Saturday, September 24, 2016

Two questions

The Republicans have nominated a candidate for president whose name- "Trump-" is British slang for the passing of wind.

And California's Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, signed a bill on Sept. 19 that regulates bovine trumping.

Can't we at least leave the cows out of it? And is there anything the Democrats don't want to regulate?

The Republicans don't get it. But some of the media do.

This is the year many of us- myself included- gave up on the Republican party.

For some,  it's undoubtedly a temporary thing. Many of my fellow McMullin supporters are followers of Ted Cruz. Some are already planning for Cruz's 2020 campaign. Doubtless many are dismayed by Cruz's decision to sell out after all and tacitly endorse the man who has hijacked the GOP.  But for many of us,  2016 marks a final break with the party.

Even without Donald Trump, many of us simply are sick and tired of what the Republican party has become.

Evan McMullin has been the victim of a vicious cycle. Despite his steady progress in gaining access to the ballot in state after state- the campaign expects voters in 43 of the 50 states to have the option of voting for McMullin either by marking their ballots or by write-in by Election Day- the polls for the most part continue to ignore him. He has a natural constituency- the Republican mainstream- far larger than the marginal ones of Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, But it's hard to make progress in the polls if the pollsters don't include you in them.

But many are taking notice of McMullin even so. He's gotten some remarkably good press in the past week.  Several writers in both the electronic and the print media seem to "get it" in the way that others simply do not.

Erick Erickson, writing for The Resurgent: "Evan McMullin: A Sane Alternative:"

McMullin gives people a reason to show up. He gives conservatives someone they can vote for without holding their nose. He gives people someone to vote for instead of reconciling themselves to voting against someone. McMullin’s candidacy is not the lesser of an evil, but an alternative against evil.

David Catanese, writing for US News and World Report: "Evan McMullin Warns GOP While Blasting Trump and Gary Johnson:"

"I believe it may be necessary to start a new political party that rededicates itself to the cause of individual liberty and to tolerance and diversity in this country," McMullin says. "The most likely scenario for the Republican Party is that it becomes decreasingly relevant in American politics and that it cannot be saved anytime soon, if at all. I believe that it is time for a new conservative movement.

What McMullin has going for him is this: He's smart. He has expertise in counterterrorism. His foreign-policy worldview is much closer to the mainstream than anyone else running this cycle. He is genuinely conservative. And he is—this cannot be emphasized enough—a normal human being.

"It’s a cocktail of racism and a violation of civil rights,” said McMullin, a former CIA officer from Utah running on a platform of stopping Trump. “He’s communicating to people that their civil liberties do not apply in certain situations in which they have not even done anything to raise any credible suspicion of law enforcement. Your race should not be a factor for deciding whether you should be suspected of a crime. Period.

So the institutional guardrails are quite rickety. In the end, the only true guardians of a liberal republic are the people themselves. They must prescribe minimal standards of decency. I will be voting for Evan McMullin, the only candidate (of five) who doesn’t pose a threat to our national welfare.

Just as Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan, Evan McMullin is no John Anderson. The McMullin campaign is something more than a lifeboat for sane Republicans who are unwilling to sell their souls to Donald Trump. It's the birth pangs of a new and permanent movement, determined to pick up a banner the Republicans have dropped in order to embrace divisiveness and "cuck-" shouting psychosis. It's the banner of traditional, decent conservatism. It's the banner of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Reagan.

The political system is not simply broken. It's shattered. The two parties have become nests of screaming, hate-filled fanatics. The dominant voices in both parties have become the shrill, extreme and divisive ones, more eager to call names and shout slogans than to work together to find solutions.

When the smoke has cleared on the morning of November 9 and Hillary has been elected (and even more in the unlikely event that Trump somehow ends up winning), the GOP will still be home to all those crazy conspiracy theorists, racists, anti-Semites, and neo-Nazis who rallied to the Trump banner. His movement may have been decapitated (there is no way Trump could credibly run again in 2020 after splitting the party and losing this time). Or, if he somehow wins and plunges the nation back into recession through his protectionist trade policy and into world crisis through his irresponsible isolationism, he will simply lead the party into a terminal tailspin ending in his impeachment or defeat in his re-election bid, and almost go down in history as the last Republican president. 

And there are some of us who have had enough. That's is the thing the Reince Priebus and Newt Gingrich Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh-types don't get. The role they're playing in the Trump tragedy will certainly brand them with a stigma. They will never have the same standing in the Republican party again. But this is no longer about the Republican party. The Republican party has lost its way, and at this point seems unlikely ever to find it again. And the Democrats are no better off.

The McMullin campaign marks the birth of a new movement that will pick up the standard the Republicans have dropped in order to raise the banner of extremism and divisiveness and hate. And the American people will respond to common sense and decency- if not this election cycle, then the next, or the one after that.

Both a comedy and a tragedy

A week ago, I blogged that Nate Silver thought that the week that followed would be crucial in determining whether or not the Democrats needed to panic due to Trump's surge in the polls.

Hillary's situation has improved slightly. Right now FiveThirtyEight's projection gives her a 60.8% chance of beating Donald Trump. But Silver's advice is to keep your eye on the post-debate polls. The debate Monday night, he points out, will have a far greater impact on the race than the events of the past week.

It will be fascinating to see whether The Donald actually manages to do a credible impersonation of someone qualified to be president. In the Republican debates, of course, that didn't matter; all Trump had to do was to give an outlet to people's anger. He could be as outrageous and as unreasonable and as outright bizarre as he pleased, lie about every and every matter of open public record, and be as much of a public jackass as he pleased, and nobody cared. That will not be the case this time.

The independents and fence-sitters who are The Donald's only hope simply won't put up with it.

Shameful, yet shameless

It's been awhile since I've blogged that definition of the Yiddish word chutzpah of which I'm so fond: "That quality exhibited by a man who murders both of his parents, and then pleads to the court for mercy on the ground that he's an orphan."

Well, consider the raw, shameless chutzpah of this ad for Hillary Clinton:

"I've spent my life fighting for children, our families, and our country, and I'm not stopping now."

Hillary, tell it to the unborn children whose murder you endorse and legitimize.

Have you no shame at all?

The little orange kitten who thinks he's a lion

Here is a fascinating article on two counts.

First, it paints a picture of Vladimir Putin's Russia which reminds me of Richard J. Daley's Chicago in some respects. The picture of the sleeping election judge reminds me of the time I had to report the fact that the policeman assigned to the polling place where I was a poll watcher was out in his car taking a nap. Of course, even in the heyday of the Chicago Machine nowhere near half the votes it garnered were fraudulent. They didn't have to be. If you simply added together every patronage worker and his or her spouse and assumed one adult child of voting age, the Machine entered every election with a formidable enough lead that cheating wasn't strictly necessary.

