I am sad to be writing about the backlash in response to North Carolina’s new statewide law (click to read it) providing for single sex multiple occupancy restrooms and statewide regulation of employment laws.
The law is legally sound, moral and ethical. It is not an ‘anti-LGBT’ law or a law that permits unlawful discrimination as it has been widely characterized. It limits the extent to which local governments such as counties, cities and towns can tailor the definition of discrimination with the narrow aims of creating new discrete classes of protected citizens and defining new conduct which would be unlawful.
It is helpful to remember that discrimination (that dirty dirty “D” word) is not illegal, per se. You and I discriminate daily, and so do nearly all of the businesses and government
agencies we interact with. You might say discrimination is an important facet of our freedom to associate. Over the course of our history, certain groups have been discriminated against in such a pervasive and institutional manner that it became necessary to pass laws that would protect these groups, in order to ensure their liberty. Even the most staunch libertarian is usually willing to surrender some ‘liberty to discriminate’ in the interest of ensuring the personhood of others is respected.
Has the scale tipped too far?
Despite desparate attempts to convince you otherwise, the LGBT movement is not the new civil rights movement. Lest we forget, african americans were slaves. They were owned, sold and traded, physically abused and deprived of humanity. There is no comparison between the plight of black people and those with a sexuality that differs from the norm.
Anti-discrimination laws rarely serve their purpose to protect bona fide victims of unlawful discrimination. More often than not, they provide a vehicle for the subject of a lawful adverse action (such as choosing one job applicant over another, issuing discipline, or terminating employment) to negate the premise of unilateral employment contracts (at-will employment) and shift the legal burden to the employer to prove they acted with a non-discriminatory purpose. Bear in mind, this burden-shifting vehicle is entirely unavailable to anyone who does not fit in a statutorily protected class or category. Due to the realities of our legal system, the costs borne by a company in vindication often outweigh the costs of a modest settlement. It is often a business decision to settle even the most unfounded claim, despite the inevitable presumption of the lay person that settling out of court proved the company did something wrong.
Simply put, discrimination suits are often retaliatory shake-downs, and only select groups of individuals have access to the procedure.
We should all support hb2 in North Carolina and any similar law in any other jurisdiction. Not just Christians and straight people. Civil libertarians must take a principled stand in support of this common sense law, because it is not a law that imposes any onerous requirements or regulation; rather it prevents the out-of-control proliferation of local ordinances aiming to impose a new vision of morality. A new religion.
The position I see many modern, younger conservatives taking is that they are ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’. This sounds like a bit of convenient ideological fence-riding, but I can get on board with that if it means we don’t hate gay people, we understand that people are different and we want to treat people with love and respect. We must NOT allow this to turn into the statist version of social progress, which holds that it is not enough to treat people with love and respect, but that you must actually adopt and endorse a view of the world that is foreign to you.
Liberty, above all, means liberty of the mind. I would vigorously defend a transgender or gay person against a legitimate case of harassment in which hateful individuals sought to threaten, intimidate, or bully them for who they are. But liberty of the mind means you are free to maintain your view that a person is created as a man or a woman.
Don’t be a Phobe-a-Phobe (one who fears or hates [being labelled as] one who fears or hates). Let your actions speak for who you are.
You are free to maintain your view that gender roles are significant; that there are meaningful differences between men and women, and there is value in maintaining the distinctions. These are not hateful views. Given that foundation, you are absolutely free to ‘cling’ to the age-old notion that single-sex multiple occupancy restrooms are appropriate in your schools and in your places of business.
I suspect this entire issue is a red herring. Practically speaking, if one has undergone surgeries and is a particularly convincing gender convert, it is unlikely that anyone notices when they use a restroom contrary to their birth gender in the first place.
From what I understand, the law permits one who has ‘transitioned’ to change their sex on their birth certificate, so these local provisions are truly only applicable to those who have NOT fully transitioned.
If a business wants to be socially progressive, then by all means they should create unisex restrooms (The North Caorlina law permits this). The opposition to the law, however, is aimed at depriving YOU of the liberty to remain traditional.
There’s a dangerous misconception brewing that could take the GOP primary to another level. Some want you to believe it will trigger the End Times.
This idea, being pitched by Trump-friendly public figures including Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, and even some left-leaning outfits is that a contested convention would be a subversion of the people’s will and would represent an attempt by the elite to control the outcome of the 2016 GOP primary. These messengers are poking the coals of an obviously angry Trump base and setting the stage for chaos and violence in July. The problem is, those conveying this message either do not understand the process, or they are intentionally misleading their respective audiences.
The mere occurrence of a contested convention is not evidence of an establishment ploy. It is very plainly the necessary consequence of a primary nomination process that fails to identify a candidate with a majority of delegates.
Let’s establish a few fundamental points concerning the primary process:
Both parties seek candidates that will ensure the maximum number of voters turn out in the general election, to defeat the candidate from the opposing party.
With this goal in mind, no prudent party would award the nomination to a candidate who has only proven the support of one third of the party.
This does not mean a plurality is not indicative of support. It clearly is. It simply means it is not sufficient, standing alone, to earn the nomination without a final contest.
The primary objective is to identify a candidate that is able to garner a majority of support of the party members. (1237 out of 2472 delegates).
A contested convention is not some new idea dreamed up by party overlords to defeat Trump. The convention is, by its nature, a contest. It just so happens that the primary process usually narrows down the field early enough that voters rally around a leading candidate. When that candidate achieves the majority of delegates prior to the convention, no further contest is necessary. The convention becomes more of a ceremonial roll call, a celebration and a grand send-off to the nominee.
In a marathon in which runner A drops out at 24 miles, Runner B drops out at 25 miles, and Runner C drops out at 25.8 miles, no one gets a finisher medal. The finish line is measured to be exactly the distance between Marathon and Athens in Greece (26.2 miles). The number is not arbitrary. If runners A, B and C want to establish marathon running dominance, they need to arrange a final contest.
Fact: There is currently no consensus candidate. If the remainder of the primaries do not reveal a candidate who can earn a majority of delegates, The primary process has failed.
