Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Donald Trump presidency will be the death of the Republican party. Good riddance!

It looks like Donald Trump may run the table towards Cleveland, or close to it. Although it may end up being a two man race after the SEC Primary – John Kasich doesn’t count and Ben Carson is irrelevant – it may end up being too late to matter.  So why would Donald Trump be the end of the Republican party? Because other than building a fence – which is important – it’s likely that not much will change…and things might even get a bit worse.

Trump is attracting the attention of millions of Americans from across the spectrum. Somehow he attracted the votes of tens of thousands of evangelicals in South Carolina while at the same time drawing attention from minorities and millennials and self professed “conservatives”. His numbers are actually increasing, having won 45% of the vote in Nevada, almost a 50% jump from South Carolina less than a week before.  As I said last week, Trump 2016 is like Obama 2008 in that he is, for his fans, an empty vessel into which they can pour their dreams. That’s great for him on the campaign trail, but it might not be such a good thing for the country when he’s in the White House.

All of the people who are flocking to Trump are doing so for what they read into his “Make America Great Again” slogan. (Rush again on Monday disingenuously claimed the slogan is somehow more substantive than “Hope and Change”… He’s wrong, it's not.) Trumpkins are understandably frustrated with a government that doesn’t work. They are frustrated with a government that is involved in too many things. They are frustrated with a government that seems unresponsive to their needs and demands.  They want a government that protects their individual freedoms.  Those are all real concerns… but the problem is, Donald Trump will not likely change much of that, and to the degree that he does, he may well do so unconstitutionally.

And that’s the rub, and that’s why the Republican party will be doomed by a successful Trump run for the White House. The Republican Party is on the ropes in the first place because its candidates run on conservative ideas and then run away from them once in office. Whether it’s vows to stop Obamacare or promises to cut spending, GOP voters vote for one thing and via the magic of Washington, they get something else. Most GOP voters are simply sick of it. That explains the Trump phenomena and the strength of Ted Cruz.

So how exactly does a Donald Trump presidency doom the GOP? Simple. Because a significant faction of the GOP voter base is ready to walk already – myself included - because the party has lost its way and become liberalism light, but because Ted Cruz is in the race many of us are at least hopeful that it’s possible to end up with an actual limited government conservative nominee and president. Another significant portion of the voters are looking for something different than the status quo… hence Trump. Together those groups make up half if not more of the party, and a Trump in the White House will not only not be conservative, he’ll likely not change much at all.

Change doesn’t come easy, particularly when you’re fighting a leviathan. And Washington is nothing if not a leviathan. It’s entrenched in almost every aspect of American life. It’s dysfunctional and provides money and services to millions of America's who have become fat and happy suckling on the nanny state teat. And don't forget the millions of well paid bureaucrats and supplicants doing the same.

Bobby Kennedy learned as Attorney General, that changing anything in Washington is almost impossible, and the leviathan of government is exponentially larger today than it was then. Even Ronald Reagan, who famously wanted to kill the Departments of Energy and Education, was stonewalled. And Washington is more entrenched now than it was then.

In order to change Washington one has to have a visceral hate for big government, because it won’t go away without a fight. There are too many people, on both ends of the government industrial complex who have vested interests in maintaining it as it is. Add to that the fact that Trump is a big government crony capitalist and you can see where this is going, or not, as the case might be. Sure, he’ll build a wall and rename Obamacare, but will he rein in the NLRB or the EPA or HUD?  Don’t count on it. Will he eliminate the Dept of Education or the CFPB or agriculture subsidies? Not likely. And perhaps most importantly, will he put a constitutionalist on the Supreme Court to replace Scalia? No chance.

And that’s why a Donald Trump presidency will be the death of the GOP. Nothing will change.  Washington will likely function very much the way it does now… only the people running it will have Rs by their names rather than Ds. Once Republican voters have their guy in the White House and nothing changes, the factions of the party that seek something other than go-along-to-get-along big government, crony capitalism, and the nanny state will have no choice but to form a third party.  Maybe it will be a conglomeration of Tea Party groups. Maybe it will be a amalgamation with the Libertarian Party. Maybe they go for the fence and create an entirely new party focused on limited government, free enterprise and individual freedom. Whatever it turns out to be, it’s happening because the Republican party no longer stands for anything but itself. In Donald Trump it has its man. Good riddance to it.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Bush, Kasich and Carson should quit... and probably Rubio too, otherwise say hello to President Trump

I don’t remember the context at all, but I once heard someone put forth a theoretical dilemma… “You have a choice: You can save the world, but the person you loathe most in the world would get credit for it and be hailed as the hero of mankind… or, you can yourself be hailed as the hero of all mankind but in reality do nothing and the world is not saved. Which would you choose?”