Especially in minority wards, where there was little opposition and little oversight and the precinct captains  could get away with pretty much anything, standards were looser. But there was even less reason for outright fraud on the South and West Sides since everybody voted Democratic anyway. Only in very close elections were the cemeteries the precincts which cast the most crucial votes or the returns in the "plantation wards" artificially enhanced.

But I digress. Richard J. Daley, with all of his many faults, was one of the most effective mayors America has ever seen. He was also a strong leader. Vladimir Putin is a strong leader too. The trouble is that it's hard to make the case that Russia is better off for it.

When we shiny young liberal activists went to war against the Machine, it was all about dishonesty and corruption and nepotism and the triumph of process over substance. The Machine didn't exist to change society or improve the lot of the citizens of Chicago or Cook County. It existed to win elections, to gain and consolidate power.  It was like a malignant tumor. It existed not to promote the welfare of the body politic, but simply for its own benefit. Power was primarily an end unto itself. And for those of us who thought it ought to be primarily a means to other ends, this was a problem.

But most voters didn't see it that way. In retrospect, they weren't entirely wrong. Power might have been the Machine's real objective, but in many ways it ended up being good for people in spite of itself. It's hard to remember this today, but back then Chicago's nickname was "the City that Works." Garbage was picked up on time,  roads were kept in repair, the city's public transportation system was unmatched, and city services generally were the envy of the nation. It's all the more remarkable that these things were true in a city that ran on patronage rather than merit. But abstract concerns about the ideological rootlessness, venality, and shamelessness of the Machine were generally not persuasive arguments to citizens who were being served better than the inhabitants of any other big city in America. Chicagoans could confidently boast about their quality of life compared to people in, say, Detroit or Philadelphia or New York. And if things were a little shady and rough around the edges, well,  them's the breaks.

But in Putin's Russia, the economy is in a shambles, the nation's international reputation is in the dumpster, and nobody is as defensive about the regime's shortcomings as Chicagoans were about the Daley regime back in the day. The statistics in the article speak for themselves.  The regime is corrupt. the country is in terrible shape, and for all his emphasis on national pride and power, people understand that Putin has not served Russia well.

The sometime thuggishness of the Daley machine was one of the things that offended young idealists like me the most. But in Russia, official illegality and bullying are at a different level. I know of no case in which the Machine ever resorted to murder. But no serious person doubts that Vladimir Putin was behind the murder of dissident Alexander Litvinenko. In a riff on comedian Yakov Smirnov's joke about the difference between America and Soviet Russia, a meme I recently saw portrayed a bare-chested Putin carrying a high-powered rifle with the caption, "In Russia, President assassinates you!"

Enter Donald Trump, an admirer of Putin's who has a very similar personal style. The Donald would love to be Vladimir Putin and flatters himself that he is. Putin, being much smarter than Trump, plays along, pretending to reciprocate Little Donald's hero worship. Trump, too, likes to play the macho man, bragging about the size of his genitals (admittedly after Marco Rubio somewhat tastelessly called it into question) and the strength of his personality and the hairiness of his Y chromosome. But while Putin might be fond of being photographed bare-chested and riding horses or hunting, or perhaps as a great hockey player, he doesn't brag. Real alpha males don't have to.

But Trump does. The surest sign of a weak man is how often and how loudly he has to try to convince others- and himself- that he's a strong one.

Now, don't get me wrong. Trump, like Putin- and like Mayor Daley at his lesser moments- is a bully. In fact, being a bully defines Trump.  His reckless statements during the Republican debates about ordering the American military to commit war crimes "and they'd have to obey" and his constant bragging about his own superiority and strength no doubt are tipoffs as to how he would govern if given the chance. I have no doubt that Evan McMullin, who points out that in his years as a CIA operative in the Middle East he saw quite a few characters like Trump, is right on target in his prediction that if elected Trump would treat his oath of office like every other contract he enters into: binding only insofar he wants it to be. Forget Trump's promise to appoint originalist justices to the Supreme Court, McMullin says; if elected, Trump will appoint whoever his whim of the moment dictates, subject only to the question of whose appointment will most empower Donald Trump. And having made his appointments to the Court, McMullin predicts, Trump will then ignore it and ignore Congress, riding roughshod over both precisely as he promised in the Republican debate to run roughshod over domestic and international law and order the murder of the innocent wives and children of terrorists.

Trump isn't Richard Daley, and he isn't Vladimir Putin. He's a bully, yes. But he's a weak man who wants to be a strong man. He lacks the intellect, the understanding, and the inclination to benefit the United States in the ways in which the Daley regime benefitted the people of Chicago. And his weakness, lack of judgment, ignorance, and impulsivity can only make an even bigger mess of the United States than Putin has of Russia.

Trump's most fanatical and scariest supporters sometimes use a lion as a logo representing him. Daley  was a lion. Putin is a lion. But Trump is a just mewling little orange kitten who thinks he's the King of the Jungle who will be eaten in one gulp if he ever has the chance to play with real animals out there.

HT: Real Clear World

But since when has Trump cared about the truth?

Donald Trump on debate moderator Lester Holt: “Lester is a professional, but we'll see what happens ... By the way, Lester is a Democrat. It's a phony system. They are all Democrats. It's a very unfair system. I've worked pretty well within the system.”

Media bias, of course, is real, and a concern in presidential debates; anyone who doubts that should simply recall Candy Crowley's intervention in support of President Obama's misrepresentation of the facts four years ago. But in fact, Holt is a registered Republican.

On the other hand, since The Donald just says whatever serves his purpose at the moment whether it's true or even rational or not and whines that he's being picked on no matter what the actual facts, those who have been paying attention lo these many months (that is, those who have ruled out the possibility of voting for the Big Orange Toddler)  automatically take everything he says with a carload of salt on general principles.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thank you, Pittsburgh Pirates!

With the Bucs' victory over the Washington Nationals, my Cubs have clinched home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series, assuming they get there.

I knew Massachusetts was wicked Left...

...and I do mean "wicked!"

But this is absolutely insane.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court deserves not only mass impeachment but institutionalization in a mental hospital.

Lose the robes. Grab some straight jackets. The Court just ruled that African-American men are justified in running away from the police!

One wonders which side Their Dishonors are on in the war on crime.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The bottom line: Don't.

The title of this article is "Reconsidering my Opposition to Donald Trump."

I strongly commend it to you. It's an eloquent statement of the reasons why Christians, in particular, SHOULD oppose Donald Trump.

For that matter, so should anybody who calls himself or herself an American.

WARNING: Graphic and disgusting language. WARNING: You may be planning to vote for this.

What is described below is NOT an aberration. All you have to do is to spend any time at all on Twitter or simply in conversation with random Trump supporters to see that this is not far from the norm among the hard- core alt-right supporters of the Orange God Emperor.

And yes, I know that this does not represent all Trump supporters. Some- including people I know and respect- are in denial about who and what Trump and his movement are actually about. They are so focused on the commendable goal of keeping Hillary Clinton out of the White House that they are pretty much oblivious to the price they'll pay for choosing Trump.

