Both Political Parties’ Establishments Don’t Get It

Donald Trump’s election to the presidency was as clear a clarion call as there could be that “business as usual” was no longer acceptable to the voters. The GOP Establishment seems to be utterly deaf to the message.

We’ve seen this reality play out from Trump’s first announcement of his candidacy right through to the present day.

During the election primaries, none of his opponents thought he had a slightest chance of actually winning the nomination, an incredulousness shared by the party machine. They mocked and belittled him, refusing to take him seriously. They were utterly stunned when he went on to actually win that primary.

But did that win alert the GOP that something profoundly different was going on this time around? Nope.

Many of Trump’s former opponents refused to endorse his candidacy, a few even threatening to endorse his opponent, Clinton. The GOP’s candidates for other offices continued to run on the promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare” in their own campaigns, repetition of a 7-year-old party campaign theme. But clearly, most of them didn’t take Trump’s campaign seriously, either.

How do we know this? Because when the most shocking and unexpected event took place, and Trump actually won the General Election, nobody was prepared to actually move forward and fulfill the promises they’d campaigned on for many years.

Having secured both chambers of Congress and the White House, was the GOP now prepared with a “shovel ready” plan to actually live up to and fulfill that years-old campaign promise of getting rid of Obamacare?

Not even close. They had absolutely nothing, because, as a party, they’d banked on the idea that Trump had absolutely no chance of actually winning the election.

In scientific parlance, this is what’s called “stupid”.

Compounding the problem, that stupidity continues, with no sign of abating. The “Never-Trumpers” are still in full roar, glorying in their “moral superiority”, reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, utterly oblivious to the voices of that plebian mass in fly-over country that elected Trump. Elitist snobbery personified.

On the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton’s defeat was sending the same message to the Democrat Party, with the same result: deafness and denial.

When the campaign season opened the Establishment Democrats deemed Clinton the ordained candidate, and no other “mainstream” Democrat even threw their hat into the ring.

And then along came Bernie Sanders, the Democrat equivalent of Trump, an “outsider” who wasn’t even a member of the Democrat Party, having been elected throughout his career in the House and Senate as an “Independent” who only caucused with the Democrats.

To the consternation of the Establishment Democrats, Sanders’s candidacy put the coronation of Clinton in serious jeopardy, to the point that party officials conspired with Clinton campaign people to cheat Sanders out of any chance of winning that party’s nomination. Needless to say, the Sanders supporters were outraged by this when it became publicly known.

Once Clinton had secured the nomination, the DNC and her campaign apparatus evidently felt so confident of her chances of winning, and so scornful of Trump, that they decided to concentrate their campaign on the coastal urban centers and special-interest coalitions that in reality were already in the tank for her, utterly and completely ignoring everyone in “fly-over country”, as well as the masses of people who were ardent and now-outraged Sanders supporters, essentially wasting their time, energy, and resources.

Then the unthinkable happened. Trump actually won.

The result? A Democrat party in complete disarray and dissension, to the point of being in a shambles. A schism over what the meaning of such an unexpected and catastrophic loss means.

The Clintonistas are welded to the idea – really just an excuse – that it was “the Russians” and Comey at fault, unwilling to accept that Clinton was a terrible candidate who ran an incompetent campaign.

The Establishment, with a very few exceptions, can’t seem to decide whether their message to the electorate was too far to the left, not far enough to the left, too married to “corporate” interests, or what.

The very few who seem to get it have said that their party needs to take a serious look at the direction they’ve taken and the policies they’re promoting, and that it could be that the emphasis on social engineering – letting men use the same bathrooms as little girls, amnesty for illegal aliens, and the like – taking priority over bread-and-butter concerns about jobs and the economy may just be a very big mistake. The far-left culture-war policies that play so well in the coastal blue regions and some other major urban areas don’t go over at all well in areas outside of those enclaves.

Unfortunately for the Democrat party, if they want to be relevant on a national scale moving into the future, those voices really are being lost in the wilderness.

