Time to Move On

The manual recount in Georgia is over, and Joe Biden won the state by a slim margin of 12,000 votes. In Michigan, the margin was 146,000 votes. The margin of the Biden victory in Arizona was 11,000 votes. In Pennsylvania the margin was about 80,000 votes including provisional ballots. But even if 100% of the provisional ballots cast in favor of Biden (51,889) were tossed aside, it still wouldn’t affect the outcome. 

Biden won and Trump lost, fair and square. But Trump and his team of lawyers refuse to acknowledge the obvious. So perhaps Republicans ought to follow the lead of Senators Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse and push back against the detestable Trumpian effort to snatch the election away from the rightful victor.  Trump’s efforts reflect more than his typical narcissism; they are part and parcel of the ongoing and deliberate sabotage of the public trust in our institutions for purely partisan reasons. 

And before the fingers start pointing, let’s be clear—this is not an entirely new phenomenon. Both Democrats and Republicans have done this. Hillary Clinton and her minions spent the better part of 4 years pretending that they were robbed of a rightful victory in 2016, with no evidence, as CNN likes to say about Trump. The New York Times 1619 project explicitly argued that the foundational purpose of the U.S. was the imposition and maintenance of race-based slavery, the effects of which are with us today in the form of institutionalized oppression and systemic racism. 

It is worth listening to what Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has said on the subject of the public trust, especially with respect to Trump and his lawyers’ post electoral behavior. (Not that it has varied much from his pre-electoral behavior). 

Here is how Sasse is quoted in Politico.“Wild press conferences erode public trust. So no, obviously Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets,” Sasse said.

Benn Sasse

He went on “When Trump campaign lawyers have stood before courts under oath, they have repeatedly refused to actually allege grand fraud — because there are legal consequences for lying to judges,” Sasse said. “President Trump lost Michigan by more than 100,000 votes, and the campaign and its allies have lost in or withdrawn from all five lawsuits in Michigan for being unable to produce any evidence.”

It is absolutely clear to anyone who is rational that Biden won and Trump lost, full stop. The margins of Biden’s victory in the contested states simply overwhelm the possibility of any conceivable attempt to win by fraud. The people who insist that Trump actually won are simply delusional. And that is being kind. 

We should not overlook the fact, and it is a fact, that Trump’s cheerleaders are engaged in a deliberate attack on American institutions that have been the mainstay of our liberties. It is, for instance, hard to believe that the leaders of the effort, people like Rudy Giulliani and Sydney Powell, actually believe the nonsense they have been trying to sell. If they really believed what they claimed about fraud, they presumably would have made the claim in court. But they didn’t. That’s because, as Ben Sasse pointed out, lawyers face consequences for lying to judges. 

But not for lying to the gullible. It’s the old bit—if you don’t know who the mark is in a card game—then you’re the mark. (For a discussion of the particulars, Jim Geraghty has a terrific article in National Review that demolishes the contention that the election was stolen by Biden & Co.)

A backdrop to all this is that Republican officeholders, with a few notable exceptions, are terrified of their voter base. As a result, many have refused to say out loud what they know to be true. In so doing they have created a remarkable profile in cowardice. And if they continue down this road the result may very well be calamitous for the Republican Party. And rightly so. Perhaps we will get an inkling of what the electorate thinks about all this on January 5 in Georgia. 

JFB

Ben Sasse for President

We are once again faced with the question of whether it is worth voting in the Presidential race and if so, for whom. Before considering any particular candidate, let’s have a look at the question of why vote at all. 

Unfortunately, it seems that an awful lot of Americans have been stricken with the superstition that their vote matters in determining the outcome. This belief has taken hold largely for two reasons: (1) the innumeracy of the public which is in large part due to the sheer incompetence of mathematics education in the public schools; and (2) the interest of the two major political parties in propagating the myth. 

So if your vote doesn’t matter, why bother to vote at all? The reason is straightforward. Your vote does matter—it just doesn’t matter in any meaningful sense in determining the outcome. Your vote represents your policy preferences. And that matters a lot—or at least, it should. 

So let’s take a look at the choices on offer, which can be roughly categorized as (1) re-elect President Trump; (2) replace him with former Vice-President Biden, or (3) somebody else. 

A question for Trump fans. Does anybody seriously think that Donald J Trump is suitable as president? It is beyond obvious that he is profoundly ignorant, mendacious and irredeemably narcissistic. He has coarsened an already coarse culture. He has no idea how government is supposed to work; nor does he care. Most of the good things that he has done (and there are some) represent standard Republican orthodoxy. Any Republican president would have done the same. 

The policy initiatives that are uniquely Trump’s (like the trade war) represent zero-sum thinking. That approach to the world is the anti-thesis of liberalism, properly understood, and is based on the misconceptions that the Democratic Party has been enthusiastically marketing to the ignoratti for decades. After all, the I-win-you-lose mentality of zero-sum thinking is what is behind the nonsensical wailing about trade deficits. It is the thinly disguised foundation of the neo-Marxist grievance industries, cancel culture and odes to intersectionality.  

