Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Game of Thrones Spoilers

It is no secret that I consider "Game of Thrones" to be the most entertaining television ever created. Sunday night's season 6 finale was amazing, and the fact that I must wait ten months for the season 7 premier is akin to waterboarding.

My nephew Kevin and I have tended to have a GOT chat during the week this season. I've enjoyed the conversations, and during today's he told me that he believed that there was about a season and a half's worth of material left. This got me thinking....about how things will wrap up when we sadly bid the show farewell.  And so I decided to make a few predictions (you should consider them spoilers) about some of the show's major plot lines. Please excuse the spelling errors.

Jon Snow--Jon Snow is alive at the show's end, and he is the King of the Seven Kingdoms with Dany his queen. It will be shown that his father had indeed secretly married Lyanna Stark, and so HE (and not Dany) is the true heir to the throne.

Dany--After taking King's Landing, she will eventually move north with her armies. She will fight alongside Jon Snow. They will fall in love. He will get the same deal that the Iron Island Queen got from Dany (essentially self rule) at Winterfell. This seems fine--until word arrives of Jon's claim to the throne. They decide to rule together, like the Targareyans of old.

Circe--dies a horrible death by dragon at the battle of King's Landing.

Jamie Lanister--is redeemed completely. He (eventually) rallies the Lannister armies to join with Dany and Jon Snow to defeat the White Walkers. In fact, he saves Jon Snow's life during the battle. But he is killed in battle, dying honorably, pardoned by Dany and Jon.

Sansa Stark--Is left at the end alone (likely not for long), but the Lady of Winterfell. She will commit a murder before the show ends.

Littlefinger--Dies at the hands of Sansa Stark

Tyrion--leaves Dany's service to take his seat as Lord of Casterly Rock

Varys--takes over from Tyrion as Jon and Dany's Hand.

Arya--Meets back up with Gendry, bastard of Robert Barratheon. They will marry

Jorah Mormont---arrives at a key battle just in the nick of time to save Dany from nearly certain death. Jon Snow--who has by this time fallen in love with Dany--gives Mormont his sword of Valarian Steel, which belonged to Mormont's father and rightfully is Jorah's.  Jorah is then killed in battle.

Bran: renounces his claim to Winterfell to assume full time Three Eyed Raven status, after he has told Jon that he is the son of the Crown Prince of the seven kingdoms and Lyanna Stark.

Sam Tarley--Sam is the key to all of this--which HAS to be the case since his story line is such a bore. While at the Citadel, he discovers a document that appears to be the wedding certificate of Rhaegar Targaryen & Lyanna Stark. If true, this proves that Snow is NOT a bastard, but the true her of Rhaegar and therefore, the true king of Westeros.

There you have it.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Up Early

There is a bit of a snore coming from the bed as I write this. Not a snore, really; more of a wheeze. The Kitten is sound asleep, as is normal for a Sunday morning at 0525, but I am not. I awoke 90 minutes ago, wide awake, and decided to enjoy the beauty and calm of the sunrise.

We are in the midst of an epic stretch of weather here on the Eastern Shore. Low 80's, low humidity, lots of sunshine. The house is wide open, and I'm enjoying the sounds of the morning with a small tankard of coffee, made without sufficiently waking up Zuzu (black lab, 3, rambunctious) to the point where she demanded her morning meal. Kitten #2 (Hannah, 15) must wake in 30 minutes, as she has yet another horse show to attend (Champion yesterday in two classes, natch) and I must get her to the barn. The Kitten (Catherine, age undetermined) will take Kitten #1 (Hope, 17) across the bridge a little later on to begin a week at camp with a good friend whose folks have a vacation house on our little peninsula.

Preparations are beginning for a long stretch of solitude here on the Farm, as my women will all abandon me on or about 11 July. Kitten #2 is heading to Cambodia/Thailand on a school trip, and the Kitten and Kitten #1 are headed to South America. I will be solo here for about a month, and while I will miss my girls, I am looking forward to the time of quiet contemplation, early bedtimes, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings marathons, cigars, steaks, crabs, the driving range, and general puttering about. The Kitten began my socialization for the time apart last night by walking me around the bits of greenery that will require my watering attention while she nation hops. I once was cast into the floral doghouse for failing to water a group of pointsettias while The Kitten traveled, and I do not wish this to happen again. That it was a Spring Break trip, and the plants were from the previous Christmas did not seem to matter, nor were my protestations of "I thought we buy these plants with the knowledge that they will die" much appreciated.