A final contest is the only proper response. There will be plenty of time to argue over the rules, who the delegates are and how much deference will be given to the popular vote.
In the meantime, Donald Trump should not be thinking about riots. He should be thinking about reaching the finish line before the convention. There is one prize the party elders cannot take from him, and that is 1237 delegates.
If, on the off chance he does not reach the required number, then he should focus on negotiating one of those great deals he’s been telling us about at the convention. He will have immense leverage with his impressive plurality of delegates. Should be a cinch for the guy who wrote the “Art of the Deal.”
To listen to Trump and his surrogates, if he arrives at the convention with a plurality, he should simply be awarded the nomination. This is pure nonsense. It would require the entire rulebook to be rewritten and would completely fail the primary objective of the process, to amass a majority of support behind the eventual nominee.
But Trump controls the message, and his supporters are hearing: “They are going to screw you over again!”
Before anyone starts stuffing oily rags into glass bottles, do your best to get your candidate past the finish line.
We may be forced to face this question soon. Given the current delegate count, Donald Trump’s impenetrable fortress of 35% of base voters, and the insistence of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich to split the remainder 30/20/15, Trump has great odds to win the republican nomination. This outcome could either be solidified or further challenged today: The Ides of March, 2016.
I have been open about my opposition to Trump, from the very beginning. After instinctively opposing him shortly after his announcement, and later realizing he wasn’t going away, I honestly considered whether I could get behind him. I listened to him. After one debate I almost caught myself appreciating his style. I kept coming back to the same issues however, and as the campaign went on, more troubling, non-political red flags started popping up.
I have political concerns about Donald Trump. I don’t believe he is a conservative. It is important to know at this point though, that I am not going to expect ideological purity out of any candidate. I haven’t felt 100% behind a candidate since Rand Paul dropped out in early February. John Kasich is too soft on issues of limited government. He is sanctimonious and stubborn. Ted Cruz is in perpetual lawyer mode and often strikes an unnecessarily adversarial tone. He panders shamelessly to evangelicals (whatever the heck those are) and has a reptilian quality I can’t quite put my finger on. Marco Rubio is a slick packaged platitude-machine with massive debt-expanding ideas to solve all the world’s problems, who also dove headfirst into the gutter to trade schoolyard insults with Trump.
With Rubio and Kasich, much like with John McCain in 2008, I have a basic idea of what I would get. Although it is watered down, it is at least in the ballpark of what I’m looking for. I know that there are some core conservative principles within them I can count on. I can watch them speak, and even if I think they are soft or wrong on an issue, I believe they are respectable servant leaders that fit into my picture of what I hope America is. With Ted Cruz, I get even closer to my ideal candidate, notwithstanding some troubling issues with warmth and authenticity.
My primary objections to Donald Trump are not political matters of degree. They are personal. They come from my gut. In the end, I have to at least KINDA like the guy. Before I answer the title question of this blog post, I’ll document just a few of my non-policy related observations of Trump that set him apart from the other candidates, making me less willing to compromise my support.
1. Trump stole the media with shock humor.
Simple strategy. Drop a bomb. If people laugh, pretend it was a joke. If people cheer, pretend you meant it. If people are shocked and outraged, back off the statement quietly on morning show interviews, but double down and play the victim in front of your supporters and blame ‘political correctness’ and social justice warriors.
Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee had to raise five dollars at a time and shell out a million dollars for a 30 second commercial in Iowa. Trump only needed to say “Ban Muslims” and he ran away with 60 minutes of free live television coverage on multiple networks.
Many of his opponents were flabbergasted. How to respond! All they could manage was to essentially shout “He’s cheating! You Can’t just SAY STUFF!”
To illustrate this point, I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from the movie Napoleon Dynamite. Pedro is running for student body president against much a much more popular and polished Summer Wheatley. He is nervous about his upcoming election speech and he confides in Napoleon: “I don’t know what to say.” Napoleon responds: “Just tell them… if they vote for you, you’ll make all of their wildest dreams come true.” Pedro got in front of the school and promised just that. How could Summer Wheatley’s promise to “get a glitter Bonne Bell dispenser for all the girls’ bathrooms” possibly compete with that!
Sure enough, Pedro won the election despite Wheatley’s promise that ” with me, it will be summer all year long.”
And so has gone the primary. A detailed flat tax and a complex plan to send federal government functions back to the states simply cannot compete against a promise to “treat veterans better than they have ever been treated before, believe me!”
2. Trump cast doubt on conservatism. While attempting to destroy the establishment, Trump has weakened the conservative movement in a year in which it had unbelievable potential to make a comeback. He has given momentum to this idea that conservatism has somehow failed, asking “What has conservatism done for you lately?”
When Trump plants a seed, he has millions of followers and an army of personal media willing to give it water and sunlight. This idea has now taken full bloom. Consistent conservatives are in danger of losing a voice that they barely had in the republican party to begin with. Trump has convinced many that conservatism is not a worthy aim. The fact is that we have had no legitimate conservative movement candidates for years, but that trend has reversed in the past six years with people like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie and more. The Trump phenomenon has overshadowed the significant gains in this movement of principles.
3. He has ruined the war on political correctness. Trump blames the ‘PC culture’ at every instance of revulsion to his outrageous behavior. Lifelong conservatives don’t even know what the term means anymore. If it means being generally respectful and polite to people, then most of us want more of it. The real threat of political correctness was the cowardly avoidance of important topics, usually by making up cute new invented terms.
Instead of focusing on the PC epidemic being thrust upon college students (ideas of cultural appropriation, genderless pronouns and mandatory ‘fairness’), Trump wants us to believe we are being wimpy and PC because we want some basic civility from our public figures; say, for instance, to refrain from repeated references to physical appearance in a presidential campaign, or to scale back the alienation of an entire religion.
If our leaders must humiliate their critics with vulgar personal attacks in order to defeat political correctness, many of us are willing to bring PC back.
4. He will betray even his supporters.
Trump has taken to repeating the line: “Politicians: All talk, no action.” Meanwhile, he has privately backed off every single stance he has taken to date, while publicly adopting the anti-principle that everything is negotiable. If elected, he could never be held to any campaign promise, because he has not made any measurable promises, with the exception of building a wall. Somehow he has been given a complete pass on 180 degree policy reversals, including astonishing denouncements (or ‘softenings’) of his signature issue: Immigration.
