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Few Last Minute Election Comments



1. Election has clearly narrowed in the last few weeks. Hillary damaged herself by not leaking her own emails a year ago…which I said was a major mistake as far back as the Spring of 2015. By allowing others to dictate the moment of their release, Hillary likely lost her election mandate.  Trump may very likely get less percentage of the vote than Romney but do better in the electoral vote than 2012.

2. Trump still seems lost on how to broaden the tent, even at this late date. Several last minute ad buys are more about strengthening the base than widening the electorate…that is a bad sign for him. The most worrisome data point is Nevada, where actual vote tallies show large turnout among Democrats…so much so that only a huge turnout on election day would even make the race close for Trump. Nevada is so bad that GOP likely will lose the state not only for Trump, but also for the Senate race as well as two contested House races there.

3. Senate control is as close as you can possibly get. My guess is Ayotte in New Hampshire will be the deciding factor.

4. GOP is going to lose about 10 or so House seats but will easily control the Chamber. The rumors about Paul Ryan stepping down are ludicrous.

5. Neither third party candidate will get 5% of the vote at this point.

6. Specifically about Ohio: Portman is going to take Strickland and Democrats to the woodshed; even Democrat insiders I have spoken to have now admitted this. The Ohio Democrat Party is as much in disarray as the national Republican Party. They are a party in the wilderness.  As for Trump, he is neck-and-neck here with Clinton, and the race is too close to call. My gut tells me Trump pulls it out, but that is only a guess. This is despite the fact Trump’s get out the vote effort has been the most pathetic I have seen since I moved to Ohio; yes, it is far worse than even John McCain’s.

7. I will have my predictions out late Monday night. We will have an open election thread at that point on the Conservative Union.

8. Whatever your feelings….GO OUT AND VOTE.  Consider it a patriotic duty as a true blooded American.




Doctor Strange: Movie Review



Doctor Strange is a significant departure for the Marvel Universe. While the majority of the movies largely center around some new human technology that creates not only a superhero but an associated villain, this story is first and foremost a search for one’s inner being.

Sound ‘strange’? Hippy?  Trippy?  Yeah…it is all of those.

This is, however, also an origin story, and follows the past of most of those stories. Dr. Steven Strange is an elite neurosurgeon, arrogant and self preoccupied, living a lifestyle even out of range of his (likely) exorbitant income.  He is all about elevating his own glamour as an elite physician, even sometimes at the cost of potential patients he could help. (I personally like the quick reference to Iron Patriot/Colonel James Rhodes and his current medical condition…pay attention, or you will miss it).

However, because of his arrogance, Strange suffers a debilitating car accident…not a accident that takes away his ability to walk or talk, but his ability to use his hands…the lifeblood of any great surgeon.

Strange first looks for any Western medical therapy, and when that fails him, he is left with the only other option, no matter how ludicrous it appears: the mystical therapies of Eastern philosophies.

Here we enter the world of Doctor Strange: a world dictated by the inner mind, alternate dimensions, and yes…magic. In a world where the warped reality of the movie ‘Inception’ exists in reality, we see warped versions of New York City and other dimension, in a manner in which we have never seen in the Marvel Universe.

I always thought bringing these worlds to the movie screen would be difficult. There is a baseline mysticism that must be accepted to really dive into this kind of story. For me, as a Hindu, this was fascinating. Many of the philosophies they discuss come directly from Hindu literature, as well as Buddhism, Shintoism, and other Eastern religions and philosophies.

In classic Marvel methodology, however, a great threat faces humanity; in this case, Dormammu. Dormammu is a difficult enemy to comprehend: he is a tyrant from a place called the ‘Dark Dimension’ who simply wants to take over all realms of the universe and assimilate them into his dark reality.

I enjoyed this movie, but a warning: if you have trouble accepting magic effecting reality, of mysticism overcoming science..then this movie isn’t for you.  If you believed the Thor movies were not realistic enough, take a pass on this…because this take the entire mystic/reality clash and puts it into overdrive.

For me, I always loved the character of Doctor Strange. Benedict Cumberbatch is utterly perfect in the role (though I was ready for him to revert to his Sherlock Holmesian accent at every turn).  He is arrogant and annoying, and then smart and funny when needed. He brings the role to life, and is going to be a blast to watch as he infiltrates the rest of the Marvel Universe.

So, if you are looking for something other than the normal Marvel Universe movie, this may be for you. If not..maybe you should take a pass.


Why Rubio Is Wrong On Wikileaks


Wikileaks, the mysterious online organization started by Julian Assange, has been a relatively major force in the 2016 election…and a thorn in the side of Hillary Clinton.

There is little to no question in my mind that the Russians have aided Wikileaks in targeting specific actors (mostly Democrats) in a bid to alter the course of the election. No one should delude themselves about how damaging such foreign intervention in our democracy could be.  We should call them out, and should prosecute anyone involved in the theft of these materials.

Rubio came forcefully out against any use of the email leaks through Wikileaks:

“I will not discuss any issue that has become public solely on the basis of Wikileaks,” said Rubio, who sits on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. “As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it.”

This is an honorable position. His argument is basically that any ill-gotten gains should be avoided.

However, I think that Marco Rubio is dead wrong about that position.

I by no means defend the actions of Wikileaks. They are, ultimately, simply thieves; they have stolen materials that they had no right to, and published them. As thieves, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

But there is nothing really new in this…this is how many whistleblowers come to light.

