Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dispatch from the Road

Goodness, it's been quite a while. Sorry folks. I've been a little busy, and as I'm sure you're aware, politics has not been something inspire lately.

What WAS inspiring however, was to be with my entire extended family over the weekend for my neice Meaghan's wedding to her man Casey.  Not pictured below is The Hammer, who was there in all his splendor with his lovely wife.
I just realized the Bride and Groom are missing

As for the election, it is nearly (thank God) upon us, and the polling seems pretty set that Hillary will be our next President. I was told that the Establishment created Trump. I was told that Trump didn't need the Establishment to win. I was told that he would self fund. I was told that he would win Blue States. I was told that he would moderate his behavior. I was told he would grow the party. Now I am told that it is my fault that he is losing.

So be it. I will remain in the opposition, where I've been for eight years, with my unfashionable right of center ideas and policy preferences that seem quaint now that so many of them have been utterly forgotten by the GOP nominee and his followers. The interesting question is what is to become of the Republican Party, and I don't have a good answer. I'm sure many of you do.

I'm in San Diego for a few days--standard, beautiful southern CA weather, a great hotel (gym, free breakfast, free interenet, downtown) before red-eyeing back East Thursday night. I am told we had frost back in Easton last night, so my time of year is upon us. Nothing makes me happier than lighting candles on the dinner table because it is dark and cold outside.

Have a great day.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Speech for Mitt Romney

My Fellow Americans,

In a month, we will go to the polls to elect our next President, and the choices before us are manifestly bad. The Democrats offer a candidate who has proven herself personally untrustworthy, professionally marginal, and bureaucratically inept. It is not too much to say that were one of her employees at the State Department to have created a parallel email system upon which passed significant amounts of classified information, well that person would likely be in jail today.

We in the Republican Party however, have done even worse in our nominee. We nominated a deeply flawed, misogynistic, business failure to represent our Party, a man without ethics, who has not only admitted to cheating on his wife(ves), but who has bragged about it. A man who brags about not paying his bills. A man who brags about taking businesses into bankruptcy. And as we found out earlier this week, a man without a moral compass. What he said is not worth repeating. Most of you already know it, and it is the kind of talk uttered by pathological rapists, not as he passed it off, as "locker room" talk.

And so we have arrived at a point where Trump has insulted the handicapped, made disparaging marks of all variety about a number of women, and now bragged about his propensity for sexual assault. It is time for him to go.

And so I am speaking now to the Executive Committee of the Republican National Committee. It is time to exercise whatever options exist to remove Trump from the ticket. The Republican Party must immediately distance itself from this stain upon its reputation and upon its history of positive political change.

The Executive Committee must quickly move to another candidate. I am ready to support virtually anyone that they come up with. Governor Pence as the Vice Presidential nominee and Senator Cruz as the last man standing at the convention both come to mind.

But if it helps, I am offering my services and my resources. I was this party's last nominee, and I conducted that race with honor and integrity. If the RNC is able to remove Donald Trump, I am willing to replace him. Now is not the time to talk about the impact of early voting, about how many ballots we could get on--none of it. These are implementation details. It is time for the Republican Party to stand up to its responsiblity to repudiate itself from this horrible man. Time is of the essence.

And if after careful consideration, the Party decides that it simply cannot replace Trump, then the Chairman of the RNC must come forward and urge Republicans to vote their conscience for President and for Republicans everywhere else. He must make clear that Trump's candidacy is not longer supported by the leadership of the Republican Party.

Reince Priebus, you have my phone number.

Thank you.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Seapower Speaking Tour

Most of you know that when I'm not howling at the moon about politics, I work in the broad category of promoting American Seapower. I helped lead Mitt Romney's Navy Policy Team in 2012, and I led Marco Rubio's Navy and Marine Corps Policy Team in 2016. Both men were serious about not just growing the Navy, but about why the Navy is important and why the Navy needed to expand.

Unfortuantely, both men lost, and the winner (2012) and the nominees (2016) are people far less concerned with the future of the Navy. Hillary Clinton has been terrible on laying out her National Security vision, and Donald Trump's is a slogan without any meat. So for an advocate of Seapower, it looks like another four years in the wilderness.

Which is why I've decided to try something different. I spend most of my time writing articles, giving speeches, and appearing on panels discussing seapower. I speak with audiences who already understand the problem and who agree with my solutions; we nod our heads in agreement and jolly little comes of it.
Screenshot of the Easton Star Democrat coverage of my tour

So I've decided to broaden my messaging a little, and take the argument directly to the people--at least the people who join Rotary Clubs in my area. Yesterday was the first day of the tour, and I spoke at a lunch meeting in Cambridge MD and a dinner meeting at the Potomac-Bethesda Chapter. I worked on my speech for weeks--taking the navally mumbo-jumbo and shaping it into an argument that ties the benefits of Seapower--dominant American Seapower--to our continuing economic, political, diplomatic, and military leadership.