I think voters are clearly signaling to their respective parties that the old “Establishment” way of doing business isn’t going to cut it anymore. In the case of the GOP, that means they’ll no longer accept empty campaign promises that aren’t followed up with serious and concerted effort to actually implement the promised policies if elected. For Democrats, it means dropping the obsession with Social Justice and class warfare, and directing attention to matters that are of more concern to average everyday Americans.

Will anyone in either party “Establishment” pay any attention?

I don’t think Trump is the causative agent of any of this. The success of his primary campaign, and Clinton’s failure to beat him in the general election, are merely symptomatic of a greater dissatisfaction in the body politic, and the results of the last election – from primaries to general election – were the overt expression of that exasperation.

What’s truly interesting is how both parties are suffering at the same time from the same kind of malaise and disaffection. How this will play out at the polls is anyone’s guess.

Or in the streets.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

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A Dem/Socialist Smackdown Two-Fer

On June 6th The Signal published a column by Josh Heath entitled “The progressive case for ending welfare” (Link), in which he advocated what is essentially a “working welfare” government program modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs of the Great Depression. As Heath wrote: “These jobs would be modeled after what President Franklin Roosevelt had Americans doing during the Great Depression: Building roads, schools and post offices; beautifying communities; teaching students; making art.”

Unfortunately, I think he overlooked a major flaw in his proposal.

You can’t really “create” those jobs because they already exist in our government work force. If there’s something that needs to be done — such as his examples of building roads, schools, teaching, whatever — there’s already someone doing it, as those things already exist as government programs or through bureaucracies.

So you can’t create “new” jobs; all you end up really doing is replacing the current workers, many of whom are private-sector contractors, with “working welfare” employees.

The country’s economic model pre-FDR was fundamentally different from today. The government had a much smaller role, so FDR was able to create jobs out of pretty much thin air – though the long-term economic benefit to the country has been doubtful at best – and ultimately the slack was really taken up by the manpower demands of engaging in World War II.

Since that time, the government has grown into a gargantuan entity with its tentacles woven throughout our economy, the natural result of FDR’s expansionist policies. So the economic reality of Heath’s proposal would result in major disruption of a significant portion of the work force as current employees – both direct and indirect (such as vendors and contractors) – were replaced by the “working welfare” employees. In fact, all you would really do is create an entirely new group of people without jobs, merely shifting the burden from one group of people to another.

Just as the Obamacare promise of solving the problem of the chronically uninsured actually only shifted the demographic from millions of the “poor” to millions of the middle class, Heath’s proposal also will only trade one set of the unemployed for another. It doesn’t actually “solve” anything.

In regard to Gary Horton’s column “America: just another nation?”, published on 7 June (Link), I have to say, it really is a lot of fun watching lefties wail and moan. I want to examine a couple of his complaints.

Okay, NATO. Trump hasn’t withdrawn us from NATO. What he HAS done is tell our “partners” that they’re finally going to have to pay their actual commitments to their share of the funding, something virtually ALL of them have been shirking for God knows how long. What a drag, right? So instead of coasting on our dime, and wasting their own money on their social welfare programs, now they’re gonna have to pony up. Bummer, I’m sure.

The Paris Accord. That scam that’s SO bad that it was never even submitted to the Senate for ratification, because it was a sure-fire epic fail there. Yep, Obama had his “phone and pen”, but now, so does Trump. Same phone, same pen. So now we’re out.

That’s a GREAT deal for America. Instead of keeping our cheap and abundant energy resources uselessly in the ground, while China and India charge ahead with their massive coal-fired energy projects, all while we chase after expensive “green energy” fantasies, we can use those resources to improve our economy and standard of living. Instead of losing millions of jobs and throwing hundreds of billions of dollars to Third World corruptocracies in a massive international wealth redistribution scheme in which we’re the victims, we can keep those jobs and those monies for our own benefit.

Sounds like a “YUGE” win… for us.

Gary: “So much leadership and potential trashed, all in 138 days.”

Well, yeah, I know it looks like that… to him. But to me it looks like we’re finally veering away from the socialist highway the lefties had us on. I can sure understand why that upsets so many of them, while a whole lot of US are cheering.

To me it looks like in that same 138 days Trump has actually made a great effort to live up to and fulfill his campaign promises, something I had little confidence he was actually going to do. I’m very impressed!

