Understanding Trumpism

Honest, I was going to write this article! In fact, I had a draft going…but, I got behind a bit and, anyways, Victor Davis Hanson is a much better writer than I am…so, here ya go.

As we stare in amazement at the phenomena of Trump and wonder just what the heck his followers are thinking, there is a rather simple answer. And Hanson provides it:

…What the elites now consider normal and standard seems, to a growing minority of Americans, aberrant and unhinged — and they are looking for a remedy, even if it is mostly rhetorical and chimerical.

Members of the so-called establishment do not fear receiving a memo announcing that an immigrant technician on a work visa will be taking their place or that their jobs will be outsourced overseas. For that matter, I don’t expect that my employer, the Hoover Institution, will move to Mexico to cut costs, or that National Review will hire a foreign national to write this column for 40 percent of what it currently pays.

When the son or daughter of someone in New York or Washington who despises the symbolism of the Trump candidacy does not quite top out on the SAT, or does not make it to Ghana for his or her cultural-diversity summer internship, or does not earn a prep school’s full recommendation, and so does not get into Yale or Princeton, does the parent happen to know a powerful public figure, an Ivy League insider, or a rich donor who might wish to call and put in a good word for an underappreciated but talented white male? If so, then that parent is navigating around affirmative action rather than upholding it. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old son of a truck driver in Grand Rapids, of the wrong sex and color, is out of luck…

Do read the whole thing.

Lately, Trump has been rising in the polls and looks like he’s got a shot at winning Indiana – and if he does, that is very close to game over for Cruz; Trump might well secure a first-ballot majority, or come so close that it doesn’t matter. How did Trump come back from the drubbing Cruz gave him in Wisconsin? By complaining about the way Cruz – following the rules to the letter – was securing delegates which his vote totals didn’t justify. You and I know that this is just playing by the rules and that, indeed, the arcane rules of a Republic are the best assurance against tyranny…but for most people, just watching from the sidelines, it is just unfair that someone who got more votes should come in second to the person who got less votes. Trump’s whine, as we anti-Trumpers put it, resonated far and wide across America. It just isn’t fair – and the American people, bottom line, are mostly sick of the rank unfairness of the current system.

Now, to be sure, some Trumpsters have gone full racist and/or anti-Semitic, perceiving in their minds that some sort of Minority or Jewish Conspiracy is the cause of the unfairness. This is actually a common failing among humans – to easily believe that it is the Other who has caused the problem. But leaving aside the Trumpsters who believe that, the overwhelming mass of them are just people who can see that things are lousy, well-connected people are getting an easy ride, and anyone who complains is shouted down as a racist/sexist/homophobe.

Well, not everyone is a racist/sexist/homophobe – but those who are being insulted with those terms do see their school systems collapsing; their faith insulted; their national heroes spat upon; their jobs shipped overseas or taken by someone from another land who will do it for less; their prices for basic necessities going up…and, here in 2016, quite a lot of them are very mad. And if some of them are lashing out in an rage then it must be understood that it was a provoked rage. People content with their lives and feeling that things are roughly fair don’t get enraged. Period.

And as Hanson also points out, whatever you want to say about Trump – and I’ll heartily join you in saying it – it can be matched by Hillary, by Sanders, by the majority of Democrat and Republican party leaders. By the leaders of the bureaucracy and the corporations. By those who run the outlets of popular media culture. If Trump is a lying, vulgar nincompoop then so are all the rest of them. In the race right now, only Cruz is in any way free from the dishonesty of the overall American system. The concept that some how or another electing Hillary would be an improvement over electing Trump is utter nonsense. The concept that Trump is more divisive than Obama has been is utter nonsense. The concept that Trump is not spiritually at one with all the rest of the people in charge is utter nonsense. And the people are given a choice – Trump’s clown show or Hillary’s…if the choice does come down to that, I think a lot of people will go for Trump on the simple calculation that just maybe, by some miracle, those who have been destroying America will at least get their smug hypocrisy shoved back in their faces. Whether that will be enough to elect Trump remains to be seen – but such an action by tens of millions of American voters in November won’t be an act of stupidity, nor an irrational act. What would be stupid and irrational is voting for Hillary as an allegedly superior option – everyone who isn’t a blind partisan knows for a fact that Hillary is a crook…we don’t know, for certain, that Trump is.

