks on Christians by liberal Democrats is long and includes a legal campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor, political assaults on photographers and bakers who hold a traditional view of marriage, attacks on freedom of speech for pro-life activists and campaigns to remove Christian symbols from nearly aspect of public life. In a viral clip from the 2012 Democratic convention, Democrat delegates even booed the inclusion of God in their party platform.

Roy Moore was directly involved in two incidents which were perceived by Alabama evangelicals to be assaults on their religious liberty. In 2003, Moore was removed from his position as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for his refusal to remove a 10 Commandments monument. Moore worked his way back to the state high court, but was removed again in 2015 after refusing to order probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Critics might argue that Moore’s actions were self-serving and violated his oath to uphold the rule of law, but they also made him a hero to the state’s evangelical voters.  

Now, after decades of having their religious beliefs attacked by the left, Alabama Christians see their champion, Roy Moore, under assault from the same liberals who have celebrated as courts chipped away at their religious liberty. Moore’s habit of tilting at windmills may not have been successful, but, like Donald Trump, he is viewed as a man who fights back. Many evangelicals will even refuse to believe the charges, in spite of Moore’s admission, because they view the Washington Post and other mainstream media as fake news.

Ultimately, Alabama evangelicals will have to decide between an accused child molester and Democrat. Many of them openly admit that they consider the Democrat to be worse. Considering how Democrats have treated evangelicals, this should not be a surprise.  

Originally published On the Resurgent

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Are Conservatives Tired of Winning Yet?

As a candidate, Donald Trump promised Republicans that “We are going to win so much that you may even get tired of winning.” Over the past year, I’ve noticed that the president’s supporters and conservative critics don’t seem to share the same definition of “winning.”

A few times recently the different views of winning have come to the surface. When Donald Trump tweeted, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen,” Trump supporters erupted in cheers and celebrations on social media. Several lists of Trump’s accomplishments making their way around the internet, such as this one on Conservapedia, point out the areas where Trump supporters believe he is winning.

From my analysis, President Trump’s accomplishments seem to fall into three main categories. First is the appointments of conservative jurists to positions throughout the judiciary. Second, Trump has used his executive authority to enact a number of promised reforms. Finally, Donald Trump uses his “bully pulpit” to fight back. The duration and effect of these accomplishments varies wildly.

In my view, President Trump’s most important and – so far – only lasting accomplishment has been his effect on the federal judiciary. The appointment of Neal Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is only the tip of the iceberg. Working with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who many Trump supporters view as an establishment foe, Trump had appointed 44 federal judges and had eight confirmed by August. These conservative judges will have a lasting effect on the judicial branch.

The same cannot be said of Trump’s executive actions. Many of President Trump’s executive actions overturn President Obama’s executive actions. A successor could erase President Trump’s executive legacy just as easily.

The quality of President Trump’s executive actions varies as well. His executive actions range from the excellent, such as cutting bureaucratic regulations and reinstating the Mexico City policy to ban federal funding for abortions in other countries, to the ineffective, such as his travel bans that would likely have no effect on fighting terrorism.

Some of Trump’s executive actions, though they fulfill campaign promises and are applauded by his supporters, are actually harmful to the country. In one of his first acts as president, Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership. The lack of American participation did not kill the trade deal, however. Other parties to the treaty are continuing to move forward on the agreement. If the deal goes forward without the United States, it will be American businesses, workers and consumers who lose.

The third category of Trump accomplishments is the most meaningless and illusory. Trump supporters love his snarky tweets and insults. They like the fact that he fights back and consider this an accomplishment. Essentially, Trump’s tweets and insults make Republicans feel good about themselves.

The problem is that Trump has the opposite effect on the rest of the country. An ABC News poll found that 70 percent of the public thinks that Trump does not act presidential and 68 percent don’t see him as a positive role model. The president’s behavior is now directly linked to electoral losses in which voters say that they are voting for Democrats specifically because they oppose Donald Trump.

Another commonly cited accomplishment is the surging stock market. While stocks have hit record highs under Trump, they did the same under Obama. In fact, a look at the stock market over the past 10 years shows that the market has been climbing since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Supporters have difficulty pointing to any specific Trump policy change that could explain the surging market since Republicans have scored so few victories on fiscal and economic policy.