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Also published today in The Signal)

 

Impeachment Hysteria Versus Reality

 

Our family is very politically aware (and fortunately for us and family comity, all conservatives), and as everyone with a pulse knows, virtually from Inauguration Day there have been calls for President Trump’s impeachment. The hysteria seems to be reaching a crescendo recently, dominating news coverage, and as a result I received an email the other day from one of the younger members of our clan, a Millennial:

“Hello there!

“What do you think the odds are of Trump getting impeached? That’s all I see in my news feed now!

“Brett R.”

To answer Brett’s question, I think the odds of that are pretty much zero. First of all, you’ve got to understand that the “news” feed is all pretty much just biased – and I mean to a point I’ve never before seen in my lifetime – agenda-driven rubbish.

But to the actual legalities, there has to be actual “cause” for impeachment. Per the Constitution, that means “high crimes or misdemeanors”. So, what actual “crimes” or “misdemeanors” has Trump actually committed? None that I can think of.

Then there’s political reality. Impeachment takes place in the House, and conviction takes place in the Senate and requires a 2/3 vote of the Senators to do so and remove him from office. Both the House and the Senate are controlled by the GOP. So, what are the odds of ANY of that actually happening?

Precedent. Only two sitting Presidents have ever been impeached: Andrew Johnson and “Quick-Zipper Bill” Clinton. Neither was convicted. Johnson’s impeachment was purely politically motivated, based on his Reconstruction policies, and his conviction was one vote shy. Clinton actually had committed a crime – perjury – and yet wasn’t convicted in the Senate. So, particularly in light of Pantsuit Hillary’s federal felonious actions with her email rig and the failure to indict HER, I can’t see any way an actual impeachment takes place.

Another political reality. I think impeaching Trump would actually BENEFIT him. We saw the same dynamic when Billy-Bubba was impeached: his popularity actually increased. I think the same dynamic would inure to Trump. There’s a VERY large percentage of people in this country that are simply fed up with the SOP of how both major parties have been conducting business over the last few decades. Trump’s election is the embodiment of that frustration. Impeaching him… the consequences of that could be beyond imagination.

All these impeachment noises are being made by left-wing radicals spouting moronic sound bites for public consumption; people like Maxine Waters and “Nancy the Red” Pelosi. It’s become Dem/socialist SOP to act like silly, spoiled children. And all the while they’re doing it they’re losing actual political power all across the country with the exception of a few blue coastal states like Commiefornia and Taxachussetts.

I see this as simply political Kabuki from the American socialists. Think about it. If Trump’s impeached and convicted, that doesn’t roll back the election clock and make the Pantsuit Lady President. Mike Pence becomes President! They know that as well as I do. And that would be about the worst thing that could happen to them and their agenda, because he’s as clean as a whistle, and a great conservative. It would absolutely CRUSH their political aspirations. The whole point of this impeachment drivel is to try to keep Trump off balance, and to delegitimize him in order to try to weaken him. An actual impeachment would be a huge strategic error on their part.

Like I said, I think the chances are pretty much zero.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

It’s About Damned Time!

After decades of bringing a plastic toy bat to a gunfight, the GOP – that party with an uncanny record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – finally grew some gonads and “went nuclear” on the confirmation process for Judge Neil Gorsuch.

It’s about damned time!

The result is that Gorsuch has taken his rightful place on the bench at the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

We’ve all heard the incessant bleating from the left. “It’s a stolen seat! It should be Merrick Garland’s! Senate rules! Tradition!” Blah, blah, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

I, for one, couldn’t care less about their whining. In fact, in all honesty, I’m absolutely reveling in it! Because the time finally came when they had to pay the piper, and they didn’t like it one little bit. They’re squealing like stuck pigs. Good!

For decades, for purely political purposes, they changed rules, and moved the goalposts, at will. They counted on the GOP to consider themselves to be above such “petty” political games when they were themselves in power, and for the most part they’ve been right… up to now. The GOP was indeed stupid enough to keep letting them get away with it while refusing to resort to the same tactics themselves.

This kind of cynical, manipulative behavior goes all the way back to FDR, who threatened to “pack” the Supreme Court with like-minded leftist judges who’d back his socialist programs, and when the GOP legislators chickened out and backed off, the stage was set.