And this is why I refuse to be drawn in to insult wars against Trumpsters. Trumpism is a failure just waiting to happen…but just going along with what we’ve already got is a failure that is already upon us. I do wish the Trumpsters would see through Trump and realize that Cruz is the best option. If Trump goes down to flaming defeat in November, I’m hoping that the Trumpsters shake off Trumpism and in 2020 go for a Cruz or a Walker or a Jindal. But Trumpism is a going concern simply because those who have been running the show have been running America into the ground, and profiting greatly off the resultant disaster. Unless and until the Republican Party embraces revolutionary reform of the United States, Trump or someone like him will always find a ready ear at least among a large minority of Americans.

The State of the Race

Is Trump done? Not at all. He only needs to secure on the first ballot 482 of the remaining 798 delegates outstanding. That is about 60% of the remainder, though, so he’d have to do much better going forward than he has so far. And that is much more difficult for him to do because there’s only three in the race, now, and Trump has made himself ever more toxic to everyone but his core supporters.

Cruz, meanwhile, has the nearly impossible task of getting about 90% of the remaining delegates to secure a first ballot nomination – anything can happen in politics, but it is almost a certainty that Cruz won’t be able to do that. But that, at any rate, doesn’t seem to be Cruz’ plan right now – the reason he’s working hard at getting his people into the delegations to the Convention is he figures (a) he can’t get a first ballot majority and (b) neither can Trump. Many of Cruz’ people will have to vote Trump on the first ballot but after that, it’s pretty much anything goes…but as these people were selected with massive input from Cruz, it is highly unlikely they’ll go for anyone other than Cruz, unless the convention deadlocks after multiple ballots are taken. Then Cruz backers might start looking around for a non-Trump, non-Establishment alternative. Of course, Cruz also has to worry not just about how Trump does, but how Kasich does…if Trump plus Kasich equals “nominating majority”, then Kasich might well throw his support to Trump, putting him over the top. Whatever amount Trump falls short, it will be vital to Cruz to make sure he falls farther short than whatever Kasich has.

It occurred to me today that as well as securing himself friendly 2nd ballot delegates, Cruz may also be making a play to take over the Party. Remember, regardless of who they are pledged to vote for on the first ballot, Cruz-backing delegates will be voting on the rules for the Convention. If Cruz gets enough of his people in there, then Cruz sets the agenda for the Convention. And given how diligent Cruz has been at this nuts-and-bolts stuff, I’d be shocked if among his selected delegates there aren’t people who have mastered the rules of parliamentary procedure. People who know that stuff can tie things up in knots, and untie them just as swiftly…while those who don’t know the rules won’t know what hit them. Given that Trump has proven himself manifestly ignorant of the nuts-and-bolts of politics, I’d expect the Convention to steamroller Trump…and, also, go a long way towards making sure Establishment types don’t parachute someone else into the nomination.

I have to admit to being ever more impressed with Cruz. I’ve always admired his firm stance on Constitutional government, but he’s also showing rare ability to just work the system – set up, it must be said, by people who despise him and wanted to precisely keep out people like him – to his advantage. He prepares. He studies. He does the mind-numbingly boring stuff it takes to get things done. Of course, he can’t do it alone so he must have hired some really cracker jack people to help him out. Given the towering unpopularity of Hillary and her massively dispirited base, I’m starting to think that Cruz might be able to make mince meat out of her in the fall. We’ll have to see – and, of course, it is not even remotely certain that Cruz will prevail in Cleveland. Lot of politics to go through before we get there.

Bernie is, however, done – he never was other than done, anyway. The Democrat Party has determined that Hillary will be the nominee. Lot of factors probably playing to that. Not least is the fact that the party it honeycombed with Hillary loyalists…but it is more than that. It is her “turn”, you see? Democrats really think like that – not all of them, but enough to grind it out. But it is still remarkable that Hillary has yet to put Sanders down. I suspect it will be end of April, start of May before she manages it…and then only with the sort of chicanery which often gives her as many delegates from a State as Sanders gets, even when he blows her out among the voters.

