The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Posturing Progressivism

For those who are unfamiliar with it, is a website that presents news, commentary, and entertainment from a decided liberal-left perspective. It celebrates political correctness as the gospel, is humorless when anyone violates its worldview, even in jest, has a generally condescending attitude toward any neanderthal who disagrees with the Bernie Sanders crowd, and is otherwise activist in nature.

It was therefore somewhat surprising when Emmett Rensin published a serious piece at Vox that decried "... a smug style in American liberalism.” Rensin writes:
“It [liberalism] is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what’s good for them ...”

“Nothing is more confounding to the smug style than the fact that the average Republican is better educated and has a higher IQ than the average Democrat. That for every overpowered study finding superior liberal open-mindedness and intellect and knowledge, there is one to suggest that Republicans have the better of these qualities.”
After reading Rensin's piece, Kyle Smith of The New York Post (the antithesis of the Vox perspective) comments:
Ow. And: whoa. For Vox, this was the equivalent of John Travolta plunging that hypodermic of adrenaline directly into Uma Thurman’s heart in “Pulp Fiction.” Vox Is Making Sense! It was the second-biggest shock of the week.

Rensin calls out posturing progressivism for its “condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.” He notes that the base of the Democratic party morphed from working-class whites to an ungainly coalition of elite coastal professionals and minorities “largely excluded” from “decision-making.”

Rejected by their own core, the Democrats looked for excuses. It couldn’t be that their message was repellent to the masses. So they satisfied themselves with “the theory that conservatism, and particularly the kind embraced by those out there in the country, was not a political ideology at all. . . . Stupid hicks don’t know what’s good for them. They’re getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that’ve made them so wrong. They don’t know any better. That’s why they’re voting against their own self-interest.”

That is a radical position (to progressives), albeit an obvious one (to everyone else), but Rensin goes a step farther and attacks the pope of the One True Church of Smug Liberalism, Jon Stewart, for advancing “the idea that liberal orthodoxy was a kind of educated savvy and that its opponents were, before anything else, stupid.” (Note to younger readers: Stewart’s “The Daily Show” is a formerly popular comedy-current affairs show to which liberals used to turn for instruction in how to think about politics.)

It is moderately brave, if 30 years tardy, of Rensin to say that what he calls the “Correct Culture” (i.e., what everyone else has been calling political correctness since before he was born) has “come to replace politics itself.” When Rensin decries “a politics that insists it has no ideology at all, only facts,” it’s impossible not to think of President Obama who, Rensin adds, this time only eight years tardily, that Obama embodied smugness when he offered no antidote for industrial job losses but instead dismissed disaffected working-class Americans as “bitter” folks who “cling to guns and religion.”
We're going to see a lot of liberal (and conservative) posturing during the coming months as Hillary Clinton battles Donald Trump or another GOP candidate. But I suspect that the Democrats' narrative will rely solely on political correctness, suggesting that: whatever GOP candidate emerges will be racist, homophobic, bigoted, for the "rich," warlike, anti-immigrant, you know the list. The disastrous results of the past eight years of Democratic governance will be avoided at all cost.

The Democrats are fielding a candidate that is demonstrably dishonest, very-likely corrupt, and undeniably incompetent. Yet, she will be praised as our next identity politics savior (Hillary is, after all, a woman and that's all that matters). And the neanderthal GOP—they're dumb and bigoted and ... well, I think I already said that.

An honest national conversation about a $15.00 minimum wage that will cause millions of hardworking teenagers and other low wage workers to lose their jobs (it's already happening in Seattle and other progressive havens), a healthcare plan (Obamacare) that has now entered a death spiral, or the Iran "deal" that will undoubtedly lead to a nuclear arms race in the most unstable region of the world, or a dozen other failures in Democrat leadership and control just won't happen.

Instead, the Democrats and their trained hamsters in the media will laser focus on how hard the Dems will work for a "correct culture." All the other stuff? Those of us who have an different opinion must submit to the "correct culture" or be labelled with bad words. Gosh, you'd think that those of us who disagree are really, really stupid. After all, the "smug" Democrats tell you so.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hillary and Camile

I've been consumed with a major writing project,  not to mention a growing company,  and a corporate move to bigger facilities, so posts will be sparse for the next month or so. However, I can't resist a post today.