On the other hand, my definition of “winning” relies heavily on legislative victories that would be difficult for Democrats to reverse. As the Trump Administration prepares to close out its first year and enter a midterm election year, it has not scored a single legislative victory.

The repeal or reform of Obamacare would have been a major legislative victory since Republicans had been campaigning against the federal health law since 2010. Donald Trump campaigned against Obamacare as well, but when the chips were down, the president’s erratic behavior and attacks on Republican senators almost certainly contributed to the reform effort’s demise.

Likewise, Trump began the tax reform effort with a war against Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate budget committee. Trump insisted that, in contrast with conservative fiscal doctrine, that the tax reform not lower the rates of the wealthiest taxpayers. The top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 95 percent of taxes per the Office of Management and Budget, but taxpayers in the top bracket won’t get a lower rate, if tax reform actually becomes law, thanks to President Trump.

While Trump supporters may argue that the president has accomplished more than any president except FDR, most Americans understand how little has been done in the past year. Without the passage of a single piece of legislation that is part of the Trump agenda, Republicans seeking reelection have few accomplishments to run on. As a result, many Republicans are deciding that 2018 is a good time to retire.   

Donald Trump has not ushered in an era in which conservatives have grown tired of winning. In fact, winning has been in short supply over the past year. What President Trump has lacked in winning, he has more than made up for in whining, but that makes a poor substitute.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, November 10, 2017

Roy Moore Isn’t Going Anywhere - Neither are His Supporters

As prominent Republicans call for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to step down amid allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979 when Moore was 32, the flamboyant Republican is refusing to drop out of the race. In a series of tweets Thursday night, Moore vowed to “NEVER GIVE UP the fight!”

“The Obama-Clinton Machine’s liberal media lapdogs just launched the most vicious and nasty round of attacks against me I’ve EVER faced!” Moore said in the first of four tweets. “We are are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.”
“The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal –– even inflict physical harm –– if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me,” Moore said in the second tweet in the series.

“I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values!” the third tweet said. “Our nation is at a crossroads right now — both spiritually and politically.”

“Our children and grandchildren’s futures are on the line. So rest assured — I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight!” Moore concluded.

The final tweet also contained a statement in which Moore said that the accusations were a “fabrication” and a “completely false and desperate political attack.”

The accusations against Moore are serious and credible enough to end the Senate hopes of a candidate in any era but this one. Republican leaders, including President Trump, have urged Moore to withdraw from the race, but it is Donald Trump’s example that will inspire Moore and his supporters to fight on. After all, it was only last year that Republicans decided that a history of sexual assault was not disqualifying for their presidential nominee.

The Moore campaign can make a credible case that the accusations against Moore are less damning than those against Donald Trump. In Trump’s case, the candidate was caught on tape in 2005 when he was 59. There was no denying the candidate’s own words. In Moore’s case, it is his word against that of his accusers about events almost 40 years ago. Moore says that the accusations are not true and many of his supporters will take him at his word.

There is also a difference in the amount of evidence. At least 16 women came forward against Donald Trump and his supporters considered them all liars in spite of Trump’s admissions on the “Access Hollywood” tape and boasts of sexual conquests in his books. In Moore’s case, the candidate has been happily married for 33 years and does not have a reputation as a ladies man. Even if Moore’s supporters accept the accusations as true, Moore’s track record for the past three decades gives them room to write off the incidents as youthful indiscretions that are not representative of his current character.

Finally, the argument could by made that voters looked the other way with Donald Trump because the possibility that Hillary Clinton would become president was simply to horrible to accept. A similar argument can be made that preserving the Republican majority in the Senate so vital that it is necessary to overlook Moore’s actions of four decades ago.

Republicans have been unable to advance their agenda already and a loss of the Alabama seat would cut the GOP majority to a single vote. This would effectively end any chance of enacting conservative reforms. It would also make it easier for Democrats to win control of the Senate outright next year.

For all these reasons, Roy Moore will not leave the race and the vast majority of Republicans will stand by him. After elevating an admitted philanderer and “p-ssy grabber” to the head of the party of family values and the country as a whole, it will be easy to stand by someone like Moore. After compromising your principles once, it is very easy to do it again.

