A Quick Election Postmortem – A Wave by Any Other Name

There is a danger in two things the day after an election: Excessively mourning the results, and excessively celebrating the results. No election, ever, means nearly as much as we want to think it does. Culture trumps politics. For a conservative Republican to believe that America woke up Wednesday morning more personally responsible and interested in limited government than they were a few days ago is insane. Now, the good news there is that America was never as interested in a statist society as the doomsdayers portend either. At our core, we are a center right country, and I am quite confident we will remain such. Only professional fundraisers have a right to say that a given election means the end of the Republic, and only fools believe that with 54 Republican senators we can now get on to the business of fixing all that ails the world. In reality, some very, very good things took place Tuesday night, and a lot of work remains to be done.

I believe NBC, the WaPo, you, me, and anyone else knew that the GOP would take the Senate Tuesday night. I believe we were in danger of losing either KS or GA (probably not both), and that didn’t happen. I believe we could have lost one of CO, AK, or IA on the day of. But the polls were clear as can be (aggregate, composite polls like what RCP offers): Seven states were coming, and eight/nine were a possibility. We got nine. (I am counting Alaska and Louisiana and assuming the Dem, Warner, holds in VA if they recount). So really, the mere sending of Harry Reid to the irrelevant pile where that unpatriotic windbag belongs is not a surprise, though I concur it is a victory. But just like stock prices only respond to good news when it is a surprise, I want to focus on unexpected good news.

The Governor seats were simply extraordinary Tuesday night. Deep blue states going red, and deep blue states ALMOST going red, is a big deal. The wave of people who doubt the efficiency of government, if not its morality or legitimacy, must be converted from the state house to the White House. This election may not have been a rejection of nanny state government (I wish it were), but I do believe the failed ObamaCare website, the VA hospital debacle, the pension crisis countless states face, and the foreign policy miscalculations of this administration all serve up a highly skeptical omelette about the COMPETENCE of big government. I make a moral argument against big government (or rather, for individual freedom), but voters are content to ride along side me with an efficiency argument against big government (right now). The GOP would be wise to message this immutable law into 2016: Big government will always mess it up, always (when the task in question is outside the scope of their legitimate power).

I am mystified why so many on the right are skeptical about what this GOP majority will do. I challenge the haters to name one single malignant law that the post-2010 Republican House has allowed to enter the fray. I get that there are still pouty children in our party wondering why we can’t pound our fist and get everything we want, but from a checks and balances standpoint, this GOP has held the line. We did not elect bad Republican senators on Tuesday night. Gardner, Cotton, Sullivan, Cassidy, Ernst, and Tillis are conservative stars. They are grown-ups. They are ready for the task at hand. Unlike 2002, we scored in both quantity AND quality Tuesday night. For this we should be grateful.

Scott Walker’s re-election is a big deal. The public employee unions are losing their power in much of America (not in California). They are the demon of American politics and they have shown more contempt for the good of the American people than any other force or special interest in American history. This battle is not over but we are making incremental progress (not in California). We have more work to do.

The Virginia Senate seat is the biggest surprise of the election, and obviously us Monday Morning quarterbacks now wish we had supported Gillespie. I’d love to know who is polling that state so I could fire them (right, Eric Cantor?), but I suspect it reinforces the thesis that a lot of purples are just not happy being blue right now.

The Republicans will win the 2016 Presidential election if they nominate a likable and charismatic and competent candidate who can avoid being polarizing (sorry Cruz and Paul) and also hold the line of ideological solidity and political competence. We have folks on the bench who can do that. I’ll address this more as time goes by.

The GOP does not have a mandate now to start acting stupid. The American people want to see action, but they also want to see maturity, poise, and sobriety. We do not need to go along to get along, and we do not need to come off like radicals and flamethrowers jockeying for a plug from Rush Limbaugh. The GOP ought to rule for the next two years the way they got elected two days ago. They nominated sensible and impressive candidates, and they ran disciplined campaigns. Let’s go work for two years with sensibility and discipline. Good things will happen.

