Have you noticed that Kasich has said little to nothing about Trump? Unlike every other establishment candidate, Kasich doesn’t seem that worried about him.
I was watching CNN, thinking about the electoral map, and a light bulb appeared above my head! In a Trump vs. Clinton race, Trump will need to focus heavily on the Midwest, AKA “the rust belt”. These are swing states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and of course, Kasich’s Ohio. These are states with a history of manufacturing, and a strongly blue collar mostly Caucasian group of voters. Who better to help Trump win these states than Kasich?
In a Trump v. Clinton matchup, we know Trump will sweep the south simply because he is the Republican, with the exception of Florida, and maybe VA and NC. We know Trump will win those very red and sparsely populated western, non-coastal states like Arizona and Montana. We know Clinton will dominate New England, except for New Hampshire, and we know she’ll win the West Coast. Florida and the Midwest will therefore determine the next President, as they so often do.
So back to Kasich. The media has noticed that he’s been very hesitant to criticize Trump. While Trump is almost certain to win more delegates to the RNC than any other, he may not win a majority. That would mean a “brokered convention”. Trump’s delegates will have to cut a deal, or maybe second place Ted Cruz might work something out sooner. Trump is almost certainly not teaming up with Cruz or Rubio at this point. But as things have been relatively civil (considering it’s Trump) with Kasich, Kasich only needs to win enough delegates to be able to give Trump the majority. Also, Kasich could help Trump at least in Ohio, if not the entire “rust belt”. Not only that, but Kasich is politically experienced, and in the establishment of the GOP.
Therefore, I’m predicting that one way or the other, if Trump is the nominee, he picks Kasich as his running mate. Kasich could help satiate the establishment. And more importantly, would be valuable to Trump in a race against Clinton. About the only swing state where he’d be of little help is Florida, but then, Rubio and Jeb Bush are clearly out of the question. Trump may fight extra hard in Florida, or write it off and focus on the Midwest. But Trump already has his trade policy that will be well received in states that have suffered from decades of outsourcing. Those states are always close, especially Ohio, so Trump needs any edge he can get.
Maybe I’ll be right, maybe I’ll be wrong. We’ll see. I just wanted to put this out there and see if I get some bragging rights after the RNC.
Some are angry with Trump, others are angry at Trump. Either way, Trump evokes lots of anger. The anger at Trump is certainly justified. Trump has claimed that Mexico sends its worst people into America, including rapists and drug dealers. To be fair, he also said “…some, I assume, are good people.” Trump’s views on Islam are far more disturbing. He has called for shutting down mosques in the US, and banning Muslims from entering the country. Some have tried to justify this by bringing up former President Carter’s temporary ban on Iranians during the hostage crisis. It’s one thing to ban people from a particular country with whom we have hostility. It’s another to ban an entire world religion, especially considering that some Muslims are native born American citizens. How do you ban them?!
So, in short, Trump is nuts! And I am deeply concerned that all of the anger he is able to invoke will cause large segments of the middle and working class population in America to vote against their own interests…by voting for Hillary Clinton! Trump, for all his faults, knows that we can’t continue to allow China to erode our manufacturing sector. Though he may seem like a “shoot first, aim later” type, he also has enough sense not to get us tangled up in the Syrian civil war trying to attack both sides (The Assad regime and ISIS). Trump wants to focus on going after ISIS, while Clinton seems to think we should try to take out ISIS AND Assad. Most of the political establishment wants to take out ISIS AND Assad! This is pure lunacy! You don’t go into the middle of a bloody civil war, and start attacking both sides. If you must get involved, pick a side. Otherwise, instead of killing each other, they both kill you instead.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, IS the establishment. She’s Dick Cheney in a pants suit and a “D” next to her name instead of an “R”. She has a long history of supporting “free trade” agreements that cripple the economy for working Americans, and her husband signed the devastating “China Free Trade Act” into law in 2000. (Recession of 2000, weak recovery, and “Great Recession” follow…coincidence?) Blacks and Hispanics are hit the hardest, by the way. On foreign policy, Clinton, like any Republican neocon, claims that ISIS exists because we didn’t take out Assad! This is your “serious candidate”? She seriously thinks that we can take out ISIS by attacking the very regime that is also fighting to take out ISIS? If Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Rand Paul, Carson, etc. ever proposed a foreign policy so utterly absurd, the media would be all over them talking about how unrealistic it is and how it shows their lack of “experience”. But Clinton, Bush, Rubio are free to propose these kinds of lunatic foreign policies and be only politely questioned by the mainstream media. Sure, once in a while a journalist might mention, “psss….you know Assad is on the other side of the Syrian Civil War, right? He is fighting against ISIS, right?”
