Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Open Letter To Democrats

Democrats are understandably excited about the upcoming presidential election. After last year’s midterm rebuke of President Trump and the Republicans, Democratic activists are champing at the bit for a rematch against President Trump, the almost inevitable Republican nominee. Nevertheless, Democratic voters need to carefully consider their primary choices to avoid a repeat of 2016.

There are a lot of former and current-but-dissatisfied Republican voters who would consider voting for a Democrathe t against President Trump. Mr. Trump’s behavior has always been a problem for many conservatives (as opposed to partisan Republicans). His recent attacks on the memory of John McCain, a decorated veteran who is not around to defend himself, and his expansion of presidential emergency powers are especially problematic for many of us.

The assessment from 2016 that Donald Trump was uniquely bad and dangerous for the American republic has been confirmed by the experience of the past two years. Despite promises to the contrary, Republicans have been either unwilling or unable to rein him in and hold him accountable for his excesses. That failure means that those of us concerned about where the country is headed under Trump must consider all available alternatives.

The warning that I must give to Democrats is that opposition to President Trump has not led us to embrace the Democratic platform or veer to the left. In fact, as I recently pointed out, the argument against Trump for conservatives isn’t just his bad behavior, it’s the fact that his policy is far to the left on many issues. If you want dissatisfied conservatives and Republicans to cross over and vote Democrat, you aren’t going to accomplish that with a Democratic socialist. The same is true of country at large which has historically been center-right. Recent polling shows that has not changed.

You may feel that Trump is so unpopular that you don’t need support from disaffected conservatives. That may be true in 2020 but it was a bad assumption in 2016. Without knowing what dirty tricks the Russians will pull (if any) to tip the scales or what skeletons lurk in the closets of political newcomers, are you really willing to take that chance?

Ideological conservatives are not going to vote for Democrats based on domestic policy, but they might consider voting for a Democrat who is moderate on domestic issues and who could stabilize US foreign policy and end the trade war.

The problem is that what has happened so far is that Democratic candidates are proposing such radical ideas that it is scaring conservatives who don’t like President Trump into voting for him in order to protect foundations of the American republic. Many of us don’t want Mr. Trump’s expansion of presidential powers, his trade war, or his isolationism, but we also don’t want to junk the Electoral College, eliminate private health insurance in favor of Medicaid-for-all, or pass slavery reparations, late-term abortions, or the Green New Deal.

What some Democrats fail to understand is the same thing that both the Obama and Trump Administrations failed to understand: Americans don’t drastic change and kicking out one party that abused its power is not a license for the other party to enact the wildest dreams of its base. The Trump Administration will likely be limited to one term because Republicans assumed that an Electoral College victory with a popular vote loss was a carte blanch to force their policies, both popular and unpopular, on the rest of the nation by any means necessary. That’s the sort of thing that tends to anger voters.  

If Democrats want to beat President Trump then their best bet is to nominate a candidate who doesn’t scare moderate and conservative voters. At this point, Joe Biden seems to be the best and most likely candidate to deliver the message, “You’re fired,” from the voters. If Biden doesn’t run, the choice is tougher but Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke seem to be the best bets for a moderate nominee. Beto, however, seems intent on alienating more moderates every day.

The main goal of the Democrats should be to come across as less threatening and radical than President Trump. This should not be hard, but if it weren’t a problem I wouldn’t have to write this letter. Every day Democrats like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris are out there saying things that scare the bejeezus out of moderate voters. This is how you get Trump re-elected.

I’m not saying that I’ll vote Democrat if you nominate a moderate. I’m a conservative I disagree with even moderately liberal ideas, but that’s part of the reason that I don’t plan to vote for President Trump. Add in the president’s erratic personality and behavior unbecoming the commander-in-chief and I might be open to supporting the right Democrat for the good of the country. On the other hand, if the stakes are high enough with a radical leftist as the Democratic nominee, you might just push me to vote Trump.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Poll Shows Surprising Surge For One Democrat But One Consistent Frontrunner

The large Democratic field may be starting to winnow itself out. New polling shows that four candidates stand out above the others with support in the double digits while one candidate in particular is a clear frontrunner.

The new poll by CNN and SSRS asked Democratic-leaning voters about their presidential preferences and found a surprising eight-point surge for Kamala Harris. The California senator polled at eight percent in the last polling during early December but reached 12 percent in the new poll. Despite the improvement, Harris finished in a distant third place.

The frontrunner, as in most polling, was the as-yet-unannounced Joe Biden. The former vice president has consistently led polling amid rampant speculation that he will announce his intent to run soon. Biden has hinted to supporters last week that he is running and holds an eight-point lead over his nearest competitor in the new poll. Biden’s support was virtually unchanged from the 30 percent that he garnered in December.

Bernie Sanders is the second-place finisher with 20 percent. The Democrat-in-name-only gained six percent over his December results to partially close the gap with Biden.

The only other candidate with support in the double-digits was Beto O’Rourke. Fresh from his official campaign announcement and fundraising triumph, the Texan gained two percent from his December results to hold a statistical tie with Harris at 11 percent.

There were few other candidates with significant changes in support. Elizabeth Warren showed marginal improvement, rising from three to six percent, while Corey Booker dropped from five to three percent. Amy Klobuchar was steady at three percent. Former secretary of state and presidential candidate John Kerry was also included in the poll with four percent support in both surveys.

More significant, the number of Democrats who chose “no one” or “undecided” dropped from 17 to seven percent. This indicates that even at this early date, voters are making up their minds. With fewer undecided voters to compete for, candidates will have to start chipping away at the competition in order to improve their own standing in the polls.

The poll also asked Democrats about their second choice. With 17 percent, Bernie Sanders was the top second choice followed by Joe Biden at 14 percent. No other candidates were above 10 percent on this question and the results indicate that Sanders and Biden should rise almost equally as other candidates start to drop out of the race.

Fifty-six percent of Democrats said that the most important factor in selecting a candidate was “a strong chance of beating Donald Trump.” Joe Biden was rated as the candidate most likely to beat Trump at 51 percent to Bernie Sanders’ 33 percent.

The CNN poll also gave bad news for President Donald Trump. The poll found that Donald Trump had a 41 percent approval rating with 54 percent disapproval. In contrast, 46 percent had a favorable opinion of Bernie Sanders, but most other Democratic candidates were largely unknown. The favorability question was not asked of Joe Biden.

On questions that were asked of supporters of both parties and independents, voters held a low opinion of Trump’s character. Only 40 percent thought he “cares about people like you” and 34 percent saw him as “honest and trustworthy.” On job performance, voters saw him as incapable of positively changing the country (53-42 percent), unable to manage the government effectively (56-41 percent), disrespectful of the rule of law (56-40 percent), and divisive (63-32 percent). The only question that the president fared well on was being tough enough to handle a crisis (51-46 percent).

