Ambush in Boulder


The third Republican debate was a spectacle. It was a showcase of media bias, gotcha questions, and arrogant liberals. It was so bad, that the candidates circled wagons and skirmished with the moderators rather than each other – to the delight of the audience.

I thought the winners were Marco Rubio (on substance), Ted Cruz (for the quote of the evening), and Dr Ben Carson (for the calm handling of hostile moderators). The second tier of finishers included Chris Christie, Carla Fiorina, John Kasich, and Donald Trump – all of whom had good performances, just didn’t stand out. Non-performers were Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, and Jeb Bush. The loser, however, was CNBC.

The problem with all of the debates thus far is over population – there are just too many candidates sharing the same forum. And that was true of CNBC’s set up as well, even if the moderators had actually done their jobs of asking relevant questions. I have my own plan for structuring this year’s remaining debates.

Pay Real Clear Politics to publish their averages of the polls one week before the next debate. The top six get to the main stage (Trump, Carson, Rubio, Bush, Cruz, and Fiorina would have made the cut for CNBC’s). In my opinion, Santorum, Jindal and Pataki – none of whom is getting even one percent in RCP’s most recent averages – should drop out (or at very least, not clutter up any future debate for which they are still below 1%). Huckabee, Paul, Kasich, Christie (all above 2.0%) and Graham (at exactly 1.0%) should get the children’s table. This would give us two reasonably sized debates that could actually serve the voters by giving each candidate the opportunity to sell their views, assuming the moderators can ask relevant questions.

Ted Cruz mentioned another thing that should be considered – why have moderators in a Republican primary contest who have no intention of ever voting in a Republican primary? This isn’t the general election cycle yet – the function of these debates is supposed to be to assist Republicans and Democrats in choosing a presidential candidate. We know we’re going to get sandbagged in the debates during general election season, we shouldn’t have to put up with it during the primaries. I am just as opposed to having conservatives moderate Democratic primary debates (as if that could happen).

The interesting result of this week’s spectacle is that it backfired. The bias was so pronounced, the questions so malicious, the moderators so smug, that even the audience (in flaming left Boulder CO) turned on them. CNBC managed to unite Republicans on stage, and the evening devolved into a reality show of the candidates against the moderators. “Even in New Jersey, what you’re doing is called ‘rude,’ ” is how Chris Christie put it.

That’s my rant about the state of things. I know that nothing has really changed but the tactics. The Democrats have the ultimate SuperPAC (as Marco Rubio put it) in the legacy media. Has been for decades, and will be until the public gets tired of propaganda. We know this. Democrats are going to “fight dirty” – read: sidestep debate on the issues by vilifying the opposition ad hominem. We know this. Their bought and paid for voting blocs will turn out for them, and their ultimate grassroots infrastructure (unions) will drag people to the polls for them. We know this.

But this is the year that will truly test Republican viability. If this diversified field of Republican candidates can’t produce a successful challenge to Hillary Clinton – perhaps the most baggage-encumbered presidential candidate in history – then I would suggest that the Republican Party is finished as a reasonable purveyor of a viable theory of governance.

the Cleveland Doubleheader


Might as well get this out of the way – the FOX News/Facebook debates. The early game was clearly won by Carly Fiorina, and lost by everyone else. Judged only by the metric of their performances at the 5 O’Clock session, if a candidate didn’t threaten to break into the top-tier, they lost, and the only one that accomplished that was Ms Fiorina. And she did it in spades.

The late show wasn’t so much dominated by anyone as it was a peeking behind the Trump curtain – there’s no “there” there. I would rate Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee as winners, and Donald Trump and Rand Paul as losers, last night. The candidate who most exceeded expectations had to be Dr Ben Carson, because he was the largest unknown going in. He comes across as a decent, bright and articulate man, who is soft-spoken and honest. A great many people who had not heard him before, got to last night, and it had to have a positive impact on his prospects. Ted Cruz, whose public persona has been combatitive, showed why he was a top debater during his days at Harvard Law. His appeal to Independents will increase, even if limited by his Tea Party brand of conservatism. Mike Huckabee impressed a lot of Frank Luntz’s focus group, and I think that will reflect the public reaction somewhat. Marco Rubio impresses every time he speaks. He is charming, optimistic and has a great personal story to tell.