Watering the plants will be an after dinner pursuit, and I will need to stock up on cigars (Macanudo Portofino) "to keep away the bugs". If anyone has suggestions for how to handle a cup of coffee, a cigar, and a hose---all at the same time, please pass them along.

You may be asking "why are they traveling without you?" Several reasons apply. First, if you've ever traveled with me, you might have some insight into why they are eschewing the pleasure now. Secondly, The Kitten has a habit of putting off the planning of her trips to a point with which I am uncomfortable, and I invariably have already scheduled a number of important events. Thirdly, and most importantly, I've managed to once again box myself in work-wise with a monstrously busy summer. For some reason, my business (Consultant, Defense) gets busy in the summer, and it has since I've been doing it. I do have two, week-long "staycations" planned (one of which will occur whilst the Kittens travel), but the problem with them is that I generally just work at 3/4 speed rather than putting it aside.

My morning bliss has been interrupted by a group of noisy birds just outside the bedroom window. I suppose they are blackbirds or crows, but I really don't know as all I can do is hear them. They are making quite a ruckus, and I'm surprised they haven't awakened The Kitten. It's the kind of cacophony one hears when a group of birds in a tree are approached by one of my cats, but both cats are inside the house, so the source of their disquiet is known only to them.

The sun is up and from the sound of a shockingly loud alarm from the upper reaches of the house, so should Kitten #2 be. I am surrounded by women for whom an alarm is considered a suggestion, rather than an order, and so it sometimes falls to me to ensure they are up and about. Though this one (#2) is the best of the lot in getting up, especially when there is the prospect of a horse show on a beautiful day ahead of her.

Friday, June 24, 2016

On the UK/EU Divorce

It is a sad thing indeed, when a man as addicted to American politics as I am is forced to watch ITV Britain's coverage of the Brexit question last night. It seems I've become so bored with our own situation that I turned to our Mother Country for some political thrills. And boy, did we get them.

Simply put, I do not know enough about the issue of whether the UK should have remained in the EU or not to have a coherent opinion. And while this seems to be no impediment for what passes for insight and analysis on the interwebs, I don't feel like I ought to make bold pronouncements based on scanty information. I'm funny like that.

The little I do know does not add to my clarity on the issue, nor will it lead to yours. Clearly, an element of the British population had come to see EU membership as onerous. Some of them believed this as a result of the UK's having to abide by immigration rules not under control of their own Parliament. Some of them believed this as a result of the UK's having to abide by an increasing number of economic and environmental regulations, as well as judicial decrees, not under their own sovereignty. Some saw the EU as a mechanism for the transfer of wealth from rich, Northern European countries to poor, profligate Southern European countries. Some of them I think, simply saw it as a matter of national pride, pride that was being swallowed up by a new "European" identity. There is merit in all of these views, and they are not inclusive.

The case to stay in the EU fell generally to those in what some here in the US (not me) would call "The Establishment". They pointed to economic benefits of European integration, and the greater opportunity for folks striking out on their own to work in fields of their choosing in other countries, freed from individual national employment regulation. They pointed to the political power on the world stage that 350 million Europeans could wield rather than divided polities. They pointed to the case of a divided Europe being just what Vlad Putin wants. There is merit in all of these views, too, and they are not inclusive.

There was a good bit of fear-mongering in the run up to the vote, with the "Remain" side generally predicting all manner of doom should the UK leave. I am not qualified to say whether the doom is warranted--to include economic privation, loss of influence, and isolation. I can imagine how these would come about and that they are possible. I can also imagine that they aren't inevitable.

And while I am unqualified to opine on the wisdom of their vote, I find myself generally well-qualified to offer a few policy suggestions about how we--the US--should proceed.