It looks like the candidates for the general election are beginning to take shape—Hillary and Donald. I don't like either, but when it comes to a decision, Hillary would be an unmitigated disaster. As I mentioned in an earlier post, she exemplifies a perfect political trifecta—dishonesty, corruption and incompetence. The election of Hillary will guarantee that the trifecta will infect a White House that has already experienced eight years of it under Barack Obama. Trump, for all of his failings (and they are legion), offers an opportunity (not a guarantee) for independent and moderate leadership. More on all of that in the months to come.

I ran across a post by Camile Paglia, a progressive who is one of the most honest and insightful writers I've encountered over the years. Here are her thoughts on Hillary Clinton:
What is it with the Hillary cult?

As a lifelong Democrat who will be enthusiastically voting for Bernie Sanders in next week’s Pennsylvania primary, I have trouble understanding the fuzzy rosy filter through which Hillary fans see their champion. So much must be overlooked or discounted—from Hillary’s compulsive money-lust and her brazen indifference to normal rules to her conspiratorial use of shadowy surrogates and her sociopathic shape-shifting in policy positions for momentary expedience.

Hillary’s breathtaking lack of concrete achievements or even minimal initiatives over her long public career doesn’t faze her admirers a whit. They have a religious conviction of her essential goodness and blame her blank track record on diabolical sexist obstructionists. When at last week’s debate Hillary crassly blamed President Obama for the disastrous Libyan incursion that she had pushed him into, her acolytes hardly noticed. They don’t give a damn about international affairs—all that matters is transgender bathrooms and instant access to abortion.

I’m starting to wonder, given the increasing dysfunction of our democratic institutions, if the Hillary cult isn’t perhaps registering an atavistic longing for monarchy. Or perhaps it’s just a neo-pagan reversion to idolatry, as can be felt in the Little Italy street festival scene of The Godfather, Part II, where devout pedestrians pin money to the statue of San Rocco as it is carried by in procession. There was a strange analogy to that last week, when Sanders supporters satirically showered Hillary’s motorcade with dollar bills as she arrived at George Clooney’s luxe fund-raiser in Los Angeles.
Wow! Camile nails it.

As I watch my true blue friends eyes glisten when they talk about a Hillary presidency, I wonder whether they're living in an alternative universe. You know, a place where lies are truth, fluid ethics are lack of principles represent a stable leader, and few accomplishments and many serious failures are clear signs of success. Where's my bumper sticker?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


The always reliably blue state of Illinois is in deep financial trouble. A overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, along with a long line of governors have underfunded the state's pension obligations, made irresponsible concessions to public sector unions, encouraged crony state contracts ... the usual litany.

Enter Chicago State University (CSU)—a small inner city school that serves a predominantly African American community. Because the state is running out of money, the school's funding is being cut, and it is in jeopardy of closing. At a human level, the students will suffer.  Liberal media throughout Illinois are properly lamenting that fact. But as Walter Russell Mead notes, the media fails to mention that "Chicago State has the highest administrator-to-student ratio of any state school in Illinois—one for every 17 students—and that it spends up to 45 percent of its total payroll on those administrators." Forty Five percent in administrative overhead! Welcome to the blue model.

Mead writes:
Airbrushing inconvenient truths out of the picture is standard operating procedure for sentimental reporters writing stories about the problems of the poor. We’ve heard much more about the suffering imposed on Puerto Rico’s municipal employees than about the decades of cronyism and dysfunction that produced a bloated, inefficient government that can neither provide needed services nor pay its own bills. One could read the New York Times for decades without hearing warnings about how one-party Democratic rule has entrenched patterns of corruption and sloth in major American cities. It’s much more fun to wring our hands about the problems of the poor, and blame everything untoward on Republican racist tightwads. John F. Kennedy once said that Americans were willing to do anything for Latin America except read about it; one often feels that a certain type of contemporary liberal will do anything for the poor that doesn’t involve thinking.