I just got this email from the McMullin campaign. I've embedded a video recording of the call where the link appeared in the email. Again, be warned. (NOTE: This post originally said that the conversation was not "bleeped" or edited. I'm glad to say that the McMullin campaign did remedy that).

Be prepared for a rude introduction to just what the Trump movement is about. And ask yourself, O decent voter who is planning to vote for Donald Trump,  just what it is that draws people like this to him like flies to honey?


Evan McMullin’s team isn’t like an ordinary campaign. We’re drawn to this mission because we’re all dedicated to giving America a better choice in this election, and to building a movement where conservatives can cast a vote of which they can be proud.

With so little time on the calendar, we don’t sleep much; we all work 20 hour days, and we’ve got a candidate who drives just as hard. It’s all worth it. We’re fighting a battle to help save this country from two terrible, dangerous, and divisive candidates.

We’re a tight group, with a loyalty and commitment to one another that’s unique in campaigns.

We’re not here to make Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump happy, so we get heat from all sides. We roll with it.

But when a Trump troll left a truly disgusting, racist rant on our Communications Director Rina Shah’s voicemail, we thought you should hear it.

You can listen to it here and judge for yourself. Trust me, even bleeped, it’s not safe for work:

Rina was born in West Virginia. She’s been a loyal Republican and conservative. She’s a wife, a mom, and a professional. She gets in early, leaves late, and works her tail off - every day. She’s a Hindu, not a Muslim (we do have Muslims on our team, along with Catholics, Evangelicals, Mormons, Jews, and atheists).

It says a lot about the troll in question, but it says more about where American politics and public life is headed in the age of Donald Trump. This is a guy who didn’t think twice about leaving a voicemail filled with grotesque ethnic and religious slurs. To him, and too many of Trump's backers, that is normal political discourse now.

This is only a small drop in the ocean of hatred that defines not just Donald Trump, but also his team, and even members of his family. They work hard every day to divide America - to mainstream this kind of behavior.

His allies on the alt-right love this game. They want an America not just where different races and religions don’t talk...they want an America where they live in separate homelands. They want an America where the Republican Party becomes a white nationalist party. And, they may very well get their way.

Not every Trump supporter is a racist; many are simply misled, many are angry with two failed parties...but it sure looks like all the racists around these parts are Trump supporters.

Just as these trolls wouldn’t act this way without Trump’s encouragement, Trump himself couldn’t play these games if the leadership of the Republican Party stood up, called him out, and told him his constant stoking of racial hatred is unacceptable.

Far too many members of Congress have told us privately how much they hate Trump, and hate what he’s doing to this country. Some have stood on stage with him, smiling and waving, and yet they admit they lack the moral courage to do the right thing. They’ve told us behind closed doors how scared they are of becoming his targets.

Far too many elected officials, and too many party leaders, use the excuse that they’re endorsing Trump and not his followers.

But the truth is, they’re not just his endorsers. They’re his enablers.

Rick Wilson
Communications Director
McMullin for President

One wonders which "pathological lying criminal" the caller was referring to- Hillary or Trump, who is also undergoing criminal investigation after a pattern of fraud going back decades!

We cannot allow that to come to power in America.

We cannot allow that to remain in control of the Republican party.

No decent person should soil himself or herself by voting for that. Not even to keep Hillary out of the White House.

I urge you to go to the McMullin campaign page, learn about Evan, volunteer and/or contribute if you're moved to do so- and on Election Day, to vote for Evan McMullin, who unlike the two major-party candidates is a decent human being who stands for what America has always stood for.

Where do the candidates stand on war in outer space?

Russia and China are preparing for future wars in space.

President Obama, as is the case with security threats on earth, is oblivious.

Donald Trump, while clearly the spaciest candidate, probably wants to abandon outer space and stop playing policeman to the solar system, while building a wall around the planet to keep out those illegal aliens.

Hillary Clinton is ahead of the game. She's studying Romulan and Goa'ould  for use in sending classified emails.

Gary Johnson probably thinks that if the Russians and the Chinese want to smash Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Houston with mass drivers from orbit, the government shouldn't interfere.

Jill Stein likely is against orbiting military satellites because there will soon be so many Russian and Chinese ones up there that for us to join them would pollute the Van Allen belt.

Evan McMullin- who is, after all, running against four space cadets and to succeed a fifth- is clearly the only candidate with the experience to deal with the threat.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

FiveThirtyEight sees the Democrats winning the Senate

Ironically, FiveThiryEight now thinks that Donald Trump will cost the Republicans the Senate as well as the presidency.

It's ironic because that reinforces the best argument for voting for the Little Orange Kitten: that otherwise Hillary will appoint Scalia's successor and maybe several other Supreme Court justices, and get them confirmed.

Since Hillary seems to be pulling away again nationally, though. the best plan for preventing that remains working like crazy to keep the Senate safe for the GOP. That could still happen. No way are the American people stupid enough to elect Trump.

What's the difference between a Trump "Republican" and a lemming?

Answer: Lemmings don't really commit mass suicide.

But bogus Republicans who support the man who hijacked the party and is the enemy of everything it ever stood for do.

First, they managed to get an ignorant, unqualified, unstable and boorish clown- the only one of the Republican candidates whom the polls clearly and consistently said could not defeat Hillary Clinton- nominated because expressing their anger was more important than winning. Then they blamed the consequences of their own stupidity on their fellow Republicans who love their country too much to support that walking disaster. And now, they're moving to make the blunder permanent and destroy the party for all time.

Reince Priebus, the Republican national chairman who has completely sold out to those who have taken a great political party hostage, is hinting that former GOP presidential candidates whose consciences will not permit them to endorse authoritarian sociopath Donald Trump should be barred from seeking the nomination in 2020.

Never mind that Priebus will be powerless to impose any such penalty; his own association the upcoming Trump disaster would result in his own ouster even if he were not already retiring. Never mind that it will be the very people he wants to penalize who will be running the party in a matter of months. Priebus seems oblivious to the fact that even if it were otherwise, further alienating those who cannot support Trump is likely to make their departure from the Republican camp permanent, and effectively end the GOP's status as a major American political party.

Yes, the Republican candidates did all sign a pledge to support the eventual nominee. But all of them assumed- falsely, as it turned out- that the eventual Republican nominee would be a Republican! Further, Priebus ignores the fact that Trump himself repudiated that pledge before winning the nomination! The Republican political site "Red State" put it very well:

The pledge, itself, is not worth the paper it was written on. Trump signed the pledge but later admitted that he would not honor the pledge if he didn’t win the nomination. Under normal circumstances, dealing with people of more honorable stock, that would automatically absolve any other candidate of any obligation.

But this is weasel-boy Priebus we’re talking about. “Honorable” doesn’t enter into the picture.

In his own statement repudiating the pledge, Trump whined that Priebus and the RNC were picking on him!

