Annise Parker and the Two Egregious Fallacies of HERO

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.

No advocate of this ordinance would EVER state that the ordinance would not protect a transgender person from using the restroom of the sex they ‘identify’ with.

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?

A Conversation with 30 Trump Supporters

Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic wrote an article on Donald Trump and elicited responses from Trump supporters explaining in detail why they are standing behind him. This is not a cut and paste of his article. We (The Bull Gator Party) have linked to the responses of the Trump supporters, and respond to them. This entire post is written by the author of this blog, EXCEPT for the linked and quoted responses from Trump supporters.

There are a few wingbats in the list of 30 responses, but this is not intended to be a suggestion that all Trump supporters are wingbats. There are also plenty of well-thought out, even persuasive arguments. We understand every candidate probably has a few kooks behind them. This is not a Trump hit-piece. No one is persuaded by insults, and we have none. We really want to reach this group of people who share many of our same concerns.

Why are we having this conversation? We are not afraid of Trump. We do not hate him. We do not think he is stupid. We do believe strongly that he may have a harmful effect on what we deem to be a worthy vision in the 2016 election: a return to the limited government contemplated in our constitution, and the corresponding emphasis on individual liberty.

The format: 30 responses from Trump supporters about why they support him. Each starts with a brief summary, containing a link to their full detailed response. (Click the link if you want to read the Trump supporters full response. If you are confused by our response, you may wish to read the supporters full comment.) Following each response in bold and italic, is our contribution to the conversation.

  1. A Liberal Who Wants America to Win––“I feel that Trump is our only hope in this next election. This is coming from someone who voted for Obama in the last election!”

You describe yourself as a liberal. In which areas do you believe we are missing the mark, in which we should be “winning”? You go on to say that the world is rising while America falls. The defeatist attitude might be more justified from a conservative, considering the country has veered decidedly more progressive in the past 5-8 years, but as a liberal, one might expect you to argue that we have just started to get on track, and to finally “follow the example set by the rest of the developed nations of the world”, which progressives often tout as a critical mission.

We share your aversion to political correctness (while considering you are bound to be an outlier among your liberal peers on this issue). While political correctness or other forms of social balancing and engineering are repulsive to a constitutional conservative, we simply do not believe that our leader must be crass and obnoxious to counteract the phenomenon. There are reasons to temper your language in many settings. We believe manners, maturity, diplomacy and dignity should not be confused with political correctness.

  1. An Anarchist Who Revels in Destruction––“Like the joker from The Dark Knight, I just want to see the world burn.”

We believe in your right to vote, but would not necessarily encourage you to do so. Get a hobby! 

  1. Trump is Low Risk, High Reward––“I will vote for Donald Trump (and to a lesser extent Bernie Sanders) because he represents hope… And how much damage can he really do?”

Trump can do a lot of damage. We share your concern that the two parties do not represent us. In fact, it is the foundational premise of this blog. The problem with choosing Trump to ‘shake things up’ at this precise moment is that we are at a critical juncture, and the democratic party is almost entirely united on the principle of expanding government and imposing controls on fairness. Surely this is offensive to your responsible conservative economic side. Giving the nomination to a protest candidate right now will hand the reigns of this country over to a president who will select 3-4 supreme court justices and normalize an expanded concept of government dependence. Meanwhile, Trump has been relatively honest about the fact that he is not a small government advocate, and places little weight on knowledge, let alone constitutional knowledge. He has expressed the view that a judge who staunchly advocates for partial birth abortion would make a great supreme court justice.

We are still of the belief that a Trump nomination is highly unlikely, but are more concerned with the damage he is doing right now. Certainly, we are messed up and broken. We are 3-4 factions trying to coexist within one party. Why then, do we want to give our flag to a man who does not even represent one of the 3-4 factions? Is the answer to reconciling several different viewpoints between four reasonable groups to place a bomb in the middle of all four of them and start over?

  1. Trump Has a Drive for Perfection––“He will expect greatness from us, he will tell us how to get to great, he will inspire people to be better than they are and have the hope that their efforts will not be thwarted by bigger government.”

We have spent some time observing the Donald. At no time have we perceived an inspirational message. “We are losers, we are very very stupid people, we need to Make America Great Again”. We see these messages as self-deprecating and defeatist. The United States, with its flaws, is still the greatest nation on earth. As for the idea that he will inspire us so that our efforts will not be thwarted by bigger government, we ask that you really look at Trump’s view of the world. Not just in the past where he made some liberal comments which many are willing to look past, but right now. He never discusses limited government. He never utters the word liberty. He never utters the word conservative. We ask you to look for evidence that Trump is committed to thwarting bigger government.

  1. ‘I Just Want to Watch the Chaos…’––“I’m a young guy who is immature, a bit antisocial, and with no plans for kids or a wife ever. At some level, I don’t really care how things go with America as long as it’s fun to watch.”

We believe in your right to vote, but would not necessarily encourage you to do so. Get a hobby!

  1. Trump is a Moderate Compromiser––“His problem, according to the rest of the GOP, is that he wants single-payer health care and that he doesn’t want to completely defund Planned Parenthood. I don’t agree with him but why is it a bad thing to be moderate? A moderate has a special ability to be a liaison between the parties.”

We have several Moderates in the field with a positive message, and experience moderating. We also disagree that single payer health care is a Moderate position.

  1. Trump is a Corrective to American Culture’s Pathologies––“The preeminence of political correctness among the culture class indicates a momentous shift away from formerly prominent middle-class cultural values towards something entirely different. Even if Donald Trump were to accomplish little in his presidency, there is a hope that were he president, he could in some way alter that prevailing Washington/media culture, and set a new cultural tone.”

We appreciate the honesty, and the admission that Trump’s appeal is more emotional than rational. This is not necessarily an inappropriate way to view a potential leader of the free world. A leader must inspire and sometimes this involves creating an emotional connection with the people.  We believe that of the candidates on the republican side currently, Trump would perpetuate and cement the culture of divisiveness which has cropped up in the last two presidencies. He has more supporters than any other candidate, but it is often overlooked that he also leads the pack in the number of people who say they would “never vote for him”.

  1. Trump Knows It’s All a Joke––“Many are right; it’s not about trusting Trump; it’s a collective middle finger to the establishment… Trump isn’t stupid, he gets it. He knows the more outrageous, the better.”

We share your frustration, we are just not willing to give up on it and throw up the middle finger as quickly as you are. What is the end result of playing this monstrous joke on our country? Do you see it as somehow leading to political and moral recovery in the long term? We agree with you that Trump is “in on the joke”. We do not share your confidence that a majority of Trump supporters are in on it, evidenced by several arguments made in this selection by people who are taking him very seriously.

  1. Trump Embodies the Rage of the White Middle Class––“Politicians spend no time helping them. Black lives matter more and illegal immigrants who break the law get a free pass. Evangelicals in this country no longer feel they have the right to religious freedom and have watched what they perceive as a sacred institution in marriage gutted. All the while, politicians they voted for to represent them just plain don’t.”

It’s best to tread lightly here. We object at the outset to attributing any emotion or ideology to a category based on race. To be specific, there are many in the “white middle class” who believe firmly in social justice, large government and a living breathing constitution. Don’t be distracted by the external scapegoats while the true enemy within captures the flag. Mass anger leads to would-be saviors, and eventually dictators. Progressives were ‘enraged’ with George Bush and granted immortal status to President Obama who harnessed his status as messiah and enlarged the executive power to fundamentally change the nation against the people’s will. It’s tempting to be enraged, but far more effective to be deliberately thoughtful and calculating.

