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Enough is Enough


As Americans, it is not in our nature to demonize a segment of the population based on the actions of a few of their members. That is, of course, unless the actions of the community in general, in response to the reprehensible actions of the few, are equally reprehensible.

We have reached that point as regards the American Muslim community.

Whether by design or ignorance, it has failed to accept responsibility for the fact that it’s members are willingly  conducting acts of violence against the American public writ large. Rather than work with the authorities to identify those members who’ve espoused radical ideologies, they’ve given them sanctuary. Rather than remove leaders whose mosques preach hatred, they’ve continued to fund them, often lavishly. Rather than work to drown out the voices within the Muslim community who’ve preached jihad against the rest of us, those voices are elevated and given prominence.

As a nation, we’ve asked the Muslim community to effectively police itself. After Ft. Hood, after Boston, after San Bernadino, Americans said we want you to work with us. We said we understand there are differences in worship, but so long as you agree on the principles of life and liberty, we’ll work to overcome any prejudices.

Now, we can add Orlando to the list of American tragedies created by a member of the Muslim community. Another young man who had espoused antagonism towards his homeland for years, not hiding his views. Another young man who studied at mosques that reinforced his hatred of the United States. In his case, his imam has been caught on video telling his minions that “homosexuals should be killed to save them from themselves.”

This willful, conscious and intentional separation of the Muslim community from American society by Muslims can no longer be tolerated by the rest of us. We must remove them from our midst. Expel them, imprison them – by whatever means necessary; Muslims have demonstrated they are a cancer on the rest of the American public. They have proven to have loyalties not to the United States, but to Mecca.

Stop to consider if any other group acted towards the rest of us as Muslims have. If Catholics were an insular religion that demanded the extermination of Jews, they would be ostracized and imprisoned. If Baptists preached that anyone who wasn’t Baptist should be killed to save them from themselves, the rest of us would demand the expulsion of Baptists.

Undoubtedly, our political leaders will respond to this latest Muslim atrocity with appeals for calm and requests of Muslims to police themselves. And undoubtedly, those appeals and requests will be ignored and mocked by Muslims. Yet again, as they were after Boston. Our feckless and cowardly “leaders” will be ridiculed in mosques from Newark to Appleton, as they were after San Bernadino.

No more. Enough is enough. It is time to admit what we have been loathe to admit and accept reality. Muslims do not want to be part of the fabric of our nation. Rather, they want to be a nation within the nation and at war with the rest of us. That is unacceptable and intolerable. And for that reason, they must go.

Donald Trump is a Racist. If You Support Him, You Might Be, Too.


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal. – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

The Party of Lincoln has abandoned Lincoln in its embrace of Donald Trump. I daresay, the The Party of Lincoln has abandoned the United States of America in it’s embrace of Donald Trump.

517e261c0a7b49473b1a6fa1e954b1acThere is no other explanation. Honest Abe understood that what makes us “American” is the simple proposition that “all men are created equal.” Have we always lived up to that expectation? No. Our history is one of struggling with that ideal and overcoming the innate prejudices that animate us. From Harper’s Ferry through the Civil War, Reconstruction to Rosa Parks, The March on Washington to today, we have moved forward towards recognizing the inherent worth of all our citizens. Until now.

By selecting Trump as their standard-bearer, with his campaign rhetoric harkening back to the Know-Nothing Party of the 19th Century and a record of racist taunts and statements stretching back nearly 45 years, the Republican Party has taken a giant step back in time. If you aren’t sickened by Trump’s statements over the past ten days denigrating Hispanics, Muslims, Blacks and all Americans, then I don’t know what else to say to you. You are the same people who would have gladly posted signs in your shops announcing “Irish Need Not Apply” in the 1850’s or “No Wops Allowed” a century ago. You are the same people who would have loosed the dogs upon the marchers in Selma. You are the same people who threw bricks through the buses in Boston.

If you cannot denounce Trump and all he stands for, you must ask yourself what it is, that separates you from any other nationality in the world? You want a return to “American Exceptionalism”? Fine. But your embrace of Trump demonstrates that you haven’t the foggiest what that even is. You haven’t any idea what it is that allowed the United States to become the world’s preeminent power, what led to our economic successes and made us the envy of every other nation on the planet.

That exceptionalism lies in the fact that we’re willing to accept anyone who pledges loyalty to the Constitution of the United States of America as an American. We are the only nation on Earth that can say that. The core strength of our nation is that our nationality is not defined by where your parents or grandparents were born. We are united by loyalty to a common ideal rather than a bloodline. Our forefathers left those nations behind, as Mr. Lincoln said, to create a new type of nation – one where belief in liberty and justice for all is both our founding and guiding principle.