The base of Trump’s support is highly emotional, and often dismissed as a bunch of narrow minded poorly educated whites who hate diversity. Trump does appeal particularly to working class whites who have been feeling the shaft from the establishment for decades. He also seems to have a sizeable portion of the black community supporting him, for many of the same reasons. They are angry at career politicians, and they are angry that their job opportunities are diminishing. As whites are losing their middle class status, blacks who were reaching so close for middle class status that they could feel it at the tip of their fingers have had it yanked away and sent to China. Most of them haven’t considered the policy positions I’ve laid out above. They vote for Trump with their hearts, not their heads. But even if by pure chance, emotions have led many to the perfectly logical conclusion that Trump is preferable to the establishment, were there better choices? Of course! Jim Webb and Rand Paul, to name two. But neither of them can stir the emotions of the masses like Trump, or Sanders.
And so, the current narrative from the main stream media goes something like this…
There’s a lot of anti-establishment sentiment. Instead of looking at experience and qualifications, voters are angry, and that’s why Trump and Sanders won in New Hampshire. But neither has executive experience. Neither has much electability.
Then the interviews follow, where the media speaks to pundits who sound something like this…
(Insert Clinton, Rubio, Bush) is clearly more qualified than (insert Sanders, Trump, Cruz) as he/she has a history of getting things done. Many may be excited by (Sanders, Trump, Cruz) but his policies are very unlikely to pass through Congress. (Clinton, Rubio, Bush) on the other hand, knows how to work across the aisle and get things done. And (if Clinton) we’ve never had a woman president before!
Let me break it down for you. None of these candidates will get much of what they propose in domestic policy! None of them! We live in the era of congressional obstructionism. Congress has learned that the people praise the president when things get done, and blame the president when they don’t. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the opposite party in Congress to block anything and everything until they get 110% of what they want. If Clinton becomes president, the only way she’ll get funding for whatever domestic programs she wants from Republicans (and remember, Republicans only need 41 out of 100 Senators to block everything via filibuster), is to give, give, and give. I’m sure if she bloats the military budget by another $200 billion, slaps new sanctions on Iran and stations troops on their border, the Republicans will let a little birth control subsidy or two slip into an omnibus budget bill which will include massive tax cuts for Wall Street. And Clinton will say, “See? I’m a progressive who gets things done!” Nothing will be done about job loss to SE Asia, and little to nothing will be done to curb risky behavior by the big banks. Much of “Dodd/Frank” is still up to interpretation by the President, and don’t expect Clinton with all her Wall Street/big bank support to interpret Dodd/Frank in a way that her financial campaign support doesn’t like.
A Trump Presidency would probably look more like this. There will be no wall on the border of Mexico. Yes, technically the President is already legally authorized to build a wall, but that cost bucks! We ain’t got ‘em. And Mexico is not going to build a wall for the US on their border. Here’s the good news for you Trump supporters, if he wins…and for all of us who work for a living (including Sanders supporters and misguided Clintonites). Even if Congress does nothing about trade, simply based on current trade agreements, Trump can enforce portions of these agreements against currency manipulation. He can and will slap tariffs on China at least, if not many others who suck our jobs. On foreign policy, there will be no ban on Muslims. It’s blatantly unconstitutional and impossible to enforce. But here’s the good news! Trump knows that ISIS is the enemy. Not Assad, not Iran, and certainly not Russia. He’ll be firm when negotiating with Iran, but he knows that we need to focus on ISIS. While the establishment candidates seem to think we can take out all of the bad buys and democratize the world, Trump knows better.
