Every election cycle has what pundits call “inflection points”: moments in a campaign that have some defining impact. Moments like Rick Perry in a 2012 debate forgetting the third department of the federal government he would shut down. Or like Marco Rubio deciding to go to Trump’s level of rancor.
Interestingly, the Wisconsin primary was one of those inflection points for both the GOP and Democratic races.
Ted Cruz’s big win all but assured that Republicans are headed to a contested convention in Cleveland. Yes, it’s still possible for Donald Trump to secure 1,237 delegates by the time the last vote is cast on June 7th in California, but it is very improbable.
And, with Bernie Sanders’s trouncing of Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, he continues to chip away at what most had believed was an insurmountable lead in delegates. Part of why Clinton’s lead has appeared so daunting is because the vast majority of super delegates have committed to her over Sanders (469-31).
However, if you count only the pledged delegates (those are the normal delegates that you win in primaries and caucuses) Hillary leads Sanders by 1,298 to 1,079 – just 221. There are still 1,977 unpledged delegates remaining.
Still, Clinton has all those super delegates. But here is the caveat: a large number of those super delegates are Democrat elected officials (think Members of Congress, state legislators, etc.) who are ultimately going to act on self-interest. If they start to feel the pressure of Sanders’s momentum and see Sanders continue to tighten the race, Clinton could suffer defections of super delegates just like she did in 2008 when late in the primary season Barack Obama got the big mo.
Does Bernie have the big mo? Well, he has won 7 of the last 8 contests. He will win Wyoming this coming weekend. Polling shows that voters in New York, the state Hillary represented in the Senate and she should win handily, are warming to Sanders. Two months ago, Clinton led by more than 20 points; now it’s barely 10 points.
It’s looking increasingly likely that both the Republicans and the Democrats will face contested conventions. And that will be good for Republicans for two reasons: 1) the Democratic convention will be more chaotic than the Republican convention. Democratic base activists tend to be much more aggressive (especially towards law enforcement) than Republican activists and will create more tension, 2) and the Democratic convention comes the week after the Republican convention, so as we enter the General Election phase of the cycle the voters will have the imagery of chaos and tension seared into their minds from the nightly news coverage.
For Democrats, this could be Chicago 1968 all over again: 1968 Democratic Convention Riots
Thursday night’s Fox News GOP debate had all the makings of a classic showdown with tough questions, candidates sharply criticizing each other, and the moderators and even candidates whining about how they were being treated. And Trump wasn’t even there.
Mountains of words have been written about how Trump has changed the campaign landscape. I was originally dismissive of Trump, figuring he would flame out in due time, but have grudgingly come to the realization that there are just enough Republican voters who simply don’t care about ideology and eat up the showmanship and blunt talk of the entertainer/businessman.
And that kind depresses me. I’d like to think that voters have a better sense of decency. If there is one word I associate with Trump it is indecent. He is vulgar, ugly, mean, misogynistic, and completely in love with himself. It appears that there is nothing this guy would not do or say to get ahead.
It doesn’t make the American political process look very attractive when someone like Trump has the kind of support that polls indicate he has. I truly hope the polling is wrong. This presidential race would be so much better without Trump in the mix.
What struck me as I watched the debate: how much it didn’t matter that Trump was not on the stage. It was a robust discussion of policy and how the candidates would approach various issues. It was an adult conversation. It was our democratic process on display, and I was proud to be an American on Thursday night.
All that said, I’m truly torn on how to handicap the Iowa caucus. I don’t really know whether Cruz or Trump will win, but I think it will be pretty close. Rubio will come in a strong third and Rand Paul will way over-perform his polling numbers in Iowa.
Iowa can do this nation a huge favor by rejecting Trump and stopping his momentum. That could reset the course of the nominating process, give us our sanity back, and send the indecent proposal that is Trump to the dustbin of history.
You know that 30 year old living rent-free in his parents’ basement? The one who got straight A’s and has a graduate degree but fails to make it in the real world? Well, in the energy sector, that’s the solar industry.
Proponents of solar insist on government subsidies and regulatory climates favorable to solar at the expense of traditional energy sources. For decades, the argument has been that government investment will help solar to launch. Yet, just like the overly-indulgent parents of the millennial basement dweller are actually impeding his development, so too are solar proponents creating an entire industry that cannot function in the marketplace.