But that doesn’t let Republicans off the hook. Just because deep blue Democrats prefer sentiment over analysis and let their allegiance to vested interests trump their concern for the poor is no excuse for Republicans to treat the students of Chicago State with indifference. It’s fine to say “hold the line on taxes and starve the beast”—and there are times when this is necessary. But doing that alone is not a plan for better governance. Illinois’ budget woes are a direct result of years of terrible decisions and the absence of serious planning at both state and local levels. And the chief victims of this neglect of duty are poor people—those who depend most on government for services.

Where are the plans for a revitalization of Illinois and Chicago? Where are the proposals for changes in the way Illinois is administered, its higher ed system organized, its pension burdens managed and rationalized? How will the built-in cost structures that make cities like Chicago so difficult to operate in be reduced? How will the costs of interacting with the regulatory state be reined in, and the process simplified for businesses and homeowners? How will the miserably failing school systems of Chicago and other communities be revived, and labor relations in the school system detoxified? And, among these larger questions, how will the students at Chicago State finish their coursework and get their degrees?
Among the many casualties created by a culture that worships at the alter of political correctness is good ideas. Unless any innovative idea conforms to the PC narrative it cannot be uttered, and if it is, the ideas are immediately branded as "racist," or "bigoted," or "uncaring" or "misogynistic" or a "unfeeling" or ... you get the picture.

So both Dems and the GOP maintain the status quo and continue the failed narratives that lead to even more of the same—economic decline, stressed budgets, unnecessary grow in the public sector, private sector flight, population decline, among many negative effects.

Mead continues:
Vain and self-aggrandizing politicians deserve a lot of the blame for not trying to tackle the problems sooner, but they are far from being the sole guilty parties. After all, politicians can’t fight for solutions that don’t yet exist. And that there is so little creative thinking about these issues is the fault of think tanks, public intellectuals and academics. It is the cognitive elite that has let the country down.

The Republicans, who are much less well represented in the academy, and who benefit from fewer sources of traditional philanthropy (like the Ford Foundation and its friends), have done more at this point with less. This is not because they are somehow more virtuous and civic minded; rather, it is because the orthodox liberal pieties that the intellectual establishment holds as eternal truths pretty much block any serious thinking about the crisis of American society today. The liberal establishment is both politically and intellectually committed to the conservation of an unsustainable status quo. Republicans, on the other hand, instinctively loathe the redistributionist nanny state and intuitively perceive its growing dysfunction; they therefore have an easier time thinking about theoretical alternatives.

This is why right-wing think tanks have on the whole done a better job at developing some creative ideas than their larger and better funded competitors on the left. But neither side has done enough. The budget problems at all levels of government are going to get worse as the pension bills come due, deferred maintenance and infrastructure deficits take a higher toll, health care costs inexorably rise, and as the institutions of blue model governance further corrode.
"Making America Great Again" or "Feeling the Bern" or "TrusTed" or whatever cynical, poll-tested catch phrase Hillary Clinton is using at the moment do nothing to remedy the problem that Walter Russell Mead defines. We're screwed!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Globe

In a pathetic attempt to slow its decent into irrelevance, the left-leaning Boston Globe has created an Onion-like April Fool's Day "front page" (actually a downloadable pdf of a front page) that depicts the Globe Editorial Board's fevered view of what a Donald Trump presidency would be like. I am no fan of Trump, but once again, the unfairness of this is epic. I mean, why not also do a mock front page that emphasizes the many, many foibles of Hillary Clinton or the outright extremism of Bernie Sanders? That would be fun. Trash Trump, sure, but also trash the Democrat menagerie.

Not. A. Chance.

So let me give it a try by citing just a few headlines that might be used in the Globe's mock front pages for Clinton and Sander.

Hillary Clinton's Front Page:

"National debt increasing at highest rate in history"
"Clinton Foundation donations quintuple in first three months of Hillary's presidency"
"Bill Clinton receives $2.5 million for 40 minute speech in Qatar"
"DoJ indicts Clinton aides for email server, but Hillary in the clear"
"Clinton appoints Elizabeth Warren as Secretary of State"
"TMZ publishes photos of Bill Clinton in bed with Starlet. Hillary claims Right-Wing Conspiracy"
"Clinton denies attempted blackmail by Chinese hackers"
   related: Hackers claim to have Clinton Foundation-related emails stolen from her server"
"Questions arise about U.S. Government contracts and White House influence"
"Clinton moves to silence Gold Star Mothers who continue to claim she lied to them about Benghazi's cause"
"Clinton claims Libya is 'in transition,' and labeling country a Failed State is 'partisan politics'