An aide to one of the several former candidates who refuse to endorse Trump,  Ohio Gov. John Kasich,  says that his boss "refuses to be bullied" and in essence told Priebus what he could do with his threats.

Good for the Kasich camp.

The entire idiotic incident simply underscores a point I feel very strongly about, and which I expect to be foolishly dismissed once Trump is safely defeated: the damage Donald Trump and his supporters have done to the Republican party cannot be undone simply by relegating it to the past and moving on. Yes, it's important that that the GOP be an inclusive party, and the incompatibility of Trump's candidacy with that imperative is one of the reasons why his nomination has crippled it so badly.

But the people Trump has attracted to the Republican party are in large measure- though probably not exclusively- bigots and haters, the ignorant, the intolerant, and the enemies of the party's heritage and most basic values. They have turned the Republican party into exactly what the Democrats have been slandering it as being for decades.

Trump and his movement are cancer. They cannot be a permanent part of the party. Their continued presence within it is a death sentence. Those who form the core of Trump's movement and persist in its views and agenda must be treated like cancer and surgically removed.

The Republican party must expel them, or at least neutralize them by removing them from any and all influence once Trump passes into political oblivion in a couple of months. As long as they remain, those who have been excluded by the prostitution of the party brought about by Trump and his supporters and enabled by people like Priebus will continue to be alienated from it- and deluded though the Trump people are about this fact, there are more of us than there are of them.

Even without the Trump aberration, the Republican party has enough drama ahead of it as the ideological purists continue their insane insistence that the way to attract the centrist voters who have voted Democratic in the last two elections is to become increasingly rigid, inflexible, and extreme, I personally refuse to share a party with them, either.  There comes a point in which one who butts heads with a brick wall has to concede defeat at the hands of the wall.

I have a feeling that my newfound status as an independent will be of long standing- unless, of course, the suicidal instincts of the Trump and Cruz wings of the party force the birth of a permanent new party of the Center Right for people like Jeb Bush and John Kasich and Lindsey Graham, in which case I will probably be among its founding members.

This is not to say that if such a party is not founded I exclude the possibility of voting for Cruz or somebody like him in 2020, though I will do so from outside a Republican party his supporters control. But the consequences of the upheaval Trump has brought about simply will not disappear along with Trump himself. The Republican coalition that elected Ronald Reagan and the Bushes simply no longer exists, and I personally have no interest in belonging to what seems likely to take its place.

And I am very far from being alone, I have jumped off the wagon, I have been pushed.

Monday, September 19, 2016

No ifs, ands, or butts: Trump even lied about his colonoscopy!

Donald Trump is a pathological liar.

So is Hillary Clinton, of course. But The Donald has raised lying to an art form. He lied his way through the Republican debates. He's lied about his past positions on almost every issue. And when he gets caught in a lie- which he does regularly- well, he tries to lie his way out of it.

He even lied about having had a colonoscopy.

Now, I know a thing or two about colonoscopies. Let me sound a "too much information" warning before we go any further.

I've had more than my share of colonoscopies in the past three years. The first was in the spring of 2013 when I finally had the colonoscopy all men should begin having every five years once they turn 50. I was 63.

Sure enough, it turned out that I had a malignant tumor in my colon, a third of which was removed a few months later.  Six jolly months of chemo followed.  I had two annual colonoscopies after that. Things are presently going so well that I don't have to have another one for a couple of years, by which time I will- assuming all continues to go well- be officially considered cured.

Having had three colonoscopies in as many years, I can tell you that the day before the procedure you don't go anywhere. You get to chug a gallon of a salty substance ironically called "GoLytely."

You do not go "lytely." You go heavily. You go, and you go, and you go until your bowels are pristine. And then you go some more. When you actually undergo the procedure, you are sedated in such a fashion that you remember only bits and pieces of it and are apt to act in a rather loopy fashion even if you are not Donald Trump. It takes the rest of the day to recover from the sedation, much less get your alimentary canal functioning again, and rejoin the human race.

Donald Trump claims to have had a colonoscopy about the same time I did, on July 10, 2013.

But he tweeted all day that day. The article linked to above reproduces those tweets.

That article exercises great restraint in only implying rather than stating the most compelling reason of all to believe that he did not in fact have a colonoscopy that day. My restraint isn't quite up to that level, but I'll try to be delicate: Donald Trump needs to drink a couple of gallons of "GoLytely" with every meal.

Nevada leads the way

An oldie but goodie from the early days of our national acid trip

Andrew Klavan summarizes the case for Donald Trump:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Donald Trump and the death of the Republican party

I don't agree with everything in this FiveThirtyEight article by Claire Malone, Harry Enten, and David Wield. For one thing, the GOP's principled stand in support of the Western ethical  tradition in the face of the tsunami of moral nihilism from the cultural barbarians is one of the most attractive things about it to me, and not, as the article implies, some sort of failing. But in general- sadly- it's a pretty good analysis of the death throes of a great American political party- the party of my forebears and, until Cleveland, my own.

Yet even in my one point of dissent, I have to acknowledge the truth in what the article says. If, as I believe, we are living in a society that is coming apart at the seams, the side of reason and common sense and sanity is surely the side I want to be on. But after all, the whole problem is that the tide is moving in the opposite direction- toward radical, unaccountable individuality, moral license, and the breakdown of pretty much everything by which our ancestors defined themselves as civilized people. The side of the angels may be the side to be on if such things matter to you. But they matter to relatively few people these days. The winds are blowing from hotter climes. This is the hour of moral and social chaos in the Western world.

To be blunt, this is a time when those of us who want to stand on the side of what is right and decent are in the minority. We are backing the wrong horse if winning politically and culturally is the objective. On what are generally called "social issues," like abortion and sexuality, standards are not crumbling; they've pretty much already crumbled. And on that different set of social issues- the one in which arguably things may actually getting better- we are faced with a tidal wave from the opposite direction, and from within our own party.

Donald Trump has ridden that wave to the Republican presidential nomination this year. It is the wave of intolerance, of fear, of narrow-mindedness, of hate- and yes, frankly, of ignorance. And it is the wave of the future in the Republican party,  just as moral relativism and ethical chaos own the Democratic future.

Ben Howe, who is quoted in the FiveThirtyEight article, follows me on Twitter and I follow him. We've had some exchanges on this matter. Howe is one of the few conservatives I know who actually wants Hillary Clinton to win. While I don't agree with him, I do see his logic.

It goes like this: The Republican party will never win another national election as long as the Klan, the Nazis, the nativists, the Know-Nothings, and the Alt-Right core of the Trump movement remain influential in it. While I have tended (probably naively) to see this election as a kind of analogy to 1964, Howe thinks otherwise.

In 1964,  chaos in the ranks of Establishment Republicans resulted in a failure to mount a united challenge to Barry Goldwater. Nelson Rockefeller, who had been looked upon ever since the previous election as Goldwater's chief rival for the Republican nomination, decided not to run. A write-in campaign for the 1960 Republican vice-presidential nominee and U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, actually won the New Hampshire primary. But Lodge, too, decided to play Hamlet. As a result, nobody stepped forward to bear the standard of centrist Republicanism until Pennsylvania Gov. William W. Scranton did just before the convention- when it was too late.

