Pope Francis Open Thread

He does seem to be the subject of conversation, doesn’t he?

First off, Hillary is thrilled that the Pope is in town – it was the perfect time for her to announce her opposition to the Keystone pipeline. Document Dumps – they are a Clinton specialty.

Bernie Sanders is going to join a group of DC workers out on strike while the Pope is in town.

Democrats celebrate the arrival of the head of the Catholic Church in classic Democrat style – blocking a ban on late-term abortions.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will join in various events surrounding the Papal visit.

Arguably the smartest man in the United States, Thomas Sowell, has a critique of Pope Francis:

…As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?

In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.

A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.

Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.

If you’re going to criticize the Pope, at least do it with the grace, wisdom and deep, historical knowledge of Thomas Sowell. That said, I will point out that George Soros is a capitalist. But even laying aside people like Soros (who pile up the cash while claiming to be for social justice), we do need to look at the whole picture, as I’m sure Mr. Sowell would agree. It is good that America’s poor are relatively rich, compared to past measures and, indeed, in comparison with the poor in other nations. But tens of millions of them don’t work: they live on government hand-outs. It is financially “good” that we can use sweated Chinese labor to produce I-crap so cheap that we can afford to give it to our poor…but I don’t believe this is morally good for our poor, the Chinese workers or any of us. We can do better, folks – and that is all Pope Francis is really saying on matters economic.

It isn’t just me – there are other conservative voices in favor of the Pope:

…Pope Francis has also drawn our attention to issues such as income inequality, the plight of immigrants, or the degradation of the environment. At times, he has gotten quite specific. But here is the clincher that people just don’t seem to get. When it comes to how to tackle these complex and difficult topics, the church steps back and leaves it to policymakers to debate and discuss. Even more important, Pope Francis, true to his Jesuit roots, is inviting debate, disagreement and — what was the word? — differences. Difference of opinion on these issues, termed by the church as prudential policy matters, is welcomed by the church and considered healthy and important by Pope Francis. Even when it means disagreeing with the pope…

The Pope will be driven around in a little Fiat. I think every aspirant to the White House should be asked why he or she should be driven around in anything upscale from that.

Campaign 2016: the Extremely Silly Season

I hang around on Twitter quite a lot these days, and one thing I’ve noticed in the intense battle among the right about Trump. People are really getting nasty to each other over this subject – and it is people on both sides of the divide (though the Trump people are probably 52% of the nastiness). Here we are, well-poised to actually win the 2016 campaign, and we’re tearing each other apart.

Trump is running for Obama’s position – which isn’t actually President of the United States, but of “American Strong Man”…the guy with the pen and the phone. Sick of Obama just doing whatever he wants? Then vote for Trump – he’ll do whatever he wants, as well, but you might like some of his actions. You won’t like others, of course – but some on the left don’t like some of Obama’s…but he does get some crucial leftwing things done and without any fussing about law and the Constitution. For the Trump people, what Obama illegally did on immigration can be undone by the stroke of a pen by President Trump, and that is good enough. For a lot of extremely frustrated people on the right, this is the only way to go. Think of it like this: suppose we elect President Cruz and he submits a bill to a Republican-controlled Congress to build a 50 foot high wall on the border. Ok – and then the Democrats will filibuster and McConnell will sadly inform us there’s nothing we can do…and, at any rate, the border wall polls badly with moderates and we have a mid-term coming up in 2018, so we’d better just let the matter be…and tack on an amnesty provision to a must-pass highway spending bill. That is the sort of nonsense the Trump people see coming down the line after they work their tails off to elect a regular Republican as President. Better to go with Trump, in their thinking: he’ll just send the Army to the border and seal it off. Legal? Doesn’t matter if it’s legal – legality is whatever the President can get away with, which is just about anything because it is almost impossible to get 67 Senators to vote to convict in an impeachment trial.

For myself, I prefer our Republic – but it is rather moribund right now. It has been frozen by a century of the government simply doing what it wants. Laws are passed which have no warrant in the Constitution. Some people get prosecuted and others don’t for the same crimes depending upon political calculation. Congress abdicates it’s authority. The Courts rule based upon the judge’s desire. Both major parties are primarily devoted to the interests of their donor class. This all needs to be fixed.

For me, Trump is not the man to fix things – to be sure, this is a biased source, but Bobby Jindal laid out some of the reasons why those backing Trump may wish to reconsider:

He does not believe in limited government and he has told us that over and over. From his belief in socialized medicine to his desire for tax increases, he’s told us over and over that he’s got no problem with big top-down style government. He’s only got one real problem with Washington – that he’s not running it.