So if you want Trump’s overt racism as the standard for the United States of the future, understand what you’re buying into. Understand that by supporting Donald Trump, you are supporting the dissolution of the United States of America and the torching of our Constitution. Understand that you are setting in motion the end of the concept of free men.

So, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Christie, Mr. Sessions and all of the other Republican “leaders” who have jumped aboard the Trump Train: the choice laid before you can’t be more stark. You may continue to support Mr. Trump as your party’s nominee, and accept the permanent branding as racists. Or you can realize that he isn’t actually the nominee yet and totally not worthy of the Party of Lincoln, and as unceremoniously as possible dump him. The choice is yours.

 

How Do You Defeat Donald? Get Hillary Out


KillarDonThe other day, Hillary Clinton launched a blistering attack on Donald Trump’s foreign policy suggestions, his character and his temperament. Among some of the choice words she had were:

  • “This is not someone who should ever have the nuclear codes because it’s not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war just because somebody got under his very thin skin.”
  • “He says he doesn’t have to listen to our generals or ambassadors because he has — quote — ‘a very good brain.’ He also said, ‘I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.'”
  • “He says he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia.”
  • “He believes America is weak. An embarrassment. He called our military a disaster. He said we are — quote — a ‘third-world country.’ And he’s been saying things like that for decades. These are the words of someone who doesn’t understand America or the world.”
  • “He has the gall to say that prisoners of war like John McCain aren’t heroes.”
  • “He has said that he would order our military to carry out torture and the murder of civilians who are related to suspected terrorists — even though those are war crimes.”
  • “Donald Trump’s ideas aren’t just different — they are dangerously incoherent. They’re not even really ideas, just a series of bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies.”
  • “This is a man who said that more countries should have nuclear weapons, including Saudi Arabia.”

Salient points, all. Nothing about them can be disputed: the policies she attacked are all direct quotes of the Donald. There was just one problem with the entire speech.

It was delivered by Hillary Clinton.

This is the same Hillary Clinton responsible for the “Russian reset,” which has resulted in Vladimir Putin annexing parts of Georgia and Ukraine, harassing US & NATO ships and aircraft and settling into Syria.

The same Hillary Clinton responsible for starting the negotiations with Iran. The net result is that Iran will have US sanctioned nuclear weapons within a decade; weapons that we actually paid them to build.

The same Hillary Clinton who demonstrated (at the very least) horrible judgement in how she handled the nation’s top secrets. As a result of her insistence on breaking the rules and relying on a private, unsecured email system, it’s likely rogue nations like North Korea, China, Russia and others were reading classified intel in real-time. Heck, a Bulgarian hacker broke into that server in under 30 minutes, working by himself.

The same Hillary Clinton who bungled a Libya-to-Syria gun running operation, after bungling the “Arab Spring” related removal of Muammar Gaddafi, and then bungled the security arrangements of the US Consulate in Benghazi. The result? One dead American ambassador, along with three other Americans. And let’s not forget, there are still unanswered questions about why a rescue mission to save those men was never launched. The military has put that onus squarely on Hillary’s State Department.

In short, the Democrats aren’t incorrect in attacking Donald Trump as man wholly unfit for the office he is seeking. The problem is, their candidate is equally unfit for that same office. For every misstep Donald makes, Hillary has already made two. Her 44 year Washington DC record is as flawed as it is complete. And every attack she launches is easily parried with a counter-attack on her equally horrible record.

In fact, both candidates are so terrible that electing either could result in an immediate Constitutional crisis. It is a situation unprecedented in our history.

It’s also skewed the election in ways that pollsters and pundits can’t begin to sort out. But there is definitely one effect that doesn’t need to be polled to be understood: there are a lot of people who aren’t so much as supporting one candidate, as they are voting against the other. The same holds true for many of the political arena’s actors. They’ve endorsed their party’s candidate, not of party loyalty as much as pure disgust with the other party’s choice. Among Republicans, the one constant I hear regarding Trump is, “He’s not Hillary.”

I personally have my doubts about that. I look at both and see mirror images of one another. For me, Donald is Hillary. Hillary is Donald.

That being said, in the latest polling, Trump is only getting the support of roughly 1/3 of the electorate. I believe if Hillary were not the Democratic nominee, that support would crumble. Better than half of his support is of the #NeverHillary variety – those people do not support Donald and they will do anything to keep Hillary out of the Oval Office. That includes voting for someone they think is a horrible candidate.