Many of us fear what will happen if Trump were somehow elected and keeps his promises. Supporters will feel betrayed when he does not. No one wins.
5. Dangerous Red Flags.
The hysterical reaction to Trump is overblown by some. He is not a Nazi or a Fascist, but he is willing to allow people to think he is if it keeps him on camera during primetime.
And while Trump himself is not directly as dangerous as some make him out to be, he has exploited raw anger, and stoked the fires of hatred in a significant chunk of his following. Trump is a rich kid from New York. It is hard to imagine how he could personally understand or relate to the partially legitimate anger of his followers. If elected, he would discover that he cannot control it.
Leaders that I admire diffuse explosive situations. They calm the angry and point them in a productive direction. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this Trump phenomenon to me has been the instigation and provocation of anger. Trump’s schtick does not work with a calm and happy audience. He needs them fired up and whipped into a frenzy. They return the favor with the most shocking display of idol worship of a public figure that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
Combine zealous supporters willing to physically fight for their leader with an authoritarian leaning Trump who promises to protect them when they do, and we have a real problem.
6. My aversion to aggressively Type A Leaders.
I have had the opportunity over the years to work with and observe many different types of leaders. I have witnessed a very familiar pattern in Type-A, ass-kickin’, blustery, head honcho-type leaders. Those who use fear and disorientation (shock and awe) to motivate people often achieve impressive short term results, at a recognizable human cost. This is fine when you are running a business, especially if the business is in trouble and tough decisions must be made to turn it around, because you can just keep cycling through humans. You are accountable only to your shareholders who are concerned solely with the bottom line. This type of leadership is also effective in a military battlefield environment, because every order could be the difference between life and death. There is no room for collaboration or servant leadership.
The federal government is not compatible with a business or a military combat unit. The liberty of individuals is THE objective of our government. US citizens are not employees accountable to achieve the aims of the nation. Our leaders serve us, and those most effective are able to do this while also inspiring us and making us proud. There are many leadership styles which are strong, effective and dignified without belligerence.
So I’m on record. This post is not designed to persuade anyone. This is basically my last gasp before this thing is essentially over and I have to find a new hobby. I oppose the nomination of Donald Trump for the presidency of the United States, without equivocation, because I don’t share any identifiable principles with him and he is not the type of leader I admire.
Vote for Trump?
Prepare yourselves. If you have made your opposition to Trump public, you could soon be bombarded with “It’s either him or Hillary!” and “Time to unite for the good of the country!”
To acquiesce and cast a “Beat Hillary” vote for Donald Trump in the general election is to submit to the very principle Donald Trump’s candidacy has so effectively overcome, that one must simply accept the inevitability of the candidate the party produces, no matter how offensive and contradictory to one’s own principles.
This is an establishment idea. The republican ‘establishment’ has been deposed. Why then, should we be expected to rally to the call of this collective? What ‘party’ are we rallying around?
Despite its awful reputation, the establishment legitimately served one purpose. It dominated the media and talked down to us, all in the effort of convincing us that we needed to stand behind the leading candidate for the sake of THE PARTY.
The establishment was a flag that we all begrudgingly waved when our ideal candidates had been rejected. Donald Trump deserves credit for marginalizing, if not obliterating this venerable institution. Now though, having torched the flag, Trump cannot reasonably expect conservatives to coalesce around the charred remains based solely on the age-old establishment rationale of UNITY.
Mr. Trump has aptly pointed out that I am part of a statistically irrelevant minority of the republican party. I suppose he won’t need me in his coalition. I won’t stay home on election day though. I will vote for limited government principles, wherever they may be found.
I spent a few hours this morning reviewing the specific policy proposals on the candidate websites of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ted Cruz. It was a valuable experience and I would recommend it to anyone. Even if you have been following closely, as I have, you might be surprised at what some candidates have in their plans. You might be more surprised at what is missing.
As a liberty-minded conservative, my primary issue is the promotion of individual liberty, which can only be brought about by drastic reductions in not only the size (headcount and dollars spent), but in the scope (breadth of issues upon which control is asserted), of the federal government.
Every single remaining candidate has specific plans to secure the border, reduce taxes, and streamline regulations and entitlements. Additionally, every remaining candidate with the exception of Donald Trump, vows in writing to repeal Obamacare. These issues are not the focus of this review.
I operate under the assumption here that if a candidate has put serious thought into an issue, and is willing to stand by their commitments, they will put those issues onto paper with some specifics. In other words, I am not going to search You Tube to learn where these folks stand. All of the positions below were pulled from written policies and positions from respective candidates’ official websites.
Only Ted Cruz and John Kasich have specific proposals in their plans to reduce the size and scope of government. See the summary of each candidates’ plans to shrink (and grow) government below.
This analysis will be limited to specific proposals to reduce the size and scope of government. Efforts to “streamline” current regulatory structure such as imposing caps on the costs regulations may impose on the economy (Rubio, Cruz and Kasich) and entitlement reform (Rubio) are important, but for this limited purpose they just muddy the waters. It is not clear whether these are simply efforts to “tame the beast” rather than effect real change in Washington.
‘Five for Freedom’ Plan – a plan to wind down and ultimately eliminate the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Yes, I excluded Ben Carson while including John Kasich. This is based on the very simple fact that Ben Carson is not in a top two position in polls in any state, and has not earned a top two finish in actual voting in any state. John Kasich satisfies both of those criteria. If John Kasich fails to win 2nd in some Midwest states, and 1st in Ohio, then I will acknowledge that his campaign might need to wind down, but I think it is silly to do that after three tiny states and the results he has had for very little money. I concede that Ben Carson most likely would have proposals to reduce the federal government. I just don’t have time to review websites all day!
Notice, all candidates want to increase Military/VA spending. I am a Rand Paul supporter, and I firmly believe if we limited defense spending to Defense activities, we would have the most powerful military in the world without increasing spending at all, and probably could reduce spending. Unfortunately, with Rand out of the campaign, that idea has died on the vine for this year. We have to deal with what is left, and I find at least some consolation in the fact that military spending was envisioned by the founding fathers, and is constitutionally appropriate, even if excessive.