A few short years ago, Edward Snowden was praised by many on the political Left for his thievery (and in his case, treasonous actions) in making public loads of materials that were classified.

Here is one take from the New Yorker:

In revealing the colossal scale of the U.S. government’s eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, he has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed. Like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who revealed the existence of Israel’s weapons program, before him, Snowden has brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country.

There are many examples similar to this. Think back to the Pentagon Papers, and their effect on the Vietnam War. There is no question that, by releasing those papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post, Daniel Ellsberg clearly was at thief, and a treasonous one at that. But for decades, the Pentagon Papers has been heralded as a landmark for whistleblowers everywhere.  Ellsberg, to this very day, is honored by Progressives for the good deeds he did…as a thief.

Note that a few weeks ago, someone leaked the private tax records of Donald J. Trump…and I heard of almost no Democrats decrying how dishonorable such an action was. In fact, there was celebration.

Only now, when the target of the whistleblowing is a Democrat, do we see the hypocrisy.

I personally don’t like the entire episode. Wikileaks is not a heroic organization, and should be treated like the criminals they are. But to simply ignore the materials they have released is pure idiocy.

Our democracy must be built on full transparency. The fact that it takes thieves to often uncover what our government is doing in our name is a black mark on how the Republic is failing.

Outside of the political reality that Rubio is ignoring (that Democrats have and would use similar materials against a Republican), there is a more simple argument: once material is in the public square, it should be debated, disseminated, and discussed. To fail to do so is a failure of the marketplace of ideas in fully accounting for all the evidence, data, and information we have available to make the most sound decision we can as voters and as Americans.

So like Ellsberg, Snowden and Wikileaks should both be prosecuted, to the full extent of the law. Ellsberg got off on technicalities; that is beside the point. Thieves of any sort should be held to account, regardless of if their thievery benefits the greater good.

But it is silly to ignore evidence that is readily available to make important decisions that face us all. Rubio, in this respect, is simply wrong.


The Entire American Political Class Has Failed Us


So, last night’s second Presidential debate was…something.

Accusations of sexual assault. Accusations that a former President is a rapist and assaulter, with several of his female accusers watching from the stands a few feet away. Accusations that the other Presidential candidate is a liar, incompetent, and probably should be tried and put in jail.

This is the best America can do? Apparently..the answer is ‘YES’.

And this can’t all be laid at the feet of Trump or Republicans, but let us start there…

1. The Republican Party and Donald J. Trump

They of course own the lion’s share of this…but not all of it.

The GOP is dead as a party, in my humble opinion. We are not a party so much as a team rooting for victory, not knowing what victory means.  As I wrote in May when I announced I would be leaving the Republican Party:

And that is the core problem here. There is no philosophical core guiding the Republican Party any more. Are we the party of small government? Trump, who said education and health care (after defense) were the most important jobs of the Federal government today, clearly doesn’t believe in small government. Are we the party of individual rights, or more state power?  Trump, the poster boy for private use of eminent domain, isn’t one to talk. And even on military power and foreign policy, Trump’s policies of a weaker NATO and a rollback of our force structure worldwide is in contrast to what conservatives have believed for a generation.

So, is a party that doesn’t even agree on its core beliefs a party in any sense of the word?

I hold by that. This is no longer a cohesive party by any means. Several weeks ago RNC Chairman Reince Preibus declared any Republican not supporting Trump would face future penalties.

Then, after the release of the damaging videos against Trump last week, Reince declared that RNC staffers who had been defecting could act as they wished.

All this came in the background, as numerous Republicans announced publicly they could no longer support Trump (too little, too late, in my opinion). In response, Trump told his campaign staff to openly attack any down ballot Republican that rescinded their support.

This is not a party; it is a dysfunctional family that is about to get a divorce.

That said, Trump may be more a symptom than the cause of the problem…but he has hurt himself, his reputation, his family, and the nation by his behavior and incompetence.

There is a reason that I became permanently against Trump in August of 2015 (before the term Never Trump even surfaced).  I believed this was a man who was always in this for himself, with Trump above country in all cases. He has never shown the ability to elevate himself above a social media clown.

The video release last week actually didn’t change my opinion at all. This is simply Trump being Trump. This is a man who played with sexual innuendo and racial catch phrases for decades…who expected anything less now? Trump supporters are ecstatic when Trump handlers can keep these comments contained for just a few weeks. This is not how we should pick a President.

Trump and Republicans have brought shame upon themselves and the country.  No way around that.

2.  The Media.

I don’t know if I can adequately explain my anger at the media without using curse word after curse word.

They have been wholly incompetent.

This was compounded by the behavior of the journalists moderating our debates. The Debate commission has never learned its lesson. Last night, we had two moderators spending significant time debate the Republican nominee for President.

Forget the number of interruptions. Forget the questions. Why in God’s name is it ok for moderators to debate the candidate?

The entire concept of ‘moderation’ goes out the window when you have incompetents like Raddatz and Cooper fact checking one of the candidates on questions they feel needs to be answered. If Trump says something foolish (which is regular and common)…allow Hillary Clinton to respond. Having a three on one debate is not useful, or fair. But that is how modern journalism works, I guess.

The best example this is the video that emerged last week. I had heard rumors from people who had worked with Trump that these videos existed…LAST YEAR.

