It has been fascinating to watch the differences of perspective play out in the controversy over possible improper links between Donald Trump’s campaign and people associated with Vladimir Putin. Two illustrations follow. First, listen to Evelyn Farkas described her efforts to alert colleagues in the Obama administration about the need to preserve information pertinent to possible Trump collusion with Putin loyalists.
The Trump supporter who tweeted this video claims Farkas’ statements establish that she helped Obama spy on Trump. Her statements are being played on right wing outlets this morning as evidence that Obama really did spy on Trump. For instance, Hugh Hewitt played the video for White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and tweeted this:
Farkas didn’t say she or anyone spied on Trump. In the context of discussing Russian interference in our election, she said there was intelligence about possible connections between Trump’s staff and Russia. Farkas didn’t say how they got the information but she was clear that she didn’t want Trump’s people to keep it from seeing the light of day. Trump supporters are focusing on the possibility that Trump was being surveilled. However, what I think is much more important is the core of Farkas’ claim. She said intelligence exists which ties the Trump campaign in some manner to the Russians. Is the leaking of such information a problem or is it whistleblowing?
Second, watch Speaker of the House Paul Ryan explain Devin Nunes’ decision to brief President Trump about information he received from a “whistleblower-type person.” Keep in mind that Nunes and the Republicans have been quite critical of those who have leaked intelligence to the press. Apparently, whistleblowing is fine but leaking is bad, even though one must leak to blow the whistle.
Trump apologists see in Farkas’ words an admission of spying and vindication for Trump’s claims of being “wiretapped.” They seem more outraged about Trump surveillance than the possibility that Trump’s people colluded with Putin’s people. In contrast, if there was collusion between Trump and/or his campaign staff with the Russians, then I am glad the previous administration found out and preserved the intelligence.
You knew this was coming:
After vocal reactions from a wide range of conservatives, CPAC rescinds the invitation.
For background on this matter, see posts from yesterday (here and here).
One wonders what took so long and what tipped the scale toward disinviting Yiannopoulos. Last night at 8:17pm, ACU chairman Matt Schlapp was still defending Milo as a speaker.
This was long after the video interviews had been widely available and distributed via Twitter.
UPDATE: Just in:
The annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee is coming up next week. However, controversy has already arrived in the form of Milo Yiannopoulos. His invitation to speak at the conference is not sitting well with critics. The criticism of the invitation became especially hot after two videos surfaced of Yiannopoulos defending young teen-adult sex (as young as 13 as recorded in the interview). I am not going to embed the videos but you can listen for yourself here and here (see also the video embedded at the tweet below and full interview here).
Some have called on other CPAC speakers to boycott the conference.
At least one Christian conservative is calling for conservatives to avoid the conference. Alan Noble, editor of Christ and Pop Culture tweeted:
Perennial CPAC attender, Ronald Reagan biographer and Grove City College colleague Paul Kengor told me the invitation is “appalling. William F. Buckley Jr. is rolling over in his grave.”
Kengor added that the keynote invitation is the “inevitable consequence of the Trump-Bannon attempted takeover of the conservative movement and GOP. Milo is a Bannon-Breitbart creation/superstar. For traditional-values conservatives who boarded the Trump train to defeat Hillary, well, it’s time to pay the piper.”
Kengor has a message for the American Conservative Union:
I beg this question of the American Conservative Union, Matt Schlapp, and its board members who I respect so much: Is Milo even a conservative? I realize it might seem uproariously fun to watch an outrageous, crude, militant homosexual tell leftists to go blank themselves, but is this really the poster-boy you want as the new model for young conservatives? The alt-right loves him. What would Ronald Reagan say about him as the CPAC keynoter? William F. Buckley Jr.? Russell Kirk?
He added, “If this is your idea of the new conservative movement, count me out.”
For his part, Yiannopoulos is claiming he was joking and did not refer to sex with minors. If one listens to the interview posted by the Reagan Battalion, it is hard to square his Facebook post with the interview where he defends young teen-adult sexual relations.
So many questions and so much material just from this one tweet.
Did someone hack Sen. Grassley’s account?
If not, it is noteworthy that before church this morning a U.S. Senator implied Vladimir Putin has had his political opponents killed. It is also noteworthy that a Senator is reaching out to the President through Twitter.
Apparently, Grassley hasn’t been paying attention because Trump monitors his own Twitter account. Can’t find an answer yet.
Can you imagine the phone call? “Hey Vlad, Chuck Grassley wants to know why you’re killing off all your political opponents?”
I think we should all tweet an “Ask Putin” tweet.
On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represents a philosophy that is morally indefensible and politically and socially suicidal.
-Martin Luther King, Jr. on the nomination of Barry Goldwater as GOP candidate for president.
Over the weekend, far right conservative filmmaker and pundit Dinesh D’Souza inflamed Twitter by claiming that Rep. John Lewis (“John Lewis is not a “legend”–he was a minor player in the civil rights movement who became a nasty, bitter old man”) and Rosa Parks (“So Rosa Parks wouldn’t sit in the back of the bus–that’s all she did, so what’s the big fuss?”) were minor civil rights figures. The response was appropriately swift and severe.
Like D’Souza, his supporters cast Democrats as the party of racism since Democrats in the South were opposed, in large measure, to the 13-15th Amendments.
