Year in Review: Early 2016

2016-yirEarly 2016 saw the presidential race go into full swing.  It seems like a lifetime ago, but the year started with Presidential debates, the most interesting being those on the Republican side.  16 men and one woman began their campaigns in earnest. The stage literally was not big enough for all of them, so was created the undercard debate.  One candidate, Carly Fiorina, emerged as the only candidate to earn a spot on the big stage with the true contenders. Meanwhile on the Democrat side, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed Socialist caught fire with connecting with of all groups, the far-left leaning youth.  Iran became a campaign issue when the extremely dubious nuclear agreement went into effect, coincidently, four American hostages that were held in Iran were freed.  Later it would become apparent that their freedom had been purchased in the dark of night with unmarked bills.

Farewell Antonio ScaliaThe Executive branch was not the only branch to undergo far-reaching change. In February, the country lost one of its greatest jurists, Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice on a split Supreme Court.  Before the end of March, three different Republicans had won primaries, including several won by Donald Trump, establishing him as a serious contender for the nomination.  Bernie Sanders became the hot ticket on the Democratic side, stringing together early primary victories, showing that there would be no early coronation for Hillary.  Meanwhile, terrorism was set to rear its ugly head again in Europe.  The attack in Brussels, the capital of the European Union exposed the dangers of letting in millions of lightly vetted migrants and refugees from countries with serious terrorism problems.  Further attacks were to come, peaking in the middle months of the year.


Second Debate, Initial Reaction

2016-debatesTonight, Donald Trump came to the second debate much more prepared than he did to the first one.  He was not on defense the entire night and learned the art of the pivot. The difference between his performance between the two debates was night and day.  Hillary on the other hand had little in the way of new material.  It was widely speculated that she used up most of her ammo during the first debate.  That speculation seems to have been proved correct. Most of her attacks were predictable and Trump was obviously ready for them.  The moderators played less of a role in this debate than in either the first or VP debate.  That’s probably for the best.  I’m predicting that Trump will be widely seen as the winner.


The 2016 Presidential Debates Drinking Game

2016-debatesThe 2016 presidential debates promise to be something extra special.  The debates will be a battle royal between two heavy weights (metaphorically speaking)  for the political championship of the world. If you’ve paid any attention at all to the race so far, you may have heard some of the favorite words and phrases from each of the candidates. You may be sick of hearing them, so here’s a fun way to reward yourself for having to hear them again, and again, and again….

The rules are simple, every time during the debate one of the candidates says one of the designated words or phrases, you take a drink of your favorite adult beverage.  You must of course, be of legal drinking age to play, unless your favorite adult beverage is non-alcoholic, in that case…you’ll probably make yourself sick either way!

Take a sip anytime any candidate says one of the magic words or phrases:

  • Disqualified
  • Tremendous
  • Unqualified
  • Leading from behind
  • Fair share
  • Reckless
  • What have you got to lose?
  • Historic election
  • For all the people
  • Fat cats
  • Unhinged
  • Failed Policies

Expert level:

  • Drink every time any candidate breaks out into a coughing fit.  (one drink per instance)
  • Drink at any remark that gets booed. (counts for moderator remarks too)
  • Drink every time the moderator “fact checks” a statement by one of the candidates.

Think you can last all the way through?  You might want to have a good supply of chips and pretzels on hand. Enjoy!

Disclaimer:  No-one except you is responsible for any foolish thing you might do after playing this game, like: driving, drunk-texting your boss, or voting third-party. So there!

Trump’s Hail Mary

Featured Image -- 376Trump’s visit to Mexico on Wednesday was like a quarterback throwing up a Hail Mary pass on 3rd and long.  It was a mix of desperation and supreme confidence.  He went to Mexico City at the invitation of President Peña Nieto.  Many people, including loyal supporters questioned the wisdom of the move.  It was thought that President Nieto would dress him down on national TV.  He had after all, claimed Trump was another Hitler or Mussolini.  Trump was not deterred and went down where he was received quite graciously and cordially.  Afterwords, they held a short joint press conference where both stressed that both countries had common ground and both promised to work with the other to achieve common goals.  The world watched as the GOP candidate stood as an equal to a world leader.  He came away having impressed even his detractors.  Touchdown, Donald Trump.