And I am no journalist. If a nobody like myself had heard these rumors…real journalists surely knew the possibility of these tapes existed. The fact that the tapes ended up being found at NBC makes this even more ludicrous. Is the NBC journalism wing so completely incompetent as they didn’t bother to scour their own archives for opposition data?

I don’t believe it. Not for a second. They knew a year ago they had this material, and happily kept it hidden until they could maximize the damage caused.

This is fine strategy for a political campaign. It is malpractice and negligence for a journalistic entity.

Some journalists have circled the wagons around NBC, saying there is no proof that they hid this. The problem with that? Most Americans no longer trust the media enough to give them the benefit of the doubt. I could list the litany of times we have now clearly and openly demonstrated such bias and coordination between Democrats and the Mainstream media; if you don’t believe me, you need not go any farther than emails showing the coordination between many journalists and the Hillary Clinton Campaign.

To take anything journalists say at this point on face value is a fool’s errand.

3. The Democrat Party

In all honesty, of any listed here, they deserve the least blame. Political Parties are always a cohort of people only out to increase power to further self interests…so being surprised they are doing that is silly.

That said…is Hillary really the best the Democrats could do? I know many Democrats still frustrated that she is their pick. Sure, they are going to vote for her. Sure, they will likely never vote Republican after the Trump debacle. But this is not a party gloating about the greatness of their political candidate.

The fact that an extreme left-wing socialist who is not even a member of the party, without any support or money to begin with, was able to take 43% of the Democrat vote away from Hillary, the most well-known candidate to run for President in modern history, with millions in her back account and virtually every major party leader (including the DNC Chairman) in her pocket…speaks volumes.

4. President Barack Obama

Obama supporters (a far larger cohort of people than Hillary supporters) will be furious to read this…but without Obama, there would never have been a Trump.

Obama is very much responsible for the environment that allowed a social media nobody like Trump to rise to take the nomination of the Republican Party. He isn’t as responsible as Republicans themselves, but to absolve him of any blame would be to ignore years of excuse making for Obama that allowed Republicans to use similar tactics when it came to Trump’s own bad behavior.

Furthermore, Obama’s main strategy to win elections was to divide the country into enough small pieces that he could pick which pieces he thought was necessary to win, and throw away the rest. Does this not sound familiar to Trump’s own rampage campaign?

I could take a deep dive here explaining why Obama is very much partially culpable for the failure of America’s elite, but I am fully appreciative of the fact that no amount of evidence will ever convince liberals that this is the case; and I need no evidence to make conservatives to accept this assertion. So lets leave it at that.

5. Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary’s culpability here is not at large as Trump’s, in my opinion…but her culpability is likely to cause the most damage to the country in the long run.

Hillary is most likely to be the 45th President of the United States.

This statement will bring joy to a fair amount of Democrats and liberals.

It will bring apathy to a large share of Progressives.

It will result in abject horror in the remainder of Americans.

Hillary supports hate this analysis, by I think this is pretty much accurate. She is likely to win election by a healthy margin, all the time not being beloved at all by her base, and having the highest dishonesty numbers of any President in modern history.

And before Hillary defenders say “It is all because a quarter century of the right-wing conspiracy!”…let me stipulate that Republicans have viciously attacked her for years…but much of this is Hillary’s own fault.

Most Americans believe Hillary broke the law on her email server scandal. This is a fact. Most Americans believe Hillary did this only because of self-interest and her own political future. This is also a fact. And most Americans believe that after being discovered, Hillary spent a year lying about it time and again. This is, again, a fact.

Then, to compound the matter, Barack Obama did what he does best: play hyperpartisan politics with the entire matter, and made things worse.  By having an opaque process to investigate potential crimes, he undermined the credibility of the entire process.

Then, these political geniuses compounded the matter.

First, Attorney General meets with Bill Clinton, secretly, for a half hour on a private plane, just days before the announcement of criminal charges. Then the FBI Director gives a presentation outlining his decision, where he basically admits Hillary did something wrong, but will suffer no penalty for it.

The American people are not as stupid as Obama, Hillary, or Democrats would like to believe.

92% of Americans…you read that right, ninety two percent, believe Hillary broke the law.  And a whopping 56% disagree with the FBI on their decision not to prosecute.

These are not partisan numbers. The mainstream of the American public believes Hillary broke the law, and should have been prosecuted. The mainstream of the Democrat Party elite…disagree.  The disconnect is mind boggling.

Let us note for a moment that Hillary could have (and should have) been completely transparent on this. Sure, some emails were damaging, but none were worth this coverup. Again, the Clintons cover up a scandal, and cause more damage in their wake by their actions after the fact than the initial scandal would have cost.

Apparently, the Clintons never learn their lesson, and they have a pathetic learning curve.

That said, where does that leave a President Hillary Clinton?

It leaves her largely as illegitimate.

I hate using that word, because of all its immense connotations…but I can’t disabuse myself of the feeling that this is correct.

The majority (yes, even some of her own voters) believe she broke the law, and then got away with it because of political connections. What kind of credibility does such a person have, when enforcing laws on others?

From day one, Hillary will be the most distrusted President maybe in history, but definitely in my lifetime.