I am voting next Tuesday and I am currently undecided. This exercise has helped me to put ‘conservatism’ into perspective.
I have narrowed my search to two very different, and very imperfect candidates.
Rand Paul has ended his presidential campaign to the great dismay of this writer and many like-minded libertarian leaning conservatives. For the first 72 hours or so afterward, I have observed many different reactions ranging from “Life is empty, nothing matters” (me), to “I’m voting 3rd party” and even “I guess it’s Bernie now!” (To the last person, you obviously have not been paying attention.)
It is difficult to make the transition. When you have been so convinced that you are supporting the right guy, it is easy to fall into a pattern of believing that everyone else is garbage. I am nowhere near as inspired by, or confident in, any of the remaining GOP candidates as I was Rand Paul.
It is worth noting that Rand Paul intentionally decided not to endorse anyone and according to his campaign he will not do so during the primary. I’m not sure if this is a political move, or if he legitimately doesn’t believe in any of them. Realistically, a Rand Paul endorsement would likely be taken very seriously by his loyal followers.
Life must go on. In the following paragraphs I’ll lay out a few considerations for the Rand Paul supporter. I won’t suggest that there is a “right choice” for any of us, because as it stands I am truly disaffected. I am officially undecided at this point.
Let’s start with the Third Party idea. Jim Webb has been toying with the idea of an independent bid, but most agree the time for ‘pondering’ has passed and that Jim Webb is highly unlikely to be able to raise even the $8M it would take just to gain 50-state ballot access. This leaves us with the Libertarian Party featuring Gary Johnson as the probable nominee. Ideologically, the Johnson option fits well with most libertarian leaning conservatives. Johnson is a republican leaning libertarian, mostly in line with Rand Paul on all major issues, with the exception of immigration.
The problem here is that it is difficult to inspire a large number of voters to back a candidate who candidly acknowledges he will not be elected. A vote for the Libertarian Party is a wish for the future. The party as it is currently positioned is not a serious player in the national political landscape. A visit to the party’s website reveals a solid platform built on the constitution and individual liberty. Truth and sincerity abounds. But why do all the candidate profile pictures look like selfies taken in the back of a comic book store?
There is something noble about voting in line with your principles, and being a part of the solution, and the dream of a better America. This must be balanced with the immediate reality: Either a republican or a democrat will be elected president this year. Is it more important to work towards meaningful long-term (very long-term) change by bringing the Libertarian Party mainstream, or to pick the already mainstream option likely to do the least amount of damage, or maybe even some good, in the short-term?
Ted Cruz – Many argue this is a clear choice for a Rand Paul supporter. Rand supported Ted Cruz in his 2012 campaign for senate, and the two, along with Mike Lee, have worked together many times on conservative initiatives including surveillance legislation and a successful filibuster which neutered the post-Sandy Hook gun control hysteria. But many Paul supporters are violently opposed to Cruz, attacking him viciously with allegations of being bought and paid for by banks, and missing the Audit the Fed vote.
Where Ted Cruz falls drastically short of Rand Paul, is in authenticity. Ted Cruz is every bit as smart and knowledgeable about the constitution, but he shifts shapes effortlessly to conform to his environment, depending on the group to which he is currently pandering. This can be very unattractive. Ted has calculated precisely which buttons he needs to push in order to bring the right people to the polls. As a result, we have watched in horror as he channels Benny Hinn in front of the evangelicals, and emulates Dick Cheney to those who are convinced “the terrorists are coming!” and want more war. He is shameless in his analytics approach to capture the electorate.
To consider Cruz, one must be able to disregard what appears as dishonesty, and chalk it up to political gamesmanship. In reality, Ted Cruz’ conservative bona fides are legitimate and proven. There is a reason he is so deeply hated by the leadership of the party, who have actually warmed up to Trump out of sheer terror at the prospect of President Cruz. The Goldman Sachs canard is futile. A loan is not a donation. Ted Cruz owes Goldman Sachs interest payments, but there is no proof he owes them favors.
It has been harder and harder for me to admire Ted Cruz . . . to really’like’ him. He would probably be the most qualified in the field at filling SCOTUS slots, and he is likely to take steps toward reducing the size of federal government. On the other hand, he will not be able to address the issue of polarization, and would very likely be one of the most disliked presidents of all time. Isn’t there a better way?
Ben Carson – Ben is an admirable and respectable man. He is a conservative. He has shown a tendency to trip over his own feet when pressed on a question, or asked to elaborate on his position. In general, he does not display a lot of toughness, or sharpness. This is a problem. On foreign policy he has developed into a rather hawkish figure, and this does not play perfectly with a Rand supporter. There is nothing wrong with being a nice guy, but in the month long Donald Trump tirade where Ben was the butt of every joke, he failed to stand up for himself in any significant way. He never regained his momentum.
It was for these reasons that I called for Ben to drop out the day after Iowa, before I knew my own candidate would bow out first.
Conservative pickings are slim at this point, however. If our main concerns are the size and scope of government and the national debt, and the role of the executive in furthering those aims, Ben Carson is at least in the neighborhood, if not in the ballpark.
What we won’t get out of any of the remaining candidates
We can probably completely forget about dovish foreign policy, criminal justice reform, and bringing in new young liberty-minded conservatives to the party, with any of the candidates left running. These prospects died with the campaign of our good friend, the Senator from Kentucky I’m afraid.
So what if we can’t get comfortable with one of those three options?
If the three options above don’t pan out, I believe we have lost. I don’t mean ‘we the republicans have lost the election’. Republicans may very well win this year, up against the terrible, horrible, no good very bad democratic slate of candidates the political gods have bless us with. But as we have learned, putting a republican in the white house does not advance our cause. When I say ‘we have lost’, I mean ‘we the libertarian-minded conservatives have failed to advance our cause.’
I don’t suggest abstaining from voting. I don’t suggest vowing “Never to vote” for any one candidate. In the end, there is some value in being pragmatic. Both Hillary and Rubio would expand the federal government and expand foreign involvement in conflicts. Is there a chance that Rubio picks better supreme court justices? I don’t know.