I’m not his biggest fan, but Trump showed me something Wednesday. He showed me that he’s willing to do the hard things, he’s willing to put his candidacy on the line.  Meanwhile, Hillary has been MIA for most of the past fortnight.  She hasn’t even gone to Louisiana after both Trump and President Obama went.  Baton Rouge should be mostly dry by now, will she ever go?  Trump went into politically as hostile territory for a high risk, high reward move that paid off.  Hillary showed me something too, she is not willing to do even the not so hard things, and no one will remember what she did on Wednesday, only what she didn’t do. Trump is going for the end zone, meanwhile Hillary is playing the prevent defense. Anybody who watches football knows how that usually turns out.

Should other Republicans emulate Trump’s pivot to the black community?

Election 2016“…I love France so well I will not part with a village of it.” – Shakespeare, Henry V 5.2

Republicans should take note of this famous line from the Shakespeare play.  Republicans love America at least as much Shakespeare’s Henry V loved France, so why do they every four years, simply cede roughly 13% of the population to the Democrats?  That is exactly what they do when they fail to court in any meaningful way the black vote.  Why do they, as King Henry put it, “part with a single village of it”?  Donald Trump does not seem to want to part of a single village (read precinct).  He does not seem prepared to let the Democrats have the inner cities without a fight.  Given the Democrat’s dismal record of running cities, especially those with large African-American populations, this should be considered low hanging fruit by any Republican with the guts enough to try and grab it.  There are reasons, one’s that should be revisited, but there are reasons:  First, the electoral map puts a premium on winning entire states.  Democrats have done such a good job of demonizing Republicans in the eyes of the African American community that it takes courage for a Republican to go into the inner city.  Lastly, some conservative solutions are less obvious to the voter than Democratic ones. Republicans need to revisit their reasons for not actively courting the black or any other minority vote.  Trump had made the determination to do just this, other Republicans would do well to take note.

In the electoral college, the Democrats already have a big head start on the race to 270.  This is almost entirely because of demographics.  States with large urban areas populated with large numbers of minority voters have something else, huge electoral vote counts.  Cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and NYC can sway their entire state to go blue on election night. If Republicans ever want to get those states back they’ll have to start winning precincts in those cities, or at least doing competitively in them.  The experts will point out that even if you do well in a state, but lose it by a single vote, all your campaigning there was for naught. It’s better then to campaign in those states you have a reasonable chance to win.  The problem for Republicans is, demographics favor less and less states if you don’t do well with minorities.  Republicans have to either push to admit more states into the union with favorable demographics, or do better with the minority vote in the current fifty.  The good news is that many GOP candidates for Governor have figured it out.  New Jersey is a deep blue state with every one of its citizens living in an urban county. Currently it has a Republican Governor.  Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, even California have, or have recently had Republicans in the state house. You don’t win any of those states without at least some minority support.

Democrats with the aid of a sympathetic left-leaning mainstream media have successfully crafted a totally bogus, cartoonish image of Republicans and conservatives as being racist, sexist, homo-phobic, and now Islamo-phobic.  So thoroughly have liberals perpetuated this fraud, that cable news anchors and pundits regularly and with a straight face compare conservatives with fascists, Nazi’s and the KKK.  It’s a ridiculous notion, one that Trump until very recently, has unfortunately contributed to.  Now, if you’re an African American in the inner city, and never actually met or had a Republican hold a speech in your neighborhood, that fallacious image of the white-hooded, jackbooted, fascist is all you have to go by.  If you asked the average black person living in Baltimore just how many Republican candidates have actually come to address their church congregation or civic organization, they answer would probably be “none”.  Rand Paul during his presidential run did to his great credit, actually attempt to redress this situation. He challenged his fellow Republicans to do the same.  Sadly, hardly any did.  Several GOP candidates did reach out to the Hispanic community during the primary season, so at least that is a start.