So, in short, I am not moved by Trump’s populism. With Paul out, if the Democrats nominate Sanders, I’d choose Sanders over Trump. Sanders can win, but it’s an uphill battle for him. In the more likely “Clinton vs. Trump” scenario, I’ll take a reality show patriot over a “serious” candidate whose loyalty is with the international community, Wall Street, and the global banksters. Some say, “Vote blue no matter who! There’s too much at stake to let the Republicans win!” I say there’s too much at stake to let the establishment win. We can’t afford to keep losing our manufacturing jobs, and we can’t more neocon military adventurism that destabilizes the Islamic world further empowering ISIS. If I have to hold my nose and vote for Trump, so be it!
If I’ve been a little slow with my blog and vlog lately, it’s because I was wrapping up this article. The full title is “The Decline of Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent: Why Grassroots Conservatives in the United States are Embracing a more cautious foreign policy“. I cannot post the entire article here, but it is a free, open access journal provided by Sage Publications. You can either read it directly on their website, or have a PDF emailed to you. Just follow the hyperlink I just gave. I can at least post the abstract, as follows:
It is now clear that the American conservative movement can no longer be easily categorized as “hawkish” on foreign policy. This essay examines the different perspectives, ranging from intellectuals and experts to grassroots conservatives and popular political culture, to grasp the widening range of foreign policy preferences that currently make up the conservative movement (or conservative big tent). Second, this essay considers the challenges that these hawks, mainly the neoconservatives, are likely to face due to the realities of generational politics. This essay will therefore provide a useful analysis of the different foreign policy preferences in the American conservative movement in the 21st century.
Do they get any slimier than Lindsey Graham? The same fear-monger who wanted to hide the truth about CIA torture, supported sacrificing our constitutional right to a fair trial due to fear of terrorism, supported invading Syria to fight against Assad on the basis that militant Islam is growing (never mind that Assad was fighting AGAINST those very Islamic militants)…well this same fear mongering, half truthing, opportunist now claims that Rand Paul is the one “creating anxiety for no good reason.”
Rand Paul did admittedly make a careless comment that he has heard of “many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.” Still, looking at the big picture on Rand Paul’s position, he has stated repeatedly that he strongly encourages vaccinations, but opposes Federal mandates, as Dana Bash showed in this article. This is actually the same position Lindsey Graham takes, yet Graham suggests that Paul would try to stop vaccinations by stating as part of this rebuttal of Paul that “I would reject any effort to stop vaccinations until someone can show me a scientific reason to do so.” OK, and Rand Paul has made no attempt to stop vaccinations, only to stop efforts at a government mandate. So what is the problem Mr. Graham?!
As Graham considers a Presidential bid himself, largely in opposition to Paul, this is clearly his first of what are likely to be many cheap attacks and straw man arguments. I sincerely hope that Graham runs, because he is so detestable that his attacks against Paul would only serve to draw more favorable attention to Paul. When I think of the other major neocons of our time, both politician and pundit, none do I find so detestable as Graham. McCain is by far no saint, and a major flip flopper on domestic policy, but there is a consistency to his foreign policy idealism that I can respect (even while I reject it). As McCain sees the US as a beacon of freedom and progress for the world, he supports almost limitless military invasions, but he also opposes torture. After all, if we are to be the world’s moral police, we should at least practice such morals ourselves. Bill Kristol has expressed such idealism as well in his essays for the Foreign Affairs, and I think he really believes what he says. I think McCain and Kristol are both well intended, but are both idealistic fools who would throw us into devastating quagmires, as they have before. Still, I could sit in the same room with them and probably have a civil debate. There’s also Krauthammer, the most sober minded of the neocons. His neocon hawkishness often carries undertones of pragmatism to the point where Krauthammer is a self-identified “democratic-realist”. While I think Krauthammer is still far too quick to support military force, I know he thinks it through, and I’ll always listen to his point of view and consider it. For Graham, however, I haven’t a shred of respect.
