Archive for the ‘TrumpUnism’ Category

Voter Ignorance Driving “Controversy”

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

ignorance_no_excuse_ftIn most presidential primary seasons, and indeed, most presidential elections, the actual process is invisible to most voters.  Most don’t know many details, and in most years, it doesn’t really matter much. In 2016, it’s different, and the reason it’s different is because the Republican Party is deeply divided.  Most primary cycles conclude with one candidate or another attaining the crucial majority of delegates between mid-March and mid-April.  This year, that’s not the case, and because of it, the true process has become illuminated more than usual, such that many voters, either having never participated before, or having been clueless participants in cycles of the past, now see something that’s always been there, but react to it as though it’s alien to them, the country, or the party in question.  The process isn’t alien, abnormal, or otherwise different in any substantive way, but for those who’ve been drive-thru participants in the past, they’re very shocked by the existence of a process that’s been normal for nearly two centuries, though they’re just learning of it now.  I wonder how many of these people paid any attention in civics class in high school.  I wonder how many civics class teachers failed even to mention it.  Whatever the case, as the old saying goes, “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” but rephrased for this election process, it’s not just the law of which voters have claimed ignorance, but of the entire underlying process by which the Republican Party selects its nominees.  My aim here is to alleviate that ignorance, primarily because I’m tired of this phony “controversy.”

As the first order of business, let’s establish some facts, whether we like them or not, so we can work our way through from there:

  • Political parties are private organizations.  They have their own rules, bylaws, and procedures. Their internal processes are theirs and theirs alone. The candidate the party selects is the party’s choice, but not truly the choice of voters
  • Our nation IS NOT a democracy, never has been, and had never been intended to be. Neither are the political parties (a much earlier article that covers this subject in full is here)
  • The Republican Party at the national level does not have full control of the Republican Party in each state, though it exercises some control via the national convention and the rules committee.
  • Most delegates for most states’ parties are bound in some number of national convention ballots, varying by state, but this doesn’t always mean what people think it means

These concepts have been true and available to inspection for every person who is alive today in the United States for their whole lifetime, and generations before. There are rules changes periodically, but the underlying process has not changed much since at least the nomination of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. What our contemporary electorate needs to understand is that in our system of government, their votes for President are a recommendation to the Electoral College, but not a mandate.  Their votes in primaries serve as a recommendation to the parties, but these votes are not fully binding on the parties.  This may surprise a drive-thru participant in public affairs.  If one has educated him/herself, one ought to have known better all along.  This list of bullet-points may seem like a negative thing to one who is ignorant, but if one understood the intentions of our constitution’s framers, one will understand it also because one understood it all along, having bothered to inform his/herself.

Before new readers have a walleyed hissy-fit because it seems that I’m calling so many voters “ignorant,”I want you to understand that there’s a qualitative difference between “ignorance” and “stupidity.” Ignorance is simply not having the requisite information.  Stupidity is the failure to seek to alleviate one’s ignorance due to a lack of intelligence.  Foolish mischief and prideful stubbornness result in the failure to seek to alleviate one’s ignorance for the sake of maintaining one’s internally contradictory opinion.  Ignorance can be alleviated with a modicum of effort.  Before we recoil at the “discovery” of this “hidden process,” perhaps we should actually seek to know and understand it.  In any event, the level of ignorance among registered Democrats is several magnitudes worse.  Most of them haven’t bothered even to read the Constitution.

Since the beginning of the Republican Party, it has always decided who its nominee for the Presidential election would be through a series of states’ conventions with a delegate process that has always, always varied from state to state.  The truth is, as a Republican, there’s only one state about which you really need to care: Yours!  If you want to be an elections analyst, or you’re merely very curious and hold an intense interest in public affairs,  you might want to know all the others, but it requires a lot of study. Since the various states change their rules from time to time, and since new state statutes and constitutional amendments in those states affect those rules from time to time, it is always in flux.  It is always evolving.  It always has.  It always will.  That is part of the dynamic condition of the sort of constitutional, representative republic our framers had designed.  If it ever ceases to evolve, you will know that the party has failed entirely, and probably the country as well.

All the state parties, to maintain their charters as recognized constituents of the RNC, must abide by some general rules, and agree to the rules set by the national party.  Those rules can cause the state parties to adjust their own rules so they can maintain compliance.  An example of this was Colorado, which in August 2015, changed its rules in order to protect its interests in the national convention.  Let’s see if we can get this straight, shall we?  In 2012, Colorado’s GOP held a “straw poll” to seek the recommendation of the voters at large.  That state-wide straw poll had never been binding before, but because of the RNC’s rule changes, it would have to be binding if they wanted to hold a straw poll.  In other words, delegates selected by the state party would be forced by RNC rules to go to the candidates according to the results of the straw poll, effectively converting the state from a Caucus system, to a primary election system.  The Colorado Republican Party didn’t want to be constrained in that fashion, because they feared being stuck with delegates bound to a candidate no longer in the race.  Just as now, there are delegates bound to Rubio and others who are no longer in the race, and they will be obliged to vote for those candidates on the first ballot at the convention.  Colorado didn’t want its delegates constrained in that fashion, so they changed their rules, as they are entitled.  They did so last August such that every campaign had time to know the rules and adjust accordingly. Some did, but some didn’t.

Speaking of ballots at the National Republican Convention in July, I suppose I need to cover this briefly, since it seems there is a good deal of confusion.  The way the national party, the RNC, selects the candidate who will be the party’s nominee is through a system of ballots.  (Votes, if you prefer.)  There are a total of 2,472 delegates in the Republican Party.  Half of that number is 1,236.  Add one(1,) and what you have is 1,237, also known as a “majority.” For those who are confused about this, it is important to remember that a “majority” does not mean “the most.” It means “one more than half.” A “plurality” is equal to “the most.” If the rule specified a “plurality” instead of a majority, then all a candidate would need to obtain is “the most” delegates.  (The highest total.)  The rules state, and have always, always stated, that a majority is required.  This is not something new to 2016, but it has become an issue of popular concern because there now exists a better than even chance that no candidate will make the 1,237 delegate mark.

Now, in the electoral college, in the actual general election on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November, the candidate who obtains a plurality of electoral college votes is the winner, but here’s the bonus prize:  The electoral college doesn’t actually meet until December.  It is there that the new President of the United States is actually selected.  It is most often a rubber-stamp of what the electorate has recommended, because most states bind their electors to do so.  Nevertheless, it is possible, in some circumstances, for some elector or other to raise objections and to derail the rubber-stamping.  It’s not happened in American history yet, but it is possible for the Electoral College to discard the “will of the people” and select somebody else, strictly speaking.  It’s very, very unlikely. It is, however, possible. (For the record, this year’s presidential election falls on Tuesday the 8th of November, meaning this is one of those rare years in which the 1st of November falls on a Tuesday, such that the election gets bumped back to the second Tuesday of the month, because the Monday before the first Tuesday is the 31st of October.)

Returning to the national convention, let’s imagine one in which no candidate has obtained 1,237 bound delegates prior to the first ballot. It is still possible to win on that first ballot because there are usually some number of unbound delegates.  It simply depends upon how clever a negotiator one is, with respect to the unbound delegates, and how large a shortfall one has.  If nobody has obtained at least so many that with the addition of unbound delegates, they’re able to close the gap, what you now have is officially a “contested convention.”  Of course, it should also be stated again that something else is true: It is possible to have 1,237 or more bound delegates going into the convention, and still lose.  How can that happen?  Easy!  All it takes is that a candidate with 1,237 delegates has even one delegate abstain from the first ballot.  In other words, ultimately, nobody can actually be nominated with certainty until the convention. This is where the term “presumptive nominee” arises.  A presumptive nominee is a candidate who has obtained 1,237 bound delegates, but who hasn’t yet officially received the party’s nomination when the delegates cast their votes.   Even if you had all 2,472 delegates bound to you prior to the convention, if 1,236 of them abstain from the first ballot, what you have is a “contested convention.”  While highly, highly unlikely, even if a candidate somehow managed to have 2,000 or more delegates bound for the first ballot, it is strictly possible for that candidate to be defeated.  So you see, those who say that the “party chooses the nominee” are exactly, technically correct, and if the party is absolutely dead-set against a candidate, they have the ultimate ability to turn that candidate away.  That said, the party is not so likely to go this far to prevent the nomination of a candidate because it’s suicidal in an electoral sense.