For a Republican Party that now seems to put politics over character and values, the descent has been swift. A year ago the party found a way to excuse Donald Trump’s behavior as “locker room talk” and private matters between consenting adults. Now many Republicans are well on the way to rationalizing child molestation.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Feinstein Bill Is A Boon To GOP

Fresh from their electoral victories on Tuesday, Democrats are about to roll out a bill to aid President Trump’s ebbing fortunes. In a move that is apparently calculated to keep Republicans from becoming too unpopular, Senate Democrats intend to introduce gun control legislation that is similar to bills that Americans have rejected many times previously.

The Washington Examiner reports that, true to form, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calf.) is leading the charge on a bill that would ban more than 200 types of semi-automatic (the trigger must be pulled for every bullet fired) guns and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The bill would also ban devices that increase the rate of fire like the bump stock used by Stephen Paddock in the Las Vegas massacre as well as require background checks for private gun sales and mandate “safe storage” for other guns.

“We’re introducing an updated Assault Weapons Ban for one reason - so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote,” Feinstein said in a statement.

With Republicans in control of both houses of Congress and a president who is at least nominally pro-gun, Feinstein’s bill has approximately no chance of becoming law. It is far more likely that the bill will instead inspire gun owners to get out the vote to resist Democrats in 2018. Voters who might have stayed home due to their unhappiness with the ineffective Republican administration in Washington will be more likely to go to the polls because at least the Republicans aren’t “gun-grabbers” like Feinstein and the Democrats.

While a recent Politico poll found a slight majority in favor of new gun controls after Las Vegas, almost half of independents say that protecting gun rights is more important than limiting gun ownership. Respondents were equally split on which party better handles the gun issue.

Feinstein’s new “assault weapons” ban follows on the ban instituted by the Clinton Administration in 1994. The ban did not cause a drop in the crime rate and, when it expired 10 years later, there was no corresponding increase in crime. In fact, the definitive study on the gun ban, by Christopher Koper of George Mason University in 2004, found that the ban “had not had a discernible impact on gun crime during the years it was in effect.” So Dianne Feinstein is proposing to revisit an old policy that is ineffective as well as unpopular.

What the Feinstein bill may effectively do is remind blue collar voters why they voted for Donald Trump in the First place. The president is not popular and Democrats in Congress have all but shut down the Republican agenda. Nevertheless, a new assault weapons ban is the sort of overreach that can generate enthusiastic resistance for Republicans among gun owners.

Dianne Feinstein, the stereotypical SanFranciso anti-gunner, has provided the NRA with a villain for decades. Now, as Republicans struggle to give their base a reason to vote for them in 2018, it is Feinstein who rides to the rescue with the stereotypical San Francisco solution to any problem involving crime or violence, namely taking guns away from law-abiding citizens.

President Trump should send her a thank you note.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Elections Should Be Wake Up Call For GOP

Despite the trope that “all politics is local,” it is difficult to see last night’s election results as anything but a rebuke to President Trump and the Republican Party. Exit polls indicated that resistance to President Trump was a large factor in the Democrat landslide.

Politico reports that half of Virginia voters said that their vote was about Trump. Thirty-four percent of Virginia voters said they were voting to oppose Trump while 17 percent were voting to support the president.

Forty-seven percent of Virginia voters strongly disapproved of President Trump and Democrat Ralph Northam won 95 percent of those voters. Starting with a disadvantage of almost half of the electorate meant that Republican Ed Gillespie needed almost unanimous support among other groups. He did not find it, however, losing 53-45 percent.

In New Jersey, where the outgoing governor is the unpopular Republican Chris Christie, 28 percent of voters said that their vote was against the president, whose approval rating in the state is at 36 percent. Only 11 percent were voting in support of Donald Trump. Democrat Phil Murphy carried the governor’s race over Republican Kim Guadagno by 55-42 percent.
Politico notes that Gillespie and Guadagno both won the segment of the electorate that said that President Trump was not a factor. However, the margins (15 points for Gillespie and six points for Guadagno) were not enough to overcome the strong anti-Trump bloc.

To cap off the Democrat victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race, the party also picked up at least 13 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates. The landslide is the largest in more than 100 years and includes a trans woman (i.e. a man) and a former newscaster whose girlfriend was murdered on live television in 2015.