Donald Trump is for Donald Trump. He believes in nothing other than himself. He’s not a liberal, he’s not a moderate, and he’s not a conservative. He’s not a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. He’s not for anything or against anything. Issues and policies and ideals are not important to him. He’s for Donald…

…if you are a conservative, it wouldn’t matter if he won. He believes in nothing, we have no idea what he would do.

Do read the whole thing. I am getting a little worried about this – both in the way the Trump supporters are so massively over-protective of their man Trump, and the way some on the right are having shrieking hissy-fits over the very concept of Trump running. Jindal goes to the heart of the matter – Trump is right about a lot of things, but he isn’t the man to bring us to a conservative America. Trump has done a great service to our nation and to our party by breaking the logjam of political correctness which has increasingly hemmed us in and forced to debate only on Progressive terms. But he won’t do what we want him to do, except perhaps by accident.

Bobby Jindal actually reduced the size of Louisiana’s government. Scott Walker gutted the basis of Progressive power by curbing the public sector unions and ending tenure in Wisconsin’s public universities. Ted Cruz has been fighting the battle for our Constitution. So has Rand Paul. Ben Carson has been articulating a fine vision for America – and he’s done very hard work to make life actually better for people in his career. In short, we have among our candidates people who will do what we want – or at least attempt to do what we want. Trump is an X Factor – we don’t know what whim will suddenly seize him once he’s in the White House…we don’t know which of his Progressive friends will convince him that some absurd, Progressive idea is great and get Trump behind it.

I’ll grant this much – if Trump wins the Republican nomination, he’ll get my vote. No matter how he does, he simply won’t do worse than Hillary – or Sanders, or Biden or whatever worn-out, has-been, Progressive political hack the Democrats dredge up for 2016. But Trump is not our best hope – we have a vast number of superbly qualified people running in our primary, and we should choose among them. Jindal has a bit more to say:

The Democrats have practically gift wrapped this election for us. It’s as if they know they’ve run the country into the ground, and they are running their worst possible candidate who is running the worst possible campaign…

That is true – and we should heed a few words of wisdom. Time to get serious about things.

Debate Open Thread

Carly Fiorina did very well in the early debate. She is a formidable candidate. Can you imagine a Trump/Fiorina ticket? Speaking of Trump, if he can dial down his ego, add more details to his ideas, and act presidential – he just might run away with this. This will be a fun night, well at least for us political junkies.

The John McCain Crazy Train

Allahpundit rounds up some reports on McCain digging himself ever deeper in to the Ruling Class hole over Paul’s filibuster – best comment:

“Senator McCain is obviously well aware of the politics of this – he just doesn’t care,” said one McCain aide. “He’s doing what he thinks is right. Unlike many of these guys, he’s actually been involved in a few national security debates over the years. He knows that jumping on the Rand Paul black helicopters crazytrain isn’t good for our Party or our country, no matter what Twitter says.”

Just to clarify, “black helicopters crazytrain” is those people who think that we’ve built concentration camps in Montana and that blue helmeted UN troops are already here, ready to declare martial law.  Paul isn’t within a country mile of such people.  But I’ll tell you who is crazy – John McCain and all those establishment types, left and right, who think that we’re going the right thing in our War on Terror policies.

Those who have been reading this blog over the years know that I was an ardent supporter of President Bush’s policies regarding terror.  100% support of the invasion of Iraq.  Still think it was the right thing to do.  I believe that Iran is a gigantic threat and that we will have to deal with it militarily.  But for goodness sakes, what happened between 2003 and today should cause some re-assessment of the best way to go about things.  Clearly, maintaining relationships with Muslim tyrannies in the name of “anti-terror” policies is asinine.  Clearly, giving Muslims the ability to freely vote for their own government doesn’t mean they’re going to vote for a government we like.  Clearly, the Islamist radicals are more determined that ever – and ever more brutish in their treatment of non-Muslims (seriously; just google “Muslims attack church” and see how many hits you get, and how many very recent events).

The height of insanity is our decision to continue military aid to Egypt – including providing powerful F-16 aircraft – a Muslim Brotherhood regime which is the enemy of everything we hold dear.  That is insane – and anyone want to bet where McCain stands on that?  Paul is crazy for wanting a simple declaration that the President may not kill Americans on American soil without due process?  Whatever you say, McCain.