1. Don't be churlish about this. This is an adult nation making an adult decision. No collusion with Germany and France to teach those Limeys a lesson. Chive on.
2. Remember the special relationship. It is special.
3. Make a grand gesture of friendship and support. What do I suggest?  Well, I'd start with forward stationing three destroyers in the UK. With the decline of the Royal Navy, there's a ton of open pier space, and we eventually have to start re-arming in the North Atlantic anyway.
4. Look into some kind of UK/US/Canada free trade agreement. I realize this goes upstream of the isolationist, protectionist winds that are blowing in the US these days, but there is goodness in a union of English-speaking peoples.

Monday, June 20, 2016

On an American Exceptionalist National Security Policy

National Security Republicans have taken it on the chin in this election season, as their Presidential candidates fell one after another before the whirlwind of neo-isolationism and trade-war mongering that is Donald Trump. Foreign policy realists and offshore-balancers alike have heard in Trump’s rambling incoherence much to like. And while few are publicly supporting him, the glee with which they celebrate the minimization of influence of the American Exceptionalism wing of the Party is palpable. The “Death to the Neo-Cons” crowd is equally populated from the right and left these days, though both “right” and “left” are terms rendered almost as meaningless in the current milieu as the term “neo-conservative”, which has been mangled unrecognizably into a catch-phrase that at best, ignores the roots and true meaning of neo-conservatism, and at worst, is a cover for blatant anti-Semitism.

We must add to the mix the “starve the beast” wing of the Republican Party, represented primarily by those who came to Congress in the wake of the Tea Party phenomenon. These members were all too happy to reach common cause with liberal Democrats in saddling the country with sequestration in the Budget Control Act of 2011, making the dangerous calculation that as long as discretionary domestic spending decreased, hamstringing the defense budget was a pill worth swallowing.

Nearly as concerning to National Security Republicans is the degree to which Trumpism has created space for Hillary Clinton to assume the mantle of “adult in the room”, as the binary game of two-party politics drives a limited sample for comparison. While it is true that when compared to Trump, Clinton’s national security ideas and policies are preferable, they fall far short of what has been Republican dogma for decades. Had Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, or Carly Fiorina been nominated, these differences would have been highlighted, to include the support of free-trade agreements and a dramatic increase in defense preparedness to respond to the increasing great power competition with Russia and China. The Democratic Party has stolen a rhetorical base in the debate on defense by attempting to substitute policy concern for Veterans and the families of military members (policies which feed their natural predilection to increase the entitlement state) with concrete measures to address the decline of the U.S. military power as others are on the rise.

It is clear that National Security Republicans have some time in exile ahead of them. A goodly number has already pledged its opposition to Trump, and most retain a sufficient distaste for the domestic policies and identity politics-driven agenda of the Democratic Party to preclude them from supporting Hillary Clinton’s marginally better positions on foreign and defense policy.  The question then arises, what should right of center American Exceptionalists do with the time we have in the wilderness? Is the future of American exceptionalist national security policy to be reclaimed within the Republican Party, or will it for a time remain outside the two major parties in something akin to how libertarianism exists today? Or will Trumpism be exposed as a fleeting whim, influential enough to nominate a candidate but not enough to destroy a major party? Time will tell, but a set of principles for reasserting center right national security thinking and educating both middle America and policy elites must be at the heart of whatever approach emerges. The following set of principles is offered as a means to jumpstart the conversation.

Define and Refine the Mission: The American Exceptionalist National Security approach takes as its singular mission the preparation of American society at all levels to once again engage in global great power competition. The most effective tools for waging this competition are free speech, free markets, limited government, the rule of law, mutually beneficial diplomatic alliances, and a strong military. All of these contributors must be relentlessly defended and advocated, and every opportunity must be taken to point out where rising great powers act orthogonally to these foundational elements of American strength.

