Saturday, July 30, 2016

Race for the White House Volume 83

100 Days Until Election Day

It is hard to believe that it has been a decade. Back on July 30, 2006, I decided, without a lot of forethought to start a blog about politics. I figured I might lose interest after just a few days, but today marks 10 years since my first post. Back then, a lot of people were starting blogs, and I decided to give it a shot. I used to spend a lot of time back at that time talking about politics as part of a fairly sizeable online community, on a website that no longer has comments (but is still a good source for election information.) These days, most political junkies talk about politics on Facebook or Twitter, but I remain old school in that regard.

In some ways, I think this would be a good time to say goodbye to this little project after a decade, where there has been more bad years than good years for Republicans, and especially now, in the midst of the most depressing and soul searching time of my life as it relates to politics. Yet, I am determined to stick it out, at least for a while longer. Many things have changed in my life in the past 10 years, but I still hope, somehow to look back at all this, in another 10 years, and be grateful that the Republican Party and the United States of America turned out to be ok. Maybe I will even get to post some celebratory sports news on here one day, hopefully soon. Of course, my blog has always had some stuff outside of politics, including sports, and definitely some of the most detailed American Idol blogging recaps and analysis, I think anywhere on the internet.

In each Presidential cycle, I have had a weekly post about the races, and unfortunately, this is going to be the third one in a row where I am disappointed in the results. On the other hand, I guess being on the Presidential sidelines this year makes it all a little easier in some way. I know I will be happy when one candidate in particular is rejected by the voters. Outside of the Race for the White House though, I have also covered other elections. I initially started this as a place to house write-ups I would post on that political website comment section about races for Governor and U.S. Senate. I am most proud of those posts, and a pretty excellent record of electoral predictions, if I say so myself.

So, even though the 2016 Presidential election is a dumpster fire, I will eventually predict the result of every state, but before that, starting tomorrow, I will provide coverage of every race for U.S. Senate and Governor in 2016, complete with predictions, and eventually, I will once again predict every U.S. House race, if for no other reason but to have proof of success. The rantings about politics will also continue.

Anyways, it has been a pretty active week on the Presidential campaign trail, to say the least, and I could not begin to cover everything in the detail it deserves. The Democrats held their convention in Philadelphia, and as someone who has angrily watched Dem conventions since 1992, I was beyond sanguine. I know they are going to win the Presidency, and unfortunately will deserve to, thanks for the idiocy of the 2016 Republican Party. I do not think it will be good for America and I will not vote for any Democrat on the ballot this year, as I never have, but I have to be honest with myself and with whomever may be reading this. I hated the 2016 Democrat Convention less than I hated the 2016 Republican Convention.

 To be clear, their party has moved radically to the left. The 1990s era DLC quasi-centrism is long gone, and on the economy, they have moved very close to openly embracing socialism. In many ways, Bernie Sanders was the star of the convention, as tension dominated the first couple of days, as his ardent supporters did not react well to the contents of hacked DNC emails, likely by the Russians, which showed, beyond any doubt, (but what should be to nobody's surprise) that party officials were not being neutral but were actively trying to hurt Bernie Sanders to the benefit of Hillary Clinton. They even talked about using his Jewish heritage and perceived atheism against him in Deep South states, something which would have been even more widely denounced if it were ever done by a Republican. All of this cost the job of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, also a Florida Congresswoman, but she did not go easily, and tried to hold on to power, before the Clinton campaign and the White House pushed her out. Still, the "Bernie or Bust" people were in a surly mood for most of the week, booing mentions of Hillary Clinton, even when Sanders himself called for  party unity. Left-wingers at the convention booed a lot of people, including a Medal of Honor winner and a former Defense Secretary, right when he was making some pretty important points in going after Donald Trump, and during the nominee's historical acceptance address. There was a lot of Trump bashing at the convention and I cannot lie and say I did not enjoy it. That is what this election has come to for me. I was somewhat disappointed when Democrats acted like fools. That they did though, but it will likely not matter in the long-run. I still think these Sanders supporters are going to vote heavily for Clinton. I have to be amused though by the way these activists, many of them millennials, who grew up in the culture of "everyone wins" took Bernie's inevitable defeat at the convention so hard.

The old saying is that Republicans fall in line much more easily than Democrats, and in spite of the GOP completely abandoning its principles this year, that was what happened at the convention. One professional Code Pink protestor was removed during Trump's speech, while scores of actual delegates tried to loudly drown out Hillary Clinton as she spoke. There was far more dissent among Democrats than among Republicans, even while the blind and fake loyalty oaths to Trump angered me in Cleveland.

All things considered though, both in terms of production value and content, in spite of all the discord and missed opportunities, the Democrats had a more successful convention. That does not mean I agree with much of what was said there. Those people are in a fantasy land and completely out of touch with how average Americans think on many issues. The worst parts of Democrats were still on display, as they continue to move even further to the left. Nonetheless, patriotism and love of America was more common at their convention than what I would otherwise refer to as "ours." They combined quasi-socialism with 1980s era Reaganesque flag waving, at least in the last two days. The GOP convention was about celebrating Trump and his "greatness", the Democrats went to great lengths to speak to America's greatness. It made me both grateful and also very sad. I know I am not the only conservative who felt that way. We let them steal much of who we are and it's our own damn fault. Actually, it's not my fault at all. It's the fault of everyone who supported Donald Trump's march to the nomination or who chose to not fight against it.