When Reagan nominated Robert Bork, a superbly qualified originalist jurist, to SCOTUS the scurrilous attacks on his character, ironically led by Ted Kennedy – the “Lion of the Senate” who was apparently taking a break from molesting and drowning young interns at the time – were so outrageous that Bork ended up withdrawing from consideration. The episode was so shameful it even led to the coining of the term “borking” for subjecting nominees to irrational and unreasonable political attacks.

When Bush I nominated Clarence Thomas to SCOTUS Senate Dems tried, unsuccessfully, to “bork” him with the infamous Anita Hill slander. When Bush II nominated Samuel Alito Senate Dems tried unsuccessfully to filibuster his appointment. They did successfully block Bush II’s nominee to the DC Circuit, Miguel Estrada, using a filibuster.

Yet when the shoe has been on the other foot, Dem/socialist nominees have sailed through to an easy confirmation, in spite of their political bent, with little to no GOP opposition, die-hard doctrinaire leftist Ruth Bader Ginsburg being a classic example. A Carter appointment, she was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 96 to 3. Breyer was confirmed 87 to 9; Kagan by 63 to 37; and Sotomayor by 67 to 29.

When Bush I was president then-Senator Joe Biden – who was at the time chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – said he would block any Bush nominee to SCOTUS that may occur in an election year. So much for the “stolen seat” of Merrick Garland, since all the Senate GOPers did during the last year of Obama’s term was follow that very same “Biden Rule”.

And when Obama was president the ever-despicable Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader at the time, used the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster option for all judicial appointments other than to SCOTUS, thereby ensuring that Obama was able to load the lower-level Circuit Court system with activist leftist jurists. The truth is in the numbers: at the end of Bush II’s term ten of thirteen circuit courts had majorities nominated by Republican presidents. But as of now, nine of them have majorities nominated by Democrat presidents. In other words, the situation reversed by almost 180 degrees during Obama’s time in office.

There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires anything other than a simple majority for the Senate to act. As it’s been used on judicial appointments, in reality it’s been a tyranny of the minority exploited by the Dem/socialists to pack the court system, right up to and including SCOTUS, with activists more concerned with advancing a “social justice” agenda than with ensuring that proper legal and constitutional principles are observed.

Thus the irony is so thick it can be cut with a knife when Mitch McConnell and the other Senate Republicans used the Democrats’ own traditional strategy, the “nuclear option”, to ensure Gorsuch’s ascension to a seat on SCOTUS. It’s why the wailing and bleating of the left is music to my ears.

Their own chickens have come home to roost.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper: The Signal)

Naked Judicial Activism and Overreach

On March 15th, for the second time, a federal district judge – this time in Hawaii – issued an injunction against President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from several specific countries. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, in the case of State of Hawai’I and Ismail Elshikh v. Donald J. Trump, had the temerity to order that “Enforcement of these provisions in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas is prohibited, pending further orders from this Court.” In other words, this judge in the district of Hawaii issued a restraining order that supposedly has nationwide enforceability.

The only problem is, he has no authority to do so.

Article III of the US Constitution establishes the Judiciary, and defines its powers, authority and limitations. Section 2, Paragraph 2 clearly states that: “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.”

What that means is that, barring a constitutional amendment, any case in which a state is a party must be heard by the Supreme Court, the only court with the authority and jurisdiction to hear such cases. Since one of the plaintiffs in the case at issue is the state of Hawaii, District Judge Watson had no jurisdiction, nor authority, to even hear the case. The same holds true for the several other District Courts that have heard and/or issued rulings on cases of like kind.

That paragraph goes on to state that: “In all the other Cases before mentioned (in Paragraph 1), the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” Under that authority Congress went on to enact the Judiciary Acts of 1789, 1801, 1865, and 1925. These various Acts established the judicial system we have today, consisting of nine Supreme Court Justices, the various Circuit Courts of Appeal, the various District Courts, and their various jurisdictions, responsibilities and powers.