Donald Trump clearly lost, if only because he is still speaking in bumper-stickers, tap-dancing around requests for specifics as well as any of the “Washington Cartel.” In fairness, FOX began the debate with a “gotcha” question aimed at Trump – the question wouldn’t have come up (it never has before in either party) if he hadn’t threatened to jump parties. By staging it as an open question to all candidates, it was obviously engineered to demonstrate that Mr Trump was the only potentially “treasonous” candidate. I was disappointed in FOX for doing that (rather than just asking him about it during the course of the evening). His answer – that he would use his flexible loyalty as a lever – revealed more about Donald Trump than any other utterance of the evening.

Rand Paul, I thought, came across as shrill and petty. He, like Trump, will keep his loyal minions, but I think he, like Trump, is a no-show in the long run.

Overall, even saddled with a billionaire dilatant, the GOP showed a strong field of candidates, especially when compared to a congenital liar, a self-proclaimed socialist, and “Who?”, “Who?” and “Who?”.

the Iranian Bomb


There’s no way to know what kind of deal could have been struck with Iran because we’re stuck with the deal that was. But we do know that, instead of preventing an Iranian bomb, we’ve endorsed one after the deal runs out.

We didn’t get any of things that we were told were necessary to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon – unlimited inspections, suspension of enrichment, destruction of non-allowed infrastructure, dismantlement of their ICBM program – none of it. The inspection of suspect sites will be done by Iran (?!), who will forward samples to IAEA. Enrichment will continue. Non-allowed infrastructure will be stored in “secured” facilities. ICBM R&D will continue after eight years – and, as a non-nuclear bonus, the embargo on conventional arms trade will be lifted after five years. What did we get? A nuclear arms race in the midst of a kinetic religious reformation.

The hostages and nukes got equal treatment from this administration – both got kicked down the road for somebody else (anybody else!) to deal with. I’m hoping that when Iran detonates its first ObamaBomb, the president will have the decency to return his Peace Prize.

Ego Trumps Trump


The best self-promoter since Barnum, Donald Trump has risen to an art form the axiom that crazy people with money are “eccentric”. Mr Trump suffers from some of the illusions that dogged another “eccentric” gadfly, Ross Perot. Both rose to success by being absolute dictators of their business empires. Well, government doesn’t work that way. Trump, like Perot, would be mired in senseless protocols, traditions, and partisan sniping that bogs everything down to an insufferable crawl. Perot would have suffered the additional albatross of being an Independent, meaning he had no constituency in Congress – both parties would be out to scuttle “this outsider [of the two-party old boys club].” Power is never willingly shared.

Mr Trump suffers an additional handicap: an ego the approximate size of Venus. And it is this that will be his most potent opponent in the 2016 race. Assuming we believe him about meaning what he says, then the last thing he wants to see is a second consecutive Democratic administration. Yet, the moment he realizes that he’s not going to get the GOP nomination, his overwhelming urge will to be to file as an Independent, handing the election to Hillary Clinton. He has to know these things – he won’t get the GOP nomination, and that filing as an Independent will elect Hillary. The question is, can he stop himself from doing it anyway.

His campaign is the Xanadu of vanity publishing. This whole thing is an exercise in brand-building. Trump has figured out a way that he can be on television every night! He can’t say anything too outrageous – the news media will cover it as news! In a rare break from their fantasy land, the Huffington Post is the only organization that has it right – they announced yesterday they would move Trump coverage from the news/politics section to the entertainment section.

The problem in the interim, of course, is the damage he will do the Republican Party, specifically, and to the process of seeking the presidency, in general. None of this bothers Liberals, of course, as they see Trump as the archetypal Republican, the rest of the field being dupes put up by the Party to convince the public that Republicans are human. The primaries will devolve into the Democrats and Donald Trump trying to outdo each other in demonizing Republicans.

“Hey!” I hear Trump supporters yell. “He’s the only one willing to stand up to Washington.” Not true. There’s Ayatollah Khamenei, Vladimir Putin, Raul Castro, Edward Snowden, Bowe Bergdahl, ISIS … all kinds of people. We know what he’s against. What we’d like to know is what he’s for – other than a Brownsville-to-San Ysidro fence, paid for by Mexico (yeah, that’s going to happen).

There is no possibility that Donald Trump, after winning an election he turned into a reality show, wouldn’t turn the presidency into a reality show – with same results as Barack Obama’s passion play presidency: the utter contempt of the rest of the world. To say that Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders, or Ted Cruz, etc) would make a better president than a performing elephant is captioning the obvious.

the Iran Deal


Early Tuesday morning in Vienna, the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran agreed to an understanding to “significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.” I haven’t seen the actual agreement[1], but there has been sufficient commentary by those who have that I have confidence in what I will say here[2].