10. Desperate People Cast Desperate Votes––“Wall Street, the banks, and even illegal immigrants seem to be prospering more than the average American citizen. We are desperate.”

You are 100% correct that the economic recovery is a sham. We are nearing the end of President Obama’s eight years in office. For eight years we have been told that “we didn’t build that” and that we should feel guilty for any prosperity we have. We have also been told that we are responsible every time a madman shoots and kills innocent people, and that we are to blame for every angry muslim because we are racist slobs. We understand how this can cause desperation. That is why we are so relieved to have such a strong field of candidates to choose from, representing various points along the conservative spectrum. We believe the solution to our desperation is a reduction in federal government involvement in our lives, reduction of debt, massive (apocalyptic) reductions in spending, and the selection of judges to the supreme court who believe firmly in, and have proven in their past to have practiced, judicial restraint and deference to the constitution.

These are, in fact, desperate times. We should not seek desperate measures however, without first trying the very common sense measures above. We cannot say that these solutions won’t work, because we have never tried them. We have seen no sign or implication by Donald Trump that he will pursue this strategy. He does not claim to be a limited government proponent, and in fact eludes to kicking ass and taking names, presumably wielding an emboldened executive power.

  1. Trump Has Successfully Run Large Organizations––“He leads an enormous, diversified organization that is worth billions. This requires leadership. Leadership, by the way, is different from knowledge. When you lead a large organization you set vision, goals and expect results. You do not know every detail of every level of your organization. You can’t. The world is just too complicated. You delegate and empower. You can get information when you need it and the president has no shortage of people ready to educate him on issues.”

The difference between running a large corporation with your name on the skyscraper, and running a free republic like the one that we live in, is that the former is amenable to a coercive/authoritative leadership style. The latter is not. A President may only act on his own in a very narrow set of express areas. Many are willing to give the president additional power, but it is in direct violation of the separation of powers; this concept being not just important, but absolutely critical and fundamental to our constitution. Just because we have stood by while President Bush and Obama have enlarged the power of the executive, does not mean we should “fight fire with fire”. Our next executive must understand and operate within the confines of his role.

As to the second point, regarding leaders not needing extensive and detailed knowledge, we agree. The more brilliant and technocratic candidates are often less appropriate for a position of executive leadership. Our concern with Trump is not that he doesn’t have enough knowledge, but that he is not guided by core principles. We don’t need to know the physics behind gravity to be staunchly in favor of it, because we are strongly devoted to keeping our feet on the ground. But what are the core principles guiding Donald Trump? Winning seems to be a core theme of the campaign, and that’s good, but it is not enough for us without a definition of victory.

  1. Trump is a Gamble Worth Taking––“I am of the belief that he is conceited and arrogant enough to avoid failing in front of the world at all cost.”

Our aversion to arrogance is strong, fortified by eight years of condescension and divisiveness. We want a dignified confidence, backed up by strength and conveyed with respect.

  1. Trump is Jay Gatsby––“Is it not better to place your chips on hopes and dreams rather than certain nightmares? Those of us who buy Trump’s vision, nearly to the point of blind trust, are loudly professing our disgust with the current immoral situations that taint and threaten our blueprint of the American dream.”

We share your concerns, specifically in your list of “current immoral situations”. We assume you would probably agree with us that the situations in your list are symptoms of a larger cultural and political problem. We see Donald Trump shedding light on some of the anger, but then it seems he is merely “whining” with us. Despite the “keep it simple stupid” approach, which is often effective, the bare truth is that some of these issues are complicated. At some point “We’re gonna have great people, the best teams” is not enough.

  1. Trump is Bizarro Obama––“He’s got what Obama had in 2007 except he doesn’t have the press adoring him.”

While we appreciate the comparison to the Obama “Hope and Change” frenzy that took us by storm and flattened us like a pancake in 2008, we strongly disagree that “the press” do not adore Trump. In fact, the alleged persecution of Trump by the press has been a brilliant component of his brand. Donald Trump owes his success to media. Every “hit piece” is a gift to Trump, whose campaign and support are built on anger and a fantastic fairy tale of an “establishment attack” on the little guy.

  1. Trump is the Picture of American Greatness––“Think about John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan inspiring the world with leadership. Think of Babe Ruth, Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Rogers. The American 20th Century was a great one. Now think about the American headlines of today. What do you think of? War? Poverty? Political division? Do we see greatness in America still on a daily basis or even in the movies? The Trump Family is the picture of the American Dream … When Donald Trump says that he wants to make America great again, I believe him.”

Everyone has a right to be successful and should not feel guilty about it. Donald Trump is clearly successful, and his family story is representative of the American Dream. Achievement of “the dream” is not measured only by wealth, however. When we look across the stage we see a number of examples of the dream coming true. Some came from greater depths. We acknowledge that Trump is “a” picture of American Greatness, but not “the” picture.

  1. Trump Will Govern as Steve Jobs Managed––“He will sucker in talent, tell them that their work is terrible, push them to achieve beyond what they think is possible, and then take credit for their successes as he tells America, and the world, that their projects are the best thing that has ever happened. This works. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

In your expanded comments, you say  “In short, you don’t have to be a good person to be the right person for a job.”

In short, we disagree. The President of the United States is (designed to be) largely ceremonial, except for in matters of war. In fact, we often give the position way more blame for bad things, and way more credit for good things, than is actually warranted. One of the most important functions of the presidency, in our view, is setting a tone. A tone for policy, a tone for diplomacy and a tone for the culture. We want—we need—a positive tone.

  1. Trump is an Alpha-Male Who Loves America, Unlike Obama––“Trump has never lied to me whereas all of the other Republican politicians (like McConnell & Boehner) have. They don’t fight for my side. Nobody fights for my side. Trump fights. Trump wins. I want an Alpha Male who is going to take it to the enemy. I am tired of supporting losers.”

We are intentionally not calling out other candidates in this conversation because we don’t want to appear to be endorsing a particular candidate over Trump. However, we urge you to look across the stage of candidates at the next debate, maybe google them (or Youtube), and you will certainly find examples of several of the other candidates fighting for you, even against both parties.

18. Trump Did Build That––“ONLY TRUMP has ever BUILT any REAL THINGS.”

Interesting point. Hearkening back to the Picture of American Greatness response above, we admire the success of Donald Trump. He has created value. We disagree that he is alone on the stage in this regard. Several other candidates have created immense value.

  1. Trump Has Consistently Championed Protectionism––“On the two primary issues as to why I’m supporting Mr. Trump he has remained stunningly consistent.”

Your comments are in a similar vein to those in #20, so we will combine our responses. See below.

  1. Trump Put Illegal Immigration Front and Center––“We have horrendous problem with illegal aliens, sanctuary cities & crimes.”

It is likely true that immigration has become more central to the republican primary as a result of Donald Trump’s announcement speech. We believe that several candidates have been far more serious, and far more thoughtful on the issue for MUCH longer than Donald Trump. Specifically you mention you are a Cruz supporter but you are concerned he cannot win. This is the primary season! Support the candidate you want! Believe it or not, people make a difference. Small donations and social media posts are important. Influence the process.

If immigration is your primary issue, consider the idea that an extreme and bombastic approach to immigration is more likely to kill the issue completely. The president CANNOT fix this, or any other problem, alone. Who, of the candidates with strong records on immigration, do you believe is most likely to gain allies in the fight to change the system?