One might wonder why a party would do so, or what justification there would be for denying a candidate the nomination.  One reason might be that some substantial proportion of the party finds the proposed nominee unacceptable for some reason, perhaps electability, or that the candidate’s long-term impact on the party might be substantially damaging to its ends. Whatever the case, it is possible, and has happened that the candidate who had “the most” delegates going into the convention wound up without the nomination.  This was true in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln actually went into the convention with the third highest delegate count.  If you wonder why John Kasich sticks around, here is your answer, (although Abe Lincoln, John Kasich clearly is not…) Of course, Kasich has another hurdle to clear as the rules now stand: He hasn’t won a majority of delegates in at least eight states. This is a requirement that was put in place four years ago. At present, Kasich has only won a majority of delegates in his home state, Ohio, and it’s likely the only state in which he will have won a majority of delegates by the time we get to the national convention in Cleveland, this July. Unless there is a change to rules, he won’t be eligible for nomination.

Yesterday evening, I read a story about a lawsuit against the GOP by Larry Klayman, of Freedom Watch, who you’ll probably remember/know from Judicial Watch lawsuits fame.  Klayman is an unabashed Trump supporter. His lawsuit against the GOP is over the fact that apparently, Florida delegates are bound for three(3) ballots.(In many states, it’s just one ballot, two in others, and none in states that don’t bind delegates at all.)  Freedom Watch is claiming that the delegates ought to be perpetually bound to Trump, but this is utter madness for a very obvious reason.  Let me explain Klyaman’s foolishness by way of an example:

Imagine arriving at the July convention with no candidate having obtained 1,237 bound delegates.  Further imagine that all states perpetually bound their candidates, so that no matter how many ballots they cast, they would always, always be compelled to vote for the same candidate.  How would the party ever obtain a nominee?  It couldn’t!  Think about this for a moment, and then you will realize that Freedom Watch’s foolish lawsuit is truly a nuisance lawsuit that belongs in the category of “frivolous” if ever a lawsuit belonged in that category.  His excuse, the “tort”(or “harm”) he cites in his suit, is that the people of Florida(of which he is one, thus alleging standing,) are being defrauded by the Florida and National GOP because they “held forth” that delegates will be bound.  In other words, he’s saying that because voters may not have informed themselves of the Party’s rules, they’re being defrauded.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is a toxic bit of political grand-standing, if ever there was one.  Any decent judge, of sound mind and judicial temperament, would bounce this case out of his/her courtroom faster than one can say “build a wall!” Is Klayman really alleging that he didn’t know the delegate rules for his state, and was therefore harmed?  That’s nearly the most preposterous thing I think I’ve read lately, but as I’m certain most readers will have observed, there’s no shortage of absurdity in this election cycle.

Having meandered through this whole topic a bit, I suppose I ought to conclude. My conclusion is as follows: The party selects its nominee – not the electorate – but the party tends to listen to the recommendations in various forms it has received from the electorate, where applicable.  All of this has been true for every election in my lifetime, the lifetime of my parents, and for many generations before. If a person older than, let’s be charitable and say twenty-six years of age, doesn’t know these facts and rules, it’s only possible because they have chosen never to engage themselves in discovering them.  I chose twenty-six because by then, a person should have participated in at least two presidential election cycles.  I don’t know if I knew all of this by the time I was twenty-six, but I am fairly certain I’ve known most of it since at least the age of thirty years.

It is amazing to me that people who are in their forties, fifties, and sixties now complain about this as though it’s all news to them.  The Internet has been around as a commonly accessible research tool for more than twenty years.  Most states and most state parties have had websites devoted to this information for most or all of that time.  To claim ignorance at this late date is to openly proclaim one’s complete lack of diligence.  If one can surf the web over to Ebay or Amazon, to make purchases, and so on, I don’t see how it’s possible that somebody who wanted to know this information was somehow denied access to it.  The election laws governing the states’ parties are generally available through each state’s Secretary of State website, where they may also provide links to the various parties operating in their state.  I encourage all Americans of voting age, or even younger, to learn and know at least the laws relevant in their particular states, and certainly the rules applicable to the party with which they choose to associate, if any.

The United States was established so that citizens could, through the various levels of government and attending political processes, participate fully in their own governance.  In short, being a citizen is supposed to be an active lifetime engagement for the people to determine the course of the nation.  in order to fully realize that participation, citizens should become familiar and remain up-to-date on the laws and rules applicable to their particular political interests and participation.  For most of my readers, most of this will not be news, although for perhaps some of the younger readers, it may be enlightening, but with all the, dare I say “trumped-up” controversy, I thought it critically necessary to clear the air on this issue.  Factually, this is the process.  You might not like it as is, but you have the ability to work to change it. If you think the existing parties cannot be reformed, you are also free in America to form your own and if you’re very successful, in a decade or two, you might be able to have grown it enough to have viable national candidates.  What is not true is that some giant magic “easy button” exists to  “fix things” instantaneously. Being an active citizen is something too few citizens actually do, and this is to the detriment of the country as a whole, and certainly to the parties in particular.  Ignorance of these facts leave too many Americans easy prey for demagogues, and it’s instructive to watch how, with the circumstance of the GOP nomination fight, so many Americans are easily led astray.  I dearly hope this will be a lesson for many, providing them the impetus to engage in the true blessing of self-governance in a thorough fashion they had never contemplated before.

Lastly, I would like to address the complaints of those who argue that it’s “too hard” or “too difficult” or that there is some situational constraint on one’s participation in the full political process.  I grant that at various times in our lives, it can be more and less difficult to find the time to fully participate, but I also know this: If most of us really wanted to do so, most of us could find a way.  What I’ve seen is that for many, complaining and stomping around is a good deal easier, and it satisfies the temporary emotional need.  That sort of laziness will never lead to change, however, and it’s high time that having informed oneself, each goes on to a full and unrelenting participation.

Editor’s Note: This article should not be seen as an endorsement of all aspects of the Republican Party’s rules or procedures, but instead a simple statement about the simpler fact that some form of these rules, with some variation, have been in place since the beginning of the party.  It’s also intended as a way to further that historical perspective and to alleviate some of the ignorance made plain by the reactions to this information by some people.  My intent is not to criticize the electorate at large, but to make them aware of these historical facts so that even should they fail in this election cycle to obtain their desired result, they will have no excuse for not being ready to fully participate in the next cycle, and to fight for those changes they believe are necessary. 

 

 

 

 

We Need More Gridlock!

Friday, March 18th, 2016

dc_gridlock2_ftI’ve watched most of the GOP debates, and I’ve watched a fair number of the Republican candidates’ press conferences and campaign events, and one of the things I hear Donald Trump saying is that “we need to end gridlock.” His general notion is apparently that in Washington DC, they don’t “get deals done,” or “they make terrible deals,” and the result is gridlock.  Let me be clear about my position on this, Trump’s notions notwithstanding: Our government spends more than $4 Trillion per year, and without such “gridlock” as we have, we would undoubtedly spend more.  Mr. Trump would do much better with conservatives if he finally recognized this and integrated it into his views.  Our problem isn’t gridlock, but a terrible lack of it.

For the last several years, it has been a cooperation between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, working in concert with the Presidents Bush and Obama, to expand the government and to bail out the various entities, and to print money at an unsustainable rate.  It’s easy enough to look at the mess in Washington DC, see that conservative policies never make it into the resulting legislation, and conclude the problem had been “gridlock.” There are many Trump supporters, along with Trump himself, who view this as a failure of conservatism.  In one respect, they’re right, but where they are wrong is in a belief that conservative principles are the problem, or that the relief from “gridlock” will cure the issue.