Part of that structuring defined court power to establish that the only court with national jurisdiction is the Supreme Court. For example, any ruling handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court only has enforcement power within the geographical boundaries of that Circuit, which are the nine Western states, including California. That’s why it’s not unusual to see different Circuits hand down conflicting rulings on the same issue, with the Supreme Court then stepping in to address and resolve the conflict by issuing a determinate ruling with national authority, thereby assuring a consistent application and rule of law across the nation.

The geographical jurisdictional and enforcement power of a District court is even smaller, as it’s a subset of the Circuit Court. So, just as the authority of a ruling by a Circuit Court is constrained by its geographical boundaries, so is the authority of a District Court’s ruling constrained to its own.

From this it’s easy to see that, in addition to hearing a case over which he had no jurisdiction, District Judge Watson issued a ruling and restraining order that he unlawfully attempts to apply outside the geographical borders of his own limited authority.

This is beyond unacceptable; it’s a repugnant attempt to usurp and arrogate power.

Were I Trump I’d instruct the State Department and other involved agencies to ignore these illegal rulings by this, and other, District judges who have far overstepped their legal authority. If these tin pot local judges want to set up a confrontation between the Judiciary and the Executive branches, then let’s bring it on.

Thomas Jefferson expressed his concern that the federal judiciary was potentially “the most dangerous branch” of government because, once seated, judges were installed for life and not accountable to the electorate. Unfortunately, particularly in recent decades, we’ve been seeing those fears realized as arrogant activist judges have taken to regularly exceeding their authority in order to facilitate their own political agendas, as facilitated by the cynical practice of “judge shopping” by litigants eager to promote and achieve their own political ends, goals they generally can’t achieve through the regular political process.

This must come to a halt, even if that has to be done through a constitutional confrontation.

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

Is There A Lesson In Trump’s Win?

trump5

 

Well, the election’s over, and now we know who’s the clear and indisputable loser: Clinton, and the country dodged a major bullet.

But I’m more interested in considering what dynamic was in play that propelled a candidate like Trump to win the GOP nomination at all, and ultimately the election.

For about twenty-five years, since the administration of Papa Bush, the Establishment GOP has continually drifted leftward, all the while trying subtly to redefine “conservatism” while claiming to support the traditional principles represented by the official party planks (or positions). This manifests itself each election season when the candidates on the stump promise to aggressively fight for those principles, but once elected fail to follow through on those campaign promises, instead offering tepid resistance to Dem/socialist programs, and half-hearted efforts to further a conservative agenda, when they’re not offering their own “progressive” programs, such as Bush 2’s “No Child Left Behind”, Scrips for Seniors, and amnesty for illegal aliens; McCain’s amnesty support and lack of Second Amendment support; the despised Common Core; as well as other examples.

This is also illustrated by considering their presidential candidates post-Bush 1: Dole, Bush 2, McCain, and Romney. Not one of them is a bona fide conservative. It’s also underscored by their congressional leadership: Boehner (until recently) in the House and McConnell in the Senate.

Predictably, as this drift has become more and more obvious, the traditional “base” of the GOP has become ever more disenchanted and disaffected. We saw this manifest itself with the rise of the Tea Party, a phenomenon to which the Establishment GOP reacted badly,2008-tea-party_004 with scorn and disdain instead of contemplating it as a symptom of organic and systemic problems. The Establishment elites simply knew better; the Tea Party was a disorganized bunch of uneducated yahoos who didn’t know what was good for them; and they could be minimized and ignored with impunity. All the while the percentage of the electorate registered as Republicans continued to fall while the percentage registered as Independent continued to rise in virtually direct proportion, a crystal clear bellwether to anyone actually paying attention.

Unfortunately for the Establishment GOP, they weren’t paying attention.

And this time around, the pressure in the boiler had built up so much that it exploded. One man put himself forward as the anti-everything: anti-Establishment GOP; anti-liberal; anti-illegal alien; anti-mainstream media; anti-gun control; anti-Big Government… all those hot-button issues that the “uneducated yahoos” the Establishment GOP so despised found so important. Further, he didn’t talk down to those “yahoos”. He COURTED them! He catered to them. He spoke THEIR language!