The State of the Campaign

Trump and Cruz square off in Wisconsin tomorrow and if Cruz wins – as is expected via polling – then it will get very difficult for Trump to secure a first-ballot nomination…and that is pretty much the end of the game for Trump because Cruz, who actually understands the process, has been busily securing delegates at State conventions…and even if they have to vote Trump on the first ballot, they will be solid Cruz votes on the second and subsequent ballots.

Trump is, naturally, complaining about this – and that, for me, is the final nail in his political coffin. He didn’t do his homework – running for President is a much more difficult and demanding activity than he suspected and voting, especially in the primaries, is only part of the game. I expect him and a large portion of his backers to get all stompy-foot about it and by doing that they may, indeed, wreck GOP chances in November…but given how toxic Trump has become over his alligator mouth, his getting the nomination probably wouldn’t have worked out any different. Meanwhile, Cruz has at least a chance to unite enough of the party and gain just enough cross-over votes to stop Hillary…it would be a hard fight and the money would have to be bet on Hillary, but at least it would be a chance for the GOP, given how massively unpopular Hillary is. If, however, the GOP Powers That Be – who despise Cruz probably more than they do Trump – lock out both of them and hand the nomination to someone who didn’t even run in the primaries or who was knocked out early, then the GOP is definitely doomed – both Trump and Cruz supporters will justifiably cry foul and stay home.

Over on the Democrat side, Hillary is the Democrat’s Trump – at least in the sense that she simply didn’t prepare for the contest. And this is a terrible indictment of her leadership ability given that she was taught no end of a lesson in 2008. Hillary had all the money and the entire party behind her and she still can’t put Bernie down. I am still pretty certain she’ll be able to muscle her way to the nomination but she’s day by day turning off the most determined and enthusiastic Democrats. Say what you will about Bernie, but he’s an honest man who is actually campaigning on what the Democrat base wants…Hillary is making a belated lurch to the far left trying to stop him, but the reek of hypocrisy is strong and, meanwhile, she’s providing all sorts of ammunition for the eventual GOP nominee to use against her. A lot of people have said that Hillary is smart – sorry, but I don’t see it. I see not the slightest evidence of intelligence in her actions over her public life. She’s just rote recited whatever current Democrat talking points are, has greedily sucked up as much money for herself as she can and cruelly gone after anyone who has got in her way. She might wind up being President, but she’ll be a lousy President that no one but her sycophants has a kind word for.

Happy Hour Open Thread

‘Cause we’re all going to need to start drinking, heavily – get it?

Anyways…

Why are people furious over our political system? Here’s why:

During a panel discussion Monday morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe about a pair of new reports in the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post concerning the ongoing FBI investigation into the Clinton private e-mail server, National Journal political reporter Ron Fournier argued that there should be a higher bar to bring charges against Hillary Clinton because she is running for president…

No. No. NOOOO! Because Hillary is prominent it is all the more vital that she be held to the strictest standard. I’ll much easier let some poor guy off than I would someone rich and powerful…because a rich and powerful person (a) can’t possibly have any justification for breaking the law and (b) if those who run the government are breaking the law then every person in the United States suffers ill effects. But this is why Trump is having such a huge effect – because this and 10,000 other examples are out there of people juiced in getting a free ride. This sort of thing must end if our nation is to be saved.

Could Trump win New York in November Short answer, no. But take a look at this quote:

…Levine said voters are increasingly unwilling to cross party lines, “and this pattern has only accelerated in this era of negative partisanship in which, if nothing else, many people are voting against the opposing party rather than voting than voting in favor of their own party.”…

Which is all very true but which might not be true for 2016. We only have a few bits and pieces of information to contradict the polling and political history…but if Trump can pull into his camp numbers of those who don’t vote along with some who normally vote Democrat, things could be very much up in the air.

