Days of Change

Welcome to Libertarian Government

January 13, 2019
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Early in the Trump Administration, I mentioned that people wanted someone to “un-govern” the country. Over the last couple of years, this is what has happened. While the cabinet and key positions have seen about average churn, the Democrats are slowing down confirmations and federal workers are quitting at a higher rate. Fewer people are working for the federal government and the country hasn’t blown up.

The government shutdown is adding a new level. We are now in the longest dark period in budgeting for the government. Many workers are starting to miss a paycheck and other transfer services are not providing funds. Unfortunately, the resolution to such shutdowns is to eventually provide back pay, then pay overtime to catch up. Non-essential does not mean unnecessary.

In a bit of irony, the border wall shows the libertarian free market at work. Border crossers can make better money in the US and therefore make the arduous journey to get here. Democrats tacitly support this because they are a source of votes for them. In reality, $5 Billion worth of wall is about 70 miles, which will mostly serve to redirect border crossings, rather than eliminate them. Democrats are putting up a legislative wall for about 0.02% of the federal budget.

The end of this fight is a matter of democracy and marketing. For Trump, the lack of wall funding or real construction is the tipping point for the support needed to get him reelected. It took Ann Coulter over 3 years to sour on Trump because of missed opportunities. Rush Limbaugh is right behind her. Even Sean Hannity has said that at least 1/3 of the remaining open border must be walled off to secure Trump’s reelection.

For Republicans, it is a more complicated issue. Right now, there are just about enough donors and voters to prevent 20 Senators to break ranks and pass a veto-proof budget. As time wears on the pressure to do something will increase for them, probably faster than for the Democrats. People who need their paychecks and government benefits tend to dislike Trump, so they are also willing to give Democrats a pass. This is good for them because the more vocal progressive faction barely cares about electability and would rather Democrats passed more government programs, even if they were voted out in 2020 because of it.

There is no stalemate. It is more of a wearing down until one side has to give up. Either is the wall (funding) or nothing. There is little interest in a compromise because it has the potential to make factions on both sides angry. Someone is going to take a hit on this.

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Statement of Principles

January 2, 2019
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The Washington Examiner proposed the question “What does it mean to be a conservative in the Age of Trump?” I would suggest that what it means to be a conservative has never been fully settled and changes with each White House, even each Congress. Most likely, this is a roundabout way of asking “Is Trump a conservative?” or “Is the Trump Administration good for conservatism?”

First off, I’d say that many Trump supporters are conservatives in the same way Trump is. They are old fashioned, seeking to return to actions and behaviors that worked in the past. This goes against peripheral conservative ideas like libertarian economics or neoconservatism. For example, cutting taxes is a core conservative principle since the Reagan era. Fighting Communism is an even older principle, but the neoconservative idea of fighting terrorism though regime change is much newer.

Halting illegal immigration has been a Republican platform issue for decades, but it competes with the libertarian idea that illegal immigrants are here because America is great and their drive to come here is a benefit. In reality, Americans have always been against amnesty and illegal immigration and the Republican Party has often been slow to respond.

Conservatism has been defined by the total of all leading conservatives. If you believe that those conservatives have either been excessively critical of Trump or more likely to change their stance based on Trump’s words and deeds, then conservatism itself has changed in the Age of Trump. Of course, Trump is now a leading conservative by virtue of his position. We won’t know for some time how conservatism changes again after the Trump Era is over.

 


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Moral Combat

December 9, 2018
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The largest factor in the 1992 contest was the strangely viable candidacy of Ross Perot. He ran like a deficit hawk Republican and took far more votes from Bush than Clinton. For his part, Bill Clinton never reached 50% of the popular vote, even in 1996. The other problem for Bush was a challenge from the right by political gadfly Pat Buchanan. at the 1992 convention, Buchanan declared culture war.

The term “loser” has been used so much by Donald Trump (before and after his presidency) that the term mostly means “people I don’t like today.” Some of that has spilled over to the memorials of George H.W. Bush, who was one of the few modern presidents to lose a reelection bid. Another was Jimmy Carter, who is months away from being the oldest living president in history.