Not all of this is her fault. Trump and Republicans, as I said above, own the lion’s share of this. Imagine if they had picked a competent Republican…Hillary’s crimes would be an after thought, because she very likely loses this election. But because of the GOP, we are likely left with a damaged, untrusted women as Commander-in-Chief.

The reality is this post likely will annoy Trump supporters, Republicans, journalists, Democrats, and everyone in between. I guarantee I will get a fair share of hate mail and comments for it.  And I don’t care; the reality is we have all failed miserably.

I honestly don’t know how we fix this. Hard core Democrats will defend Hillary even if she were to commit more crimes. The media will defend her, because they are grossly incompetent. The GOP is a broken shell of its former self, and even if they somehow magically hold on to the House and Senate, their internal civil war will prevent them from having a cohesive message to oppose the President.

The political class, in all its representations, has failed the American people. The American People, having allowed this to happen, has failed the nation. And we have all likely made our future a poorer place for it.



Hillary Is Potentially In Real Trouble


So…are the polls really showing a Trump surge? Are we ready to see the Truman/Dewey moment of the 21st century?

Here is what all the hubbub is about:


Yes. The story is real.

There is no question the polls have been narrowing ever since the end of the Democrat Party convention.  Trump received no bump from his convention; Hillary got a significant one from hers. But clearly, that was not sustainable, as the polls have slowly drifted toward a closer equilibrium point.

What we are now seeing is the inherent weakness of Hillary Clinton as a Presidential candidate. This polling trend is less about Trump than about how the public feels about Hillary.

Hillary Clinton has always been an awful political candidate. In 2008, Hillary supporter former Sen. Dale Bumpers was asked how she was losing to a nobody name Obama:“I’ve known Hillary for many years, ever since she came to Arkansas; She’ll find a way to screw it up. She always does.”

That defines who Ms. Clinton is more than anything else you will ever hear.

Furthermore, Hillary has a quarter century of history that defines her…and the public has defined her, all right.  In a Quinnipiac poll from 9/15/16, the pollsters asked if they thought Hillary Clinton was honest. She was underwater by 33 points, 32% Yes/65% No. That was even worse numbers than Donald Trump has (and he virtually lies about everything).

These issues have caused a huge enthusiasm gap…which another reason why Trump, for all of his negatives, remains still in this race.  A CNN/ORC poll indicated that more than 1 in 5 five would-be Clinton voters were “not at all enthusiastic” about backing her. The poll found 58 percent of Trump supporters saying they felt either “extremely” or “very” enthusiastic about their choice, while only 46 percent in the Clinton camp feeling the same.

Even worse, that enthusiasm gap is largest where it hurts her the most: among minorities. There was always going to be a drop off of enthusiasm among the African American community from Obama to Hillary…but it appears to be far greater than they ever expected. A CBS News poll showed 31 percent of North Carolina’s black voters are supporting Clinton because they don’t like Trump. And the same percentage said they were “satisfied but not enthusiastic” about their choice, compared to 53 percent who were enthusiastic. That is approximately 40 points lower in enthusiasm than Barack Obama had in 2008, when he won the state of North Carolina.

This enthusiasm gap extends to Hispanics as well. The Clinton campaign early on presumed that Trump’s anti-Hispanic rhetoric would magically turn out the Hispanic vote for Clinton. That does not appear the case. Their campaign is now trying to woo Hispanic voters with TV and radio ads by Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine…who is white, but fluent in Spanish.

Democrats have criticized their entire strategy. The Obama campaign in 2012 put in early, sustained efforts to drive out the Hispanic vote…and largely succeeded. One veteran strategist of Obama’s 2012 campaign questioned the wisdom of waiting to engage in Spanish until the end in a recent Washington Post article: “The question I would ask is what message does that send to the Spanish-dominant Hispanic voters?” Amandi asked. “That they’re not as important as the English-language Hispanic voters by waiting this late in the cycle to engage with them?”

These are not clear winning strategies for any candidate.

When people like Nate Silver are sending up the warning flares, you better start listening:

When a candidate has a rough stretch like this in the polls, you’ll sometimes see his or her supporters pass through the various stages of grief before accepting the results, beginning with a heavy dose of “unskewing” or cherry-picking of various polls. In this case, however, the shift in the race is apparent in a large number of high-quality surveys, and doesn’t depend much on the methodology one chooses. FiveThirtyEight, Real Clear Politicsand Huffington Post Pollster all show similar results in their national polling averages, for example, with Clinton leading by only 1 to 3 percentage points over Trump.

All of this is tricky, though, because we still don’t have a great sense for where the long-term equilibrium of the race is, or even whether there’s an equilibrium at all — and we probably never will because of the unusual nature of Trump’s candidacy. Perhaps Trump isn’t that different from a “generic Republican” after all. Or perhaps (more plausibly in my view) he is a very poor candidate who costs the Republicans substantially, but thatClinton is nearly as bad a candidate and mostly offsets this effect. Still, I’d advise waiting a week or so to see whether Clinton’s current dip in the polls sticks as the news moves on from her “bad weekend” to other subjects.

The problem for Ms. Clinton is that these stories keep coming up. And they are largely unforced errors created by her or her campaign, instead of Trump successfully laying a blow on her.  The sequence of events on 9/11 when she stumbled and almost collapsed is mind boggling: instead of admitting she had an episode; they tried to sneak out so the media didn’t see, then they tried to hide it as long as possible; then tried to spin it; and finally took almost 8 hours to admit what really happened, clearly after discussing how they would confront this with a long internal discussion among their political hacks. At that point, they already had sowed distrust through out the public on whatever they eventually said.