Mr Obama made it abundantly clear that he would fight to preserve the deal in its entirety, saying, “I will veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.” What this means is that all he needs is one-third plus one of one house of Congress (34 Senators will do it) – a veto is over-ridded by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress. He added that the accord was preferable to the alternate scenario of an unbridled Iran touching off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. “Put simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the Middle East,” he said. He added that his successors in the White House “will be in a far stronger position” to restrain Iran for decades to come than they would be without the pact.

Not everyone was as pleased. Benjamin Netanyahu, called it a “mistake of historic proportions” that would ultimately create a “terrorist nuclear superpower.”

What this accord amounts to is kicking the can down the road to be addressed again in a decade or two. Our official bargaining position went from “preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon” to “not on my watch.” Overall, the agreement isn’t as bad as I feared – but bad enough.

The objective of denying Iran a deliverable nuclear weapon has two obvious components – the physics package and the delivery platform. The surest way of preventing the development of the physics package is to deny them the ability to enrich uranium. This agreement does not do that. The surest way of preventing Iran from developing a delivery platform is to deny them the acquisition of long-range aerial vehicles. This agreement does not do that. One could limit Iran’s cascade array to a thousand or fewer centrifuges, rendering it extremely laborious to produce highly enriched uranium, and more so to produce enough to produce multiple warheads. This agreement does not do that. Another way to curb long-range delivery of a warhead is to halt Iran’s work on ICBMs and ban the development of an intercontinental bomber, manned or unmanned. This agreement does not do that.

What we’ve done is to legitimize the existence of Iran’s nuclear program with international regulation for ten- fifteen- and thirty-years (depending on what’s being regulated). After regulation falls away, Iran is then a legitimate nuclear power. We went from denying Iran membership in the nuclear club to welcoming them after an initiation period.

The agreement will require Iran to reduce its current stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) by 98%. They currently hold 8,714.7kg of LEU, meaning that they must reduce their inventory to a maximum of 174.294kg for the next fifteen years. They will, most likely, ship much of the excess to Russia, where it can quickly be re-acquired when this aspect of the agreement lapses. Iran acknowledges that will enrich to a maximum purity of 3.67% for 15 years.

OK, what does that mean? Well, a single warhead, by the simplest method of construction, would require ~52kg of highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is at least 90%-pure U235. How much LEU does it take to produce 52kg of HEU? Around 750kg. So reducing Iran’s stockpile of LEU to <175kg will leave them short of the ability to “build one in the closet while no one was watching.” This assumes, of course, that Iran won’t have thousands of kilos of LEU hidden somewhere. If you’ve got 2,000kg of LEU, for example, you can get 52kg of HEU out of around 300kg of LEU – the process is more efficient with a larger than minimum feed stream. But that’s a problem for the IAEA inspectors.

Iran claims that the Arak Heavy Water Reactor will retain its heavy water nature. This is unmentioned in the New York Times review – it will be interesting to see the language on this. Heavy water reactors are “breeders” in that a natural by-product of their operation is plutonium, a more efficient and more toxic fissile material than uranium (and breeders can burn raw milled uranium – no enrichment required). This is vital because there is no mention of plutonium in any of the caps on low-enriched stockpile … only uranium.

Iran must reduce the number of centrifuges spinning at Natanz by 2/3. Depending on the actual language of the agreement, that would leave Iran with a cascade of between 5,994 and 3,330 centrifuges. That would extend to about a year the amount of time it would take Iran to make enough HEU for a bomb should it abandon the accord and race for a weapon – the “breakout time.” There is an additional rider in the agreement that prohibits Iran from producing or acquiring HEU or plutonium for fifteen years. “Verification measures,” Secretary Kerry said, would “stay in place permanently.” Iran says it will spin 5,060 at Natanz, and have some 1,044 others at Fordow on standby[3]. This makes Fordow a prime spot for inspectors. Iran claims it will have 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges with all necessary infrastructures will be kept in Fordu, two strings of which being on and rotating. Will the number of Fordu spinning centrifuges be stated in the language?

In year 13, 14, 15 of the agreement, the breakout time could asymptotically shrink toward zero, as Iran is expected to develop and use advanced centrifuges then. This is why the excess centrifuges, and their infrastructure, should be destroyed, not put in “guarded” storage. Making Iran acquire or manufacture the additional, more advanced centrifuges could add an another year to the breakout time.

