For Americans, Peace Trumps War

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Presidential politics, big picture, is mainly about two things: prosperity and peace, a/k/a national security.

On the prosperity side Donald Trump is beginning to attract unexpected mainstream praise for the economic, specifically monetary, policy element of his prosperity agenda. Matt O’Brien, at the Washington Post, writes On this [Federal Reserve Policy] issue, Donald Trump knows a lot more than other Republicans. Sad!  At The Week Jeff Spross writes Donald Trump is shockingly sane on the Federal Reserve. Now Politico reports Trump’s economic policies start to make sense, former Fed board member says. The Washington Post‘s Jim Tankersley already scooped that One part of the Republican Establishment actually loves Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, referencing supply-side thought leaders Steve Forbes, Arthur Laffer, Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore, founders of the officially neutral Committee To Unleash Prosperity (of whose Supply Side Blog I serve as editor in chief).

Moving on, next, to peace Donald Trump has unsettled American policy elites, Republican eminences, and world leaders. He has done so by publicly toying with some borderline heretical (or as the New York Times more elegantly puts it, orthodoxy defying) proposals like the possibility of renegotiating our commitment to NATO and of withdrawing our nuclear defense commitment to Japan and Korea (suggesting they develop their own nuclear deterrent a là France’s force de frappe).

Last week Trump gave his first major foreign policy address. The status quo elites missed the punchline.

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How Should Social Conservatives Handle a Trump Victory?

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

As you know, I have endorsed Senator Ted Cruz. As much as I understand Donald Trump’s appeal, I have significant concerns about him. They include his suggestion that he would remain neutral between Israel and the Palestinians, his continued defense of Planned Parenthood and whether he will appoint reliably conservative judges.

Having said all of that, I am more disturbed by the increasing number of folks who are saying, “If Candidate X (usually Trump) gets the nomination, I’ll vote for Clinton or stay home.”

Let me say this as clearly as I can: Hillary Clinton MUST NOT become the next president of the United States.

She is undeniably a liar who jeopardized national security. Hillary and Obama abandoned our men in Benghazi. Her war in Libya has empowered ISIS. She began the outreach to Iran.

She has never seen an abortion she was willing to stop. She is all in on the demands of the gay rights movement, and will sacrifice religious liberty to satisfy that movement.

She will grow the government, raise your taxes and appoint left-wing judges to every federal court in the country. She has refused to condemn the growing extremism in the Black Lives Matter movement. The list goes on and on.

When critics of Trump, Cruz or Rubio say they would rather elect Hillary Clinton than the Republican they don’t like, that makes absolutely no sense to me. If we have Hillary cementing the policies of Barack Obama for four more years, the demise of the Republican Party will be the least of our worries. Continue Reading

Rubio Hammers Cruz on National Security, Christie on Common Core

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Sen. Marco Rubio is stepping up his attacks on Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, signaling he sees them as his main competition in emerging as the the alternative to Trump. He attacks Cruz as soft on national security, and Christie for having once supported the Common Core among other liberal ideas:

‘He has voted for and supported a containment budget that would reduce national security. I think we need to rebuild the U.S. military,’  Mr. Rubio told CNN. ‘He is in favor of weakening our intelligence programs. I am in favor of strengthening and expanding them.’

Mr. Rubio’s stops in Iowa Tuesday coincided with the release of a new ad from Conservative Solutions PAC, a group backing him, that accused Mr. Christie of embracing many of the same policy positions as President Obama.

‘Chris Christie could well be President Obama’s favorite Republican governor,’ the narrators says in the ad. ‘Chris Christie: One high tax, Common Core, liberal energy loving, Obamacare Medicaid expanding President is enough.’

Mr. Rubio defended the ad, saying the accusations it makes are ‘true.’

‘This country cannot afford a president that’s not going to reverse the direction that Barack Obama has taken our country,’ Mr. Rubio told CNN between campaign stops in Iowa Tuesday, alluding to Mr. Christie. ‘We can’t have another president that supports Common Core or gun control or expanding Obamacare.’

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project.

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Just Who Is ISIS Really Featuring in Recruiting Videos?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with former President Bill Clinton (photo credit: Karen Murphy via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

There was a Democrat debate over the weekend. Did you notice? Many pundits commented on the fact that the timing of the debate — competing with the newest Star Wars movie and the last weekend of Christmas shopping — seemed designed to keep viewership low and to protect Hillary Clinton’s status as the Democrat front runner. Not surprisingly, Saturday’s debate had the lowest ratings of any debate — Democrat or Republican — held in 2015.