Winning a battle isn’t as important as being in the fight. That’s what wins the war. Of the many factors in the 1992 elections, the idea that George Bush wasn’t engaged in domestic issues, especially cultural conservatism, might have lost him vital support that year. In 2000, George W. Bush spoke frequently about his faith, so much that liberals tried to use it against him. While Bush didn’t fight a war against Islam, he did battle against the belief of too many Islamic theocrats that they could defeat America.

We all know the story of John McCain. He felt he needed to run a campaign that did not go after his opponent, to the point of chastising people at his own rallies. Even Sarah Palin was not inclined to talk to cultural conservatism during the 2008 campaign.

The Trump era is about the fight. Although he talks little about it, he often uses executive actions to show his support. At rallies, he talks more about demographics than morality, which is a more comfortable place for someone with a morally gray lifestyle. Ultimately, it may be more about the fight than the fighter. Hopefully, the cause itself is not lost.


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Math Wins

November 7, 2018
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As a student of math, I probably shouldn’t describe the kind of popular wisdom used to predict elections as “math,” but there are at least some trends that held in the 2018 midterms.

  • The popular vote is important. In 2016, Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote by winning enough states with just enough of a plurality. His margin of victory in the three closest states, was 1.5% or less. The House is made up of 435 districts that also have popular votes, and more Democrats won those.
  • The Senate was a long shot, at best. The Democrats had a good year in 2006, turning both Houses and flipping a lot of seats by campaigning against Bush. In 2012, they had Obama’s coattails to hold most of their seats.
  • It takes a lot more money to affect the outcome. On the Senate front, Democrats spent a lot of money to flip Republican Senate seats. They had plenty of money to do it. This has led some to believe one benefit of high profile Senate races was to convince Trump to spend more time campaigning for people like Ted Cruz so that Democrats could win the House.
  • Know your audience. Some Democrats were able to say they would back Trump on some issues to have a chance of getting elected. Most of them lost, but Republicans had it worse. If they didn’t support Trump agenda, candidates were subjected to friendly fire. This also affected the House races.
  • Fundamental transformation is a wish, not a reality. History tells us Trump will win in 2020. Conventional wisdom suspects Trump will be tired of losing, blame everyone else and refuse to run again, especially if he polls badly. The default makeup of the Congress is a lot like 2012, where Democrats run the House and Republicans run the Senate. There’s this thing that’s a little like gridlock called “working together.” It’s not always effective, but it doesn’t get undone quickly in the next administration.

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Passion Play

October 6, 2018
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I lost some of my indifference over the last two weeks. Even if I don’t think Donald Trump was the best candidate out of the 17 Republicans who ran in 2016, I think he’s done a good job in the nearly 2 years he’s been on the job. One thing he does excel at is the reason I remain a Republican, opposing stupid crap the Left does that keeps most people from becoming Democrats. If Trump holds the House in November, he’ll be more successful than Obama in every way.

When someone fights with you, the response is going to be either fight or take flight. When something as important as a SCOTUS nomination is at stake, fighting is really the only option. Because the Supreme Court decides if something is “Constitutional,” they can essentially block or allow any law that can’t be amended by 67 Senators and 38 states. An originalist Justice should avoid that kind of decision altogether because they go by the text of the Constitution and not some nebulous “intent.”

The Kavanaugh nomination was filled with stalls and delays. First, Democrats wanted millions of documents that would have to be reviewed before release just to slow down the process. Then there were the “settled law” questions about abortion and questions about Executive authority. In reality, all but two Democrats were automatic no votes and were just trying to stop Kavanaugh in anticipation of some kind of “blue wave” in November.

While the Christine Ford allegation was a surprise for most last month, Dianne Feinstein knew about it almost since the announcement of Kavanaugh as the appointee. Revealing it then might have ended the process, but would have allowed a new judge to be nominated before the midterms. Somehow, information that was mostly known by her Senate office leaked out the week the original vote was scheduled.