I plan on watching the New Hampshire debate this Saturday as a free agent. I expect it will be the last debate for at least 3 candidates, probably 4. Since I have seen them all before, I’ll be watching for different things this time. The intangibles. I know all of their positions. I’m looking for optimism now, and true leadership. I’m looking for the man or woman who I can proudly point to and tell my children, “that’s our President.”
In my view, only two candidates should drop out based on the results of the Iowa caucuses: Ben Carson and Rick Santorum.
Why Ben Carson who landed in 4th place, ahead of my candidate of choice Rand Paul, you ask? It’s simple. Ben Carson has no room for growth. He is a faith-based conservative (as is Santorum), and if Iowa does anything, it decides the King of the faith-based conservatives. Cruz has taken this crown. (See past winners Huckabee and Santorum, both unsuccessful in seeking the nomination, but undoubtedly the evangelical leaders in their respective fields).
A strong argument could be made that Bush, Kasich, Fiorina, and Christie should also drop, because Marco Rubio is running away with the establishment. The reason I am not so confident in this idea is because I am not certain that it is only establishment republicans flocking to Marco Rubio.
There seems to be something very unique about New Hampshire. Kasich is in second place in many polls there, which is very odd considering he is a pariah anywhere else. I think it is fair to give Christie, Kasich, Bush and Fiorina their last chance to appeal to some random groups of undecided voters on February 9th in New Hampshire before officially calling it quits, which I assume at least three of them will do immediately thereafter.
Many are calling it a three person race now, because that is what they desperately want. It makes the story more fun to tell, and better for media not to have so many faces on the screen at once.
I see it differently. Carson’s voters are likely to branch out in a number of directions. Cruz and Rubio would likely take the lion’s share, with everyone else in the field maybe making small gains. A 10% swing would have an impact on Trump’s seemingly insurmountable national momentum, and could benefit any number of candidates. Personally, and without contempt, I would like to see Rand Paul capture back some of the disaffected who have flocked to Donald Trump. This could happen.
I have nothing negative to say about Ben Carson, or his followers. He is a true conservative, and a good man. His quiet, loving, thoughtful and compassionate demeanor does not work for him against the louder, bolder, sharp and confident man who has captured the attention of voters who place faith above all other criteria. I wish him the very best, and I don’t think this will be the last we see of him. But it is time to bow out.
It will come as a shock to many that in this, the year of the outsider, the ‘establishment’ is still very likely to come out on top.
I said early on that despite his strongest protestations, Donald Trump is an establishment candidate. At that point I did not even realize the precision of my statement. I only meant that with his money, fame, longstanding political connections and easy access to the media, he was very much LIKE the establishment we have come to disdain.
Of course, Trump wants you to believe that any candidate other than Trump is the establishment, as if the mere fact that he is not currently holding elected office makes him a foreigner to the game. This isn’t because he finds himself necessarily ideologically bound to an outsider position, but because it is the position that he calculated would be his best possible approach to obtain the position of immense power he has been seeking now for over 28 years.
Yes, 28 years. Remember that Donald first pondered the idea of running for president as a republican in 1988, but when he realized his positions didn’t line up with the republican party at that time, he rebranded and took more serious steps in 1999 under a reform party platform. When his reform candidacy never produced any steam, he rebranded himself again into a left-leaning New York moderate until 2015 when he saw the perfect opening to further his quest to run the country. He held his famous July “they’re rapists” announcement speech, and BAM! he was rebranded as a straight-talking anti establishment outsider. Armed only with angry speech and lacking foundation in any tangible principles, he was ultimately challenged in the outsider lane by Ted Cruz. Whether you think Ted Cruz or Donald Trump won the exchange (I have an opinion, but I prefer neither of these two), it is revealing that Ted Cruz stayed where he was, and Donald ran for cover in the most unlikely of places. This week, Donald has rebranded once again, and willingly accepted his new role as the establishment favorite.
It started early last week when Trump, facing polling pressure in Iowa, sounded his dog whistle to the establishment deal-makers, that he would not blow up the Washington game, but would join in, even if as referee. In an interview on Fox and Friends, Trump upped the ante on his attacks on Ted Cruz: “When you have somebody that can’t get along with anybody in Washington, you’re not going to get deals done,” he explained. Finally, when asked how he would operate in Washington, he casually revealed how he will get those WINS he’s been promising us: “You get Congress, you get ‘em together, you get everybody together in a room, you cajole, you get along, you have dinner, and you make deals.”
This is textbook Establishment operating procedure. In fact, on day one of Establishment orientation, on page one of the Establishment handbook, it says “We make deals.” The generally accepted conservative principle is that our elected leaders have done enough cajoling. We know what happens when they make deals. Gang of Eight was a deal. Omnibus was a deal. Obamacare was a deal. Politicians on both sides won. We lost.
Three days after the “Nasty” Cruz rant, Donald Trump put his dog whistle away and shouted from the bullhorn. This is a video of Donald Trump standing in front of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit (this is what the ‘outsiders’ call a special interest group) pledging his commitment to federal government subsidies while READING FROM A SCRIPT. He recites his oath at around 1:38. For the man who ‘tells it like it is’ and ‘won’t ever use a teleprompter’, certainly his supporters were disappointed to watch him read ceremonial words of loyalty to Iowa’s largest special interest, even though he claims to have written the words (“I wrote some stuff down”). On a discrete side note, in the furtherance of RFS, Trump puzzlingly assigned a large regulatory role to the EPA, one of two federal government departments he previously said he would consider eliminating.
In typical Establishment fashion, Trump’s pledge to the Corn people garnered a quick return. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. We all win.” Within hours of his impassioned ethanol speech, one of the longest sitting pieces of GOP furniture in the nation with over 35 years in office, Terry Branstad, broke with longstanding tradition of pretending to be neutral, and publicly endorsed Trump. (Technically, he did not endorse Trump, he merely said Iowa needed to defeat Cruz), but in a race that has been all but narrowed down to Cruz/Trump, this is endorsement by default.