I agreed with leadership’s decision to not attempt a Contract with America II in advance of this election. This was a referendum on the failed Presidency of Barack Obama and the American people’s dissatisfaction with governmental incompetence. But now, it is imperative that we proactively lead with issues. We may not override Presidential vetoes, but corporate tax reform, the Keystone pipeline, energy export allowances, school choice, and a host of pro-growth, pro-jobs issues exist that we can and should push, promote, and fertilize. As Thatcher said to Bush Sr., now is not the time to get wobbly.

God’s Business

I heard a well-known Christian leader and author inform 250 successful Christian businesspeople and donors a few days ago that “your business is just a side business; you cannot ever lose track of the fact that your real business is God’s business”.

I am not saying his name or organization because I do not want what I say to be construed as me picking on him, for I am not. His viewpoint is typical of what is said today in American evangelical Christianity, and his viewpoint probably comes from good and decent motives. But what he said is ludicrous, dangerous, and in need of correction.

The notion that we have sort of two tiers to our lives – the extra-terrestrial level where all real spiritual work is done, and then the merely material where we do the “have to” stuff (you know, like run our businesses) – is unfounded in Scripture. I am happy to grant those who hold to this mentality that our business and marketplace efforts do not represent the entirety of our Kingdom identity. Indeed, God cares deeply for our families, our leisure, our church lives, our education, and our cultural endeavors (too). However, the notion that we have a “minor” business (the one we run for a paycheck) which is hugely inferior to the “big one (being God’s business)”, is simply untrue, or better, it is woefully stated.

What exactly, may I ask, IS God’s business? Is not God’s business the redemption of this world? Yes, it is. And does not the redemption of this world include our businesses, our families, our endeavors, our cultural efforts, our finances, etc.? It isn’t His side business, either. He is in the universe business, because after the Fall He covenanted to redeem the universe, and restore it to Himself. He is doing this in history, and in this glorious and eschatological process He has tasked us to work, maximize human dignity, chase our passions and dreams, provide for ourselves and our families, and grow the resources He has given us. The creation mandate is a mandate of growth, and few earthly venues provide more of a canvas for growth than our businesses.

The speaker doesn’t hate business. I know that. But his theology is either consciously wrong or poorly articulated. God’s business is our business, and our business is God’s business. We do not need to tier, prioritize, segment, or belittle anything. We need to work hard, live well, and in so doing, do the business of God.

Capo’s in Santa Monica

I think most people know that the greater Los Angeles area possesses its fair share of fantastic restaurants, but compared to true dining sensations like New York City, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco it is, well, subpar. Because my wife and I live in Newport Beach, an hour south of Los Angeles, we find what we can to enjoy in Orange County, we travel a lot and always find dining loves where we go, but the “big city” to our north doesn’t excite us much. Many years ago we found the exception to that rule in Santa Monica, and have dined at Capo’s at least once a year ever since. Capo’s is a tiny little rustic place (15 tables) up the hill from Shutters on the Beach resort near Ocean and Pico in Santa Monica. It is tough to get a reservation, and walking in is an exercise in futility. But at the end of the day, it is well worth whatever effort you must exert to experience this dining treasure.

The menu at Capo’s is a work of art, and as they keep a large grill fire going in the back of the restaurant you can see and experience some of the culinary creations in real time. For appetizers last night we both went to the grill, Joleen with a shrimp scampi of sorts

IMG_0027.JPG and me with a simply unimprovable octopus

IMG_0025.JPG. The char was perfect, which is to say subtle but not too subtle, and the flavors were impactful.

Speaking of char, a little romaine lettuce on the grill with caesar dressing is the way salad ought to be served.

IMG_0024.JPG. Their salad menu is actually quite extensive (as is the appetizer menu), so don’t be limited to what we ordered last night.