This doesn’t mean by any means that Hillary Clinton is losing (or Trump is winning). Despite all this ‘fear mongering’ from people like myself, Hillary likely still leads Trump by a point or two.

The problem is history shows you how tenuous such leads are. In late October 2000, George W. Bush led Gore by 1-2 points in the polls. Then, the weekend before the election, the news story broke about Bush having a drunk driving arrest as a young man. Even though the story was largely irrelevant, there are several surveys and studies in retrospect that show that story may have cost Bush the popular vote, by suppressing his base in some sectors from turning out. Whether this is true or not can never absolutely be proven, but again…Bush led for the vast majority of that campaign, and that 1-2 point lead didn’t hold up in the end.

The second hurdle for Trump is the electoral college:


Yeah. The structural advantages in the electoral college are tremendous for Trump. He has to not only sweep the toss-up states (50 EV), but also steal at least one of the Democrat-leaning states like New Hampshire or Virginia.

Furthermore, the problem for Donald Trump is he is utterly incapable of taking advantage of all these Hillary deficiencies, unlike Gore or other past examples.  Hillary has a credibility problem, and the public thinks she is a liar; is Trump going to take the mantle of being the honest truth teller America needs?  Good luck with that. Hillary has shown multiple episodes of gross incompetence; who here believes Trump is knowledgeable enough to show greater competence?  Not many unaligned voters at this point. Trump is singularly incapable of taking advantage where other Republicans would be trouncing Clinton.

Clinton is largely undermining her own campaign because of who she is: she is a dishonest woman who repeatedly avoids transparency at all costs, even in the face of media attention and obvious self benefit; she is a woman with little or no natural political acumen, who engenders almost no enthusiasm from a bulk of her own party, and has a campaign staff that is either too cowardly or too incompetent to speak to her honestly about her own mistakes.

That is always a recipe for disaster in a political campaign.  Hillary Clinton is currently toying with losing the most winnable race in the last half century…an amazing accomplishment, when you think about it.

In short, Hillary was a very weak candidate to begin with, with little credibility or trust among the general population. Compound that with her inability to be transparent, outright lying to the public, and her team’s own gross incompetence…and we are where we are: a race where she is likely to win, should win…but Trump still lives.


Why Trump’s Convention Bounce Matters

RealClearPolitics   Election 2016   General Election  Trump vs. Clinton


Even after the often messy, consistently off message Republican National Convention last week, Donald Trump has obtained a significant bounce in the polls.

The size of the bounce likely won’t really be understood until well after the fact. There are too many confounding factors, especially the ongoing Democrat National Convention, to really understand what the full impact was.

But as surprising as it may be, Trump did improve his standing with the American people. Even the polls that showed no statistical evidence of a bounce demonstrated this.

The reason why this is so important is history. No candidate in the modern era has failed to get a bounce, and more over, failed to take the lead after their convention, and then gone on to win the Presidency.  The worst examples of this are John Kerry in 2004 and Mitt Romney in 2012, both of whom actually achieved ‘dead cat bounces’ after their conventions, and received no boost whatsoever.

Trump, by achieving both a post-convention bounce and a (albeit likely short-lived) national lead in the polls, at least is still in the game.  This is quite nicely illustrated in Nate Silver’s election forecast, which for the time being gives Trump the upper hand:



Ultimately, no matter the size and long-term impact of the conventions, this tells us a few things about the electorate.

First, Trump is a unique candidate in the hallowed history of American politics. Predictions rarely are accurate in the short-term where he is concerned. He moves the electorate in a way we are not accustomed to.

Second, Hillary Clinton is a horribly flawed candidate who is unliked by the American people.  She may be slightly more liked than Trump himself, but this is not something to necessarily be proud of, all things considered. She has utterly failed in changing the national perception that she is a classic politician who will lie about anything for personal benefit.

That said, is the election as close as it currently appears? For data, ask me again in one month.  The Democrats will likely be successful in achieving their own bounce post-convention, which more than likely will wipe away any benefits Trump has achieved. Both parties will then unify as much as they are likely to for the rest of this cycle. Then we will know if Donald Trump is really in this game…or it is all an illusion.



Star Trek: Beyond: Movie Review


I’ll have to admit that as trailer after trailer of the third installment of Star Trek of the Abrams universe came out…I was underwhelmed.

The question for me with new Star Trek movies is, what are they going to show me that I haven’t already seen before? How many times can the Enterprise be destroyed; the Federation come under existential threat; that Kirk and Spock and McCoy be put into hopeless situations and figure some hair brained scheme to save humanity?

See…I think I actually got the entire question backward.

This movie succeeds specifically because it does all those things all over again.

I recently watched the other Abrams Star Trek movies, and I have to say upon my first viewing…Beyond is the most purely enjoyable and satisfying of the three.

This isn’t to say the story is a game changer, that it shows you something you haven’t seen before. Every narrative and plot device in this movie is something we’ve not only seen before, but something we’ve seen in the Star Trek movies or TV universe. I could go point by point telling you which movie or episode had each plot point in the movie, scene for scene.

