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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE MID-TERMS
So, the midterms are finally over. For months, those of us who like to watch American politics were expecting an epic to the death struggle that would vindicate the winner and devastate the loser.
But, as the Fates would have it, that is not what happened. At the time this article was written, the Democrats held 225 seats in the House of Representatives compared to the Republicans 197 seats (with thirteen seats still to be decided). And in the Senate, the Republicans held 51 seats to the Democrats 44 (with two seats being held by other parties and with four still undecided).
What we got was less an Alien versus Predator fight to the death and something more akin to two schoolboys getting into a schoolyard brawl with each claiming victory because they’d managed to bloody the other’s nose.
For months we’d been told that the Democrats would end up dominating both the House of Representatives and the Senate as the American people voiced their disapproval of the Trump Presidency. But that didn’t happen either. The Republicans may have lost their majority in the House of Representatives (and, indeed, many moderate Republicans did not do so well), they managed to gain a definitive majority in the Senate.
As Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary put it: “anybody that was anticipating a blue wave tonight’s not going to get it.”
Several factors played a role in determining the outcome of the election.
The first thing to note is that the results of the election were not a signal of approval for far-left Democratic policies. It was moderate Democrats who won seats, not radically progressive ones. This would suggest that as many Americans reject radical identity politics as those who feel dissatisfied with the Trump Presidency. And it would suggest that the Democrat’s best strategy for winning the next Presidential election is to put forward a moderate candidate with a moderate platform.
The second thing to note is that the Republican’s triumph in the Senate had as much do with demographics as it did with politics. The electoral map made Democratic Senate seats more vulnerable than Republican ones. That said, however, it also turns out that the Democrats failed to take advantage of an advantageous news cycle. Had they nominated more moderate candidates rather than radically progressive ones they would have found themselves a lot more successful.
The third thing to note is that voter motivation played an enormous role in determining the outcome of the election. One of the reasons the Republicans lost the House of Representatives was because the Democrats were more motivated to vote than they were.
Actually, this was recognised early on. Bill Stepien, the political director for the White House, urged President Trump to motivate his base by making the election a referendum on his own performance. Clearly, Stepien recognised that President Trump has a special talent for rallying his supporters. And, as the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro noted, every district Trump visited ended up voting Republican.
The fourth things to note is that the Democrats managed to do better in the suburbs than the Republicans did. The Democrats managed to win suburbs all the way from the eastern seaboard to Nevada and even managed to expand into Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Richmond. As Liesl Hickey, the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2014, said “Republicans have lost the suburbs. I don’t know if they’ve lost them forever, but we’ve definitely lost them for now.”
That the outcome of the midterms will have political implications should be obvious to everyone. On the negative side, a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will make it difficult for the Republicans to enact their legislative agenda over the next two years. It puts Trump’s immigration and economic policies in danger. It puts his administration’s goal to build a border wall, deregulate business, and cut taxes in jeopardy.
But, on the more positive side, however, the outcome of the midterms may inspire more transparency from the Executive as President Trump negotiates trade deals with Japan and the European Union. And as much a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives puts the Republican agenda in jeopardy, a Republican-controlled Senate creates a roadblock for the progressive agenda indicative in the Democrat’s more radical policies.
And there are the long-term implication, as well. The Republican’s control of the Senate will make it difficult for the Democrat’s to gain control over it in 2020. However, it also revealed the necessity for the Republican Party to expand its conservative base, especially in lieu of the 2020 Presidential election. In the 2000, 2004, and 2016 Presidential elections, a switch of only 150,000 votes would have nullified all of them.
The midterm election resulted in a victory for neither the Democrats nor the Republicans. It did not deliver the much-prophesied blue wave for the Democrats and it didn’t allow the Republicans to retain control of Congress. What the midterms produced was a balanced, moderate Congress. The manner in which people choose to interpret the results of this election will depend largely upon their political orientation. Both Democrats and Republicans have the choice to see the results as either a triumph or a defeat. And exactly how they react will determine how well their party does at the next Presidential election.
Who knows what will happen at the next Presidential election. Two years can be a lifetime in politics.
The War On Christmas
In 2015, the then-Presidential candidate, Donald Trump (1946 – ) called for a boycott of Starbucks after the famous coffee shop chain failed to include the words “Merry Christmas” on their annual Christmas cups. “Did you read about Starbucks?”, Trump asked a rally in Springfield, Illinois. “No more ‘Merry Christmas’ on Starbucks. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”
Two years later, Donald Trump, now President of the United States, doubled down on his pro-Christmas message. Speaking at a Christian Public Policy conference, the President stated:
“We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct.”
“You got to department stores and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year’, or they’ll say other things and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted. But they don’t say it. Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
The sentiment that there is a War on Christmas designed to push the religious holiday out of public consciousness carries a great deal of validity. Since 2000, the Becket Institute has listed the biggest Christmas scrooges in American public life, giving the worst offenders an ‘Ebenezer award.’
In 2000, city manager of Eugene, Oregon, Jim Johnson was given the Ebenezer Award after he issued a five-page memo banning Christmas trees from any “public space” in the city.