NY Times throws up it’s hands and just can’t figure out why people become terrorists:

…After all this funding and this flurry of publications, with each new terrorist incident we realize that we are no closer to answering our original question about what leads people to turn to political violence,” Marc Sageman, a psychologist and a longtime government consultant, wrote in the journal Terrorism and Political Violence in 2014. “The same worn-out questions are raised over and over again, and we still have no compelling answers.”…

I hate to state the obvious, but I guess I’ll have to: people become terrorists because they want to. There are people out there who get a kick out of doing bad – from the drug smuggler to the bank robber to the identity thief to the terrorist. It is true that some times you can talk a person out of doing bad – appeal to their better nature. There are also times when it seems pretty clear that God intervened and a bad person saw the light and repented. But there are also people who, for a variety of reasons, can’t be reasoned with and refuse the call of God. These are the people who make the bad things happen – for run-of-the-mill criminals there are the police, courts and jails to deal with them…but for those who are determined to set off bombs in random public places, much more stern measures will be required. One thing certain, if you’re sitting there spinning mental cobwebs trying to figure out some sort of root cause of either bank robbery or terrorism, you’ll be failing to deter either the robber or the terrorist…you’ve got to take vigorous, positive steps to stop them. If there is some sort of root cause, you can work on that, too…but, meanwhile, you’ve really just got to get after those who do bad things.

Out and About on a Friday

Much argument these days on what a Conservative actually is – my two cents: a Conservative is someone who understands and believes the fundamental dogma of Original Sin. You don’t actually have to be a believer to hold this (though it’s easier if you are), but if you don’t work on the assumption that people can, even from the best of motives, get it wrong then your own policy ideas will eventually fall apart.

Trump is going to get crushed in an epic landslide – or, maybe not.

You know me – I’m not really in favor of all these late night, no-knock raids by police…but Belgium’s policy of no raids between 9pm and 5am is, well, stupid.

Georgia is debating a bill which would provide just a tiny bit of protection for those who want a conscience exemption – you know, not having to do things like hire people to work at the Church school who openly disbelieve in Church teaching and that sort of thing. Now, pay attention, Conservatives: Big Corporation is stoutly opposed to this. Big Corporation is even threatening boycotts of Georgia if the people there have the nerve to demand freedom of conscience. Big Corporation – and the so-called Capitalist system it lives in – is against us, folks. They are allied with liberals – and please let that sink deep into your heart.

Australia banned guns – and this led to the end of guns in Australia and everyone is now happy and peaceful! Just kidding – it has actually generated a violent black market in guns.

Scott Walker thinks that brokered convention will lead to a non-candidate getting the nod. I can think of at least one person I’d rather have than either Trump or Cruz. Can you? After all, if we are doomed to President Grifter, then I’d rather have us lose under an honorable banner.

Colorado’s dope industry is doing well – smoke a blunt for prosperity!

Out and About on a Friday

I’ve seen people saying that in a choice between Trump and Hillary, Hillary is the better choice. This just flabbergasts me – for all that Trump has done, he’s not as bad as Hillary. Hillary has deliberately lied again and again throughout her public life. I’m not talking about the exaggerations and evasions common to politics – I’m talking about deliberately lying to the American people about what she has said and done. The latest outrage, in my view, is the way she’s claiming that the families of the Benghazi dead are lying about what she said! This is getting very far into the theater of the absurd – and she just keeps going down it. Like Trump, Hillary is incapable of admitting error…but so far Trump’s enormities haven’t lead to the catastrophe which has been Hillary Clinton actions. I can well believe that Trump will wind up as disastrous as Hillary…but to say he’s now, today, worse than Hillary is just silly.

For those casting blame for the rise of Trump I do suggest you check one, last place before finishing: the mirror. It is all of us Conservatives who have failed, to one degree or another. Sure, some are far more culpable than others, but each of us had a duty – if we wish to engage in politics, at all – in making our movement palatable to the widest possible cross-section of Americans. If the GOP primary electorate was even 15% African-American, then Trump simply would not have been able to get as far as he did. Whatever happens in November – the Election of Generalissimo Trump or the Coronation of Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I – we Conservatives need to think long and hard about how we get more people into our movement.