So, it’s up to you, Democrats. If you truly want to keep Donald Trump from getting his tiny hands on the nuclear football, you’ll select someone other than Hillary Clinton as your nominee in Philadelphia. Oh, and for God’s sake:

Don’t let it be Bernie Sanders, either.

The SCOTUS Argument Debunked


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Perhaps the most convincing argument coming from those who’ve decided to back up the truck to Donald Trump’s candidacy is the one regarding appointments to the Supreme Court. Even the most politically clueless individual realizes that Hillary Clinton will never nominate anyone with a conservative viewpoint. Hillary probably doesn’t even know any lawyers or professors who aren’t decidedly liberal. With one court vacancy already and the majority of the sitting Justices eligible for Social Security benefits, odds are the next President will have a once in a century opportunity to shape the Court. Certainly, nobody who cares about the Constitution can reasonably argue that a Clinton Presidency wouldn’t greatly imperil our system of government.

So the argument becomes we know what Hillary will do as regards SCOTUS, and that’s pack it with as many anti-gun, pro-abort, big government types as she can get past the Senate. Trump has at least made noises about nominating conservative justices. Who knows? He might actually keep his word on at least this subject and select people from the list he published a couple of weeks ago.

I’ll admit, that’s almost a compelling argument. Nobody of sound mind wants to see the Supreme Court packed with people who make Lenin look like James Madison. Of course, it relies on assuming that Trump will hold true to his word on this topic. And we know the old saying about assumptions… The question becomes, can we trust Trump to nominate, as he claims, a justice worthy of Antonin Scalia’s seat?

Well, no. In fact, I’m here to show that not only won’t he nominate a Scalia type to the court, but that his nominees would be every but as dangerous to the long-term health of the republic as Hillary’s. And I have two reasons I can say this with absolute, complete and total certainty.

First, one only need look at that list a little more closely. It’s a list of potential jurists that any high school junior could have put together in about 15 minutes by doing a Google search (and that’s assuming they were slow at copying and pasting). Of the eleven potential nominees, nine are politicians first, jurists second. None are considered an actual legal scholar, much less in the intellectual vein of Justice Scalia. Only three have taught law (one in an adjunct capacity only) and none taught the Constitution. Besides being intellectual lightweights, they all share two other things. The first is a trail of opinions justifying judicial activism. Their other common trait (one that frankly I applaud) is that all have struck down restrictions on the 2nd Amendment. Unfortunately, reading through their legal reasoning in doing so is at best, bewildering. Judge Sykes, for instance, is most famous for striking down Chicago’s attempt to outlaw gun ranges. (Well, in legal circles, anyway. She’s also famous for another reason). But in her opinion, she gave credence to the idea that prior restrictions on gun possession and ownership could and should be considered when adjudicating 2nd Amendment cases. In  other words, had a prior legislature outlawed firing ranges and another court upheld that ban, she would have gone along with it. Or to put it more bluntly: she would place legal precedent ahead of the Constitution. That is about as far from Justice Scalia as one can get and not end up with someone named Ginsburg.

Perusing through the other nominees’ legal opinions reveals the same sort of bent. These are not legal conservatives. They may be social conservatives, but are willing to tear the Constitution to shreds in the name of their “conservatism.” Of course, that isn’t conservative at all. That’s the flip side of the same judicial coin that social liberals have been flipping for 70 years. It’s also the sort of person Trump has consistently been throughout his life. Which is to say, one with little regard for the law – and if the law gets in your way, either ignore it or change it. A politician willing to change the law willy-nilly is dangerous enough. A Supreme  Court justice willing to ignore the Constitution in furtherance of a goal is inherently dangerous. In fact, we have one such “conservative” justice now occupying the Chief Justice’s seat, and it was his pursuit of maintaining the court’s “integrity” over the Consitutional principles it is supposed to be upholding that gave us Obamacare.

In this light, it isn’t surprising that actual Scalia-type legal scholars, who also happen to be social conservatives, are nowhere to be found in Trump’s thinking. Not one of Janice Rogers-Brown, Brett Kavanaugh or Paul Clement seems to even have been considered. I’m not even going to mention Mike Lee or Ted Cruz. We all know how Trump feels about Cruz, and putting Thomas Lee on the list seems like a sop towards Mike (they’re brothers). The point is, those are people who firmly believe in the Constitution’s delineation of powers, including restrictions on executive authority. If there’s one thing the Donald hates, it’s anyone telling him what he cannot do, especially a legal authority.