Tehran and the IAEA had “entered into an agreement to address all questions” about Iran’s past actions within three months, and that completing this task was “fundamental for sanctions relief.” This is of little substantive value as we know that they’ve worked on all aspects of warhead design, including the re-entry vehicle. But it will test their veracity at an early stage. I haven’t heard whether the inspectors would be able to interview the scientists and engineers who were believed to have been at the center of an alleged effort by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to design a weapon that Iran could manufacture on short order. My guess is no, or under such supervisory control by the Iranians that the interview would be worthless. But again, I don’t know, as this part of the text wasn’t reviewed by the New York Times.

One of the last, and most contentious issues, was the question of whether and how fast an arms embargo on conventional weapons and missiles, imposed starting in 2006, would be lifted. This aspect – the arms embargo and the ballistic missile sanctions – were only made public last week. They initially were out of the discussion. Relaxing the arms embargo after five years means that Iran will be able to import and export arms again; releasing the sanctions for work on long-range ballistic missiles after eight years allows Iran to resume R&D on ICBMs. SecState Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, agreed that the missile restrictions would remain for eight years and that a similar ban on the purchase and sale of missiles would be removed in five years. Those bans would be removed even sooner if the IAEA is able to reach a definitive conclusion that the Iranian nuclear program is entirely peaceful, and that there was no evidence of cheating on the accord or any activity to obtain weapons covertly. These concessions were not part of the framework agreed to earlier. This is a mistake. Both of these restrictions should remain in place for the duration of the agreement. Additionally, according to Iran, neither the IAEA or any other person or institution will have the permission to access Iran missile systems or centers.

According to Iran, all the UNSC sanctions imposed on Iran will be removed in the first phase within the framework of Article 41 of the UN Charter under which all the previous sanctions will be declared null and void and all the financial and economic sanctions will be lifted. Diplomats also came up with unusual procedure to “snap back” the sanctions against Iran if an 8-member panel[4] determines that Tehran is violating the nuclear provisions. This is shameless prevarication – once sanctions are relaxed, there is no “snapping-back”. Sanctions are unpopular on their face, and after prolonged sanctions are removed, these corporations aren’t going to “snap back” to inactivity. Also, once the agreement clears the UN, and it will, all international sanctions are removed, leaving only the United States enforcing sanctions. The whole issue deflates once Turtle Bay declares that Iran has met its conditions, the sanctions go away. This has been flim-flam from the start.

In those places where what we’ve been told and what Iran is saying, I tend to think the Iranians are closer to the truth than the White House. I say this because the IRNA bulletin reads like it was lifted directly out of the text of the agreement – it wasn’t authored by a writer … the language is stiff technical. The memo ticks off 105 specific stipulations of the agreement, and they all read like legal documents.

If sanctions cannot be reinstated in response to violations, what will the P5+1 do in the face of Iranian cheating? And they will cheat – they’ve been cheating during the negotiations, why wouldn’t they after it’s signed? They constantly went over the cap on their uranium stockpile; Iran has a long history of trying to obtain nuclear technology, particularly by seeking ways to transport merchandise in circumvention of international sanctions; since November 2013, Tehran has sought industry computers, high-speed cameras, cable fiber, and pumps for its nuclear and missile program. It appears that Iran’s readiness to negotiate does not reflect any substantive policy change. Rather, it is a diplomatic tactical retreat forced by economic distress, not a strategic rethinking of its priorities. As critics have mentioned throughout the negotiations, once the sanctions are gone, Western leverage is gone. Think about it – this isn’t a treaty, so there’s no new international law involved; when sanctions are removed, there are no more constraints on Iranian activity; once European businessmen flood Iran looking for contracts, Iran will be immune from Israeli air strikes – it’s a no-loss environment for cheating.

Mr Obama will have to manage the breach with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states who have warned against the deal, saying the relief of sanctions will ultimately empower the Iranians throughout the Middle East. This will cause Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan to turn to the Russians, with whom dignitaries from those four Arab nations have met, for purchase, in whole or in part, a nuclear program with samples. This deal not only guarantees Iran a nuclear weapon, but creates five nuclear states in the Greater Middle East, joining Israel (the sixth).

[1] At this writing, the text was being downloaded in New York by the various news organizations, which will go through it with their legal staffs and then report on it, probably tomorrow morning.

[2] The facts and figures are from David E Sanger and Michael R Gordon, Iran Nuclear Deal Is Reached After Long Negotiations, in New York Times, July 14 2015.

[3] Iranian commentary from Summary of provisions of the CJPOA, Islamic Republic News Agency, July 14 2015.