It is not always them messenger that has to break through to the minority voter, sometimes it is the message. The Democrats have a simple to understand message that they offer to each and every minority constituency:  Give us your vote and we’ll send your community money.  Conservative policies tend to be a little less straight forward:  Keep your money, don’t give it to the government in the first place, that’s better than us giving it back to you with strings attached, or worse yet, to someone else with no stings.  It’s so much easier for the voter to understand how putting money directly into their pockets benefits them than it for a conservative to explain to them that the more money their employer gets to keep, the more money they have to pay you with, or use to grow their business so that they can hire you.  On this front, simpler is better. Republicans then must be able to cite examples that the voter can relate to where their policy has worked in the past, or cite examples of where liberalism has failed them.  Trump, say what you will, is a master at putting things into terms that anyone can understand, like recently in Michigan:

“Tonight, I am asking for the vote of every African-American citizen in this country who wants a better future. The inner cities of our country have been run by the Democratic Party for 50 years. Their policies have produced only poverty, joblessness, failing schools, and broken homes.”

No getting into the policy weeds for Trump here, just a straight-out request for support from African-Americans.   Do Democrats have better policies for the inner-city?  No, in fact liberal policies keep many citizens in these urban areas from advancing economically.  They have created what Dinesh D’Souza in his new movie Hillary’s America refers to as the ‘new plantation’.  Whereas the old Democrat plantations exploited blacks for their labor to produce crops, this new plantation– the inner city, produces something else for their Democratic masters:  Votes. What if a Republican, or many Republicans came to the inner city, pointed this out and offered a solution?  What if blacks and other minorities could be convinced that decades of top-to-bottom Democrat rule has produced the conditions they now find themselves in? They might try another direction, or as Trump put it in his own special way: “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?”

Trump had determined not to cede the urban areas of this country to the Democrats this time without at least a fight. He may or may not succeed in this, but make no mistake, Republicans need to find a way aggressively go after the black and Hispanic vote.  The changing demographics of this country demand that Republicans start to change how they deliver the conservative message to the inner city, but before they do that, they have to move out of their comfort zones and expand their campaigns there.

Originally posted in Political Storm:  Should other Republicans emulate Trump’s pivot to the black community?

The faulty rational of persistent #nevertrump’ers

Election 2016While the primaries were in full-swing, it made sense for movement conservatives to speak out against Donald Trump.  He made many a comment that would have ended the campaign of any other Republican.  His statements about Senator McCain immediately turned off many a patriotic conservative.  He made statement after controversial statement and yet his popularity with the working man only increased.  His has policies were all over the political map, some being conservative, some to the left of even Hillary, mostly all of them populist.  He was outmatched in knowledge about foreign affairs by nearly all of his opponents.  His near absolute ban on Muslims was completely unworkable, but since then has been refined away from populism to pragmatism.  He’s also made it a point to surround himself with foreign policy and military experts.  Still, there were preferable alternatives who showed greater aptitude for conservatism, and who had nearly mistake-free campaigns.

Marco Rubio had great foreign policy credentials. Carly Fiorina also proved herself equal to any of her rivals in that department and focused like a laser beam on Hillary from the beginning.  Senator Cruz has the support of the Constitutionalists and had by far the best ground game of any of the candidates, rivaled only possibly by the Clinton machine.   This was to finally be the year of the movement conservative.  What none of them realized, was that the white, non-college educated working man had abandoned the Republican party two elections ago. With no popular support for so-called ‘establishment’ Republicans (read Jeb Bush) and young, intelligent candidates who could speak the language of conservatism fluently, this election was to be the era of Regan reborn.  The problem was, the average American spoke the language of not conservatism, but populism.   Trump, like his followers, feels free to cherry-pick from any political school of thought, conservatism, nationalism, populism, and even liberalism.  In short, Trump followed former Republican constituency to where it wanted to go.