But where the last movie, Into Darkness, failed, this movie succeeds. The last move misuses the greatest villain in the Star Trek universe, Khan, and makes it into a rote action movie. This movie uses no villain that you will remember a day after watching the movie, makes it into a rote action movie…and you walk out of the movie happy.  In short…this movie simply is a lot of fun to watch.

Part of this is the fact of a new director, Justin Lin (who famously made the last several Fast and the Furious movies). Lin brings far more entertaining and fast paced actions scenes than the prior movies do.

The story often brings the threat of change to the crew. A disenchanted James T. Kirk, questioning his role in the universe, in a midlife crisis of sorts. Commander Spock, facing his own mortality with the death of Ambassador Spock (Leonard Nimoy’s alternate timeline character; the nod to his passing his short, but profound). Others in the crew, in small ways, appear to be pushing against the stagnancy that develops after several years in a small ship with not much to do than fly from planet after planet, struggling to find something worthy to take up their time.

The villain is an enemy named Krall (Idris Elba, in heavy makeup). He is, for all practical purposes, not a very deep villain. He hates the Federation, wants to destroy him, etc, etc. His weapons are quite fascinating, as they are of a type that Starfleet is clearly unprepared for. But other than that, this will not be a role Elba is ever remembered for.

In short, if you are looking for deeper philosophical meaning, looking for an ideological and ethical debate on the policies of the Federation, etc…you are in the wrong theater. This movie provides almost none of that. What it does to is harken back to the days of fun, with the original Star Trek crew, and even later with New Generation. This is clearly episodic in nature, for better or worse. As a fun summer movie, it does its job admirably.

My only question is where this franchise goes from here. Moviegoers happily will pay for this type of installment once, or maybe even twice. But there will have to be something deeper for this series to stay vibrant.

But as for  now, a worthy next installment in the hallowed franchise.


The Party of Trump…and the Conservative Movement-In-Exile

Trump 2

Donald Trump, billionaire extraordinaire, has in 12 months done what progressives dreamed about for the past three decades: destroy the Reagan coalition once and for all.

The party that stood for (but didn’t always fight for) fiscal and social conservatism, limited government, and a strong but rational foreign policy is no more.

And may be that is the way it should be.

I weep for the demise of the party that I fought for so long. But, on the other hand, we have clearly lost our way.

Little by little, both with the assistance of Democrats as well as the undermining of core values by Republicans, the party dissolved under the weight of its own hypocrisy and in-fighting. Donald Trump was apparently the chosen form of our Destructor…but the party was dying long before he arrived.

And so, we are now left with a party that is broken, battered, and frankly, no longer stands for anything other than the whims of a progressive billionaire. The fissure lines of the party were apparent throughout the Cleveland convention, despite the efforts of the Trump campaign to cover them up.

However, give Trump credit. He has pulled off possibly the most remarkable political story in modern American times. A dark horse with no political background whatsoever (other than his extensive connections to lobbyist and donations to both political parties, in any case).  He then used his universal name recognition, and surprisingly little money, to take over one of the two major political parties in America.  It is a remarkable achievement.

Donald Trump finally accepted (humbly) the nomination of the Republican Party last night. In the process, he gave one of (if not the) longest convention speech in modern history.  Parts of the speech were quite effective. Trump was his usual overbearing self, seeing dangerous from every aspect of American life, to which the only solution was a larger Federal government-run by Trump himself.

He painted a dark, dismal picture of the American landscape. Trump, in little over an hour, promised to rid the country of worsening crime, even though crime has been steadily decreasing since 1980. He promised to bring back the steel and coal industries, using some Federally governed magic wand. He said he would quickly and at no cost to the American people destroy ISIS and Islamic terrorism, without providing any roadmap on how he would do that. He then, remarkably, argued for government-funded stimulus to fix the country’s infrastructure, and promised that such a plan would bring millions of jobs and stimulate the economy; if you feel like you’ve heard that one before, go back and listen to Barack Obama talk about his stimulus plan in 2009.

This is now a party led by Trump; wholly owned by Trump; and a party base whose faith does not rely on conservative ideology, but simply on their belief that Trump can solve the problems of the country, unilaterally and without any plan or policy in place. It is ‘Trust me” government at its worst.

Newt Gingrich compared Trump’s speech to Ronald Reagan’s acceptance speech in 1980.  Reagan, ironically enough, warned the nation of exactly this type of mistaken faith in one man to solve their problems:


This, in short, leaves the conservative movement as a movement in exile. The various branches of traditional conservativism, whether it be Paul Ryan’s wing in Congress; the Reformicons led by various intellectual elites; or the hard-core conservative wing led by the likes of Ted Cruz and Mike Lee; all these groups are left wondering where they failed so miserably, and went so wrong. They are left with a marginalized elitist movement without a party to speak for them.

Where we go from here is beyond me. Trump is incompetent at many things, but he is utterly, wholly competent as a nationalist, populist demagogue who can rally particular portions of the Republican base at a moment’s notice. That demographic of the Republican Party is not going away any time soon, no matter how much conservatives try to wish it away.

So the Conservative Movement in Exile is left wandering the political wastelands, hoping that Trump’s incompetence will lead to a loss in November, at which point his base will wake up from this dream. Leaders like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are making the wager that if Trump loses in November, the fever will break and the base will realize its mistakes. I find that scenario less than likely. More likely, they will wake up one Wednesday in November, realize they have lost, and then blame those very conservatives for their own failures. When has Trump and his followers every believed they are at fault for their own errors in judgment?