The first thing I need to tell you is that one day into this--I love doing it. I met a ton of new and intersting people, they were warm and receptive, they were attentive and interested, and they asked great questions that allowed me to delve deeper into the subject than my 18 minute chat allowed for. There were a few Navy and Marine Corps vets, and we traded stories like you read about.

The second thing, is that there is an unease if you will, with what is going on in the world. There were questions about China, and what it is up to, and Russia, and why it is doing what it is in Ukraine. There were questions about why our fleet has shrunk. There were questions about what is being done about it. I took from these data points a sense that what I'm doing is not unimportant, and that I need to keep up the press.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Trump and Taxes

As I survey the continuing dumpster fire that is the Trump campaign, I arrive (along with the rest of you) at the question of his taxes. News in the past few days (courtesy of conveniently "leaked" tax documents printed by the New York Times) that Trump took a nearly billion dollar loss in 1995 that could have then provided him with the ability to lay that loss off against income for a number of years. The NYT has estimated that as 18 years based on known sources of known income Trump earned in that time. A couple of thoughts here.

We must be careful about grabbing our populist pitchforks to issue summary judgment on Trump, especially where the topic of taxes is/are concerned. Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance is not. Trump's 1995 loss appears to be perfectly in line with tax law as written then (and now), and laying off that loss against future gains is one way that the tax system incentivizes investment. Put another way, there are good and proper reasons for the deductibility of passive losses. Before my Trumpkin readers break into a grin at the prospect of my defending their business wiz of a candidate, there are real questions at the heart of this $1B that likely need answering--not by Trump per se, but by the Congress and the tax code. Put simply, the suggestion that Trump LOST $1B in personal wealth is zany. Those losses involved leveraged investment, with Trump investing a sum and then claiming a loss of the asset based on its "value" and not on his investment. Again--likely legal--but worth revisiting in the tax code.

What is obvious however is that once again, the suggestion that Trump is some kind of business genius is baseless. Trump was effectively removed from control of his businesses by New York bankers who got stiffed by his profligacy (and their poor judgment), and since that time, he has effectively managed one and only one thing--his name. The bankers realized that his brand was far more valuable than his leadership, and with actual business-people in charge of making business decisions, they simply now rent Trump's name. This seems to be working well for Trump financially--but let's dispense with the notion that he is a savvy businessman and give him the credit he is due for being an effective snake-oil salesman.

I am enjoying watching Trumpkins repeat their standard defense of Trump, in which something that they would have protested against when they retained their sense of decency and judgment, is now put forward as a virtue. Substitute George Soros for Trump in the tawdry little tale above, and then think about the outrage Trumpkins would show. "FATCAT PAYS NO TAXES" they'd shout.  But now? "He's a genius", "he's doing what we all do" and the like. The hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On the Debate Last Night

I thought it best not to provide comment on the debate until my unconscious mind had a chance to mull it over. With that behind me, I am ready now to render my judgment.

First though, keep in mind I have been wrong at every single point along this journey. I watched Republican Primary debate after debate and thought "there's no way he can come back from this" at every step along the way--and not only did he come back, he surged, buoyed by a legion of defenders who saw the behavior I considered infantile, inspiring. So, apply the appropriate discount to my thoughts.

Trump got slaughtered. Hillary was prepared and disciplined. By the ancient standards of what passes for presidential, she had it, he didn't. He has had MONTHS to gain depth and mastery of the subjects he talks about, but has instead spent his time watching bad cable news in search of calumnies to contest. He spouted slogans (which have--to admit--been very successful for him) but had zero knowledge of his own policies and even less knowledge of hers--grounds for the attack.

Stung in the primaries by his beclownment on the "nuclear triad" question and only minutes after declaring the importance of "the nuclear", the man hadn't a clue when offered a question on Obama's dangerous and ill-considered evaluation of declaring a "no-first use" of nuclear weapons posture.

Strong on law and order, Trump's comfort with that subject is the comfort of the authoritarian, not only embracing "stop and frisk" (which I am still thinking about), but then also embracing the stripping of second amendment rights to anyone on a "terror watch list" or "no fly list".  Keep in mind, the amount of due process that goes into making these lists is minimal--and the process of getting off of them Kafka-esque. This is not the stance of a conservative. This is not the stance of a Republican.

Clinton is so profoundly flawed. So deeply, deeply flawed--personally and politically. Yet he exploited none of it. He pointed not at the massive cost of her plans. He pointed not at her glee to raise taxes. He had no answer for her "wealthy and corporations paying their fair share" blather.

It was a massacre.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trump Will Make an Awful President; He Will Not Bring Down the Republic

I have nothing special against Hillary supporters. I have nothing special against Trump supporters. Both are groups of people who are making a political judgment with which I strongly disagree, but such is the nature of politics.

My impatience is growing however, with some of my fellow travelers in the #NeverTrump movement. Some of you are aware of this once loud and proud portion of the Republican electorate, active before Donald the Conquerer crushed the GOP under his draft-eluding feet. For them (us), the thought of Donald Trump as President was anathema. He stood squarely against virtually all known conservative principles and his views on international relations were deeply flawed. A Trump presidency would threaten liberty, security, and prosperity. He was unfit.

