DEAR GOP: IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME

Listen, we need to talk.  It’s time to end this relationship.  We’ve had some great times; the Reagan revolution, the Contract with America, the Tea Party.  Sure, we conservatives and libertarians had our differences with you, but winning elections seemed to always mollify the bad blood.  After all, you appealed to our rational side.  We needed to work within the two-party system in order to affect the change we wanted, you said.  Timing was important when pushing the conservative agenda, you said.  We have the resources and understand the game board, you said.

But I realize now that compromising principles for the sake of winning was only papering over our very real differences; the equivalent of having kids to save a failing marriage.  We have become two very different entities over time, and we can’t coexist any longer.  Conservatives/libertarians were the ideological core of the Republican party because we believe deeply in the concept of liberty and the culmination of the wisdom of the ages into our unique Constitution.  By virtue of our passion, we strive for truth, read our history, and cling to our values.  Because of that, we exist further to the right on the political spectrum than is currently electorally viable.  But like Neo from the movie the Matrix, we’ve taken the red pill, our eyes are open, and we cannot go back.

By contrast, the GOP establishment that has served as our vehicle to articulate these principles has not only moved in the opposite direction, adopting liberal positions in a futile attempt to court a mushy middle of the electorate and a mainstream media that will NEVER embrace you, but you are now actively hurting us in the name of political expediency.  Whether it is because you find it too difficult to articulate the vision of rightful liberty or never possessed the capacity to understand it in the first place is of no consequence.  It has become crystal clear in this election cycle that you care more about power for the sake of power than about the ideas behind why you seek it.  How else can you explain that, out of a field of talented, intelligent, and thoughtful candidates like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, and Marco Rubio, we end up with the oversized Oompa Loompa that is Donald Trump as our nominee?  Why else would establishment toadies like Chris Christie and John Kasich spend so much time sabotaging conservatives?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I see your perspective.  I hear you saying even now, “See!  THIS is why we kept the base in the corner all these years!  This is what you get when there are no adults in charge!”  But I would argue two points.  First, if you hadn’t continuously lied to us, we wouldn’t be in this situation.  Second, Trumpkins are not ideologically driven, they are emotionally driven.  Logic doesn’t work with them, I’ve tried.  Articulating core principles, engaging in calm discussion, explaining the electoral map or the delegate process, showing poll after poll of how badly Trump gets destroyed in the general election, none of it matters.  How else can you explain the cult following that embraces Trump even after he tells them to their faces he is lying, changes his policy positions mid-sentence, foments violence, acts childishly, and surrounds himself with the worst kind of opportunists, half-wits, amateurs, and Democrats?

No, Trump’s followers are mostly a pitchfork-wielding mob.  Politically, they are the equivalent of what is known in military parlance as bullet magnets; people so bereft of common sense that by virtue of their stupidity they endanger everyone around them.  Seeing as they have now commandeered the GOP foxhole with your acquiescence, I’m scrambling out of it as quickly as possible with my integrity intact.  And don’t try to stop us by pleading that “this time will be different.”  We’re done being your drunken 2am tryst and then doing the walk of shame after every election day.

Where will you go?

The one saving grace of this election is that Trump is the physical embodiment of every GOP establishment lie, leadership failure, and mealy-mouthed squish rolled into a single boorish lummox.  A vote for or support/endorsement of this man is on record and the Internet is forever, so this truly is a time for choosing.  That said, I propose a new party with the first criterion for admittance being that you did not vote for or endorse this man.

You may laugh, but seeing as the Democrats have become unapologetic socialists and the Republicans have become Blue Dog Democrats, it’s time for a contrast, lest the concept of liberty forever evaporate from our collective consciousness.  I’ve done a little research and there are plenty of other little parties out there that espouse constitutional conservatism, but the one that seems to have the most articulate platform is the New Federalist Party, a mix of conservative and libertarian positions that is thoughtful and well reasoned; I encourage you to check it out.

Why not join the Libertarian Party, a friend asked?  Call it rebranding.  As a libertarian with a few conservative positions, I am well aware of the stereotypes that go along with it.  From the left, they are lumped in with the right wing tea party crowd.  From the right, they are seen as the crunchy peaceniks that can’t be trusted.  A rebranding under a new banner that incorporates the key tenets of constitutional conservatism and individual freedoms seems to be the only way to successfully cleave from the GOP.  Lack of name recognition, resources, and organization are always the biggest hurdles when birthing a new party, but Rome wasn’t built in a day either.