New Jersey is deep blue and Virginia is bluish purple these days, so Republicans may try to write off these losses to traditional voting patterns. That does not explain the loss of two seats in Georgia’s state House of Representatives, however. The two seats were in districts near Athens and have historically been solidly Republican.

The biggest takeaway from the elections is that President Trump has no coattails. Trump won because of Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity and lacks a mandate for his agenda. After starting with a popular vote defeat, Trump’s behavior while in office has caused support for his presidency and the Republican Party to erode.

Republican candidates in 2018 are between a rock and a hard place. Trump’s strong support in the GOP makes it difficult to distance themselves from the unpopular president. On the other hand, if they don’t move away from Trump, they face the possibility of losses in the general election.

Originally published on the Resurgent 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Why There Were No Guns In Sutherland Springs First Baptist

In the wake of the deadly church shooting in Texas, a common question has been why no one in the congregation was carrying a gun since Texas law allows both open and concealed carry. The shooting was interrupted by a man who lived next to the church rather than an armed member of the congregation.

Texas has long allowed concealed carry and an open carry law went into effect in 2016. Texas law requires a Texas License To Carry a Handgun (LTC) to carry a weapon in public. The LTC requires a background check and firearms training.

Even with an LTC, the right to carry a gun is not unrestricted. The law bars weapons in public buildings such as schools, polling places and correctional facilities. Guns are also banned from bars and sporting events, among other restrictions.

Private property owners are also allowed to decide whether to allow guns on their property. Property owners can post “30.06” and “30.07” signs that reference sections of Texas state law. Section 30.06 prohibits concealed carry and section 30.07 prohibits open carry when the signs are posted. Many churches and businesses post the 30.06 and 30.07 signs.

It is likely, but not certain that Sutherland Springs First Baptist. If the signs were in place, LTC holders would have left their weapons at home or in their cars. In either case, they would have been inaccessible when Devin Kelley cam through the front door.

Sutherland Springs was not the first mass shooting to take place in a church. One of the most infamous such attacks was Dylan Roof’s killing spree at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C in 2015.

In the wake of the Sutherland Springs murders, Texas churches may reconsider the 30.06 and 30.07 postings, but for organizations whose mission is to welcome outsiders there is a delicate balance between protecting congregants and scaring away religious seekers. For many churches, the promise of spiritual protection in verses such as Psalm 44:6  is more comforting than an LTC.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Both Sides Are Hypocrites On Mass Killings

The response to mass killings has become a sick joke.

After yesterday’s mass shooting in Texas, leftists took to the internet to attack gun laws, the NRA and the Republican Party before the bodies were even cold. As an added measure, anti-religious zealots attacked Christianity and the effectiveness of prayer since the mass murder took place at a Baptist church. Never mind that the killer was apparently an atheist who got his gun illegally.

Few stopped to ponder that the left had attacked Donald Trump only a few days earlier for tying immigration policy to the New York City truck attack. Trump’s claim ignored that his immigration policy would not have affected the terrorist who immigrated from Uzbekistan to the US years before becoming radicalized.

To its credit, Congress had attempted to eliminate the diversity visa program that allowed the New York terrorist to immigrate as part of an immigration reform compromise in 2013. At the time, the bill was opposed by many conservatives who considered it “amnesty.”

The sick joke is the reflexive jockeying after terrorist attacks and mass killings to determine who can benefit politically from the tragedy. The left infamously hopes that killers are white men while the right crosses its collective fingers for a Muslim terrorist or Antifa activist. Neither side wants to let the crisis go to waste.

Social media is scoured for signs of the perpetrator’s political leanings. Was he a Democrat or a Republican? A liberal or a conservative?

For many conspiracy theorists, the facts don’t matter. According to them, the Texas and Las Vegas shooters were secret Muslim converts or they had histories of attending far-left rallies. Maybe both. Lack of evidence just means that their posts were scrubbed by the Deep State. Regardless of the killer’s politics, if any, Alex Jones can be depended on to trot out a false flag conspiracy.

But it isn’t just conspiracy nuts. Both sides are filled with hypocrites. The roles change according to what is found on the muderer’s Facebook profile and Twitter history, but partisans on both sides shamefully leverage the deaths of innocents for their own political gain. One side attacks and the other side attacks the first side for its insensitivity.