Now, it in one sense it's absurd to even compare Barry Goldwater with Donald Trump. Goldwater was an intelligent, thoughtful, decent man who not only was a consistent conservative but virtually defined the concept; Trump is none of those things. But he did share Trump's penchant for off-the-cuff remarks that would come back to haunt him (so did Ronald Reagan, though in his case by the time he was nominated to run against the walking disaster named Jimmy Carter, nobody cared anymore). At a time when the main "knock" against him was that he was too extreme, Goldwater blundered by embracing that label rather than seeking to disprove it. "Let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," he said in his acceptance speech in San Francisco, "and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

It's not so much that the election was over once he spoke those words; no Republican was going to defeat John F. Kennedy's Democratic successor less than a year after his assassination. But Goldwater's refusal to trim his sails and appeal to the Center, where the votes were, meant that the defeat would be of catastrophic proportions. Lyndon Johnson carried 44 states, and the Democrats turned their majority in both houses of Congress into strangleholds.

My father, Robert McKinley Waters, found Goldwater too much to handle. For the only time in his life, he voted Democratic. Large numbers of other Republicans did the same. And in the aftermath of the disaster, the obvious question arose: how to pick up the pieces so as to win next time?

There was no question of the Goldwater movement retaining control of the party after such a disaster. Yet that did not mean that it was purged or necessarily even repudiated. More centrist Republicans stepped into positions of party leadership but were smart enough to remember that political parties are by their very nature coalitions. They worked to forge a common front for Scranton and Goldwater Republicans that could win in 1968. And when that year came, the Republicans nominated a candidate acceptable to both wings, Richard Nixon. And win they did.

I have never doubted that Donald Trump would lose this year. Throughout the primaries, the polls showed that he was the only candidate among the sixteen Republicans running for the nomination who could not beat Hillary Clinton. Fanatics have a tendency to see reality as a conspiracy against them, of course, and the core of Donald Trump's supporters have always scoffed at the polls. Now, let it be clearly understood that Donald Trump did not sweep to the Republican nomination on his own. He won the nomination only because the opposition was so badly divided. Until very late in the primaries, Trump was having trouble breaking the 33% threshold. As was the case with Scranton in 1964, so it was with Ted Cruz in 2016: by the time the opposition united behind a single alternative, it was too late.

I've always assumed that Trump would lose decisively- perhaps by as big a margin as Goldwater- and the Trump people ousted from positions of power in much the same way the Goldwater people were in 1964. Goldwater, too, had attracted support from racist and otherwise despicable quarters. They were in no way legitimized by the work of RNC Chairman Ray Bliss to integrate decent Goldwater and anti-Goldwater Republicans, and responsible Goldwater supporters were not blacklisted. But the lunatic fringe was excluded.

I' always expected much the same thing to happen in 2017. I'd imagined that chastened, respectable Trump supporters would be welcomed into the rebuilt version of the party, and integrated into a coalition careful to establish common ground between the warring Trump and Rubio and Cruz and Bush factions in preparation to unite behind a candidate acceptable to all of them in what would surely be a successful challenge to Hillary Clinton's re-election in 2020.

But as FiveThirtyEight points out, that's unlikely. The divisions run too deep. The infection of bigotry and ignorance that was superficial enough to be excised from the Goldwater movement of 1964 forms the core of the Trump movement of 2016,  and while individual Trump supporters might well find a place in a new and viable GOP, the movement itself would have to be decisively and emphatically repudiated and cast out. But that isn't going to happen.The Democrats didn't nominate a legendary political master who had succeeded a popular, martyred president this year. They nominated the second-least-popular candidate any major American political party has ever nominated. Only Donald Trump himself is less popular.

As a result, the election probably won't be the landslide it should have been. True, Hillary Clinton is, all things considered, less potentially frightening to the average American voter than the ignorant and unstable Trump. But this is a year when, unlike 1964, a generic Democrat would have been expected to lose to a generic Republican. I still think Clinton will win. But it will not be by a margin anything like Johnson's in 1964.

As a result, the campaign for the 2020 Republican nomination will likely be a civil war. One might hope that no dark figure would emerge who is able to put the Trump coalition back together. But the toxic elements Trump brought into the party will still be there. The Cruz wing will continue to make the bizarre argument that Republicans lose because they're not conservative enough;  that the more extreme a Republican nominee is, the better a centrist electorate will like it, and the more obstructionist and partisan the party is, the better it will appeal to an electorate furious precisely at obstructionism and partisanism. The "Establishment" wing- the traditional Republicans- will continue to try to inject an element of  rationality and strategic thinking and point out that the GOP has to reach out to new elements in a changing national demographic or go the way of the Whigs. Nobody will listen.

The result will be a free-for-all in 2020 resulting once again in a divided party. It still ought to beat President Hillary, but that is very far from a foregone conclusion.

Howe's argument is simply that a Clinton landslide is the best possible outcome not only for the conservative movement and sane Republicanism but for the prospect of a Republican future. The more closely the result this year resembles the result in 1964, he argues, the easier it will be for the party to purge itself of the Nazis and Klansmen and modern day Know-Nothings and the tinfoil-hat Alt-Right crowd. He has a point. Hillary is going to win in any case; the margin is the only real issue. Moreover, a powerful case can be made that even four years of Hillary would be preferable to a return to the Great Recession which would inevitably follow for years of Trump protectionism, the international chaos and compromise of America's vital interests abroad that would result in four years of Trump's isolationism, the instability of four years with an emotionally immature and unstable Trump at the helm of government, and the likely result: that no Republican would ever again be elected president and that the Republicans would never again have enough members in Congress to even  be much of a check on the Democrats.

And that's just it: to elect Donald Trump to the White House would probably be to put the Democrats and the liberals thereafter in permanent control of both the presidency and the Congress, with no effective opposition whatsoever. The American people might forget that George W. Bush was president when the Great Recession of 2008 took place. But the party simply would not survive Donald Trump being president when a new one happens so soon thereafter.

But the Democratic party of 2016 is not the Democratic party of 1964, Hillary Clinton is not Lyndon Johnson. The post-McGovern Democratic party is not the party of JFK and LBJ and Hubert Humphrey and Scoop Jackson. I cannot support Hillary. I don't see how any reasonable, morally sane person could. McMullin is my only option; Trump would be a greater disaster than Hillary would be, not least for the future of the Republican party itself.