When a President allows an issue to define him, he puts that issue at risk of fierce attack. Those on the opposing side of the issue will build a fortress around it and give up all else in defense of this newly sacred prize. For example, President Obama has expressed his disappointment that he has been unable to make progress on what he calls common sense gun control. Despite the mantra of the anti-establishment in this race that Republicans have done nothing for us, in 2012 Republicans dug in, fought tooth and nail, and successfully defended us against a massive infringement of the second amendment (a ban on over 2,000 guns based solely on whether or not they ‘looked scary’) after the Newtown massacre. President Obama so polarized the issue by demonizing gun owners that he neutered himself and his ability to ever make progress on it (Thank God). 

Also, since you mentioned Cruz’ inelectability, we’ll point out an often ignored data point consistent across polls: Yes, Trump has more support currently in the polls. Guess what else he has? Trump has more people who would “never” vote for him than any other candidate, including Cruz. It doesn’t do you any good to say those people are “stupid” or “losers”. They are real people with real votes. For the record, we would not advocate that any voter vow to “never” vote for Trump. We would encourage all voters to vote for the most constitutionally conservative person standing in the end.

  1. Trump Has the Tiger by the Tail––“The Tiger is the common working man that is tired of Politics and Washington continuing to screw us over… We want to give a businessman the chance to prove that this country can be great again!”

In your expanded response, you say “The Repubs have all their faith in a Shrub that can’t even speak to a group and make sense.”

Assuming you are referring to Bush, we think you might be victim to the false narrative of “it’s either Trump or Bush”. This is not your only choice. You have thirteen other options and some of them are outstanding.

  1. Trump is Not Rehearsed––“What you see is what you see, all the cards are on the table.”

In your expanded response, you say: “None of us wants to hear we as a nation are defective from the Oval Office.”

Interestingly, this is what we hear from Donald Trump. We don’t hear a lot of the “truth” that Trump is supposed to be famous for. We hear wisecracks and one-liners. We never know whether he is going to lower his head and speak directly to us, or turn his head and sneer at one of his opponents. We disagree with your contention that honor and integrity cannot be found across all of Trump’s opponents. Have you really considered any of them?

  1. Trump’s Nature is to Make the Best Deals Possible––“While Trump may very well have his own best interests at heart it’s ok: his best interest is our best interest and that best interest is our property values and our economy. When our economy tanks, his property values go DOWN! If anyone would be interested in saving our country, it would be someone whose salary is directly tied to the value of the country we call the USA!”

There is way too much in your expanded response for us to respond to all of it. Instead we’ll make a broader point. It is noteworthy that you appear to be intensely inspired by Donald Trump. This is a GOOD thing! A leader who can do this is often forgiven for many technical misgivings. Here’s the problem: There is way too large a segment of the population that he is NOT having this effect on. In fact, he inspires anger and disgust in many, and not only in Hispanics. People are different. The people who aren’t moved by Donald Trump are not stupid. There is something missing for them.

A leader has to lead all of his people. No, President Obama has not done this. We would argue that George W. Bush made an attempt to do this despite many other failings. Mitt Romney sunk his campaign when he was caught admitting he would not do this, that he was only concerned with 53% of the country.

Ideally, we would have a leader who could inspire us all. Short of that, we need a leader that is difficult to hate.

  1. Trump is the Lead in a Fabulous Mockumentary––“I’d vote for the candidate purely for the comedic value.”

We believe in your right to vote, but would not necessarily encourage you to do so. Get a hobby!

  1. Bush Was a Disaster and Obama Felt Like One––“All a president has to do is not to be a completely incompetent moron, do a deal here and there, and make sure the most obvious things get done. It is really, really easy. But we can’t get a candidate through the party system that is not a completely incompetent moron. And no, we don’t think Donald Trump is in it to help us. Or anyone else other than himself. But he has his pride.”

Again, a very long and thoughtful response. We’ll touch on your point regarding the elite. You use the term “they” to describe a long list of people including pundits, academics, and other such members of the “establishment”, but you commit the same error that “they” commit. “They” assume you are dumb, and you assume that everyone against Trump is part of “They”. We are they. They are just people. Social media has given us the power to write our own stories and escape the media monopoly that “they” wish to maintain over us. Maybe “We” are not blind, or foolish, or snooty academics, but rather we are looking for a leader that we can respect, and look up to. Most importantly, we are looking for a leader who may not represent every voter’s pet ‘issue’, but will strive not to alienate enormous sections of the population.

  1. Trump is an Egomaniac––“Because he is ‘crazy impulsive’ he has no qualms to step on toes when he is on a roll, and correctness (neither political or ethical) enters in his objective.”

Our aversion to egotism is strong, fortified by eight years of condescension and divisiveness. We want a dignified confidence, backed up by strength and conveyed with respect.

27. 14 Reasons for Supporting Trump––“He oversees 20 thousand employees in multiple business entities in successful pursuit of 100’s of initiatives both domestic and worldwide.”

Your list of reasons is perfectly valid, in our view, for why he is a perfect fit to lead a large company. We do see a vast difference in style and skills needed between a small business owner, and say, the principal of a middle school. The Government is not a corporation. Also, we promised not to turn this into a hit-piece and we stay committed to that, but your list of reasons commits an error that we find to be widespread: Astronomically exaggerating the success and record of winning by Donald Trump. He has clearly been successful, but he does not win all of his deals, his projects do fail, he does file bankruptcies, TV networks do dump him when their ratings go down, and he has a proven track record of becoming mired in unnecessary public squabbles. He has a difficult time maintaining professional relationships, and this is a concern.

  1. Trump Has Successful Supporters––“I’m a college graduate, I have a Family, I work in an executive-level management position for a Fortune 500 company and I’m a homeowner. What I think you may find interesting is that I have a circle of friends, both men and women, who have similar concerns and backgrounds. We are all employed with excellent careers and we all are supporting Trump for President.”

We do not disagree, and this article proves, that Trump has a wide base of support, including plenty of successful people.

  1. A Bernie Sanders Supporter Who’d Vote Trump Over Clinton––“While he might not deliver on his promises, he would certainly be a bull in the China shop of contemporary American politics, which has long needed destroying and rebuilding.”

Ah, the old destroy and rebuild approach. But is this reality? We think not. At least we cannot find an example of destroy and rebuild that does not involve revolution. The vehicle of change exists within our constitution. If we elect the wrong people to drive it, shame on us, but unless you’re calling for a military coup and overthrow, we do not see a basis in history for this tactic.

  1. Trump Could Make the Speech Police Go Away––“I’m in my early 30s and I grew up in San Francisco in a liberal home. And I have a very difficult time keeping up with all the various appropriate and inappropriate terms used to reference people and their causes.Trump makes brash and uncompromising statements about issues many people feel very passionate about.”

Maybe, but we remain skeptical. Trump clearly appreciates the freedom to say whats on his mind, without regard to political correctness. On the other hand, when faced with opposition, he is less committed to free speech. We saw this in the Rich Lowry ordeal, in which he called for Lowry to be fined by the FCC, and requested an apology from Fox News for “allowing Lowry on TV”.

Conclusion

We endorse Hillary for President. Forward! —->>

Just Kidding. (Wanted to see if anyone actually read this far.)

It’s been nice talking with you. What is the alternative you ask? We have our eye on 5-6 candidates that we believe can properly lead us in 2016. We will start to make some pitches soon, but would prefer to stay open at this point. Keep checking back!

Second Amendment: Not Just For Country Boys

Sorry Bernie, the Second Amendment to the Constitution is not about hunting, and it doesn’t only matter to your rural constituency. It’s not even about self defense or defense of family. It’s not that hunting and self defense are not entirely defensible and noble rights. They are products of our second amendment right. When they are placed at the center of a debate on gun rights in America as purposes, however, they minimize the fundamental importance of the Second Amendment to our status as the freest and greatest nation on the planet Earth.