Bernie Sanders Front Page:

"National debt increasing at highest rate in history"
"Increasing 'violent extremist' attacks are 'Something we can live with,' states Sanders"
"Sanders nationalizes major banks; Claims better for 'economic justice'
"Sanders proposes 90 percent tax rate on the rich" 
   related: "Sanders pens executive action to stop flow of money out of U.S." 
"Sanders proposes limit on corporate profits"
"EPA forces closure of 40 percent of power generation facilities"
   related: "Rolling blackouts become common across the country"
"Sanders packs NLRB with Public Sector Union Officials"
"Sanders grants immediate citizenship for Undocumented Workers" 
"Executive action becomes Sanders' primary tool"
"Sanders visits Cuba, suggests that U.S. emulate country's 'Success'
Sanders visits Venezuela, suggests that US has much to learn from the 'Venezuelan people's struggle'
"Sanders cuts all aid to Israel, but doubles Palestinian aid"

Are my headlines any more unfair or absurd that the ones proposed by the Boston Globe editorial staff? I think not.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Leader of the Pack

Activists on the left and their trained hamsters in the media are quick to throw out a descriptor such as "extremist" when making reference to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. I don't like either GOP candidate, but it does seem odd that the word "extremist" is never applied to Bernie Sanders.

Sanders world view comes straight out the hard left. I have referred to him as a "cryto-communist" in a number of posts, and I stand by that description, even though the media prefers a softer euphemism, "democratic socialist."

On the surface, Sanders is a populist, fighting the good fight for "social justice" and "economic equality." He rails against "millionaires and billionaires," promoting the canard that the economy is a zero sum game—that is, the more money "millionaires and billionaires" make, the less money is available to everyone else. That's blatantly untrue, but it ties in nicely with his overall class warfare strategy. His solution is reconstituted communist rhetoric out of the last century—redistribute income and wealth so that the "rich" are forced to pay more of what they've earned while the middle class and poor get more because ... well ... just because.

There's only one problem with Bernie's ideas. They are fantasy. Time and time again, real world results (i.e., modern history) indicate that they do not work—ever! High taxes ruin an economy, concentrate power in an often corrupt and reliably incompetent central government, hurt the middle class and poor by limiting economic growth (i.e., jobs) and create a ever growing dependent class. Bernie's suggestion that government should manage the economy via regulation and legislation is a strategy that leads to shortages, warped markets, and ultimately to breadlines. Then again, years ago as Mayor of Burlington Vermont, Bernie said: "Sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing. In other countries, people don’t line up for food. The rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”

Okay ... not sure how to respond to that.

That's why Bernie and his acolytes on the left celebrate Cuba or Venezuela, countries that have been ruined by socialist policies—slave wages for make-work projects while the infrastructure crumbles, shortages of everything from food to toilet paper, and a communist (leftist) elite who live very, very well while the people live in squalor.

We've seen Bernie's ideas in action during the past century. In virulent form—violence and death follow (think: Mao or Pol Pot or Stalin or Castro). In less virulent forms, ruined economies, imprisoned opposition, and wrecked lives (think: Chavez), and in more benign forms, economic stagnation and extreme debt (think: Greece).

But Bernie's legions of young people have no historical perspective and have been propagandized by a left-leaning university system that romanticizes the socialist ethic. His older followers simply refuse to accept the reality that socialism is a demonstrably failed ideology better suited to theory than practice.

So when you hear people talking about "extremists" during this election season, recognize that some of Trump and Cruz ideas might be aptly characterized in that manner, but the leader of the extremist pack is Bernie Sanders.

UPDATE (4/8/16):

Daniel Henninger adds an interesting aside by citing the Panama Papers as an example of leaders of socialist states who set up "legal" tax dodges in foreign lands to avoid the high taxes they themselves impose on ordinary citizens in their own countries. He writes:
After World War II, the governments of the West established tax regimes to support the reconstruction of their nations. Six decades later, that tax machinery, which runs the social-welfare states in the countries Bernie Sanders cites in every campaign stop as a model for America, has run totally amok—an unaccountable, devouring monster. Billionaires aren’t the only ones who run from it.