But remember--the source of the #NeverTrump movement was the Republican Party--you remember them--the folks who rightly considered Hillary Clinton a conspiratorial and congenital liar? The party that has for years, stood as a bulwark against the raging and divisive identity politics that fuel her candidacy?  This was a group of people who also rightly considered her unfit for the office.

Now however, a growing number of #NeverTrump people have decided that not only would Trump be a bad president and a threat to our liberty, prosperity, and security--but that the SYSTEM our genius founders put into place SPECIFICALLY TO CONTROL SUCH AN ELECTED THREAT has somehow become a slight breeze in the face of the Trumpian Hurricane, and his potential inauguration in January has been transformed into an imperial coronation. For these "Ready for Hillary" #NeverTrumpers, stopping Trump has become the one and only mission, and not only supporting Hillary--but remaining silent as to her deep and disqualifying flaws and worse, occasionally out-supporting her supporters with their rhetoric. These are the people with whom I am losing patience.

The Consitutional system of divided government/separation of power/individual rights/federalism is one of mankind's greatest achievements. It has withstood internal and external threats that far greater than those posed by the Cheeto Bankrupter. The correct reaction in this situation is not to make peace with the opposition, but to remain oneself in principled opposition--to both candidates. Additionally, the suggestion that supporting Hillary is somehow "good" for the future GOP is hardly more supportable than voting third party (or write in GOP) and then remaining loyal to principles and ideas and voting straight ticket downballot GOP. Because one cannot bring oneself to vote for Trump does not mean that one must vote for Hillary--or worse, attempt to mollify one's conscience by wrapping the dubious decision around a sense of impending civil war.

I have seen on the interwebs, reliable, consistent, sane, and principled conservatives become de facto surrogates for the Hillary campaign--out of this misplaced sense of the impending end of the Republic. Stiffen up, folks. The country can take a Trump presidency, especially if those who retain conservative principles and respect for the Consitution (these are of course, linked, but different) line up and oppose him wherever those principles are threatened. Abandoning those principles to make common cause with someone who stands opposed to virtually every political ideal we hold dear is hardly the answer.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My View from Exile

I am--as most of you know--sitting this Presidential election out, if sitting it out can be broadly defined as "not supporting either of the two major party candidates and doing everything I can to inform others that neither is worthy of the job". To a large extent, I have exiled myself to the land of third-party wingnuts and committed Libertarians. It is disappointing not to be all caught up in the excitement of trying to get someone elected, and it remains to be seen whether my refusal to back the GOP candidate will result in permanent exile or--hopefully--credit for having been loyal to ideas and principles. I realize this strikes some as "holier than thou", but I make no apologies for it.

What is interesting from my vantage point though, is to watch the supporters of the two combatants engage in a sort of bifurcated cognitive dissonance, in which they view the other candidate as utterly flawed, and their own as the embodiment of modern American virtue. Worse still, they simply cannot understand HOW supporters of the other candidate could possibly have that opinion. Each side--which as time goes on seem evenly matched--believes that the mere existence of the other candidate says something incredibly awful about the stuff of which his or her suppoters are made, and the danger to the American Republic that such enthusiasm engenders. Each side has decided to make peace with the cavernous flaws of their own candidate (or worse, deny they exist), yet they retain a keen sense of judgement as to the ethical and behavioral warts of the other. Each believes that any attempt to equate the fitness of the two candidates for this office is an offense against all that is holy, as the other is so obviously evil and flawed as to obviate whatever might be wrong with their own choice. What neither side seems to grasp is that NEARLY HALF OF AMERICA DISAGREES WITH THEM. They have constructed such airtight cases for their support that they are simply unable to comprehend or even process that anyone would disagree, let alone 45% of the voting public. Or--if they do grasp that half the country disagrees, it is not because those people are exercising a similarly dulled sense of political, ethical, and moral judgement--no--it it because those people are 1) dumb 2) benighted 3) racist 4) socialist 5) virtue signallers 6) corporatists 7)globalists 8)isolationsists or 9) white supremacists.

Because I walk in both worlds, I see these dynamics play out on a daily basis. Very intelligent people on both sides have so demonized the political stances and character of the other side as to have reached a state of denial and relativism as applied to their own views. "The other is a threat to the Republic--therefore I must vote for my person. To think otherwise is a sign of great character flaws, political misjudgement, and even darker motives. Because I have so thoroughly insulated myself from everyday interaction with those who see this differently from me, the metaphysical certainty with which I hold my opinions is reinforced by the vigor and rectitude of people who think just like me."

Well, I think BOTH sides are right. Team Hillary's views of Trump are spot on. Team Trump's views of Hillary are too. Neither is worthy of the office. And may God have mercy on the United States of America.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Well folks, it's about time, huh? What's bothering you? Seen your girl's lead dissipating? Tired of hearing about your man's Russia worship? Your team 0-3 lookin' at 0-4?

Let it all out.
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