The candidates talked a lot about GOP front runner Donald Trump. In fact, it was a comment about Trump that got most of the post-debate attention.

Hillary Clinton claimed that ISIS was using Donald Trump’s rhetoric for its recruiting videos. PolitiFact checked out her claim and determined there was no evidence for it, and labeled her remark “False.”

Once again, Hillary seems to be having trouble with the truth. Remember her comments about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire? How about her leaving the White House “dead broke”? How about her immigrant grandparents? And who can forget her comments about the Benghazi video.

But in its own way, Hillary’s comments on Trump and ISIS are very revealing about the left. To many on the left, virtually anything we say or do that exposes radical Islamists is an excuse for recruiting more jihadists.

For example, Barack Obama says that the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is a major terrorist recruiting tool. Continue Reading

Chris Christie’s Lack of Courage on Religious Liberty

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Chris Christie appeared to get a boomlet from the Nevada debate this week. Why? For a hawkish foreign policy posture about Russians violating his proposed no-fly zone in Syria.

Here’s some love from WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza, for example, on why Christie was a winner on Tuesday:

Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor had one goal in this debate: distinguish himself from the likes of Cruz and Rubio as someone who has never spent any time in Washington. He did so — repeatedly and successfully. He effectively injected himself into an extended back and forth between Cruz and Rubio on the NSA to say, essentially, regular people don’t have any idea what the hell you guys are talking about and they don’t care.  Christie went into this debate with momentum in New Hampshire; nothing he said or did Tuesday night will hurt that roll.

What I find fascinating is how inconsistent it is with the dovish domestic policy stance he’s taken on religious liberty.

Christie wants to set an absolute line and not allow aggressors to cross it without serious consequences…in Syria. But when the absolute line of the First Amendment is at stake he won’t sign a pledge to defend it…in America. Some tough guy!

He can bluster and posture all he wants elsewhere, but he won’t be a serious candidate here to unite a disunited party with a governing vision that isn’t intellectually coherent.

Clint Cline is the president of Design4, a national media and messaging firm based in Florida. Continue Reading

On the Tenth Day Before Christmas, the CNN Debate Gave to Me…

Photo credit: Teresa via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The most keenly interesting element of the CNN GOP presidential debate was the clear split in sentiment among the candidates on how to handle the most pressing national security problem America confronts. They split between the tough doves, Cruz and Trump, massively leading in the polls, and five militant hawks, Bush, Rubio, Christie, Kasich, and Fiorina, who are lagging. And Dr. Carson, who talks like a dove but promises hawkish policy. Call him a partridge.

Most commentators focused on the social dynamics, such as Donald Trump’s very gallant praise for his most potent rival, Ted Cruz, as well as for his other rivals. And on the political dynamics, such as the commitment that Mr. Trump made to the Republican Party, withdrawing his threat to mount a third party run. Both were significant.

But neither were nearly as significant as the clear choice the candidates are giving voters on national security and defense policy.

On the main stage, Trump and Cruz, the two leading presidential contenders, plus Sen. Rand Paul, are taking a clear “Reagan Realist” stand for nonbelligerent strength — “peace through strength” in the phrase coined by Senator John F. Kennedy and appropriated, and featured, by Reagan. Trump, Cruz, and Paul — the three tough doves — rejected the “Forever War” and sending American troops back into the quagmire of the Middle East.

Note the anarchy caused by “regime change” that had been at the core of America’s intervention. Note how, as “nature abhors a vacuum,” the vacuum this created led to the rise of Daesh (i.e. Continue Reading

Who Won The Debate? The Voters Did. Also These 3 Contenders.

Photo credit: Teresa via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

I wanted to write a “winners/losers” post. That was my initial intention. But I didn’t come away from tonight’s debate thinking one candidate beat up on another. I didn’t end up caring about winners or losers.

Instead, I enjoyed the first serious, substantive debate on foreign policy of the 2016 election cycle. It was needed. It was critical. And it set the stage for major policy distinctions between the eventual Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton in the general election.

We have a real challenge ahead of us in the war on radical Islamic terrorism. How exactly will we wage that war? How will we defend our borders? How will we protect our civilians from domestic terror?