[4] Britain, PRC, France, Germany, Russia, the US, the EU and Iran itself. A majority vote is required, meaning that Russia, PRC and Iran could not collectively block action. The investigation and referral process calls for a time schedule of 65 days.

Here Be Dragons


Old World maps only went out to the mid-Atlantic because no one knew what lay beyond. The edge of these maps was inscribed with the sailor’s warning: “Here Be Dragons.” Liberals are flirting with the dragons of extremism.

The Great Confederate Hysteria is a prime example of Leftist Lunacy. After the Charleston shootings, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley ordered the legislature to consider removing the Confederate battle flag from state property, and placing it instead in a museum. It was a symbolic gesture meant to match the marvelous manner in which the citizens of Charleston came together to offer support to those suffering loss. Old, young, black, brown and white, rich and poor – all came together without divisiveness or rancor. They even forgave the shooter. It was a national moment that coalesced before Al Shparpton could get there to inflame it.

It was a perfect example of how adults handle tragedy.

Then other states joined in. States that don’t even have the battle flag on state property are contemplating removing them from public view; statues commemorating Confederate soldiers are mentioned for removal; streets, buildings, parks and schools named for Confederate heroes are being flagged for re-naming. TVLand has even cancelled re-runs of Dukes of Hazard! It’s a feeding frenzy, based on nothing to do with the Charleston shooting. It’s Liberal political correctness and the assumption that we all have the right not to be offended – or Newspeak, to readers of George Orwell’s 1984. It’s Liberalism gone off the deep end.

Revisionist history is something we always criticized the Soviets for, but it apparently has become Liberal-chic these days. From the playbook of Dynastic Egypt-to-Stalinism, it’s an erasure of history in favor of a “preferred,” whitewashed version. It’s childish. It’s un-American. It’s also deliciously ironic in that the battle flag in question was raised (over the capitol building in South Carolina) by a Democrat, the Confederacy was largely supported by Democrats, and the civil rights movement was initially resisted by Democrats (Eisenhower had to send the 101st Airborne in to enforce integration in Little Rock, remember?).

This is nothing short of censorship – “here’s another word you can no longer use” – calling Islamist terrorists “Islamist terrorists” comes to mind. This comes, not from common sense – like personal slurs – but from a self-assumed superior class that make these decisions “for” us. It’s arrogant and elitist.

Liberals just can’t take “yes” for an answer.

They got gay marriage, now they’ll want churches that can’t find it in their beliefs to perform them to lose their tax exempt status. They’ll want family-owned companies that can’t be part of a gay ceremony to be run out of business. They’ll scour for past comments they deem offensive, and vilify the speaker – try to get them fired. This is “tolerant” Liberals at work.

Liberals fear freedom. They’re sure we’ll make the “wrong” decision if we’re left to our own devices. If you don’t conform, you’re wrong – no, you’re a hater. If you don’t agree with a decision of President Obama’s, you’re racist (never mind that Liberals don’t support his trade policies). If you argue against an idea of Hillary’s, you’re a misogynist (never mind that Liberals think she’s too hawkish, or too tied to Wall Street). If you want voter ID, you’re anti-poor (never mind that you need identification to pick up your entitlements).

Liberals have wandered so far off the rational path they find themselves in that region marked as Here Be Dragons.

the Good, Bad and Ugly


President Obama had a good week, the nation did not.

The president got his fast track approved for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then ObamaCare was upheld for a second time by the Supreme Court, and gay marriage was declared to be constitutional throughout the land. Three wins for the White House.

Since the TPP isn’t called a treaty, it doesn’t require Senate approval, so the up-or-down vote by Congress is for show only – Team Obama is cleared to make any agreement they wish – and judged solely on past performance, that will probably turn out to be bad for the nation. For the second time, SCOTUS re-wrote the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to say something that Congress didn’t (and something that the president didn’t sign). In Obergefell v Hodges, the Court held that a gay couple married in Maryland could list one partner as “spouse” on insurance documents in Ohio, where gay marriage was banned.

So we have three wins for Mr Obama in the week – one of which clears the way for the weakest negotiators in American history to bind us to a deal with eleven other nations, the details of which are being kept secret from us; the second of which clearly oversteps the authority of the Supreme Court; and the third of which is a clean decision on equal protection grounds. So, in order: the bad, the ugly and the good.

The problem I have with fast track isn’t with fast track, but with the agreement that follows, which will likely supersede US law (which is unconstitutional) on things like right-to-work, carbon emissions, and immigration, among other things. I look for TPP to start another train of court cases headed for SCOTUS.

