Here's Ted Cruz's Ultimate Strategy

Ted Cruz has a powerful strategy available to him. This strategy could not only determine the winner of the Republican convention but put Cruz in position to influence policy for generations.

But it’s probably not what you’re thinking.

I’m going to lay out some assumptions, many of which you could disagree with. That’s okay. But for the purposes of this post, let’s stipulate:

  1. Ted Cruz believes, like Glenn Beck, that Donald Trump would make a worse president than Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders. I say this because Glenn Beck has been joined to Cruz’s hip since before Iowa and these are things Beck believes, at least this month.
  2. Ted Cruz’s hypothesis of evangelical voters carrying him to the White House was rejected in New Hampshire and again in South Carolina. It will likely fail across the country. While he may be right about 50 million or so evangelicals not voting in 2012, he was wrong that most of them would vote for him if they voted.
  3. Ted Cruz is unlikely to get enough delegates to win before the convention. I say this because Ted Cruz’s best states award delegates proportionally, while the best states for Rubio or Trump award winner-take-all. Which means, for example, if Cruz wins Texas by one vote, he walks away with 3 more delegates than number two. But if Trump wins Florida by one vote, Trump as all 99 delegates to himself. That pattern repeats itself through the primaries. States with lots of evangelical conservatives are proportional (like Iowa), states with fewer evangelical conservatives are winner-take-all (like South Carolina). So winning a majority of states will probably not win a majority of delegates for Cruz.FiveThirtyEight provided everything I know about this.
  4. Ted Cruz sincerely wants what’s best for America.
  5. Senate Republicans would love to get rid of Ted Cruz.

You’re free to reject any of those, but let’s just play along for a little. Let’s just say all five points are true. Now what?

Here’s Ted Cruz’s ultimate strategy.

Cruz could make an offer to Trump and to Rubio separately: “I will drop out of the race and endorse you on one condition: you must, in writing, guarantee to make me your first Supreme Court appointee.”

The first who signs the affidavit wins. Oh, and let each candidate know that the same offer is before the other rival. Play a little Prisoners’ Dilemma with them.

Most likely, game over. One of the two will make the deal and that candidate will pick up a lot of support. Ted Cruz will overcome the controversies from Iowa and South Carolina that led some people to question his integrity and political acumen. In fact, Cruz would come off as the most selfless statesman in generations. And even if Trump takes the offer and wins the White House, Ted Cruz will be there on the Supreme Court to keep him in check.

What if both candidates reject the offer?

Then you go public. Trump and Rubio would both look bad for rejecting a brilliant and humble offer from Cruz. Maybe the goodwill Cruz would generate would be enough to overcome assumption number 3. Maybe not.

But if Cruz, Rubio, and Trump all stay in the race to the convention, Cruz will end up playing power broker between them anyway, cutting a deal to deliver his delegates to the ultimate winner.

There’s my best strategy for Cruz. Have a better one?

Trump's South Carolina Wins Was Impressive

I got tired of scrolling.

Politico shows the results of each county in South Carolina, my state of residence from 1985 to 1992.

Abbeville: Trump

Aiken: Trump

Allendale: Trump

Anderson: Trump

Bamberg: Trump

Barnwell: Trump

Beaufort: Trump

Berkeley: Trump

It goes on and on and on.

Donald Trump not only won the geography, he won the demography:

Evangelical Christians: Trump

Born-again Christians: Trump

Conservative Voters: Trump

Moderate Voters: Trump

Young Voters: Trump

Old Voters: Trump

First-time Voters: Trump

Veterans/Military: Trump

Women: Trump

Men: Trump

High School Grads: Trump

College Grads: Trump

It goes on and on and on like Journey song.

Granted, there are demographic/psychographic groups Trump did not win, but very view. Rubio did better among post-grad folks. Cruz did better among people very conservative voters. But the breadth of Trump’s win is staggering. And he did the same thing in New Hampshire. He won all the major demographics and almost all the counties.

Donald Trump has now won New Hampshire and South Carolina by double digits. His chances of winning the nomination are above 80 percent, probably closer to 90 percent.

It’s time for Republicans and Republican-leaners to start dealing with the probability that Donald J. Trump will be the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.

Since 1996, ordinary Americans have warned the political and corporate elites not to ignore their plight. But the elites didn’t listen.

They’re listening now.

How the Pope helped Trump

Pope Francis said today that Donald Trump is not a Christian. I can only assume the Pope has secretly cut a deal with The Donald.

"Pope. Donald here. I need you to give me some crap about the wall."

"Si."

"Just, uh, call me a Muslim or something. Make it look sincere, ya know?"

"Si."

So the Pope stands at the U.S.-Mexico border and says anyone who wants to build a wall "is not a Christian."

Bam!

First, I am Catholic. And I actually studied the teachings of the church pretty earnestly for a few years. (I said "studied," not "obeyed.") I don't remember the part where the Pope gets to decide who's Christian. He can declare Catholics excommunicated, but he can't undo a valid baptism. I could be wrong here, but I'm pretty sure I'm right.

Second, Vatican City is surrounded by a wall. Vatican City is a country. So if a wall around your country makes you not a Christian, the Pope and everybody who lives in Vatican City is not a Christian.

Third, since when are national borders subject to religious review? Every country has the right to control entry to its territory. It's why people make countries.