One can apply this to almost any particular topic, or subject of legislation.  Let us consider the conservative view of taxation.  We’ve certainly had some gridlock on that issue, if your particular preference is to cut taxes.  On the other hand, if you prefer increased taxation, you will note that in various forms, the total taxation by the Federal Government has increased markedly in the era of Obama.  If you’re for significant tax reform, for instance, a “flat tax,” you will believe there is gridlock on this issue.  On the overall issue of taxation, however, there’s been no gridlock: We’re being taxed to death.  This is the problem with the term “gridlock,” and this is the reason it’s such a poor term. It describes a generic sense of inaction in Washington DC, but one can scarcely conclude, looking solely at the expenditures by government, that “gridlock” may exist on issues dealing with reform, but it cannot actually exist when the printing press for government checks is concerned, or where the printing(or digitizing) of new money is under review.

To show the other side of the misuse of “gridlock” in rhetorical flourishes, there are those advocates of an “amnesty” of some sort for the tens of millions of illegal aliens in this country who will insist that we have had “gridlock” on “immigration reform.” Let me state emphatically that with respect to the laws, I will fight fervently to see to it that “gridlock” prevails on this issue, because until we begin to enforce the laws that already exist, and until the “gridlock” in the executive branch is alleviated through an effort at enforcement of existing laws, I’m all for “gridlock” in the matter of “immigration reform.”  The truth is that we do not so much need “immigration reform” as we need “immigration enforcement.”  Listen, however, to the legalization and amnesty crowd, and what you learn is that when they talk about “gridlock,” they mean that they haven’t yet succeeded in legalizing that which had been formerly(and currently) illegal.

These and many more examples like them make plain that “gridlock” is not a problem.  The real problem is that in specific policy terms, our government uses the term “gridlock” to represent inaction on concrete policies that they favor, but the American people do not.  People should be skeptical when politicians talk about a generic “gridlock” without defining the specifics of the stoppage about which they’re concerned.  Too often, politicians have seized upon general sentiments against “gridlock” as the means by which to advance agenda items their voters and supporters would not support.  A great example of that would be Marco Rubio, who ran for his current seat in the Senate, opposing Charlie Crist on the issue of “amnesty,” but who talked about “gridlock” on “immigration reform.”  In his first few years in office, he spent much of his time and energies on the issue of “immigration reform,” attempting to alleviate “gridlock” on the issue, but little had his supporters expected that his proposals would ultimately be tantamount to a full reversal on the issue that had in part propelled him into office.  Of course, Rubio claimed all along that he was working to overcome “gridlock” on the issue. What becomes obvious, however, is that “gridlock” is a matter of perspective, and where one stands regarding an issue dominates whether one will view it in a positive or negative light.

The question isn’t whether we have too much gridlock, but whether it exists in the consideration of the right policies.  When the Republicans, then in the minority in both houses, fought to stop the passage of Obama-care, this was “Gridlock” writ large on the legislative stage, and I don’t know a single person now supporting Trump who wished there hadn’t been more “gridlock” on that issue.  In point of fact, more often than not, most of the people of the United States would be better served by a form of “gridlock” that causes stoppages in the legislative and regulatory processes of our government than by letting them go on in an unrestricted fashion.  Think about all of the stupid laws and regulations streaming out of Washington DC, but imagine there had been sufficient gridlock to stop them. This is the secret that most politicians don’t want you to know about “gridlock:” The constitution is itself a device of gridlock. It’s intended that way, and precisely for all of the reasons I’ve outlined.  The framers had the wisdom to know that “gridlock” impedes sudden and ill-considered change.

Knowing that, I’m in favor of “gridlock” generally, because I know that politicians promoting precipitous change have led us into a quagmire from which we will not easily emerge.  When Washington DC is gridlocked, I know my liberties are still safe, but when the gridlock breaks, my liberties are generally at risk.  The electorate at large has been conditioned to see gridlock as an ill of Washington DC, but the people should learn that gridlock often serves to protect us from the ills of excessive, bloated government, contrary to the impressions that media outlets and DC politicians often create.  If we’re going to talk about alleviating the log-jam in DC, let us be careful to use enough specificity to focus our energies, because otherwise, opportunistic politicians will run with the theme of “gridlock as the enemy” in order to foist all sorts of infamy upon us.  That’s why I rejoice when I see gridlock in Washington DC.  May we have more of it, that we may enjoy its innumerable blessings.

 

The Marginalization of American Conservatism

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

conservatism_the_real_thing_ftThis is an issue that should concern all those who are fervent conservatives, and it’s one we must now confront as we near the end of the primary season of 2016.  In this election cycle, the predictable outcome seems more inevitable than ever, but one can’t ignore how the current GOP front-runner has at times scorned conservatism.  Much like the long-established practice of the blue-blood Republicans, what has happened in this election is that conservatism has become increasingly isolated from the remainder of the Republican party, and from the electorate at large.  This isn’t a pleasant reality for conservatives, but it is nevertheless true.  So long as we permit this to occur, we will never see the sort of electoral outcomes we would prefer, never mind the the realization of  substantive policy results for which we’ve been fierce advocates.  We have some terrible choices before us, but in advance of us making them, we must come to understand how we’ve arrived in our current predicament.  If we’re ever to return this nation to a constitutional path, we must do first by adhering to it ourselves, and we must be willing to accept our own role in our political misfortunes.  The truth is somewhat difficult to accept, but there it lies, nevertheless, awaiting the summoning our courage to confront it.  Conservatism is increasingly marginalized precisely because we have permitted its dilution and diminution through the acceptance of too many compromises of principles, and too many instances in which we were willing to form an ideological “big tent.”  There’s nothing wrong with building temporary alliances with others, but if conservatism doesn’t stake out its ideological limits, and defend its ideological boundaries, it will continue to be marginalized within the broader general electorate.

When George W. Bush ran for the office of President of the United States in 2000, not a few Texans had significant concerns.  Many who had observed his performance here in Texas took the time to try to warn the party at large that he was not really a conservative.  Bush tried to ply conservatives with a new formulation, calling himself a “compassionate conservative.”  There were a few problems with this that some of us at the time recognized, and one of them was in the implicit denigration of conservatism generally:  Conservatism is compassionate.  We need no such adjectives.  We need no such descriptors.  We need no such modifiers on what conservatism offers to its adherents.  Conservatism is the most compassionate ideology in existence, but by accepting the adjective offered by George W. Bush, we made what was tantamount to an admission that conservatism wasn’t inherently compassionate.

What conservatives across the nation soon discovered was the fact that “compassionate conservatism” meant “big-government Republican.” On issue after issue, from defense, to security, to education, to Medicare, or bank bail-outs, there was no issue in which the answer of George W. Bush would be anything other than the expansion of government and the increase of our national debt at the expense of generations as yet unborn.  It is true that Obama has essentially doubled the national debt, but we must in all honesty admit that the same can be said of George W. Bush.  The Bush “compassion” came at the expense of conservatism, and at the expense of our generations of Americans as yet unborn.  Nevertheless, we permitted Bush to fly the flag of a highly adulterated “conservatism” without respect to what the long-run affects on our movement would be.  Most of the conservative media spent much of the eight years of the Bush presidency, and much time well beyond their end, defending the ludicrous policies and positions of a conservative who wasn’t.

We’re seeing some of the same thing in the current election year.  Donald Trump talks about “common-sense” conservatism. I have exactly as many problems with this adjective tacked as a prefix to conservatism as I did to the term “compassionate.”  In fact, over time, there are or have been “Tea Party conservatives,” “reform conservatives,” “constitutional conservatives,” and “moderate conservatives,” but I think all these adjectives placed in series with “conservatism” simply dilute the meaning.  These modifiers also act as a disguise for that which is not conservatism.  Herein lies the problem for we conservatives, because I believe conservatism is inherently compassionate, wholly common-sense in its construction, and entirely committed to constitutional principles.  In other words, to attach any prefix to “conservatism” is to dilute and pollute the concept, or strictly to permit the purveyor to pose as a conservative while not adhering to all or part of the broader concept of conservatism.

The other effect of these bastardized versions of “conservatism” is that when people traveling under those phony banners continue to assert their hyphenated-conservatism, the natural result is that conservatism takes the blame for all the failures of those folk who are not conservative. For an example, consider again the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush, this time in the context of the creation of the Transportation Security Administration(TSA,) and how he created a huge bureaucracy that increased the costs of government, but now, one-and-one-half decades later, we have another costly bureaucracy that fails to meet the security testing thrown at it just as badly or in many cases in worse fashion than the airlines-owned or airport-owned security that the TSA replaced. Again, another big-government solution that has failed, cost untold billions of dollars, and conservatives and conservatism are now permanently saddled with the blame, in large measure because a putative “conservative” enacted it.