Voters rated the top issue for the upcoming election as “immigration” at 20 percent. Of these voters, 15 percent said “immigration” in general and six percent said “wall” or “border security.” Supporters of both parties are enthusiastic about the upcoming election with 79 percent of both Democrats and Republicans rating themselves as very enthusiastic.

The poll sampled 1,003 adults using both cell phones and landlines. The party breakdown was 32 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican, and 44 percent independent or other parties. This closely mirrors the national partisan alignment. The margin of error was 3.8 percentage points.

The new poll shows that Democrats are starting to cement their support for particular candidates with Joe Biden as the consistent favorite. It also undercuts the notion that Democratic voters will veer left and nominate a radical candidate instead of the known and proven campaigner in Joe Biden. The nomination of a radical is more likely if Biden decides not to run. For Republicans, low approval and widespread distrust of President Trump make any Democratic candidate a threat.
Originally published on The Resurgent

Joe Biden’s Campaign Is The Worst-Kept Secret In Politics

The worst kept secret in politics is that Joe Biden is running for president. It’s so bad that even Ol’ Scrappy Joe can’t keep the secret himself.

“It can't go on like this, folks. I know I get criticized and told I get criticized by the new left,” Biden told Delaware Democrats on CNN last week. “have the most progressive record of anybody running for the United States.” Biden quickly corrected himself, adding, “Anybody who would run!”

The slip of the tongue may not have been intentional, but then again Biden has been stringing Democrats along for months with his vacillations on whether to mount a 2020 campaign or sit out the election as he did in 2016. With the 2020 Democratic field looking increasingly leftist and inexperienced, many moderates, including quite a few moderate Republicans, are hoping for a Biden candidacy.

However, Biden hit upon the key objection to that many Democrats will have to his nomination, namely that the Democratic Party has moved left in the past few years, leaving many to question whether the aging Delaware politician is too far out of the modern Democratic mainstream. There is also the question of whether an aging white man can edge out competition that includes both women and ethnic minorities in the new Democratic Party.

Perhaps following a strategy that understands that the buzz over whether he will get in the race or not is keeping attention turned away from the other hopefuls, Biden continues to be coy about running even as he secures endorsements and weighs the possibility of an early announcement about a running mate.

Biden met with Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, last week. The meeting fueled speculation that Abrams was under consideration for the vice-presidential slot as a strategy to help shore up support among black voters. Many black voters did not show up for Hillary Clinton in 2016, which helped Donald Trump to secure a slim victory in the Electoral College. Abrams has not announced a presidential campaign but tweeted on March 11 that “2020 is definitely on the table.”

Hillary also had problems motivating young voters. Polling shows that young Democrats favor Biden over other candidates, but there is also speculation that picking Beto O’Rourke for vice president could help Biden shore up support among millennials as well as put Texas in play. However, since Beto is running his own campaign, choosing him as a running mate would mean that an early announcement would be less likely.

O’Rourke’s fundraising prowess would also benefit the Biden campaign. CNN notes that Biden has said that he would not use Super PACs. There are concerns that the senior citizen is not adept at using social media to drive fundraising.

“I think he in certain ways has been wise to string this out because the shorter the race, the better for him. He doesn't have the same demands that others have except for one that's going to be a challenge perhaps for him and that's raising money,” said David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama. “Joe Biden's not by generation and nature a social media candidate. So, he can't delay this much longer. He has to get around to the business of raising the resources that he needs.”

With all the speculation and attention focused on the former vice president, expectations are high for Biden’s eventual rollout. His announcement is likely to be closely followed by endorsements from a number of high-profile current and former Democratic officials and a fundraising push. While Biden has consistently led in polling of Democratic preferences, a key metric for his campaign will be whether he can match the $6 million raised by Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke in the first day of their official campaigns. If he cannot match these two rivals, it will not bode well for his campaign.

Joe Biden is currently the Democrat to beat even though he isn’t officially in the race, but if the gaffe-prone political veteran flubs the rollout of his campaign or if interest in his candidacy doesn’t translate into dollars, he could prove to be a shooting star, shining brightly for a few seconds and then disappearing.    

Originally published on the Resurgent

Monday, March 18, 2019

Fox Pulls Plug On Judge Jeanine

In a surprising move, Fox News has pulled the plug on Judge Jeanine. The cancellation of Jeanine Pirro’s popular show appears to be related to the loss of advertisers after the judge made controversial comments about Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar on March 9.

Fox did not announce the suspension publicly, but Judge Jeanine’s show did not air in its usual time slot on Saturday night. CNN reported that Fox neither confirmed nor denied that Pirro had been suspended or fired. There was no indication of whether Pirro’s show will return next week. Variety reported a few hours before air time on Saturday afternoon that Pirro’s show would be replaced with a rerun of “Scandalous,” a documentary series.

“We are not commenting on internal scheduling matters,” Fox told USA Today in a statement.

On her March 9 show, Pirro questioned in a scripted monologue whether Rep. Omar’s (D-Minn.) use of a hijab, a traditional Muslim head covering, was “antithetical” to the Constitution. “Think about it: Omar wears a hijab,” Pirro said. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”

Pirro’s words were remarkably similar to Omar’s own claims that Jewish congressmen “forgot what country they represent” and need a “refresher” on the Constitution. Omar’s tweet drew widespread criticism from both parties.

After the monologue, several companies pulled their advertising from Pirro’s show. The Hollywood Reporter noted that online auction site Letgo, personal finance company Nerdwallet, and pharmaceutical companies Allergan and Novo Nordisk had dropped the judge.

Pirro did not apologize for the monologue, but denied that she had called Omar “un-American.” Pirro said, “My intention was to ask a question and start a debate, but of course because one is Muslim does not mean you don’t support the Constitution. I invite Representative Omar to come on my show any time to discuss all of the important issues facing America today.”

Judge Jeanine’s absence from the Saturday night lineup created a backlash on social media. In particular, one prominent fan who lives in Washington, D.C. tweeted angrily to the network, “Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro.” In strong words usually reserved for CNN, President Trump added, “The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well.”

The anger didn’t stop with the president. Fox stories posted on Facebook were inundated with angry comments from Pirro’s fans who want Judge Jeanine back.

After the controversial monologue, Fox issued a statement that said, “ We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” the network said in a statement. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.” There was no indication at the time that Pirro’s show was being suspended or canceled.

Pirro was previously rebuked by Fox last year when she appeared onstage with Sean Hannity at a Trump rally in Missouri. Both hosts delivered remarks backing the president prompting Fox to issue a statement saying, “Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events.”