And how did the Establishment GOP react to that? By trying to rally around and promote more of their same, tired old offerings: Jebbie!!! and Kasich, “moderate” drones. What about the actual conservatives in the race, Cruz and Rubio? Well the Establishment hated them almost as much as Trump, and didn’t have any qualms about making that clear.

So when the dust finally settled, and Trump was the official nominee, did the party regulars and the rest of the Establishment GOP rally around their candidate and do all they could to help him succeed? Far from it. In acts of astonishing perfidy, not only did they abandon supporting him, but many of them – yes, I’m looking at you, Bushes – actually made a point of supporting his opponent, the despicable Clinton, an act of betrayal that will be long remembered.

That perfidy actually goes to the heart of the problem: that the Establishment GOP, at least at the national level, suffers from an elitism – “Beltway-itis” – that’s made them blind to the reality of what they need to do to regain and maintain their viability as a truly k-street“national” party. They inherently disdain the Joe Sixpacks that make up their natural base. They apparently prefer acceptance at K Street social functions over getting down in the mud with the people they absolutely need if they want to succeed.

Trump was the natural result of that disease. He was the revolt the GOP has long had coming, and to which it was willfully blind. And his success, and ultimate election to the office of President, IN SPITE of the Establishment GOP, should make them step back and take a long and hard look at how they want to approach the political arena as the country moves into the future.

The question now is: will they actually learn something from this?

 

©Brian Baker 2016

 

(Also published today in  The Signal)

“The Donald” Is President… Now What?

The dog days of the Summer of 2017 have been especially brutal, with sweltering heat and humiditydc summer turning Washington, D.C. into a miasma.

The election of 2016 was one for the books. The expected “coronation” of Hillary Clinton never took place, her ambitions for election to the highest office of the land crushed when the FBI investigation into her emails resulted in her indictment on federal misdemeanor charges. Only a last-minute pardon granted by outgoing President Obama saved her from a lengthy trial and probable conviction.

When self-avowed Socialist Bernie Sanders became the official Democrat party nominee due to a rabid outpouring of support from the ultra-left fringe, the GOP – now insulated from the threat of a Hillary candidacy – reverted to form and coalesced around Establishment candidate Jeb Bush.

Defeated in the primaries, Donald Trump declared himself a candidate as an Independent. On election night this dynamic played itself out to its finale, with Sanders getting little support from other than the ultra-left, Bush getting little from any other than the GOP loyalists, and the remainder going to Trump. In an election cycle with a record-low turnout, that happened to be enough to give Trump the win.

trump in officeNow, six months after the inauguration, Trump sits at his desk in the Oval Office brooding over his next moves. He’d tried to push through his promise to build a border wall between the US and Mexico with the stipulation that he’d stick Mexico with the bill, but he’d immediately run into another “wall” he hadn’t anticipated.

Congress had refused to create any legislation authorizing such a project, and with no ties to either of the parties in control of Congress, Trump found himself with no leverage at all with which to proceed. His request for such legislation was simply DOA. The only thing he got was a gift from the President of Mexico of a bottle of fine agave tequila, with a sardonic note of congratulations.

Along similar lines, when he’d tried to find some way to suspend the automatic granting of US citizenship to “anchor babies”, there was no actual way to effectuate his efforts. He couldn’t do it by executive order, because citizenship is a state of being, not a document issued by a government agency to which he could issue orders. He again asked Congress for appropriate legislation, and ran into the exact same problem he faced regarding his proposed wall: Congress ignored him.

In August of 2015 he’d said that he’d support a tax increase on the “ultra-rich” – heresy to conservatives – and when he’d proposed the idea to Congress he got strong support from the Democrat side of the aisle, and strong opposition from the GOP, again with the same result: no action from Congress.

Last month’s meeting with Putin had gone badly. They didn’t click on a personal level, a problem right out of the box. He’d tried to insist that Putin call off his dogs, but the Russian just stared at him with those beady eyes. It was infuriating! “All right, so he got a little annoyed at what I said”, Trump thought. “But I was calling his actions ‘stupid’, not him personally. Can’t he tell the difference?”

