If Donald Trump plans to show voters what to expect from a Trump presidency, then he has done two things so far to increase our confidence in him. First, it was the distinguished list of judges to be considered for the Supreme Court. Second, the Governor Pence appointment.
Pence has an impressive record of getting things done, both in Congress and as Governor of Indiana.
As stated by Chris Sikich of the Indianapolis Star:
"While (Mike Pence) has more recently championed tax cuts and limited spending, he long has fought fiercely for religious rights, pro-life legislation, and to define marriage as between a man and a woman."
"But when he ran for governor (four years ago) … recognizing Hoosiers were interested in solutions to a slow economy, his platform focused on growing jobs and cutting taxes with no mention of social issues.
"Pence also was willing to take on his own party establishment. He opposed the No Child Left Behind policy supported by President George W. Bush... Pence calls it an unfunded mandate that grew government.
"During Pence's second year in office, he opposed another GOP-favored initiative: the Medicare prescription drug expansion.
"Pence was a leader in the Republican Study Committee, a group of socially and fiscally conservative House Republicans who push for non-defense spending cuts.
"He also opposed President Barack Obama's decision to end the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.
"By 2016, Pence and the legislature were guiding a state with a $2 billion dollar budget surplus and a sterling triple A credit rating."
So far, so good on appointments. Now what Donald Trump needs to do is lay out over the next few months who he will appoint to key positions in the Administration. This is an opportunity for Trump to show he will bring in the best and brightest common sense conservatives to help lead America.
Republican National Convention Observations
The Republican National Convention arrived as the world is spinning out of control. It's TCR's belief this is occurring because of a major failure of American leadership both at home and abroad. Last time we checked, the Democratic party led by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has been running things for almost eight years.
This is reflected in the right track, wrong track numbers.
However, your Editor thinks maybe that Obama's higher approval numbers reflect the American people's eagerness to say adios.
The Convention was not as organized as past conventions. The train did not always run on time. In regards to some speakers, it was a mystery as to why they were invited. There were also some wonderful speakers. Among those were Lieutenant General Flynn and Rudy Giuliani. I have heard both Flynn and Giuliani speak, but it seemed that they didn't practice talking in the arena, so while the content was good the delivery could've been better.
Beyond those issues, what's really important is to look at the last two nights and that was the acceptance speech of Mike Pence, which I thought was terrific. Unfortunately, it was somewhat overshadowed by Ted Cruz' speech, where 98% of the speech was really good, and 2% of the speech left listeners scratching their heads and saying "why didn't Ted Cruz say at the end, 'Republicans should support the ticket from the courthouse to the White House.'" However, he did not, and that created controversy, which was unnecessary and a distraction.
Silicon Valley head honcho and Pay Pal leader Peter Thiel made a strong case for change in Washington DC, here are parts of his short but very effective speech that I found compelling about his case against Hillary:
"Across the country, wages are flat. Americans get paid less today than ten years ago. But healthcare and college tuition cost more every year. Meanwhile Wall Street bankers inflate bubbles in everything from government bonds to Hillary Clinton's speaking fees. Our economy is broken. If you're watching me right now, you understand this better than any politician in Washington D.C."
"But today our government is broken. Our nuclear bases still use floppy disks. Our newest fighter jets can't even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government's software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn't even work at all. That is a staggering decline for the country that completed the Manhattan project. We don't accept such incompetence in Silicon Valley, and we must not accept it from our government.
"Instead of going to Mars, we have invaded the Middle East. We don't need to see Hillary Clinton's deleted emails: her incompetence is in plain sight. She pushed for a war in Libya, and today it's a training ground for ISIS. On this most important issue Donald Trump is right. It's time to end the era of stupid wars and rebuild our country.
"Of course, every American has a unique identity. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American. I don't pretend to agree with every plank in our party's platform; but fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline, and nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump."
The final speakers were of course Ivanka Trump and the candidate himself, Donald Trump. Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter, was terrific and gave an outstanding introduction, the video was good, and Donald Trump was "vintage Trump." He was on message, focused, and talked to the vast majority of American's who believe the country is on the wrong track. He set the table for the election, although your Editor still believes that this is an election that Hillary Clinton can hand to Donald Trump, which is entirely conceivable. However, Donald Trump could hand the election back to Hillary Clinton if he fails to be focused on his campaign message. On Friday he was already off talking about Cruz, which at this point is just a big distraction.
It will be interesting to see how this all sorts out, and of course we will be commenting on it for you, every fortnight.
