Archive | #NeverTrump

Trump on using nukes: “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

On “Morning Joe” today, Joe Scarborough was interviewing a former Director of Central Intelligence and ex-National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden. The former director’s remarks were alarming all by themselves. But Joe issued the most chilling report I think I’ve ever heard about Trump, but one that certainly confirms my suspicions about him. This is very important for you to read below or watch above. Joe reports:

Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on international level went to advise Donald Trump. And three times [Trump] asked about the use of nuclear weapons. Three times he asked… “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” That’s one of the reasons he doesn’t have foreign policy experts around him.

If you watch the video above, you’ll notice the gravity with which Joe delivered this news. All the usual jocularity and lightness were gone, and it was met by the panel with stunned silence. Why?

Because they know the temperament and character of the candidate and because you can’t have that kind of trigger-happy person in charge of the nuclear codes.

Here is a scenario that is not hard to imagine given what Trump has said he would do as president. Trump has said repeatedly that he would call our troops home from South Korea unless South Korea starts paying the United States.

So let’s say Trump is elected and takes office next January. Within a month of taking office, he begins negotiating with South Korea about the status of our forces along the demilitarized zone. Negotiations break-down when South Korea balks at the sum President Trump wants them to pay. They ask for an extension of negotiations. A petulant President Trump says “no” and removes our troops from South Korea.

At some point after our troops are gone, North Korea moves against South Korea–either with an army marching across the line or with missile strikes on Seoul. This wasn’t part of Trump’s “hardball negotiation” strategy, and now he realizes that he’s just been humiliated by North Korean aggression.

Do you think it’s within Trump’s character to clean up his own foreign policy mess (and avenge his own personal slight) with a tactical nuclear strike against North Korea? What if he looks at his generals and says to them the same thing Joe Scarborough just reported: “If we have them, why can’t we use them?”

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“Morning Joe” says Trump is not on the side of social conservatives

I don’t think we can overstate the significance of Peter Thiel’s speech at the RNC on Thursday night. It’s not just that Thiel spoke nor that he said what he said. What was stunning was that the GOP delegates stood to their feet and cheered. No matter where you are in the culture wars, all sides can acknowledge that this represents a sea change for the Republican party.

On Friday morning, the “Morning Joe” crew commented on Thiel’s reception by the GOP delegates. The panel rightly comprehended the significance of it. But what interested me about their discussion is something that Joe remarked on near the end of the video above. Joe directly addresses social conservatives and evangelical Christians and says something that should have been obvious but may not be to some:

It really speaks to Donald Trump’s worldview that he hasn’t really shown during the primary campaign… Social conservatives, if Trump is elected, duck because he’s not on your side on these issues. It’s not like this is the first time we’ve been saying that. He does not care. He has a more open view, and certainly he’s more in line at least with millennial voters and with an awful lot of voters. So that wasn’t a real surprise to any of us that know Donald. It may be a surprise, though, to Jerry Falwell Juniors that go out and say certain things…

It is clear what Joe means by “say certain things.” Throughout the primary season, certain evangelicals have declared Trump to be a born-again Christian or at least to be one who bears the fruit of being a Christian. With that, they have been assuring voters that Trump will take up the causes that evangelicals care most about.

Joe is essentially saying that such a view of Trump is badly mistaken. Trump doesn’t care about sanctity of life, marriage, or religious liberty. He just doesn’t. That is not who he is, although he’d like enough evangelicals to think that he is so that he can get their votes. Is that cynical? You bet. And it also happens to be the sad truth about this candidate.

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The Ruination of GOP Statesmen

Michael Gerson’s column in The Washington Post today is a burst of moral clarity. Gerson argues that Republican politicians endorsing Donald Trump have sullied themselves, and that includes Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who is the GOP vice-presidential nominee:

Pence did his part at the convention. He displayed considerable political and rhetorical skill. And he brought great shame on himself and the Republican Party in the process…

Every serious Republican who crosses the event horizon of endorsing Trump is sucked into a black hole of compromise and self-deception. And many of us — still loyal to a humane conservatism — will never be able to think about such leaders in the same way again…

The reputation of any politician close to Trump will eventually be ruined. But it is particularly sad when good and decent people vouch for Trump’s character, knowing almost nothing about him… The only politician who will be proud of what he did on Wednesday evening is Ted Cruz, who refused to endorse. He may have been booed on the floor, but I imagine he slept well. And he won’t be ashamed to recount that night to his children and grandchildren.

This is a hard-hitting column. I recommend that you read the whole thing. It really sums up the malaise I’ve felt while watching the GOP convention this week. How can these serious statesmen line-up to endorse a constitutional menace? Ryan, Walker, Rubio, Perry, and others. How could they?

I am with Gerson. I will never be able to think about these leaders in the same way again. Trump has exposed the limits of their judgment and principle. When they should have stood up, they stood down. It is as sad a spectacle as I have ever seen in politics.

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Senator Ben Sasse, a lone voice of moral clarity 

Among congressional Republicans, Senator Ben Sasse is standing almost alone against his party’s presumptive nominee Donald Trump. Sasse has consistently been one of the few clear voices throughout the dumpster fire known as the 2016 presidential election. Earlier this evening, Senator Sasse posted an open-letter to American voters. He argues that it is wrong to vote simply for the lesser of two evils. Too much is at stake in this election. He writes:

To be clear, I have a strong desire for a candidate who is a conservative. But this is more foundational than mere policy differences right now. More important are the virtue of the individual who would serve as our president, as our face to the world, and their understanding of limited government—which is that we believe in the universal dignity of our people and in their inalienable rights.