Maybe the Pope meant to say something else. Maybe he said what he meant. The effect will be to boost Donald Trump. And, despite my tongue in cheek opening, I'm pretty sure that's not what Francis intended.

The reason the Pope's comment will boost Trump is simple. First, immigration is the defining issue of the Trump candidacy. Most Americans want an end to illegal immigration. We're with Trump on this whether we're Trump voters or not. An outsider telling us not to stanch illegal immigration instantly loses credibility, no matter what kind of hat he wears. Second, saying Trump "is not a Christian" presents a theological challenge that the Pope might not be able to back up. Every American Christian, Catholic or not, has to wonder if they hold positions for which the Pope might expel them from Christendom.

This round goes to Trump. And Pope Francis might want to stick to the script.

Looks like I'm not alone. Silvio Canto writes on American Thinker. (H/T Cousin Carol)

And Dilbert creator Scott Adams expected Vatican to walk back Pope's comments.

Which the Vatican did.

And, finally, this remarkable analysis by Mollie Hemingway. The Pope might see if Ms. Hemingway is available as communications director, Lutheran and all.

Maybe he's not a conservative

As far as I can tell, the number one reason a few conservatives give for hating Eric Greitens is that he might not be a conservative. He's probably not. But that shouldn't make any difference. Figuring out whether Greitens is a conservative or not requires a lot of thinking, a lot of writing, and a lot of clear analysis from readers. I won't waste time on the first two because I won't get the last no matter what. The handful of conservatives who hate Greitens have made a big public investment in their hatred. That investment is too big an investment to abandon it now. At least, I think it is. I'd be impressed if they changed their minds. But I'm afraid that  no amount of reason or logic or even persuasive psychological witchery will separate the Greitens-bashers from their conspiracy theories and angst.

Instead, I'll just say two things about Greitens's conservatism.

First, according to the dictionary definition, Greitens is probably not a conservative. Via Google Dictionary:

conservative: noun: a person who is averse to change and holds to traditional values and attitudes, typically in relation to politics.

Greitens fails the test here. Greitens is not averse to change in Missouri politics. In fact, that's the whole reason he's running. He wants to change, not only politics, but the people involved in politics. He's running to clean house in Jefferson City. He wants to scrub the capital of the human detritus that commissions slander videos like the one that attacked him last Thursday. Greitens wants to return state government to something that helps Missouri grow. He's tired of his home state lagging behind the nation in almost every area of growth. Greitens holds a claim on traditional values, but that doesn't rescue him according to this definition. There's an "and" between "averse to change" and "holds traditional values." To be a conservative, one must have both. And Greitens is not averse to change. He's all for beneficial changes for Missouri.

Second, it doesn't matter whether Greitens is a conservative. It doesn't. A few years ago, I listened to about 30 Republican candidates stand up and say, "I am a Constitutional Conservative." They sounded like robots programmed to begin every sentence with those words. I wrote about it at the time. Many of those "Constitutional Conservatives" went to Jefferson City to do whatever their masters at the chamber of commerce tell them to do. These are good people who hold traditional values. And they're true conservatives because they thwart change. They keep the revolving door between government and special interests spinning like a gyroscope. They became the grease that lubricates the business-as-usual machine in Jefferson City.

Eric Greitens won't go to Jefferson City and grease the skids for the corrupt insiders. He will actually cause change. In order, his goals as governor are:

  • End corruption
  • Make government excellent
  • Fight for the middle class
  • Cut spending
  • Protect life
  • Support police and firefighters
  • Protect faith
  • Preserve the 2nd Amendment
  • Improve education
  • Reform welfare
  • Support veterans
  • Simplify the tax code
  • Restore the American dream

Again, many of these reforms fly in the face of change aversion. But I think we need all the changes Greitens wants to make. I also think we need a governor who is an actual leader, not someone who's been waiting his turn to occupy the seat. Greitens never waits his turn when positive action can get things done. He lives Patton's general order: "when in doubt, attack." His Navy records show that Greitens accomplishes his missions and moves onto the next. There is no waiting.

So I don't care if Greitens fits Google's definition of a conservative. Or yours. I care about making Missouri a place I can recommend to my kids and their kids. Right now, I can't. There's just not enough opportunity in Missouri. And it's not the kids' jobs to fix that--it's ours.

Eric Greitens earned my support because Missouri needs change, not the status quo. If that's not conservative, too damn bad.

Guest Post: Open the borders . . . to those who want to help

Lee A. Presser The American people get to decide who moves into the United States.  If immigrants are coming for a free meal, we don’t need them.  If immigrants are coming for free healthcare, we don’t need them.  If immigrants are coming for free housing, we don’t need them.  If immigrants are coming and their presence in the United States increases the public debt, we definitely don’t need them.

If immigrants come here to improve their lives and the lives of their family members WITHOUT becoming a burden on American society, we will seriously consider their application.  If immigrants bring skills which are needed by other Americans, we will seriously consider their application.  If immigrants come here with their own money and are coming to establish a business which both benefits them and America, we will seriously consider their application.

The purpose of immigration to the United States should be to allow hardworking people into our borders so that they and America benefit.  The purpose of immigration to the United States should not be to feed, clothes, house, and give medical aid to foreigners at public expense.

The process of immigration to the United States should bring people into our country who want to be Americans and all that means, including loyalty to this country above all other national loyalties.