And we are still the greatest and the freest, despite the modern trend of politicians to plead with the American people, and whine about how we are the “only developed nation” who hasn’t done this or that. Since when did it become our goal to “catch up” with the social and political norms of failing nations, the citizens of which cannot wait to come to the United States for the opportunity our almost-capitalism brings, and the personal almost-freedom our constitution and Bill of Rights deliver. Of the nations cited, from which we should absorb the learned and enlightened lessons of progressive policy, most are a fraction of our size and almost all are directly or indirectly tied to the stagnating remnant of a failed British Empire from which we fought to gain independence.

Much of the blame for the misplaced emphasis on hunting and self defense falls on the organization that every self-respecting socialist loves to hate: The National Rife Association. The most recent Democrat Debate featured a hilarious contest, between candidates vying for the heart of the liberal base, comparing voting “grades” issued by the NRA. Of course, an “F” from the NRA is a prized possession in today’s Democratic Party. The problematic result of this narrowing or ‘dumbing down’ of our right, is that it implies that we must continually offer up a functional justification for our right to bear arms; as if we must literally answer the hysterical liberal moaning of “how many guns do you need!?!”

A brief note of caution to the constitutional conservative regarding the NRA: This organization has been around for a long time, much like the GOP, and while they are generally on the right side of an issue, they have matured into their own brand of big-money “establishment” where principles take a back seat to power. This was made clear, for those who were paying attention, by the NRAs refusal to support the landmark case of D.C. v. Heller, resenting the libertarian attorneys’ bold infringement on “their turf”. Much like the GOP Establishment, the NRA operates solely within the confines of Realpolitik and the give and take of lobbying and big dollars. They were unwilling to take the risk that led to the clearest and most profound supreme court decision on the second amendment to date. The NRA is not the enemy, but they may have played a role in conveying the perhaps small-minded view that our individual rights under the second amendment are supported only by, and are limited to, our freedom to take wild hogs and defend our home from burglars. We can support them, but we must not grant them a monopoly on this individual right, just as we have not relegated guardianship of our free speech rights to any one organization.

The Second Amendment is about liberty, and defense against oppression from the government. The militia reference in the text of the amendment (explanatory, not conditional) does not refer to the United States Army. What government would need to create individual constitutional rights to give guns to its own defense force? The contemplated militia is made up of free and independent citizens, who must have no impediment to, or infringement on the ability to rise up against a tyrannical government. This right is necessary to the security of a free state, which is far more powerful than “necessary to a happy hunter” or “necessary to family home safety”. It is no coincidence that the rights nearest to the heart of our liberty were embodied in amendments 1 and 2 of the Bill of Rights.

An armed citizenry is the only effective check against the oppressive government we are inching toward. We must unashamedly proclaim our right for what it is, not what the ever-more progressive democratic party, or even the beltway-centric NRA deems it to be. If we want to maintain our liberty, we must not demote or downgrade this express fundamental guarantee to a mere matter of personal safety or a “right to engage in hobbies”.

Dear Mitt: Please?

Four long months before the first vote will be cast in the republican primary there is plenty to reflect upon from this unorthodox campaign season. First, the field of candidates is larger than ever, with 15 individuals hoping to capitalize on major rifts on the right. Meanwhile, a massive progressive transformation is taking place in our country, and across the globe. Indeed, while we have been distracted over the last 4 years, we have enabled President Obama to accomplish nearly everything he set out to do. By his own admission, he has only failed in achieving his aspirations on one plank: Expansive Gun Control. Don’t celebrate this victory yet. If we continue to pull the nails out of our own rickety house, his last mission will be accomplished within 2-3 years after the next president (who will likely select 3 supreme court justices) takes office.

The problem is that a spectrum of people on which we should agree there are generally ‘mostly good guys’ has been sloppily divvied up into two imaginary poles: The insider establishment, and the outsider insurgents.

Most disappointingly, it seems that those with mass appeal lack principles, and those with principles lack mass appeal. What we really need in the executive is not someone who is adored by all, but rather someone who all of us (from respectively legitimate points on the spectrum) can respect and appreciate. Contrary to popular belief, and potentially contrary to an earlier post on this same blog, this need not be a sellout, a compromise, a Moderate or a moderator. It simply must be an honest person who knows the role of the executive, is respected, but not idolized by a broad base of conservatives (including some moderates), and preferably not widely despised.

Sadly, the breadth of options has revealed glaring deficiencies across the board. We have several principled candidates, several smooth talkers and several in between. We have scrutinized the data to determine the candidate who is most likely to unite conservatives, moderates, and the filthy rich and detached who typically flock to the establishment. We are proud to award the Bull Gator Party’s highly coveted endorsement to the man who can bring us together and point us in the right direction; former Massachusets Governor and accomplished capitalist Mitt Romney. Please make a donation here.

Doh! The man we should have elected four years ago, the one that might have lessened the spread of our domestic social infection and taken the sting out of the global emasculation we have experienced, is not running. Often it seems, those most fit to lead are not interested in doing so. Those who are obsessed with, and devoted to obtaining, positions of power; those who comfortably bask in the spotlight and revel in grandiose ceremonies, especially those in which they are being worshipped? Look out…

obama-arrogant-1

This election should have been a snoozer. The Democrat field is so bad that loyal liberal voters are forced to choose between a bitter-angry millionaire establishment woman and a crazed socialist, and actually find themselves considering some of the softer republicans. Serious thinking democrats know they have no chance unless the republican party destroys itself. Guess what? We are happy to oblige. Much blood is being shed, but the United States has gone so far left in the past four years that turning it around might require something less than an extreme and polarizing force.

We might lose this un-loseable election. Mitt: Please?

1336769836-472px-mitt_romney

Of course, some will argue, “didn’t Mitt lose?” The conventional wisdom has it that Romney did not lose because the country preferred large government and constitutional revision. There is support for the fact that Mitt lost because purists stayed home, either because Mitt was a mormon, or because his ego couldn’t didn’t stack up with that of the incumbent. (The so called “he was afraid to fight” argument).

Understanding that Mitt Romney has almost no incentive to run because a) his life is not built around the goal of running the country, b) he has a rather comfortable existence and c) he did not leave the door open to run by laying any foundation of infrastructure, we will be forced to consider the lesson of Mitt Romney 2012 as it applies to our current range of candidates.

Who can bridge this divide? Can we be united around some core principals? There are candidates who have shown flashes of this ability. As time goes on, we hope more emerge. We will continue to seek answers to these questions; that we might not be lost forever.

The 2016 Republican Field – September Update

With Rick Perry and Scott Walker dropping out of the race, and some other developments, it is a good time to briefly revisit our categorization of the current GOP candidates.  We will modify our approach to this task just slightly from our early August attempt in the following ways: 1) As unfortunate as the “undercard” mass media scheme has been, it loosely reflects reality, and as a result we will not consider candidates who do not qualify for the major debate, and 2) We will identify our assessment of a likely standard bearer for each camp.

Conservatives

Ted Cruz – Ted is not making waves, and delivered an almost forgettable performance in the last debate. He often seems to be one step ahead or behind the popular issue of the day, and he is working the evangelical angle pretty fiercely, at the expense of a broader appeal. Ted waves the flag for this camp based on his commitment to conservative principles across the board, and on his record, simply having more proof than any other candidate of fighting both parties in Washington. Since he is the best in his camp, and he isn’t wowing anyone, he will need to step up his game quickly or constitutional limited-government conservatives will not have a champion this time around.

Rand Paul – Paul appears to be the candidate who knows the constitution better than any other. He also does not shy away from a fight and appears to mean every single word he says. Unfortunately, his negative and quirky demeanor tend to turn people off. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say, and the people really do not seem to want the unfiltered truth.