The whole ObamaCare morass had been a disaster for democracy from Day-1, and King has blossomed that into an embarrassment for the Court. The majority stated that they ruled so as not to throw the insurance industry into chaos – that’s not their job. A rightful ruling wouldn’t throw the industry into chaos, that would be the Democrats, who wrote, passed and signed bad law. As Chief Justice Roberts has previously claimed, it’s not the job of the Supreme Court to save us from our elected officials – which is exactly what the majority did in King v Burwell. In Obergefell, the Court came down on solid Fourteenth Amendment footing in granting equal protection to gay couples. Having said that, I don’t believe the government belongs in marriage – a creation of religion – in the first place. Civil unions, yes; marriage, no. But in the context of today’s muddled legal atmosphere, the Court made the right decision here.

As I say, a good week for the president, a bad one, net, for the country.

If We Must, We Must


We simply must stop naming things after descendants of Pre-Colombian nomadic bands of Neolithic indigenous peoples. Never mind that the intent was to invoke fierceness, combatant ethos, admiration, and/or proud heritage. It is, apparently, wildly disrespectful to the antecedents of your team’s/weapon system’s/collage’s mascot’s/merit badge’s name.

So, in answering the Biblical question “if the eye gaze upon something offensive, should thee pluck out the offending eye?” with a resounding “Yes!”, the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, as well as the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, Boeing AH-64 Apache Longbow, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Bell OH-58 Kiowa, General Dynamics/Raytheon BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile, Florida State Seminoles, University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, San Diego State Aztecs, University of Utah Utes, and all those Division II and below schools known as Braves, Warriors, Apaches, Choctaws, and so forth (you know who you are), the Boy Scouts of America’s Indian Lore Merit Badge (and the Leather Craft Badge is sorta hostile toward Hindus – actual Indians – doncha think?), should all change their names to “fR?b3Ju*wUse4Ax#” which is not a word, name, object or deity in any known language of any known culture. No one’s offended, not even dyslexics or the blind (since the name is unpronounceable anyway).

And what on Earth do we do with Indianapolis, Indiana?! Illinois (local tribe)? Kentucky (Iroquorian word – pronounced KEN-tah-KEE – meaning “on the prairie”)? The Dakotas (Dakota Sioux)? Oklahoma (Choctaw word meaning “Red man,” which was close enough to “Indian Territory”)? And counties and cities, villages, towns and bergs too numerous to list here?

They aren’t “Indians” or even “AmerIndians”, they are “Native Americans” (for now – these labels change with impressive frequency). But then, so am I – born and raised in America. We need a better name for them – indigenous people maybe, but that doesn’t just roll off the tongue, does it? Oh wait, there is a word for what we’re talking about – members of the original population of a given region – aborigines. Do any teams/weapon systems/college mascots/merit badges/cities/states/counties/villages/towns/bergs have aboriginal-derived names? No? I think we’re in the clear.

Political correctness, like all attempts to label, collect and orchestrate social entities, will result in an evermore-detailed catalogue of people and their associations, such that we will have lost the innovative fuel of natural social evolution – reaction to spontaneous events. That takes a no labels, no pigeon holes, no specially grouped collection of independent actors bound only by their political organization (read: nation). The more we sub-divide away from each other, the less efficient we are at society-wide problem-solving.

The Founders had to balance that with the vastness of their geopolitical space, and the velocity of communication at a distance. Their solution was to defer power to the states – a more manageable scale, which would, in turn, defer power to the lower jurisdictia. A laboratory of the states, each of which was a laboratory of their people. Putting solutions as close as possible to problems.

That same logic doesn’t hold with politically pigeon-holing special interest groups, as you’re homogenizing the members as a condition of inclusion. You don’t get the turbulent atmospherics that drive innovation, you get single-issue rival factions.

I’m just taking the correctness police at their word – if naming things, intent being irrelevant, after aboriginal tribes and their warlords (Codename Geronimo? Really?) is hurtful and wrong, then we must correct all examples of it we can find. Maybe we shouldn’t name them all the same 256-bit encryption password, but if we don’t, somebody’s got a lot of naming to do.

the Absurdity of Identity Politics


If Bruce Jenner can be a woman, why can’t an over-bronzed blue-eyed blonde white woman be black? Or a blue-eyed fair-skinned Elizabeth Warren be Cherokee? Or a president who underpays women on his staff rail on about pay equality? This incomplete list of examples shows, not the reducto ad absurdum, but the actual result of the slicing and dicing of Americans into cubby holes of victims, each of whom can blame everybody else for their plight.