Finally, immigrants should not be allowed into the United States to become a permanent underclass of low wage workers.  While this benefits agriculture corporations, supermarkets, and consumers, it creates a large population within our borders which has only animus for “American” society.

A reasonable number of refuges whose lives are in actual danger can be an exception to the assertions above, as long as money (not additional debt) is programmed into the budget.  Private donations would work even better than public money during a refuge emergency.

 

Belated Gipper Birthday Post

I re-read Ronald Reagan's announcement speech the other day. Delivered November 13, 1979, these are the words that launched the greatest presidency of my lifetime.

Notice the natural humanity in Reagan's words. He didn't browbeat people with abstract concepts like the Constitution or liberty. Instead, he spoke about the real lives of ordinary Americans. And the everyday life of an America that lived up to its ideal. And notice the complete lack of pomposity, vanity, and vulgarity so prevalent in the frontrunners of 2016.

I wish our Republican candidates for president--at least one--could speak in tones that resonate with everyone the way the Gipper could. Well, one candidate captures Reagan's humble vision, but he's buried deep in the mist.

Notice, too, that so many of the problems that moved Reagan to run are still with us, or are they have returned.

Enjoy. Happy birthday, Ron. Your country misses you.

 

Good evening. I am here tonight to announce my intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States. I'm sure that each of us has seen our country from a number of viewpoints depending on where we've lived and what we've done. For me it has been as a boy growing up in several small towns in Illinois. As a young man in Iowa trying to get a start in the years of the Great Depression and later in California for most of my adult life.

I've seen America from the stadium press box as a sportscaster, as an actor, officer of my labor union, soldier, officeholder and as both a Democrat and Republican. I've lived in America where those who often had too little to eat outnumbered those who had enough. There have been four wars in my lifetime and I've seen our country face financial ruin in the Depression. I have also seen the great strength of this nation as it pulled itself up from that ruin to become the dominant force in the world. To me our country is a living, breathing presence, unimpressed by what others say is impossible, proud of its own success, generous, yes and naive, sometimes wrong, never mean and always impatient to provide a better life for its people in a framework of a basic fairness and freedom. Someone once said that the difference between an American and any other kind of person is that an American lives in anticipation of the future because he knows it will be a great place. Other people fear the future as just a repetition of past failures. There's a lot of truth in that. If there is one thing we are sure of it is that history need not be relived; that nothing is impossible, and that man is capable of improving his circumstances beyond what we are told is fact. There are those in our land today, however, who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power; that we are weak and fearful, reduced to bickering with each other and no longer possessed of the will to cope with our problems.

Much of this talk has come from leaders who claim that our problems are too difficult to handle. We are supposed to meekly accept their failures as the most which humanly can be done. They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where--because of our past excesses--it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.

I don't believe that. And, I don't believe you do either. That is why I am seeking the presidency. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don't agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world. The crisis we face is not the result of any failure of the American spirit; it is failure of our leaders to establish rational goals and give our people something to order their lives by. If I am elected, I shall regard my election as proof that the people of the United States have decided to set a new agenda and have recognized that the human spirit thrives best when goals are set and progress can be measured in their achievement.

During the next year I shall discuss in detail a wide variety of problems which a new administration must address. Tonight I shall mention only a few. No problem that we face today can compare with the need to restore the health of the American economy and the strength of the American dollar. Double-digit inflation has robbed you and your family of the ability to plan. It has destroyed the confidence to buy and it threatens the very structure of family life itself as more and more wives are forced to work in order to help meet the ever-increasing cost of living. At the same time, the lack of real growth in the economy has introduced the justifiable fear in the minds of working men and women who are already overextended that soon there will be fewer jobs and no money to pay for even the necessities of life. And tragically as the cost of living keeps going up, the standard of living which has been our great pride keeps going down.

The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over-regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the 34 years since the end of World War II, it has spent $448 billion more than it has collected in taxes--$448 billion of printing-press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way "solve" the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer; it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise. The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, elderly, the sick and the handicapped. We have long since committed ourselves, as a people, to help those among us who cannot take care of themselves. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have. We must put an end to the arrogance of a federal establishment which accepts no blame for our condition, cannot be relied upon to give us a fair estimate of our situation and utterly refuses to live within its means. I will not accept the supposed "wisdom" which has it that the federal bureaucracy has become so powerful that it can no longer be changed or controlled by any administration. As President I would use every power at my command to make the federal establishment respond to the will and the collective wishes of the people.

We must force the entire federal bureaucracy to live in the real world of reduced spending, streamlined function and accountability to the people it serves. We must review the function of the federal government to determine which of those are the proper province of levels of government closer to the people.

The 10th article of the Bill of Rights is explicit in pointing out that the federal government should do only those things specifically called for in the Constitution. All others shall remain with the states or the people. We haven't been observing that 10th article of late. The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well. There should be a planned, orderly transfer of such functions to states and communities and a transfer with them of the sources of taxation to pay for them.

The savings in administrative overhead would be considerable and certainly there would be increased efficiency and less bureaucracy.

By reducing federal tax rates where they discourage individual initiative--especially personal income tax rates--we can restore incentives, invite greater economic growth and at the same time help give us better government instead of bigger government. Proposals such as the Kemp-Roth bill would bring about this kind of realistic reductions in tax rates.

In short, a punitive tax system must be replaced by one that restores incentive for the worker and for industry; a system that rewards initiative and effort and encourages thrift.