Speaking of which, you do not want to ignore their pasta (or risotto) dishes when you order here, but they are a meat restaurant. Therefore, I heartily recommend adding a pasta main dish to your meat main dishes so as to not deprive yourself of all Capo’s has to offer. We have actually done a risotto most times we have been here as well but bypassed risotto last night for the linguini with clam sauce. No overpowering flavors here – just perfect ones.

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Speaking of meats, Joleen went with the Branzino which is coated in the perfect amount of salt and seasoning, giving me phenomenal variety in what I ate last evening.

IMG_0029.JPG It is a salty treasure but you really can’t imagine it being prepared much better. I went with the staple of the rack of lamb, and you will see that the exterior char with the perfectly lush medium rare middle made this as scrumptious as any lamb I have ever put in my mouth (that is saying something).

IMG_0023.JPG. Words fail to explain,. And if you don’t like lamb, the veal chop is insane.

Dessert is less important when you have had four or five courses, but when they say “homemade blackberry crisp”, I take it very seriously. The picture hopefully says it all.

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Would I drive from Newport Beach to Capo’s every single weekend for dinner? Maybe not, though if more places like The Ritz and Arches and Sage keep going away (or going downhill), I’ll do what I have to do. Capo’s is the best spot in LA County, and I would bet my rack of lamb on it …

(And if you want to get your money’s worth with the drive, feel free to stay overnight and enjoy some short rib tacos at their adjacent coffee shop, Cora’s, the next morning. ALSO worth the trip).

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State of the Senate

It is fascinating to me how these Senate races have turned. RCP now has the Senate going GOP even giving Georgia to Nunn (the Dems) and NOT counting Kansas at all (so if KS goes Dem it would be 51-49 Repub). This also assumes NC stays with Hagan, where most do believe Tillis has a CHANCE to pull that off for the Republicans. So how is this math even possible? Colorado, Iowa, and Alaska all going Repub (along with, of course, Arkansas, Louisiana, and the obvious ones).

Bottom line: We can still fail to cross the finish line. And if we do need Louisiana to do it (vs. having it regardless) we probably are going to need until December to know. Pat Roberts should be utterly ashamed of himself for leaving us in this position in Kansas. I would rather talk about age limits than term limits, but I don’t really mean that. Kansas. Can you believe this? Kansas. Of all states, Kansas might keep us from a GOP Senate majority. Dear Lord.

Iowa is not out of the woods (could go against us) and Georgia is not a lost cause (I still believe Perdue could protect that seat). I’m optimistic enough to say we could win with 53 and I’m pessimistic enough to say we could be stuck at 49. This is going to be a wild ride for the next ten days. At stake is the role of Harry Reid in the governance of this country. No intelligent or decent human being could be comfortable with that kind of implication.

2014 Comprehensive Bahnsen Viewpoint Voting Guide

Mid-term elections can often be more fun than Presidential elections, mainly because more interested and informed voters participate and often there are more consequential things to be voted on (both in the candidate and proposition category). 2014 is no exception. What I have done here is dig into my personal ballot in its entirety, and then spread the research a little outside my ballot to cover various other races I think folks may care about. Should I miss a congressional, ballot, or statewide race you have on your ballot that I don’t cover here please feel free to send my way if you can’t figure it out on your own and I suspect I will be able to uncover some points for your consideration. As much as possible below I have tried to partner my recommendation with a rationale but in some situations for the sake of time it is in a mere list format. Please vote (if you are informed and will be voting with principle, vs. voting like a whore hoping someone will give you something). The latter crude parenthetical is at the heart of all plaguing our democracy: the idea that elections are to deliver us toys instead of more principled and effective governance. Sermon over. Off we go.

California Governor - it is, of course, irrelevant. Jerry will win and win big. The only reason I hope you will vote for Neel Kashkari is that the lower Jerry’s margin of victory proves to be, the theoretical case exists for more restraint from the Governor in a second term. We are a ways off from the GOP playing competitively in a CA Gubernatorial race.