Fox News hosts have repeatedly come under fire for their behavior in recent years. In addition to appearing at the Trump rally, Sean Hannity angered both the network and advertisers when he refused to drop the Seth Rich conspiracy theory, now proven false, in 2017. Tucker Carlson has gotten in trouble for comments made years ago on a shock radio program as well as more recent populist anti-corporate statements that would be more at home on MSNBC than Fox News. Both Hannity and Carlson are still on the air.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Beto Outraises Bernie Despite Missteps

In the four days since Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for president, his campaign has become embroiled in several controversies that may doom his chances even before he leaves the starting gate. Nevertheless, the level of donations that the campaign has received in its early hours indicate a high level of interest in the Texas candidate. It would be a mistake to write off the millennial presidential hopeful despite his campaign’s problems.

Beto’s campaign immediately suffered from a series of missteps as well as revelations about his past. One of the most shocking items is news of an article that he wrote as a teenager in which he fantasized about running over children with his car. The article was posted online for the Cult of the Dead Cow, a hacking group to which the candidate belonged.

“I'm mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words,” O’Rourke said of his teen writing in the Chicago Tribune. “Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn't matter, I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better.”

O’Rourke also had a lesson on the easily-offended nature of modern Democrats with a seemingly innocuous joke in which he said that his wife, Amy, was raising their three children “sometimes with my help.” Politico notes that the joke disappeared from later speeches after it was pointed out that the reference could reinforce gender stereotypes and O’Rourke apologized, saying that he would be “much more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage, and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege.”

The new candidate also faced down the media for what he called a misrepresentation of a statement to Vanity Fair. After telling the magazine that he was “just born to be in it,” Beto criticized the headline that quoted him as saying, “I’m just born to do this” and attempted to distance himself from the idea that he thinks he was born to be president.

“I saw the cover with that quote, ‘Born to run,’ or ‘Born to do this,’ and I was like, ‘Man, I hope I didn’t say that,’” O’Rourke told reporters in Wisconsin on Sunday. “I think the context of that, which makes sense, is the way that I feel, is that I’m born to serve, I’m born to try to help bring people together.”

He continued, “I don’t know that anyone is born for an office or a position, and I certainly am not. But I do think that I find my purpose and function in life in doing this kind of work.”

Aside from the gaffes and skeletons in the closet, the Beto campaign seems to rely more on style than substance. Just prior to his presidential announcement, O’Rourke apologized to a prominent Iowa Democrat for his lack of organization in the crucial early state and his campaign website rolled out with a complete inventory of Beto campaign gear but little in the way of policy positions.

“For all the fanfare, the band was playing a pretty flat tune,” Dave Nagle, Iowa state Democratic Party chairman and a former congressman, told Politico. “There’s just no substance to it.”

O’Rourke still does not have a campaign manager, but he does have experienced advisors. Norm Sterzenbach, a former executive director of the Iowa Democratic Party, and Paul Tewes, who ran Barack Obama’s 2008 effort in Iowa, are helping O’Rourke organize in the Hawkeye state.

“So [O’Rourke] made some missteps,” said another Democratic strategist. “What really matters is when are you putting people on the ground and giving Norm some money to go hire them.”

Despite the missteps, the O’Rourke campaign brought in $6.1 million in its first 24 hours. Beto’s haul eclipses the $5.9 million raised by Bernie Sanders after his announcement and dwarfs the contributions received by other Democrats. For example, Kamala Harris received only $1.5 million following her announcement.

Beto is off to a rocky start but don’t count him out yet. The Texan’s rock star image generated more than $80 million in the 2018 election cycle per the FEC. His ability to generate huge contributions almost cost Ted Cruz his Senate seat. With President Trump’s approval in Texas underwater, an O’Rourke candidacy could put the Lone Star State in play for the first time since 1976.

In many ways, O’Rourke is reminiscent of Barack Obama in 2008, a relatively blank slate with rock star popularity. To capitalize on that popularity, however, Beto must get his campaign organized and show backers that he has the depth to mount a serious national campaign. Against Donald Trump, who also has a reputation as a candidate with a shallow understanding of policy and who is not popular with young or minority voters, Beto could be a formidable candidate.

At this point, the greatest threat to Beto is a Joe Biden candidacy. The former vice president, who has consistently led polling, has hinted that he will soon enter the race. Without Biden in the race, the non-Bernie vote will splinter between the numerous other candidates and O’Rourke has a chance to come out on top. If Biden does decide to run, however, he will be the odds-on favorite for the nomination. In that case, Beto, with his Texas roots and youthful charisma, would be a logical vice-presidential pick.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, March 15, 2019

March 14th, 2019 My Two Cents: Should Conservatives Back Trump in 2020?

Over the past few weeks, many Trump-critical conservatives have decided to draw lines in the sand over President Trump and the 2020 election. Some have reluctantly decided to support the president’s re-election while others have become full-fledged passengers on the Trump Train. Still others are restating their belief that Trump does not deserve conservative support. I may as well jump on the bandwagon and put in my two cents.

I didn’t vote for Trump or Hillary in 2016, choosing instead to cast a protest vote with a third-party candidate. I didn’t believe that either of the major party candidates was a viable choice for president. They were both bad candidates, the worst choices in American history, for different but sometimes overlapping reasons.

I laid out my reasons for not supporting Trump in an op-ed in September 2016. At that point, Trump was still somewhat of an unknown quantity. I listed a bevy of reasons that Trump was unworthy of the privilege of being elected president, some based on his past and some based on his potential actions in office. I wasn’t right about everything and didn’t expect to be since some of the possibilities that I saw were mutually exclusive. For example, you can’t exercise authoritarian control and be incompetent at the same time (yet Donald Trump has almost managed to do this). On the other hand, I was far from being wrong about everything.

After his election, I gave President Trump the benefit of the doubt. I supported his policy where it was good and opposed it when it was bad. In particular, I supported tax reform and the Republican attempt to reform Obamacare. By the end of 2017, after a year of quasi-normal Republican policy and quasi-normal presidential behavior, I was questioning whether I should support Trump’s certain attempt at re-election.

Then came 2018. My guess is that Donald Trump became more comfortable in the role of president in his second year and stopped paying attention to his advisors. The results were predictable and 2018 was a disastrous year for anyone who cares about conservative policy.

A popular trope among some conservatives is that they dislike Trump’s behavior but like his policy. To them, I say that his policy ain’t great. 2018 brought the war of words with Kim Jong Un and the subsequent reversal of traditional US policy to allow two summit meetings without preconditions, trade wars with friend and foe alike, the embarrassing summit with Vladimir Putin, the bump stock ban, bailouts for farmers impacted by the trade wars, new restrictions on legal immigration, insults for NATO allies, the Hobson’s choice of a withdrawal from NAFTA or affirming an inferior treaty, a spur-of-the-moment decision to withdraw from Syria, the ill-advised government shutdown, and deficits even larger than those under Barack Obama to name a few.