All these things are possible; none of them will be easy. But the choice is clear. We can go on letting the country slip over the brink to financial ruin with the disaster that it means for the individual or we can find the will to work together to restore confidence in ourselves and to regain the confidence of the world. I have lived through one Depression. I carry with me the memory of a Christmas Eve when my brother and I and our parents exchanged our modest gifts--there was no lighted tree as there has been on Christmases past. I remember watching my father open what he thought was a greeting from his employer. We all watched and yes, we were hoping it was a bonus check. It was notice that he no longer had a job. And in those days the government ran the radio announcements telling workers not to leave home looking for jobs--there were no jobs. I'll carry with me always the memory of my father sitting there holding that envelope, unable to look at us. I cannot and will not stand by while inflation and joblessness destroy the dignity of our people. Another serious problem which must be discussed tonight is our energy situation. Our country was built on cheap energy. Today, energy is not cheap and we face the prospect that some forms of energy may soon not be available at all.

Last summer you probably spent hours sitting in gasoline lines. This winter, some will be without heat and everyone will be paying much more simply to keep home and family warm. If you ever had any doubt of the government's inability to provide for the needs of the people, just look at the utter fiasco we now call "the energy crisis." Not one straight answer nor any realistic hope of relief has come from the present administration in almost three years of federal treatment of the problem. As gas lines grew, the administration again panicked and now has proposed to put the country on a wartime footing; but for this "war" there is no victory in sight. And, as always, when the federal bureaucracy fails, all it can suggest is more of the same. This time it's another bureau to untangle the mess by the ones we already have.

But, this just won't work. Solving the energy crisis will not be easy, but it can be done. First we must decide that "less" is not enough. Next, we must remove government obstacles to energy production. And, we must make use of those technological advantages we still possess.

It is no program simply to say "use less energy." Of course waste must be eliminated and efficiently promoted, but for the government simply to tell people to conserve is not an energy policy. At best it means we will run out of energy a little more slowly. But a day will come when the lights will dim and the wheels of industry will turn more slowly and finally stop. As President I will not endorse any course which has this as its principal objective.

We need more energy and that means diversifying our sources of supply away from the OPEC countries. Yes, it means more efficient automobiles. But it also means more exploration and development of oil and natural gas here in our own country. The only way to free ourselves from the monopoly pricing power of OPEC is to be less dependent on outside sources of fuel.

The answer, obvious to anyone except those in the administration it seems, is more domestic production of oil and gas. We must also have wider use of nuclear power within strict safety rules, of course. There must be more spending by the energy industries on research and development of substitutes for fossil fuels.

In years to come solar energy may provide much of the answer but for the next two or three decades we must do such things as master the chemistry of coal. Putting the market system to work for these objectives is an essential first step for their achievement. Additional multi-billion-dollar federal bureaus and programs are not the answer.

In recent weeks there has been much talk about "excess" oil company profits. I don't believe we've been given all the information we need to make a judgment about this. We should have that information. Government exists to protect us from each other. It is not government's function to allocate fuel or impose unnecessary restrictions on the marketplace. It is government's function to determine whether we are being unfairly exploited and if so to take immediate and appropriate action. As President I would do exactly that. On the foreign front, the decade of the 1980s will place severe pressures upon the United States and its allies. We can expect to be tested in ways calculated to try our patience, to confound our resolve and to erode our belief in ourselves. During a time when the Soviet Union may enjoy nuclear superiority over this country, we must never waiver in our commitment to our allies nor accept any negotiation which is not clearly in the national interest. We must judge carefully. Though we should leave no initiative untried in our pursuit of peace, we must be clear voiced in our resolve to resist any unpeaceful act wherever it may occur. Negotiation with the Soviet Union must never become appeasement.

For the most of the last 40 years, we have been preoccupied with the global struggle--the competition--with the Soviet Union and with our responsibilities to our allies. But too often in recent times we have just drifted along with events, responding as if we thought of ourselves as a nation in decline. To our allies we seem to appear to be a nation unable to make decisions in its own interests, let alone in the common interest. Since the Second World War we have spent large amounts of money and much of our time protecting and defending freedom all over the world. We must continue this, for if we do not accept the responsibilities of leadership, who will? And if no one will, how will we survive?

The 1970s have taught us the foolhardiness of not having a long-range diplomatic strategy of our own. The world has become a place where, in order to survive, our country needs more than just allies--it needs real friends. Yet, in recent times we often seem not to have recognized who our friends are. This must change. It is now time to take stock of our own house and to resupply its strength.

Part of that process involves taking stock of our relationship with Puerto Rico. I favor statehood for Puerto Rico and if the people of Puerto Rico vote for statehood in their coming referendum I would, as President, initiate the enabling legislation to make this a reality. We live on a continent whose three countries possess the assets to make it the strongest, most prosperous and self-sufficient area on Earth. Within the borders of this North American continent are the food, resources, technology and undeveloped territory which, properly managed, could dramatically improve the quality of life of all its inhabitants.

It is no accident that this unmatched potential for progress and prosperity exists in three countries with such long-standing heritages of free government. A developing closeness among Canada, Mexico and the United States--a North American accord--would permit achievement of that potential in each country beyond that which I believe any of them--strong as they are--could accomplish in the absence of such cooperation. In fact, the key to our own future security may lie in both Mexico and Canada becoming much stronger countries than they are today.