Take for example SolarCity. Last month, SolarCity was “forced to eliminate more than 550 jobs in Nevada” after the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided to end “net metering.” Net metering is a program that pays retail price for excess power that solar users send back to the electrical grid. SolarCity built their entire business model upon this program, providing solar panels to its customers at no initial, upfront cost and then pocketing the government subsidies.
As the Wall Street Journal pointed out in December, SolarCity was aware that depending upon net metering for the long-term was a risky gamble, telling investors “our ability to sell solar energy systems and the electricity they generate may be adversely impacted by changes in net metering policies including reductions in the amount or value of credit that customers receive through net metering.” According to Nevada’s PUC, solar users in Southern Nevada receive a $623 subsidy per year, while those in the northern part of the state receive $471—paid for by the non-solar ratepayers who are typically lower income.
To believe that this ruse would continue forever and build a business upon it was just foolish. Those who argue for continued subsidies for the solar industry enable the irresponsible decisions that hinder solar’s growth. If a solar company cannot make it in Nevada or Arizona or other Western sunshine states without considerable subsidies, it can never make it as the viable energy option that solar proponents purport it to be. Let’s end these subsidies everywhere and force innovation in the solar industry to become self-sufficient. After all, if you truly love something, shouldn’t you set it free?
The first week of 2016 brought something that I hadn’t expected: President Obama and I are in agreement. Last week, the president previewed his State of the Union Address from the Oval Office saying, “Since I took office seven years ago, in the midst of crisis, I don’t think I’ve ever been more optimistic abut the year ahead.” (odd for him to say considering in January of 2009 he had his vision of change and a Democrat Congress to achieve it, but I guess “yes, we can” was less convincing to him than his followers.) What’s more, we both agree on at least one cause of this optimism: that this is his last year as president.
My other reason for optimism, Paul Ryan’s speakership, is likely not shared by the president. Ryan’s ability to communicate the way in which conservative principles can improve Americans’ daily lives and his Midwestern, earnest and steadfast promise keeping will be refreshing for the Republican base and the House Freedom Caucus. If Speaker Ryan says he will do something, it’s going to happen.
2015 closed with a budget deal that had Rush Limbaugh shrieking the “GOP [sold] America down the river.” In a nutshell, the pundits and many in the Freedom Caucus were frustrated that Ryan didn’t threaten a government shutdown in order to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood—two things that won’t happen while Barack Obama is in the White House. Political punditry and showmanship are easy, governing is hard; it requires wisdom and patience, uncommon virtues in Washington. Thankfully for Republicans, Paul Ryan has both.
Upon assuming speakership, Ryan was handed a budget deal that was a fait accompli. He had two options: blow the deal up, shutdown the government, and start the 2016 Election Year in turmoil; or snatch a few important victories within the deal and start 2016 with a clean slate on which to write a clear, conservative vision for the country. Paul Ryan withstood pressure from the “politics-over-governance crew” and chose the latter.
The budget deal permanently removed the ban on oil exports, strengthening our position in dealing with the Middle East and Russia while boosting our economy at home; prevented the sequester from hitting the military so that our beleaguered forces get the resources they need in this dangerous world; and protected free speech by preventing the IRS from transforming abusive tactics into sanctioned policies. The IRS provision alone was worth the price, because we can undo spending in the future easier than re-instating First Amendment rights taken away. Not bad for an admittedly crappy bill.
Then, in the first week of the New Year, Paul Ryan did exactly what he promised, sending to Obama’s desk a bill that defunds Obamacare and Planned Parenthood. Of course, the president vetoed it, but the public discussion will be about the issues presented in the bill, rather than inside-the-beltway gridlock and bickering. Moreover, passage of the bill shows the American people that Republicans are capable of governing.
As the year continues, with Speaker Paul Ryan’s help, Americans will realize that “a more prosperous, a more secure, and a more confident America is possible.”
Yes Mr. President, I’m very optimistic.
Something stirred in my conscience in the fall of 1979. I was 9 years old, I had gotten into the habit of setting my clock radio alarm to go off at the very moment the local radio station was beginning its broadcast day with the Star Spangled Banner. I would leap out of bed, grab by younger brothers out of bed and stand stick-straight with my hand over my heart – and on more than one occasion, a tear in my eye.
Yes, I was that much of a nerd.
But that period of time was an ideological awaking. I began to read National Review, and my mother was teaching us about the Founding Fathers and the threat of the Soviets. And my parents had real hope in some guy named Ronald Reagan (I had never heard of him before I was nine) who was going to run for President again.