Watch what people do, not what they say. People are saying that Trump is a massive electoral defeat waiting to happen…but if that were the case, then President Obama wouldn’t be turning up the heat to save Hillary (and his legacy) from Trump.

Is the fate of the GOP in the hands of Kasich?

Secretary of State Kerry, once again Johnny-on-the-spot, has declared that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians and other non-Muslims. Only a liberal, American government would take more than two days to figure this out…and only a liberal, American government would only make the move when forced to by outraged public opinion.

John McCain is in trouble in Arizona – only leads his challenger by 1 percentage point. Question: will McCain seek some anti-Establishment street cred by endorsing “whacko bird” Cruz? Alternately, will McCain toss over the GOP in order to save his own political skin and try to force a vote on Obama’s SCOTUS nominee?

GOP Establishment increasingly shows itself willing to rally around Trump – meanwhile, the True Cons grow ever more dismayed by him. So, we might have Everyone But Conservatives for Trump…this year will be strange.

Hey, remember Islamist terrorism? It’s still a thing.

Instead of appointing a Harvard or Yale lawyer to the Supreme Court, why not someone who lives in the real world?

In contested conventions, the guy who starts with the most votes usually doesn’t win it. Reason: If you can’t snag a first-ballot majority, it indicates a firm level of dislike for your candidacy. Those who vote against you the first time tend to dig in their heels and cast about for any reasonable alternative. We’ll see if this comes out like that if the GOP convention is contested.

I Think I’ve Figured This Out

On Wednesday I was driving around and I had on the radio the Rush Limbaugh Show. I don’t listen too often because, well, Rush usually doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know; his opinions that I agree with are already internalized and those I don’t agree with never shake me from my views. But, there he was, happily talking away. And then he said it – he asserted that it is absurd to think that we can get Apple to return I-phone manufacturing to the United States…I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something along the lines of there are 500,000 people working for Apple in China with a built infrastructure for the entire manufacturing process and we just can’t duplicate that in the United States. It infuriated me to hear anyone say that the United States can’t do a thing – and then later that day I happened to run across several other people making the same assertion. And said assertion is nonsense.

I know – labor costs. I realize that China pays it’s workers nearly nothing. I also realize – though our Capitalist Captains of Industry never like to mention it – that to do business in China requires massive bribery…but with that bribery you can pretty much do as you like. No need to trouble yourself too much over environmental regulations, safety measures or other trivia like that. But even with that, I just don’t buy the notion that you can’t make something better and cheaper in the United States.

Go to a hardware store and look for a hammer – I’ll bet dollars to donuts that almost all you find are made in China. What is a hammer? Just a piece of steel fashioned in a certain shape. It isn’t rocket science. It isn’t a complex device. I defy anyone to tell me that we can’t replace that Chinese factory using 500 workers to make hammers with a factory in the United States employing 50 workers in a highly automated manufacturing system…and by using our ability to automate along with our superior infrastructure to make that hammer cheaper than the Chinese can, especially as they then have to ship it thousands of miles before it even arrives in the American market. Oh, I realize that right now – at the moment – we can’t because our tax and regulatory system makes it exceptionally difficult to build and open a factory. But don’t tell me it can’t be done. It darn well can be – as soon as we want to do it. It just takes the political will to say “screw you” to people raking in profits off of sweated Chinese labor.

And thinking all that over, it occurred to me – there is the appeal of Trump in a nutshell. Lay aside for a moment the nauseating racists and anti-Semites who have latched on to him, solely on the strength of his early immigration comments. Such people are numerous, but not all that much – remember, we live in a nation of 317 million people, if even 1% of them hold to a particular view it can seem like a lot – especially with Social Media to magnify their voices (Twitter seems gigantic, until you realize that every day 83.31% of Americans don’t use Twitter, at all). A guy getting Trump’s vote totals – and goosing up GOP turnout numbers to some-times record levels – isn’t getting that because a few people like his Great Wall of Trump idea. He’s getting that level of support because a lot of regular folks are moving his way. And my view is that they are turning out for him because he says we can be great.