No one can say at this point precisely what form future cooperation among our three countries will take. But if I am elected President, I would be willing to invite each of our neighbors to send a special representative to our government to sit in on high level planning sessions with us, as partners, mutually concerned about the future of our continent. First, I would immediately seek the views and ideas of Canadian and Mexican leaders on this issue, and work tirelessly with them to develop closer ties among our peoples. It is time we stopped thinking of our nearest neighbors as foreigners.

By developing methods of working closely together, we will lay the foundations for future cooperation on a broader and more significant scale. We will put to rest any doubts of those cynical enough to believe that the United States would seek to dominate any relationship among our three countries, or foolish enough to think that the governments and peoples of Canada and Mexico would ever permit such domination to occur. I for one, am confident that we can show the world by example that the nations of North America are ready, within the context of an unswerving commitment to freedom, to see new forms of accommodation to meet a changing world. A developing closeness between the United States, Canada and Mexico would serve notice on friends and foe alike that we were prepared for a long haul, looking outward again and confident of our future; that together we are going to create jobs, to generate new fortunes of wealth for many and provide a legacy for the children of each of our countries. Two hundred years ago, we taught the world that a new form of government, created out of the genius of man to cope with his circumstances, could succeed in bringing a measure of quality to human life previously thought impossible.

Now let us work toward the goal of using the assets of this continent, its resources, technology, and foodstuffs in the most efficient ways possible for the common good of all its people. It may take the next 100 years but we can dare to dream that at some future date a map of the world might show the North American continent as one in which the people's commerce of its three strong countries flow more freely across their present borders than they do today. In recent months leaders in our government have told us that, we, the people, have lost confidence in ourselves; that we must regain our spirit and our will to achieve our national goals. Well, it is true there is a lack of confidence, an unease with things the way they are. But the confidence we have lost is confidence in our government's policies. Our unease can almost be called bewilderment at how our defense strength has deteriorated. The great productivity of our industry is now surpassed by virtually all the major nations who compete with us for world markets. And, our currency is no longer the stable measure of value it once was.

But there remains the greatness of our people, our capacity for dreaming up fantastic deeds and bringing them off to the surprise of an unbelieving world. When Washington's men were freezing at Valley Forge, Tom Paine told his fellow Americans: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again," we still have that power.

We--today's living Americans--have in our lifetime fought harder, paid a higher price for freedom and done more to advance the dignity of man than any people who have ever lived on this Earth. The citizens of this great nation want leadership--yes--but not a "man on a white horse" demanding obedience to his commands. They want someone who believes they can "begin the world over again." A leader who will unleash their great strength and remove the roadblocks government has put in their way. I want to do that more than anything I've ever wanted. And it's something that I believe with God's help I can do.

I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded--religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and patriot. It is our servant, beholden to us.

We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of Pilgrims, "We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world."

A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and--above all--responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.

I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.

Greitens breathes life into our first principles

I am Catholic. I believe in and trust the magisterium of the church.

Nothing distinguishes me from Protestants more profoundly than that concept: the magisterium, or the teaching authority, of the church.

For me, the church is like Locke and Jefferson and Madison. They were learned men who read Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cato, Epictetus, Epicurus, and other Greek and Roman philosophers, often in the original languages.

Those philosophical and political founders interpreted and organized ancient philosophy for England and America. Just as the church in Rome interprets and organizes scripture.

Jefferson never expected the masses to share his education. So he assimilated great thinkers for his contemporaries and for us. Jefferson and the founders did for political philosophy what Rome does for Catholics.

By "first principles," I mean the raw material of philosophical thought. Elon Musk reinvented the battery by ignoring modern, interpreted batteries and returning to the origins of stored electricity. Tesla is a battery company that also makes cars. And only by returning to first principles of electricity storage could Musk have made the car that defines the breed. Analogy wasn't enough.

I thought of this while listening to Eric Greitens open his new campaign office in Crestwood tonight. Along with 237 dedicated people who braved a pop-up snowstorm the day after the Super Bowl, I was amazed at this man's ability to inspire and lead so many different people.

The crowd was way more diverse than any Tea Party crowd I remember. And much younger on average. So many veterans and first responders.

Yet I met at least seven people who became active in politics because of the Tea Party. One man, now a member of the Lindbergh School District board remembered the Kenneth Gladney smackdown event where he heard me speak for the first time.

I can't speak for the others, but what draws me to Greitens is his first principles approach to governance.

Greitens reads all the same philosophers Jefferson and Locke read. And he reaches remarkably consistent conclusions about the proper relationship of the person to the state.

But unlike the vast majority of conservatives who rely on Lockean and Jeffersonian interpretations of philosophy, Greitens went straight to the source. Reading Eric's masterpiece, Resilience, which somewhat mimics Seneca's Letters from a Stoic, I realized that America's founders were not so much political philosophers as philosophical executives. America breathed life into stoicism.

Maybe Greitens can recite Jefferson and Locke. Maybe he can't. I don't know. But he can recite the philosophers that Jefferson and Locke relied upon to craft what we call naively our first principles. And Greitens is able to drop the weight of 18th century language and situations to make stoicism fresh in the 21st century.

As a Catholic, I'm fine with Jefferson's interpretation, but I appreciate having a modern interpreter, too. I'm a little surprised that some of my friends, many of whom were not raised Catholic, believe we need an 18th century interpreter to filter our first principles for us.