By the time the U.S. Hockey team beat the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics, I was a full-throated American patriot. I believed (probably because my mom believed) that Ronald Reagan was going to win the presidency and save the nation from communism, because God helped a bunch of young scrappy amateurs beat the most fierce hockey machine in the world. Just like God helped the young scrappy amateurs of the colonies beat the fiercest army on the planet when we won the Revolutionary War.
That was my idealistic mindset: that God truly loved this nation and would help it succeed so that millions upon millions of His children could enjoy the blessings of liberty.
That’s what made me a conservative. It’s what motivates what I do to try to advance conservatism every day. It’s because I want my children to continue to be free. I cherish my conservatism – because I spent years reading the great conservative thinkers and plunging into a career in politics and public policy to defend and advance those ideals.
So you’ll forgive me if I fear what Donald Trump is doing to conservatism.
That theme was masterfully addressed by Jonah Goldberg in this piece last week. Here are a couple excerpts:
The late Bill Rusher, longtime publisher of National Review, often counseled young writers to remember, “Politicians will always disappoint you.” As I’ve often said around here, this isn’t because politicians are evil. It’s because politicians are politicians. Their interests too often lie in votes, not in principles. That’s why the conservative movement has always recognized that victory lies not simply in electing conservative politicians, but in shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way. But if it’s true that politicians can disappoint, I think one has to say that the people can, too.
And when I say “the people” I don’t mean “those people.” I mean my people. I mean many of you, Dear Readers. Normally, when conservatives talk about how the public can be wrong, we mean that public. You know the one. The “low-information voters” Rush Limbaugh is always talking about. The folks we laughed at when Jay Leno interviewed them on the street. But we don’t just mean the unwashed and the ill-informed. We sometimes mean Jews, blacks, college kids, Lena Dunham fans, and countless other partisan slices of the electorate who reflexively vote on strict party lines for emotional or irrational reasons. We laugh at liberals who let know-nothing celebrities do their thinking for them.
Well, many of the same people we laughed at are now laughing at us because we are going ga-ga over our own celebrity.
If I sound dismayed, it’s only because I am. Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!” How many Republicans have been deemed unfit for the Oval Office because of comparatively minor character flaws or ideological shortcomings? Rick Perry in 2012 saw his candidacy implode when he couldn’t remember the third item on his checklist of agencies he’d close down. Well, even in that “oops” moment, Rick Perry comes off as Lincolnesque compared with Donald Trump.
Unsurprisingly, Jonah received a lot of hate mail and pretty harsh comments. As he wrote in his follow-up piece:
There’s no way I could — or should — respond to all of the criticisms or attacks. So I’ll just focus on a couple themes. The biggest criticism — in terms of quantity, not quality — is that I am a RINO squish faker fraud no-goodnik lib sucking at the teat of the establishment blah blah and blah. These usually take the form of angry tweets and e-mails. So I’ll fold my response to this silliness into my responses to the longer-form stuff.
He then does a pretty good job explaining why he feel strongly about this issue:
I don’t think Trump is a conservative. I don’t think he’s a very serious person. I don’t think he’s a man of particularly good character. I don’t think he can be trusted to do the things he promises. Etc. If all that hurts your feelings, I’m sorry. But there’s no need to make up imaginary motives. The reason I’m writing such things is that I believe them — and that’s my job.
Even though it may not necessarily be “my job” to point out that Trump is no conservative and is doing real harm to the conservative movement, I feel very, very strongly about it – because I became a conservative as a result of years of thinking, reading, arguing, debating, defending, and advocating.
Trump just decided the next step in his ego-fueled, reality-TV existence was to run for President as a Republican, so he magically became a “conservative” overnight. Terrific!
I believe if William F. Buckley were alive today, he would once again stand athwart history yelling, Stop!
On November 1, 1950, the 3d Battalion, 8th Calvary Regiment, 1st Calvary Division fought back a vicious onslaught of Chinese Communist forces in Unsan Korea. Though repelled, the enemy soon surrounded them. Those Americans still able to do so were ordered to evacuate.