Most governments, including ours, overtax their citizens to feed their own insatiable need for money. Then the legal thieves running the government and their cronies, unwilling to abide the tax levels they created, move their wealth offshore to places like Panama. Arguably, all the world’s people should be able to move their assets “offshore” to escape governments that are smothering economic life and growth, which has stalled in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Speaking of crocodile tears, Barack Obama spent Tuesday bragging that corporate tax inversions are akin to Panama Papers’ tax avoidance. Mr. Obama said “corporations,” another swearword invoked by Bernie Sanders at every stop, are “gaming the system.”

Well what about that “system?” Mr. Obama is saying, with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in his echo chamber, that U.S. corporations should suck it up on the U.S.’s 35% corporate tax rate, the world’s developed highest, and simply send that money to him. Why? Because he’s gotta have it. To spend.
To Bernie and his supporters, "corporations" are rapacious, "profit" is evil, and "capitalism" is akin to devil worship. Yeah, "extremist" is not at all inappropriate when describing Bernie Sanders.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016


It's interesting that the national debt hasn't been mentioned very much by GOP contenders for the presidency. Sure, you wouldn't expect Democratic candidates Clinton and Sanders or their trained hamsters in the media to talk much about debt. Afterall, both Clinton and Sanders are proponents of big intrusive government (BIG) and tout more and more spending, free programs for their base consituencies, and therefore, they encourage more and more dependency on the federal government.

Oh, by the way, according to we're closing in on 19.3 trillion dollars in national debt with unfunded liabilities (Medicare and social security) approaching 101.6 trillion dollars! To steal a phrase from Bernie Sanders, there aren't enough millionaires and billionaires to cover the debt.

But no matter, Bernie and Hillary want to spend. After all, blue policies have lead to the worst economic recovery in modern history, to a job market in which part-time work is more common than ever, and a labor participation rate that is the lowest it has ever been in the modern era. So debt be damned, it's spend and spend some more, and in so doing, work hard to buy votes of those who gain some benefit from all the spending.

But what about the GOP candidiates? There has been very little talk of debt. The big question is, why? Debt is ruinous for a variety of reasons. It forces government to print money (they call it quantitative easing) devaluing the dollar as a result; it forces government and the fed to keep interest rates ridiculously low, hurting those who save rather than spend; it reduces the amount of discretionary funds available for defense, infrastructure, and the few critical government functions that should be funded at the federal level; it keeps pressure on politicians (of both parties) to raise taxes, thereby hurting the economy even more.

Could it be that GOP candidates are big spenders but remain in the closet on the issue? I don't think that's the case, but who knows? Could it be that the debt is boring, and it's more fun to throw childish insults around? Possibly. Or maybe its that we've already hit a tipping point, and they all know it. That debt is now so big that we can't reduce it, tax our way out of it, or wish it away. That we're really Detroit—except no one wants to admit it.

After all, think of what Detroit would be doing today if it could print its own money!

UPDATE (4/7/16):

Ali Meyer expands on why every American should be concerned about the debt:
An auditor for the Government Accountability Office told lawmakers Wednesday that in the next few years the federal government will owe more than our entire economy produces.

Gene Dodaro, the comptroller general for the Government Accountability Office, testified at the Senate Budget Committee to provide the results of its audit on the government’s financial books.

“We’re very heavily leveraged in debt,” Dodaro said. “The historical average post-World War II of how much debt we held as a percent of gross domestic product was 43 percent on average; right now we’re at 74 percent.”

Dodaro says that under current law, debt held by the public will hit a historic high.

But no matter. After all, Bernie tells use about all the "free" stuff he intends to provide in his socialist utopia. Hillary puppy dogs behind him and hopes to scavenge a few younger left-wing voters. Big government is voracious. Sadly, the Democrats want more of it, and if they get their wish, it will lead to ruin.

Monday, April 04, 2016

The Penny

I was at a dinner gathering over this past weekend. A life-long Democrat, after lambasting Donald Trump as a buffoon, Ted Cruz as a "dangerous reactionary," Hillary Clinton as a "liar," and Bernie Sanders as a "nut," asked a heart-felt question:

"Why is it," she asked, "that we can't find any decent candidates on either side of the political spectrum. Why don't we have any  good people running this year?"