This is the problem with letting others define “conservatism,” or letting non-conservatives decide who is or who isn’t a conservative.  “Conservatism” has become so generic and muddied at this point that it’s nearly impossible for us to in the first instance, exclude those who are not actual conservatives, and in the second instance, disclaim ownership of statist programs and policies enacted in the name of conservatism.  This is a gargantuan problem we face, and it helps explain why Donald Trump can make the point that “conservatives haven’t accomplished anything,” or that “conservatives are part of the problem.”  I think it’s time to heed the warning made explicit by this entire fiasco: We must make distinct our principles from the tawdry mix of self-contradictory, expediency-based lack of principle in the broader Republican party.

I don’t pretend to know the solution in this matter, but it’s one we conservatives must address. We’re being marginalized by virtue of a popular media meme, one that gains through our own passive associations with big-government Republicans, permitting them to shelter among us, gain our support, or in some cases, enjoy our defense of conservatism when they undertake less-than-conservative policies and programs.  This happens at all levels of government, but nowhere is it more damning and punishing than at the federal level.  Let us review briefly: In the aftermath of the 1998 mid-terms, the anti-Newt forces prevailed and essentially pushed him out of leadership.  Since that date, the Republican party, in various times controlling the House, the Senate, or the Presidency(and for some period, all three) have accomplished virtually nothing, but have frequently contributed to the statist cause.  The litany of issues and instances in which the Republican party has effectively aided and abetted Democrats in ruining our republic is gargantuan both in number and in consequence. We can no longer, not even once more, permit this to happen in the name of, or under the cover of another misappropriation of the title “conservatism.”

A Moment of Pause Regarding Trump’s Supporters

Monday, March 7th, 2016

trump_crowd_ftOne of the things that’s become increasingly annoying to me throughout the course of this campaign, and a thing to which I may have inadvertently contributed on an occasion or two, is the meme that’s been spread like a virus through the DC Beltway echo-chamber: “Trump’s supporters are…angry…stupid…racist…thoughtless…mean…ignorant…Kool-Aid-drinkers…” After watching the race unfold on the battlegrounds of Twitter, Facebook, and in the media at large, and having watched their portrayal in the establishment media, I am prepared to state unequivocally that this is nonsense.  The vast majority of his supporters are no more than one of those things, but more, I’d urge conservatives to ignore these media portrayals for one very important reason they may not have considered: Until recently, it had been we conservatives who had been attacked with these same portrayals.  I want you to stop and think about all the election campaigns in which the media, and the GOP establishment portrayed conservatives and Tea Party folk in the very same light.  We conservatives have a responsibility first to the truth, and the truth is that whatever we may think about Donald Trump, his supporters are now being painted with the same broad brush of infamy, and in the same broad strokes, by exactly the same people.

I know a fair number of Trump supporters, both in my circle of friends and associates, and also in my extended on-line family.  None of them fit the meme described above, except in one dimension, but it is the same dimension that has aptly described conservatives for most of a generation: They, as we, are angry with Washington and the seeming one-party establishment that is comprised of an elite media, elite Democrats, and elite Republicans who all hold any opposition in complete contempt.  I think this explains another phenomenon that is genuine, though less visible due to the media’s one-sided coverage: There are a number of Bernie Sanders’ supporters whose second choice is not Hillary Clinton, but amazingly, Donald Trump.  Why would this be?  Most of us have become so jaded about the dirty tricks in campaigns these days that it would be easy to dismiss this as more Democrat trickery.  Oddly, I don’t believe that’s actually the case here.  I believe it represents something much more fundamental, and infinitely more organic: Those who support Bernie Sanders are being undercut by the same Washington DC establishment uni-party, and they see in Trump somebody who has joined the fight against a common enemy.  When I talk to the rare Sanders supporter in my broadened local circle, what I find is that Sanders’ supporter share every bit as much of the same contempt for Hillary as conservatives feel for Mitt Romney, for instance.  This common ground with Trump supporters is an interesting, but I believe wholly organic outgrowth of an overwhelming sense of disgust in the nation with Washington DC and the two parties that together rule over us.

We conservatives have been led to believe by popular media that Trump’s support is a wholly-contrived exposition of Democrat tinkering, but while I’ve seen some evidence that this has been the case in pockets, the truth is that most Trump supporters I’ve had the chance to meet are perfectly sane, rational people who have decided something more compelling than the argument that their conservative principles ought to drive their choice.  It is their general argument that Trump represents a true outsider movement, in terms of the DC Beltway uni-party establishment.  They are prepared to temporarily lay aside their deeper convictions about the particulars of various issues in order to oust the uni-party crowd.  Despite my attachment to conservative principles, I know they have a very powerful point, and in truth, we might consider it thoroughly before rejecting it outright.

Here, I think they make an argument that is difficult to contest: As long as the DC-beltway crowd remains in singular, oligopolistic control of the narrative, the law, and the whole of our national machinery of governance, we will never reverse the direction of the country, and no conservative principles will ever be adopted in the halls of power in our nation’s capital.  Their argument is that in an emergency, you might well temporarily suspend your strictest adherence to your long-held principles in order that your principles be preserved at all.  In essence, they’re applying the legal concept of the “rule of necessity” to popular politics and political philosophy. Their argument therefore rests on the plausibility of the claim that we are in some sort of national emergency.  The question we must ask is “Are we?”

Our country is now twenty trillion dollars in operating debt.  We have unfunded liabilities of two-hundred trillion dollars.  We have a monetary system that has been corrupted to fund big government and big money on Wall Street with a cheap-money bubble that cannot and will not be sustained much longer.  Our borders are porous and present no serious impediment to criminals, terrorists, or any illegal entrants.  Our national security infrastructure is in a severe state of disrepair and neglect.  Our political elites continue to enjoy fabulous wealth largely on the basis of cronyism.  Average Americans are out of work, underemployed, or simply destitute as the people who run the DC uni-party continue to enjoy record profits on the backs of the rest of the country.  The crisis is surely real, and it is clear that their position is justified.

If their position is justified, so is their inflexible support of Donald Trump.  Their basic argument is that nobody who has been a part of the Beltway Bubble ought to be trusted in this critical moment for the Republic.  You might point to Ted Cruz as an outsider, as I have done, but let’s be blunt: Ted Cruz was a part of the team that argued on behalf of George W. Bush in the 2000 election.  Ted Cruz was a clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist. Ted Cruz may be disliked by parts or even the entire parcel of the uni-party establishment, but the case can certainly be made in earnest that he is one of them, or has long operated among them.  The argument of Trump supporters is that none who have been a part of the DC Bubble ought to be president now, and that it’s too great an emergency in terms of our national future to permit any chance that we will, at this late date, be betrayed once again.

That’s a highly patriotic position to take, among people who are quite diverse in an ideological sense, and many of them have adopted it as the basis of a movement’s justification for accepting a candidate who many of them will readily admit is an imperfect vessel for their particular views.  One of the things that Trump’s supporters fervently believe is something that is quite attractive to many voters, including this conservative: Donald Trump is the only candidate on the ballot who can explode the DC establishment. He’s the only person among all the candidates with a clear-cut motive to unmask the uni-party establishment, to expose their serial crimes, and to prosecute them.  I think this is where much of the pro-Trump fervor originates, and I also believe it is where the GOP establishment’s shrill denouncements of Trump originate.  They are terrified of him, not merely because he would wrest control from them, but that he would be in a position to unmask their deals and extensive profiteering from government operations, and then prosecute them.