On the Lt. Governor front, the same thing is true (Gavin Newsom will handily beat Ron Nehring). But vote for Ron Nehring, who is articulate, capable, competent, and should have been our guy to lose on the top of the ticket. We do not want a tool like Gavin Newsom going into 2018 with claims of a 20-point win on his resume.

Pete Peterson is our best bet for a statewide GOP win in the Secretary of State race. He is a strong candidate and has a solid shot to win believe it or not based on a lot of complexities in that race and the utter corruption the Dems have brought to that fray. This race means more to me than any of the other statewide races.

I certainly recommend Fresno Mayor, Ashley Swearengin, for statewide controller, but Ashley is not a perfect candidate (who is?). Her support for the High Speed Rail debacle is most unfortunate, but she would be nice to have in that board of equalization spot (likely a tiebreaker).

Ted Gaines as Insurance Commissioner would be the most intelligent GOP member to be in statewide office in over a decade, though he has a tough battle to win this race.

In the Treasurer and Attorney General races, vote for the Republican (who will lose in both cases). Pray that Kamala Harris gets caught in a sex scandal as most abusive Democrat attorney generals do before 2018, because if this person is ever my Governor, I may have to re-visit my Scottsdale real estate agent’s office once again.

Whoever the Board of Equalization candidate is in your district, vote for the Republican. I can see a possible 3-2 win for the GOP here but at worst case a 2-3 minority which is better than 1-4.

As for U.S. congressional seats, Mimi Walters will be a great replacement to John Campbell for those living there, and if you are in the 48th just pray that Dana retires in two years and someone else runs. It is sad that the 48th is in this position, but Dana will win, and that’s that with that. One day it will be different. If you are in north county Ed Royce is one of the best representatives the Congress has.

For my Orange County friends, few races have people more fired up than State Assembly DIstrict #74. A Republican vs. Republican race features Keith Curry (Newport Beach two-time mayor and sitting city councilman and retired business owner) vs. Matt Harper (HB mayor; various local govt staff jobs over the years). This seat is as safely Republican in any year as any district in the country, but because I LOATHE cronyism in local and state politics – loathe it, especially from Republicans – and because I believe we need credible, serious, experienced, mature candidates to represent us in Sacramento, I urge you to vote for Keith Curry. I have barely heard a single honest thing said against Keith Curry throughout this campaign. What I know is that he has not lived at the trough of government paychecks throughout his life, and has absolutely no motive in seeking this seat other than making some difference in Sacramento. He is a Reagan Republican, which means he is both principled and pragmatic. Keith and I do not agree on every single issue, but I fear what happens statewide if we send less-than-credible candidates to Sacramento in the few seats we actually win. Matt has chosen for whatever reason to prosecute an entirely disingenuous campaign against Keith. Keith Curry will serve in statewide office in a manner that pleases conservatives, and doesn’t make liberals laugh at his antics.

Other statewide assembly or senate races outside my own district:

Mario Guerra in the 32nd (this would be a huge pick-up)
Pat Bates in the 36th
Young Kim in the 65th (for assembly); this too would be huge
Bill Brough in the 73rd
Ling Ling Chang in the 55th

I hope you will vote for Janet Nguyen in the 34th State Senate District, but I would be voting for the “Republican” after her name, not for her. It is a chance to take the super-majority level of the legislature from the Democrats, though I remain mystified that this was the best candidate the GOP could come up with to pursue this seat. It is a tight race, and we really would be better off with Janet than Solorio who is pretty much unbearable.

I have never voted for a Superintendent of Public Instruction my entire life as my kids are all in private school and always will be. However, Marshall Tuck is an absolutely special candidate (and I would add, a Democrat), fighting the oppressive evils of the state teacher’s unions day in and day out. He is an innovator, a fresh and principled thinker, and he could make a difference – albeit a small one – in that corrosive rot of a culture that is state education bureaucracy.