The cynical gamesmanship is transparent to most Americans and doubtless contributes to the disapproval and lack of confidence that the country feels toward both political parties. The majority of Americans are repulsed by the bickering, insults and accusations.

A national tragedy is not the time to push a pet political agenda or try to drive a wedge between voters and your opponent. Politicians and activists should act with at least a modicum of class, dignity  and self-restraint in the wake of mass murders.

Let us get past the shock of scores of people being murdered while peacefully attending a worship service, a concert or just walking down the street. As a nation, we need time to mourn. We need to come together in our grief and sadness rather than rushing into an emotional policy debate that, in all likelihood, won’t stop the next psychopath or jihadist anyway.

Coming together in mourning may help the nation heal politically as well. We may realize that the other side isn’t made up of bloodthirsty radicals who want to destroy the country, but are, in reality, our friends, neighbors and relatives who are just as shocked and saddened as we are.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Brazile Denies Democratic Primary Was Rigged

Donna Brazile, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called Hillary Clinton staffers who criticized her take on the 2016 campaign out of touch. Brazile, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” defended her claims that Clinton control of the DNC tied the group’s hands and made it difficult for the group to be involved in the campaign, but denied that the primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders.

“Here's what they don't know. What it was like to be over at the DNC during the hacking. What it's like to bury a child. I did, Seth Rich. They don't know what it's like to protect a staff from further harassment,” Brazile said.

“They don't know what it's like because they're — the high command of Brooklyn,” Brazile added. “The people making the decisions, even for the DNC, they didn't come and work with us. They told us to shut up. And basically let them win the election. When we tried to intervene, we had to spend money we raised to try to help them win. That was my job as chair of the party.”

In a racially charged comment rarely applied to fellow Democrats, Brazile also said that she had to tell the Clinton campaign that she was no slave. “Yeah, I'm not Patsy the slave because I got sick and tired of people trying to tell me how the spend the money,” Brazile  said. “I wasn't getting a salary. I was volunteering my time. I was trying to increase the level of enthusiasm and passion for Hillary Clinton and the rest of the ticket across the country.”

In other comments, Brazile denied that the Democratic primary was rigged against Bernie Sanders. "I said I would get to the bottom of everything, and that's what I did," Brazile said. "I called Senator Sanders to say, you know, I wanted to make sure there was no rigging of the process ... I found no evidence, none whatsoever."

“The thing, the only thing, I found -- which I said, 'I found the cancer, but I'm not killing the patient' -- was this memorandum that prevented the DNC from running its own operation,” she added.

Brazile’s claim that Hillary Clinton colluded with DNC long before Clinton won the Democratic nomination is ethically questionable, but falls short of actually rigging the election. In Brazile’s version of events, she discovered the Clintonian control of the DNC after the convention in July. Per Brazile, Bernie Sanders agreed to campaign for Clinton even after he was told of the party’s duplicity.

In spite of the result of the election, Brazile stands by her actions. “Do I regret taking on a job the second time in my life as chair of the party? Cleaning up everyone's mess? Taking all of the income in? Being unable to spend funds that I raised? Do I regret being on the road 100 percent of the time? Being hacked by the Russians? Being — being harassed, getting death threats? Do I regret any of that?” she asked rhetorically.

“Do I regret standing up for what is right? Helping Hillary Clinton? Helping the Democratic Party? … No, I wish I could have done more.”

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Trump Doesn’t Have To Be ‘Unhappy’ That There Is No Clinton Investigation

President Trump on Thursday criticized the Justice Department for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton. Trump said that he was “very unhappy”  and “frustrated” with a situation that he called beyond his control.

Speaking on Larry O’Connor’s radio show, the president said, “The saddest thing is that because I'm the President of the United States I'm not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department, I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI, I'm not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by it. I look at what's happening with the Justice Department, why aren't they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with the dossier and the kind of money...?"

"It’s very discouraging to me,” the president continued. “I'll be honest, I'm very unhappy with it that the Justice Department isn't going—now maybe they are but you know as president, you're not supposed to be involved in that process but hopefully they are doing something and maybe at some point we can all have it out."