That’s a powerful motivation I would concede makes a very strong argument in favor of their position.  We conservatives have known for many years that the GOP’s establishment operates in general coordination with establishment Democrats and the media, and they’ve used that coordination against us in a myriad of situations over the last three decades.  Rather than joining the DC uni-party in decrying Trump’s supporters, we might reconsider and try to see them as allies, even if we believe their chosen candidate is less than perfect as the platform for our ideas, because many of them come from among our own number, but have merely decided that defeating the DC establishment is the only way we can ever win.  On that basis, if I’ve been dismissive of Trump supporters, I’d offer an earnest apology. I had believed the general meme of the DC establishment about your character, but having come to know some of your number, or having discovered some of your number among my friends, I’ve come to understand your earnest motives.

The problem with 2016’s primary season is that it has threatened to splinter the GOP’s broadest coalition forevermore, but in truth, if I am asked whether I would prefer that conservatives keep company with Trump’s supporters or those who cleave to the GOP’s establishment in Washington DC, it’s really a no-brainer: I prefer the broad coalition of Trumpsters to the snooty, elitist Bill Kristols of the world, and I make no bones about my own enmity for the uni-party establishment in Washington DC.  The Trumpsters make a compelling argument about the importance of truly rooting out cronyism and corruption in both parties in Washington DC, long before we can ever actually implement our principled stance on any particular issue. It’s true. We conservatives should pay first respect to the truth, and we should note that the same people who have defamed conservatives in one election after the other, or masqueraded as conservatives in one election after another, are the people who are now defaming Trump’s supporters, and it should give us pause.

Donald Trump’s “Nuclear Option”

Friday, March 4th, 2016

trump_nuke_gop_ftI would warn the stupid, vile Republican Party establishment to be careful about fooling around with the convention in Cleveland this Summer as the means by which to substitute one of their own for Donald Trump, should he remain the front-runner, and should he fail to obtain 1237 delegates or the eight-state majority-delegate needed to win the nomination.  I cannot deny that whatever else I may think about this race or Mr. Trump’s candidacy, I am enjoying the fact that the Republican establishment is now trotting-out, in full-on panic mode, failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney in the desperate hope that they can derail Mr. Trump.  The GOP establishment ought to take care in trying to rig a “contested convention” that includes tricks and deceit that will not only wreck the GOP’s presidential aspirations, but also will leave Donald Trump in the motivated position to deploy his nuclear option.

What could Trump do?  I urge Republicans on Capitol Hill to be wary of playing games with the nomination process. All four-hundred-thirty-five House seats are up for re-election in November, as are one-third of the one-hundred Senate seats.  While Trump certainly couldn’t possibly deploy a field of opponents for all the Republicans, particularly at that late date, there is something he could easily accomplishment that would rapidly wreck the GOP establishment’s day.

Mr. Trump’s supporters are very loyal, and while they may not be quite large enough to gain him all 1237 delegates needed to secure the nomination outright, they are more than large enough to swing Congressional elections by fifteen or twenty percent.  His supporters are angry, and they are right to be, as are all who have become disgusted by the feckless GOP.  If the GOP establishment tampers or tinkers with this nomination process, his coalition of independents, conservative blue-collar Democrats, and not a few fed-up conservative-to-moderate Republicans may make a complete wreckage of the Fall’s Congressional elections, and will easily help defeat the Republican’s Presidential nominee.

The Republican Party would deserve  it.  Trump is playing by the rules, at least to date, and those elected/former officials in the GOP who have said they won’t support Trump if he’s nominated have already provoked that response.  If they try to manipulate the nomination process in Cleveland, dismissing a Trump nomination if he obtains more delegates than any other candidate, but not the whole 1237 needed, his supporters may rage against the GOP machine, but if Trump joined the campaign trail against the GOP in September, October, and November, the GOP stands a strong chance of losing both Houses of Congress along with the White House and the Supreme Court.

This is Trump’s “nuclear option.” If the party tries to cheat him, I think he might rightly attempt to blow the party to tiny pieces, and at that point, I must admit that my sense of justice would convince me to help him.  One way or another, the GOP establishment needs to die.  If they arm Trump with the righteous sword of a vengeful  justice, they will have earned it.

Life Without Principles: The New America

Friday, February 12th, 2016

constitution_ablaze_ft

Given the feedback I’ve gotten over a previous column, both here and on Facebook, I’m inclined to believe that the country will not be salvaged or saved. What I’ve been told by people who I had long believed to be conservatives is that ideology is “BS.” Principles are worthless. Ideas and philosophy don’t matter. It’s all pointless babble, with no power to affect change, and that it must be discounted in favor of expedience, electioneering, and the perceived political exigencies of the moment.  I understand that there are people who find themselves in a place of complete and utter political disenfranchisement (welcome to my world,) but to suggest that ideas, principles, and philosophies don’t matter is to say nothing matters, not even life itself.  I was told in a Facebook comment today that I should be willing to set aside my principles for “the good of the country.”  What in the name of John Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt does that mean?  Without my principles, how am I to know what is “the good of the country?” Without my principles, I might consider “the good of the country” to be whatever I imagine on a whim. Do I surrender my principles to Donald Trump’s judgments? To Sarah Palin’s? Without principles, how do I know if any of them are right? How do I know? There are some people who I trust a good deal, but I don’t surrender my intellectual or moral sovereignty to anybody. Ever. For once, I’d like all of the proponents of life without principle to consider what it is they’re advocating, assuming they’re still able.

Get up tomorrow morning. Go to work. Why?  Why bother? Who says you should pay for your own way in life? Who needs principles?  Choose your mate. Your soul-mate. If s/he displeases you, ditch and get another. Why try to work it out? Who says children need parents and an intact family?  Why are you hung up on principles?  Need food? Go take it from your neighbor.  Sure, it’s stealing, but we don’t have time or need of principles of private property, or any of that old-fashioned nonsense about good and evil, the ten commandments, or any other idea. We don’t need that.  Just do what you want to who you want when you want!  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Why bother with that? They’re all out to screw me anyway, and they will do unto me whatever they want, because they don’t have need of principles either.

To Hell with principle. Principles never seem to get me anywhere, anyway! If I stick to principles while others cast them aside, or never bother to consider them, I’m the sucker, and I’m the one at a disadvantage! No sir, no principles any longer.  I don’t worry about principles, or holding fast to my beliefs. I can go with the flow. I can be anything I want to be, any time I want to be whatever it is I’m considering.  I don’t have a care in the world about principles, because they simply act as a constraint upon me, but upon nobody else. That makes me the sucker, so no more principles.  In politics, I want to win, whatever principles I need to reject, discard, or otherwise eject from my thinking. As long as my candidate wins, principles don’t matter.

Ladies and gentlemen, if this line of thinking has come to dominate your thought processes, you’re on the wrong website.  LEAVE NOW, and never return, excepting as your folly becomes clearer in your mind.  I find this despicable in every possible meaning of the word. If you accept life without principle, I will have nothing to do with you, as no decent person on the face of the planet should.  Had you any principles remaining, you would be ashamed for even suggesting such a thing, never mind practicing it. It is despicable that in a nation founded upon an idea, the people of the country would devolve in character and wisdom to such an extent that in the throws of their allegedly patriotic fervor, they would reject ideas and ideals. It makes me sick – physically, demonstrably ill.

People have prevailed upon me to consider how a certain candidate will “Make America Great Again.”  I then ask: “What made America great in the first place?”  By what standard of value had American been “great?” On what principle were those standards of value based?  How can I even determine what is “great” without principles?  How can I know if it’s better or worse or just the same if I’ve cast off the ideology by which I am able to make such determinations?  How will I know?  Whose judgment shall I trust?  Upon which principle will my judgment rest once I’ve cast them off? This is something none of them can or will answer.  There can be no honest answer to this without either an immediate confession of error or a de facto admission of idiocy.

The United States, as currently constituted, was founded on a series of ideas about self-governance, limited government and natural rights.  Those principles, yes, principles, are the basis of everything we do and have and know in this country in terms of our relative prosperity, our material wealth, our technological advancement, and every other tangible exhibit of our modern culture.  None of it would have been possible without  principles, and you will neither restore or even retain your country if you now discharge those principles in favor of intellectual and political expedience.  Put another way, if you have come to believe that you can “Make America Great Again” without reference to principles, what you have done is to become part of a cult of personality, having surrendered your intellectual and political sovereignty to the perceived exigencies of the moment.  Good luck with that. In all the history of the world, such a movement has never succeeded.  Most frequently, they result in the rise of despots and the enslavement and purging of human beings in the million.  Of course, what do I know?  One of those antiquated principles to which I adhere is: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”(George Santayana – one of those useless philosophers.)