This discussion is about much more than one election. It is about who we are as a people. It is about what this nation stands for—it is about what America means. Our two dominant political parties will probably come apart, and many of us are going to need to recognize that, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept fundamentally dishonest leaders.

If we shrug at public dishonesty—if we normalize candidates who think that grabbing power makes it okay to say whatever they need to in the short-term—then we will be changed by it. Given what we now know about them, choosing to vote for these two individuals is in some ways less about them than it is about us. I’m not sure how we come back from that.

You need to read the rest of Senator Sasse’s letter. He is right on target about what is at stake in this election. We have before us two documented, cynical liars. If we aquiesce to this, it says something about us, and it will ultimately undermine our republic.

I cannot stress enough how important this message is. Our country will be whatever we make of it for better or for worse. I hope people will listen before it is too late. We need an alternative, and we need one right quick.

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I’m a single-issue voter on multiple issues, and so are you.

Election 2016 has presented evangelical voters with a real conundrum. There is no clearly pro-life candidate in this race. We know where the presumptive Democratic nominee stands. And even though the presumptive GOP nominee professes to be pro-life, we have good reasons to doubt that claim. He praises Planned Parenthood, supports the “health” exception, and names his pro-abortion rights sister as the kind of judge that would make a good Supreme Court appointment.

Still, many evangelicals who met with Trump this week in New York are making a “single-issue” calculation, and it goes like this. We know what kind of justices we would get with a Clinton presidency. There’s a chance that we might get some good ones with Trump. Ergo, despite his questionable character and pro-life credentials, single-issue pro-life voters should support him.

But that argument is not persuasive if you understand what single-issue voting really is. Single-issue voting is not the idea that being right on any single issue qualifies a candidate for office. Single-issue voting is the idea that being wrong on a single issue may disqualify a candidate from office. In this latter sense, every voter is potentially a single-issue voter. Unless you have no moral or political principles at all, then you must be a single-issue voter in this sense. The question is simply what single issue rises to that level of importance to you.

For example, no one would say that a candidate is qualified for office simply because he opposes legal slavery. But of course everyone would say that a candidate would be disqualified if he supported legal slavery. No matter how attractive that candidate might otherwise be, if he wanted to resurrect chattel slavery in the United States he would be disqualified on that single issue alone. That is single-issue voting.

Pro-life voters have traditionally been single-issue voters in that sense. It’s not that being pro-life qualifies anyone for office. It’s that being wrong on the issue ought to disqualify a candidate. Evangelical Trump supporters are arguing that this single-issue certainly disqualifies the Democratic nominee but that there may be a chance it has not disqualified the GOP nominee. At first blush, it’s a compelling argument. What’s wrong with it?

This whole calculus is based on the premise that single-issue voting can only be about one single issue. This is simply a category mistake. I am a single-issue voter on the abortion issue. But I’m also a single-issue voter on wife-beating, slavery, war-crimes, and a host of other issues. Any candidate who supports wife-beating, slavery, war-crimes is barking up the wrong tree if they think they will have my support. They will never have it. Ever. Why? Because I’m a single-issue voter, and I’m willing to bet that every person reading these words is as well. Again, the question is simply what issues are that important to you.

So how does this reasoning appy to the choices before us in 2016? There is no question that the Democratic nominee is disqualified on the basis of the single issue of abortion. The GOP nominee may be as well. But even if we were to grant for the sake of argument that he were not disqualified on the basis of his abortion views, he is disqualified on a number of other single issues. His pledge to direct our miliatry to commmit war crimes, his fomenting of mob-violence at political rallies, his appeal to racism, and a host of other character flaws are all single issues, any one of which by themselves would be disqualifying.

That is why the most common argument in favor of Trump–at least the one I’m hearing from evangelicals–isn’t compelling to me. And it shouldn’t be to them either.

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Albert Mohler discusses Trump and character in public leadership

Albert Mohler says that if he were to endorse Trump, he would have to apologize to President Clinton for everything he said about character and public leadership during the 1990’s. This is a good word. Mohler is not going to endorse any candidate, but it is clear where he stands on the Trump candidacy. Download here or listen below.

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Hugh Hewitt in high dudgeon

I don’ usually do this, but I have to pass on to you today’s episode of the Hugh Hewitt Show. He is my favorite political analyst/talking head, and he was hilarious today. He spoke like a man who has just experienced a tent-revival-style conversion. There was repentance (“I was wrong”), zeal, and a resolve to make converts to his cause.

Until today, he has been copiously above the fray vis-à-vis the Trump candidacy. He has said that he’s “Switzerland”—committed to neutrality in the Republican primary and open to voting for GOP nominee even if it’s Trump. He has never been #NeverTrump, and has been arguing against #NeverTrump as wrong-headed. Continue Reading →

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Why the list of 10 judges does not placate the concerns of #NeverTrump

Donald Trump has released a list of conservative justices that he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court were he to be elected president. The list is an obvious attempt to win-over conservatives who are reluctant about his candidacy. But this list does not alleviate the concerns that many of us have about his candidacy.

First, Trump did not commit to pick anyone from the list! In fact he said he might pick someone who is not on the list. So the list means nothing. It’s no different from what he has previously said. And we are again being asked to trust the judgment of a man who changes his positions daily and who is a liar. Add to that his open support for Planned Parenthood and his total lack of interest in the Constitution, and it is not difficult to see why so many remain skeptical. How can he be trusted to appoint a solid justice?

Second, Trump’s would-be SCOTUS appointments do nothing to alleviate the larger issues with his candidacy. His character, temperament, and authoritarian tendencies suggest that he would be a menace to our Constitutional order. Robert Kagan explains in provocatively titled piece, “This is how fascism comes to America”: Continue Reading →

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