President Trump seems confused here. The Justice Department is under his authority. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, is his appointee and works for him. If President Trump really believes that Hillary Clinton is a criminal, he could easily order an investigation to determine whether that is true.

What the president cannot do is interfere with an ongoing investigation. This is why President Trump got into trouble for firing FBI Director James Comey. Comey alleged that Trump pressured him to stopping the investigation of Mike Flynn, which skates perilously close to obstruction of justice.

But stopping an investigation into Flynn is the opposite of starting an investigation into the Clintons. As a candidate, Trump seemed to understand that the president had the power to order an investigation when he promised on the campaign trail to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary. Chants of “lock her up” were encouraged by Trump at his rallies.

In fact, it was President-elect Trump, not the Department of Justice, who decided against an investigation of the Clintons. Two weeks after the election, Trump said, “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t. She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways, and I am not looking to hurt them at all. The campaign was vicious.”

At a post-election rally in December 2016, Trump stopped the crowd from chanting “lock her up.”

“That plays great before the election,” Trump said. “Now we don't care, right?”

Now that Trump’s approval rating is in the cellar and the Russia investigation is heating up, Trump’s interest in Hillary is renewed. This may be due to the recent revelations about Democrat involvement in the Trump dossier, but it is more likely the president is using Hillary as a distraction and a way of shoring up support for his base. If the president really wanted an investigation of Hillary, there would be one.

While criminalizing political differences is a dangerous road to travel, in the case of the Clintons there seem to be ample grounds for an investigation. Did the Clinton Foundation break the law by selling influence and access to the Secretary of State? Did the Democrats illegally collude with the Russians on the Trump dossier? Did the Obama Administration use the dossier supplied by the Clintons to improperly spy on Americans? Did the Clintons violate laws when they exerted their influence on the Democratic National Committee during the primaries?

Trump’s calls to “lock her up” complicate any investigation of Hillary. As with his tweets calling for the death penalty in the recent New York terror attack, Trump’s words can be considered prejudicial to the  outcome of an investigation or trial. If the president thinks Hillary broke the law, he should have Jeff Sessions appoint an independent counsel and then stop tweeting and talking about it.

The case against the Clintons is much stronger now than it was a year ago when Trump was threatening to “lock her up.” As the allegations mount against, the need for an independent investigation grows. President Trump has the authority to make an investigation happen. And should.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hensarling Latest Republican To Retire

Yesterday Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) became the latest Republican congressman to announce that he will not seek re-election. Hensarling represents the Fifth District in the Dallas area and chairs the Financial Services Committee.

“Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the US Congress in 2018. Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned," Hensarling told the Dallas Morning News. 

Hensarling is considered a conservative with a strong voting record. He has an annual rating of 96 perecent from the American Conservative Union. His lifetime score is 97 percent.

Prominent Republicans said that Hensarling, who has been in Congress since 2003, will be missed. "Jeb is smart, principled, effective, he's done a terrific job in the House and he will be sorely missed," said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), saying that the decision was “very disappointing news.”

Speaker Paul Ryan agreed, saying in a statement, "He is a true Constitutional Conservative who understands that free enterprise is critical to a thriving America.”

So far, at least 18 other House Republicans have announced their intention to retire. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to gain control of the lower legislative body. A majority of the retirements are in districts that that still lean Republican. 

Rep. Juan Castro (D-Texas) noted, "The number of legislators, but especially Republicans, who have decided to leave the Congress this year is especially high compared to other years, and there have been a few surprises, just like Jeb's announcement today.”

Hensarling denied that his departure was related to the Trump Administration. "Quite the opposite," he said. "I'm rather enjoying it."

Candidates to fill Hensarling’s seat must file to run by Nov. 11, leaving little time to mount a campaign. The most notable potential candidate is Allen West, a retired army colonel and Fox News contributor who served one term as a Florida congressman from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, West moved to Dallas to take over the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan think tank.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

Tax Bill Delayed As GOP Squabbles

The Republican tax reform bill was supposed to be unveiled today, but there is one little problem: It isn’t written yet. The House Ways and Means Committee was forced to delay the release of the bill until Thursday to allow the committee members another day to negotiate details of the proposed legislation.