My response drew nods from the mostly liberal attendees.

"Our political process sucks ... it needs to be reformed," I said, and then paused as a thought occurred to me. I followed with, "Then again, we're a country that can't decommission the penny. There's no way in hell that we can reform our political process."

And there's the rub. Our political process for electing our leaders is broken. It is an anachronism—a painfully long slog ending with a ridiculous convention spectacle that discourages the best and brightest from participating. It is an artifact of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries that has become a cruel joke in the 21st century. It should be jettisoned in total and replaced with a much streamlined, information-driven system for selecting a party's nominee (no more than one month long), and then a streamlined and information-driven system for selecting the President of the United States (no more than three months long). It should outlaw 30 second negative ads and discourage the idiotic TV "debates" that provide theatrics but no ability (in 90 second responses) to understand a candidate's true positions.

It should provide standardized, structured on-line sources of information that contrast and compare each candidate's domestic and foreign policy positions in tight, brief, well-formed statements. These structured, on line sources should select 20 topics that Americans rate as important (e.g., jobs, national debt, Islamic terror, immigration, government role in our lives) and demand summary statement followed by in-depth policy statements on each from candidates. High-information voters will take the time to study this information. And low information voters? They can be encouraged to learn a little more about the problems our nation faces (possibly with incentives) and how the candidates might address those problems.

Can this be done. Sure! We have the technology, but we don't have the political will or more importantly, the political intent.  Politicians love low information elections—theatrics reign supreme and as a result we get bad candidates and worse, bad leaders.

Will this change? Let me repeat ... "We're a country that can't decommission the penny. There's no way in hell that we can reform our political process."

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Buckle Up

In yesterday's post, I indicated that I consider Donald Trump unfit to be president of the United States. As I noted in the conclusion of my piece, my position on Trump begs the question: Who is fit? Let's take a look.

Hillary Clinton provides us with a trifecta of problematic traits. Clinton is dishonest, she is corrupt, and she is incompetent. What a combination!

Her dishonesty is manifest, being demonstrated almost monthly with lies that are used to paper over her many unethical or corrupt practices. Whether it's her role in the Benghazi incident (her contention that the parents of the four Americans killed during the Islamic terrorist attack lied about her lie that it was all about a bad video) or her demonstrably false statements that her private server (a severe ethical lapse that demonstrates breathtaking irresponsibility) contained no classified materials (1800+ classified documents were uncovered), Clinton has trouble with the truth.

Her corrupt practices are more difficult to prove but are implied by the simple fact that she and her husband have developed a 9-digit net worth while in and out of public service but never in the private sector. They both creating an NGO called The Clinton Foundation and used it to enrich themselves. Taking in tens of millions in foreign money and insane amounts for "speaking fees," there is strong circumstantial evidence that Clinton enriched herself by granting favors to contributors while in office.

Her incompetence is easy to demonstrate. While senator she authored exactly zero important pieces of legislation and exhibited poll-driven flip flops on everything from the Iraq war to the effectiveness of the surge. While Secretary of State, she was author of the "Russian reset," the "Asian pivot," the Libyan incursion, and the underpinnings of the Iran deal. Every one of these represented catastrophically bad decisions, even worse policy, and horrendously bad results (think: the invasion of the Ukraine, Chinese aggressiveness in the South China sea, Libya as a failed state, now home to ISIS and al Qaeda, and Iran as a regional hegemon). Hillary Clinton is actually more unfit to be president than Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz is a demagogue and an ideologue—an especially bad combination when considering fitness for the Oval office. A compelling, albeit rather insipid speaker, his innate intelligence allows him to be convincing to those of like mind. Cruz has demonstrated that he cannot and will not compromise, that he does not play well with others. His views on social issues are extreme and his claim to be a "constitutional conservative" is hollow. Based on his brief record in the Senate he has authored no important legislation, is unable to work with members of his own party, not to mention Democrats, and is generally despised by a majority of congressman and senators in both parties. Not good for getting things done.