Every time Ford was asked for something, her “legal team” of Democrat lackeys delayed providing it. In fact, the only thing the Senate got was her testimony, the day before Sen. Grassely was going to stop asking and call a vote. When a couple of holdout Republicans requested another FBI investigation, Ford’s lawyers continued to block giving any documents until there was an interview. The “interview” was already provided to the Senate.

Ultimately, the delays kept Kavanaugh out of a week of work at the Supreme Court, but revealed the ultimate plan for the Left. They wanted more time and more delays. They wanted to investigate the meaning of “boof.” The probably wanted to record interviews of everyone Kavanaugh ever met. They wanted Kavanaugh to be set aside entirely, because the mere accusation of impropriety should keep one off the Supreme Court, unlike the Senate or the White House, where such allegations were actually proven with evidence.

This was the big mistake of the Left. People lukewarm on Trump found themselves very passionate about a weird circus where a woman gave conflicting testimony and yet was 100% certain of it. Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, two Senators low on the Trump fan hit parade, became stars this week because they found the assault the Democrats were trying to force on the process of government.

Despite all the hats out there, I’m not sure if we can Make America Great Again with the way politics and culture are now. What I do know is that whatever Donald Trump is doing out there, he should keep doing it.


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The Day the Rift Vanished

September 27, 2018
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The word feckless is a fun word that gets thrown around a lot. It means having a lack of character, but it mostly is used against people when someone doesn’t agree with the strength of character they do have. When it came to John McCain, Trump supporters wanted him to believe in doing whatever it took to “end” Obamacare (even when the skinny repeal wouldn’t do that). In fact, McCain opposed that last-minute vote for the same reasons he publicly opposed Obama’s original ACA legislation. It didn’t follow the rules of order in the Senate he believed in.

Today, the paths of Trump supporters and the Never Trump contingent merged. Judge Brett Kavanaugh was a solid choice for a Supreme Court appointment. He played the game every prospective Justice has to play, since Bork became a verb. David Souter played so well that he was a huge liberal appointed by Republican George H.W. Bush. In the last days before the nomination was to get a vote, the events in the Clarence Thomas hearings started to play out for Kavanaugh. Of course, the Anita Hill testimony failed to keep Thomas off the bench and made everyone look bad. Three years later, Republicans took control of both houses of Congress for the first time in decades.

Yet again, a bunch of “old, white guys” were forced into a position of having to hear testimony in what is not actually a trial because of the fear of public sentiment. As the absurdity of a recalcitrant witness and less and less credible allegations started to appear, it seems most of the Republicans, even the more institutional ones, had had enough. Unlike Trump’s bravado, this was the action of Senators on the Democratic Party side tearing apart the Senate from within.

For Lindsey Graham, it was even worse. Besides being an institutionalist, he wa salso a former prosecutor. He had to prosecute sexual assault cases, and had a better understanding than most about the victims. Smearing an innocent man was bad enough, but making a mockery of victims was disgusting. He lashed out at the Democrats on the committee and in general over their glee and promotion of the last two weeks. Still, he hadn’t jumped on the Trump train, he was simply true to himself.

Whatever reservations I had about certain Republican candidates is gone now. With about a month to go before election day, I’m filling in the entire GOP slate, no exceptions. Sometimes we can find common ground against the demon rats.


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America’s Billionaire

September 11, 2018
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More than a year before September 11, 2001, Donald Trump ran and then gave up on a campaign to be the Reform Party nominee for president. George W. Bush was running for president on a campaign of tax cuts and compassionate conservatism. Al Gore was running on a Social Security lock box and global warming. Given the news lately, the Democrats have not changed their tune.

Because elections are still close 17 years later, it seems like not much has changed. The difference is in who votes and why. The Trump voter is more blue collar than White, more male than female. They have flocked to the pragmatism of border security, trade protectionism and a military stance where the worst offenders are nuked and left to deal with the results. It actually mirrors some of the ideas of mid-century Republicans who were making America great the first time.