Deepen the Bench: Simply put, the Left is cleaning the Right’s clock on recruitment and development of ideologically-minded national security thinkers. That liberalism is seen as the province of the young is insufficient reason for the Right to be as uninterested and unorganized as it is, and waiting for a generation of Americans to fulfill the promise of the dubiously sourced “if you aren’t liberal in your 20’s you have no heart, if you aren’t conservative in your forties you have no head” is a plan doomed to fail. This is not to say that there is no effort being made in this area, only that current efforts are not up to the task. Should either Trump or Clinton serve two terms, relying upon those who staffed the George W. Bush administration to provide warm bodies in the next actual conservative administration is problematic. Right of center national security types must recognize this problem, actively begin to recruit young thinkers, mentor them closely, and provide opportunities for them to think and write more broadly, which will sometimes require that the horse be brought to  water.

Explain the Stakes. Ultimately, successful great power competition will involve sacrifice, and the reasons for that sacrifice must be provided. Additionally, direct and unemotional discussion of the consequences of continuing to ignore the coming competition must be had. The American people must once again become reacquainted with the degree to which our freedom, prosperity, and security are inexorably entwined, and the fundamental truth that we can be both strong and prosperous. At an elemental level, the benefits conferred by a strong, powerfully forward-postured U.S. military to our economy must be aggressively advocated.

Fight on the Beaches, on the Landing Grounds, in the Fields and in the Streets: The effort to prepare the nation to again contest with great powers cannot be waged solely or even mainly in Washington D.C. The effort must extend throughout the nation, leveraging “new” media, local media and civic groups. If anything positive has come of the scourge of Trumpism, it is the realization of the insularity of the Washington echo chamber and the importance of connecting on a very basic level with multiple levels of American society. Wherever the case for relative weakness and isolation is made, it must be responded to with strength and engagement.

Defend Free Trade and Our Alliances as Essential to Our Strength and Prosperity. Following Barack Obama’s lead, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have made great hay this cycle with their charges of rich allies free-riding from the security blanket provided by the United States. Putting aside for a moment the enormous sums that host nations provide to subsidize our forward presence, we must extol the virtues of these alliances to our own defense, even as we recognize egregious cases of insufficient defense spending where they exist. We must point out the substantial network of bases and command structures that existed during the Cold War, and remind Americans that neither exist today to the extent they did then. We must explain and defend the benefits of free trade and explain where breakdowns in trade have been associated with conflict in the past.

Reverse the Decline: Even after several rounds of base closures since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is an article of faith that the United States has excess capacity in its domestic basing structure. Both Republican and Democratic Administrations have tried in vain for new rounds of base closures as a means to free up resources for other priorities. This is short-sighted and strategically unsound, if one believes that great power competition must be our central focus. Additionally, the incessant bi-partisan braying to cut the number of civilians and contractors involved in the defense establishment equally ignores the vital role played by both in simply maintaining the current insufficiently sized military. Advocating for more cuts while pounding the table to increase the size of the military is both illogical and unwise. We need a larger military across the board, we need more bases and training ranges, and we need an appropriately-sized civilian workforce to help make it all work.

Define the Defense Industrial Base as a Strategic Asset.  There is a tension between an ideology that speaks to the benefits of free markets while advocating for the protection of vital elements of the defense industrial base. This tension must be acknowledged and explained, as the provision for the common defense is a Constitutional duty assigned to federal government, not something the Framers left solely to the states or the private sector. We must talk openly about the ability to build (and replace) ships, planes, weapons systems, sensors, and ordnance, and how limited our capacity to do so today is. We must make sure the American public is aware of how quickly great power conflict would consume war material, our declining ability to replace it, and the need to begin to stockpile it.

Obviously, the work inferred by even this modest set of principles is immense, and it will not be cheap. This effort will essentially amount to a campaign of sorts, and donors at every socio-economic level will be required to make it all happen. This requirement for fund-raising levies an additional requirement for coherent organization and some level of centralization, a difficult proposition in the free market of ideas. All of this amounts though, to little more than implementation details.