Which brings me to the second proof that Trump will not nominate a Scalia-type conservative. As you are probably aware, he is facing several lawsuits for his involvement with Trump University, about as scammy an operation as has ever operated in these United States. The one that is closest to being heard is in California, being presided over  by US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel. Late last week, Trump launched into one of the most hateful diatribes against a sitting federal judge in US history. It was certainly a first for a presidential candidate. In terms of political assassination of a court, the only comparable thing that comes to mind was President Obama’s singling out the Supreme Court for not bending to his will during his 2010 State of the Union.

Stop to let that sink in for a moment: Donald Trump and Barack Obama have the same regard for courts that don’t do as they want.

Of course, Trump did his best to poison the well further. He decried Judge Curiel as Mexican (he’s actually from Indiana) in his inimitable “I’m-not-a-racist-but-I-am” wink & nod cattle call. Indeed, he pushed right up to the edge of facing contempt of court charges. That he hasn’t is an example of judicial restraint, a concept foreign to Judge Trump (as is restraint in anything). But more instructively, Trump’s willingness to harangue a sitting federal judge tells us what he expects from the judicial branch of the federal government: total compliance with Trump. Comply, or face my Brownshirts. In Curiel, however, Trump’s threats probably don’t have much currency. After all, he’s faced down Mexican drug cartels in his courtroom.

Besides sending a shudder up the spine of anyone who happens to think the separation of powers provided by the Constitution is a good idea that’s worked really well, this type of behavior also lays low one of the other arguments I’ve heard. Namely, that Trump would be constrained by the both the Constitution and the grinding bureaucracy of the federal system. Trump has already subverted the second half of that argument; watching the likes of Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio licking his boots proves that. Seeing what Trump expects of a justice, and the lengths he will go to exact compliance, makes the first invalid, as well.

 

Urgent Letter to ALL Physicians: Take Action to STOP MACRA MIPS Rules


You can keep your doctor…if your doctor can afford to stay in practice with all these new bullshit rules #Obamacare is forcing on them…

Colleagues, Please read the following letter on MACRA MIPS current rulemaking pending with CMS. The report is the unanimous result of a comprehensive review by the National Physicians Council on He…

Source: Urgent Letter to ALL Physicians: Take Action to STOP MACRA MIPS Rules

What Does the GOP Stand Fow Now?


http://www.retrochristianity.org/

Photo courtesy: Retro-Christianity

First things first. I was wrong. I did not think Republican voters would choose Donald Trump as their nominee for President. There are plenty of people dissecting and offering opinions as to the how and why; I’ll probably add my two cents to that discussion later. But I prefer to focus on the future, and now Mr. Trump is the presumptive nominee, that future begins today.

I seriously considered going down to the courthouse today and changing my registration from Republican to Independent. When I went to bed last night, that was my intention. After all, if I am to remain #NeverTrump (and I do), then how can I honestly consider myself a member of the party that supports him? But here’s my problem: there are many other people who consider themselves Republicans who also do not support Mr. Trump. Governors, Senators, Congressmen and others who have expressed no interest in even voting for him, much less actively supporting his candidacy. People like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ben Sasse in the Senate. Conservative writers Geroge Will, Ben Shapiro, Eli Lake Philip Klein and Jamie Weinstein all penned columns this morning on the same theme: they remain adamantly #NeverTrump.

I certainly do not want to hand over the downballot races this November to the Democrats. That would turn fiasco into disaster, as the only hope the nation has is that the Congress  will act much as it has for the 8 of the past 10 years. Which is to say, by simply refusing to even consider any of the sitting President’s proposals, much less act on them. Trump cannot trample all over the Bill of Rights and Clinton can’t seat liberal SCOTUS nominees wihout a compliant Congress. States under conservative leadership can continue to foul up the insane progressive programs sent down from 1600 Pennsylvania Avnue.

So, in the interest of protecting those downballot candidates, I’m not changing my voter registration – yet. What I’m waiting on is the party platform to be decided at the GOP convention in July.

We already know Trump is wildly inconsistent on policy and as socially inept a candidate as we’ve ever seen. But distilled down to their basic elements, the principles Trump has run on are as follows:

  • Nativism: the idea that “others” cannot participate in the American Dream.
  • Protectionsism: The US cannot compete – militarily, diplomatically or economically – with the rest of the world.
  • Isolationsism: The rest of the world is a big, dangerous, scary place filled with “others.” We must disengage from it and let the “others” fend for themselves.
  • Bigotry: Everyone is great – but some people are greater than “others.”
  • Government: The bigger and more intrusive, the better. A powerful Federal government is the only way to ensure peace and prosperity.