Perhaps we can start with the House Freedom Caucus as the base and build outward from there contingent on a Conservative Review Liberty Score of 80-85 or above.  Such a party would constitute only about 10% of the members of the House and Senate, but at this point, I’m ok being a protest party.   As Samuel Adams said, “it does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”  Let’s just own it.

The next 6 months should be used to finalize the prospective membership and the day after election day, they should declare that they are leaving the GOP for this new party.  Use the 115th Congress to show the contrast between principle and business as usual.  Over time, voters should see what is already obvious to us; that there is no discernible difference between the GOP establishment and the Democrats and that they are two sides of the same corrupt coin.

Bottom line, the damage is likely already done, as Obama’s “fundamental transformation” of America set the stage for this national embarrassment.  Best to get as far from the blast radius as possible now so that when it does detonate, we do not continue to be lumped in with the people that caused it.  I have too much respect for myself and for those that fought, bled, and died for the American idea to continue this farce any longer.  I’m leaving you, and you have no one to blame but yourself.

Cruz v Sanders: The Debate America Needs

“May you live in interesting times.”  This apocryphal saying sums up the state of politics in America in 2016.  It is a time of upheaval, and as Tocqueville reminds us, the most dangerous moment for a bad government is when it begins to reform.  Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, elucidates our circumstances succinctly when he states that, “Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are not the disease, and they’re not a symptom of the disease.  They’re the beta test of a cure from the perspective of the people.”  While Trump represents the outlier on the right, he is not the ideological antithesis of self-described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders.  That honor belongs to Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

History is peppered with pivotal moments like these, but it is often difficult to recognize their gravity until they have faded into our collective rearview mirror.  In 1858, on the eve of America’s Civil War, we had the Lincoln-Douglas debates in which a young upstart Republican challenged an incumbent Democrat Senator on a subject of great import; slavery in America.  At issue was whether a country founded on the principle that “all men are created equal” could continue to promote or even accept the subjugation of certain men in seeming contravention to that principle.  Lincoln lost to Douglas in that election, but his nomination as the Republican standard bearer in the Presidential election in 1860 was the catalyst that set in motion a most bloody resolution to that question five years later.

In 1940, Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes debated the much drier but equally important subject of state intervention in the economies of nations upon the roof of the chapel of Kings College London during the Blitz.  Keynes generally believed that the animal spirits of capitalism should be restrained by government central planning to protect citizens.  Hayek believed that such government intervention inevitably led to the very fascism that the allies had been forced to confront in World War II.  In the aftermath of the war, this dynamic shaped the new world order as the capitalist west faced off against the collectivist Soviet Union for the next half century.  We know which idea eventually won the day.

In 1968, conservative stalwart William F. Buckley and liberal firebrand Gore Vidal held televised debates during the Presidential nominating conventions that were the embodiment of the political tumult of the time.  On substance, the debates touched on the Vietnam War, free speech, police brutality, and the rise of the counter-culture.  But they were best known for the very obvious and deeply personal hatred each had for the other which was a microcosm of the violence and strife occurring throughout the late 60s and early 70s.  Nixon and the Republicans came out on top.

These were all pitched battles in the continuing war of ideals which seems to flare up every few generations.  In 2016, we again face such a moment.  As I’ve written previously, while I do not discount Donald Trump’s rise or the legitimate rage of his supporters, he is an unserious candidate.  He is the dog that caught the car, a caricature of what every liberal believes every conservative to be.  He does not represent conservative ideology any more than a person who occasionally abstains from eating meat can profess to be a vegan.  Ted Cruz, by contrast, wears his ideology on his sleeve, as does his counterpart on the left, Bernie Sanders.

I will state publicly that I have a lot of respect for Bernie Sanders.  Contrary to Hillary Clinton, the pantsuit-wearing weather vane that has about as much principle as an interest-only loan, Mr. Sanders unapologetically believes in his ideas, and that genuineness is at the heart of his tremendous base of support.  But alas, history and economics bear out that his ideas are not only unworkable, but contrary to the identity of our country.

Given the leftward jolt America has experienced under Barack Obama, hope and change has given way to entropy and rage.  It’s time for the battle of ideas to be fought once again; a trial by intellectual combat.  Senator Cruz and Senator Sanders represent the reddest and bluest ends of the political spectrum, who better to articulate the fundamental ideals of their respective parties.