That is basically where we stand today in the GOP primary. If it is saving the country that they are interested in rather than personal glory, the three guys who come in last in South Carolina tomorrow would drop out of the race and the fourth guy might consider it too if he doesn’t pull at least 10%. Why? Because, unless Donald Trump dies of a heart attack, those guys simply aren’t going to win. The fact of the matter is, in a six man race, a five man race, a four man race, and probably a three man race, Donald Trump will win and become the GOP nominee. It’s simply a game of numbers. Trump is leading in South Carolina and the opposition is divided five ways. This is like that cartoon where the bear is chasing two guys in the woods… one guy says to the other “We can’t outrun him” and the other guy says “I don’t have to out run him, I just have to outrun you!” Donald Trump doesn’t ever have to get above 50% to win the nomination. All he has to do is get more votes than any one of the other five guys most of the time and the nomination is his. Sixty five percent of the GOP don’t want Donald Trump, but as long as the opposition is fractured, he wins.

Sure, you can say we’re only two states into this thing, but the writing is on the wall. In New Hampshire Donald Trump came out as part of the progressive “Bush Lied, Soldiers Died” camp. He came out as a fan of Planned Parenthood. He stood up as a big fan of the abuse of imminent domain. He still won and may have even added to his lead in South Carolina. It appears to be the case that there is this core of around 30% of the GOP who will vote for Trump regardless of what he does or says. As such, the only way to beat him is to have a race where there are two men facing one another so that voters are forced to choose between Trump and a single actual rival rather than some amalgamation of five guys. One on one Cruz (and maybe Rubio IF he can throw off the immigration yoke he saddled himself with) would shine like a conservative rock star against the liberal, big government Trump. When given a distinct choice of contrast, most conservatives will go with the guy they agree with 90% of the time vs. the guy with whom they agree with maybe 50% of the time. But in a six man race that’s not the choice they have to make.

So, while everyone wants to be the hero who saves the country, the reality is, by staying in the race these laggards are going to be doing exactly the opposite. They are empowering Donald Trump and letting him gain momentum and delegates. Politics is about perception, and the more Donald Trump wins the more Donald Trump is going to be seen as the winner and that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If these guys wanted to really help the country rather than dream of themselves as the next “World’s most powerful man”, they’d drop out and become cheerleaders for the guy who comes out of South Carolina as the strongest rival to Donald Trump. At that point they could play kingmakers, they could vie for the VP slot, and would no doubt put themselves on the short list for secretary positions in a Cruz… or Rubio administration. In a two man race Trump would be toast, in a three man race it would be a real competition… anything else we’re looking at Trump being the last man standing in Cleveland.

Come Sunday morning the also-rans in South Carolina really need to look themselves in the mirror and examine their motivations. Is it the good of the country or their ego that is driving them? What they do next will tell us everything we need to know.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Trump voters in 2016 are not so different from Obama voters in 2008... Here's why

If Donald Trump gets the GOP nod against Hillary or Bernie, I’m voting for Donald. Frankly, after watching the debate on Saturday night I’d probably want to take a shower after pulling the lever for him, but pull it I would…

That being said, Saturday’s debate demonstrated Donald Trump to not only be a rude bully, it showed him to basically be a disingenuous one and someone with, shall we say, an odd understanding of history. While rebutting Rubio’s statement that Bush kept the US safe after the Iraq invasion, he chimed in that 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch. That statement is of course true, but it didn’t have anything to do with the point Rubio was making as it came prior to the invasion and was one of the catalysts that put Bush into the mindset that action had to be taken in Iraq. This of course came about the same time that Trump called GW Bush a liar, suggesting that he knew there were no WMDs in the country and stated he lied about them in order to invade. That is a page directly out of the truther’s handbook and with the level of intensity he argued the point, it suggests that Trump actually believes it. He also spent time supporting eminent domain (really, the abuse of such) as well as the funding of the “good parts” of Planned Parenthood. Those are, to say the least, unusual positions for someone running for the GOP nomination.