The Iran Deal One Year Later,
"The Deal Is Getting Worse All The Time"
In the Gemunder Center Iran Task Force report - The Iran Nuclear Deal After One Year - the task force lays out the case against the disastrous Iran deal. Here are the depressing highlights.
"The agreement made public last July in Vienna, and the policy decisions attending its implementation, show a clear pattern of unilateral Iranian demands being met by unforced U.S. concessions. In consequence, Iran's nuclear weapons program and sway the Middle East will continue to grow, while U.S. deterrence and influence will diminish and the risks of conflict mount."
"The faulty logic that the Obama Administration used to sell the deal: it prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon; it is a comprehensive agreement; we will know exactly what Iran is doing; sanctions can snap back; we will maintain pressure on Iran; there are no side deals; it's this deal or war; and the deal will lead to improved relations with Iran.
"The JCPOA accomplishes none of these. It allows Iran to steadily ramp up its nuclear program, then promptly expires. It is far from comprehensive, with no real restrictions on delivery vehicles and weaponization activities. New information regularly surfaces about side deals and other additional commitments. There are major verification shortfalls, leaving much of Iran's nuclear program opaque. Sanction are unlikely to snap back, both because Iran can abrogate the JCPOA if they do, and because the Administration is unraveling the broader sanctions architecture supposedly left in place by the deal. The JCPOA is not a safe alternative to war; in fact, it gives Iran the resourced and a green light to step up aggression. Finally, no amount of engagement will make the Iranian regime more cooperative, and hardliners are already exploiting the agreement.
"The confronts the next president with multiple challenges: Iran's advancing capacity to produce fissile material, given weak inspections and enrichment restrictions; growing Iranian ballistic missile capabilities, due to the deal's silence on this issue, expansive sanctions relief and waning U.S. credibility; lack of transparency on Iran's nuclear program, because weaponization and enrichment activity are not fully verifiable under the JCPOA; severely diminished U.S. leverage - particularly sanctions - given Iran's unpunished violations and the Administration's follow-on concessions; and a Middle East even more ridden with conflict, as the JCPOA triggers offensive arms races and devalues U.S. security commitments.
"Faced with these challenges, the United States urgently needs a new approach to restore its credibility, bolster regional stability and ensure Iran cannot advance its nuclear program: taking serious steps to clock further advances in Iran's increasingly dangerous ballistic missile program; abandoning the chimera of a Saudi-Iranian regional equilibrium, and instead strengthening the region's new partnerships against Iran with advanced missile defense systems, among other means; halting any new concessions to Iran, and reversing any previous concessions not included in the JCPOA; leveraging the authorities granted by the U.N. Security Council, including use of force, to prevent Iran accessing materials to advance its nuclear program; and getting Iran to remove the JCPOA's sunset clauses and make all restrictions on its enrichment capability permanent.
"Absent prompt and forceful restoration of U.S. credibility, much stronger public statements and a significant change of direction that imposes real penalties on Iranian aggression, the prospects for successfully contesting Iran's regional ascendance will diminish and the costs will rise, long before the JCPOA expires."
And now the latest news as reported by Raphael Ahren of The Times of Israel, "(According to) a previously secret addendum to the internationally negotiated nuclear deal with Iran… obtained (July 18, 2016) by The Associated Press, key restrictions on Iran's nuclear program imposed under the accord will ease in slightly more than a decade, cutting the time Tehran would need to build a bomb to six months or less from present estimates of a year... It says that as of January 2027 - 11 years after the deal was implemented - Iran can start replacing its mainstay centrifuges with thousands of advanced machines (and cut the time to breakout to six months.)"
Nobody told us that before Congress failed to stop this bad deal.
What if Obama Is Wrong About Islam?
By Bruce Bialosky, Contributing Editor
A central tenet of President Obama's argument regarding our national security is that we should not chastise all Muslims. He repeats often that Islam is a religion of peace. What we need to examine is whether that is just something he states over and over again -- hoping Americans will accept it as fact -- or whether that is actually true.
First, before anyone jumps off the high board let's determine the parameters. Almost everyone reading this column and/or across the world wants to believe that Islam is a religion of peace. Except, of course, for some wing-nuts: some people who you can never convince of a thing or maybe some Muslims who believe they are directed to violence by their religion or their religious leader.
Next, President Obama has compared Christianity to Islam and gone back to the Crusades or other historical actions for the purpose of drawing comparisons. Others have criticized Islam for the militant actions going back to the 8th century. This is not about that. Likewise, we will not discuss any parts of the Koran to establish a position.
We will only examine the period after World War II. History will tell you that there was some coordination of the Islamic leaders in the Middle East with Hitler and Germany, but the world was at war and most everyone except for the Swiss chose sides.