So what happens if the election is close? Best-case scenario: the newfound good feeling among elements of the NeverTrump movement who supported Cruz on one hand and Rubio and Bush on the other will continue. Don't underestimate it. There are many people who previously regarded Cruz as only a step above Trump but who have a newfound respect for him after that non-endorsement speech at Cleveland. And the chastening of the Trump debacle might well influence the Tea Party wing to seek at least some common ground with their erstwhile arch-enemies in the Establishment. The Nixon formula- a 2020 nominee equally acceptable to the Cruz and Rubio and Bush factions of the party- cannot be excluded. Shared adversity has a way of sobering excessive rivalry. Perhaps Cruz himself might emerge as the nominee, but a wiser Cruz more inclined to unite rather than to divide. Or maybe somebody like Rubio or Ben Sasse might give everybody an option they can get behind.

If the Tea Party and Establishment wings of the party can to any meaningful degree unite against a decapitated Trump movement, the Republican party might still have a future. But only then.

I am afraid that the FiveThirtyEight forecast is more realistic. As crazy as it would be for those responsible for losing the election by getting an unelectable candidate nominated to blame a close defeat on fellow Republicans who simply could not in conscience support him, it's going to happen. That insane argument is already being made. Howe is right in one respect: a landslide for Clinton would purge the Republican party and clear the air. But a close Clinton victory would only muddy the waters and exacerbate the bitterness of the divisions within it.

When I left the County Republican Central Committee the last time, I changed my registration from Republican to Independent. Nothing- with the possible exception of an Iowa Democrat- is quite as crazy as an Iowa Republicans. The extremes, for some reason, thrive in this state, and I could no longer deal with sharing a party with people with whom my differences were at least as serious as my differences with the Democrats.

And that's the thing the Trump people (and, I fear, the Cruz people too) just don't get. Political parties- at least the ones who win, or who have any chance of winning- are by their very definition coalitions. Coalitions, by their very definition, are composed of more than one element! The more purist a political party becomes, the less likely it is to win. And to nominate a candidate large segments of one's own  party simply cannot support is in itself to be responsible for that party's defeat.

A coalition between the Tea Party and the Establishment behind candidates acceptable to both is simply the only possibility of a viable future of any kind for the Republican party. Even then, it's going to be tough going. The Republican coalition is already in danger of going the way of the Whig coalition, finding itself composed of factions each making up a shrinking percentage of the population and therefore no longer in a position to win a national election. It seems to me quite likely that it will now take the final step to oblivion, disintegrating into quarreling factions eternally at war with one another and simply unable to form a common electoral front.

In 1856, the result was the emergence of a new coalition embodying elements of the old one, but able to compromise and unite behind a common agenda while reaching out to elements hitherto outside of its constituent parts. It called itself the Republican party, and four years later it won the White House,

The night of the Iowa Caucuses, I made a mistake. Before going into the room to caucus for Marco Rubio,  I filled out a form changing my registration back to Republican. But I forgot to sign it.

Many weeks later, at a time when Donald Trump's nomination already seemed likely, I got it back in the mail. The Republican Party of Iowa wanted me to sign it and forward it to the County Clerk. Instead, I hung onto it. And on the night when Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, it went into the garbage.

Whether it goes by the name of "Republican" or by some other name, a new coalition will emerge to provide the Democrats with their opposition in future years. I will almost certainly be a part of that coalition. It will include people with whom I disagree on many issues, and I will be good with that. I will understand that while many Republicans regard "compromise" as a dirty word, it's the only way a coalition can be built, and the only way anybody can win an election.

And here's the overwhelming, dominating lesson of 2016, which ought to be clear to Tea Partier and Establishmentarian alike: it's the only way to prevent Donald Trump from happening again.

I will not rejoin a Republican party which still contains the Alt-Right and the tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists and the Klansmen and the Nazis or even those who sympathize with them. This year, I'm with Evan McMullin, and proud to support him. What I do in four years depends on whether the Republican party decides to be the part of Lincoln and Eisenhower and Reagan,  or the party of Donald Trump- because it can't be both, and it can't include supporters of both visions.

A new coalition will emerge. It might not happen in 2020, But it will happen. It must.

And that coalition will exclude the Alt-Right, the conspiracy nuts, the Know-Nothings, the bigots, and the rest of those who form the core of Donald Trump's constituency.

Donald Trump has driven the party to the point where the fatal flaws within it have been exposed. It has to decide whether it will be true to itself or become the very thing the Democrats have been slandering it as being for years- and which this year, it has actually become.

Even that may not be enough.  Ours is a culture on its way to hell in a handbasket. It may no longer be possible to put together a coalition in support of decency large enough to halt or even slow its progress.  But the only way it can be of value to anybody is to realize that one does not slow a society's descent into hell by making deals with the devil- or even by accepting his support.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why it's important to insist that homosexual orientation is not a sin

Sadly, a great many conservatives- including conservative Christians- stubbornly insist on the discredited notion that sexual orientation is voluntarily chosen. The damage that error does is enormous. Nothing such a person says thereafter is going to be taken seriously by anybody of homosexual orientation, or even any heterosexual who is less than twenty or thirty years behind the times on that subject.

Recently a generally fine post by Sean Daenzer appeared on the website of my church body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Regrettably, the last commenter on the post manifested precisely that misinformed and destructive attitude. Unfortunately, the article was sloppy at one point in its use of language, permitting itself to be understood as saying that depression and sickness are "sinful conditions." Commenters on the post at the LCMS Facebook page quite rightly took exception to that implication.

Regrettably, those in charge of the page responded with this unfortunate "explanation:"

It seems there is a lot of confusion as to what "sinful condition" means. It is simply this - a condition that exists as a result of sin. Death and sickness in all its forms are sinful conditions.

No, it doesn't! It is so clear as to be a tautology to say that a sinful condition is a condition which is, in itself, sinful! It means that it is sinful to be IN that condition! Having cancer or depression or the common cold- or being of homosexual orientation- are not in themselves sins! What they are is manifestations of the sinful condition all human beings live in from conception until death, which itself is the final result of that condition.

It is one thing to say that homosexual orientation or depression or cancer are manifestations of our sinful condition. But it's a very different thing to say that they are  sinful conditions! I have absolutely no doubt that the sloppy use of language here is just that- a less than ideal use of words rather than an ascription of actual sin to the act of passively suffering the consequences of being a sinner. But in this case, there are far-reaching consequences to the mistake.

The argument of the social Left (and, absurdly, of much of society) is that to disapprove of homosexuality is somehow bigoted and a manifestation of prejudice akin to racism. The entire logic of the Supreme Court's decision redefining marriage, for example,  buys into the confusion of orientation and behavior. It uses the logic of equal protection under the law to authorize something which people didn't engage in not because the law forbade it, but because they are by the nature of their sexual orientation incapable of it.   Prior to Obergefell v. Hodges, marriage was by its very nature an institution whose purpose was the bearing and raising of children. Granted, not all of those who married were, in fact, capable of having kids. But their incapability was a result of age or a coincidental medical abnormality. In principle, a man and a woman is the combination of partners necessary for procreation. Medical impediments in individuals do not change that fact.