One area does stand out where Mr. Trump has actually achieved some good. That is the Middle East. He appears to have succeeded in peacemaking where countless others have failed. Whether this success is due to his rather unique brand of diplomacy or a change in the correlation of forces, only time will tell. But it happened on his watch.

We have already had 4 years of Mr. Trump in the White House. We have more than enough evidence to see whether he has shed the ways of a recalcitrant adolescent and has miraculously developed into a mature adult. Unfortunately, he hasn’t; he remains like a petulant child unsuited for the responsibilities of the office. 

And now for another question; this one for Biden partisans. Does anybody seriously think that Joe Biden would be a suitable president? He is a human gaffe machine; a bumbling old fool on his third presidential run. He is a man driven by a relentless ambition to become president but without an identifiable, much less compelling, raison d’être. 

Who, this side of sanity, really believes that the Hunter Biden e-mails printed by the New work Post lack authenticity? The Biden campaign hasn’t denied their authenticity. Nor has it denied the various pay-to-play schemes detailed in them. Moreover multiple sources, including one of Hunter Biden’s partners, have vouched for them.  The schemes may or may not have been illegal. But they provide evidence of corruption, rumors of which have long plagued the Biden clan. Moreover, for the umpteenth time they prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Joe Biden is a world class liar. 

The issue of Hunter Biden’s e-mails goes way beyond Joe Biden’s corruption and his suitability, or lack thereof, for the presidency. It goes to the state of America’s institutions and their politicization. The mainstream press, for instance, has studiously avoided reporting the story. NPR’s managing editor of news, Terence Samuel, went so far as to say:

“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,” Samuel said of its refusal to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story. “And quite frankly, that’s where we ended up, this was … a politically driven event, and we decided to treat it that way.”

Add to that the fact that Facebook, Twitter and Google have blocked access to the story in whole or in part, and it is clear that they, in conjunction with mainstream news organizations, are running interference for the Biden campaign. That is a level of institutional degradation that is likely to be far more damaging in the long run to the republic than the corruption of the Biden clan. 

So what is the intelligent citizen to do? The answer should be obvious. Vote for somebody else. That’s where Ben Sasse, and a little political philosophy, come in. 

First and foremost we need to recognize that politics has become way too important in American life. Partisans will immediately point to the other side and shout “It’s their fault”, which simply proves the point. Passions have overwhelmed reason. Each side, brimming with self-righteousness, is convinced of its own moral and intellectual superiority. 

Maybe we should understand what being president entails, or at least is supposed to entail. The president is the country’s chief administrative officer. His principal duties, given by Article II of the Constitution are (1) to see that the laws are faithfully executed and (2) serve as Commander in Chief and oversee foreign policy. 

He is not your friend, your confessor, your advisor; nor does he feel your pain. He does not “create jobs” high paying or otherwise. His is not going to solve your problems. He does not “run the country”. The country can run itself just fine, thank you very much. 

The president does, however, represent the American people as a whole, both within the country and to the larger world. In that capacity he acts, or should act, as a (and not the only) leader of American civic culture dedicated to the proposition that certain Truths are self-evident. Namely, that All Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, and that governments are created to secure those rights. 

Securing these unalienable rights is the most important of presidential missions. Moreover, it is a mission that mostly depends on our civic culture. And so the president should seek to bolster and strengthen that civic culture, based on the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence. 

This is a mission for which Senator Ben Sasse (R. NE) is particularly well-suited. With his BA in government from Harvard and PhD in history from Yale; his experience as Senator, and as an official in HHS; and with his tenure as President of Midland University, Senator Sasse has both the experience, temperament and intellect needed to do the job, and do it well. That’s why I have cast my early vote for him as a write-in. 

Reston, VA, USA — October 27, 2020. Voters lined up to vote early in Reston, VA

But don’t take my word for it. Watch Senator Sasse on the video below concerning politics, civics and culture.  Then ask yourself if he would be a better president than the major party candidates. I think the answer is self-evident.

Senator Ben Sasse at Judiciary Committee Hearing on Judge Barrett

JFB

Ben Sasse Interviewed by Peter Robinson

In the video below Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution interviews Senator Ben Sasse (R,NE) about his latest book, entitled “The Vanishing American Adult”.  In 2016 Sasse announced that he would not support Donald Trump for President if he won the Republican nomination. Well, Trump won the nomination and Sasse refused to support him. As Wikipedia puts it, Sasse “questioned Trump’s commitment to the U.S. Constitution, in particular accusing him of attacking the First Amendment; stated that Trump had refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan; and suggested that Trump “thinks he’s running for King”.[46] “

Sasse has remained one of Trump’s harshest critics. Although Sasse’s detractors complain that he votes with Trump most of the time, it is clear (or ought to be) that Sasse understands that the supporting good policy should not be sacrificed for the sake of personal pique. 