To pit establishment against establishment (Trump/Clinton) like we haven’t seen since Bush/Gore would be a tragic result in a year with several solid conservative candidates.
Even the Trump loyalists must admit he is a different candidate this week than he was three weeks ago. The scripted ethanol speech paints a clear picture. Donald Trump wants to win. He will say anything, and be anyone, to claim victory.
Ask yourself: who will he become if he wins the nomination? To contend with Hillary, Trump WILL MOVE LEFT. Disagree with me? What set of core principles has Donald Trump enunciated that you believe he will fall back on?
Meanwhile, Donald’s new friends in the hallowed halls of venerable GOP society have found another way to win.
Perhaps it is because this primary season has been so long and overblown, I found myself a little bit less on the edge of my seat, and frankly slightly bored about halfway through last night’s debate.
Accordingly, I’m not going to dissect the finer points of the content or the storylines. I’ll just include a few takeaways about where I think we are now.
We have seen enough of these candidates. It is definitely time for several of them to throw in the towel. I hate to suggest this, because many would argue that my own personal favorite candidate should be one of them due to his recent low polling. I disagree with that suggestion for a few reasons, but there are several candidates who have seen no momentum, or they peaked early and fell quickly. I don’t know why they hang on at this point. In my opinion, Fiorina, Carson, Kasich and the entire slate of undercard candidates should just walk away.
Ironically, just three days after revealing my affliction with Trump Derangement Syndrome, I have been cured of it. I can’t quite explain it. Something about Trump was just less obnoxious to me last night. He was slightly less arrogant and he refrained from the playground attacks on his opponents. I still rank him pretty low on my list of options because I am looking for a more serious candidate, and one with a better understanding of the constitution and a stronger commitment to limited government, but I do not see him as a destructive force as I did before. At least for last night, I … almost … liked him. Maybe if he can go a few days without inciting violence I can start to take him a bit more seriously.
Rand Paul had his best debate. In the past his eyes have been glazed over and he’s looked angry and quirky. In this debate he did not back off his position, he was clear, and his eyes were wide open. He rattled Rubio and demonstrated a masterful understanding of the lesson we refuse to learn. My concern is that voters in this election do not want to learn this lesson. I think I am starting to understand why people do not want to accept the reality, and I will write something about it very soon. That being said, I do not think Rand can expect to have a better showing. Therefore, if his numbers don’t see a spike, I don’t think it’s going to happen this time around, and we need to focus on a conservative education campaign for future generations. This is the man who can unite the country, bring in young thinkers to the party and restore the idea of individual liberty through limited government, if we could only get over our obsession with foreign entanglements. Let’s hope we see a #randrally.
Bush and Christie were more of the same. Sadly, if I were going to pick an establishment candidate, I would pick either of these guys over Rubio. ‘The die is cast’ though. I didn’t include them in the ‘walk away now’ category, because statistically they did well in the eyes of their supporters last night and could see a spike, but I think they should walk away very soon.
Rubio established himself firmly as the unashamed establishment neocon standard-bearer. He will carry on the proud tradition of GWB, Mccain, Graham, Cornyn and Mcconnell. It is ironic that so many see foreign policy as his strength. He is a slick little dictionary of rehearsed pseudo-patriotic platitudes. He all but promises war. In a Rubio administration, we would see an increase in the size of government and an expansion of our overseas presence, if we are lucky enough to avoid all-out World War III. There is likely to be no difference whatsoever between a Rubio and a Clinton presidency other than different shades of rhetoric.
I have often considered Cruz my second choice, but he is really starting to annoy me with his fence-riding ‘analytics’ campaign, in which he tries to cover all bases and avoid making a single mistake. I know that deep down he is a constitutional conservative, and perhaps the best equipped of all to select supreme court justices, but I am concerned about his authenticity. I will be writing something very soon concerning the ‘analytics’ approach to a presidential campaign.
That’s it for now. Simply put, not much changed after last night, except for, in my view, Rand Paul completing a hail mary pass to the end-zone. A shake-up is necessary. Let’s hope we see it soon.
I want to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS).
TDS comes in two forms. The first form is embodied in the Trump idolizers. These folks adorn themselves in Trump apparel, use the term “cuckservative’ a lot, and type in all CAPS on social media. Those suffering from this brand of TDS (Type I) are likely to tell you that they will NEVER vote for ANYONE except TRUMP. If you are not on the TRUMPTRAIN then you must be a LOSER.
The second form of TDS (Type II) manifests itself in those who loathe Donald Trump to such a degree, that they are unable to utter his name without the involuntary formation and projection of spittle from the mouth. To the afflicted, Trump is the anti-christ. They spend all day on social media firing off shots at Trump and engaging in long Twitter-debates with those afflicted with TDS Type I. They are hardly able to focus on any of the good candidates or any current issues because of their unhealthy obsession with Donald Trump.
I have to make a confession. This has gone undiagnosed for some time, but the results are in. I suffer from a rare strain of intermittent Type II TDS. It comes and goes, which is why I have been able to live with it undetected for so long. I’ve been suffering in the dark.
I learned this about myself about a month ago when I looked through a few days worth of my Tweets and realized they had taken on an uglier tone. I was spending more time lashing out at Trump than I was discussing my candidates of choice. I had undergone a 3-day TDS Type II bender. I’ve been trying to get clean ever since.
I’ve been able to take control of my condition. I’ve been focusing on the positive and spending time developing a few new hobbies. I am well on my way to recovery. The first step, they say, is admitting you have a problem. Right now, unfortunately, I’m having a relapse.
Donald Trump has suggested we ban muslims from entering the country. Let me clear one thing up very quickly. This ridiculous idea does not make me think Donald Trump is a racist. Fear of being labeled a “racist” or being “politically incorrect” is not what keeps me up at night.
Donald Trump, evokes hysterical populist pleas that rely on the same flaws in logic as the gun control, black lives matter and ‘Christians are evil’ factions. Relying on the most readily accessible and convenient group of scapegoats du jour as a prop (has anyone noticed Trump’s former targets ‘the mexicans’ seem to have gotten a get out of jail free card now that he has moved on to muslims?), while events are fresh in the populist psyche, Donald Trump, like most big government authoritarians, sends a message to the vulnerable base: You need me. You need the government. Only I am smart or strong enough to save you.