Mike Huckabee – Along with Christie, it would seem an appropriate time to throw in the towel. Huckabee maintains a strong base of southern evangelicals, but appears to have very little ability to appeal to anyone else. The world has passed this good man by.

Ben Carson – Carson had a surge in the polls right before the debate. Unfortunately, his soft soft-speak and flat jokes make him a horrible debater. Throw in his comment on a Muslim president this week, and his days might be numbered. His mistake was not so much the merits of his comment, but more so that he answered a stupid question with a serious answer. Even Donald Trump knows you can’t do that.

Establishment

John Kasich – We move Kasich into the Establishment camp. In August we called him a moderate. His performance during the past month of campaigning has been consistent and predictable, with a positive message that often sounds like a broken record. He avoids hot-button issues and food fights. Because he is the most conservative of the three establishment candidates, because he delivers the most positive message and because he has flashes of energy resembling something like leadership and inspiration, he waves the flag for this camp.

Jeb Bush – Currently leads in the polls for this camp. Entirely dull and uninspiring. The only candidate to openly embrace the hispanic and immigrant communities as a political strategy. Sadly, Jeb may be a nice man, but voters from all points on the spectrum should be opposed to Bush on sheer principle. Representing the very worst dimension of the establishment, a vote for Bush is a vote for family dynasties and complete and utter corporate/Rovian domination of national politics.

Chris Christie – Hanging on for dear life, Christie is very likely to be the next first-tier candidate to drop out. You can only go so far with cheesy melodramatic temper tantrums and head nods to 55 year-old construction workers. Not enough conservatism, not enough substance.

Moderates

Carly Fiorina – With what most referred to as a clear victory in the most recent debate, Fiorina jumped to 2nd or 3rd in national polls, depending on your choice of poll. In reality, she probably should share the moderate flag with Rubio, but based on the debate alone, we grant her the honor for the time being. Fiorina demonstrated mastery of foreign policy knowledge down to the specifics of how many battalions must be maintained in a healthy Marine Corps. While this information is the type that may be memorized and rehearsed, she also exhibited more spontaneity and emotion in her remarks on Planned Parenthood.

Marco Rubio – We move Marco from the Establishment to the moderate category, after giving due respect to his short tenure in office, and his defeat of a true establishment candidate to gain the same. Rubio has the conservative version of the Obama factor, in that he is a young, smooth talking up-and-comer, who might be able to hypnotize less detail-oriented voters to fall in love with him despite some shaky bona fides on substantive issues.

*Note, this camp is interesting. This is the camp that does not satisfy any of the ideologues or hardliners, but differs from the establishment in that there is at least something about the candidates that makes them conservative. In addition, short terms in office or relatively little time spent in politics tends to land a candidate in this group. For the record, Romney probably would have fallen into this category.

Populist/Nationalist

Donald Trump – It is difficult to define Trump’s camp, but he clearly owns it. No one will overtake his throne with this segment, and this segment is unlikely to defect to any other. The one position that Trump has made clear, and the one that has propelled him to undisputed leader status, is the issue of immigration. His largest supporters are primarily middle/working class Americans, and the focus on borders, language, and culture, along with appeals to American exceptionalism, lead us to brand his camp “Populist/Nationalist”.

The next logical step for these updates would be to collapse the support for each camp to one number, and see where the chips fall. Then we might compare the standard bearer for each camp against the Democrat competition. But this we’ll save for a later date. There is so much time…

Thinking and Talking about Race: A Brief Intro for a ‘White’ Man.

We’ve all seen the humiliating display of the white man who’s not sure if he’s allowed to say “black”. He looks around uncomfortably, slinks his shoulders, lowers his voice and says “The African American Gentleman” as if he’s introducing a foreign diplomat in the United Nations chamber. Not only is this foolish considering not all black people trace lineage to Africa, and there are white people who are African-Americans, but more importantly, this is not how people ordinarily describe their equals.

Perhaps it is this very gesture (and many other similar gestures) that condescends to entire classes of Americans and traps them in a cycle rather than enabling their advancement.

There are a few stubborn issues that prevent us from truly moving past ‘race’ in this country.  First, true racism (differentiated from the modern, common misuse of the word) still exists. The extent to which it pervades our society or has been institutionalized is the subject of an epic debate that will not be resolved here. There are, however, fringe groups of believers in the supremacy of certain races based on characteristics, traits, and attributes inherent in those races. Second, there are incentives, and thus motives, in some political groups to perpetuate outdated attitudes about race even while outwardly expressing a different goal. This topic is so large and so prone to misinterpretation that we will not attempt to tackle it here, but will reserve for later.

The Third issue will be the subject of the remaining paragraphs here. Those in the racial majority (white people in the US, for the time being) do not know how to talk about race. This often results in lazy, hesitantly made cultural observations being attributed to that vile foe: bigotry, or even racism, when in fact ‘race’ was incidental to the initial observation, at best. When marked as a racist, many enlightened white men panic and defend themselves vigorously, or even begin to doubt their own heart and spiral down into self-deprecation.

Foundation – suggestions on how to think about race:

  • Confront irrational stereotypes. Acknowledge those stereotypes with some valuable basis in fact. Stereotypes are generally considered ‘bad’, especially if they result in harmful prejudice. The idea that they should be eradicated, however, betrays logic. Images or ideas do not become stereotypes until they are widely held, and they are widely held for a reason. Sometimes these reasons are irrational or grossly over-exaggerated, but in other cases the stereotype has probative value. It is a difficult exercise, but we should force ourselves to categorize the stereotypes we have, discard and openly confront the irrational, and give appropriate weight to the probative and allow it to inform us.
    • No useful or actionable lesson is derived from “black people are stupid and lazy”, “white people are evil and privileged”, or “Jews are greedy and control the world”. If we refuse to take notice of the man on the dark street wearing baggy pants and a hoodie in warm weather, or the young man in the front row of the movie theatre with shifty eyes and a backpack, however, we are not tolerant, we are foolish.
    • Never abandon your common sense observations if you have determined they are logical, in an attempt to appear tolerant.
  • Acknowledge the history of slavery. Confront the question of collective guilt.  The fastest way to lose credibility is to deny history. Slavery of black people was real. Even after the formal abolition, of slavery, segregation and invidious discrimination really happened. The holocaust was real. The only rationale for denial of these events is an instinctive refusal to accept responsibility for actions one did not directly participate in. The human mind is small in its capacity to comprehend the most horrifyingly wicked truths. “I could never do such a thing. Most people are like me. Therefore, no one could do such a thing”. This introduces the complex problem of collective guilt.
    • Picture the descendant of an early 1900’s Irish or Scottish immigrant whose family has no history of land ownership, let alone slave ownership, and who has clung to the lower or middle rungs of the US socioeconomic ladder since arriving on the continent. Privilege and comfort are foreign concepts to this “white” man who grew up on baseball, football, cans of beer and blue collar jobs. Isn’t it a tragedy for this white man to bear the guilt burden of slavery? Maybe not. The problem with collective guilt is that when it is misapplied it is a repulsive form of self-submission and humiliation.
    • Collective guilt should not, and must not, ever be forced, either by law, or social pressure. Such a guilt could never be genuine, and forecloses the possibility of sincere reflection. Collective guilt, properly understood, is a personal decision made with self-respect and dignity. Picture now the families of 9/11 victims, the families (especially children) of slain soldiers, or those embroiled in a battle with a deadly disease such as cancer. What is the emotion we feel for these people? We might call it ‘sympathy’, ‘love’ or ‘support’, but is it very different from guilt? Certainly we did not directly cause their calamity, but did we not enjoy comfort and freedom while they suffered? Simply consider the concept. This does not require a personal admission of responsibility and should be separated from the criminal or legal concept of culpability.
    • If you make the personal decision to bear a productive level of collective guilt (or whatever name you give it), don’t ever attempt to force your fellow man to accept it. This only works if it is a personal choice.