Everyone knows the result, Trump won the nomination.  the #nevertrump crowd now had (and still has) a decision to make, reluctantly follow the new GOP standard-bearer, for all his flaws, or stick with Republican and  conservative orthodoxy. As Trump filled in the gaps of his foreign affairs and military knowledge, and softened on some of his more problematic stances on immigration, the opposition of many Republicans against him softened.  Little by little, Republican diehards resigned themselves to the reality that it was Trump or bust.  Others though, convinced of the certainty of a Trump loss, and fearful of down-ballot losses stubbornly dug in their heels on the subject of never Trump, even to the point of actively undermining his candidacy.

Reluctant, even stoic support for Trump is to be expected and understandable.  He is not the second coming of Reagan, but the first coming of Trump.  Those who insist on ideological purity won’t find it in this GOP candidate.  Those who had fought hard to rehabilitate the Republican Party’s image after losing virtually all of the black and most of the Latino vote four years ago find themselves besides themselves with frustration in their candidate.  He is their candidate though, and for all his shortcomings with regards to many conservative principles and a maddening lack of political sense, is still better for America in many ways then his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

The key is to show that while Trump says controversial things, Hillary has done, time and again, many things that were deeply dishonest, maybe even illegal.  While Trump’s thoughts get him into hot water, Hillary’s actual deeds (or occasional lack of) have gotten Americans killed or put in jeopardy.  While critics can theorize about Trump being bad, we have proof positive that Hillary would be worse.  Evidence of her corruption is well documented.  We don’t have to wonder how she would govern, she would turn America into her own personal fife, and we her serfs, existing only to provide her and her sycophants  with wealth.  On the subject of Supreme Court appointees alone, there is no real choice for the constitutionalist that wants a Scalia type justice on the Court.

There is no chance of Trump being replaced as GOP nominee, any talk to the contrary is pure fantasy. There is no realistic chance of someone not from the Republican or Democratic parties becoming our next president.  Even if the #nevertrump crowd could come up with a candidate with the financial means to do so, it’s too late to get him or her on the ballot in many states.  So why does anyone claiming to be a Republican seek not to simply withhold support, but actively act to undermine his campaign?  They are ideologues, but ones who fail to understand that under a Hillary presidency, none of their conservative initiatives will come to be.  Clinton will enact her liberal, even socialist policies.  If she can’t get her agenda done under a Republican Congress, the Democrats will appeal to the American sometimes pathological need to just “get things done” regardless what that actually means.  Republican control of Congress his hardly guaranteed.  Democrats are already counting on the fact that the Republicans were put into power on Capitol Hill for the express reason of stopping the liberal Obama agenda.  Whatever political victories Hillary can garner, she will lock in by appointing active judges and an ever-growing, compliant regulatory machine.

The never Trump crowd has fooled themselves that in four years, they will get a do-over if Trump loses and finally undo the Obama/Clinton agenda.  It won’t happen, what they dont’ realize is this election may be the last one for America as a true constitutional democracy.  The next election, should Clinton win, will be more like those in the democratic-socialist countries of Western Europe– mere referendums on how quickly or slowly to descend into the socio-economic oblivion, and who will go out on top. The fact is, regardless of how much the conservative true believer would rather not, there is no real choice when it comes to any meaningful governmental reform.  There is only one candidate that will appoint justices that will respect the letter and spirit of the Constitution.  There is only one candidate with a pro-growth agenda, only one candidate that will turn America away from an otherwise certain, yes certain, move toward a single-payer healthcare system.  Like it or not, the only viable choice, for all his shortcomings, is Donald Trump.

There I said it.