If we can pick and choose to which cubby hole we belong (even a two mansion-owning, chauffer-driven, Secret Service protected, millionaire Hillary Clinton claimed to be a debt-ridden member of the poor), the whole idea is devolving back into un-hyphenated America. If everybody belongs to a special interest group, there are no special interest groups. If everybody is somebody’s victim, than we are all somebody’s villain. We are all victims/oppressors. It’s textbook absurdity.

Maybe Rand Paul should declare himself to be a poverty-riddled bi-sexual Chinese-speaking black woman of Mexican descent.

Aside from the philosophical depravity of dividing Americans against Americans, identity politics, in reality, doesn’t work. In singling out a group to get special treatment from the rest of us, you’ve stigmatized them to the rest of us. The society you’ve told the group that you’re helping them into, resents them for the lowered standards, or mandatory hiring, or whatever special treatment they get. And the group members themselves are told that they can’t make it on their own – that they need the assistance of their political benefactors. In practice, it’s just crass bribery for votes.

We’ve finally reached the point where European whites have become the disadvantaged – the only ones who don’t get freebies from the political class (they’re just paying for everyone else’s). So Bruce Jenner, Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Dolezal are the vanguards of the “pick you oppressor” movement. Bruce Jenner is getting a reality TV show, Elizabeth Warren got a Senate seat, and Rachel Dolezal got a leadership position with the NAACP, all out of being someone they’re not. No need for character, honesty or credibility.

Maybe Hillary is the most apt next president.

Sorting Through the Field


The Republicans have eleven declared presidential candidates, and one that is almost certain to enter the race. As voters in the primaries, each must sort through this field and winnow it down to a reasonable group of realistic choices. Toward that end, I’ve broken the field into four tiers – First Timers; Fringe; Second Tier; and Top Tier.

The First Timers are those who have never held elective office, making the Presidency of the United States their first political campaign, and on a national scale at that. This has only been once in modern times – Dwight Eisenhower – but, of course, he won World War II. A rather high bar. This year’s first timers are Carely Fiorina and Dr Ben Carson, both of whom are distinguished in their previous fields of endeavor.

Ms Fiorina brings her expertise at running a large corporation to bear on some of today’s operational problems. For example, she cannot continence just blindly giving each department a percentage increase over last year’s budget – “that makes no sense,” she says. She believes that Zero-Based Budgeting is the most reasonable approach. Under ZBB, each program must justify the amount of resources it needs, and that amount should be vetted by the department’s inspector general before it’s forwarded to the House and Senate’s Budget Committees.

She believes in equal rights under the law for gay couples, as she did at Hewlett-Packard. She opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and when pregnancy is a health risk to the mother. She agrees that the climate may be warming, but is against economically ruinous knee-jerk programs to “cure” it before we know for a certainty that we’re causing it, and before other major industrial nations do the same.

Having dealt with HP all over the world, she knows many foreign leaders and has visited numerous foreign countries, so she’s quite a novice at foreign policy.

Dr Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon that brings a soft-spoken rationality to the contest. “I’m not a politician and I don’t want to be a politician,” he famously said in his announcement address. “Politicians,” he said, “do the politically expedient thing … I want to do the right thing.” He brings a charming sensible approach to problem-solving – look at the problem, figure a solution and apply it. In this, he wants to disseminate power out to the states. Get the solution closer to the problem.

He decries our “immoral” national debt, bloated entitlements, and convoluted tax system that has lost all credibility (he is a Flat Tax proponent). Dr Carson’s opposition to gay marriage, abortion and is a creationist. He is pro-Second Amendment.

He’s agnostic on climate change, but says that renewable energy and pollution reduction make sense with or without man-caused generalized warming.

Both of these candidates need to get better to make it to “Long Shot.” In a field this crowed, access to serious money will be hard to sustain for the 17-month grind. Ms Fiorina, with a listed net worth of $58 million, can’t really self-finance, and Dr Carson has even less to start with. Both are very interesting and bring fresh ideas and thinking to this year’s field, and may well influence the trajectory of the primary season, but I don’t look for either to be around by the last primaries (Super Tuesday, March 6 2016).

Fringe candidates are those with a highly specialized (read: limited) constituency. So far, we have, again, two players – Senator Dr Rand Paul (KY) and Senator Ted Cruz (TX).