A platform is the shared policy positions of the party. It also outlines the enabling principles of the party. The problem facing Republicans in July, and particularly the platform committee, is defining those standards. If they adopt any of the principles above, then the Republican party has given up even the pretense of being a conservative party. Conservatism (or the term now being bandied about to seperate from Trumpism, “Classical Liberalism”) is the antithesis to all of those princples. As conservatives, we understand how dangerous any of them can be by themselves. Combinations of two or three yield the Democratic platform since the days of Bill Clinton; combine everything but the bigotry and you get the Democratic platform of Jimmy Carter, Teddy Kennedy and Michael Dukakis. Combine all 5? Yes, that would look eeirly similiar to the platfrom of the American National Socialist Movement Party.*

Should that happen,  I will bolt the GOP faster than Usain Bolt with a case of diarrhea. Here’s the thing: should the GOP adopt a truly conservative platform (or even a center-right platform, giving up prior socially oncservative positions), I don’t expect Trump to actually run on it. After all, he’s done his own thing and changed positions as often as five times in one day, so expecting him to suddenly have the discipline to follow a platform would be completely out of character. But I would fully expeect downballot candidates to point to it and say, “this is what being a Republican means.” It would provide a blueprint, one that would find Trump instinctively opposed, but something the rest of the party and country could point to. And I would fully expect Republicans to honor that committment once elected.

Do I have hope that such a thing is possible, that the GOP could adopt a platform opposed to everything their Presidential candidate believes? Yes, and here’s why: we’ve seen conservative candidates win some of the downballot races in the same states where Trump has been strongest. People who are for lower taxes, reduced government, less regulation and have both feet firmly planted in the real world. So, as enamored as a sizable chunk of the Republican electorate seems to be of Mr. Trump, it also seems to want true “Classical Liberalism.”

We’ll find out come July which the way the wind prevails. Until then, I will continue to fight for conservative principles to be the GOP’s guiding light, and for the GOP to return that light to the Shining City on the Hill.

It’s Not Fair!


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Ever since getting blown out in Wisconsin, Donald Trump has been hollering about the way we select presidential candidates, calling it unfair, or deriding it as a “rigged system.” Sure enough, the left-of-center pundits and writers who support him, and most of the misguided people who’ve pledged their allegiance to the “Trump Train,” have suddenly decided that a system that’s been around almost as long as the United States is fundamentally flawed. I shouldn’t be surprised. The typical Trumpster also tends to think the US Constitution is terribly flawed and no longer relevant.

The delegate system is based on the same idea that fueled the adoption of our Constitution. That is, the best system of governance is a representative republic, with semi-autonomous states sharing power with a centralized national government. As conceived by the men who gave us our Constitution, the office of President was not to be directly entrusted to the general populace. Rather, they conceived the idea of electors being chosen by the people. The electors would then choose the President. They had two reasons for this, both outlined in Federalist 68. The first is that the general populace can be easily swayed by emotional appeals to our baser instincts. As Alexander Hamilton noted, “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union.” The second was they understood the vast majority of citizens are not active politically, nor are they as attuned to the issues and policies as their brethren who are politically active. Their decision was that by entrusting the selection of Chief Executive to a  group of people who were politically active, they were ensuring that the gravitas of the position was honored. Yet at the same time, because the electors were selected by the citizenry, the people’s voice would be heard. Hamilton, again: “… the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

I realize this conception of how our political system was created will confound most of you. After all, you’ve heard since childhood that the United States is a democracy. Every politician declares it during every speech. Most sadly, we’re taught in school that because we vote, we’re a democracy. Some people are taught that we’re a representative democracy; that our votes go to elect representatives who are supposed to vote the way we want them to. That’s also incorrect! We are a representative republic. We elect representatives. The representatives we elect are then to debate and vote on the issues and policies as best they see fit. The decisions they reach are not bound by any measure to popular will. We then can decide if we approve of those decisions at re-election time. There have been occasions – quite a few, actually – when a representative has defied popular will in the votes they cast. One of the most celebrated books of the 20th century, Profiles in Courage, highlights eight such occasions that profoundly changed the history of our nation.

Our founders were against the idea of political parties, but their creation is a natural outgrowth of politics. It’s only natural that people who share similar views and goals would coalesce into groups working towards implementing those ideas into law and policy. Even in our nascent stages, the republic soon found itself being divided into political parties. The very men who were opposed to the idea of political parties were creating them. As those parties formed, they began to decide on which candidates for office would receive the backing of the party – including candidates for President. Should it be a surprise that they adopted a similar system for choosing their candidates as the one outlined in the Constitution?