Democrats are getting support from women along with college educated men and from Black and Hispanic voters. Their issues are longer-term, like global warming and universal health care. The major problem is that the party platform still tries to overcompensate for “Islamophobia” with a kind of Islamophilia that supports Palestinians over Israelis and ignores the tacit support for terrorism in majority Muslim countries.

Any initial rage over 9/11 has become sympathy. The New York City cesspool of the 1970’s has been replaced by an admiration for the character of the community and the embrace of the left-leaning culture of the very liberal people there. This has also helped Donald Trump. The apprentice premiered in 2004, at a time when the city was coming back economically and Trump was the most flamboyant real estate figure. It didn’t have to defend making money, it celebrated the American Dream. It also represents the current American Dream, getting on a reality show.

In 17 years, we have fancier cell phones and have become comfortable with communicating with human beings online more than offline. That has changed society, but so has 9/11. I can honestly say I don’t know what happens next.


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Large and In Charge

September 8, 2018
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The Founding Fathers had no real opinion about a guy like Donald Trump becoming president, but they did have opinions about one man being in charge. In many countries, the party with the legislative majority votes one of their own into office as a Prime Minister. In the US, the president is chosen by the states (not the people, which is another long diatribe about federalism) and can be a different party than the legislative majority. In fact, Republicans and Democrats have had the presidency for an almost equal number of years in the last 100 years. By 2020, it will be exactly equal. However, Republicans have only been the majority in both houses for 27 years, most of which was in the last 20 years.

What the Founders didn’t like was the consolidation of power. Majorities are in the Constitution rather than parties and the president had much less power. At the outset, the president was there when quick, unilateral decisions were required. However, the president was later granted the ability to wage wars and approve treaties that were enacted under “emergency” conditions. Eventually, Congress would rubber stamp White House actions so they didn’t have to take the heat, sometimes regardless of party.

In the modern era we have concepts like executive privilege and executive orders which grant the president broad power and protection unless the Congress takes action against him. However, this power has been transferred to the Executive Branch by the Legislative Branch over time and the Democrats held Congress for almost 60 years straight in the House until 1995. In fact, Donald Trump is the Republican to enter the Presidency with an existing Republican Congressional majority that held for 2 years since Herbert Hoover.

The “imperial” presidency actually grew over a period of time. While Obama used it to go around a Senate that did not have enough votes to override a veto, he was also acting as a member of the Democratic Party. In the case of Trump, he is generally acting in the interests of the Republican Party, but is not really interested in supporting the GOP in legislation that doesn’t match his goals.

Aside from Congress, the presidency is important because every adult in the country has the opportunity to vote yes or no on the presidency. In general, voters prefer confidence and swagger over position papers and policy wonks. This is not a bad thing. If the job requires decisive action, the president needs to be confident.

The emerging issue with Trump and his cocksure attitude is that the people who oppose or resit him are not actually willing to use the tools at their disposal, If 19 Republican Senators truly opposed Trump on an Executive Order, for example, they could simply join the Democrats and override it. A senior adviser could resign and spill the tea about the administration. If you’re Omarosa, you can apparently play the tape as well. One “adviser” chose to (anonymously) call Donald Trump names in a New York Times Op-Ed. Again, he could have resigned or possibly talked to 19 Republican Senators about the dangerous state of the country.

Donald Trump’s nature is to make proclamations and dare people to oppose him. Then he either bullies them until they give up or pays them off quietly. It takes action to stop that. In 2016, the GOP was paralyzed and just kept hoping that someone other than Trump would win the nomination. The left stood by (after spending a year promoting him) hoping that calling Trump a sexist would help Hillary win the election. Now, the people not in charge are hoping to paint Trump as abnormally crazy instead of limiting the power of the presidency, because they want to retain it for when they have the president’s ear again.

Donald Trump rejects your status quo and substitutes his own.


