RINOs Cost GOP a Senate Seat

I don’t know how it started, but for as long as I can remember RINOs (Republicans In Name Only – pronounced like “rhino”) has been used to describe moderate/liberal members of the GOP. It was an insult leveled primarily by hardcore conservatives against Republicans who would shirk from their professed beliefs when it came time to cast an unpopular vote. Unlike rhinos, RINOs are in no danger of going extinct.

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A Party of Principles

I was a Republican long before I was a conservative. Heck, I was a Republican well before I could even vote. When I was a young child, I was asked some questions about the president that went like this:

Q: Where does the president live?

Me: In the White House.

Q: And what is the president’s job?

Me: To keep the Democrats out of the building.

(True story)

As a little kid, I didn’t really understand all the policy implications of tax cuts, deregulation, or building up the military, but I knew Democrats shouldn’t be in power.

Much latter in life I started thinking about why that is; why is it better for Republicans to run the government, not Democrats. That’s when I truly became a conservative.
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The Politics of Crime

For decades, Republicans have criticized Democrat hypocrisy. Bill Clinton was accused of rape and admitted (after committing perjury) to an affair with a young intern over whom he held significant power. Despite this, Democrats, who otherwise argued that all women who claim to be victims of sexual assault should be believed, nevertheless enthusiastically supported a man repeatedly charged with those heinous crimes and instead attacked his accusers.

Ted Kennedy drove his car into a lake and left his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, behind to drown. There were rumors of an affair, but whatever he felt for the young woman was not enough because Kennedy did not even report the incident to the police until the next day – after someone else discovered a dead body in his sunken car. Despite this, he was called a lion of the Senate and elected to several more terms by Democrats who claim to oppose violence against women.

Both men committed horrible crimes but were forgiven by their party because The Cause was more important.
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Losing the Anthem

King Pyrrhus was a Greek general who fought the emerging Roman Empire from 280 BC to 275 BC. King Pyrrhus won stunning victories against the Romans, but at a heavy price. When he was congratulated for another such victory at the Battle is Asculum, King Pyrrhus quipped “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.”

I think about that retort when viewing many of the political battles fought today.

The controversy over football players kneeling during the National Anthem has waned, and Trump is being declared the victor. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell published a letter saying everyone should stand for the anthem and the league suddenly discovered bylaws requiring players to do so or face fines. All in all, it seems like a pretty clear win for Trump, and Rich Lowry explains why in Politico:

It is true that, after Trump got involved, the polling on the protests began to show the public more evenly divided. If you’re Donald Trump and at 40 percent or below in the polls, though, a 50/50 issue works for you. If you are the NFL and hope to appeal to as broad an audience as possible, a 50/50 issue is a disaster for you.

I think this assessment is fairly accurate, but incomplete. Trump won, but the NFL was not the only loser.
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Preserving the First Amendment

In 2014, Democrats tried to “repeal the First Amendment.” You may have heard that phrase before, because during the 2014 midterm elections just about every Republican uttered it. It’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not entirely untrue. Democrats did not try to repeal the whole First Amendment, just part of it.

In 2014, Congressional Democrats launched a quixotic quest to pass a Constitutional Amendment that would allow the government to regulate political donations, a power that would easily and obviously be abused for political gain. But Democrats did not have a chance of ever passing their Amendment, it was just about virtue signaling to their base voters who think elections are bought by evil corporations.

Despite the Amendment’s inevitable failure, Republicans were right to make it a major issue. The First Amendment is one of the things that makes America special, that makes America great, that makes us who we are. Any threat to it, no matter how small, needs to be combatted forcibly.

That is why I was proud of Republicans in 2014, and so, so disappointed in them in 2017.

On Wednesday, President Trump made statements about the media that go way over the line. In answering a reporter’s question, he said “it is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it.” Then Trump clarified his views when he tweeted “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked.”

Let’s ignore the purely politically motivated self interested reasons Republicans have to oppose this. If the president is granted the power to take a news network off the air because he doesn’t like its reporting or thinks it’s fake, what will happen when Democrats inevitably regain power? It’s entirely possible Elizabeth Warren would be making these decisions in a few years. And let’s not forget the entirely justified anger Republicans showed when Obama simply tried to exclude Fox News from White House briefings. Imagine what President Warren would do if it was up to her to decide if Fox News was even allowed to be on the air.

That self interest should not even be necessary for any Republican to oppose this.

Don’t look at this as a Republican or a Democrat, but as an American, as someone from a country that prides itself on being born from the pursuit of liberty. If any other world leader had said what Trump said, our State Department would have released a statement about the worrying trend towards authoritarianism.

I completely agree that NBC is biased and has been for a long time. But if Trump is concerned that a news organization is reporting inaccurate data or even lying, he can use all of the trust and goodwill he has built up by always telling the unvarnished truth and never making wild, exaggerated claims.

All joking aside, consider for a moment what Trump is proposing. The press should not be able to write whatever it wants to write, and any network that publishes a report Trump deems unfair (aka anything critical of him) might be taken off the air.

On Wednesday, the leader of the free world came out against a free press.

Even if initially implemented purely as a check against news organizations actually inventing reports instead of ones who criticize trump or just get the story wrong, such a policy would be almost immediately abused. It is not only thin skinned politicians like Trump who would want to avoid criticism or who thinks they are unfairly maligned by the press. In this incredibly polarized environment, opposition can easily be viewed as intentional lying.

In our early years, America actually tried what Trump proposed. It was called the Sedition Act and was supposedly intended to combat a lying press at a time when a still new and fragile nation was threatened by war. It was quickly used to silence newspapers critical of the party in power, while the opposition party remained fair game.

Any limit to a free press is a danger to our democracy and the values we cherish. It is the very foundation of a free society.

No, I do not think Trump will actually make a move to pull the licenses of networks he doesn’t like (and not just because that’s not how it works). But he is not just some celebrity with a TV show anymore; he is the president of the United States and his every utterance is important.

Most people will move on from this. But a few dedicated Trump supporters will rationalize their way into supporting whatever their man says. Day by day, more and more people who called themselves small government, liberty loving conservatives come to support big government, authoritarian policies because the president of the United States proposed it. The Overton Window is steadily widening, and one day we may wake up to find that instead of shrugging at these authoritarian ideas, our neighbors are nodding in agreement.

It is frankly disgusting that the president would oppose the First Amendment, and people should look into it.

Gun Control and Benjamin Franklin 

 

Late Sunday night, Las Vegas was the scene of America’s worst mass shooting in our history. As of this writing, 59 innocent people are confirmed dead, and over 500 are wounded. It is a horrifying tragedy that is difficult to comprehend. At this point many details are still unclear, including a motive.

As expected, there was immediate and sustained demands for increased gun control. I am not one to criticize gun control advocates for politicizing a tragedy. If someone has a plan they believe will save hundreds of lives, I won’t tell them to keep it to themselves. But this debate has gone on for so long I think I could carry on both sides. Which is why I want to discuss a different aspect I don’t think gets brought up enough.

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Police in America 

It feels like cops across America have taken more and more criticism in the last few years. Maybe I’m just noticing it more, but it seems like stories of police abuse (real or imagined) are popping up more frequently, amplified by “hands up don’t shoot,” Black Lives Matter, and the NFL kneeling protests. With that in mind, I’d like to share a few quick thoughts.
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