Simply extending the legal rights of marriage to gay and lesbian couples would have eliminated any real question of discrimination; redefining marriage itself so as to make same-sex couples capable of it wasn't even logical apart from the confusion of orientation and behavior. It has always been the behavior of heterosexual intercourse which defined marriage, not any characteristic of those who engaged in it other than their ability to do so. Similarly, gay and lesbian sex not only involves different behaviors but behaviors incapable of performing the function marriage exists to promote and encourage.

One cannot be "prejudiced" against a behavior, or even per se against people who engage in it! But one can be prejudiced against people who through no choice of their own have an immutable characteristic like race- or sexual orientation.  

Now, it is certainly possible to be a religious bigot if one falsely ascribes certain negative characteristics to all adherents of a particular faith. To say that all Jews are money grubbers or all Catholics are superstitious or all Muslims are terrorists or all Lutherans are beer-sodden drunks would be bigotry. But even there, to merely disagree with the religious convictions of someone else- even to disapprove of them- cannot be bigotry. I disapprove of the Mormon denial of the Holy Trinity. Mormons disapprove of my embrace of historic Nicene Christianity. But that does not make either of us bigots.  It simply makes us people who disagree.

Neither can one be a bigot because of one's attitude toward specific sexual behaviors, any more than one can become one by disagreeing with a religious belief held by someone else- or the political party they support, or the baseball team they root for, or the way they wear their hair.

Now, here's the crucial point: the concept of sexual orientation is less than a century old! Contrary to what liberals insist, the Apostle Paul did not coin the word ἀρσενοκοῖται. At least among Jews, the word was well-established in Greek usage by the First Century; it's the very word the Septuagint uses in Leviticus to describe people who engaged in homosexual behavior. If you had mentioned "homosexual orientation" to St. Paul, he would not have known what you were talking about!

The Bible doesn't condemn homosexual orientation. It doesn't even address the subject. 
To "disapprove" of a person for having a particular sexual orientation- which, as twin studies and other research have conclusively demonstrated, are at least in large measure inborn (though not genetic) and certainly not chosen- would indeed be prejudice. But to disapprove of homosexual behavior cannot be! Nor, for that matter, could it be bigotry to disapprove even of a condition without extending that disapproval to people who exhibit it. I know of very few people who are not "prejudiced" against leukemia, Ebola, and ALS. That doesn't make them bigots, or even suggest negative attitudes toward people who suffer from those conditions!

Paul's "thorn in the flesh" could well have been a sexual attraction to members of his own sex! The point is that as he understood the term, and as the Bible consistently does in both Testaments, that would not have made him a homosexual! Homosexuals- ἀρσενοκοῖται- were men who played the active role in sex with other men; men who played the passive role were  called μαλακοὶ (incidentally, Paul uses the two words together in 1 Corinthians 6, including both in his description of people who will not inherit God's Kingdom; there is no question of ἀρσενοκοῖται referring only to homosexual rapists, as some liberal scholars argue!). Both words  describe actual behaviors. Intellectually dishonest arguments by liberals to the contrary, there is absolutely no doubt as to what Paul meant by the terms- and in neither case did he refer to men who are merely attracted to other men!

And that's why the confusion of orientation and behavior (and for that matter the discredited notion that orientation, as opposed to behavior, is voluntarily chosen) is a big deal. It's not simply outdated, inaccurate, and uncharitable, although it is all of those things. It buys into the very false presupposition which the Left depends on in order to stigmatize those of us who disapprove of homosexual behavior.

And yes, that's a big deal. That presupposition is false, and to maintain it is intellectually dishonest. But more than that, it stigmatizes people for something they can't help.

I run an email group for Christians struggling with scrupulosity. Sometimes in that group, I encounter brothers and sisters in Christ who bear the cross of a homosexual orientation but know that they cannot act upon it without sin. The heaviness of the burden they bear is beyond words.  The hope of marriage, as God and the Faith define the term, is precluded. They face the prospect of a life of celibacy and often loneliness.

They do not need to have their burden made heavier by our ignorance.

Even homosexual behavior is no worse than any of the other sins of which people are guilty. Christ died for it, too. The problem of the gay lifestyle is exactly the same as the problem with a lifestyle of indulging any other sin with which one does not struggle, whether it be drunkenness or stealing or a bad temper or prejudice against another person's race or even prejudice against people of a given sexual orientation as opposed to disapproval of behavior: it is incompatible with justifying faith. That, and not the "seriousness" of particular sins (all sins are equally serious in themselves, being offenses against God) is why Paul writes of those who engage in them "shall not inherit the Kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The Holy Spirit will not share a heart with cherished sin; the issue here is not the sin itself, but the unbelief which makes it possible for it to become a cheerfully-embraced lifestyle.

This is crucial in our outreach to those who are afflicted by homosexual orientation. To continue to treat homosexual orientation as a voluntarily chosen thing is not merely to go beyond what Scripture says and burden Christians forced to struggle with it but to effectively eliminate any possibility of any credible witness to the gay community itself.  It also legitimizes the very basis upon which the Left falsely equates the biblical attitude toward homosexuality with racism or other forms of bigotry.
And yes, those are big deals.

Further, it's important to avoid the very kind of sloppy language the LCMS Facebook page indulges in when it calls homosexual orientation not a manifestation of our sinful condition, but itself a sinful condition,  Whether it intends it or not, it's blaming the victim. It's turning a misfortune arising from one's fallen condition with a moral failing.

It's exactly the same as saying not that the flu or death are results of sin, but that it's sinful to catch the flu or to die.

Meeting The Man

These are days of darkness for the Republican party and the nation, and my selfie with Evan McMullin reflects that unfortunate fact. Also, of course, the bad lighting at the Americana restaurant on Locust Street last night.

But I was privileged to meet that humble patriot yesterday evening. Evan, for those who don't know, worked for the CIA part-time in college, and full-time afterward, eventually becoming a clandestine anti-terrorism operative in the Middle East. 9/11 prompted his decision to go full time. So he went to war against al Quaeda and ISIS and the enemies of our country and of freedom.

When he left the CIA, he went to Wharton Business School (the one Donald Trump lied about having graduated from with honors) and went into finance. He later worked for the United Nations helping refugees and for the Republican caucus in the United States House of Representatives, working first as its advisor on national security and later as its policy director. When the Republican party disgraced itself by nominating Donald Trump, Evan- like me, and many others- hoped that some present or past member of Congress or governor or former presidential candidate would step up to carry the banner of genuine Republicanism and conservatism against that phony and the equally dishonest and unfit harridan the Democrats nominated, But none did,

At last, he was asked to run himself. He said he considered it his duty. He could not stand by and watch the country he loved and had served so faithfully be put at risk by allowing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to go unchallenged.

He had worked in the Middle East, he said, against authoritarian tyrants just like Donald Trump, and recognized the type. He forthrightly addressed the most valid argument those who plan to vote for Trump have: the assertion that Trump is more likely than Hillary to appoint originalist justices who would interpret the Constitution as written rather than re-write it as they thought it should have been written. And he was blunt about why he believed the argument didn't hold water. And I agree with him.