Captain Emil Kapaun, a Catholic chaplain who courageously ministered to the men throughout the battle, “elected to stay behind,” reads his Medal of Honor Citation, “fully aware of his certain capture.” After his capture, “Chaplain Kapaun…bravely pushed aside an enemy soldier preparing to execute Sergeant First Class Herbert A. Miller. Not only did Chaplain Kapaun’s gallantry save the life of Sergeant Miller, but also his unparalleled courage and leadership inspired all those present.” Kapaun and the other POWs were marched 80 miles, in the Tiger Death March, to a prison camp.
In the camp, Kapaun continued his selfless service, ministering to the men, stealing food, and lifting spirits. “People had lost a great deal of their civility,” a fellow POW told the Washington Post, “…and here is this one man—in all of this chaos—who has kept his principles.” Kapaun died in captivity on May 23, 1951.
“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.” Donald Trump recently told an audience in Ames, Iowa. He was referring to Senator John McCain, but his comments could just as easily have applied to Chaplain Kapaun; or Doug Hegdahl, a young POW during Vietnam who convinced his captors that he was stupid and posed no threat, then proceeded to memorize—to the tune of “Old McDonald”——the names of his over 200 fellow POW’s. Granted an early release, which he was ordered to accept by an American officer being held with him, Hegdahl provided to the American government the names of all the POWs held at the camp along with other invaluable information. Trump could have been talking about Jeremiah Denton, who used a televised Vietnamese propaganda press conference to confirm to the US that he and other American prisoners were being tortured by blinking, in Morse Code, T-O-R-T-U-R-E repeatedly. Trumps comments could be applied to Louis Zamperini, the Olympian-turned-bombardier who refused to allow the brutal treatment by his Japanese captors to break him, demonstrating to all the resolve and strength of the American spirit.
We know all of these men, because they were captured. But it is their heroism, their dignity, and their perpetual dedication to our nation, in the face of terrifying, excruciating conditions that we honor when we call them heroes. Mr. Trump’s failure to understand this disqualifies him to serve as Commander-in-Chief.
In the days following his senseless remarks, Trump’s response to the backlash has revealed much about his character: he is an immature, wannabe bully. He doubled down and tried to claim that his comments have been taken out of context. Saying, “People who fought hard and weren’t captured and went through a lot, they get no credit. Nobody even talks about them; they’re, like, forgotten.” Honoring John McCain does not mean that John Basilone, Audie Murphy, Riley Pitts, Dakota Meyers, Michael Murphy, Ross McGinnis, or countless other heroes do not receive appropriate recognition. There is not a finite amount of honor; celebrating one heroic act does not detract from another.
Trump also said, “I used to like [McCain] a lot. I supported him…but I would love to see him do a much better job taking care of the veterans.” After 5 and a half years of unimaginable pain and torture in service to America and her military, John McCain has paid in full. Anything else that he does is above and beyond. And certainly, someone like Donald Trump who, while John McCain languished in prison was, as the Washington Post pointed out, “living large…He ate in New York City’s finest restaurants, rode in his father’s limousines and began hitting the clubs with beautiful women,” is certainly in no position to demand more of the senator.
Trump’s best excuse for this attack on John McCain is that McCain attacked him—basically, Trump is whining “he started it.” Thin skin and a bad attitude is not going to turn Washington around, after all that’s what we’ve had for the past six years. Republican primary voters owe America—and certainly America’s service members—a better candidate than Donald Trump. It’s time for him to go.
Sometimes you read a story in the newspaper (well, on a news website at least) and just shake your head at the profound stupidity of the reporter.
The New York Times first wrote a breathless story about how Senator Marco Rubio and his wife have had a serious problem with driving infractions – 17 total.
On it’s face, you might think, “that dude’s got a lead foot.” The problem is, of the 17 tickets cited in the story, only four of those tickets were given to Senator Rubio. The other 13 were his wife. That’s four in the last 15 years.
So, that’s a bit of a cheap shot by the New York Times.
Then, a couple days later, you had this story with this headline: Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled by Financial Struggles.
My first reaction was, this is good for Rubio, a contrast to millionaire Hillary Clinton. And, taken as a whole, the story is about a 44 year-old father of three who has had some ups and downs financially as he has tried to balance a life in politics and raising a family.
One of the more absurd parts of the story was the Times reporting that following him earning an $800,000 advance on his book, “he splurged on an extravagant purchase: $80,000 for a luxury speedboat, state records show. At the time, Mr. Rubio confided to a friend that it was a potentially inadvisable outlay that he could not resist. The 24-foot boat, he said, fulfilled a dream.”