Corruption vs. Self-interest

Simple Definition of corruption

  • : dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers)
  • : the act of corrupting someone or something
  • : something that has been changed from its original form

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary

Most Americans with any degree of political awareness believe that Hillary Clinton is corrupt. It’s really hardly disputed even by her supporters.  Whether her association with shady land deals, Travelgate, or the apparent links to Clinton Foundation donations and favorable actions by Hillary toward donors as Secretary of State.  If elected President, Mrs. Clinton would likely continue behaviors that the public will consider corrupt.  The election is still a long ways off in political time, right now she is candidate Clinton.  What sort of corruption might she be engaging in with the voters and, dare anyone suggest, are some of her supporters complicit in this corruption?  Does voting one’s self interest ever cross over into corruption?  Is corruption a two-way street?

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” – Benjamin Franklin

If you’re a college student or recent graduate and Hillary tells you she’ll help you pay off your student loans you might be tempted to vote for her out of self-interest. Similarly, if you’re a parent and are looking at paying tens of thousands of dollars for your kid’s college education and you’re promised free community college, that’s a tempting offer.  There is another voting block that block these programs really benefit, one that is always overlooked: the faculty and administrators of colleges.  They can absolutely be counted on to support Hillary.  Why?  They stand to gain the most from these deals.  Who do you think ends up with all of the public money?  They do, the parents and students are merely a conduit between the taxpayers and themselves.  Never mind that the value of a college education has been inflated, and that a trade school might be better fit for many students.  Never mind that there are legions of service sector workers with four-year degrees. You’re not to meant to consider such things, your meant to put your money in the right pockets—theirs.  When you run out of your own money, there is always someone else’s, the evil rich’s. Normal free market restraints on tuition rates don’t apply when everyone has the buying power of a millionaire. Big education wants a system that takes money from one group and give it to another that gives it to them.  In the process free market forces that would normally limit how much they can charge gets circumvented. That’s dishonest, a corrupt deal between Hilary and the higher education elites.

Another deal with easier and easier to spot corruption angle is Hillary’s promise of ‘comprehensive immigration reform’.  Republicans often receive criticism for wanting cheaper, illegal labor.  That’s certainly fair and would qualify as corrupt voting. The mistake is to assume that Democrats have any less reason to be accused of corruption.  First of all, when have you seen a Democrat really take a stand against illegal immigration?  You haven’t, not just because they take advantage of illegal labor as well, but they see further benefits to illegal immigration.  People crossing the border illegally or over staying their visa are not much of a concern for Democrats.  New immigrants who become citizens are more likely to need public assistance, and more likely to vote Democratic.  They problem for Democrats is how to get immigrants over from the illegal side of the ledger to the legal side in such a way they can also become citizens and do their patriotic duty to vote Democrat.  Illegal aliens after all, can’t vote for their own self-interest, (not in a U.S. election anyway). If you read recent legislation proposals for comprehensive immigration reform from both Republicans and Democrats you’d be hard pressed to find many differences between the two.  Really the difference comes down to a single word:  citizen.  Many Republicans are fine with a pathway to legal status for undocumented aliens, just not citizenship.  Democrats desperately want any legislation on the matter to take that one extra step, to offer a path to citizenship and Democratic voter-hood.  Republicans say they want to reduce the number of illegal aliens in the country generally by reducing the influx , increasing deportations, and reducing the incentives to come and stay illegally.   Democrats have a plan to do reduce the number of illegal aliens too—just make them citizens, and hence, legal.  Democrats count on the average voter not getting into such fine detail.  It’s not the average voter that’s corrupt, but their views on the issue have been corrupted by the dishonesty of the Democrats of their true intentions.

Most voters vote their own self-interest, it’s a natural part of the process.  Sometimes there is a special interest group that quietly hides their vested interest in the outcome of an election.  Sometimes politicians dishonestly represent what a vote will get the voter or what it means for them and their party.  Corruption is seldom a one-way deal– it takes two parties prepared to strike a corrupt bargain. For every vote bought, there is a vote sold.  For every vote unwittingly given, there is a vote taken through deceit. When you vote you should make sure your own interests in casting it are fairly and honestly balanced with those who want it.