If that’s your schtick, so be it. Go forth to whatever end your folly will have earned for you.

Donald Trump Lied About Conservatism

Friday, February 12th, 2016

trump_bsa_ftWatching the 2016 election season unfold, I’ve become a bit tired of two things in particular about the media, and Donald Trump.  In the first instance, Trump is wholly unwilling to discuss details of his plans, and the media dutifully accepts his empty rhetoric in an unquestioning manner almost as thorough as some of his supporters.  In the second instance, Mr. Trump is lying, and it’s a big lie that we conservatives must debunk.  It could be that Trump is just ignorant, so that when he spews his lie, he’s simply the parroting of talking points emanating from the rabid left and the DC establishment. Either way, a lie is a lie, whether it originated from Trump’s own mind, or he’s merely passing it along unthinkingly.  So what’s this big lie? On Thursday, Trump tweeted that conservatives are to blame and that conservatives have failed the country.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, but once again, debunking it requires the examination of a few salient details.  His throngs of supporters won’t be moved by this, just as they won’t be moved by any other rational argument. By and large, they’re proving immune to facts, reason, and details.  It should come as no surprise to conservatives that in one respect, I think there’s a nugget of truth that makes Trump’s lie seem superficially plausible, but it’s just a nugget.  It’s time to deconstruct Trump’s lie.

djt_conservatives_tweet

The first thing one must consider in answer to Trump’s assertion is: “Who are the conservatives?”  The truth in answer to this question is that actual, thinking, breathing, ideological conservatives constitute a minority of the Republican party.  The truth is that there are almost no actual conservatives in Washington DC, and to have been the party to blame for the state of the country, that is where one would have needed to be, not simply in a geographical sense, but in the sense of political efficacy.   Actual conservatives haven’t had any power to speak of in Washington DC for nearly two generations.  From the time of the middle of Reagan’s second term, there has been little one could properly label as “conservative” in our nation’s capital.  Where one can find any justification of Trump’s lie, despite the reality, is that for too long, we conservatives have let people who had no real attachment to conservatism pose as our representatives.

George H.W. Bush was no conservative.  Bob Dole was no conservative.  George W. Bush was no conservative. John McCain is no conservative.  Mitt Romney is no conservative.  I can extend this list to include current candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio to an extent, and any number of other conventional Republican politicians.  Paul Ryan is certainly no conservative, but neither were his immediate predecessors, John Boehner and Dennis Hastert.  Mitch McConnell and his caucus of establishment Republican cronies aren’t conservatives either, but the problem is that we have permitted them to claim conservatism, and we’ve allowed them to thereby define conservatism by the association with us.  Most Americans simply don’t pay much attention to politics, and in their barely-informed state of political ignorance, they’ve accepted the following basic formula: Republican = Conservative.  They may have accepted also: Democrat = Liberal.  Both of these are tragically wrong, and I will suggest to my conservative brethren that we are at least somewhat collectively guilty for letting this stick.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve permitted this to happen.  We’ve been so busy trying to expand the “big tent” of conservatism that we’ve permitted the party-crashers of the establishment to redefine what conservatism is, at least in the popular culture, by their constant association with us.  It’s been going on since Teddy Roosevelt, who was a progressive in Republican clothing.  For my part, here on this website, I’ve always endeavored to make clear the distinctions.  One cannot go through the columns of these pages and make any mistake about the fact that the form of conservatism advocated and advanced here has no relation whatsoever to the Republican party, never mind its establishment.

Of course, the truth is far removed from Trump’s nonsensical allegation.  Most actual conservatives, I’d nearly assert all, do not support the actions of the establishment, moderate, “center-right” wing of the Republican party.  Most conservatives actually detest those people, and would replace them with actual conservatives if it was in their power to do.  Every time conservatives have gone along with the GOP establishment in order to try to move things in the right direction, two things have been true almost without exception:  The GOP establishment betrays us, and we wind up moving backward.  A case in point is immigration: Those who call themselves “conservative” but are aligning themselves with Rubio in this election cycle have a very “YUGE” problem: Their guy is an amnesty-monger, having proposed the most exasperatingly un-conservative bill proposed by a Republican in quite a long time.  The so-called “Gang-of-8” bill was a nation-destroying monstrosity, and it would never have attained launch, much less threatened passage, without the efforts of people who claim to be “conservative.”

This is the problem exposed by Trump’s lie: It’s only plausible because we conservatives permit others to define what is conservatism.  We permit the misapplication of the term to people who may on occasion, for their own political expedience(and too frequently, ours) to associate with us and our body of political philosophy.  Since the greatest number of Americans don’t really pay that much attention, and use generic labels in order to short-cut thinking, we have a responsibility as conservatives to define what that means, and to take great pains to differentiate conservatives from anything else.

The facts supporting Trump’s assertion dissolve the moment one asks: “What is a conservative?” The laundry list of non-conservatives mentioned above is just a sample, but it should serve as a decent basis for understanding the problem in its proper context.  When Donald Trump talks about “the conservatives failed,” what he’s actually saying is that “Republicans have failed.”  That’s demonstrably true.  The problem is that conservatives haven’t failed, largely since they’ve never really held power in Washington, except for the briefest few years immediately after the ’94 “revolution” in the House of Representatives.  Even its leader, Newt Gingrich, isn’t really a conservative, but some of the people around him were, and a few of the people who led early efforts in those environs were, but they were short-lived as was the influence of conservatism.  To find substantial, muscular conservatism, one must return to the first term of Reagan’s presidency, which is why conservatives so thoroughly long for a Reagan-like leader.  It’s also why the fakers, the so-called moderates in the GOP, can’t wait to bury Ronald Reagan in long-forgotten history of the Republic.

We conservatives must separate ourselves from the GOP establishment in a political and cultural sense.  We must create clear separation from the party’s moderates because by failing to do so, we permit the broadest brush to be used in defining our cause, our philosophy, and our values.  It won’t be easy to do, but I believe it must be done.  The most promising of the current crop of GOP candidates, who may be able to draw this distinction, is probably Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX,) simply because on so many issues near and dear to the hearts and minds of conservatives, he bucked the political trends in Washington DC, abandoning even his own party at times, apparently on the basis of principle.  It may be that for him to fully set conservatism apart from the muck of establishment GOP politics, he will find himself required to loudly and forcefully make the distinction clear, not merely in his words, but in the clear-thinking actions of his office, so long as he may be in it.  Otherwise, Trump will succeed in painting him, and conservatism, as just more representative of the whole of the Republican party, and with such a faulty attribution of blame, conservatism label will continue to be the generic container into which the wider voting public will file all Republicans.  I suspect Trump knows all of this, but his campaign isn’t one of nuance or detail.  Quite to the contrary, his campaign is one of generic sloganeering, with thinly-veiled emotional appeals substituted in place of syllogisms.

It’s because I do believe that Trump knows the difference that I consider this attack on conservatism to be a lie on his part.  There is some small chance that he is so thoroughly ignorant that he doesn’t understand the distinction, but I suspect that’s not the problem.  I believe that Trump is gambling on and playing to the electorate in a disingenuous fashion, knowing that his prospective voters don’t understand the distinctions anyway, and won’t be motivated to discover them.  Thus far, he’s been largely correct in this assumption, although it remains to be seen whether it will hold up through the entire campaign season.

The problem for conservatives is “Yuge” because they’re stuck in the same sort of problem, in almost exactly the same fashion, as is the basic reputation of “capitalism.”  This is not coincidental.  Capitalism continues to be blamed for all the evils of statism, in its various manifestations, because few are interested in learning the distinctions between what America’s actual economic system is, and why capitalism bears no actual resemblance. In much the same fashion that we haven’t even had approximately conservative governance in more than a generation, so too is it the case that capitalism was vanquished in America by the enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The Sherman Act is wholly antithetical to capitalism, and whatever economic system we may have had since, it is not and cannot be labeled as “capitalism.”  Of course, once again, the propagandists for statism have managed to re-cast the meaning of the term in precisely the same way that “conservatism” has been redefined so as to include all “Republicans.” It’s nonsense, of course, but that fact does not stop them from doing it. One must be attentive to details, in a disciplined way.  It’s an article of faith among those same propagandists that our system of government be referred to as “democracy,” but that bears little resemblance to the actual form of government our Constitution’s framers designed and ratified. The United States is, by definition of its organizing document, a “constitutional representative republic,” but too often, as a matter of ease and propaganda, folks drop that longer, much narrower description, and it is to the detriment of the body politic, unless you happen to be a propagandist or advocate for statism.