More over, why do we believe Trump will fade quietly into the night? I could envision Trump running again in 2020. Or, how about a Trump funded campaign backing his daughter Ivanka? (Notably, Ivanka was likely the one true new star to arise from this Convention. possibly along with son Donald, Jr.). I do not believe, for a second, that Trumpism is going away any time soon, either with victory or defeat.

The most likely plan for a conservative revival to succeed is also the most arduous and difficult to carry out, and the most unlikely to occur: to start a third party that focuses on fiscal conservatism.  It doesn’t appear that those leaders who could potentially drive such an effort are ready to abandon the Republican Party. Even Ted Cruz and Ben Sasse seem very reluctant to do anything of the sort at this point.

So where we go from here, other than a generation of dominance by liberals and progressives, is beyond me.





Why I Am Leaving The Republican Party


I can actually remember the moment I joined the Republican Party.

It was the Monday after July 4th in 1991. I had just turned 18 the week before. And, there were a few momentous things that I had to get done: register to vote, signing up for selective service, and….joining the Republican Party.

In all respects, I was a Republican before that moment. My father was a reformed Carter Democrat, who became a beloved Reagan Republican. I was a ‘Reagan Baby’…Reagan defined my early childhood, and in many ways, my political philosophy.

I guess now, I can also mark the calendar on the day I left the Republican Party…May 3, 2016.

Many others are going through the same conflict and dismay I have gone through. The number of people who have messaged me after my various social media proclamations about leaving the GOP are now too numerous to count. Friends, family, online acquaintances, and complete strangers have responded with the entire spectrum of reactions, from “How dare you abandon your party now?” to “You are right; it is the only way.”

Donald Trump supporters take this the most personally however. The vitriol and outrage of defecting from their dear Leader enrages them to no end.

That is only a small side benefit of this decision though.

In truth, the process of philosophically abandoning the GOP (or, case in point, the GOP philosophically abandoning we conservatives) has been a long time coming. More than a decade, in truth. It largely started with the George W. Bush administration, with their ill-conceived foreign policy, and has continued to this day, as Donald Trump’s ignorant populism has won the party over. So I don’t really blame Trump, per se, for this; this was a long time in coming. Trump is more a symptom than cause of the disease.

Reihan Salam, Executive Editor of the National Review (and someone I greatly admire) made the case of why people should remain in the Republican Party, despite Trump’s nomination:

My case for sticking with the Republican Party is not a sentimental one. The rise of Trump has convinced many of my conservative comrades that the GOP is a cesspool. I have to ask: Did you believe that the GOP was the home of heroes and legends before he came on the scene? I’ve been in and around the conservative movement for my entire adult life, and I’ve seen more than my fair share of self-described conservative true believers doing the bidding of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, Hollywood conglomerates, and unsavory foreign governments. I’ve also seen people of great integrity work tirelessly for little pay and even less recognition to make this country a freer, fairer, and more decent place. The Republican Party may well be a party of charlatans and cranks. But it is also the party of millions of middle-class Americans who believe that the role of government is to empower people, not to render them powerless and dependent. I stand with those in my party who share my ideals and to work with them to defeat those who do not. To be clear, this is not always fun. It just happens to be necessary.

The irony with Reihan’s piece is…it echoes many of my own arguments for the past decade. While advocating for John McCain and Mitt Romney, I often reverted to these very same discussions. I argued that the GOP was the only vehicle conservatives had to promote our philosophy. I argued that the Republican Party was broken, but fixing it was our best path forward. I vehemently spoke out in favor of blindly voting for the GOP, even though they continued to betray our beliefs time and again.

I just don’t see how this can be supported any more.

If true conservatives, who believe in individual rights, the power of the free market, a small Federal government and more federalism, and the overall necessity of America’s military power in sustaining the world order cannot draw a line in the sand against Donald Trump…what exactly do we stand for?

And that is the core problem here. There is no philosophical core guiding the Republican Party any more. Are we the party of small government? Trump, who said education and health care (after defense) were the most important jobs of the Federal government today, clearly doesn’t believe in small government. Are we the party of individual rights, or more state power?  Trump, the poster boy for private use of eminent domain, isn’t one to talk. And even on military power and foreign policy, Trump’s policies of a weaker NATO and a rollback of our force structure worldwide is in contrast to what conservatives have believed for a generation.

So, is a party that doesn’t even agree on its core beliefs a party in any sense of the word?

Reihan goes on to argue that we may be witnessing a major restructuring of the political landscape, something I alluded to in my piece earlier in the week:

By 2020 or 2024, both of our major parties may well look radically different. The GOP is less a single, solid thing than a never-ending rumble, in which different factions duke it out over which one of them will temporarily control the party’s brand and its infrastructure. Leaving the Republican Party now would mean, essentially, ceding control of its considerable resources to your factional rivals. Such a decision might be logical if you’ve decided that you’re all in for a $15 minimum wage or if increasing less-skilled immigration is the issue that matters to you most. In that case, then you should probably join the Democratic Party. But for a conservative like me, it still makes sense to stake out territory under the GOP tent.