With those concepts in mind, the following are suggestions on how to talk about race.

  1. Don’t assume a knee-jerk defensive posture or say “I’m not a racist”. Let your life and your conduct make your case.
  2. Don’t patronize black people either overtly, or passively. If you don’t obsess over what to call the white guy walking down the street, don’t obsess over what to call the black man on the street. Don’t implement your own personal affirmative action program. Any suggestion that a black man should be given preference for a benefit, advantage or position on the sole basis of skin color assumes that he could not have obtained it with his own efforts. That he is not actually equal to you.
  3. Think and speak in a cultural framework. Despite the modern use of the term, there are only 3-5 actual ‘races’ in the world, so a good starting point would be to at least understand the difference between race and ethnicity. Even ethnicity is a red herring. Modern observations should be made on the basis of culture, which, unlike the broad supercategories of race, is made up of meaningful and significant attributes, traits and characteristics.
  4. Appreciate differences, but place more emphasis on what is the same. Some cultures blend well with others. Some do not. It is intellectually dishonest to label all efforts at cultural solidarity as racism. If you think something is rude, exclusionary or snobby, then call it by those names. Larger political ideas which embrace efforts to either blend cultures, or to maintain a traditional cultural identity, are likely to draw the ire of the opposing ideology, but they are valid, legitimate and constitutional. Chief among our cultural priorities should be an ‘American’ culture.
  5. Be proud of who YOU are. Maintain your self respect and dignity. Don’t apologize for, castigate or deprecate yourself for any reason other than for being a jerk (if you have been one). Even if you were born privileged, but you follow #6 below, then you have committed no crime.
  6. Treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, no matter where you are, and no matter who is watching. If you follow this suggestion, you will have no trouble standing up to the scrutiny mentioned in #1 above.

How should a white man talk about race? Unless he is a student in an anthropology class, or he is using skin color as a visual descriptor, he shouldn’t. He should focus his efforts on his own conduct, and he should be free to express ideas on culture. The inevitable next step is to identify one’s self with a culture more granular than “whiteness”, and the next article of this type might carry a different headline.

Kim Davis: Good Fight – Wrong Fighter

Kim Davis is entirely wrong. She is wrong in the Christian sense. She is wrong in the legal sense. She has become a very damaging force in what will become a very meaningful constitutional debate over the course of the next decade. It is because her defiance is so onerous and offensive to current sensibilities that only the most die-hard religious extremists are coming out in support of Davis. She is the wrong person, testing freedom of religious expression in the wrong way, at the wrong time. The fact that she is wrong does not justify the unprecedented and aggressive actions of the rogue justice department in incarcerating her when there is a remedy under state law to address an official’s refusal to perform ministerial tasks.

The backlash against Davis has been fierce, not just from those who were pleased with the June 26, 2015 redefinition of marriage by the US Supreme Court, but also from many Christians who are opposed to same-sex marriage but take the now popular “the Court has ruled and the law is the law” stance. Davis has been attacked on the basis of her failed marriages, her misguided appeals to “God’s Authority” and, yes, even on her appearance.

It is understandable for Christians to turn on Davis. Despite the ridicule one is subjected to if they dare to suggest that Christians or other people of faith are being ‘persecuted’, it is a tough time for mainstream Christians. Many are willingly going through the process of reconciling their personal beliefs with a government that may not always reflect those same standards. Delightfully, many are quickly becoming comfortable with this, and realizing that it is possible to maintain one’s own faith and moral views, despite the laws of the nation contrasting their personal convictions. Even among the faith-based community there are legitimate disputes about how to respond to the ever changing social landscape of this country. It is unfair for any one faith-based group to claim a monopoly on the correct response, or “what Jesus would do“.

In the midst of this turmoil even many practicing Christians are undergoing a bit of a progressive transformation. They don’t want to be the party of bigotry and hate. They want to be known for the message of the unconditional love of Jesus, and a promise of forgiveness for sin. All the while, they forget some of the lessons of unconditional love and understanding of the downtrodden in their rejection of Davis. After all, she is a lost and troubled soul.

It is reasonable, arguably, to expect an elected government official to carry out the ministerial tasks it is charged with, without respect to their personal beliefs. Probably the most commonly stated phrase concerning Kim Davis has been some variant of “she should do her job, or resign”. For the sake of argument, we will assume this position. She is wrong. She should do her job or resign. The consequence of continued refusal could be a state misdemeanor proceeding, or a legislative process to remove her from office.

Only now, Kim Davis has been held in contempt of a federal court order and imprisoned. Wait… What?

Answer this question without regard to the facts of the Kim Davis fiasco: How long has it been the practice of our federal government to imprison state, county or city level officials for their failure, or even outright refusal, to perform a specific duty? If your answer is that she did more than refuse to perform a duty based on a religious objection, she in fact obstructed justice and defied a federal court order, then the question could be stated differently: How long has it been the practice of federal courts to intervene and issue court orders (which provide the grounds for contempt orders) in the ministerial affairs of county governments? This level of federal involvement in local affairs is wildly unprecedented and the implications are broad.

How are we suddenly so selectively outraged at the refusal of a government official to perform one of her duties? Remember, issuing marriage certificates is one of her duties, not “her duty”. She is not the Clerk of Marriages. She is a county clerk responsible for automobile registrations, real property records, lien records, and yes certain certificates including marriage certificates. Since the June, 2015 decision Davis has refused to issue any marriage license, whether to same sex or traditional couples.

When the department of justice acts in an unprecedented way, with a laser focus on very particularized conduct, and enters territory it has previously ignored and attempts to make a resounding statement, we start to see what looks like discrimination based on religious expression. When our government holds a grudge, and vigorously prosecutes some bad acts, but not others, we need to look at what is different about the actors in the acts in question. Let’s do that.

How is Kim Davis different from the ten public officials who acted in defiance of state and federal law while the same sex marriage fight was still being fought? Most of the arguments for these lawbreakers was that they were breaking the law to ‘give’ a right, not to infringe on a right. The lesson from this example being that lawbreaking is OK as long as it protects the actors interpretation of what rights should be protected. What about a county official that infringes upon rights clearly enumerated in the constitution, such as this Orange County California sheriff who continues to manipulate, stall and engage in sophisticated legal wrangling to deprive 2,500 law abiding citizens from obtaining concealed weapons permits despite meeting all legal requirements? Is the lesson here that instead of outright refusal, Davis should have been more cunning in her obstinance? That if you wish to deprive your constituents of their rights, you will not be jailed if you are sophisticated enough to filibuster?

Have we considered the 200 cities, counties and states across the country who boldly refuse to to comply with ICE detainers, or otherwise impede open communication and information exchanges between their employees or officers and federal immigration agents? These localities blatantly obstruct justice, and not in some obscure regulations, but in matters of national security and public safety. Now that the precedent has been set with this lowly small county clerk in Kentucky, should we expect Annise Parker, Ed Lee, Ed Murray and Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to be hauled before district judges sometime in the near future? They are all mayors of crime-ridden cities, and the argument that their blatant refusal to comply with federal law is not depriving anyone of their rights is easily refuted by evidence of the disastrous consequences of not dealing with dangerous criminals when you have them in custody.