Today, D’Souza continues to defy the facts about race and political party:
D’Souza’s formulations fail to take into account the factors which have made African-American support for the Democrat party so strong. These are not hard. Goldwater as a GOP presidential candidate opposed civil rights legislation. When Democrats were moving toward civil rights, high profile conservative Democrats in the South switched to the GOP (e.g., Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms) and championed segregationist policies. Even though Ronald Reagan signed MKL Day into law, nearly half of GOP members opposed the day, whereas 95% of Dems supported it.
It would be easy to go on and on to provide reasons why African-Americans provide a voting bloc for Democrats. Trump received 8% of the African-American vote in the last election. This was a two point improvement over Romney in 2012 but should indicate to any reasonable observer that the vast majority of African-American voters don’t like what the GOP is doing and saying now. What happened pre-Harry Truman is interesting historically speaking but it doesn’t have much of an impact on what is going on now.
Fellow Grove City College professor Michael Coulter (Political Science) and I will be blogging through the day and evening regarding the election. Feel free to comment via the Live Blog feature and/or here on this post. In the comments section, please include links, news, etc, which interest you about the most bizarre election season in my lifetime.
Bookmark this page and come back for election night when we’ll be live!
Join Grove City College professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter for observations and discussion of election night 2016.
As of Monday morning (11/7/16), Nate Silver’s group has Clinton with a strong probability to win.
Recently, several big name Christian leaders have made a case that a vote for a third party/independent candidate is a waste of a Christian’s vote and will only serve to elect Hillary Clinton. Dire warnings and shaming accompany these appeals.
Here are several reasons I disagree and believe that voting for an independent or minor party candidate is a good option.*
- No one owns or is entitled to my vote and support. If the GOP and Democrat parties put up unqualified and unfit candidates, I am not obligated to support one of them. In this instance, for different reasons, I believe Clinton and Trump are equally unacceptable.
- There is no biblical mandate to support one party or another in a two party system. The two party system is not divinely inspired.
- Party loyalty was considered a problem by some of our key founding fathers. In his 1796 farewell address, Washington warned about party spirit. He said, “There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.”
- A viable third or even fourth major party would be a benefit to the nation and allow representation for important viewpoints now stifled by the two-party system.
- At some point, an independent party must gain votes from citizens to gain viability. An independent movement will not grow unless citizens cast a ballot for independent candidates running for office. This election featuring two of the most unpopular candidates in history is a good opportunity for citizens to exercise their right to declare a pox on both houses.
- From the perspective of someone who doesn’t support either Clinton or Trump, now is the time to declare independence from the two-party stranglehold on what is possible.
- I don’t believe a sufficient case has been made by evangelical Trump supporters that Clinton will destroy the country. While I think the Republic will survive Trump, I think his weaknesses may actually be more dangerous to our safety than Clinton’s. Having said that, I believe both candidates bring unacceptable qualities to the table.
- My position has nothing to do with “moral preening” or “fig leaves” or some other self-righteous way to dismiss reasoning which results in support for an independent candidate.
From my point of view, voting third party/independent is the long run option. We must start somewhere and now seems like as good a time as any. In any case, no advocate for holding one’s nose and voting for Trump has been able to provide a biblical basis for staying with the status quo. That is because there isn’t such a basis. The Bible doesn’t address a republic such as ours and only endorses the selection of moral and upright people as rulers. If anything, the Bible promotes the selection of upright people for leadership. Other than independent candidates, there is no real option to exercise that value this year.
Some (e.g., Wayne Grudem, Eric Metaxas) have suggested that pragmatic voting is how we should proceed. They believe God (and in Metaxas’ case Bonhoeffer) would get behind Trump because the consequences will be better in a Trump administration. This position requires an omniscience which no human possesses. No one knows what the consequences of each selection will be and it is presumptuous to assert that one does know. Since these pragmatists don’t have a direct line to God, we cannot accept their warnings and guilt trips as inspired revelation.
If you think Donald Trump has made a good case for himself, vote for him. If you think Hillary Clinton has made a good case for herself, vote for her. However, if you believe neither candidate is acceptable, then find someone you support and vote for that person with thanksgiving that you have the right to do so.
*Full disclosure – I favor independent candidate Evan McMullin.
Update: Trump just now posted an apology video, if you can call it that. In it he goes on the attack and shows no sign of stepping down.
Update: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) calls on Trump to drop out.
Alan Noble started a petition aimed at the RNC to fire Trump.
The October surprise (although it shouldn’t be a big surprise) has come and Donald Trump’s support from evangelicals is being tested. Will they signal to him that they are leaving or will they stand by their man?
Donald Trump’s 2005 taped vulgar conversation involving glorification of assaulting women has resulted in loss of support from some GOP elected officials. An appearance tomorrow with Paul Ryan has been canceled. What will big name evangelical supporters do?
They probably could push him from the race. If enough pulled support and he saw his base leaving him, he might drop out rather than lose badly. However, if he thinks he has a base and could win, he may stay in.
Readers, if you see reports of evangelicals going one way or the other, please post in the comments.
After initially making light of the situation, Eric Metaxas tweeted:
Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins are standing by their man.
Silence from Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, and Jerry Falwell, Jr.
I am stealing an idea from Alan Noble. I think he is okay with it.
A new group has emerged for America. Scholars and Writers for America are supporting Donald Trump. Well, that’s nice that they are for America. But I don’t feel like being “for America” is enough. As someone who is not supporting Trump, I declare that I am Even More for America than people who are just “For America.” Ready to be Even More for America? Join us. Leave your name and affiliation (for identification purposes only, we just want to be able to identify you) in the comments and then everyone with know that you are Even More for America.
Be Even More for America and join us.