To cap off 2018, two of Trump’s best senior advisors, Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis, were shown the door. It seems to me that these men had been a restraining and guiding force for President Trump. I wrote at the time that without their influence, Trump was unchained and “left to his own devices with no one to check his behavior” and said, “In this phase, we can expect the president to pander to his base by embracing policy positions that he has been advised against until now.” That has proven true already with the president’s blatant attempt to bypass Congress by declaring a national emergency.

If everything else that President Trump did was ideal and perfectly enacted, I’d still have problems voting for him because of the national emergency. Trump’s move is much more egregious than any executive overreach by Barack Obama, which I also opposed, and sets a horrible precedent for future administrations. If Republicans and conservatives (and the two are not the same although there is some overlap) are to have any credibility on the issue of abuse of executive authority, Trump’s power grab must be opposed.

To those conservatives who are rushing to pledge support for Trump 2020, I ask, “What’s your hurry?” The first primary is almost a year away and we don’t even know who is running yet. Given Trump’s recent escapades, a year gives him plenty of time self-destruct and lose support, even among Republicans. It may seem unlikely at this point, but it is not impossible. It is ironic, however, that given Mr. Trump’s left-of-center record on many issues many conservatives will reject other Republican candidates as too liberal.

The idea that conservatives must support Trump to avoid a radical Democrat in another “Flight 93 election” also does not bear up under scrutiny. At least not yet. With almost 20 Democrat candidates, there is no way of knowing who the Democratic nominee will be. It definitely won’t be the new favorite whipping “persons,” Alexandria Ocasio Cortez or Ilhan Omar. Neither will Nancy Pelosi. It is also unlikely to be Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren. There are moderate Democrats in the running who stand a decent chance of being nominated.

For me, the unworthiness of Democrats does not override President Trump’s own unfitness to lead the country. A race between Trump and a radical Democrat would leave me exactly where I was in 2016, especially given the fact that President Trump will, by then, have spent four years proving to me that he shouldn’t be near the levers of power. This is especially true since the Republicans who said that they would hold Trump accountable in 2016 have failed to follow through on their promise.

In one area, Trump’s own success works against his re-election. In 2016, the Supreme Court loomed large and the possibility that Hillary Clinton would tip the balance of the Court to the left swayed many voters toward Trump. That is no longer true in 2020. The confirmations of Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have secured the centrist (if not conservative thanks to John Roberts and Kavanaugh himself) balance of the Court. A Democratic president appointing a successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg would not shift the balance.

Finally, for those who desperately want to avoid a Democratic victory, the answer is not to go all-in for Trump. The 2018 midterms were an all-hands-on-deck election in which Republicans were highly (although belatedly) motivated to get-out-the-vote. They still lost and lost big, due in no small part to President Trump. If the 2020 election is a referendum on Trump, and it probably will be, Republicans will be in trouble. By hitching the party to a sinking ship (to mix a metaphor) and shutting out challengers, Republicans are doing their part to ensure that the next president will be Bernie Sanders.

So, what are my plans for 2020? I’m keeping my options open, just as everyone should. There is always the chance that the Democrats will nominate a good candidate or that Donald Trump will experience a sudden outbreak of common sense. I’m not holding my breath for either outcome.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Senate To Block Trump’s National Emergency, Veto Expected

In a rare rebuke of President Trump, Senate Republicans are expected to join with Democrats today to pass a House resolution blocking the president’s emergency declaration and redirection of other funds toward construction of the wall. President Trump has said that he plans to veto the measure if it passes.

Republicans currently hold 53 seats in the Senate and at least five Republican senators are expected to vote against Trump on the resolution, which has already passed the House. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who originally said that Trump had the authority to declare an emergency, is the most recent Republican to line up against the president. On Wednesday, Lee told Reuters, “ For decades, Congress has been giving far too much legislative power to the executive branch. I will be voting to terminate the latest emergency declaration.”

Other Republicans voting against the measure include Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Still others, such as Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Johnny Isakson of Georgia,  Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ben Sasse Nebraska, and Jerry Moran of Kansas are among the Republicans who could join them.

In an ironic claim, President Trump has announced that he plans to use his constitutional veto power to block the resolution that rolls back his abuse of executive authority. In a Thursday morning tweet, the president said, “I am prepared to veto, if necessary. The Southern Border is a National Security and Humanitarian Nightmare, but it can be easily fixed!”

Even though a number of Republicans are crossing the aisle to rein the president’s attempt to bypass Congress’s constitutional authority to appropriate funds, it does not appear that enough Republicans are willing to stand up to Mr. Trump to override a veto.

While President Trump can win the immediate battle with a veto, he is still likely to lose the larger battles of public opinion and getting the wall built. Most polling shows that although voters are split on the wall, they overwhelmingly oppose the use of a national emergency to fund it. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released yesterday found that 52 percent of voters oppose the national emergency, up one percent from a month ago. Ominously for Republicans, independents oppose the declaration by a two-to-one margin.

Even if his veto is upheld, the wall is unlikely to be built anytime soon. The emergency declaration is a transparent attempt to avoid compromising with congressional Democrats that almost certainly violates the letter of the law, as well as its spirit. Sixteen states, including several in the Southwest and along the border, have filed a lawsuit to block Trump’s redirection of federal funds. Courts are likely to block Trump’s executive move and halt construction of the wall for years until the legal questions can be resolved.

As with the government shutdown, President Trump has painted himself into a corner with no good options. The president is doubling down on an unpopular strategy in an attempt to force through a policy that is unpopular outside his own party and that is unlikely to be effective at solving the illegal immigration and smuggling problems on the southern border. The fact that the wall costs billions of dollars at a time when the federal deficit is skyrocketing is icing on the cake.

The president is putting other Republicans in a bad position as well. Congressional Republicans are being forced to go on record either for an unpopular policy or against a president that is popular with the Republican base. The first option will harm them in the next year’s general election while the second will hinder them in their primaries.

In the end, the principled choice for Republicans should be to stand up against the president and for the rule of law. After eight years of criticizing President Obama’s executive abuses and rampant spending, it will be very difficult for Trump Republicans to sign off on the president’s end-run around Congress and debt-fueled spending binge without looking like hypocrites in the eyes of voters around the country.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Boeing 737 Max 8s Grounded Around the World

A popular new Boeing airliner has suffered two fatal crashes in six months. Now several nations are grounding the surviving planes while the FAA says the model is still airworthy.

The 737 Max 8 is the newest version of Boeing’s well-selling 737 series airliner with a longer range than the common domestic version. The Max 8 entered service in May 2017 with its first commercial flight operated by Malindo Air of Malaysia. About 18 months later, one of the new planes augured into the Java Sea near Jakarta killing 189 passengers and crew. This week, a second 737 Max 8 crashed in Ethiopia under similar circumstances killing 157.