The truth Trump won’t tell you is that had conservatives had their way over the last three decades, we would never have approached the state of desperate gloom under which we now suffer.  What he won’t tell you is that statism is the responsible political philosophy, in large measure because he has been among its practitioners and advocates.  When he proposes solving the “student loan problem” with another government program, he’s advancing statism. When he proposes replacing Obamacare with what seems to be a Canadian or British-styled single-payer healthcare system, he’s proposing more statism.  He’s doubling down.  When he states that eminent domain is an important tool in private initiatives, he is declaring statism in big, broad terms, while he is defiling the good name of capitalism to do it.  Donald Trump isn’t a capitalist, but instead a cronyist.  He has greased palms and bought favors with campaign contributions as much as any person who has ever sought the office of President, and maybe more.  His well-documented use of government officials and offices in the name of his private concerns is evidence neither of capitalism, nor conservatism, and that to date, he has gotten away with this mislabeling and slander is at least in part the fault of we conservatives.

After all, it’s the same thing: Jeb Bush calls himself a “conservative” and most of us won’t bother to debunk his claim.  His brother called himself a “compassionate conservative,” but too few of us challenged his claim though it was obvious in most notable respects that his presidency was rife with the growth of statism, and the advancement of anti-capitalist measures.

Yes, Donald Trump is probably going to succeed in blaming conservatism for the sins of GOP establishment, moderate actions.  His lie will stand mostly unchallenged because most of us will not even stand for our claimed political philosophy.  While I can’t do a thing about that, I can and will continue to speak out about the lies of Trump in this regard: Conservatism is not to blame for the ills of this country, any more than one can blame capitalism, and for the same exact reason: We haven’t practiced either in so long that the terms have lost their true meaning.  Trump knows this, and he’s gambling that his supporters won’t discover it either.  It’s our job, the job of actual conservatives, to educate the electorate on the differences.

Editor’s Note: The Tweet image was added again after the fact because either I didn’t save the article with that image in it, or it dropped it, or something or other. Anyway, that is what I am referencing. Conservatives didn’t HELP the GOP betray its voters.

 

 

Trump Hammers Cruz as “Maniac” But Looks The Part Himself

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015
Angry or Manic?

Angry or Manic?

Donald Trump had one heck of a weekend. First, he questioned Ted Cruz’s “evangelical” credentials, and went to great lengths to attack him on ethanol subsidies, pandering to Iowa voters.  As if this wasn’t enough, he actually asserted that Cruz was a maniac in the Senate, firmly ceding his own “outsider” credentials. Is this attack by Trump going to succeed, or is it, as Mark Levin said on the air Monday evening, a foolish move?  FoxNews is eating it up, because they hate both men.  To them, Trump is a maniac, but so is Ted Cruz.  They are considered “maniacs” by the FoxNews establishment crowd for different specific reasons, and I think it’s instructive to understand why this difference matters.  He even went on to join in a leftist attack on Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the few justices fighting to uphold the constitution.

When Trump goes to great lengths to say “Cuba isn’t known for its evangelicals,” he’s taking a rather bigoted view of Cuba. Many Cuban exiles resumed their faith in full fervor after successfully leaving Cuba, and in fact, it was their faith, at least in part, that caused them to flee.  More, Trump has never been a friend to evangelicals, so what’s with the petty attack on Cruz on this basis?  Score one for Trump’s religious and ethnic bigotry.  Not only did he make [faulty] assumptions about Cubans and evangelicals, but he also made an assumption that this would play to Iowans.

Trump went on to point out to Iowans that Cruz opposed the ethanol subsidy.  I have news for you: Virtually everybody outside the corn-growing states oppose the ethanol subsidies, because frankly, it’s driving up the cost of food and fuel, as well as making a wreck of gasoline-burning power equipment, from automobiles to lawn-mowers to outboard motors. Even many within corn-growing states oppose the subsidies, because they have to pour this diluted gasoline in their cars and shop at grocery stores where every item that has corn as an input, from corn chips to corn-fed beef is inflating in price due to the use of corn in the production of ethanol.  This was a purely cynical attack intended to take advantage of Iowans by pandering to something peculiarly interesting to them.

What’s most disconcerting about Trump’s little rampage this past weekend is that the attacks he launched on Cruz were launched squarely from a leftward point of view.  I even observed Brit Hume, a notorious establishment shill, going on to attack Cruz on this basis, intimating that Iowans have a short time to discover the reason so many in the Senate don’t like Ted Cruz.  I don’t need Brit Hume to tell me, because I already know. It’s the same reason I supported Cruz in his Senate run against Texas RINO David Dewhurst, and also why people like Senators Lindsey Graham(R-NC) and John McCain(R-AZ) can’t stand Cruz: He’s willing to fight. They’re not.

The odd thing is that this may well backfire on Donald Trump, because up until now, he’s been running as an “outsider.” This series of attacks plays directly into the hands of the GOP establishment. Cruz has been no friend to the GOP establishment, and Iowans know it.  I’m not sure that Trump hasn’t sabotaged himself here, because his attacks on Cruz sound suspiciously similar to the attacks launch against Cruz by the DC insiders.  In so doing, Trump is eating into one of his few distinct virtues: He’s been the quintessential outsider,  at least until now, but with the latest series of attacks on Cruz from the left, he may be unintentionally ceding that ground to Cruz.  If so, Trump may come to lament this last weekend.  His attack on Antonin Scalia is perhaps the worst outlier of the weekend, because while one might rationalize his attacks on Cruz as just part of the political fight, but the attack on Scalia by going along with Jake Tapper was pure folly.  Scalia has been a leading light for constitutional conservatives for years, and this scurrilous attack on him by Trump is perhaps a bridge too far.  This speaks more to Trump’s own maniacal nature than to anything one might say about either Antonin Scalia or Ted Cruz.

As a purely political matter, Cruz ought to avoid being drawn into a knock-down, drag-out with Trump, because that’s where Trump excels.  Cruz is best in well-reasoned, well-controlled discourses when the tempo of the exchange supports close examination.  If Trump has any inkling of the misstep he may have taken over the weekend, he’ll reverse course on some of this as quick as he can.  Discerning conservatives and independents will notice that Trump really yielded some of his claim to being an outsider this weekend, and this may well cost Trump mightily.  If one considers that among the ‘outsiders,’ (Trump, Cruz, Carson, Fiorina) constitute nearly seventy percent of the support from Republican primary voters, Trump ought to think and think hard about yielding his position as outsider so easily.   The notion that Cruz is looked upon in a negative light by most of his Senate colleagues is not a bad thing, particularly in the vast expanse of the electorate between the coasts.  From the point of view of most Americans, most of the Senate is comprised of detestable Washington DC insiders who hold the American people in contempt.

The Republican candidates are scheduled to debate Tuesday night in Las Vegas.  It will be interesting to see whether Trump squanders his lead by continuing this line of attack, or whether he thinks better of it and resorts to more rational arguments that might appeal to conservatives.  To date, his one peculiar virtue had been his take-no-prisoners style of assault on the GOP establishment, but if he isn’t careful, he may well blow it.  The GOP establishment is only too happy to see Trump going after Cruz, and this could well be his undoing with the Republican base.