I believe that Eric Greitens is the perfect soldier in our never-ending war against corrupt, coercive government. And I genuflect at his willingness to mimic our founders by putting his life on hold to breathe new life into the first principles of self governance and the good life.

 

 

When does accountability begin?

Leverage: don’t make deals without it. --Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal, 1987

It's tempting to go Machiavellian during primaries. Even during general elections after primaries. But there's a great danger for the grassroots.

If we don't hold candidates accountable during the race when we have all the leverage, how can we possibly hold office-holders accountable? 

Check out this paragraph from the Washington Post:

Cruz offered a lawyerly defense of his campaign’s actions, blaming media reporting for the mistake. He also apologized to Carson. But the low-key retired neurosurgeon sliced apart Cruz’s defense with a quiet but deadly response that completely undermined the senator’s argument.

I'll give you that WaPo is no Cruz fan. But they're also not Trump fans. And they think Carson's lost his once-great mind.

But to say the Washington Post is in bed with the GOP establishment would be pretty bold. They're not. The Washington Post is in bed with the Clinton establishment. And the Clinton establishment thinks Cruz is their most beatable opponent. Hillary would love to see Ted Cruz win the GOP nomination. (Even though you and I know she might regret it.)

So that paragraph from WaPo is probably an honest assessment.

"Lawerly" is not a good sign. But "lawerly" rings true, doesn't it?

As a Heritage Action Sentinel I'm charged with holding elected officials accountable. To some degree that means getting around their weasel words and lawerly justifications.

I agree that Ted Cruz's ideological positions are pure. No doubt.

But his campaign's behavior in Iowa was less than honorable. Just ask Dr. Carson.

I'm not asking Senator Cruz to change any of his positions (although he might want to change the order of precedence). I am asking that he change his tactics. And maybe some of his campaign staff.

And you and I have a lot of options between now and the Missouri primary. That's our leverage for accountability. I plan to use mine.

Bottom line: if you don't hold candidates accountable, don't bother trying to hold elected officials accountable. You're wasting your time. They know you'll cave.

The Cruz campaign's epic #facepalm

This "VOTING VIOLATION" controversy says bad things about the Cruz campaign. (BTW, Rubio's campaign sent a similar, but less creepy, mailer, too. So far, I have not seen a large number of complaints about the Rubio mailer.)

And I'm not talking about the ethics of publicly shaming people who vote sporadically. I'm talking two gross electioneering violations from a campaign that markets itself as the most scientifically advanced in history. With the mailer Team Cruz showed a lack of strategic understanding of the science and compounded their ignorance by apparently making up numbers.

The Growing Controversy

Late last week, voters in Iowa started complaining about a "VOTING VIOLATION" mailer they received from the Ted Cruz campaign. The mailer listed the names of the recipient and several of the recipient's neighbors. Each voter listed also received a voting frequency percentage (usually 55 percent) and a letter grade (usually F).

Voters complained on social media and talk radio. The Iowa Secretary of State denounced the tactic and said the mailer was deceptive. Several voters who received the mailers say they intend to switch their support at the caucus to Trump or Rubio from Cruz.

The tactic shows every sign of being an epic failure in election history. In fact, if Cruz does not win Iowa, the mailer could make it into civics textbooks.

That Misapplied Science

I actually like the idea of sending people their voting history and suggesting you'll do it again after the next election. While it's creepy, the practice is not illegal. But it isn't necessarily effective.

In a 2006 study, researchers sent mailers to voters 11 days prior to Michigan's state primary elections. The study tested four different treatments and had a very large control group who received no mailings related to the study.

Researchers found that turnout was 8.1 percentage points higher among voters who received an aggressive message, similar to the one the Cruz campaign sent in Iowa. An 8.1 point lift in turnout makes voter-shaming the most effective tactic ever tested to drive up voter turnout. The authors of the study noted:

It is important to underscore the magnitude of these effects. The 8.1 percentage-point effect is not only bigger than any mail effect gauged by a randomized experiment; it exceeds the effect of live phone calls (Arceneaux, Gerber, and Green 2006; Nickerson 2006b) and rivals the effect of face-toface contact with canvassers conducting get-out-thevote campaigns (Arceneaux 2005; Gerber and Green 2000; Gerber, Green, and Green 2003). Even allowing for the fact that our experiment focused on registered voters, rather than voting-eligible citizens, the effect of the Neighbors treatment is impressive. An 8.1 percentage-point increase in turnout among registered voters in a state where registered voters comprise 75% of voting-eligible citizens translates into a 6.1 percentage-point increase in the overall turnout rate. By comparison, policy interventions such as Election Day registration or vote-by-mail, which seek to raise turnout by lowering the costs of voting, are thought to have effects on the order of 3 percentage-points or less (Knack 2001).

And:

The remarkable effectiveness of the social pressure appeals contrasts with the relatively modest effects observed in previous studies of the effectiveness of direct mail voter mobilization campaigns.

So why wouldn't Cruz use the tactic?

For a very simple reason: the academic researchers didn't care who people voted for--Ted Cruz does care. 

The Michigan study showed only that voter shaming (or social pressure) works to increase turnout. It does not show that it can increase turnout for a particular candidate in an election where voters have a choice of candidates with similar ideological profiles.

Further, the mailers in the study came from a non-partisan research group, not from a candidate on the ballot. If the Michigan recipients were angered by the mailers, they had no candidate to take their anger out on.