As a result of the two crashes, the Chinese Civil Aviation Administration grounded Max 8s operated by Chinese airlines. Chinese companies operate 97 of the airliners said CNN citing state media. The Chinese move was followed by Ethiopian Airways and Cayman Airways as they grounded their fleets. Indonesia also ordered its airlines to ground the planes. It is possible that the Chinese decision may have been influenced by the ongoing trade war with the United States and the knowledge that the move would reflect poorly on a major US export.

By Tuesday morning, other countries had decided to ground the plane as well. Australia, Singapore, and several countries in Latin America announced the grounding of their fleets, bring the total share of grounded jets to about 40 percent of the global fleet.

“Here we have a brand-new aircraft that's gone down twice in a year. That rings alarm bells in the aviation industry because that just doesn't happen,” said Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst.

The first crash, on October 29, 2018, was a Max 8 operated as Lion Air Flight 610 by an Indonesian airline. Shortly after takeoff, the crew reported a flight control problem and announced a return to the airport. Before they could do so, the plane crashed into the sea, killing all aboard, after a 12-minute flight. The preliminary report on the accident blamed a new safety system designed to prevent the aircraft from accidentally stalling.

The second crash, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, last Sunday was remarkably similar to the Lion Air crash. Although the information is still preliminary, the Ethiopian flight also requested an immediate return after takeoff. Air traffic controllers lost contact with Flight 302 six minutes after takeoff. Both planes crashed in good weather and radar recorded erratic vertical speeds with descents shortly after takeoff when the plane should have been climbing to a safe altitude. The last indication showed Flight 302 descending at 2,000 feet per minute, which is an extremely high descent rate at low altitude.

Despite the similarities and the fact that two US airlines, American and Southwest, operate the Max 8, the FAA has not grounded the US fleet. In a statement, the FAA said, “External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date, we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

Other observers are less cautious about a possible connection. Former FAA Inspector David Soucie told CNN, “I've never, ever done this. I've never said that 'Hey, it's unsafe to fly a particular model' but in this case, I'm going to have to go there. I just looked at the flight data of that aircraft. It’s strikingly similar, same issues as with the Max [Lion] Air [crash]. So yeah, I would watch for that airplane.”

The cause of the Lion Air crash appears to be a faulty sensor in a new system that is designed to protect the airplane from a stall. If the wing pitches too high, it loses lift and the airplane ceases flying. The recovery technique for a stall is practiced by all pilots from students to airline captains and consists of lowering the nose of the airplane and increasing power.

A stall typically occurs when the nose of the airplane is raised too high or when the pilot is not using enough power. The safety system in the Max 8 includes a pusher that overrides pilot commands to lower the nose in the event of a stall. In the case of Lion Air, an air data sensor that measures the angle of the wing against the relative wind apparently incorrectly signaled the aircraft’s flight control computers that the aircraft was about to stall. The safety system pushed the nose down, but the plane’s crew pulled up. What followed was 12 excruciating minutes of the airplane trying to push the nose down and the crew frantically trying to pull it back up to keep the airplane in the air.

In the wake of the crash, it was revealed that Boeing initially omitted the new safety system from pilot training manuals for the Max 8. The Lion Air pilots may not have known that the only way to override the new system was to switch it off because older versions of the system in previous 737s could be overridden with pressure on the control yoke. A few days after the Lion Air crash, Boeing released an operations manual bulletin that required airlines to update their pilot manuals, but it is not known whether the Ethiopian crew had received the updated information.

The problem with the 737 Max 8 seems to be partly a mechanical problem with the air data sensors and partly a training problem with pilots who do not apply the correct action when the anti-stall system activates erroneously. Regardless of the exact cause, two crashes and the grounding of the fleet in several countries is a public relations problem for Boeing. The Chinese grounding is a particular problem since China is one of the largest customers of the Max 8. If the airplane gets a bad reputation, passengers may stay away from it, causing airlines to cancel orders.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Monday, March 11, 2019

Why Pelosi’s Decision Not To Impeach Is The Smart Move

Nancy Pelosi said in the Washington Post today that she did not support impeachment of President Trump. The move may come as a surprise to many on both sides of the aisle, but Pelosi is a shrewd politician who has hinted in the past that impeachment proceedings would not be forthcoming. While Pelosi’s decision will anger many on the left, not impeaching Trump is a sound political strategy that potentially has a bigger payoff than the short-term gain of winning an impeachment vote in the House.

“I’m not for impeachment,” Pelosi said in the Post. “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he’s just not worth it.”

While the temptation to impeach the president is strong among Democrats, Speaker Pelosi seems to be looking at the big picture rather than the emotional gratification of embarrassing Mr. Trump and adding him to a short list of impeached presidents. Impeaching President Trump would allow Democrats to win a battle, but it might cost them the war, i.e. the 2020 presidential election.

The most obvious reason not to open impeachment proceedings is the lesson learned by Republicans when they impeached President Clinton: If you don’t have the votes to remove the president, impeachment is pointless and possibly counterproductive. President Clinton became more popular after he survived the attempt to remove him from office and remained a prominent Democrat elder statesman for two decades after leaving office on schedule.

In the case of President Trump, Democrats have the votes to impeach the president in the House, but they lack the votes to remove him from office in the Senate where Republicans retain a majority. Throughout all of Trump’s embarrassing behavior and executive abuse, most Republicans have stood by him. It is unlikely that many – or possibly any – Republicans would cross the aisle to vote to remove the president from office. In all likelihood, if Trump was able to withstand an impeachment attempt, he would become even more popular with his base and possibly with independents as well.

On the other hand, forgoing impeachment removes a major obstacle to electing a Democrat in 2020. If impeachment proceedings were begun, they would be an issue in the 2020 election. Democrats would be pushing the issue against prevailing political winds since 59 percent of voters recently told Quinnipiac that they opposed impeachment. The unpopularity of impeachment could be a drag on Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.

The decision not to impeach also removes a Republican talking point that could have been used to rally the base. A Democratic attack on the president, who remains popular in the GOP, would have spurred Republicans to circle the wagons in defense of the president. Without impeachment on the table, Republican voters disappointed in Trump’s performance might be more likely to stay home.

Further, Pelosi undoubtedly realizes that Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. Allowing President Trump to remain in office will mean that the eventual Democratic nominee faces a weak candidate. If Democrats were somehow able to impeach the president, Mike Pence, a much more capable politician and campaigner would become president. Pence would have a much greater chance of winning re-election than Donald Trump, whose approval is hovering in the low 40s.