Of course not. Many of you seem surprised at the notion that the popular vote doesn’t decide who a party’s nominee for political office. In order to understand why this is, you need to realize that prior to 1972, most states didn’t even have primary elections. Those that did, did not “bind” their delegates to vote for any particular candidate. The delegates, in most cases, were selected at state conventions. In the remainder, delegates were directly chosen during a caucus. In either case, the general public was barred from attending: only members of the party could choose their delegates. And quite often, the national party conventions did not resolve the issue of who the Presidential nominee would be on the first ballot of delegates. It seems to me that the system worked rather well. In the case of the Republicans, the convention chaos resulted in some pretty momentous choices; men who went on to become some of our most consequential Presidents. Lincoln (3rd ballot), Harding (10th), and Eisenhower (2nd) were all the products of contested/brokered conventions. In fact, during the 1952 convention Robert Taft accused Eisenhower of “stealing” delegates that were supposedly his. That led to the adoption of the “Fair Play” rule. In an ironic twist, it is that rule which Trump is using to accuse Cruz and Kasich of “stealing” delegates this year.

The liberalization of the nomination process began in 1972, in the aftermath of the riots at the Chicago and Miami party conventions in 1968. Most states adopted primaries, many opened those primaries up to the general public (no party affiliation required) and states bound the delegates chosen to reflect the popular vote at the convention for at least the first ballot. Only a few states opted to remain with caucuses or conventions selecting their delegates. And only one state does not bind any of their delegates, while several have a mix of bound and unbound delegates. The desired effect, the nominee being chosen by popular affirmation, has been achieved. Indeed, only the 1976 Republican and 1980 Democratic conventions have offered any drama, although in both cases the insurgent candidate was defeated between the end of the primaries and the convention.

Since the liberalization of the nomination process, consider the men nominated by the popular vote: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Dole, George W. Bush, and Romney. Only one of those men could be considered consequential in a positive manner. Only 3 of them have managed to win the Presidency, and two of those left office with the country in far worse shape than when they entered. If we were to change anything as regards candidate selection, I would prefer we return to closed caucuses and conventions without general public input. You may call it “undemocratic,” but the objective is to find the best candidate; to find people who can represent the values of the party and lead the nation. The general public has demonstrated exactly what the founders feared: an incredible ability to choose the very worst people for the most important job in the world.

Consider the roll call of Presidents since 1972 and see if you can actually dispute that. Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama have been elected as President. One was forced from office, another was impeached. Both Bushes left the nation economically in tatters. Carter is best remembered for his failures, while Obama is ending his Presidency with his signature achievement about to go belly up and the nation slipping back towards recession. Only Reagan managed to accomplish anything of note, but even his accomplishments have proven to be short-lived. Even ending the Cold War hasn’t lasted; today we’re faced with a resurgent and belligerent Russia and China.

You might also argue that by returning a system by which party insiders, we would be disenfranchising you. I don’t think so. Remember, the nominee is supposed to represent the party, not the general populace. I know many people who call themselves Republican or Democrat, but the reality is, they only are on election day, and often only on Presidential Election day. The other 1,460 days of the election cycle they do absolutely nothing to support the party. It’s kind of like telling people you’re a member of the cast of your favorite TV show, because you can quote some dialogue and know all the characters. In other words, if you want a say in who a party nominates, it would mean actually getting involved in the political system. Simply voting is a privilege of being a citizen. Performing the actual duties of citizenship – canvassing for candidates, raising funds, perhaps serving in local government, attending party meetings – these are also ways of becoming involved with a party at the local level. Not incidentally, it’s also how you become more acquainted with the political system.

In this year when so many of you seem more interested in blowing up the system, rather than putting in the individual effort to make it “work,” it’s also the best way to change the things about the system you don’t like. And who knows? Maybe, instead of whiners-in-chief, we can actually get back to commanders-in-chief, to Senators who worry more about representing their states than the national party committee and Representatives with more than graft on their minds.

Why 1237 Means Trump’s Political Career is Over


By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Ted Cruz’ primary win in Wisconsin made Donald Trump’s chances of securing the GOP nomination more difficult. Folks, I’m here to let you know: Cruz’ Wisconsin victory means Trump will never see the inside of the Oval Office, unless invited by the President. This is where the dream crashes into reality, and as usually happens in that case, dreams end up in a thousand little pieces.