 

 

 

Why I Like Donald Trump

Saturday, December 12th, 2015
Hamming it up

Hamming it up

I like the mockery Donald Trump has been making of a goodly portion of the establishment of the Republican Party.  They deserve it.  I love the fact that he’s driving the media berserk.  After ten minutes of watching almost any news network on TV, one is left with the impression that Donald Trump is somewhere between evil genius and outright loon.  Trump is a shrewd media manipulator, but I still don’t know anything concrete about what he believes.  I can’t identify a consistent ideology much beyond “what will get me the most press right now.”  Still, despite all his philosophical and ideological shortcomings, one can’t help but love to watch the way he drives the Washington DC, insider cartel absolutely crazy. Despite the gnashing of teeth from within the Beltway, the American people are eating it up, with each episode gaining him ground.  I understand it.  America is looking for a leader like George C. Scott’s portrayal of General George S. Patton: No nonsense, a bit of bravado, and an unambiguous statement of the goal, without worrying about who may be offended.  How many times have conservatives lamented the lack of bluntness?  Still, this cannot be the sole criteria by which we choose our president, any more than a sunny disposition can be the sole criteria for choosing one’s doctor.  We need much more.

Trump’s entire campaign seems to hang on the catch-phrase “making America great again.” That’s all well and good, and I very much enjoy that process, like most conservatives, but I’m not sure I understand what Donald Trump thinks made America great in the first place.  Listening to him, there’s no evidence that he’s for any reduction in the size and cost of government, yet I believe part of what made America great was economic freedom, and it has been only in the progressive, statist era that America’s true greatness reached its apogee and began again to wane.   I’m not sure Mr. Trump sees it quite that way.  The problem is that by reducing everything to a slogan about “making America great again,” I’ve not heard too many specific details, and the few I’ve heard thus far are less than inspiring.  For instance, Mr. Trump is for a single-payer healthcare system!  If there is anything that has helped America to begin losing its standing and financial stability in the world, it is the increasing socialization of our medical care and insurance schemes since the late 1960s.  More the dependency-creating welfare-state of which a single-payer system would be an integral part is part of what is destroying America’s greatness, so I don’t understand Trump’s logical [in]consistency.

In point of fact, Trump is not conservative, but then most Republicans claiming that label don’t really deserve to wear it.  Jeb Bush said famously “I used to be a conservative,” but Rubio, Christie, Kasich and a lengthy list of the others are not conservatives either.  In fact, I think the closest things to genuine conservatives we have in this race for the nomination are senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.  Huckaby and Santorum might make legitimate claims to a fair piece of social conservatism, but in terms of economics and finance, I don’t believe either of them is overwhelmingly conservative by accounting of their actual political records.  Dr. Ben Carson is a brilliant, amiable man, who I like very much, but who also probably isn’t ready to be President of the United States.  The point is that we can’t throw out Trump for his lack of conservatism unless we’re also willing to discard Rubio, Christie, Kasich, Huckaby, Santorum, Lindsey Graham(who I would not support for dog catcher in Tumbleweed, Arizona,)  or Carly Fiorina, none of whom are particularly conservative, or worse, are simply establishment hacks. For my part, I’m willing to discard them, and indeed, I’m will also to discard Trump because what I’ve discovered is that Mr. Trump simply hasn’t formulated what I would consider to be a self-consistent plan that exhibits any detailed understanding of how to “make America great again.”  Of course, that doesn’t make him any worse than the laundry-list of folks noted above, but it should give pause to those who are rushing off to support him.

I like Trump’s energy.  I wish it were more focused.  I like his general notion about “making America great again,” because I believe it’s something that could be accomplished, but I haven’t seen any evidence that he has a plan to accomplish it in any plausible manner.  I like that he comes up with short-run, topical slogans, because that’s always easy for voters to digest and understand, but I detest the fact that he seems to stop at the slogan-formulation stage, and never brings any substantive plans along by which these slogans are to be realized.  In short, he’s a lot of huff and puff, but no stuff.  There’s no there there.

On the other hand, Trump has staked out a number of positions I consider to be abominable.  The single-payer healthcare business he supported through the 90s is among them, but I’ve also noted with chagrin that Trump supports the Supreme Court decision in Kelo, in which eminent domain was used to condemn homes and property for use in commercial developments.  His general disrespect for private property rights and his use of government to take what he wants ought to serve as a cautionary note to anyone who considers supporting him for President. Remember this:

These are just two highlights among a lengthy list of deficiencies.  Still, it is entertaining to watch the Republican establishment and its slate of candidates from Jeb to Marco lose their minds over Trump.  Trump may entertain me, and I truly enjoy watching the likes of Jeb Bush lose his cool, and to watch the entire Democrat Party membership go crazy, calling him “Hitler” and so on.  Perhaps they should call him “FDR” instead. Franklin Roosevelt interred Japanese for the duration of the war, most of them US citizens!  Watching the media, especially FoxNews, obsessing over Trump makes me laugh.  Megyn Kelly’s semi-pseudo-exasperation over the media’s obsession(and eye-rolling, on-air confessions of the same at her own network) tickle me pink.  Her assault on Trump:

Megyn asks Donald about his Republican credentials:

The GOP establishment’s media harpy is hilarious when she loses her mind over Trump.  Trump apparently agrees:

Of course, FoxNews acts as a megaphone for the establishment wing of the GOP:

My point, lost in the haze of Donald Trump’s bombast, is that while he is highly entertaining to watch, and while I heartily enjoy seeing the DC beltway cartel lose their minds over his politically-incorrect remarks and comments, I don’t believe he has the philosophical consistency for which I’m looking in a President, and I also don’t believe his overall record on areas of significance are in any way in accord with conservative thought. His views on eminent domain are in accord with the Supreme Court, but in the current context, that means they’re anathema to traditional Americans principles and values.

Still, a conservative must take a certain amount of pleasure in the GOP establishment having been driven to plotting over measures to stave off a Trump nomination by setting aside any Trump electoral success through the use of a brokered convention.  That anybody drives the party “blue-bloods” to this level of terror is absolutely a fascinating occasion I wholly endorse…but I still can’t vote for him.

JEB Suggests Trump-Clinton Conspiracy; Did Trump Give Clinton a Medal?

Thursday, December 10th, 2015
Aid and Comfort, JEB?

Aid and Comfort, JEB?

On Wednesday, NewsMax reported that JEB Bush tweeted about an alleged conspiracy between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. While I’m certainly no Trump fan, and I wouldn’t doubt any conspiracy involving Hillary Clinton, I have a question for Mr. Bush: If past entanglements and relationships between Clinton and Trump are the basis for this argument, ought I not consider JEB’s own entanglements and relationship with Clinton as the basis for a possible Bush-Clinton conspiracy?  Readers might wonder what I’m talking about.  I could point to the great and fast friends George HW Bush appeared to become with the Clintons after his defeat in 1992, but no, I needn’t reach that far back in time, or even go to Bush relatives.  Instead, we need only ask the following: While serving as the Chairman of the Board of the dubiously named “National Constitution Center,” JEB stood forth on a public stage to hand out the Center’s Liberty Medal.  It just so happens that on the 10th of September, 2013, almost exactly one year after the Benghazi terror attack that killed our Ambassador, the woman who asked “…what difference does it make?” in congressional testimony on the matter stood forth on the stage with none other than JEB to receive the Center’s Liberty Medal.  Hillary received the Liberty Medal from JEB!

Per Mr. Bush:

“Former Secretary Clinton has dedicated her life to serving and engaging people across the world in democracy,”

and:

“These efforts as a citizen, an activist, and a leader have earned Secretary Clinton this year’s Liberty Medal.”

Now it’s all well and good if Mr. Bush wants to assert, along with his lapdogs in the media(Bill Kristol et al) that there is a deep, dark conspiracy between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and considering the characters involved, I would not doubt it, but I wonder whether JEB understands just how foolish the facts make him look. After all, Donald Trump never stood on a stage on behalf of an organization named “The National Constitution Center,” handing out a medal to Mrs. Clinton.  Frankly, at the time, I thought it an unforgivable, disqualifying misadventure on JEB’s part, but in light of his suggestion of a Hillary-Trump cabal, it now seems all the more ludicrous.  Conspiring with the enemy, JEB? That’s what he’s implying Trump is doing. How about giving aid and comfort, JEB? Isn’t that to which hanging a medal on Mrs. Clinton amounts? (The so-called “Liberty Medal,” of all things!!!)

While I trust Donald and Hillary roughly as far as I can throw their combined weight, I don’t trust JEB either.