Having said all that, there are risks to Pelosi’s strategy. As Jess Fields pointed out earlier, Pelosi may anger her own base and make it more likely that a radical Democrat is the eventual nominee. The conventional wisdom holds that Trump would fare better against Bernie, Kamala Harris, or other of the far-left Democrats than against the more moderate Joe Biden. Indeed, the Quinnipiac poll shows that two-thirds of Democrats support impeachment.

I’m not sure that impeachment makes a difference in this argument since Democrats should want to nominate the most liberal candidate who can win if they subscribe to a mirror-image version of the Buckley rule. Impeachment or no impeachment, Democrat voters are not going to repeat their 2016 mistake of sitting out the election. Not impeaching Trump won’t improve the appeal of second-tier Democrats to moderate voters, but it might make Trump more beatable, as discussed earlier.

Finally, there is the question of what happens if Donald Trump beats the odds a second time and is re-elected. In that case, assuming that Democrats hold the House and possibly capture the Senate, impeachment might be a more attractive option than it is now. With Democrat-led congressional investigations ramping up and the Mueller probe continuing, there might also be more evidence against the president that could even lead some Republicans to vote to remove Trump from office.

As I wrote two months ago, impeachment is not a smart move for the Democrats. Pelosi may be reviled by many on the right, but that doesn’t mean that she’s a dummy. She is a shrewd politician who is playing the odds with her eye on the bigger prize, namely putting a Democrat in the White House.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Trump Refuses To Stay Down, Requests $8.6 Billion For Wall In 2020

In a move that exemplifies President Trump’s reputation as a fighter, the White House plans to ask Congress to approve $8.6 billion for a border wall in the 2020 budget. The move comes only weeks after a stinging defeat in which the president was forced to accept a spending package that reopened the government without funding for Mr. Trump’s signature project. It seems unlikely that the 2020 funding request will be any more successful, but, like a beaten and bloody boxer who just won’t quit, President Trump refuses to stay down for the count.

Reuters reports that the proposal is based on a 2017 Customs and Border Protection plan to build or replace 722 miles of barriers along the border. The cost for the entire project is $18 billion. So far, 111 miles of the project have been completed or are under construction after Congress approved $341 million in 2017 and $1.375 billion in 2018. The estimated cost of the barrier is about $25 million per mile.

After Congress rejected his 2018 request for $5.7 billion, Mr. Trump declared a national emergency and attempted to redirect $8.1 billion from other projects to the wall. The House has already voted to block the president’s emergency declaration and the Senate is likely to follow suit this week. There are already lawsuits challenging the national emergency declaration as well, leaving an uncertain future for these redirected funds.

“It gives the president the ability to say he has fulfilled his commitment to gain operational control of the southwest border,” an administration official said of the 2020 budget request. A second added, “It’s a question of, will Congress allow us to finish the job.”

The Trump Administration’s request for 2020 seems likely to be dead on arrival in Congress. With Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, where spending bills originate, the money is unlikely to be included in appropriations. Even in the Republican-controlled Senate, Democrats have enough votes to filibuster a bill that includes funding for the wall. The situation sets up a repeat of the budgetary showdown from last December that led to the government shutdown and ultimate Republican capitulation.

“Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement, in which they called the wall “expensive and ineffective.”

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that the wall won’t be as effective as President Trump claims. Testing in 2017 showed that the wall prototypes built by the Trump Administration were easy to penetrate and many unfenced areas of the border are unsuitable for a defensive wall in the first place. Statistics from Customs and Border Patrol also call into question the effectiveness of the wall at stopping drug smugglers. The CBP found that about 90 percent of illegal drugs are smuggled through ports of entry rather than unfenced areas of the border. Other smuggling uses tunnels under existing border fences.

Border protection is one of the few parts of the government that is slated for an increase in the 2020 budget request. On Fox News Sunday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said, “The president is proposing roughly a five percent across-the-board reduction in domestic spending accounts.”

In contrast, the Administration is asking for a five percent increase for the Department of Homeland Security. This figure includes a 22 percent increase in funding for Customs and Border Protection and a 16 percent increase for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In addition to the wall funding, the proposal would authorize 2,800 more law enforcement agents and 100 immigration judge teams. In January, The Resurgent reported that despite an authorization from Congress to hire thousands of new Border Patrol agents, the agency had only been able to recruit 120 people.

If President Trump’s request to spend more money on the border is likely to go unheeded, his request to cut the budget of other domestic agencies will probably fare no better. Democrats have proven unwilling to cut programs that are not defense-related, even as the national debt climbs above $22 trillion. The budget deficit for the current fiscal year has already increased by 77 percent amid increased spending on the military and entitlements and flat revenues following the 2017 tax reform.

Congress won’t approve President Trump’s budget request for either the wall funding or the spending cuts, but the request will ensure that the debate over border security won’t go away before the 2020 election. The arguments next year may be similar to those heard ahead of the 2018 midterms. While Republican candidates reprise their base-pleasing call to “Build the wall,” Democrats are likely to use the skyrocketing deficit as part of their case against re-electing President Trump. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

How Tax Reform Could Hurt Charitable Giving

It is almost axiomatic that any government policy, however well-intended, will be subject to the Law of Unintended Consequences. This maxim holds that any action, especially those mandated by government, will have effects that reach beyond its intended purpose. One of the unintended consequences of the new tax reform law may be a detrimental effect on charitable giving.

Like many Americans, I was not fully aware of the effects of tax reform until I did my taxes. One of the most visible changes for individual filers is the increase to the standard deduction. Under the new rules, the standard deduction was almost doubled, increasing from $6,350 to $12,000 for single taxpayers and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.

In practical terms, this means that I had a pile of receipts that I didn’t need since the standard deduction was worth more than my itemized deductions. In most respects, this is a great thing for taxpayers because it simplifies preparing for and filing your taxes. In most cases, filling out a tax return is going to be as simple as filling out your income and taking the standard deduction.

Nevertheless, it did leave me wondering about how the change would affect charitable giving. Many people give to charities to get the tax deduction. The logical question is if people don’t get a tax benefit from charitable giving when they take the standard deduction, will they continue to give to charity?

Giving to charity to save on your taxes was never really quite as good an idea as many people thought. This is because in the past charitable donations counted as a tax deduction rather than a tax credit. This means that donations only affected the amount you paid in taxes indirectly. A tax deduction reduces the amount of taxable income, which in turn reduces the amount of tax that is owed.

The benefit of a tax deduction depends on a taxpayer’s personal circumstances, but a $1,000 tax deduction for a filer in the old 24 percent tax bracket would reduce the taxes owed by $240. In contrast, a tax credit directly reduces the taxes owed on a dollar-for-dollar basis. If you qualify for a $1,000 tax credit, you would owe $1,000 less in taxes. Because charitable giving was a deduction rather than a credit, givers didn’t get a full refund on their giving at a tax time, but it did help.