He’d tested another policy initiative a couple of months ago, a sort of trial balloon. He’d instructed our ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to present to those countries bills for our costs in protecting their countries militarily, including from the Saddam Hussein invasion. After all, they have virtually unlimited wealth from their oil production, and we provide their military support. It was for only $1.5 trillion! Who’d have thought they’d react the way they did? The Saudis even insisted Trump recall our ambassador to that country. Imagine! Looks like that balloon popped…

Which, Trump mused, means the odds of doing the same thing anywhere else look pretty slim…

The backlash from his announcement last week that he was sending the 82nd Airborne Division to the82 airborne Middle East to fight ISIS utterly confounded and perplexed him. If there was any actual personification of actual evil on this planet, they were it. So how could so many people – not only in the electorate, but in Congress – not see that we had to send in the troops?

“Quagmire?”, he grumbled to himself. “What does that even mean? I can tell those generals how to win that war. And anyway, if they don’t do it my way, and win that damn war, I’ll just fire them.”

Seeing that the sun was setting, he rose from the chair and left the room. Tomorrow was another day.

©Brian Baker 2015

 

(Published in my local newspaper, The Signal, on 3 Sep 2015: http://www.signalscv.com/section/33/article/141834/ )

 

Trumpists = Clintonistas

The critics use terms such as “demagogic ideologue” with “no specific policy proposals”, while the cheerleaders say things like “savior of the country” and “America’s best hope”.

Name that candidate.

trump clinton

Yes, that’s right. As painful as it is to write, and maybe even more painful to read, I’ve come to the conclusion that all the rabid hysteria in support of Donald Trump reminds me of nothing so much as the same kind of rabid hysterical support Clinton gets from those on the Left.

In both cases, their supporters have to convince themselves that their candidate’s history is irrelevant. In Clinton’s case, a boatload of scandals, improprieties, and corruption. In Trump’s case a checkered past of being literally all over the map on the political issues, being a big monetary supporter of the “other” party, being a member of several parties other than the GOP, and always serving his own self-interest first and foremost, before any other consideration (in that respect being very Clintonian).

A couple of weeks ago I wrote my first essay on the Trump phenomenon, and I have to say that I was very surprised by the pushback I got from several fellow bloggers and web-friends whom I normally consider to be very reliable conservatives. In that essay, and the one I wrote on the night of the first GOP debate, I pointed out many of Trump’s flaws as a candidate, including his many character failings. Yet many of these people, whom I generally consider to be very level-headed, were willing to simply ignore all of this because they’d either fallen under his spell, or convinced themselves that his basic character – his nature – didn’t matter in this instance.

I remember the 1996 election cycle in which Bill Clinton ran for a second term, and how that was the first time in the modern political era that “character” became a notable issue. Since that time, it’s one the GOP and conservatives raise regularly in criticizing their opponents, but somehow, this time, in the case of Trump they’re more than willing to ignore that very same quality when the question is directed at Trump, while at the same time using it to disparage Hillary Clinton.

What is one to make of this… inconsistency?

Here’s my assessment of their characters: both are egotistical megalomaniacs with a strong sense of entitlement; both are populist ideologues – he allegedly on the Right, she clearly on the Left – who are long on populist rhetoric and short on policy specifics; both have histories of political expediency to advance their own self-interests; both have improperly exercised their personal power, at the clear expense of others and with utter disregard for the consequences to others, merely to further their personal positions and ambitions; both are cynical manipulators; both have flip-flopped on their professed positions on policy issues; and neither one is trustworthy.

According to reliable polling data (Quinnipiac) each of them enjoys broad support from their respective ends of the political spectrum, but that support is undermined by their low ratings for honesty, likeability, and trustworthiness. In other words, a mile wide and an inch deep.

Trump is the Right’s Hillary.

That’s my assessment of their characters; my opinion. Now, if you’re a Trump supporter, look deeply into your own heart of hearts, and ask yourself these questions: Am I wrong? Do you trust Trump? Is he someone you’d have over to your home for dinner? And if the answers to those questions are “No”, then how are you any different from a Clintonista?

If next November’s election night rolls around and we’re looking at a picture like the one at the top of this essay, this country is well and truly screwed.