Two significant actions happened subsequent to 1945:
1. The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (did not take that full name until 1956) was formed by British partition on August 14, 1947. Since that time, Pakistan has had four conventional wars with India. It is constantly on alert with minor skirmishes with India. It has been a questionable friend of the U.S., and its Western provinces are worldwide hot beds of terrorism.
2. In 1948, Ben–Gurion declared the existence of the State of Israel in an area Jews had been living for over 3,000 years. Since that time there have been four major wars, multiple Intifadas, constant military excursions and thousands of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens by Islamic countries and Muslims. Only two Muslim countries have a peace treaty with Israel. The leader of one of those countries, after that peace treaty was agreed to, was assassinated.
And then there is the following:
3. Afghanistan has been in turmoil for over 40 years. Officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was plunged into war after a Communist takeover in 1978. The U.S. backed the anti-Communists to no avail. That led to the Taliban beginning their control of the country in 1994. Other than their totalitarian actions toward the people of Afghanistan, particularly the women, they became a center and training base for worldwide terrorist organizations when the terrorists were not crossing over into neighboring Pakistan. Fifteen years after the U.S. took over the country post 9/11, it remains in turmoil and the murderous Islamic Taliban still roams the countryside.
4. Iran and Iraq are a special case. When they are not wreaking havoc across the globe, they stopped to have a war where they killed an estimated 1.5 million people. One cannot say they were killing Jews or Christians this time because they were killing each other as one side was Sunni and the other Shia Muslims. Someday the rest of us will understand why the difference is worth mass murder. When they were not fighting each other, they were killing or torturing their citizens and restricting their rights.
5. After finishing the murderous Iran-Iraq war, Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait where an estimated 4,200 Kuwaitis were killed and their oil fields seriously damaged. The U.S. led a force to take back the country in which there were over 20,000 Iraqi deaths and casualties on the side of the allies.
6. Islamic Syria is a special place where they have a dynasty of butchers, but butchers who use poisonous gas. The anointed son of a mass murderer, in an attempt to hold on to power, has murdered an estimated 250,000 of his own countrymen and ran another few million out of the country. The entire country is a disaster zone.
7. Egypt has a more limited violent history. Nasser led his country in three losing wars against Israel. His successor Sadat led one war before making a peace deal for which he was murdered. His successor, Mubarak, murdered thousands to stay in power. But he was a prince compared to the Muslim Brotherhood who succeeded him and installed a totalitarian government. Sisi then overthrew this group in a coup d'état. Finally, an Egyptian leader acknowledges there is a problem in Islam and calls for a reformation. The call for reformation would cause him to be called a moderate by most, but Obama has dissed him at every turn.
8. Libya features the history of Muammar Gaddafi who took over in a military coup d'état. Murder, recriminations, weapons of mass destruction, the death of Gaddafi and then a failed state where Americans were murdered. The country is currently a mess with ISIS terrorists roaming freely.
9. Of the estimated 60 terrorist groups on the U.S. State Department watch list, about five are not Islamic. A couple notable exceptions are the FARC in Colombia and the IRA in Ireland. The terrorists murdering people all over the world are led by those groups in the Terrorist Hall of Fame like Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban and now the hot new murderers, ISIS. There are so many that splinter groups have splinter groups. Boko Haram has murdered more than 20,000.
10. In most Islamic countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa, Jews have been run out of the country and Christians are being either run out of the country or murdered.
11. If Islam is truly a religion of peace why are there so many violent attacks in the name of Islam during the holiday of Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam?
I could go on, but let's focus for a moment on what is good in the Muslim world. There is Sisi in Egypt. There is the ever-wonderful King Abdullah II of Jordan. When you visit the U.A.E. you leave thinking if the Arab world were all like this, the world would be a vastly-nicer place to live. There appears to be a sign of moderation and actual democracy breaking out in Tunisia -- none of which was effected by the policies of the U.S. or Obama administration.
No one would make the case that all Muslims in the world are evil or murderers. That is another straw man that Obama creates to make his argument. What we would like to see is Obama actually make the case with bullet point examples supporting his assertion that Islam is a religion of peace.
Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee. You can follow Bruce on Twitter @brucebialosky.
TCR on the Air
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About Your Editor
This week: GOP Convention Analysis.
Next week: The Democrats Turn.
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his sixteenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last fourteen years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. As a public service for the last 13 years, Gary has published election guides for the GOP primary, general elections and city elections, all with the purpose of assisting conservative candidates. Gary is also in his 14th year of co-hosting Red, White and Blue on PBS Houston, longest running political talk show in Texas history. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.