"Ways and means committee members met tonight to discuss the work we are doing on pro-growth tax reform. In consultation with President Trump and our leadership team, we have decided to release the bill text on Thursday," Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) announced in a statement detailed on CNN. "We are pleased with the progress we are making and we remain on schedule to take action and approve a bill at our Committee beginning next week."

Republicans have few legislative victories to show for their control of Congress and the White House. Divisions within the party led to the defeat of several attempts to reform the Affordable Care Act, the party’s highest profile promise in the 2016 elections. Now it seems that intraparty squabbling may endanger prospects for tax reform as well.

There are indications that the GOP is struggling to deliver on the promises made in the ambitious tax framework revealed last September. Republicans promised to lower tax rates on individuals and corporations while closing loopholes. The framework also promised to double the standard deduction and expand the child tax credit.

There have reportedly been several points of disagreement among the GOP caucus. Treatment of the tax deduction for state income taxes has been a major point of contention. There is also disagree on whether the reform should be allowed to increase the deficit and whether the cuts should be permanent. Both points affect the ability of Republicans to use a budget reconciliation to pass the bill.

Tax cuts for the wealthy have also been controversial with President Trump promising that the bill will not be a boon to upper income taxpayers. The top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 95 percent of taxes per government data cited by Politico and cuts to these taxpayers would pack the largest benefit to the economy.

“The fact that they [low-income taxpayers] don’t pay very much in taxes means that it’s very hard to provide them with a large tax cut,” said Adam Looney, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It’s basically impossible to have a large tax cut that doesn’t involve most of the benefits going to high-income groups just because that’s who pays taxes now.”

After a string of legislative defeats over the summer, Republicans desperately need a victory on tax reform to bolster their base ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Prospects for the passage of tax reform are not good if the party can’t even get the bill written.

Originally published on The Resurgent 

GOP Tax Reform Unveiled

Republicans have finally released their proposal for tax reform. The bill includes dramatic changes to the current tax code that, if enacted, will be largest overhaul of the tax system since the Reagan era.

The new plan maintains the top individual tax rate at 39.6 percent per Politico, but would reduce the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. New individual tax brackets of 12, 25 and 35 percent would be created. Income levels for these brackets are not yet available.

The plan doubles the standard deduction and increases the child tax credit to $1,600. The exemption for the estate tax would be doubled and the estate tax would be repealed after six years. The plan also keeps the popular retirement savings vehicle, the 401(k) account, which some Republicans had hinted could be eliminated.

The plan’s treatment of the mortgage interest deduction is sure to be controversial. The bill would limit this popular deduction to newly purchased homes less than $500,000. Realtor associations are already gearing up to oppose this change.

Republicans also maintained the deduction for state and local taxes. The new plan allows taxpayers to write off up to $10,000 in state and local property taxes, which critics say subsidizes states with high tax levels. Republicans from high tax states sought to preserve this deduction, but the limit is less than property taxes in many blue states.

The tax rate cuts would be offset by the elimination of targeted tax loopholes that favor certain industries and activities. The details of the loopholes to be closed are not yet available.

There are other questions that have yet to be answered as well. There was no clear indication on whether the tax rate cuts would be permanent or have a sunset clause as the 2001 Bush tax cuts did.

The bill also reportedly contains elements to discourage corporations from relocating to other countries. These details also have yet to be revealed.

There was also no word on whether the border adjustment, a tariff on imports, was part of the final plan. Tim Phillips, the president of Americans For Prosperity, had previously warned against the import tax, saying, “We strongly oppose adding a new tax that would raise prices on everyday goods while disproportionally hurting the poor and middle class.”

A weakness of the bill is the failure to lower the top tax rate. While cutting taxes for the wealthy is politically unpopular, per OMB Director Mick Mulvaney the top 20 percent of taxpayers pay 95 percent of the taxes. These taxpayers will benefit from rate cuts to lower brackets, but a cut in the top rate would also be beneficial.

Now that the Republican tax plan is written, the next step is to sell it to the country. Democrat disinformation is already being used to attack the reform proposal with the result that Americans oppose the plan out of the gate by 35-25 percent in a new NBC News  poll. The good news is that almost 40 percent have not made up their minds.

If Republicans can unite and if Donald Trump can stay focused on the issue at hand, tax reform may turn out to be the first real GOP legislative victory of the Trump era. Republicans need this win badly.

Originally published in The Resurgent