For now, whatever it is we were trying to do in the Muslim world has come a cropper.  It is time to withdraw and re-assess.  Now, there is that one in a million chance that our withdrawal will actually cool down the Islamists.  I very much doubt that.  More than likely, it will be interpreted as a sign of weakness and they will resume their attack at the earliest opportunity.  When that happens, however, we would be able to approach the whole issue un-tied to any past commitments and free to do what we wish.  To just keep going on, grinding out with what we’ve been doing and adding to it increased drone attacks doesn’t seem wisdom in my view.  To defend the President on drones simply because you want to be “tough on terrorism” is idiotic.  It is time for a change, and Rand Paul sees it; McCain doesn’t.


Rand Paul Filibuster Open Thread

UPDATE:  Paul went 13 hours and laid down the marker:  everyone now knows that there are, for certain, GOPers who will bring things to a screeching halt on matters of principal.

As of this moment, he’s still at it, 8 hours going strong.  Joining in support are Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and even Democrat Ron Wyden.  The issue is Paul’s demand that President Obama answer – without equivocation, yes or no, please – whether or not he’d order a drone strike on an American citizen within US territory.  This is a genuine filibuster and no one can make him stop – only exhaustion, or Obama actually answering the question, brings this to an end.

This is one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time and goes a long way towards restoring faith in our legislative branch.  For too long all Administrations – but especially Obama’s – have managed to skate past oversight simply because no one took oversight duties all that seriously (and forget about it on getting almost all the MSM to find out – the are completely controlled by Obama).  Paul does take this duty seriously.  Now, will we get a straight answer from Obama?  Probably not – but the marker will be laid down that the people have a right to know what the Executive proposes to do, and Obama (and his Democrats) know that Republicans will stand tall at need.

Discuss this and all issues of constitutional government.

Continue reading

The GOP Establishment Fought Against Ted Cruz

You can watch Cruz’ dismantling of Hagel over at The Right Scoop.   Hagel is ill-informed, often has strayed in to anti-Semitism and is clearly unfit to be Secretary of Defense.  Obama will probably still get him through as Democrats do hold the Senate majority, but it will be clear for all time that Obama picked an unfit man and Democrats approved an unfit man simply because they wanted someone who could twist the GOP…and, of course, be Obama’s willing tool in hollowing out our military and coddling our enemies.

In Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Pat Toomey (all of whom were unwanted by the GOP establishment) we have just the sort of Senators we need – leaders who are well informed, aggressive, capable and able to communicate the truth clearly to the American people.  They are revitalizing the GOP brand as we speak – as we sit here, still in the slough of despond over our loss last year, here is the future…here is where we pick ourselves up and get back in to the fight.


Paul Asks Kerry the Important Question

From Allahpundit at Hot Air:

Excellent, and not just the Libya stuff. Stick with it for Paul’s questions about how smart it is to be arming the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt when Morsi is already wheezing about Jews controlling the media in official diplomatic sessions with the U.S. If you’re wondering why it fell to Paul to ask this question instead of any of the more senior senators who preceded him, it’s because the Senate was perfectly happy to have Obama act unilaterally on Libya. The Iraq war authorization came back to haunt many of them; no one knew at the time how messy Libya might get. O did them a favor, left and right, by freeing them from a tough vote. But Kerry can’t say that so instead he squirms through a few minutes of how the two bombing campaigns are different because they just are. Frankly, Paul let him off easy. You could, if you chose, defend U.S. actions in Cambodia as a cross-border extension of the war already being fought in Vietnam. No such defense for Libya; if anything, the Libya war cut against the AUMF against Al Qaeda that was passed after 9/11 because, as we’ve recently learned, eliminating Qadaffi was actually a boon to jihadist groups like AQ…

Do go to the link and check out the video of the questions.  Allahpundit is exactly right that Congress was perfectly happy to let Obama go off on his own in Libya – because it prevented any of them from having to take a vote which, at election time, may have been a burden to carry.  The atrophy of the legislative power of the United States was starkly displayed in the Libya mess, as it is now being put on display in Mali.  This is not actually Obama’s fault – at least in the sense that he didn’t make it all happen by himself.  All Presidents since World War Two have routinely encroached on legislative powers, with the only time Congress acting in a Congressional manner during the Nixon years, and even that wasn’t on principal but merely because Democrats wanted to get Nixon (why?  Because Nixon – establishment Republican that he was – was also a stout anti-communist in the 50’s and was actually more effective, in certain ways, in exposing liberal fellow-traveling with communists than McCarthy ever was; they hated Nixon because he exposed the truth about liberals).   Rand Paul, being a strict constitutionalist, is actually behaving like a Senator who has oversight powers over the Executive branch…and Paul should watch out:  the more he exposes the truth, the more the left is going to hate him.