The flip side to the argument is that millions of taxpayers were already taking the old, lower standard deduction and they still gave to charity. In the past, taxpayers who didn’t have large deductions such as mortgage interest might well have not had enough deductions to make itemizing practical. The impact of tax reform on charitable giving would most likely affect middle-income donors who had enough deductions to itemize under the old law but not enough under the new tax reform.

The effect of the change will depend on how Americans view charitable giving. Do they give primarily to reduce their taxable income or do they give because generosity blesses both the giver and the recipient?

Many Americans have religious motives for giving to charity. About 80 percent of Americans identify with some religion per Gallup. Of these, about 70 percent are Christian, Jews and Mormons account for about two percent each and just under one percent are Muslim. All four faiths encourage adherents to give charitably. In particular, the Bible teaches believers to tithe, to give 10 percent of their earnings to support churches and the needy. Americans who take religious commands seriously are likely to keep giving even if it doesn’t change their taxes.

Another unintended consequence of tax reform on charitable giving is that there might be a movement away from government-approved charities to more direct giving. Rather than giving to charities that provide them with a tax-deductible receipt, more people might give directly to those in need. For example, a few years ago a friend wanted to fund a scholarship for a needy black student. He set up the donation through a church in part to reap the benefits of the tax-deductible contribution. Under the new rules, he might do just as well to write a check directly to the recipient.

So far, the effects of tax reform on charitable giving appear to be small, but Americans are still learning about the new law. CBS News reported in June 2018 that total revenue to nonprofits fell 2.4 percent in the first three months compared to 2017 while the total number of donors fell by 6.3 percent.

“We know that the main reason why people give to charity is not the tax incentive,” Steve Taylor, United Way Worldwide senior vice president and counsel for public policy said at the time. “We also know that the tax incentive allows people to give a little bit more than they would have otherwise. What you have is tens of millions of people who will give a little bit less, and that adds up to tens of billions of fewer dollars given to charity.”

We won’t know for several years exactly how changes to the tax law affect charitable giving. When the tax returns are filed and examined this year, new data will be available on how donations in 2018 differed over previous years. However, differences in returns this year may cause taxpayers to make changes in their behavior going forward, but those changes won’t be evident immediately. It will be interesting to watch and I'm sure that it will make a great research topic for some economist.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, March 8, 2019

Trump To Ask Allies To Pay ‘Cost Plus Fifty’ To Host US Troops

Friday afternoon is often the time to drop unpopular and controversial news. As the denizens of Foggy Bottom hurry to leave the District of Columbia for the weekend, it can be a convenient time to unveil news that will reflect poorly on the elites who control the government. That was the case today as the Trump Administration dropped a figurative bomb whose effects will be felt around the world.

As the president toured tornado-ravaged areas of Alabama, Bloomberg reported that Mr. Trump is demanding Germany, Japan, and any other country hosting American troops pay the full cost plus an additional 50 percent. Per Bloomberg, the plan would apply first to Germany and Japan and eventually be applied to every other nation where American troops are based. Under the plan, some countries would pay five or six times their current share of defense costs.

President Trump has reportedly pushed the idea for months and his insistence on the requirement reportedly derailed talks with South Korea about the status of the 28,000 US troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula. Trump allegedly overruled negotiators with a note to National Security Advisor John Bolton that read, “We want cost plus 50.”

The proposal seems tailor-made as an excuse for President Trump to unilaterally withdraw American forces from abroad and bring the troops home. During the 2016 campaign, Trump questioned the need for mutual defense pacts such as NATO and railed against the cost of basing troops abroad. While in office, Trump’s relationship with America’s allies has been rocky and the president has reportedly considered withdrawing the US from NATO. The demand for more money from allies may be intended to resolve the issue by having host countries kick American forces out.

It is possible that the demand is simply a negotiating ploy by the president, who has pushed NATO and other allies to pay a larger share of the cost of their defense in the past. The president may also be swayed by advisors to accept a less harsh deal. This week Mr. Trump reversed himself on a decision last year to withdraw American troops from Syria.

The basing of American soldiers around the world benefits both the host country and the United States. In the War on Terror, the US used bases in Germany as a transshipment point to and from the Middle East. Ramstein Airbase was a vital link in the logistical chain to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Likewise, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the largest overseas military hospital in the world. Many American soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan were sent to Landstuhl for stabilizing treatment before returning home.

It is not clear whether the US is close to making a formal demand of its allies or whether Friday’s announcement is a trial balloon, but the proposal comes at an awkward time. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been waging an offensive war on the borders of NATO against Ukraine, another US ally, since 2014. In Asia, Trump’s attempted d├ętente with North Korea has yielded little in the way of results while China continues to solidify its hold on the South China Sea.

While basing American soldiers abroad has not been free for the United States, it has been beneficial. The seventy years that American troops have occupied parts of Europe and Asia has been known as the Pax Americana, the American peace. The period allowed the US to become the world’s preeminent trading power and the leader of the community of nations.

It is a virtual certainty that the forward deployment of American soldiers prevented numerous wars including a Soviet invasion of Europe. If President Trump gives in to his isolationist tendencies, it is likely that the world may find that the cost in both blood and treasure of bringing American soldiers home is much greater than the cost of basing them abroad.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Chutzpah: AOC Blames Anti-Semitism Backlash On AIPAC

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is not Jewish, but the freshman Democrat is not lacking in chutzpah. The congresswoman, who is of Puerto Rican descent, sent out a fundraising email in the wake of the recent scandals of anti-Semitism within the Democratic Party. That in itself is not unusual. However, the fact that the email blamed AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group, for the backlash against Democratic anti-Semitism is an uncommon act of brazenness.

The email was revealed on several Twitter accounts yesterday. Beneath AOC’s campaign logo, the email leads off with a quote from an unnamed “AIPAC activist” who allegedly said that AOC, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) “are three people who, in my opinion, will not be around in several years.”

“It’s official,” the email continues in bold print, “AIPAC is coming after Alexandria, Ilhan, and Rashida.”

“Rashida, Ilhan, and Alexandria have at times dared to question our foreign policy and the influence of money in our political system,” the email claims. “And now, lobbying groups across the board are working to punish them for it.”

To be clear, the attacks on the three women are because of anti-Semitic comments as well as statements on policy that can only be described as ignorant. For example, last month Rep. Omar tweeted an accusation that AIPAC money controlled US foreign policy. This accusation was false on its face since AIPAC does not make contributions to political candidates and other pro-Israel groups typically donate more money to Democrats than to Republicans.

Omar issued a statement in which she apologized “unequivocally” and then promptly equivocated by “reaffirm[ing] the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry.”

Rashida Tlaib posted a similar tweet in January in which she claimed that senators who voted against the BDS movement to boycott Israel “forgot what country they represent.” Like Omar’s accusation, Tlaib’s tweet implies that support for Israel and Jewish companies was because of corruption or divided loyalties.