I agree with the first part of this assertion. On both sides of the political aisle, we are seeing major fracture lines develop. The Republicans simply have suffered from those fractures more acutely, as the era of Reagan is brought to an end by the coming of Trumpism.   But on the Left, the socialist progressive wing of the party, which was always there but largely silent for the past few decades, now demands that their voice be heard, while the establishment wing of the Democrat Party fights to maintain its control.  How that shapes out may define American politics for the next generation, far more than Trump’s victory will.

The question for reform conservatives then becomes, what is the best method to survive this political upheaval, and still have a functioning conservative movement when it is all said and done?

Reihan argues that only by being within the GOP apparatus that we can achieve this. But again…where is the evidence that this is the case? The Tea Party, among other conservative movements, have tried that method since 2009, with only limited results. Establishment Republicans largely halted the efforts of the Tea Party, culminating in the defeat of both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in this year’s primary. On the other end of the spectrum, the specter of the populist wing of the party, now led by Trump but voiced by the likes of Pat Buchanan for decades, is now triumphant.

I would argue the opposite. Only by fundamentally weakening the underpinnings of the GOP as is can we reform it. The entire party is rampant cesspool of incompetence, incoherence and corruption. Tacitly approving of their methods by remaining within their sphere of power seems counterproductive to me, at this point. The GOP may not be destroyed to be fixed, but its current iteration must be severely damaged before those in power are willing to accept the painful reforms necesssary to be a true national party again.

If we were to liberate enough conservatives from the Republican Party into an independent voice, we could force the party to actively try to court us when elections come. Right now, they take the vote of reform conservatives for granted. But if we were independent of the party structure, now candidates would be forced to confront our ideas, point by point. And if they continued to ignore our calls for reform, we have the most powerful tool of all…our lack of support on voting day.

I will hold nothing against people who stay within the Republican Party. In fact, even those that are arguing that we should vote for Trump, for the sake of ‘party unity’ still hold my respect. But I for one no longer see no added value to the illusion.

I have for many years said I am a conservative first, and Republican second. I now hold true to that oath. I will fight for the conservative values I hold near and dear, from outside the party apparatus…in hopes that one day, the party will reopen the door for me and other conservatives once again. Then, and only again, will I return to the party that I once loved.

[Note: Please note a small correction: Reihan Salam is the Executive Editor of the National Review; the Editor is Rich Lowry. I have made the correction above.]



The GOP Is Dead; Long Live Trumpism

gop ded

_I regret to inform you of the passing of the Grand Old Party…_

With Donald Trump’s victory in the Indiana primary, his securing of the GOP nomination is all but guaranteed. And as such, the death of the modern Republican Party is upon us.

Some pundits will try to argue that the GOP can survive a Trump nomination and his enormous eventual defeat in November. They make arguments of the long history of the Republicans in persevering and eventually recovering from momentous political disasters.

I believe this time is somewhat different.

I could be wrong, but to me, this appears far more like a massive restructuring of the political underpinnings we have come to accept since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980.

Since Reagan’s Presidency, the GOP was defined as the party of strong defense, smaller federal government and lower taxes and spending. All successors to the Reagan legacy accepted this as the basic three-legged stool of modern conservatism.

Donald Trump decisively brings an end to that.

Trump is in many ways more of a progressive than Hillary Clinton is. He has spent decades advocating for more government power and spending. He has at various times supported more taxation, more spending, more federal power in welfare, health care, and education; he has been pro-choice for most of his life, and I sincerely believe he has even recently donated to causes like Planned Parenthood. In short, he is the very definition of a statist, a man who craves centralizing power in Washington, D.C. under the hand of a powerful executive, all the while supporting largely liberal causes that drives the Democrat Party, not the GOP.

Furthermore, those stating that after Trump loses in November the GOP will get back to ‘business as usual’? Who are they fooling, other than themselves?

Trump has shown that there is 40% of the GOP, at a minimum, that could care less if the GOP ever wins any elections. These people are largely driven by anger, not policy. And how then does the GOP move past this, when a Trump loss is like to increase, not decrease, their anger level?

Furthermore, this Trump coalition clearly no longer believes in Reaganism; we are now, affirmatively, in a post-Reagan era; is this new era to be defined by ‘Trumpism’, whatever that may be?

No, Trump losing in November is the end of the beginning of the great modern Republican Party Civil War; it is not the beginning of the end of it.

In short, we could have to suffer through years of fighting over what is the likely dead corpse of the modern Republican Party. Various fights, at the state and national level, are likely to break out, with moderates, conservatives, and Trumpists (who are neither moderates or conservatives, in fact) fighting each other in election after election, likely leading to more and more Democrat victories. No outcome from this November’s elections leads to a unification of the broken remnants of this Republican coalition.

The current Republican party lacks all the components that create a cohesive, political movement. It lacks leaders with moral fortitude and strength of will. It lacks an infrastructure that allows for diversity, but still holds true to a few basic principles. And it lacks a coherent party organization that fosters growth of conservative principles into real world policy.

In short, is there any practical reason for the existence of this modern Republican party?  I guess it is a vehicle for Donald Trump to espouse whatever crazy, tinfoil hat wearing wackadoodle conspiracy he thinks of every morning, but other than that, it is a party that no longer has any viable national voice. It is not a conservative party; it is not a party of strong military and foreign policy; it is certainly not a party based on federalism, the limited power of the Federal government, and the constitution restriction of the powers of the Executive.

In short, it is a party without any central tenets and beliefs.

And a political movement without any core beliefs is no movement at all.


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