The debate was more like a schoolyard brawl fight than a debate, where the teacher couldn’t get or keep control. One has to wonder however if the Trump supporters will notice that their guy was obnoxious and nonsensical. And if they do, will they care.

Watching the numbers Trump is putting up in the GOP race and the throngs of passionate supporters his events draw despite the fact that he’s basically a liberal, not even conservative clothing, is beginning to make me think that many of the GOP voters in 2016 are doing exactly what Democrat voters did in 2008: They are pouring into an empty vessel exactly what they want to see. Barack Obama was indeed an empty vessel for most voters. The truth is, his “Hope and Change” is not so different from Trump’s “Make America Great Again”. Most certainly it is different in that Barack Obama pretty much hates everything great about the United States outside of golf courses and basketball, while Donald Trump loves pretty much everything including golf courses and imminent domain.

At a minimum one would expect Trump to make better deals than the one Obama made with Iran and not seek to divide the country by race and gender and sexuality and religion as Obama has done. But beyond that, when it comes to the actual work of governing, and doing so within the confines defined by the Constitution, one wonders what his supporters see in him. They say he’s going to build a wall. That’s an absolutely necessity, but Ted Cruz has promised to do the same. They say things like he doesn’t take crap from anyone and he says what’s on his mind. Both are true, but what do they have to do with governing? Barack Obama is a horrible president, but it’s not because he got into shouting matches with crybabies Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, it’s because he’s anti-American and thinks he’s king. Would Trump’s obnoxious behavior somehow make 535 congressmen and women more likely to follow his lead? Would it act as a moderating influence on power hungry bureaucrats?  Would his rudeness somehow convince the leaders of Russia, China and Iran to suddenly play nice on the geopolitical chessboard? How does boorish behavior translate to actually doing a good job of governing the country? It doesn't.  Sadly, sometimes listening to Trump supporters makes me think back to John Ziegler’s video from the 2008 election “How Obama Got Elected’.

The problem with Trump is that he has no fundamental convictions other than what is good for Donald Trump. He’s not a conservative. He professes to not be a liberal but his history tells a different story. He’s not a major supporter of individual rights and limited government. Very much like Barack Obama he sees the presidency as an opportunity to “get things done” and like Obama he will likely take a dim view of the constraints on his actions dictated by the Constitution.

But for his voters, none of that seems to matter. While I can appreciate the desire to have someone from outside Washington, from outside the establishment come in and shake up a heavily dysfunctional government, it matters what they want to do and how they want to do it. Everything you need to know about a Donald Trump administration can be seen in his comment about Carrier moving manufacturing to Mexico. He said “I'm going to tell them right now, I am going to get consensus from Congress and we're going to tax you when those air conditioners come.” Aside from the unconstitutionality of such a move, what he’s not saying is “How do we make it more economically viable for companies to manufacture in the United States?” No,Trump’s natural inclination is to use unconstitutional coercion against those with whom he disagrees (sound familiar?) rather than asking why it makes economic sense for someone to decamp to Mexico in the first place, and figuring out how to make America more compelling for employers in the first place.

At the end of the day, during this primary season Trump supporters need to ask themselves is Donald Trump the best person in the GOP field to lead the nation to prosperity? The best person to protect individual liberty? The best person to roll back the unconstitutional expansion of government undertaken by presidents over the last 25 years? The best person to appoint the next Supreme Court justice? The best person to make the government work for the people rather than the people work for the government? The best person to defy Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce and rein in a regulatory environment bathed in job killing and prosperity killing crony capitalism?