I am voting for Allan Mansoor over Michelle Steel in my County Supervisor race, though Michelle appears ready to win with a sizable margin. BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANT is the 5th District County Supervisor race, where the Republicans have a chance to elect the most intelligent, principled, capable, honest, competent candidate to the county board we will have elected to ANY office in this county in twenty years: Robert Ming. Can I say that with any more force?

Newport Beach City Council races: For the love of everything you care about, vote for Mayor Rush Hill in the district 3 race. Diane Dixon is unopposed but will be a strong presence on the council. Tim Brown gets my vote in the 4th. Mike Toerge is a NO-BRAINER in the 6th district. I would be happy to entertain any private emails about why I feel so strongly about these races. None are more important than Rush Hill …

Judges:
Kevin Haskins in Superior Court #14

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 1
Alex C. McDonald– 9 (JI: 8, Q: 10) YES
Gilbert Nares– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 8) YES
Terry B. O’Rourke– 7 (JI: 6, Q: 8) YES
James A. McIntyre– 7 (JI: 5, Q: 9) YES

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 2
Thomas E. Hollenhorst– 6 (JI: 5, Q: 8) YES

Justice, California State Court of Appeal; District 4, Division 3
David A. Thompson– 8 (JI: 6, Q: 9) YES
Richard M. Aronson– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 9) YES
Richard D. Fybel– 5 (JI: 3, Q: 7) NO
William F. Rylaarsdam– 8 (JI: 7, Q: 9) YES
Kathleen E. O’Leary– 5 (JI: 3, Q: 7) NO
Superior Court Judge; County of Orange; Office 14

I am voting for Webster Guillroy for Assessor behind the recommendation of the always-reliable John Moorlach. I hear good things about Claude Parrish too.

In Costa Mesa I pray you will vote for Jim Righeimer and Tony Capitelli

Measure Y in Newport Beach – yes, yes, yes, yes

State Ballots:
1 – Hardest one to vote on. I loathe everything about general obligation state bond borrowing. I have talked with a plethora of similarly anti-bond, pro-fiscal responsibility conservatives who support this bond, believing it to be one of the truly rare times a GO bond is for a legitimate public infrastructure project, vitally needed, with proper checks and balances in place. I am voting yes.

2 – NO
45 – NO !!!!!!!
46 – NO
47 – YES (may Republicans disagree)
48 – NO
E – No
G – Yes

For all others not on my ballot feel free to email me. I recommend a NO vote on every single school bond you see no matter what. They are killing our children as they delay the need for fiscal sensibility and a renewed commitment to quality and values. They are a drug. Just say no. This also includes the woeful community college bonds.

I recommend a YES on Measure L in Anaheim. I certainly recommend a vote FOR Tom Tait, the fine mayor there who is leading a righteous cause against piggish cronyism …

In Irvine, of course I support the Great Park transparency measure. I also support Larry Agran being indicted.

Around the country, there are no races that I suspect will matter more than Ernst in Iowa and Tillis in North Carolina. I feel good about Cassidy in Louisiana, Cotton in Arkansas, Sullivan in Alaska, and even Gardner in Colorado. Anything can happen. Never forget: Cheaters usually win, and Harry Reid cheats better than anyone. We need a big enough margin everywhere, and period.

Gubernatorially, if the voters in Florida elect Charlie Crist that will pretty much ruin my plans to spend my retirement smacking mosquitoes off of my body, making hurricane preparation plans, and talking about the 4:30pm dinner special. Seriously, if that guy is elected, Floridians get what they deserve. Please don’t do it.

I think I have covered my bases here. I love the United States of America, I love the golden state of California that the unions have ruined, and I love the city of Newport Beach. I believe we are never too far gone to throw in the towel and never too far ahead to run a victory lap. And most importantly, I believe culture trumps politics. All my political friends are wasting their time as long as they believe these races will secure the societal improvement we want. They are but one piece of the puzzle – just one. The rest is where the low hanging fruit lies. Vote early, vote right, and vote with principle.