The first step is to recognize that there is a problem.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Getting in Touch with My Inner 17 Year Old

For those of you who don't go back and read comments on past posts, The Hammer made the following comment on my "The Yes....But" Election post from last week:

"I felt the same way at 17 when my first real girlfriend dumped me (talk about a natural!). 
It's very simple CW, the elites of BOTH parties have different priorities than the middle class and they lost our trust. The Democrat elites were able to hang on, to their eventual demise I believe. Not so the Republicans. What's troubling for me is your reaction suggests you don't respect the American system or Republican voters. I choose to chalk that up to hurt feelings...for the time being. But remember this, the base can get along just fine without the professional class. Your self imposed time in the wilderness will drive that point home. It'll also teach you disengagement is not a strategy."

So much to unpack here--I answered him with a comment, but then decided this exchange was too rich not to turn into its own post.

As with virtually everything Hammer writes, there is truth and wisdom here. I think he has correctly diagnosed the SYMPTOMS of our current situation--that the political elites of both parties have lost the trust of the "middle class" (left undefined). Clearly. Where Hammer goes awry is in failing to diagnose the CAUSE(S). What are the causes?  Well, how about the failure of the education system in the country to ensure a proper understanding of basic civics? You know, how when a President and a Congress are of different parties, it's really hard to get things you want done. Or how about the failure of basic economics instruction--you know, in which capitalism and free markets are demonstrated to be the engines of prosperity? How about the slow heroin drip of middle class entitlements--that's right--middle class entitlements--that have turned once proud, independent burgers into "I want mines" types when it comes to tax breaks, and tuition assistance, and all manner of other entitlements?

So yes, Hammer is also right when he expresses "what's troubling for me is your reaction suggests you don't respect the American system or Republican voters".  Absolutely. I do not respect "Republican voters", or at least those who support Trump. This includes a great many people who voted in the Republican primary who were previously not committed Republicans, but is primarily aimed at those who WERE committed Republicans who proudly described themselves as conservative and who (as they have no end of delight in informing me) "held their noses in 2008 and 2012 and voted for the Establishment Republican". I have no respect and no use for these people, in a political sense at least.

Why? Well, it's the 17 year old in me. Hammer is right again. I feel these people were "Sunshine Conservatives", who really never believed in actual conservative principles, but were (justifiably) unwilling to buy into the Democrat brand of identity politics. My feelings are hurt, Hammer. You're onto something. I'm disappointed that you and your band of Merry Pranksters are completely willing to throw aside decades of conservative political principle in order to vote for a liberal Democrat, albeit one whose identity politics are of a stripe that appeals to you this time.

Yes. The 17 year old inner Bryan has had his feelings hurt. But you know what the difference is in my inner 17 year old and yours (broadly speaking to the Trumpenproletariat now, not just Hammer). When this girl (election of 2016) broke my heart, I didn't decide to give up girls. I realized that this girl may not have been for me, that she wasn't very nice anyway, that I deserve better. But I've stuck to the basic principle of girls. You folks? You've gone all politically Fire Island on me. You look at the Republican elite and its mistreatment of you (focused through the lens of the poor civics and economics education I spoke of earlier), and you've decided that you just don't like girls anymore. You're gonna try boys now (not that there's anything wrong with that). You used to think that you were conservatives--limited government, free markets, civil liberties, protectors of life, supportive of a powerful and engaged foreign policy--and you've decided to move in the opposite direction. Statism. Protectionism. Planned Parenthood. Abridging the Bill of Rights. Socialized medicine. Isolationism.

But here's the thing. Trump's not going to last forever, and his "movement" is not a movement at all but a personality cult. The real question is where are YOU going to go when Trump loses? Or if he wins, where do you go when his 4 or 8 years are over? Political parties and movements in the United States--ones that last--are based on ideas and principles, and those ideas and principles are the result of thought, and inquiry, and principle, and advocacy. These are the the things the elites you so casually dismiss are responsible for.

So enjoy your fling.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Flight Musings

I am a bit over halfway through my flight from San Diego back to DC. A 0615 departure, most of the window shades are closed and a good many folks are asleep. Several large morning cups of coffee are conspiring against my getting any real shut-eye.

This flight lands at Dulles--a direct one, but then I have two hours to drive back out to the Shore. Upon arrival, a shower, shave, and uniform shift into summertime Shore festive (Khaki pants, Searsucker blazer, white shirt, bow tie) as the Kitten and I head to a function across the river from our house at a place that's been there for a couple of centuries. I may see if she wants to take the boat over, as the drive is a good twenty minutes, while a boat ride is about three. I believe I will be exhausted by about halfway through the party.