In 2011, the Ebenezer Award was given to the United States Post Office after they enforced a policy preventing people from singing Christmas carols on Government property. This decision stands in direct contradiction to Benjamin Franklin’s (1706 – 1790) (their founder) commandment to “always live jollily; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”
In 2014, the City of Sioux Falls was given the Ebenezer Award after they threatened to repaint and censor snowploughs that featured artwork celebrating the religious nature of Christmas.
In 2015, the Ebenezer Award was given to the Department of Veteran Affairs after they banned their employees at their Salem, Virginia facility from saying ‘Merry Christmas.’
The problem is not unique to the United States, either. During an interview with 2GB Radio, Peter Dutton (1970 – ), Australia’s minister for immigration and border protection, became incensed after a caller informed him that there had not been any Christmas carols in a performance at his grandchild’s school. The caller informed Dutton that the school in question, Kerdon State High School, had replaced the lyric “we wish you a Merry Christmas” with “we wish you a happy holiday.” Dutton replied: “You make my blood boil with these stories. It is political correctness gone mad and I think people have just had enough of it.”
I believe that the drive to remove the more traditional and religious aspects from holidays like Christmas and Easter is indicative of a larger attempt to abolish the influence of Christianity on society and culture.
The problem with this, needless to say, is that it is akin to chopping down a tree and still wishing to enjoy its fruits. It is not possible to enjoy the fruits of Western culture and civilisation when its ideological origins and overarching philosophical-cum-theological structures have been removed. Christianity and Western civilisation are inextricably linked. The poet, T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965) wrote in Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (1943) that “to our Christian heritage we owe many things besides religious faith. Through it we trace the evolution of our arts, through it we have a conception of Roman Law which has done so much to shape the Western world, through it we have our conception of private and public morality.”
The War on Christmas is an attack on the very fabric of Western Civilisation. Christmas symbolises the central axiom our culture was built on: that the Universe was constructed to have a natural and moral order. The War on Christmas is not merely an attack of Judeo-Christian belief, nor is it merely an attack on Western culture, it is an attack upon truth itself. And the truth cannot prosper while those who believe it are unwilling to defend it.
GENERAL DUNFORD SPEECH AT 9/11 ANNIVERSARY
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, made the following address at the Pentagon:
“Mr. President, Mrs. Trump, Secretary Mattis, members of the Cabinet, distinguished guests, and most importantly, to the family and friends of the fallen, and to those gathered here who survived the attack on the Pentagon, good morning.
It’s an honour to join you as we pause to reflect [on] all those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. At this ceremony, we are particularly mindful of the 184 who died here in the halls of the Pentagon and aboard Flight 77.
16 years ago when terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and as they attempted other attacks in Washington D.C., they did so with a sense of purpose. They were attacking symbols that reflect our way of life and our values. The terrorists believed that these attacks would shake our commitment to those values, and as President Bush said hours after the attacks, the terrorists thought they could frighten us into chaos and retreat – but they were wrong.
Instead of retreat, the tragedy of 9/11 produced in us an unyielding resolve. Instead of hopelessness, our morning turned into action, and we have strengthened our commitment to the idea that the freedom of many should never be endangered by the hatred of a few.
So this morning, as we recall the events of 911, it’s appropriate for those of us still serving to remember and honour those who died, those who continue suffering from injuries, and those left behind. But if we truly want to honour those remembered today, each of us will walk away from this ceremony with a renewed sense of commitment to our values and the cause of freedom. Each of us will walk away from this simple ceremony reminded that the war is not over, and that further sacrifice will be required; and each of us will walk away with resolve to strengthen our personal commitment to protect our family, friends, and fellow citizens from another 9/11.”
16TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11
President Trump has spoken today at a 9/11 commemoration at the Pentagon on Monday morning.
Sixteen years ago, Islamic terrorists hijacked four aeroplanes and used them to strike fear into the American people. At 8.46am, American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. Seventeen minutes later, American Airlines Flight 175 slammed into the south tower. By 10.30am, both towers had fallen.
At 9.28am, American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon and started a violent fire. A final flight, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers attempted to retake control of the aeroplane.
By the end of the day, 2,997 people lay dead.
Speaking at the Pentagon, President Trump stated:
“This is an occasion that is extraordinary and it’ll always be extraordinary. Today our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago. On that day not only did the world change but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we faced.”
President Trump continued by praising the American military and vowing to hunt down those who terrorise others:
“In the years after September 11th, more than five million young men and women have joined the ranks of our great military to defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction. American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, ensuring, and these are horrible, horrible enemies, enemies like we’ve never seen before. But we’re ensuring they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country. We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”
ONCE AGAIN, THE LEFT HAS PROVED THEIR INTOLERANCE
Yet again, the extreme left has proven that they are incapable of tolerating the beliefs and opinions of those who do not agree with them.