He even uses many of the same rhetorical devices that Obama frequently employs in his hand-wringing gun control speeches, drawing on themes of ‘common sense’ and ‘I told you so.’
He used the same method with the mass deportation scheme for illegal immigrants. When pressed, he did not back off his plan to deport all illegal immigrants, and he defended the idea at all of his rallies. “He won’t back down, he’s not afraid of anyone, he tells it like it is,” they said. No one bothered to take a look at his plan and see that the mass deportation of 11 million plus illegal aliens was NEVER in the plan.
His plan entirely dodges the issue of the illegal immigrants already in the country aside from the no-brainer deportation of the 76,000 illegal immigrants who have committed felonies. When you remove the key feature of his plan (which was never actually in it) you have a wall that Mexico pays for (a cheap gimmick), and aside from that you are left with an identical plan to that of Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and yes, even much of Marco Rubio’s dreaded Gang of Eight plan.
The tragedy is not that Trump actually believes we should ‘ban muslims’ from entering the United States. The tragedy is that he is simply pulling rhetorical strings and pleasing his crowd. Trump knows the idea is fantasy. We do not believe our government has the ability to properly vet refugees and immigrants, but we think we are going to be able to identify muslims? Is there a blood test, or are we going with a polygraph? A Quran pop quiz perhaps?
There simply is no room for Trump to propose plans that would work. All of the candidates have reasonable, well-thought-out plans. Trump succeeds (in polls) because he proposes plans that could never work. He has given people permission to verbalize their innermost thoughts; the things that they’ve only been able to say quietly for the past 50 years.
It’s simple really. With each new wild idea, each one-upping the last, the stiff shirts condemn Trump with righteous indignation. Completing the cycle, the mob is energized and fueled by the perceived establishment conspiracy to stifle the ‘silent majority.’ Poll numbers see a quick spike. The longer Trump goes without saying something crazy, his numbers start to lag, so he rolls out a new shocker. He swings like Tarzan from outrage to outrage, while the sane and thoughtful voices from those with their feet on the ground cannot be heard above his jungle cries.
Forget practicality for a moment. Assuming it were possible, should we be banning muslims from the US?
I am a plain-speaking constitutional conservative. I do not believe in using cute and convenient words to avoid stating the obvious because it might be offensive to someone. I do not believe in the promotion of cultural diversity simply for diversity’s sake. I also like to think that I have the capacity to understand root causes of problems, and see through fearmongering belligerence. Above all, one of the most important values, in my mind, of a constitutional conservative, is an understanding not just of the mechanics of the constitution, but the underlying themes. Despite the frequent liberal (and lately, Trumpian) claims that the founders would not have understood the times we are living in now, these themes are timeless. One of these themes is absolute blindness to (not contempt for, nor promotion of) religion by the state.
If you do not apply your Constitutional thinking and rationale consistently, you lose an enormous amount of credibility. It is a simple document. If you resort to it when it protects your particular right of interest, then you must not explain away or minimize those provisions which would protect your wayward neighbor.
I always like to think of the principled constitutional conservative viewpoint as providing a rational response to many different types of social and political hysteria.
When a movie theater gets shot up by a college student and the gun control apparatchiks start warming up their bombast, the rational voice responds: You can’t blame guns or lawful gun owners for what this crazy kid did.
When a fundamentalist mormon in southern Utah is convicted of child molestation and polygamy, and the secular progressives decry ‘organized religion’, the rational voice responds: This is not representative of the Mormon Church. There are bad people in the world and this is one of them.
When a middle-aged man storms into a Planned Parenthood clinic and starts shooting, and before the bodies are cold there are politicians blaming other politicians, the the rational voice responds: Opposing abortion, or government funding of abortion does not lead to murder. 99.9% of those who oppose abortion do not believe that abortion providers should be bombed or burned alive.
When a police officer in a major city uses a racial slur and fires 5 shots into the back of a criminal who is evading arrest, and kills him, followed by protests and claims of ‘systemic injustice’ and ‘institutional prejudice’ the rational voice responds: There are over a million police officers in the United States. 999,999 want to keep people safe. 999,999 care about everyone in their community, regardless of race.
What is our rational response to islamic terrorism? The first is to realize that we are actually quite safe. Paris and San Bernadino notwithstanding, violent crime is at an all time low in the United States. Terrorism is one of the very least likely ways that you might die. It is certainly one of the more frightening ways to go, but statistically speaking, you have a better chance of slipping on a banana in your local grocery store and dying than being the next domestic casualty of ISIS. If our focus is to be on those preventable occurrences endangering American citizens, then the next three debates should focus squarely on drunk driving and the 10,000 people it will kill next year, as it did last year, the year before, and the year before.
It is the enumerated responsibility of our federal government to keep us safe from foreign threats, however. It is one of the few original purposes that has survived the expansion. So, do we have any good ideas from current presidential candidates on how to protect us from the foreign threat? Rand Paul has identified 30 nations with significant jihadist movements and suggested an immediate moratorium on visas from these countries (class and religion neutral), as well as longer waiting periods on those from visa-waver nations.
The merits of this plan, and whether or not and to what degree they pander to the base, could be the subject of debate. The point is, these are religion neutral, thoughtful actions aimed at keeping our nation safe from foreign threats. This action would be far broader than Trump’s muslim ban. The difference is it is less exciting to those who want their disdain for muslims (or anyone different from them) validated, and it stands on much firmer legal and constitutional ground. No one has suggested that it is inappropriate to put a school or government building on completelockdown after an uncontrolled active shooter type situation, but school shooters tend to be white males. Can you imagine the reaction to a ban on white males from bringing backpacks to school?
Rand Paul is facing the very real possibility of being excluded from the next debate due to low polling numbers. A true political outsider, with constitutionally sound ideas concerning limited government is likely to be the next victim of this Trump phenomonen. Trump is claiming to be the man that Rand Paul actually is, and always has been, dating back to Trump’s Clinton/Obama days and before.