If they find that the answer to these questions is no, then perhaps they should put down the Kool Aid and open their eyes and ears to some of the other candidates. Elections aren’t WrestleMania events and the bluster on the stump and in the debate may be fun to watch, but unlike WWE, entertainment isn’t the fundamental goal of debates and elections.  No, the whole reason we're engaging in this quadrennial cage match is the pursuit of effective, constitutional government.  That's something someone with a long history of crony capitalism and little appreciation for the Constitution is unlikely to deliver.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

For Marco Rubio being right on Barack Obama was a Pyrrhic victory

Marco Rubio’s campaign seems to have crashed on the rocks because of his… shall we say somewhat repetitive use of the phrase “Obama knows what he’s doing”, but the truth is, he was 100% right. The reason that so many people scoff at the notion that Obama knows what he’s doing is because the very notion of an American leader who seeks to destroy that which he leads is anathema to most rational Americans. And the truth is, Barack Obama doesn’t seek to destroy the nation he leads, he seeks to “fundamentally transform” it. Splitting hairs you might say, but there is a big difference between the two.

For Barack Obama the American glass is half empty. Sure, there’s water in the glass, but only what’s left after two centuries of whites stealing from blacks, Indians, Hispanics, after men taking from women and the rich taking from the poor. As such, it’s his goal in life to fill that glass up by redistributing that which has been stolen back to its rightful owners. At his very core Barack Obama is a divider – by race, by income by nationality among others – he is an anti-capitalist, anti western populist with fascist tendencies and no love for Christianity.

It’s only with that understanding that Rubio’s assertion makes sense. The nation that Barack Obama leads is not the same one most Americans live in. They inhabit the same geography, but they are not the same nation. It’s like the movie The Martian. Anyone watching it will recognize that it’s a serious movie that has a bit of levity scattered throughout. But somehow it was nominated for “Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy” at the Golden Globes. Most people would recognize that regardless of the category the Globes’ voters put it in, The Martian is no comedy. Similarly, the United States most conservatives inhabit is an imperfect one, but one full of opportunity, fueled by freedom and largely a force for good. For Barack Obama those same 57 states represent a nation defined by racism, inequality and oppression.

That is the nation that Barack Obama thinks he is leading and the one which he is seeking to fundamentally transform. And it’s easy to see that Rubio is right… he knows exactly what he’s doing. From Obamacare to the kneecapping of Chrysler shareholders to the using the IRS to muzzle Tea Party groups, it makes sense in the nation Barack Obama leads. This has been going on for seven years and most of the examples never find their way into the news. Here are three that recently did.
  1. The Internet. The Internet may be the most egalitarian invention in the history of man. It has connected more people and given more opportunity to more people than any tool in all of human history. It was created by the United States and has been largely free from censorship and government controls since its inception. Barack Obama sees the Internet as a tool of American domination and therefore is moving to remove American control of it and give it to an international body that will leave the Internet’s freedom subject to veto and manipulation by such freedom loving nations as China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

  2. Economic freedom. American economic freedom is the engine that drove most of the world’s prosperity for a large part of the last century. The resilience and freedom of America’s markets and her entrepreneurs have led the world in almost every major economic development since 1900. American free enterprise has been the greatest driver of prosperity ever in human history, but under Barack Obama the United States has tumbled in economic freedom, to number 11 in the world (from number 6 when he took office.) And what causes such slippage? One thing: Regulation. Barack Obama sees America’s success as one of imperialism and outright theft, and he has used government regulation to stifle economic freedom at every turn, and the results have been devastating, resulting in the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression.

  3. Government intimidation. Barack Obama is using the police power of government to achieve his ends. The Tea Party are not the only targets either. Barack Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was recently outed for coercing Ally bank to agree to pay almost $1 billion in fines for racial discrimination, despite the fact that that internal documents stated they had no complaints nor any evidence of actual discrimination. Barack Obama sees America through race colored glasses and feels it’s his role to use the power of government to readjust settings. From the NLRB to the FCC to HUD, Barack Obama seeks to use the government to control more and more of Americans’ lives, winnowing down the spheres of freedom within which the outcomes can be decided by hard work and the choices people make.
At the end of the day, Barack Obama does indeed know exactly what he is doing. He is laser focused on one objective: Diminish America. Reduce her influence on the world stage and suffocate freedom and free markets at home. If you’ve been paying attention for the last seven you’ve seen him doing that and much more, and doing it very effectively. It’s simply not possible to rack up that level of success – as Obama defines it – without knowing exactly what you’re doing and being very good at it. Sadly for Marco Rubio, being right was a Pyrrhic victory.