PS I do want to express my gratitude to CNN’s Dana Bash for providing a fair analysis of this recent debate between Graham and Paul. CNN isn’t perfect, as the recent interview with Paul on vaccines shows, but in the greater scheme of things, CNN has shown itself far more objective than the other major news networks, particularly FOX and MSNBC. Also referenced above, here is the link the Bash’s article http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/politics/measles-vaccines-lindsey-graham-rand-paul/index.html
Peaceful, enlightened southerners like myself are often blindsided by macho neocon rhetoric. Neocon arguments seem to have descended from their grandiose pax Americana ideals of spreading freedom all over the world to simple appeals for US foreign policy to be “aggressive”, “assertive”, or “decisive”. To anyone thinking critically, this begs the questions – Assertive towards what? Aggressive towards whom? And exactly what decisions should we be so decisive about? And for what purpose?
To someone who thinks things through, their arguments fall flat. Why then, are the great minds behind the neoconservative philosophy such as Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, etc. using such weak, illogical arguments? These are the people who have written brilliant pieces in the past for Foreign Affairs, and various academic journals. They have written great books, have wielded great influence on policy makers, and are certainly capable of developing a more constructive foreign policy than “be aggressive”. But we need to remember, the neocons may be intelligent, but they are also very politically expedient. They know their audience.
When I see them on FOX news, and I see their GOP candidates from Jeb Bush (the establishment moderate) to Scott Walker (the supposed conservative challenger) using such rhetoric as “be aggressive”, or “be decisive”, I see how it affects the average blue collar southerner, especially men. When the neocons criticize Obama for being weak or indecisive, this appeals to a certain primal instinct that has long dominated the white male southerner. Southerners have a long history of such masculine insecurity masked by projections of machismo, and this is exactly why we keep hearing these clever rhetorical appeals by neocons that to anyone else seem illogical.
However, they underestimate the intelligence of the South, as Yankee intellectuals often do. Yes, appeals to manliness may stir something in the male southern heart, but we are a very pragmatic people with a long memory. (Why do you think you still see those Confederate Battle flags all over the place down south?) The white southern man remembers the Bush era. We remember the lies. We remember the lack of WMDs. Yes, some of us fell for the more recent half-truth that WMDs were found, and then “hidden” by those “liberals” in the media, even though those WMDs were nothing more than decommissioned weapons left over from the Iraq-Iran wars of the late 1980s. Truth ultimately prevails, and the neocons will likely find that they can only mildly stir the “aggression”, “assertiveness” and “decisiveness” of the white south when there is a Democrat in the White House. After all, we are the same people who elected Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Walter Jones, and more recently Dave Brat. Neocon rhetoric and deception relies on Cold War era partisanship and tired sentiments held by an aging demographic of boomer southerners. Even they are not so easily manipulated, despite 24/7 FOX. After all, FOX knows too well that the neocons’ days are numbered, as they are branching out with the likes of John Stossel, Judge Napolitano, and even Hannity frequently interviews Rand Paul. The neocons can maybe stir a little aggression by manipulating the machismo insecurities of an aging demographic in the south, but it grows weaker by the day.
Be aggressive? Sure. If the neocons won’t even attempt to give us a good reason for their wars. If they continue to accuse those who point out their past mistakes of “blaming America”, then let’s aggressively point out the lack of purpose of today’s neocon foreign policy. Let’s aggressively speak the truth. And let’s aggressively vote out every neocon remaining in Congress. How’s that for decisiveness?
Combating this neocon rhetoric in the South
Scott Walker has recently argued that we should be more “aggressive” in Syria. But he never says towards whom we are supposed to be aggressive, or for what purpose? Does he want us to be aggressive towards the Assad regime? If so, why? Is it because of those beheading we keep seeing? But that’s ISIS! Assad is fighting against ISIS. So are we aggressive towards ISIS? Do we ally with Assad? If that is the case, then it’s a good thing Obama was indecisive a few years ago, because the neocons nearly had us at war with Assad. Ooooppps! So much for decisiveness.