Trump does not even need to win the nomination to destroy the constitution. The impact he is having on this primary is nearly certain to lead to victory by Hillary Clinton and further expansion of government and, ironically, very Trumpian ideas on the role of government in solving all of our problems. Likewise, Trump does not need to win the nomination to strengthen the caliphate. There is one thing the liberals have right. National proclamations of contempt for members of a religious group are certain to promote a wave of radicalization. Young muslims throughout the US, previously harmless, are hearing the national conversation. All young people are looking for a cause, and Trump is giving them one.
So I’m not apologizing for, or concealing my TDS anymore. I don’t hate Trump personally, but I am deeply concerned about what he is revealing about who we are and how we think. Most importantly, I’m concerned about who is being silenced, and cast out, in the process.
Houstonians voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to repeal a three-week-old law championed by Mayor Annise Parker, purporting to “secure non-discrimination protections for all hardworking Houstonians”. Houston is a highly diverse city in a very conservative state, and much was made of the diversity of the population in the chorus of sympathy and disbelief in the local media Wednesday morning. The local media can hardly make heads or tails of how a city that could easily elect and re-elect an openly gay mayor, could then “reverse course” and “vote for discrimination” as some have described it. While the advocates of the ordinance blame religious bigots and extreme conservatives for a deceiving campaign trying the ordinance to “men in women’s bathrooms”, Mayor Parker herself engaged in a deceptive campaign, conveying two egregious fallacies.
Fallacy #1.LGBT and other protected classes “lost” something as a result of this vote. In other words, classes of people were protected, and now they are sitting ducks without legal recourse in the event of discrimination.
Federal law protects employees of any organization with 15 or more employees against discrimination, so long as the employee is in one of eight enumerated ‘protected classes’. While sexual orientation and gender identity are not specifically listed as protected classes, the EEOC and Federal Court Appellate decisions have unambiguously reached consensus that issues of sexual orientation and gender identity fall under the category of “Sex”, which is an enumerated category of prohibited discrimination. The ordinance provided protections for other forms of discrimination as well, such as discrimination in housing. Thankfully, none of these protections are lost, because the Fair Housing Act has, and will continue to protect home buyers and renters if they are members of protected classes.
A sub-fallacy (if such a term exists) common to HERO advocates is that average ordinary citizens who are the victims of discrimination do not have the resources to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit in federal court. Luckily for those concerned, victims of invidious discrimination have traditionally been those with minimal economic means, which is why the processes for filing discrimination claims have been relegated to administrative agencies (EEOC for employment, HUD for housing) at low cost, and at convenient locations within the community. Public Assistance is also available a taxpayer expense to cover the costs for those who have the need.
Discrimination is the act of treating someone differently based on membership in a certain identifiable group, or due to a certain characteristic.Texas is an employment at-will state (aka “right to work”), which means that employers do not need to have a reason to end an employment relationship. In fact, an employer may lawfully terminate an employee, for no reason at all. This applies to all employees unless those employees are covered under other laws. What HERO would have provided, was more of those ‘other laws’.
Practically speaking, it is very easy for an employer to terminate employees for no reason at all, unless those employees are members of protected classes. The burden to prove that the employer’s motive was discriminatory is not on the employee, it is the employer’s burden to prove they had a legitimate non-discriminatory purpose.
Fallacy #2. The ordinance was not about bathrooms. This logical heresy has been perpetuated by two common brands of subterfuge:
“The word ‘bathroom’ is not even in the ordinance!” This is true. Neither are the words “church” or “newspaper” found in the text of the first amendment to the US constitution, or the word “gun” in the second amendment. This argument is simple and lazy deceit. Where did the idea that transgender persons would be free to use the bathroom of their choice come from? Annise Parker and her supporters would have you believe it came from the den of snakes that is the right wing media and religious zealots. Surely, only hateful bigots could disagree with her.
Or could it be that the original version of the bill expressly addressed the issue of transgender access to restrooms of choice, and was only removed to due to political pushback? The truth is bathrooms always were a key issue (though probably not the sole aim) even in the drafters minds. They simply realized they could not be open about this particular objective if they ever hoped to gain support for the ordinance. From that point forward they danced around the question of bathrooms with this next bit of elusiveness:
“It is already against the law to enter a bathroom for the purpose of causing a disturbance. HERO offers no protection for those who would commit crimes in restrooms.”
Well thank goodness for that. In logical fallacy world, this is a double-whammy. This argument is a red herring offered up to defeat a strawman. You see, opponents of this ordinance (63% of those who voted, likely a higher percentage who stayed home) were not concerned with disturbances in the women’s restroom. They were concerned with the mere presence of adult males in the women’s restroom. Call them old fashioned, traditional, or living in the past. The vast majority of Americans, for the time being, appreciate the substantive and meaningful differences between men and women, and would prefer to maintain a degree of separation in an intimate area where adults and young people alike disrobe as a matter of course.
Mayor Parker sent chills up the legs of her supporters after the defeat of the bill with this platitude: “No one’s rights should be subject to popular vote.” Sounds legitimate. Noble even… The reality is that no one’s rights were in jeopardy. The vast majority of Americans do not have discrimination protections. Those in protected classes (originally aimed at the injustices of slavery and second-class status for women, somehow modernly expanded to include sexual orientation, as if the plight is comparable) are still protected by federal law.
The “Bathroom ordinance” was defeated by a mass disinformation campaign, they said. The truth is, disseminating information to the public explaining ballot language on state or municipal ordinances has always been a messaging game. Each side must boil the explanation down to one sentence or less ( a few words is better ) in order for the message to land with disinterested off-year election voters. Given the dishonesty of Parker’s own messaging highlighted above, can she really complain about the tactics used by the other side, merely because they were more effective than hers?
The people of Houston did not discriminate when they overwhelmingly elected Annise Parker to run the city THREE TIMES. It turns out, most people really don’t care about a candidate’s sexual orientation. They believed in Mayor Parker, and evaluated her credentials aside from the fact she was openly gay. They thought, “her sexual preference has absolutely nothing to do with the way she would run this city”. Nearing the end of her third successful term, has she proven them wrong?