OK, so I’m a kid from Show Low, AZ and not an expert in watercraft. But, I have had friends who owned boats (bass fishing boats, speed boats, deep sea fishing boats) and I’ve been on a couple “luxury” boats.
When I read “$80,000 luxury speedboat” I just chuckled. A 24-ft boat that costs $80,000 is far from “luxury.” You want a “luxury speedboat?” That’s going to put you out a few hundred thousand to start.
For example, this Tiara is used and is for sale for more than $300,000.
Turns out this is the “luxury speedboat” Marco bought:
It’s a standard deep sea fishing boat. As I commented to someone, “If a luxury speedboat was a Bentley, this is a Hyundai.”
So the New York Times is getting some criticism. Even Politico thinks they’ve crossed the line. Think about that, when even Politico thinks you’ve gone over the line, you can guarantee you have crossed the line a mile back.
Then last night, Jon Stewart jumped into the mix. It’s pretty amazing TV.
The New York Times has lost even more of what little credibility they have remaining. The Gray Lady weeps…
68 years ago today, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager, Branch Rickey, started Robinson at first base. It was one of the most important moments in the MLB and led a nation into the civil rights movement. Robinson and Rickey were ahead of their time when you realize that this happened 16 years before Martin Luther King’s seminal “I have a dream” speech.
Here’s to you, Jackie Robinson.
On Monday, Senator Marco Rubio announced his campaign for the Presidency from the iconic Freedom Tower in Miami. It was a rousing and inspirational speech that highlighted his family’s path to attaining the American Dream. Rubio’s message was one of hope in the resurgence of American greatness and a powerful call to action. Rubio is the best communicator in the Republican Party and will be a top tier contender for the GOP nomination.
Speaking of top-tier contenders, Hillary Clinton launched her campaign for the White House on Sunday with a web video. As I tweeted that day, say what you will, but it was well done and had the right tone.
While I think she will struggle with coming across authentic, she is going to be a formidable opponent to whomever gets the GOP nomination.
Oh, and one of the most absurd things I have ever seen, happened in Iowa. Click the link below. Talk about a stampede.
VIDEO: Reporters ran to get to close to Clinton as the Scooby Van approached her Iowa event https://t.co/7vqR31b6NN
— The Cycle (@thecyclemsnbc) April 14, 2015
(picture courtesy of Dr. Fred Vidal)
A rehash of previous years – and it’s ever more relevant:
On this day, 102 years ago, God made Ronald Reagan – ok, so He made him before that, but you get the point. Reagan was a blessing to America, becoming President at the very time that his country needed him. If there was ever a time we needed another Reagan, it is now.
Reagan embodied a concept of America very different than our current President. In his final address to the nation from the Oval office he spoke of the success of America as an example of freedom.
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
Happy birthday President Reagan. We miss you, we need you.
Townhall.com published my latest column. Here are some excerpts:
As the new Congress, now controlled by Republicans in both houses, settles in for work in Washington D.C., there will be huge expectations from those on the Right. It will be important for Republicans to balance the “do-something” chorus and President Obama, who believes he can rule by veto-threat.
In addition to rolling back disasters like ObamaCare, Republicans should look at the next two years as a public relations battle, not just a legislative battle. Some on the right have said nothing short of a repeal of ObamaCare is good enough. However, there is a case to be made for small victories.
Financial guru Dave Ramsey often talks about the “Debt Snowball” principle. Rather than using the traditional method of paying off personal debt starting with the card with the highest interest rate, Ramsey suggests that you ignore the interest rates and start with the smallest debt. Then pay off the next smallest card, adding the previous debt’s minimum payment. Ramsey writes:
“The point of the debt snowball is behavior modification. In our example, if you start paying on the student loan first because it’s the largest debt, you won’t see it leave for a while. You’ll see numbers going down on a page, but that’s it. Pretty soon, you’ll lose steam and stop paying extra, but you’ll still have all your debts hanging around.
But when you ditch the small debt first, you see progress.”
This is what the Republican Congress needs: a few small victories to build momentum and show the American people that they can make progress.
As free-market conservatives, we have a lot of big goals, like repealing ObamaCare. However, we can’t let that cloud our appreciation and support for small victories like the Save American Workers Act and other legislation in American Encore’s Blueprint for 2015. These small victories can give us much-needed momentum that shows the American people that Republicans are committed to reform, not just rhetoric.
Read the entire piece here.