Cruz and Rubio clearly identified the source of their Iowa mailers as their own campaigns, so angry Iowa voters do have a target for their anger: they can caucus against the candidate who sent the mailer.

At least some Iowans say they intend to do just that.

In a general election, this tactic might work. In a race between Cruz and Clinton, it's doubtful anger over a mail piece would drive a voter to switch parties. But in a primary, upset voters have a less-dramatic choice.

Those Phony Scores

Compounding the error, it appears that the Cruz campaign did  not use actual voting histories in tabulating voters' scores, as the mailer indicates. An investigation by Ryan Lizza posted on The New Yorker website indicates that the grades and voting percentages on the mailer were simply made up:

So was the Cruz campaign accurately portraying the voter histories of Iowans? Or did it simply make up the numbers?

It seems to have made them up. Dave Peterson, a political scientist at Iowa State University who is well-acquainted with the research on “social pressure” turnout techniques, received a mailer last week. The Cruz campaign pegged his voting percentage at fifty-five per cent, which seems to be the most common score that the campaign gives out. (All of the neighbors listed on Peterson’s mailer also received a score of fifty-five per cent.)

But Peterson says he's voted in 3 of the last 4 elections, which should equate to 75 percent. And he's even more consistent in voting in local elections.

Lizza did more checking on the numbers:

A source with access to the Iowa voter file told me that he checked several other names on Cruz mailers and that the voting histories of those individuals did not match the scores that the Cruz campaign assigned them in the mailer.

When confronted with evidence that the numbers on the voter-shaming mailers appeared to be fraudulent, the Cruz campaign refused to disclose its sources and methodology for producing the scores, according to Lizza.

photo from The New Yorker

Another apparent deception in the Cruz mailer was the letter grade. The mailer says that the data is publicly available information, but that's not really true. The Iowa Secretary of State's office does keep records of who voted in elections, but state does not assign letter grades. Even if the percentages were based on actual public records, the letter grades were invented by the campaign.

If it turns out the Cruz people really did just make up these voter grades, the backlash could hurt Cruz long after Iowa. It's one thing to attack your opponents in a race--it's another to spread lies about voters themselves.

At a minimum, expect heavy pressure on the Cruz campaign to disclose its grading methodology and which elections contributed to its scores. Or admit to making up the grades from thin air.

Finally, when you try to apply academic research to the real world, make sure you understand how the parameter changes. Changing the source of the mailer from a non-partisan research team to a candidate's campaign, and inventing a letter grade without explaining the methodology, turns a potential tool into a blunt weapon.

And in this case it's a weapon that's more likely to hurt Cruz than to hurt his opponents.

Trump won the Fox News debate

Yes, you can win a contest before it starts. I gotta tell ya, the people at Fox News are stupid. Dumb. Ignorant. Pliable. Oafish. Any word you want you to use that means cognitively challenged (for the politically correct).

But the Fox News morons have a lot of company at National Review.

Trump is playing these media elites like a fiddle.

When The Donald says "dance," they dance. When he says "cower," they cower. When he says "bitch and moan," they bitch and moan.

Yesterday Trump told Roger Ailes and his trained monkeys to devote 100 percent of their broadcast day to Donald Trump.

And Fox complied.

There's only one story on Fox News: Donald Trump.

Free media. Blocked opponents.

Poor Ted Cruz is out there challenging Trump to a one-on-one debate. Cruz's fans think it's a sign of toughness.

Boxing fans know it's a loser's gambit. When you challenge someone, you admit you're the challenger, the left-behind, the also-ran, the wanna-be.

(Before you embarrass yourself in the comments, by definition someone who challenges someone else is by definition the challenger.)

While Fox News carries a debate of undercard wannabes, The Donald will be raising money for wounded veterans and tweeting nasty insults about the debaters.

And the next day, you will see only the nasty tweets. And the wounded veterans. And you will hear only The Donald's narrative.

Fox News is Trump's bitch. Fox is the bottom. And not even a power bottom.

Look, folks, I've told you I don't intend to vote for Trump. I'm still a Carson guy. But I've been warning you for years.

I told you that you were reading the wrong books years ago. I gave you a list of books to read. It wasn't complete--it wasn't perfect. But it pointed you in the direction to victory.

The comments under that post argued with me. I was wrong. I was a lefty.

Well, Trump was reading the books I was reading. Or he innately got what those books taught.

While you were reading the 5000 Year Leap, Donald Trump was plotting your self-destruction.

Fox News and National Review bent over and presented themselves to The Donald.

And I'm not alone in thinking so. From the left, right, and center, people who study media, people, and psychology agree:

Rush Limbaugh: Stunned that Fox News acts like she was "jilted at the altar."

Ira Stoll: Glenn Beck faults Trump for supporting the bank bailouts that National Review supported

Charles Hurt: Beware the latest nasty virus sweeping the East Coast

I could go on, but why? Donald Trump didn't destroy the conservative coalition; conservatives did. You didn't read the right books, you didn't develop the right skills, and you didn't look in the mirror enough.

If Donald Trump is a monster, the conservative movement--tea party included--is Dr. Frankenstein.

As my wife says: own it.

 

NRO: Against Jefferson

"Aristocrats fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society." --Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 1825.

National Review has entered dangerous territory: they have inadvertently made the case for Trump.