Bernie Sanders projects the image of a grandfatherly figure, but in reality, he is the true extremist in this year's crop of candidates. A "Democratic socialist" who is actually a cryto-communist, Sanders position on government intrusiveness, taxation, the economy, private enterprise, and government debt are truly extreme. His giveaway programs (free college and universal Medicare) are fantasy and his class warfare rhetoric is divisive and destructive at the same time. His positions on foreign policy are difficult to pin down, although he seems to parrot Barack Obama's predilection for embracing our adversaries and dissing our allies. He favors open borders, increased immigration from countries that have significant Islamist presence, and a lead-from-behind approach to our adversaries. To his credit, Sanders is truthful, but that alone in no way qualifies him to be president.

John Kasich exhibits almost every quality that is missing among Trump, Clinton, Cruz, and Sanders. An experienced politician with both executive and significant congressional experience, Kasich is a moderate who understands that the blue model of governance has failed, but can still work with Democrats to get things done. His positions on both domestic and foreign policy are rooted in reality. He is measured in his positions (unlike Trump); he seems less likely to be poll drive (unlike Clinton); he does not exhibit the characteristics of an ideologue (unlike Cruz) and he is not an extremist (unlike Sanders). Among the current crop of candidates, Kasich alone has the qualities that would make him a good president. He would, I think, beat Hillary Clinton rather easily in the general election and would prevail over Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren (if the Dems done feel the 'Bern'), if Hillary is, in fact, indicted out of the ongoing FBI investigation sponsored by the Obama DoJ.

But can Kasich win the GOP nomination? It's unlikely, and can only happen if there is an 'open' convention in which Trump and Cruz do not have enough delegates to win outright. Then again, an open convention could lead to one of the three Rs—Romney, Ryan, or even Rubio—all better options than Trump or Cruz and infinitely better for the country than Clinton or Sanders or Biden/Warren.

An open convention is becoming increasingly likely, so buckle up.

Friday, April 01, 2016


Donald Trump has a number of endearing qualities along with a bushel full of less attractive ones. Despite his demonization as a right-wing extremist by the activist left, Donald Trump is generally moderate in his political views. He is about as far from being a right-wing extremist as Hillary Clinton, but unlike Clinton, he doesn't modify his views based on the latest polling numbers. Moderate, principled positions are what this country needs, but when they come with Trump's packaging, his moderation begins to lose its allure.

First, the good news.

Trump's outright rejection of political correctness is refreshing, allowing him to state some truths that make progressives gasp. His assessment of many of our current economic ills is on target—our national debt is dangerous and unacceptable; we have, unquestionably, gotten the short end of the stick in our dealing with many of our trading partners. His view of our alliances (e.g., NATO or Japan) indicates the basic truth that we aren't getting our (taxpayer) money's worth. His view of our foreign adversaries is simplistic, but largely accurate. His attitude toward Islamic terror is honest, albeit harsh. His position on immigration and open borders, although rough around the edges, is consistent with the views of a vast majority of Americans. His position of Muslim immigration, although massively un-PC, is on target, is largely correct, albeit that further refinement of his basic position is required.

But each of those positions are nothing more than a broad-based generalization of the problems we face, not detailed policy statements that might define a path toward remedying those problems. His "Make America Great Again" slogan has no more substance that Barack Obama's "Hope and Change" mantra of 2008. Trump's narcissism rivals that of Obama, but with less polish.

Now, the bad news is:
  • Trump does not have an in-depth grasp of any of the problems he correctly enunciates. 
  • Even worse, he has significant trouble discussing those problems without making errors, sliding into confrontation rhetoric, or simply changing the subject. 
  • Early on in the GOP campaign, I stated that Trump is one question deep. I continue to believe that to be true. 
  • He is a bully who uses bombast to cover for a lack of depth. 
  • He reacts poorly to criticism, attacking ("counter-punching") in ways that are less than attractive
  • Even worse, he doesn't think before he speaks. He has no mental filter, meaning that he continues to make bizarre and sometime offensive statements that his supporters have to walk back.
  • Despite his claim of building "one of America's great companies" and being a master negotiator, his management and financial record is questionable and some of his business dealing are suspect.
In my view the bad news trumps (sorry for the pun) the good news. Donald Trump should not be President of the United States. But that begs two question: (1) if he gets the nomination, would I vote for him, and (2) if he does not get the nomination, who should?

More on that in subsequent posts.