Keep in mind when someone says, “those jobs aren’t coming back”, it is invariably someone with a well-paid gig that isn’t affected by jobs moving to China. Lawyers, bureaucrats, corporate executives, consultants, MSMers, professional politicians…it is that sort of person who tells the blue collar slob that his blue collar job is gone for good…and even if he takes a job at Disney at 60% of his previous factory wage, he’ll have to train a foreign replacement, brought in quite legally via the H-1B visa program. Meanwhile, China doesn’t seem to want us to outsource our army of consultants and lawyers probably because the Chinese are smart enough not to want such people in large numbers lawyering and consulting an economy into ruin. An army of experts will rise to ridicule the idea that we can make things in the United States better and cheaper than foreigners can – and I’ll bet not one in a thousand of the people telling us such things have ever made one thing in their whole lives. And the people who do make things are rather angry that they are reserved for the “short end of the stick” portion of American life.

This is the United States of America! We’re the people who in just over a century rose from a colonial backwater to the most powerful nation in human history. We went to the Moon! And someone is going to tell me that this nation that did all that can’t make a hammer? Can’t even make a belt or a pair of shoes? Nonsense! It is our economic policies which have priced American manufacturing out of world markets, not some fundamental inability of Americans to compete. And let me tell you, if you really hold the view that we can’t out build and out compete every nation on Earth, then we might as well close up shop as a nation – allow ourselves to be annexed by some other nation with a bit more grit and determination. Grab a clue – a nation which can’t make things eventually can’t buy things, either. American consulting isn’t going to be enough on the global market to satisfy our demand for consumer goods, folks – in order to continue to get, we’re going to have to give. For 50 years we’ve just been giving money – magically printed up for the occasion by the Federal Reserve…but eventually you can’t print enough money to convince people to provide your needs and desires. Eventually they will want something and your degree in business management won’t be it.

I have been saying for a while now that the way to beat Trump is to out-Trump him – not in the vulgarity, but in the gut…where people live and feel. People who back Trump rather absurdly believe that Trump is on their side even though there is zero evidence that he is actually on their side…but he’s saying he is, and it is working with large numbers of people. So, beat him at it – say you’re on their side, as well…assert that the United States will be the manufacturing leader of the world; the export leader of the world; the agricultural leader of the world; the mining leader of the world; the energy production leader of the world…that we’ll clear out of the way every last tax and regulation which makes it hard for Americans to build and grow. Leave it to the Democrats to tell their voters that they’ll manage the decline and provide a bit of welfare and job training for non-existent jobs…we take the path that says, “we’ll reform things so that there will be X Million new manufacturing jobs by 2020”.

Of course, results will matter – once you promise, you’d better deliver. But if all you’re promising is low-rent stuff like “improving opportunity” then you’re not saying anything at all. What is “improving opportunity”? It is a meaningless phrase which makes it sound like you’re going to do something, maybe. Tell people you’ll bring the jobs back from China and it sounds much more vigorous…and as you’re not Trump, you can actually come up with some plans which will do just that. Part of our problem, of course, is that Rubio and Cruz are both lawyers…lawyers have a hard time understanding regular folks (so, too, do real estate tycoons like Trump…but somewhere along the line he found out that people at least want to hear that something concrete is going to get done for regular folks which doesn’t amount to a government poverty hand-out). Come on, Ted and Marco – think about it! And then go out and say it. Sure, those invested in the current system will rise in fury and scorn over any promise to bring jobs back…but you can see how much such words work regarding votes. And you guys needs some votes – the only way to really stop Trump is to get more delegates than he does, and time’s a wasting.

Anyways, that is how I see it right now – Trump is at least speaking to desires; Rubio and Cruz are speaking to theories and playing around with “vote for me because Trump sucks”. That won’t do the trick…might deny Trump a first-ballot nominating majority, but it won’t actually stop him, nor get either Cruz or Rubio in to the White House.