It has been said that a lie travels around the world before the truth can get its pants on, a phenomenon undoubtedly amplified by the advent of social media.  Perhaps this is why the timeless truth of the benefits of liberty has been lost in the noise.  However, I am confident that same interconnectedness can also be harnessed to proliferate the ideals of our founders with such unparalleled rapidity, focus, and reach, that the resurgent specter of statism can be slain once and for all.  The global microphone has been built, we need only the right messengers.  Let the pretenders be cast aside.  Let our champions be Senator Cruz and Senator Sanders.  And let the fate of our Republic be decided in one fell swoop.  No pressure, Ted.

Donald Trump and the Ides of March

On March 15, we will see a host of large, winner-take-all states hold their GOP primaries.  The winner of these primaries will significantly increase their delegate tally and make it increasingly likely that they become the Republican nominee for President in 2016.  Currently, the delegate and poll leader is Donald Trump, a man so bereft of principle, couth, and policy acumen, that nearly 2/3 of Republicans believe him to be (correctly) unfit for the office.

Standing in his way is a fractured field of candidates of varying hues of conservatism (Cruz, Rubio, Kasich) that must unite now in order to thwart him. The irony is that the candidate most able to successfully defeat Trump is almost as loathed by the GOP establishment as Trump himself.  While the establishment floats the idea of a brokered convention or a Hail Mary in the form of a Rubio win in Florida, precious time ticks away.  While Rubio polls better in a general election against Hillary than Cruz, if he can’t get there, the point is moot.  A brokered convention to force the issue is not only short-sighted, but in this emotionally charged environment, possibly dangerous.  If it is perceived that GOP poobahs in smoke-filled rooms are denying the people their orange champion, there will be loss of faith in the electoral process, a fracturing of the GOP, and quite possibly, violence.

A defeat of Trump must occur in the open before Cleveland in order to preserve the legitimacy of the primary process.  Ted Cruz is the only candidate that can accomplish this, but he can’t do it while the opposition is fractured.  He has twice as many delegates has Rubio.  Unfortunately, Rubio’s decisive win in Puerto Rico yesterday will feed his ego and the hopes of his backers that he can pull out a miracle.  As we’ve seen though, hope is not a strategy.  Rubio’s win in Puerto Rico was the equivalent of a garbage time touchdown in a blowout defeat.

As for Kasich, his quixotic quest for the White House is also harmful to the anti-Trump effort, which leads to some interesting questions.  He has received the kid-glove treatment by Trump, most likely because he is not seen as a threat.  However, he has siphoned off delegates from the viable candidates and will continue to do so as the contests move to a more moderate Northeast Corridor.  I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Casino where Ace Rothstein (Robert DeNiro) chastises Don Ward, the idiot cowboy pit boss that allows a rigged slot machine to continue to pay out jackpots to the detriment of the casino.

“Listen, if you didn’t know you were being scammed, you’re too dumb to keep this job, if you did know, then you were in on it, either way you’re OUT!”

To me, Kasich is either too naive to realize he has no shot at the nomination OR he’s done a deal to stay in and split the field so as to secure a position in a Trump administration.  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of Kasich lends some credence to this theory; he is Trump’s successor on the Apprentice after all and has ties to the mogul.  It’s plausible that Kasich, wittingly or unwittingly, is being used.

Such political intrigue hearkens back to the Ides of March.  March 15 is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar, dictator of the Roman Republic, in 44 B.C.  He was stabbed to death by a group of Senators that feared his lurch toward authoritarianism and that date corresponds as a turning point in Roman history marking the transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.  In my previous piece, I highlight that America is at a similar crossroads.  Except here, we can vanquish the authoritarian politically and avert a potential disaster.

On March 15, if Trump is not facing Senator Cruz with the support of the remaining candidates and the GOP establishment, he will likely win Florida and be impossible to stop, save the convention scenario, which will not end well.  It will either result in a Trump v Clinton general election which Trump WILL LOSE, or an establishment-picked candidate v Clinton that will likely lose because the record GOP turnout thus far will melt away in the face of convention shenanigans.  It will have been a pyrrhic victory for the GOP establishment, as they would have burned the party down in order to rule over its ashes.