He'd seen Trump's type before, he said. Yes, Trump had promised at one point to appoint Supreme Court nominees from a list submitted by The Federalist. good candidates all. Yet just the other day reports began to circulate that he planned to appoint financier and Trump crony Peter Theil, who isn't even a lawyer. And during the debates, he put forward his own radical, pro-abortion sister as an example of the kind of justice he'd appoint!

Donald Trump, Evan pointed out, simply can't be trusted to keep his word about anything. He lies like other people breathe, and his beliefs change with the circumstances. Within the past twelve months, Trump has reversed himself on virtually every issue. He doesn't fulfill his contracts or pay his bills; he even stiffed those young cheerleaders who performed at that rally of his in Florida during the primaries. He who inveighs against illegal immigrants hires them- and then declines to pay them. He pushes small businesses to the brink of bankruptcy by forcing them to settle for pennies on the dollar on debts he could easily afford to pay. He breaks promises without a second thought. He has no honor. What he has is an overwhelming will to power. Those who say that while we know what Hillary would do, we don't know what Trump would do are right, Evan said last night. The problem is the overwhelming likelihood based on his track record that what he would do would be worse than anything Hillary would ever do, and worse even than we imagine.

If Trump becomes president, McMullin said (and again, from what I know of the man I fully agree with him), he will appoint whomever the whim of the moment might dictate to the Court- and once he's made the appointment, will simply ignore the Supreme Court and run roughshod over both the Court and Congress. His contempt for the Constitution is absolute. Evan McMullin reads Donald Trump exactly as I do: as the greatest threat to our American Constitutional democracy in our history and the most dangerous man ever nominated by a major party for the presidency.

The lives of Evan's colleges in the CIA might well have been endangered by Hillary Clinton's carelessness with classified materials.  He exercised considerable restraint, I thought, in not addressing how American lives were endangered and in fact lost by her mishandling of the Benghazi crisis.They would also be endangered by Trump's manifest ignorance, egotism, unwillingness to listen, and recklessness. Neither Trump nor Clinton,  he has pointed out in the past, could even get a security clearance if they had not been nominated by our major parties to be president! Yet both were receiving routine briefings on our nation's most vital secrets, and one of them was about to gain the apex of American power, invested with a degree of trust of which neither is worthy. He could not stand by and watch that happen, Evan said last night. And that's why he's running.

Nor is national security the only category in which Evan McMullin shines when compared to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (Gary Johnson, who is Hillary's clone on social policies and Trump's in his irresponsible and isolationist foreign policy, radical Jill Stein and tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist Darryl Castle of the Constitution Party do not even merit consideration). This graduate of Wharton is an economist as well as an expert in keeping us safe.  His grasp on economics is impressive. The Chinese, he points out, want to compete with us economically. They are in fact very good at imitating and "ripping off" the ideas of others. But what they can't do is what Americans do better than anyone else does, or ever has: innovate.

Innovation, McMullin said, is the key to our prospering in the new century. It's the key to bringing the economy out of its doldrums and putting Americans back to work. In order to grow the economy, we need to be doing things that make the economy grow by taking advantage of our greatest neglected strength as a nation. Our future is in new technologies and new developments in old ones. We are currently going broke simply paying the interest on the national debt, he pointed out. We cannot- dare not- simply continue on our present path. Bold new steps are needed not simply to keep pace with what we owe to others, but to supercharge the economy and make America solvent again.

One of the people at the gathering asked him about the space program. He pointed out that that is precisely one of the places where Americans have excelled in the past- and have virtually ceased to even try. No wonder unemployment is so high in the states where the aerospace industry once brought prosperity! I pointed out that the Mercury and Gemini and Apollo programs created whole new industries, employed huge numbers of precisely the people who have been hurt most by the economic downturn of 2008, stimulated countless spinoff industries and technologies which employed vastly more- and despite complaints from the Left and others who are ill-informed on the subject that we had far more pressing needs for the money we spend on it here at home, generated exponentially more money for the Federal government in new taxes due to the growth it stimulated in the economy than we spent on it!

And so, we just quit!

Evan McMullin understands that simplistic ideas about soaking the rich while spending huge amounts on new entitlements will only dig us deeper into our economic hole. What is needed, as President Bush tried so disastrously articulate during the 2000 campaign, is not to decrease the size of the slice some people get from the pie so that others can get bigger slices. What we need is to make the pie bigger, so that everybody's slice grows! And we need to do that by innovating, by trying new things, by pushing the envelope, by developing new technologies and ways of doing things- by doing the things Americans do best and do better than anybody in history ever has done.

This is a very smart man- far smarter than Trump, probably smarter than Hillary and certainly healthier psychologically than either of them. In a debate, he would demolish them both (he's challenged Johnson and Stein and Castle to an "undercard debate;" it will be interesting to see whether they accept). Unlike Trump, he knows what he's talking about when he discusses national security. And unlike Hillary, it comes first with him.

He admits that the odds are long. His campaign manager told me last night that he expects voters to have a chance to vote for Evan in somewhere around 40 to 43 of the fifty states despite his late start. But in some states, he'll be a write-in candidate. He freely admits that he has no path to 270 electoral votes. His strategy is to deadlock the Electoral College and throw the election into the House of Representatives- where, as the only one of the three top finishers in electoral votes who is fit to hold the office, members of the House from both parties who know personally will have a chance to put country ahead of party and make the right choice.

Very honestly I think the odds are even longer than he does. But that's not the point. This election has confronted us with a choice between two major party nominees who are both categorically unworthy and unfit to sit in the Oval Office. The great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, "When confronted with making a choice between two evils, don't." The lesser of two evils, as someone once said, is still evil.

But in this election, we are not merely confronted with choosing, as we sometimes have in the past, the lesser of two evils. The options we are presented with are not simply evil. They are both unacceptable.

They are both unthinkable. It's not just that neither of them is worthy of the office they both seek.Both are unfit for it. Either would be a threat to America's security and well-being. Hillary, at the very least, would endanger the Constitution through the appointments she would make to the Supreme Court, even if she proved a more competent President than she was a Secretary of State. Trump promises a foreign policy which would abandon America's responsibilities in the world,  dishonor our alliances and treaties the way he dishonors contracts, and threaten not only our national security but world peace.He proposes a protectionist economic policy that would devastate our economy and plunge us back into the Great Recession.

When faced with the options of being tortured to death, being hanged, or trying to escape, no sane person chooses the second because it hurts less than the first. One tries to escape, no matter how long the odds. And as long the odds might be against electing Evan McMullin- the only current  candidate for president who is frankly qualified or worthy to occupy the Oval Office- those odds are no excuse for not daring them in order to save our nation and the future of our children from even the better of two inadmissible alternatives, no matter which we each may perceive that better bad option to be.