As you’ve heard ad nauseum by now, in order to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the GOP Convention in July, a candidate needs to have secured the votes of 1,237 delegates. Most states require their delegates to vote as instructed by the popular vote during the first ballot. Most don’t if voting goes to a second ballot, and only two require it on a third. By the time a fourth ballot is required, all delegates are free agents: they can vote for anyone they like.

There are two reasons why Trump will not win the nomination in a floor fight. To put it another way, Trump needs to 1,237 delegate votes on the first ballot, or else he’s toast. The first is that Trump’s lack of campaign organization has prevented him from having a significant presence at the state and county conventions where the delegates are actually chosen. The other is that his main rival may not be loved by the GOP establishment, but he has been a Republican for his entire life. He’s built a strong grass-roots network among other GOP activists, the very people who make up the bulk of the delegate selectees. That combination has led to a large bloc of delegates who, although required to vote Trump on the first ballot, will be voting Cruz on subsequent ballots. We already know Trump will lose the majority of delegates from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. We also know he will lose the entire South Carolina delegation. His inability to organize at the state level has cost him Colorado and North Dakota. Additionally, Cruz’ organizational strength makes it likely he will have a majority on the 112 delegate Rules Committee – and that will allow him to set rules in place that will further complicate Trump’s ability to wage a floor fight.

So, obviously, Trump desperately needs to get to 1237 and preferably more, so that he can withstand any defections from states that do not require their delegations to vote as per the popular vote (think Pennsylvania). While not impossible, the math would require he outperform what he’s done to date. To wit: as of this point, Trump has secured 37% of the GOP vote, and 714 delegates, or 45%. To get to 1237, he needs another 523 of the available 912 delegates, or 57%. All Cruz needs to do is hold Trump under 523 delegates in the remaining contests.

Begin in New York, with 95 delegates available. New York’s rules are relatively simple: for each congressional district won with a majority, the winning candidate receives 3 delegates. For each district won with a plurality, the winning candidate receives two delegates and the second place finisher (provided they receive at least 20% of the vote) receives one. Additionally, there are 14 at-large delegates. If a candidate receives a majority of the vote statewide, he receives all of them. Otherwise, they are allocated according to the popular vote, to all candidates receiving more than 20% of the vote. So, in order to secure all the delegates, Trump will  not only need to win a majority in the state, but also in each of 27 individual districts. He is polling above 50% statewide, but not in every district. Because New York has roughly half of it’s population clustered in New York City, Queens, Kings, Staten Island, Suffolk, Westchester, Bronx and Nassau counties, Trump’s decided advantage there (around 90%, according to some polls) bodes well for the overall percentage. But Cruz will win several upstate counties, and John Kasich may actually hold Trump under 50% in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. It is more likely that Trump will go to bed on April 19 with about 60 more delegates than he woke up with.

The other sizable contest is in California, another apportioned state. Similar to New York, the state awards 3 delegates for every congressional district won by a candidate. While Trump is polling slightly ahead of Cruz in the Golden State, Cruz has a decided advantage in the Los Angeles area, with it’s 54 delegates, and the Orange County area, with another 18 delegates. Overall, California has 172 delegates available, but it’s unlikely that Trump gets more than  90.

There are several states remaining that are winner take all, but most of these are probably going to end up in Cruz’ column. The only one of these Trump is expected to win is New Jersey, with 51 delegates. Cruz is expected to carry Indiana (57 delegates),  Montana (27) and South Dakota (29).

So, that means Trump will need to garner 313 of the other 481 delegates remaining. New Mexico’s 24 delegates are unbound, so call it 313 of 457. And Pennsylvania has a quirky method of allocating delegates – only 17 are bound, the remaining 54 unbound. So, assuming Trump carries the state with a plurality and receives 12 of the 17 committed delegates, that means he needs to carry 301 of the remaining 386 delegates. Even though the remaining contests are primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, which are areas Trump is expected to do very well in, grabbing 78% of those delegates is a herculean feat. There is absolutely no margin of error, no way more unforced errors such as led up to the Wisconsin primary can roil the headlines.

So what about the oft-threatened independent Trump candidacy? There are unsurmountable obstacles to his mounting one. Indeed, there is a reason Trump entered the race as a Republican, rather than attempting to resurrect the Reform Party or another independent bid. It comes down to money. Trump is not a poor man, but most of his estimated $2.4 billion net worth is not in disposable assets. It’s tied up in major real estate or marketing licenses. Coming up with the estimated $750 million to $1 billion required to mount an independent presidential campaign is no small feat. Indeed, campaign rhetoric aside, Trump hasn’t even been able to afford the primary bid he’s mounted: according to his latest FEC filing, he’s been forced to raise $25 million from outside sources. Further dispelling the notion of a self-financed campaign, Trump’s campaign announced on Tuesday they would be soliciting donors should he prevail at the Convention.