Unlike the neocons, we must respect the intelligence of the blue collar southern man. Reason with him, be patient, and know that you can’t win them all over. We didn’t turn against the Iraq War overnight. It happened little by little, year by year, as the facts presented themselves. Don’t let the neocons get away with empty appeals to manliness anymore. Be aggressive, be decisive about foreign policy.
The “war on Christmas” is not being waged by Jews, Muslims, the government, or even atheists or the political left. I’ve never met a Jewish person who had a problem saying “Merry Christmas”. I’m happy to wish them a “Happy Hanukah”. My Islamic friends back in London got me a Christmas card and a gift. Most atheists I’ve met celebrate a secular version of Christmas, and just see it as a day off from work and a time to have fun. I occasionally hear rumors that the government is making it illegal to say “Merry Christmas” in a public place, but I have yet to see any evidence of this. Christmas is actually a Federal Holiday, so clearly they aren’t the culprit. As for the political left, as much as they loathe the open expression of religion, I have yet to hear of moveon.org, or even the radical feminists denouncing Christmas. So let’s ask ourselves, this sudden discomfort we have saying “Merry Christmas” – this sudden reaction by cultural warriors (myself included) to the “war on Christmas” – who is causing this? Well, where do you hear the more secularized “Happy Holidays” most frequently? Do you hear it from President Obama, or former President Bush? Do you hear it from your friends of other faiths? Coworkers? Maybe the coworkers…maybe. But you usually hear it either on TV, or at retail stores. On TV, you hear it on commercials, or the news.
That means corporations are the culprit! Massive retail stores who have spent decades, if not centuries turning a sacred time a year into a cheap expression of materialism and instant gratification, who now go out of their way to make their employees work on Thanksgiving Day (because Black Friday just wasn’t enough for their greedy hands) – these massive retail stores want their employees to say “Happy Holidays” because THEY fear that people of other faiths will be offended. Besides, they want Jews, Muslims, Hindus, whoever to also buy their junk. I feel sorry for the employees, often forced to work on Thanksgiving Day now, and pushed into saying “Happy Holidays” knowing that someone like me might get offended at the watering down of our celebration of the birth of Christ. It’s gotten worse. Due to our most justified reaction, this year I’ve noticed that retailers nervously just say “have a nice day”. If they say “Merry Christmas”, they fear they might offend religious minorities. If they say “Happy Holidays”, they fear they might offend us devoted Christians.
So here is my advice. To retailers, unless your company forbids you from saying “Merry Christmas”, just say “Merry Christmas”. It’s OK. Religious minorities are not going to be offended that in a predominantly Christian country, where Christmas is a Federal holiday, people are wishing each other “Merry Christmas”. If I went to Israel, I would not at all be surprised to hear people wishing each other “Happy Hanukah” and I would happily join in. To the rest of us, just calmly wish our friends in the retail sector a “Merry Christmas”. Don’t say it with politically righteous indignation. Say it calmly and naturally. We won’t win this culture war by fanning the flames, and causing a previously benign element of religious minorities to feel under attack. They aren’t the enemy. The corporations are the culprit. They may be able to control what their employees say, but they can’t control us. And I’m sure that if you wish the retailer a “Merry Christmas”, they will sigh in relief and probably say it back. If I were in Israel, and witnessing a culture war by corporations against Hanukah, I would eagerly wish all my Jewish friends a “Happy Hanukah” not only as a warm wish, but in solidarity with them to protect their sacred holidays. To my friends of other faiths, remember, this doesn’t just affect Christians and our Christmas holiday. We live in an increasingly globalized economy, and if corporations can do it here in America, it won’t be long before they’re doing it everywhere. So let us stand in solidarity against the greed of these multinational corporations. Remember that the retail employee is just earning a paycheck, and they more than anyone deserve a warm, calm wish for a “Merry Christmas”.
The first minute is an example of an atheist who has no problem saying “Merry Christmas” and getting into the spirit (Stefan Molyneux, one of my favorite atheists, and libertarian)
PS. A link to my favorite Christmas song (You won’t see this one coming)