President Barack Obama spoke on Wednesday night. I think his speech was far better than that of the Thursday Hillary Clinton one, and that speaks loudly to her enduring weakness as a candidate. The convention Obama gave perhaps his best speech since his national stage debut at a convention exactly 12 years before. I wish he would have governed half as effectively as he is able to orate. I also wish he meant much of what he said. The truth is that he has been very much a part of the ugliness in American politics, and the polarization that helped produce an abomination to democracy like Trump. I remember when he in 2012 told his supporters to vote out of "revenge" against Republicans. For eight years, he has dismissed any serious effort to work with Republicans and have castigated them as unprincipled and with malicious intent at every turn. It is part of the reason that Democrats have had such horrible results at the ballot box since 2008, excluding his tough reelection victory.

On Wednesday though, Obama at least spoke the right things. I disagreed with many policy positions he took, and of course am not voting for Hillary, but I was surprised at how much I liked his speech. In this address, he demonstrated conservative values and love of American exceptionalism more than supporters of Donald Trump could ever believe their man could. He even said the word "jihadists", while using the line to tie Trump in with them. Frankly, he may have a point on that. Most significantly to me though, Obama said that Trumpism is not representative of the Party of Lincoln and that what was presented in Cleveland was not representative of conservatism. I could not agree more, Mr. President. Trump and all he represents is not anything this conservative Republican wants any part of. You are unable to persuade me to vote for your party's nominee, but I am not voting for Trump, and I hope your words give motivation to other Republicans to point out the differences between them and Trump, and if necessary use it part of their 2016 down-ballot campaigns.

While this convention was going on, the Republican nominee committed borderline treason as far as I am concerned. My goodness, what a disaster. There seems to be pretty credible evidence that Russia hacked into the DNC, and may be trying to a lot this year in order to defeat Hillary Clinton and elect Donald Trump. It is amazing how much more we know now that in the past week about this and how the picture of Trump as a potential puppet of Putin is coming clearer into view. He has never said a critical word of Putin and has acted at times as if he has a tremendous mancrush on him. The possibility that the Republican nominee may actually be a plant or a secret agent on behalf of a powerful foe of the U.S., cannot be ruled out as far as I am concerned, and if true, that would be the most sinister story in all of American history. The FBI and other government entities will have to ultimately get to the bottom of this, but times sure have changed from 2012, when Mitt Romney correctly called Russia America's number one geopolitical threat (which was roundly laughed at at denounced by Obama-Clinton Democrats at the time) and the taken-over Party of Trump which is going to great lengths to telegraph changing U.S. policy to act in ways that would make Putin and Russia happy.

We all know that Hillary Clinton put American security at risk, whether she intended to or not, by virtue of her secret email server as Secretary of State. Many believe that Russia might have hacked into that system and have damaging American secrets in their possession. All of that. I think, makes Clinton unacceptable for the Presidency, but this past week, at a press conference, Trump called on Russia to do further hacks on Clinton, and release to the media, her missing emails, which may contain sensitive classified information. That is the most un-American thing I have ever heard in American politics. It very much feels like treason, though Trump has tried to say he was just "joking" or being "sarcastic." It sure did not feel that way at the time. Damage control was quickly attempted with Trump's running-mate, Mike Pence, releasing a statement, distancing the campaign from what Trump had just said, but it was all pretty shocking. I do not know how Republicans can with a clear conscience defend anything about this. Asking the American people to defeat Hillary Clinton at the polls is completely reasonable and in fact justifiable. Asking for her to be prosecuted under American law is also acceptable. Asking a foreign government, and not a friendly one, to use illegal actions, or even cyber warfare, to help you beat an opponent and win an election is beyond disgraceful. Maybe we should "lock them both up." Donald Trump will not release his tax returns. We know from the past that he has relied on Russian financing  in recent years in a significant way in his business enterprises. He may really be the "Moscowian candidate."

As I wrap up, let me be clear. I am not a Democrat and am fairly certain I will never be one. I am a conservative who believes in liberty, freedom, justice, and security. All of these are virtues, the Republican Party has always stood for, at least until 2016. I have no choice to but to discard much of what Democrats said this past week, but the truth is they came closer to describing the America I believe in and want to see exist than the disturbing dystopian hellhole envisioned by Donald Trump, who believes he alone, has all the answers.

On Thursday night, a man named Khizr Khan spoke in Philadelphia, while his wife stood at his side. They are both Gold Star parents and immigrants to America. They are also Muslim. Their son, who came to America as a child, died 12 years ago in Iraq, while actively saving the lives of several other troops. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Hillary Clinton has said that Captain Humayun Khan represents the "best of America." She is completely right and Donald Trump is completely wrong, because if he had his way, the Khans would never have been allowed to immigrate to America.

At the Democrat convention, Mr. Khan spoke emotionally and forcefully and I felt shamed Trump in a way that no politician is able to do. He asked if Trump had ever even read the Constitution, while defiantly holding up a pocket size copy of the document. I thought it was the most powerful and moving moment from either convention, and likely all of 2016. Predictably, Donald Trump is now attacking the Khan parents, and some of his supporters are saying even more disgusting things online, but they are right, that Trump has sacrificed nothing for America. Their son made the ultimate sacrifice for their adopted country, and his proud parents are owed the unequivocal admiration of all Americans.

Come November, I will not vote for the candidate Khizr Khan will, and regardless of who wins, I have a lot of concern and fear for the future of the country I love. However, I will never forget the image of that man standing their holding the Constitution up in the air and speaking from the heart about what it really represents. Nothing else this year has made me prouder to be an American than Khizr Khan.


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