When combined with the organization required to ensure ballot access in all 50 states, an organization he lacks, the opportunity to mount an independent bid has already passed. It’s why the other billionaire who seriously considered entering the race as an independent set March 1 as his drop dead decision day.

So there you have it. The odds of Donald Trump securing the Republican nomination are somewhere between razor thin and none. The odds of him mounting an independent campaign are even less. Donald Trump’s political career effectively ended last Tuesday.

And for that, we can all breath a little easier.

A Big, Beautiful Wall


berlin-memorial_to_the_victims_of_the_wall-1982

Berlin Wall, circa 1982

One of Donald Trump’s tag lines this election has been that he’s going to build a “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. The idea is that such a wall will prevent illegal aliens from entering the country. In an election that has been defined by emotional hyperbole, it’s turned into Trump’s clarion call. So how effective would it be? How would Mexico be forced to pay for it?

First, walls have been used since the beginning of civilization as a way to keep “others” away. They’ve proven since the beginning of time to be more of a psychological defence than an effective physical defense. From the famed walls of Jericho to Hadrian’s Wall, they’ve all been breached. Medieval warfare centered on methods for breaching castle walls. Constantinople was famed for its walls, but the city was conquered. The French grew so complacent behind the Maginot Line that they never even considered the German’s running around that wall.

Most recently, the East Germans built a wall around West Berlin. It even included machine gun emplacements and mine fields. The purpose was to keep the east Germans in East Germany. How effective was it? The simple fact that I’m writing this post in English from a comfortable office in the USA can tell you that.

So, walls aren’t terribly effective at actually keeping populations separated. But there is the psychological factor. It might make us feel safer, so perhaps the cost to build a 1700 mile long wall makes sense from that perspective. Of course, we’ll have to remain focused on wetbacks crossing the Rio Grande and completely ignore the fact that half of our illegal alien population came here legally and then overstayed their visas for that to make sense. There’s no wall that can change that.

Oh, yes – the cost. How much would it cost to build a 1700 mile long wall, say 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide? Well, just in concrete, that would work out to around $39.5 billion – that’s at the going rate of around $90/yard. To make it a wall that wouldn’t collapse under its own weight, you’ll need to reinforce with rebar, and of course you’ll need explosives, tools & equipment, manpower, etc. Let’s say the final cost is around $100 billion.

I think giving everyone in America a year’s supply of Xanax might be cheaper, if you’re looking for a way to ease our collective anxiety.

That cost (I know, Trump is saying he can do it for $8 billion, but not even he could swing that real estate deal) wouldn’t be an issue IF you could, in fact, get Mexico to foot the bill. But really, Mexico is a sovereign nation. They are hardly obligated to pay our bills. Trump has said he’ll use the trade deficit with Mexico to seize the funds. That’s so nonsensical I have a hard time believing I actually even need address it, but here I go. Trade deficits are not accrued by governments – they are the difference between the imports and exports of trade goods between nations. And, just to demonstrate how silly even Trump thinks that notion is, another major point of his platform is that he’ll redress trade imbalances by forcing companies to make everything in the US. So, if there isn’t a trade deficit with Mexico, then there is no way to seize those thousands of balance sheets from private companies and presenting them to the construction companies. who built the wall as payment.

Wait, WHAT?

Exactly. Trump’s entire idea can be imagined this way: your neighbor has a dog, who insists on doing his business on your front lawn. After months of feuding with your neighbor over his not curbing his dog, you finally get fed up and build a fence. All your neighbors “ooh” and “ah” over how beautiful you fence is. It is truly the most impressive fence they’ve ever seen. It even has camera emplacements and a barbed wire top, disguised as a giant flower garden. When the contractor presents you with the bill, you give him an IOU, telling him to collect from your neighbor. He sues you and you spend the next three years in court, fighting over the bill.

In the meantime, your neighbor snickers at you from his side of the fence. Eventually, the courts rule in the contractor’s favor, but now with interest and court costs your $4,000 fence is going to cost you $8,000.

And then, to add insult to injury, one morning you walk onto your front lawn and find that a mole has taken up residence. Your big, beautiful wall didn’t do the job, after all.

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