I've been in San Diego since Tuesday night, and I was reminded of one of the primary reasons I complained about living there when I had the chance. Known as the June Gloom, a persistent marine layer exists along the coast in May and June that leads to cool and cloudy days--just when the East Coast is really starting to be at its best. It isn't terrible, but in June of 2000, I had no experience with it and it left me rather unsatisfied.

Can we talk about Mitt Romney for a second? I didn't get a chance to see it, but Mitt was apparently all over the TV yesterday once again expressing his disdain for Trump. I also had the opportunity to see that he once again dismissed a third party run. I'm feeling a little churlish about this. If you're Mitt Romney--on of the shining stars of the "we still have a shred of character" wing of the Republican Party--and you are actively trying to undermine the GOP nominee (which I applaud), don't I have a right to at least an EXPLANATION as to why you won't run? We all know it would be intrusive in your family time. We all know it would be a longshot (though the XIIth Amendment does provide a clear path). But what are HIS reasons. We haven't heard them yet. I'm selfish enough to think that I am owed an explanation. I feel bad that I fee this way, but I do. It isn't enough that he says he isn't going to do it. I want to know his LOGIC. Because I can't personally find any.

I was upgraded to First on the flight out here, which was nice. Only the second time its ever happened to me. I'd actually be interested in knowing what leads to that sort of thing. I'm almost always way down on the list of upgrades at the terminal, but this one came in two days early.

I had a text exchange with The Hammer recently. We've not been as chatty since he lost his mind and I lost my sense of humor, but I appreciated the back and forth, and I look forward to the day eight years or so from now when our witty repartee returns to the web.

Brother Tom has emerged as the only person close to me--socially, professionally--who I know to be a Trumphumper. Given Trump's broad popularity, this is clearly a sign of two things: 1) I live an insulated life and 2) I have superb judgment in friends and colleagues. More hit/miss in choices of brothers.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Trump Endorses Embattled NC Rep

Heavens to Betsy--it seems this Donald Trump fellow is just like all those DC politicians his supporters wish to replace. It seems he is endorsing Rep. Renee Elmers in a primary election in which she is pitted against another sitting member of Congress after redistricting.

Rep. Elmers was never very popular with the Sage of Tickbite.

The "Yes, but..." Election

Hillary Clinton gave a stem-winder of a foreign policy speech this week, one in which she borrowed liberally from the Marco Rubio/Jeb Bush book of pointing out the man's basic temperamental disqualifications, his dopey ideas (see what I did there), and his utter inconsistency. Having cheered along with the aforementioned Republicans throughout the primary as they wielded these weapons, I have a great deal of affinity for the attacks and a fundamental amazement that the charges have not had an impact on Trump's candidacy. But after ten months of this stuff, I've come to realize that American voters simply don't care, or they don't care much about the things I care about, or they don't agree with my view on the things I care about. Whatever the situation may be, and however entertained I was by Hillary's speech, the bottom line is this (and I'm speaking to my Democrat friends right now): don't be fooled by the satisfying nature of your woman's rhetoric and the degree to which it feeds your own views and biases. The fact that two of three of the remaining Presidential candidates are "not of their party" is a sign of a restive, unsatisfied electorate that is preparing to give you and me a great big middle finger in the guise of Donald Trump.

There is a great deal of suspicion within the Trumpenpoletariat and that which passes for an extant Republican Party that folks like me--formerly rock-ribbed GOP voters and committed conservatives--will bolt and vote for Hillary in 2016. And while (as I have said here, and told the press)  I believe if the choice came only down to Clinton and Trump, Clinton would be the preferred option, our modern voting system offers me alternatives (third party, don't vote, write-in), and I will avail myself of one. Put another way--for the especially thick among you--I will not vote for Hillary Clinton.