©Brian Baker 2015

 

(Also published today at my local newspaper, The Signal: http://www.signalscv.com/section/33/article/141085/)

 

“The Donald”: Reigning Clown Prince of Politics

I’ll preface by stating that I’m not a member of any political party; I’m a Constitutional conservative, and if I were to be a member of any party, I suppose it would be the Tea Party, though they don’t actually have a formal “party” per se.

In this very blog, I’ve mocked and satirized Crazy Uncle Joe Biden several times as being the Clown Prince of Politics, but I think he’s now been deposed, proving the Left doesn’t have a monopoly on political lunacy.

trump2

Not very “presidential”. Is this why he wears a hat all the time now?

Exhibit A: “The Donald”, the guy with the world-class comb-over, proving one can be tacky and tasteless in appearance while at the same time exhibiting absolutely no discernible decorum or political acumen.

As George Santayana famously noted, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”, and we can see that play out right now as Trump repeats the bombastic campaign of another eccentric billionaire with delusions of grandeur, Ross Perot, the guy who’s single-handedly responsible for us ever having to say the words “President Clinton”… at least, so far.

There have been other hyperbolic populists in the last few years who have enjoyed their moment in the sun before fading out of the limelight, Chris Christie coming immediately to mind. What is it about these guys that gives them such popularity – Trump currently being the GOP candidate with the highest individual poll numbers – in spite of their political record? Christie is a Northeastern “moderate” with a very mixed record on traditional conservative principles, who famously lauded Obama. Trump’s record on political contributions actually favors Democrats, including Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton; he’s been registered as other than Republican several times over the last couple of decades, even running for President as a Reform Party candidate. He’s advocated restrictions on “assault weapons”, and increasing wait periods.

I think it’s pretty clear that Trump has virtually no chance at all of ever being elected President. In fact, if he were to somehow miraculously win, and if he tried to govern as he claims he would, he’d be either the most ineffective, or the worst, President in American history, as his “style” would be more suited to a dictator than the President of a republic.

I also think it’s instructive that many of the same people who have been criticizing Obama for years about his lack of experience before being elected President would actually support Trump, a man with even less… in fact, none at all.

So why all the hoopla? I think it’s because Trump – and Christie before him – personifies an approach to the arena that they wish was more prevalent in the legitimate candidates of their party: a willingness to be confrontational with a news media that largely and openly supports their opponents; aggressive advocacy on certain hot-button issues of the moment; and a perception of independence from vested party interests.

That last is a very key element, I believe. Sadly, the GOP of the post-Reagan era has become infamous for claiming to support traditional conservative principles, and then promptly abandoning them as working priorities as soon as they win the elections. There was a brief resurgence of conservatism during the Gingrich era, but it very quickly dissipated.

Instead, we’ve seen a constant parade of lackluster “moderate” candidates who can’t generate anyth[7] (4) enthusiasm among the conservative base of the party. In fact, on a personal note, the 2008 nomination of John McCain was the final straw that caused me to renounce my own membership in the GOP of almost 40 years.

Even at the congressional level, we’ve see that same problem as recently as last year’s election, during which the GOP candidates ran on a platform of directly confronting Obama’s policies and fiats only to promptly abandon taking any real action as soon as they took office and the majorities of both chambers of Congress.

I think Trump has been imbued with a kind of representational fantasy, just as John Wayne was perceived as a “hero” because of all his exploits in westerns and war movies, though he never served a day in uniform or heard a shot fired in anger. He represents what they want that party’s legitimate candidates to do, and be like, and support.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that the fault for Trump’s current popularity can be laid right at the doorstep of the Establishment GOP itself, for failing to comprehend the unrest among its own claimed “base”.

©Brian Baker 2015

 

UPDATE: Recently released polling data by Quinnipiac shows Trump being the worst performer of any of the current Republican candidates in a matchup in the General Election, being soundly beaten by Clinton, Biden and even self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. Not only beaten, but solidly thumped. To quote the poll: “Trump has the worst favorability rating of any Republican or Democrat”.

Read it all for yourself:  http://www.quinnipiac.edu/images/polling/us/us07302015_U645de.pdf

Second update: It looks like no less an intellectual illuminary than Thomas Sowell agrees with everything I said:  http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2015/08/04/the-trump-card-n2034124/page/full