As for Mr. Trump, he may be boorish and arrogant, but like most con artists, he is not patently stupid.  He realizes that you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room, you just have to be smarter than your mark.  Senator Rubio, Governor Kasich, for the good of our country and party, it’s time to set aside your egos and coalesce behind Senator Cruz in order to defeat Donald Trump and his Potemkin candidacy.

Take these huddled masses…or else

“That’s not American.  That’s not who we are.”  President Obama dismissing GOP scrutiny of Syrian refugees

We are committed to increasing the number of refugees we take…” Secretary of State Kerry

“Germany is a strong country–we will manage.”–German Chancellor Angela Merkel

“New York City is a proud immigrant city and we will not turn our back on that history.”  NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio

Noting the above, a question remains:  Who is this “we”?  My father would rhetorically ask this question whenever he heard a politician bloviating and answer it himself wryly, “unless you have a gremlin in your pocket, all I see is you.”  A warning to be wary of silver-tongued demagogues, no doubt.  Speaking on behalf of an entire nation, or group, or city, is a tried and true political tactic used by the ruling class to confer legitimacy of action when pushing a particular agenda.  Except it is fraudulent.  No single person can know the thoughts and feelings of hundreds of thousands of people any more than a single central authority can plan and manage the actions of millions of people in a diverse economy (see collapse of the Soviet Union).

With respect to the current refugee crisis overwhelming Europe, progressives the world over tell us that “we” should fling open the gates and let in countless hordes of foreigners.  If anyone questions the method, speed, or wisdom of such action, they are labeled heartless or racist and that their behavior is shameful.  While I do empathize with the plight of the refugees, our political leaders should be making decisions based on logic, not on feelings.  When was the last time you made an emotionally charged decision that worked out well?  Rarely, mostly because emotion clouds judgment.

First off, I am for the free movement of labor and capital across borders–in theory.  However, when you have a welfare state, as most western countries now do, even the perception that new arrivals will take advantage of it will cause social strife.  The “huddled masses” crowd forgets that when that poem was written, America promised opportunity for a better life and a system of government that (mostly) left you alone to reap the fruits of your labor–and nothing more.  In Europe, with indigenous youth unemployment anywhere from 15-30%, is it logical to believe that a young Syrian, with cultural and language hurdles, will be able to land a job over a citizen of that particular country?  No, they will be on the dole, overwhelming a welfare system that can barely sustain itself as it is and thus hastening its demise.

Next, our leaders would have you believe rigorous security measures will be put in place to “vet” refugees, but that is a total fabrication.  One need only watch the countless videos of people literally pouring over barricades and through checkpoints as authorities feebly attempt to hold them back, not to mention the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and lockdown in Belgium that were traced back to the shores of Greece or shoddy visa investigations to see that such claims are bald-faced lies.

Then, our leaders tell us that the refugees will assimilate and become productive members of western society, citing previous migration of Eastern Europeans to the West after the fall of communism.  Wrong again.  Most of that involved populations of people with cultural, linguistic, religious and many times, familial ties.  It also occurred over many years and under more strict border controls than exist today, as it was prior to the Schengen Agreement that eliminated border controls within most of Europe.

Even when there has been ample time for assimilation, it has not gone well.  Look no further than the banlieues, or suburbs, of major French cities.  Three generations of Moroccans, Algerians, and other Africans have still yet to assimilate in France, despite being granted citizenship, and have created their own “city-states” within the country that are essentially “no -go” zones for French authorities.  Turkish integration into Germany has fared slightly better, but integration of fairly secular Muslims over decades still had its share of problems.  With the Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans now arriving, we’re talking about profoundly different cultures with very different values being dropped into the heart of Europe to the tune of 1M people in less than a year.

At the very least, there should be some basic questions asked here.  Why are the rich Gulf countries taking zero refugees?  If living under Islamic rule is so great, why are millions running the other way?  When did the rights of taxpaying citizens of any of these countries become subordinate to the rights of refugees?  Why are conservatives terrible people for asking these questions?

Bottom line, this is the left-wing modus operandi.  It’s about power.  It’s about being magnanimous…with other people’s money and resources.  It’s about foisting their vision of the world upon you, because they don’t have to deal with the real world ramifications of their policies.  They live cloistered lives in gilded extravagance, send their kids to private schools, have armed security details.  You have to go into town for groceries past the new refugee camp that is rife with violence and crime.  You have to send your kid to an overwhelmed state school where the ability to learn and general safety is now greatly diminished.  You have to try to protect your family and property without so much as a pop gun.  These “leaders” are so eager feed their own ego and blinded by building their legacy by bringing these people in, they never bother to ask “then what?”