And how will we prosecute the war on terror overseas? Will we topple regimes and nation build? Will we arm rebel fighters who could one day turn those weapons against us?

These are all serious questions. Critical questions. Questions that will have an incredible impact on the future of the free world. Questions that I personally don’t know how to answer.

But tonight we heard serious answers to those questions. Serious policy proposals. Serious discussions.

And we heard a lot from three serious candidates: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.

All three had great performances tonight. All three showed poise and conviction. And all three were able to demonstrate significant foreign policy differences from each other.

It’s still December. It’s early. There’s a lot of time left. Continue Reading

Rubio Pivots to Take Aim at Cruz

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

With 55 days remaining until the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus begins to help sort out front-runners from also-rans, Senator Marco Rubio has signaled a significant shift in his campaign approach and begun trading paint with the now-surging Senator Ted Cruz.

A Sunday, December 6, New York Times piece unpacks the new Rubio strategy, designed to blunt surging Cruz momentum both in Iowa and in other early states. It is clear that Cruz’s well-developed campaign infrastructure and abundant face time in the state has the Rubio campaign concerned:

…In interviews, speeches and in stealthier ways, Mr. Rubio has abruptly changed course, zeroing in on Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in an urgent effort to halt his momentum with conservative voters in this state and beyond.

With help from an allied group that is airing television ads in Iowa, Mr. Rubio is seeking to raise doubts on the right about Mr. Cruz’s toughness on national security — a potentially fatal vulnerability, should Mr. Rubio succeed, amid heightened concerns about terrorism. More quietly, he is trying to muddy the perception that Mr. Cruz is a hard-liner on immigration, asserting that Mr. Cruz supports “legalizing people that are in this country illegally.”

Mr. Rubio has ample reason to act. Polls show that Mr. Cruz is consolidating support among conservatives in Iowa, which begins the nominating process. A victory here could allow him to gather strength quickly on the right, gain speed in South Carolina on Feb. 20 and potentially become a steamroller by the Super Tuesday voting in many Southern states on March 1.

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Clinton Vows to Use Government or Non-Profits to Extend Abortion Funding Overseas

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: State Chancellery of Latvia via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

While the debate over defunding Planned Parenthood rages on, Hillary Clinton is now talking about extending funding for abortion beyond the United States.  

The 1973 Helms Amendment, which states that “No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning,” is the one constitutional inconvenience standing in Clinton’s way.  At a recent town hall in Iowa, Clinton was asked whether, given the fact ISIS is using rape as a weapon of war, she holds a “position on Helms as it relates to public funding for abortion.”  

“I do think we have to take a look at this for conflict zones,” Clinton responded, “and if the United States government, because of very strong feelings against it, maintains our prohibition, then we are going to have to work through non-profit groups and work with other counties to … provide the support and medical care that a lot of these women need.”

Clinton’s comments follow a recent push by House Democrats to get the Obama administration to re-interpret the Helms Amendment to clarify that the amendment “permits exceptions in the events of rape, incest or danger to a woman’s life.”  As we’ve seen with laws for abortion to preserve a woman’s “psychological health,” such interpretations effectively remove any and all restrictions. 

Anna Pfaff works for the American Principles Project. Continue Reading

Obama’s Religious Test: Christians Don’t Count

Orthodox Christians worship at a church in Damascus (photo credit: michael_swan via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

Barack Obama says it is un-American to have a religious test in our refugee policy. But as we have pointed out, American law already states that we must have a religious test in deciding whether a certain group is in danger and should be given sanctuary. Here’s a quote right from the State Department’s web site about U.S. refugee policy:

Under U.S. law, a refugee must have a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of the five ‘protected grounds’: Religion, Political opinion, Race, Nationality, Membership in a particular social group.

Notice the very first category of “protected grounds” — RELIGION!

Previous administrations have followed that rule for Soviet Jews, Catholics from Vietnam and Christians and Jews in Iran. It is Obama who is not reflecting America’s values (or the law) when he insists that we should not have a religious test for refugees.

The reality in Syria and Iraq is that Christians and Yazidis are the most at risk of being murdered by ISIS. There is a genocide taking place and there is something deeply wrong with the refugee system now because only a miniscule percentage of Syrian Christians are being allowed in compared to Syrian Muslims.

Here’s something else to consider. Muslim refugees have a lot of options — Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. Christians and Yazidis have no comparable haven in the Middle East. So again, priority ought to be given to Christians and Yazidis. Continue Reading