In two separate incidents, members of the extreme left turned out to wreak havoc at what could have been peaceful events. On Sunday, members of Antifa, calling themselves the “security force” for progressives and cladding themselves from head to toe in black, resorted to mob violence against Trump supporters in an anti-racism rally in Berkley, California.
In the second case, members of Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and Showing Up For Racial Justice organised various stunts to make law enforcement officials attending the Fraternal Order of Police national convention in Nashville, Tennesee, feel unwelcome. Banners were erected throughout Nashville with statements like “Fraternal Order of Police Protects Killer Cops.”
The group also held a demonstration entitled “Unwelcome the FOP” in downtown Nashville. Dixon Irene, an organiser with Showing Up For Racial Justice, commented that the Fraternal Order of Police “only existed to keep cops out of a system of accountability.”
Jo Freeman, a political scientist who had been part of the student movement that forced Berkeley to permit political speech in the 1960s, commented:
“It is not uncommon for societies to produce a hate squad. People who want to suppress the right to speak — they are everywhere.”
Other leftists, however, have not been so quick to condemn the Left’s actions. Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe has refused to condemn Antifa by name. Benny Johnson of the Independent Journal Review repeatedly asked McAullife to condemn Antifa for violence in Berkeley. McAuliffe stated:
I disavow anyone — we won’t tolerate violence of any kind. You’re entitled to protest. First amendment certainly protected. As I’ve said after Charlottesville, anyone who came to our state, anyone who committed violence, on any side, will be arrested. […] Everybody’s entitled to do their protest but were not going to accept violence from anybody.”
McAuliffe then went on to say:
“Here’s what I do as governor, I denounce any individual who commits a crime, who commits violence on our citizens. We will get you, and we will arrest you, plain and simple. I don’t care what the group is.”
It’s interesting how violence on the Right is condemned, but violence on the Left is ignored.
ESPN’S ROBERT LEE FIASCO
ESPN Vice-President, Jon Skipper has sought to set the record straight on the decision to remove Asian-American sport’s commentator, Robert Lee from the coverage of a sport’s game in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The decision to remove Lee occurred because it was believed his name, which bears a resemblance to the Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, would cause some offence.
In a memo obtained by CNN, Skipper attempted to explain why the controversial decision was made:
Skipper has received some support for his decision. In an op-ed, a former ESPN Vice-President, Roxanne Jones, defended the decision to remove Lee from the broadcast, writing:
“We want to pretend that sports are a safe sanctuary from the world’s ugly problems, but that has always been a farce. Truth is, not even the glorious game of football can keep America’s toxic culture of bigotry, hate and violence at bay. It’s just too heavy a burden.”
Others, however, have been quick to criticise the network’s decision. Fox News’ Brit Hume has commented that the second paragraph of Skipper’s memo contradicted the first. Hume noted that if there was no concern that Lee’s name would cause offence, there would be no reason to presume it would be a distraction.
TRUMP THREATENS A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Tuesday – President Trump has threatened to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill that includes financing for the US-Mexico border wall.
Trump stated at a political rally in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump stated:
“The obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”
Trump went on to remind the crowd that he had been elected to bring down illegal immigration and boost national security. He then accused the Democrats of hurting national security and putting American lives at risk, stating:
“Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security: you are putting all of American’s safety at risk.”
Trump’s immigration policy has received support from conservatives in the congress. House Freedom Caucus Chairman, Republican. Congressman from North Carolina, Mark Meadows, stated:
“I applaud President Trump for his leadership on this issue and for his relentless commitment to keeping a promise that was central to his campaign. Congress would do well to join the President and follow through on our own promises by including funding for a border wall in upcoming spending bills–anything less will show that we are not serious about keeping our word to the American people.”
Similarly, Republican Congressman from Virginia, Dave Brat, stated in support:
“The American people placed their trust in the President and Republicans in Congress last November with the expectation that we would finally take action to secure the border. Our country is the melting pot of the world and I support legal immigration, but legal immigrants and American workers should not have to compete with illegal aliens for jobs. Our country was founded upon the rule of law and it is important that we hold to those principles. It is time for Congress to step up and keep the promises we made to the American people by joining with the President to fully fund construction of a border wall and ensure the U.S. Border Patrol has the resources they need to secure our border.”
Whilst, Republican Congressman from Texas, Louie Gohmer, urged the United States to work with Mexico to end illegal immigration:
“The best thing we can do for BOTH the United States and Mexico is to secure our border. Thankfully, we have a President who understands and is committed to that. A nation founded on laws that apply to everyone, where neither rich nor poor or supposed to be above the law, must have the law enforced to maintain its integrity, fairness, justice and opportunity. If we secure and enforce our border properly, Mexico’s drug cartels are reduced dramatically, which reduces corruption and lawlessness in Mexico, and, thereby, helps Mexico finally achieve its place as one of the top economies and vibrant countries in the world.
A good neighbour would help Mexico in this way, which also returns America back to being a nation where the law matters and where we can continue to allow more lawful entries into the United States than any other country in the world. Thankfully, we have a President who not only understands the importance of security and the rule of law, but is doing all he can to make such security, propriety, and opportunity a reality.”