Boiled down, the difference between Kim Davis and these high ranking local officials is that Davis was motivated by what she believed to be religious belief, and dared to trespass in the sacred cow of a recent supreme court decision. Meanwhile, the mayors of our major cities defiantly shrug off statutory provisions of the United States Code that are not even controversial. Sheriff Hutchens treads on the literal language of the constitution itself. Neither Hutchens, nor Parker, Lee, Murray, or Rawlings-Blake cite religion in their delinquency.

Davis is an easy target for the insatiable hordes of social justice warriors, salivating over the prospect of their first kill in the Obergfell era. She is uneducated and has a shaky (at best) marital history; she is not aesthetically pleasing and appears to be, at least to some extent, a wackadoodle.

She does not have the right to create her own law, or decide to enforce it according to her own interpretation. God would not expect this of her, and the law does not permit it. There is a process to deal with her, either by impeachment by the state legislature, or misdemeanor charges at the state level. Maybe those steps should be taken to restore order to the universe, but we absolutely must not accept the discriminatory incarceration of a county clerk because the federal court has a score to settle, and deems some laws worthy of enforcement while other equal offenses are ignored.

Liberty comes in strange shapes. Sometimes it even produces a bad result, and as a result, some normal, patriotic and responsible Americans are willing to give up constitutional protections or look the other way at the federal government’s overreach and watch liberty erode. Physical liberty (freedom from imprisonment) is widely considered of the highest order of our individual rights. How quickly and easily we are willing to give up our most basic protections in the bill of rights as long as the cuffs are on the wrist of some wackadoodle.

Not us. We are enlightened, we are moral. Certainly a life-tenured District Judge will never disagree with us.

Has The Iran Nuclear Deal Already Failed?

The headline reads: “Obama Secures Enough Support For Iran Deal In Congress“. This is an interesting way of putting it, because the text below the headline identifies Barbara Mikulski as the 34th vote in support of the deal. Thirty-four votes out of one hundred senators (on a subject of global significance) is what passes for support in an era of obscene executive swagger. The Congress (The People) do not need to be persuaded, they simply must be overcome by procedure.

Now the focus must shift from efforts to defeat the deal, to holding the brazen and emboldened Iranians to its terms. Our national posture must transition from one of leadership to one of futile appeasement and pleading. We no longer have the leverage to control the situation and force compliance. Now we must simply ask “Please comply?”.

It is common in today’s political environment to hope for the failure of an initiative we oppose, as some form of confirmation that our ideas were superior. We take every minor negative indicator as an opportunity to say “See! I told you! Thanks a lot [Obama][Bush]!” Now the stakes are too high. We can’t simply wish for this deal to fail so we can prove how naive this administration is. There are too many lives at stake. No political point should be proven by a massacre. In actuality, we should all be hoping that WE were wrong, and that the Iran deal WILL prevent a murderous regime from obtaining the means to destroy its publicly declared enemies.

But this brings us to the point. Is it really nuclear war that we are afraid of? Maybe, but it seems a bit far-fetched to think that Iran would destroy what it deems to be its own holy land with a nuclear attack. And although the regime holds no such fealty to the North American continent, they are well aware that any nuclear attack on the US would result in an immediate nuclear winter and “Goodbye Iran!” The reality is, nuclear war is not the most likely method Iran will choose to terrorize the world.

The issue in the coming years as it relates to the Iran deal will be defining failure or success. Proponents of engagement and appeasement willl argue that as long as nuclear missiles do not rain down on Israel and America, the deal worked. This emphasis on nuclear weapons is important, but too narrow. The existence or non existence of nuclear weapons capability in Iran was simply a point at which powerful nations could reach consensus. It is easy for all of us to say “Iran is dangerous and should not have nukes”. This issue does not encapsulate the myriad objections to Iran’s role in the middle east, and the world.

Iran’s victory did not involve their enrichment capability. The truly significant achievements of the regime were Legitimacy, and Economic Stimulus. It has been a successful strategy for world superpowers to keep their club an exclusive one. When nations are led by violently oppressive figures or troublemakers with ancient grudges it is a perfectly appropriate use of one’s own “superpowers” to condemn such nations, preventing them from gaining economic and ideological legitimacy.  We are justified in refusing to share our wealth and prosperity with an entity who promises to use it for evil purposes.

Possibly the greatest world crisis at this point is occurring in Syria. While Iran, even in its currently diminished capacity, is the primary sponsor behind Hezbollah and the Assad regime, The United States is the largest (by a shocking margin) contributor to the World Food Programme which struggles to feed millions of Syrian refugees, contributing 1.5B per year. Meanwhile, Iran does not conceal their desire to dominate the middle east, and ultimately the world, and in the midst of negotiating with us over nuclear proliferation (which remains the key basis for bargaining) Iran is steadily increasing its military capability, including long range non-nuclear missiles. The Iran Deal does nothing to curb non-nuclear military expansion.

The success or failure of the Iran deal, a deal which we strongly suspected was a foregone conclusion, does not hinge on whether or not Iran develops weapons now, or in 15 years. The measure instead should be the amount of damage a newly bolstered and legitimized regime can inflict upon the middle east, and the rippling effect on the world, still led, though reluctantly as of late, by the United States. Watch Hamas in the Gaza strip, where rockets are launched toward Ashkelon, and tunnels are dug into Israel to deliver committed terrorists so often that it rarely make the news anymore. Watch Hezbollah in Syria, Lebanon and Northern Israel. Watch the Houthi in Yemen. Anywhere there is an anti-democratic, islamic revolutionary movement in the middle east, you can be sure that Iran is providing weapons, training, and logistical support.

All attacks carried out or funded by this regime may be traced back to the legitimacy and prosperity we granted this regime, and our desire to sit at arms length with them. Our unwillingness to see the starkly obvious, that they do not want to be our friends, and they have no respect for our way of life or our position of leadership in the world, is proof of how far we have fallen, and how foolish we look by claiming to have slowed their progress while unleashing billions of dollars into their bloody coffers.

It’s a typical political hornswaggle. When constructing a legacy, it is not necessary to actually achieve a true strategic objective, as long as you define success narrowly. We must remember the lesson of 9/11/01, that it does not take a nuke to bring a superpower to its knees. And how quickly we forget Iran’s role in providing funding for that particular iconic attack. Considering Iran’s complicity with Al Qaeda and the last successful attack on American soil, and giving appropriate weight to the factor of legitimacy, has the “Iran Nuclear Deal” already failed?

Moderation – a True Conservative Principle?

Peter Berkowitz has written a book addressing the ever-growing division within the ranks of republicans. The book, a quick read of only 126 pages, is called Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self Government, and Political Moderation. This phenomenon (the lost tribes of conservatism) has been a core theme of the Bull Gator Party, and Berkowitz proposes a solution for the question we often seek to answer (“where do we go now?”). The book was written in 2013 but the author frequently contributes to a number of publications and he recently summed up his thesis for the book in a July 2015 Wall Street Journal article.

Berkowitz loosely defines the division as between two main camps: social conservatives and limited government or libertarian conservatives. While this framing of the problem may be too narrow, it is a good start. Pretty much every single issue that will be relevant to elections in this era will be addressed in one view or another by these two camps, and in many cases the camps will be at odds. For examples from the current presidential campaign to illustrate the harmful division, we will consider abortion, national defense, and immigration.