"But CW, a vote for X is a vote for Hillary". This is what Trumphumpers and their recent converts all say when we chat about such things. Tom Nichols had the perfect response for this canard on Twitter last night when he Tweeted: "They really want to believe that anti-Trump means pro-Hillary, because it makes them feel less ashamed of their own vote."  There is much truth here. Never before have I been aware of a Presidential candidate in whom more people have invested their support under the great "yes, but" caveat. Millions of Trump supporters when presented with the voluminous evidence of the man's unfitness for office--virtually all of which comes from his own mouth--resort to the "yes, but" answer--pointing to the sins and failing of the Republican elite, the other GOP candidates, Hillary Clinton--whatever. There is far less simple affirmation and support. Put another way, there is a great deal of shame associated with the support of Trump and those politically sentient beings who have gone this way know it.

What is most interesting about this election is the degree to which BOTH sides have made deals with the Devil and have settled upon "yes, but" candidates. Let's face it, Hillary supporters. Your woman lost the nomination in 2008 when everything was going her way, and she's been dogged at every turn this time by a man who until just recently would not deign to consider himself a member of your Party and whose political loyalty is to an ideology known as "Democratic Socialism" which is better known by its shortened version...socialism. She does not appear likable, she has little in the way of positive accomplishments to point to aside from having married well (in a political sense), she has recklessly endangered the national security of the United States through sins of commission in setting up a private email system designed to thwart public law, and she has lied and misled about virtually every aspect of  this act. She is at best a serial fabulist, and at worst, a pre-felon. Time will tell which is closer to the answer.

It is easy for me to be against Trump. I find those few ideas he has put forward on domestic policy to be heavily statist, economically nativist, and in some cases (single payer) flat out socialist. His national security approach is a danger to our prosperity, security, and liberty.

Clinton is almost as easy to be completely against, in no small part because I have such disdain for what passes for the modern Democratic grievance-mongering that manifests itself in identity politics run amok, a practice in which she so easily engages. Her domestic policies--nearly indistinguishable from Trump's by the way--are classic "throw money at the problem and raise taxes to do it" solutions. Additionally, she has an army of drones nearly as impervious to facts as Trump, supporters who virtue signal at every opportunity on social media while giving their candidate a blank pass for her utter lack of the virtue of integrity. While I believe she is BETTER than Trump on national security (largely from my sense that she will be LESS isolationist), I have great doubts about her even there.

And so friends, I find myself completely without a presidential candidate this year. Worse, I find myself without a Party. I "unregistered" as a Republican weeks ago, but more importantly, I left the Party in my mind. A Party that stands for nothing but a personality is not a Party--it is a fan club. This charge can be fairly made against the Democrats too, by the way, although their primary process has in a very healthy way, made their Party MORE about its left of center roots--while the GOP became unmoored from its.

So what is there to do? What is there for someone as politically involved as I to do when the ideas I hold dear are so thoroughly repudiated at the ballot box? What can I do when neither of the candidates for President come anywhere close to representing how I think about this nation, its grandeur, and its special place in the world? What can I do when I KNOW that there are others like me, people ashamed at where our political process has taken us and who yearn for something better?

I'm not exactly sure--but I'm working on it. Here are the basic elements of the plan:

1) Ally myself with like-minded Conservatives who believe in limited government, free markets, and strong defense.

2) Await the outcome of the election in November. If Trump wins, the GOP is finished as a political party--so begin working to replace it with a center-right party. If Trump loses, become part of the effort to perform triage and then to rebuild it.

3) Work to inform/remind the American public of the following:

  • The world is more secure and prosperous with the US leading it.
  • Our ability to lead it is critically threatened by our inability to resource that leadership
  • The inability to resource that leadership is the result of political choices, not destiny.
  • Better choices are available and necessary, as we must begin to think and act again in a manner that prepares us to wage and win great power competition.
  • Failure to make those choices will hasten our decline, imperil our standing in the world, and lead to instability and strife.
  • Leaders must formulate better policies, honestly articulate them, and then relentlessly advocate for them
I'm not exactly sure the form that this effort will take, but I'm talking to smart people who are as concerned as I am, and we're making plans to make plans.

Change will come, and I wish to be a part of it.

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