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Retcon

August 26, 2018
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Retroactive continuity describes an installment of a story that contradicts elements of earlier installments. Bobby Ewing dies on Dallas, but they want to bring him back, so what really happened is that Pam dreamed an entire season of the show.

With Trump and McCain, the story starts sometime around the primaries. The then candidate made a remark that being a “war hero” and being captured are incompatible with each other. The best part for me, is that there were actually two statements made.

He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.

followed the same day by:

If somebody’s a prisoner, I consider them a war hero.

It’s clear as mud. Trump went on to win the nomination with 44% of the vote and the election with 46%. Since the Senate was similarly close, Republicans had limited options to fix health care. The solution was to do a “skinny repeal” that mostly eliminated some of the mandates to carry health insurance. In reality, Trump has been doing his best to knock off the marketplace anyway and the skinny repeal would do nothing for Medicaid expansion, the true legacy of Big Government Obamacare.

McCain’s decisive “no” vote made him an enemy of Trump and also to most Trump supporters. I can understand some animosity over McCain taking a PR victory from Trump or refusing to eliminate a part of Obamacare while the rest would be in place. However, this repeal was much like the trickery used by Democrats to pass an Obamacare bill after they lost their 60th Senate seat. McCain didn’t like it then (and was mocked by Obama for it) and he didn’t do it for the Trump (who also mocked him, another similarity to Obama).

What I don’t understand is the retcon of McCain’s entire life that followed. He was called a RINO, a member of “the swamp,” and a Deep State Operative. Then there are the ridiculous stories about McCain being brainwashed or working with the Vietnamese during the war. Those are the true morons, and the ones who let those nutty theories go unchallenged probably have a few missing IQ points as well.

John McCain was a complex guy, but he was no more a traitor than the millionaire who got a deferment for shin splints.


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Two Minute Hate

July 30, 2018
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During the second debate of the 2012 Presidential Election, CNN’s Candy Crowley did something that both damaged the Romney campaign’s momentum and destroyed the credibility of her profession. When Romney challenged Obama on the description of the tragedy of Benghazi, Crowley chose to pull up a transcript, which not only gives outside material to a debater, but also used it to argue in Obama’s favor against Romney.

What did Obama know and when did he know it is important. With only days before the election, a terrorist attack in Benghazi was only a possibility. In fact, the administration knew it was a reality before 9/11/12 was even over in the US. It was in one of Hillary’s e-mails.

For me, this is where I’m done with the e-mail excavation. By the time it was proven that Obama knew that it was a terror attack and decided to keep that from the voters, I consider that a conspiracy. Except that Obama was a lame duck and so the hunt continued for Clinton e-mails, then the obsession over “missing” e-mails. I could care less about locking her up. What aren’t we locking Obama up?

What I don’t particularly like about the new Trump Party is the random serving from one squirrel to another. The current fixation seems to be on Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, She’s one of the outliers that happens every election season who inexplicably beats an incumbent who was presumed to be in no danger. She will win her house seat because she is a Democrat in one of the most liberal districts in Manhattan. A Republican was never going to win. Yet somehow, we all need to live in fear of her because Cortez is what Democrats really stand for. If they really stood for the kind of socialism Cortez does, then there should be more Democrats like her. Republicans would win all the time.

Then there’s the Mueller investigation, or the Justice Department Investigation. Radio show hosts are losing their minds over this, even though there is supposedly no evidence and Trump did nothing wrong. If there’s nothing there, there won’t be any evidence. If evidence is being manufactured, I’m pretty sure Fox News will figure that out. Tonight, radio institution Mark Levin suggested we feel sorry for Donald Trump and all he’s been though. Boo-hoo. He’s a (kind of) billionaire who left many business partners in debt and alienated all the Republicans in Congress who might have been inclined to help him. If there was a book on how to act guilty, Tony Schwartz would be writing it right now about President Trump.

If Trump’s record speaks for itself, let it speak. Stop making it embarrassing to be a Republican, because I won’t trade in my beliefs for this incompetent boob. The two-minute hate of going after minor annoyances is ridiculous.


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