Under this bipolar framework, abortion is dealt with by both camps: Social conservatives believe in life at conception and advocate for staunch pro-life policies, while limited government conservatives take a more libertarian approach and support the right of a woman to be free from government regulation, at least to some extent. Immigration is dealt with by both camps. The social side looks at a wave of non-assimilating immigrants and sees an attack on our culture and values, and is more likely to advocate for both a stop to illegal immigration, as well as a severe stemming of legal immigration, while the limited government side looks at the issue primarily from an economic perspective, and is less concerned about the culture change. Both sides agree on the need to address illegal immigration immediately, but they reach an impasse on the value of healthy levels of legal immigration. On National Defense, social conservatives cherish the US position as leader of the free world, and embrace our active role in foreign affairs, while the limited government side cringes at the cost of wars and peaceful intervention and the perpetual state of conflict in one region or another.

You can see how a rift is born among the right-leaning coalition. It is getting so bad that the camps are attacking eachother with more ferocity and anger than is directed at the (currently very harmonized) democratic electorate. Labels like “RINO” and “Establishment” are launched and both (or all, depending on how you define the camps) claim undisputed title to the term “conservative”.  The camps competing for the term “conservative” are so different they could realistically form two parties and be mortal enemies! Meanwhile, the majority of democrats or left -leaners are entirely aligned on every single one of these issues.

Berkowitz suggests that conservatives return to the basic principles that gave birth to the conservative movement, those principles having been lost somewhere along the way. Chief among these principles are “individual freedom, equality under law, and limited government—all of which presuppose and protect religious faith and traditional morality”. These principles, at times, may be at odds with current notions of the Republican platform.  Can these positions be reconciled?

A key theme of the book is a call for return to the concept of political moderation. This causes many hard-liner heads to spin. The mention of the word “Moderate” invokes images of lily-livered, mealy-mouthed deal makers who sell out their constituencies and their principles for dollars, or in the furthering of inside washington deals that only bolster the political class. Berkowitz addresses the difference between this unattractive characteristic, and the type of moderation he encourages, on pg. xi in the preface to the book:  “I do not mean that conniving and cowardly offspring of expedience and ambition that betrays principle just to get ahead or get along. I refer instead to political moderation well understood, which accommodates, balances and calibrates to translate rival and worthy principles into practice.”

The first few chapters of the book go on to remind the reader that our nation was founded on one of the greatest political compromises of all time between two camps which were hopelessly at odds. The Federalists, and the anti-federalists both considered the opposing side to be entirely wrong. After a lengthy and heated debate, the best political system and thus the most powerful nation in the world was formed out of this highly unlikely compromise.

Moderation, especially at the executive level, may be the truest of conservative principles. We have now experienced an energetic executive with wild-eyed plans to fundamentally change the character of the nation, and the result has been a nation re-divided along racial lines, stagnation for the middle class and those in poverty, and radical social changes which elevate new minority groups at the expense of the liberties of the people at large.

This is not to say there are no bad guys. There would be no need for a Bull Gator Party if we felt our leaders were staying true to conservative principles. We would define “Establishment” politicians (those who have firmly disavowed any conservative principle, from any camp) as the “bad guys”. John Mccain, John Boehner, and Chris Christie come to mind as potential banner-waivers for this bunch, and we would be best served to identify and publically excommunicate those who have long since abandoned their ideological compass.

If we continue to insist on pure ideological purity in our chief executive, we are likely to face many generations of progressive leaders and policy because we simply do not have the coalition power to compete against a united progressive electorate. Our most revered conservative icon knew it, and we would do well to at least consider the idea. Neither camp (or their variations) can justifiably claim ownership and dominion over the term conservative, unless we stick to the broad principles of limited government and individual liberty. Perhaps we need a leader who, without respect to the term “Moderate” (Big M), has the innate maturity and leadership ability to moderate (little m) between our rival and worthy goals.

An Irreligious View on Abortion

First, we must distinguish between our personal convictions, and our view of the government’s role in our lives. Considering that we acknowledge the government’s role in providing legal protection for the lives of individuals, we should adopt an irreligious view of abortion. This involves being much LESS judgmental of women choosing to have abortions very early on in their pregnancy, and MUCH MORE judgmental of women, and others involved in the practice of, aborting children who have developed into human form.

A disturbed Ohio woman was arrested and charged with murder this week. After her third child died a suspicious asphyxiation death, the authorities figured out that her children didn’t have some rare genetic condition causing sudden suffocation, and looked into the matter.

What is all the outrage about? Why should this woman not be permitted to make her own choices about her body? Why should the government regulate, and subsequently condemn her disposition of her body parts as she sees fit? Certainly this is a ridiculous question. These were children, outside of the womb. They were independent from their mother. They were, in fact, human beings endowed with the right to live protected by law. So, maybe a better question is: when did they cease to become a part of their mother’s body, and become human babies?

There was not much debate where a 17 year old Ohio girl beat her 26-day-old baby to death. She was charged with felony murder and child abuse and no one rushed to her defense. This was definitely a baby. Another young troubled mother in Virginia, facing many of the same challenges as those considering abortion, killed her baby on the day it was born. How much did that baby change in the hours that had passed since it was delivered out of the woman’s body?

If it is the mere process of delivery that transforms a fetus into a baby, is it the umbilical cord that serves as the bond between woman’s body and baby, and the object only becomes the latter upon severance? Or is it the immersion in amniotic fluid and containment within the placenta?

The viability standard in place since 1973 attempted to resolve the issue with a crude judicial compromise (the term “splitting the baby” seems crass, yet appropriate). The standard, still in place today, considers whether a fetus could survive outside of the womb, especially under certain conditions. It attempts to confront nature with tortured scientific logic, ignoring whether the life growing inside the woman has developed into living human form, to the point that it should be considered an individual; a human worthy of rights independent from its mother.  One could reasonably argue that a 6 week fetal nucleus is viable, because under the condition of 20 additional weeks of development, it would certainly survive.

Why should the viability inquiry only consider life outside of the womb? All of the infants murdered by their mothers above were helpless. They had no chance of survival without another human feeding them, keeping them upright and clear of hazards. Were they even viable? We do not condition their personhood, or the authority of the law to protect them, on their ability to survive. Does a standard which protects all except the helpless make any sense?

Too often the debate between life at conception and viability devolves into one of religion and morals. Consensus will never be reached in this manner because we don’t all share the same religion or morals. We do, however, all share the same Constitution and sense of individual rights (setting aside, for now, the influence of religion on the Constitution). This is why any discussion of abortion in the United States should avoid religious and moral appeals. In fact, the strongest argument against late term abortions and government funding of the same is an irreligious one.

Consider the Human Form Standard:

  1. The removal of an embryo yet to reach human form (defined below) is a medical procedure, not unlike removing an ovary. A woman (or man for that matter) is free to choose to elect medical procedures of their choice without interference from the state.
  2. There comes a point inside the womb where the fetus becomes a baby, in full human form. The baby has developed fully formed arms, hands, fingers, and feet, can open and close its fists and mouth, reproductive organs have formed (it is a boy or a girl), circulatory and urinary systems are working and the liver is producing bile; eyebrows, eyelids, eyelashes, nails, and hair are formed; teeth are formed and the baby can suck his or her thumb; the baby can be seen via ultrasound yawning, stretching, and making faces. (Practically speaking, this stage of development is somewhere between 12-16 weeks).The baby that has reached this stage of development (which necessarily requires mutilation in order to be “evacuated”) is just as human and helpless as the post-delivery children discussed above, and the government has an interest in protecting this independent and recognizable life.
baby
clump of cells?

Women seeking to terminate early pregnancies in #1 above should be given privacy, and treated with dignity and respect. Those with a firmly held religious belief that abortion, even at this stage, is murder, should be offering up sincere prayers for the woman in private, not publicly stoning her. On the other hand, when the baby has reached human form, our government should assert its authority to protect individual lives, whether that life is in jeopardy of being mutilated pre-delivery, or smothered with a blanket shortly after taking its first breath.