In the 2016 Presidential election I wrote in the name of Ben Sasse. Unfortunately, he fell about 65 million votes short. Undaunted, I will vote for him again in 2020. If you watch the interview below, it will be clear why I did and will do so again. Maybe you will too. 

JFB

Ben Sasse Interviewed by Peter Robinson

What Do Democrats Believe?

A long time ago in a faraway place—the United States circa 2016–Democrats rightly criticized Republicans for tolerating Donald Trump’s appalling behavior. Despite—or maybe because of said behavior—Trump managed to squeak past Hillary Clinton in the electoral college to win the White House. And now the Republican Party is full of sycophants who are perfectly willing to defend pretty much whatever Trump does, no matter how outrageous. 

Democrats, unable to believe that they actually lost the election, went into full denial and launched the ResistanceTM.  Since then they have waged a non-stop campaign to delegitimize the 2016 election results and Trump’s ascendency to the White House. Partly because of the personas involved, in the aftermath political struggles have (mostly) been about personalities. 

Most of the policy disputes, with a few notable exceptions like the border wall and trade with China, have been pretty standard stuff that Republicans and Democrats have traditionally fought over.  Except that Trump has essentially scuttled the Republican’s traditional defense of free trade and adopted the Democratic argument in favor of managed trade. Moreover, there is no prayer that Trump will act to restrain the exercise of governmental power, particularly in the Executive Branch. 

So, we are left with a President (1) who barely understands the powers, duties and constraints of his own office, much less the other two branches, and (2) who has no philosophical understanding of our Constitutional structure. His policy pronouncements are therefore a philosophical void, untethered to a coherent weltanschauung. But they have a common thread, which is to say they are not random. The common thread is that whatever Trump believes redounds to his benefit is the definition of good policy. This is the Trumpian version of “my truth”. 

What about the Democrats? What do they believe, if anything? 

Well, here we have a situation in which a non-Democrat named Senator Bernie Sanders (I. Rolling Stone) is the clear front runner for the Democratic Presidential nomination. And the Democratic party establishment, which up until this point has tied itself up in knots pretending that Sanders is not a “real socialist” is in full panic mode trying to figure out a way to make sure that the pesky voters don’t vote to give the party’s nomination to the non-socialist democratic socialist who really is a socialist, named Bernie Sanders. 

The interesting question is: why is the establishment so concerned?

By all accounts the party grandees are fearful that Sanders will not only lose, but that he will lose big McGovern style. Further, they fear, he would take down the House and with it, dreams of a Senate majority. Note that there has been little by way of a substantive objection to the Senator’s policy pronouncements.  Pretty much all the objections are tactical and technical. 

The Democratic establishment has been selling Bernie light for years. They have no argument to use against Sanders style socialism because they have not been able to articulate a difference between progressive ideology and “democratic” socialism. We should have some sympathy for the grandees here. They haven’t been able to articulate a difference because there isn’t much of one, if there is any difference at all. 

And despite all the pointed remarks about Sanders not being a Democrat, the fact is, he is on Chuck Schumer’s leadership team in the Senate. Registration aside, it’s pretty hard to make the case that Sanders isn’t really a Democrat at heart when he is part of the leadership team. 

So, it should be no surprise that there has been no principled objection voiced to a federal take-over of the health care system; to abolishing legal private insurance; to writing off all student loans; to increasing social security benefits even though the current system is insolvent. The party is unwilling to censure the blatant anti-Semitism of the Squad. And even the Senators who signed on as co-sponsors of the fantastical Green New Deal declined to vote for it on the Senate floor. 

What Democratic Senators actually believe and where they are willing to draw a line is a bit of a mystery. Just as it is for Republicans. 

Ben Sasse

But there is one issue where the respective positions of the political parties were made crystal clear in a vote on the Senate floor the other day. Senator Ben Sasse introduced a bill aptly named “The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act”. The bill would apply to health care providers present when a child is born alive during an attempted abortion. The bill would require providers to deliver the same care as they would to “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

The bill needed 60 votes to break a filibuster to get the Senate floor.  It only got 56. All Republicans voted in favor of sending the bill for a vote. With the exceptions of Bob Casey (D, PA), Doug Jones (D, AL) and Joe Manchin (D, WV) all the Democratic Senators voted to block sending the bill to the Senate floor for a vote where a simple majority would suffice for passage. One of the Senators voting to block the bill was none other than Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA), who was last seen at the Democratic debate Tuesday night loudly proclaiming her intention to abolish…the filibuster. 

So now we have clear evidence what the Democratic Party establishment really stands for and where it is willing to draw the line. They are abortion rights fanatics. They voted to permit medical professionals to withhold care from an already born baby so that it dies if the birth occurred as a result of a botched abortion. Otherwise, medical professionals are required to care for the newly born baby as is medically indicated. 

Think about that the next time you hear the speech about how they are “defending our values”. 

JFB