Dr Paul is convinced that the federal government is too large to be relate to peoples’ concerns, and far too big to react to events in anything close to a timely manner. He would like to entice corporate money back into the US through lower corporate taxes and to use the new revenue to fix roads and bridges. The problem with this, of course, is that money is fungible and once in the treasury will simply be spent as needed. He’s establish “economic freedom zones,” where corporate and personal income taxes would be eliminated, in poor, underdeveloped areas. Dr Paul opposes a federal ban on gay marriage, preferring to allow the states to handle the situation. He also opposes legislation to establish “gay rights,” saying he doesn’t believe in behavior-based rights.

Foreign policy is where Dr Paul is most widely separated from his Republican compatriots. He wants a small military and the cessation of domestic intelligence gathering. He would declare war on ISIS (they hold territory and possess a domestic political infrastructure, claiming to be a state, thereby qualifying as a sovereign entity waging war against American assets and interests overseas). This, of course, would be at odds with his desire for smaller military. His dislike for drones was demonstrated with a 13-hour filibuster in the Senate.

Senator Cruz, like Rand Paul, is a Tea Party favorite, but is more of a classical conservative than Dr Paul, who is libertarian. Senator Cruz is behind a “Repeal Common Core” movement, which places him at far right end of the spectrum on this issue. He sees the problem as the proposal represents but the thin end of the wedge – destined to be continually expanded once in place. Jeb Bush, for example, sees it as a needed stabilization of scholastic standards to bring American students’ scores up to international standards.

Second Tier candidates are those who poll well within certain precincts, but not with broad enough appeal to elevate them into true contention. I put George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum in this group. Governor Pataki will never catch up on name recognition with the rest of the field. His appeal is localized to New York, a deeply blue state. Governor Huckabee is hobbled by his close association with being a pastor – not a bad thing, just a put-off for public officials – I’m not sure anyone sees him as being able to stand up to the likes of Vladimir Putin. Rick Perry has to overcome his 2012 performance before he can overcome the rest of the field, although he’s one of two dark horses in the group. Rick Santorum is a good candidate, but is up against too many legitimate heavyweights. I would rank him as the other dark horse in this field, but behind Governor Perry.

Top Tier candidates are those I feel are in honest competition for the nomination. These are Jeb Bush (announcing Monday), Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham. Governor Bush was expected to take all the air out of room, but hasn’t – his poll numbers have hardly moved since polling began. Some of that can be attributed to the size of the field, but not nearly all of it. He’s just not that exciting. Senator Rubio is the rising star of the field – he’s a gifted public speaker, has a very compelling personal story, has an excellent record as a state legislator, and has been “victim” of two – count ‘em, two – ridiculously petty attacks by the New York Times. It doesn’t get any better than that for a Republican. Governor Walker has an exemplary record – fighting and winning against unions, won four elections in three years in a blue state, exhibits a flawless conservative record. Senator Graham is the long shot in this segment, but is a compelling speaker and demonstrates true conservative values – and is the most pro-defense candidate in the field.

I think this whole mob will sort itself out to a race between Rubio and Walker.

There is a significant number of possibilities[1] still out there who have stated or threatened to run this year, a couple of whom could shake up the race. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has a following, but again, I don’t think it’s broad enough to gain national traction. New Jersey Governor Chris Christy certainly has name recognition, but his in-your-face style – like Ted Cruz’s – I don’t think translates well in a presidential election. Ohio Governor John Kasich is a plain-spoken governor with a great record of leading a swing state on a balanced budget and getting large pluralities in all his elections. He could be a serious contender. And, of course, there’s always Donald Trump, the Harold Stassen of Republican presidential primaries. He could self-finance and out-spend Hillary and Jeb combined, but I’m not sure he’ll actually stay with it long enough to matter. For one thing, he got “The Apprentice” optioned for next year – something he can’t do if he’s running for political office. For another, he would have to put his financials up for FEC review – something he’s been reluctant to do in the past. Even if he gets by those hurdles somehow, I don’t think enough the electorate will take him seriously as a potential POTUS.

Sorry for the length, but it’s a large field. This is how I see it shaping up at this very early stage.

[1] Mark Everson (fmr IRS Commissioner); Jack Fellure (retired engineer); Bobby Jindal (Governor, LA); Donald Trump (developer); Chris Christie (Governor, NJ); John Kasich (Governor, OH); Bob Ehrlich (fmr MD Governor)Jim Gilmore (fmr WV Governor, fmr Chairman RNC); Peter King (US Representative NY).