An angry screed by Kevin Williamson titled "Our Post-Literate Politics" (later renamed to "What's a Book?") makes the case that Trump supporters are illiterate, uneducated, dim-witted, racist, homophobes. To wit (via Breitbart.com's John Nolte):

Thomas Aquinas cautioned against “homo unius libri,” a warning that would not get very far with the typical Trump voter stuck sniggering over “homo.” (They’d snigger over “snigger,” too, for similar reasons.)

And

Donald Trump is the face of that insalubrious relationship, a lifelong crony capitalist who brags about buying political favors.  But his enthusiasts, devoid as they are of a literate politics capable of thinking about all three sides of a triangle at the same time[.]

The magazine's aristocratic editors have examined the species homo trumpicus and found it unfit for self-governance. Until last fall, homo trumpicus was NR's favorite fellow-traveller.

For those who don't regularly read Hennessy's View (and I seem to have a lot of new readers of late), I am not supporting Donald Trump. Also, I agree with the NR writers that Trump does not fit my definition of conservatism (which, like most conservatives, I cannot articulate in a way that you could a draw a picture from). Further, I'll give you that Trump scares me a little. Finally on this point, there are at least three candidates I'd greatly prefer to Trump and a couple more I'd probably hold my nose and vote for before I'd touch the screen next to The Donald. (Or maybe he'll be on the ballot as simply "TRUMP.") (And Jeb! is not one of them. I'll take Trump over Jeb!)

While I revere William F. Buckley, my own vision of a conservative utopia has been out of phase with NR's for some time, at least in a few ways. In 1993, for example, I wrote an essay opposing US intervention in the Balkans. I am proud that my essay was published alongside similar sentiments from Patrick J. Buchanan and Phyllis Schlafly. (Maybe it's a St. Louis thing. Buchanan cut his newspaper teeth at Globe-Democrat, and Schlafly is, of course, a St. Louisan.) I differed from my favorite magazine on the issue.

In 1994, a friend and I earned beer money by selling shirts and bumperstickers. Our best-seller said "He's Rested, He's Ready, He's RIGHT! Buchanan '96." (My personal favorite didn't sell worth a damn: "Why did I get wet when Clinton soaked the rich?")

I should point out that I have differences with Buchanan (Israel) and Schlafly (convention of states), too. But my vision of conservative utopia is probably a lot closer to theirs. And while I've dutifully bucked up and supported whatever lame Establishment punching bag the GOP sends up every four years. like many others, I'm getting pretty sick of supporting a party that prefers abstract principles and handouts to billionaires over sound policies that lift people out of poverty and give those well above poverty the confidence to jump employers, change careers, or hang out a shingle. 

My view is pretty simple and probably more libertarian than conservative. I believe that free men and women, decently educated, reasonably honest, occasionally sober, and mildly ambitious make for an exceptional nation. I believe that a government that provides the safety and security to let the men and women have their fun (without feeling the need to wear rearview sunglasses in case some crazed jihadi is sneaking up on them) is a government that engenders exceptionalism. (Unlike my definition of conservatism, I can point you to a picture of exceptionalism. It's something like Burning Man surrounded on each end by a week or two of hard work.) And I believe that an agreed-upon and complete list of things government is allowed to do lets the people plan more than 3 minutes ahead, which is a prerequisite of exceptionalism, freedom, and fun.

And all of my beliefs are built upon the idea that people, by their nature, can govern themselves. One requirement of self-governance is choosing representatives, including presidents.

If I'm wrong on that--if people truly cannot government themselves and cannot form governments that function--then the whole concept of liberty and everything written on the subject from John Locke to Thomas Jefferson to William F. Buckley, was a lie, an error, a sham, a horrible mistake. On that point, Locke, Jefferson, and Buckley agree with me.

So yesterday National Review, in its screechy cat-fight of a hissy fit, determined that 41 percent of Republican voters (and 100 percent of Democrat voters) fail the self-governance test and need an aristocracy to rule them. Assuming half the voters are Democrats, that means NR has written off, not 47 percent, but 91 percent of American population. Nearly everybody but the National Review's editorial is, by their reckoning, too ignorant and illiterate to own their own lives.

And this is where the fun begins. 

National Review's anti-Trump symposium warns that Trump is a modern day Hitler ready to seize autocratic power in America, and that Americans need an autocrat to rule them in their vast ignorance and bigotry.

Put syllogistically (a word that should satisfy Mr. Williamson and most of the NR symposium authors):

If Donald Trump is an authoritarian with conservative-ish pretenses, and if the American electorate's ignorance requires authoritarian rule, then Trump is the best authoritarian for the job. 

I utterly refute National Review's pessimistic, aristocratic, and undemocratic conclusion. I reject the middle leg of their pro-Trump syllogism because I believe we are competent to run our lives and to decide on a working government.

And on that, Jefferson concurs:

"The people, being the only safe depository of power, should exercise in person every function which their qualifications enable them to exercise consistently with the order and security of society. We now find them equal to the election of those who shall be invested with their executive and legislative powers, and to act themselves in the judiciary as judges in questions of fact. The range of their powers ought to be enlarged." --Thomas Jefferson to Walter Jones, 1814.

Either we can govern ourselves, or we can't. I think we can; NR thinks we can't.

But I admit to taking great satisfaction in the pain and suffering Trump causes to snobbish blowhards like the one told his NR readers that 41 percent of Republicans can't govern themselves.

As always, I'll end with the words Dennis Miller gave us: that's just my opinion; I could be wrong.