In the past, liberals have pointed out that the BDS – boycott, divest, and sanctions – movement was itself anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League wrote that “all too often, BDS advocates employ anti-Semitic rhetoric and narratives to isolate and demonize Israel.” In 2017, the Huffington Post pointed out that there was a strong correlation between BDS activity and anti-Semitic incidents, saying, “BDS activity does not merely encourage, but also causes anti-Semitism.”

For her part, AOC has casually dismissed the anti-Semitic comments of her fellow congresswomen. In February, she tweeted that Rep. Omar “demonstrated a capacity to… learn about [the] history of anti-Semitism….”

Omar and Tlaib don’t seem to need to learn about anti-Semitism, a school of thought in which they seem to be well-versed. The company they keep suggests that, despite their denials, that they are quite comfortable with their anti-Jewish attitudes. In January, Tlaib posed with a Palestinian activist known for his support of Hezbollah and Omar is scheduled to speak at a benefit for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) this month. CAIR has a long history of supporting terrorist groups.

While there are also anti-Semites among the alt-right supporters of the Republican Party, Democratic anti-Semitism is becoming more open and mainstream. The failure of the Democratic House to pass a simple resolution condemning anti-Semitism this week is a telling indicator of which way political winds are blowing within the party.

Originally published on the Resurgent

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Unprecedented Number Of Candidates In Dem Primary Still Favors Biden And Sanders

The number of presidential candidates in the Democratic primary is unprecedented and it could lead to a contentious and unpredictable nominating process. With a recent poll of Democratic presidential preferences showing no less than 19 candidates, it is possible that the primary vote could fracture in ways that cannot be foreseen.

Most of us have probably become numbed to the neverending campaign atmosphere, but Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight reminds us that it was not always this way. Silver tweeted yesterday, “At this point in 2015, no major Republicans had officially launched their campaigns. Cruz was the first on 3/23/15. Although 8-9 Republicans had established PACs to formally explore a candidacy.”

To see how a large number of candidates can upend a primary, we need only look back as far as 2016. Seventeen Republican candidates, 16 traditional Republicans plus Donald Trump, contested in a large primary that year. In the 2016 Republican primary, a recurring theme was that Donald Trump benefitted from the large field. Longtime Republicans such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich split the Republican vote, leaving Trump with a plurality in many state primaries. Trump won a majority of delegates after a long, drawn-out primary campaign, but he only won about 45 percent of the Republican vote.

History may repeat itself in the 2020 Democratic Primary. The large number of candidates may prevent the party from coalescing around a consensus candidate. This is particularly true if Joe Biden, who commands 31 percent support in recent polling, decides not to run. Bernie Sanders, the second place candidate, sits atop a heap of second-tier, mostly unknown candidates, only one of whom, Kamala Harris, currently has support in the double-digits.

Excluding Biden, Sanders is also currently the top second-choice of Democratic voters. Biden supporters picked Sanders as their top alternate, giving the Vermont Democrat-in-name-only a significant advantage if Biden decides against running. Still, Sanders lacks support among the upper-income Democrats who would provide much campaign backing. If these donors rally behind another candidate, it could cause trouble for a Sanders candidacy.

The number of Democratic candidates could start to dwindle soon. Democrats have announced a series of 12 primary debates with the first scheduled to be held in June 2019. With so many candidates, competition will be fierce for donor funds and candidates who don’t do well in the first debate may be quickly forced to drop out of the race.  

In a best-case scenario for conservatives, if Joe Biden does not run, Democratic moderates could reject Bernie Sanders and the Democratic vote could splinter among the remaining viable candidates: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Corey Booker, and Amy Klobuchar. This could possibly result in Klobuchar, the most moderate of the bunch, eking out a plurality in a situation that is the reverse of the 2016 Republican primary where the most extreme candidate won without a majority. To make this scenario a reality, Klobuchar has a long way to go in increasing her name recognition and building support.

If Biden decides to run and if Sanders maintains his popularity, the two old white guys are the strong favorites to win the nomination. This would be a bad thing for Donald Trump since polling shows that both Democrats are significantly more popular than the president. In recent polling, both Biden and Sanders show a double-digit advantage over Mr. Trump. It’s true that Trump polled poorly against Hillary Clinton in advance of the 2016 primaries and managed to win anyway, but the conditions that allowed Trump to eke out a victory in 2016, such as Hillary’s email scandal and James Comey’s October surprise, are unlikely to be replicated in 2020.

Despite the large number of candidates in the Democratic field, Joe Biden remains the man to beat even though he has yet to officially enter the race. It would likely take a decision from Biden to bow out once again and an implosion of the Sanders campaign to turn the Democratic primary into a fractious free-for-all.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Poll: Old White Men Have Double-Digit Lead In Democratic Primary

A new poll by Morning Consult shows that former vice president Joe Biden and Democrat-in-name-only Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lead Democratic preferences for president. The two old white men lead the pack of 19 named candidates and “someone else” by double-digit margins.

Biden, who has not yet decided whether he will run for president, is at the top of the poll with the support of 31 percent of registered Democrats. Only Sanders, with 27 percent, comes close.

Kamala Harris was the only other candidate to garner more than 10 percent support in the poll. The California senator scored 11 percent support.

Another four candidates received enough support to measure larger than a statistical blip. Elizabeth Warren scored seven percent support, Beto O’Rourke clocked in with six percent, Corey Booker garnered four percent, and Amy Klobuchar commanded three percent. The poll’s margin of error was one percent. Three percent preferred “someone else.”

It is interesting to note that the two top candidates for the Democratic nomination are straight white men, a demographic that ranks at the bottom of the Democratic intersectional coalition. Despite a number of ethnic and female candidates, more than half of Democratic voters lean toward one of the two elder statesmen of the party rather than the newcomers.

The poll also asked about second choices and both Biden and Sanders ranked high on this question as well. More Biden voters preferred Sanders as a second choice (28 percent) than any other candidate and Sanders voters returned the favor with 29 percent picking Biden as their Plan B. In general, more voters picked Biden as a backup candidate.

In the Republican primary, the poll found that 58 percent of Republican voters strongly supported President Trump’s nomination. Nineteen percent professed lukewarm support for Trump’s re-election while 20 percent preferred another candidate.

Polling has indicated that President Trump has a virtual lock on the Republican nomination while Joe Biden is the Democratic candidate to beat if he decides to run. Although Biden lacks the demographic credentials of Harris or the populist appeal of Sanders, he does have one quality that would be very helpful in the campaign against Trump: Biden is seen as a moderate choice and is already building support of crossover Republicans who are unhappy with President Trump.

Originally published on The Resurgent