Want a reasonable solution?  Look to Canada.  They have a system of private sponsorship of refugees, whereby community organizations, churches, and minority groups pool private funds to pay for refugees to resettle in Canada and find work.  A study actually showed that privately sponsored refugees become self-sufficient more quickly than those supported by the government.  Further, they will now only accept whole families or lone women and children; unaccompanied men will be turned away.

Sadly, it’s too late to implement this in Europe.  Here in America, why not have a popular referendum?  Rather than tell us how many refugees we must take, why doesn’t the President ask who among us would personally sponsor a refugee, tally up that number, subtract single and military age males, then get out of the way?  Then we’ll see who “we” are as a nation.  Then, and only then, will it truly be a solution that “we” can live with.

On a Muslim President: Carson, Cruz, and Paul are all right

Over the past few days, Presidential candidate Ben Carson has caught a lot of heat for comments he made during an interview where he stated that he would not support a Muslim as President.  Never mind that this “nontroversy” is a complete hypothetical ginned up by the mainstream media as “gotcha” journalism and distracts from the actual issues facing this country.  Most of us that pay attention are used to the Left using the Alinsky-esque dog whistle of divisiveness whenever their policies come into question because they don’t stand up to the scrutiny of logic and reason.  But it also represents how low some will slither in order to try to destroy a decent man.

The discussion in the Democrat strategy room likely went something like this; “How can we attack the soft-spoken, black, Republican, pediatric neurosurgeon without looking like racists?  I know!!  Make HIM racist!!”  So off they marched, set-up in hand, to try to discredit this man.  Except it may have backfired because they didn’t think that someone that had spent 22 hours straight surgically separating the brains of conjoined twins could be articulate.  Todd Akin this was not.

I happen to agree with Dr. Carson that Islam, in its most rigid form, is incompatible with our constitutional republic for the very simple reason that ours is a system that holds dearly the separation of church and state, where in Islam, church IS state.  As someone who has spent a decade traipsing through the region, I’ve seen varying degrees of religious rigidity as law, from straight up Shari’a in Saudi Arabia to iron-fisted strongmen using state power to co-opt the sermons of imams at Friday prayer and keep the masses in line (i.e., angry at the west and not at their own despotic rulers for their dire lot in life).

Because Islam is viewed by Muslims as version 3.0 of the Abrahamic religions (seen as an improvement over Judaism and Christianity but borrowing heavily from both), it is a deeply entrenched part of daily life.  It doesn’t just give broad guidelines on how to live your life like the  ten commandments and let the details get sorted separately.  It specifically outlines everything from doing your banking, disciplining your wife, what foods to eat, how to treat those of different faiths, how many times a day to pray, etc—all clearly outlined as directives from Allah.  I believe that this specificity/inflexibility is part of the conundrum of Islam and how it can be expected to coexist with our democratic system.  In short, laws of man can be changed; laws of God cannot.

Dr. Carson is also right that the Constitution is, and should be, the supreme law of our land.  Our founders, mostly Christians of varying flavors, created a secular Constitution mirroring the Christian fundamentals by which they lived.  Further, they were mainly familiar with Christianity and the harmless animism of the Native Americans at the time.  Thomas Jefferson may have owned a Qur’an, but had he spent any time in today’s Middle East, he would have found Islam profoundly antithetical to the idea of liberty and the individual rights espoused in our founding documents.

Enter Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the two most constitutionally literate candidates in this election, who pointed out that Article 6 of the Constitution states that there shall be no religious test for office.  They are also right.  There should be no test precluding anyone from office based on religion.  However, once elected, should this hypothetical Muslim President begin doing things in contravention to the Constitution, that’s where we can use the built-in remedy in our system called impeachment.

In sum, I don’t have a problem with a Muslim President, provided he or she respects the primacy of our Constitution over the Qur’an.  If one does not or cannot, don’t run for the office.  I believe Dr. Carson’s wariness is well founded though.  If a spineless Congress cannot assert itself against the unconstitutional actions of our current Executive, one wonders if they ever will.