Looking Toward 2016

by Token

There should not be any doubt that conservatives and Republicans share the same goal in the upcoming 2016 presidential contest. We must elect a president who opposes the “fundamental transformation” of the United States begun long before, but given a substantial boost under the current administration.

There is probably little else that the various groups within the broader center-right coalition would agree upon, however. The “big tent” of Lee Atwater’s vision is present, but rallying the troops under a common banner is no simple feat. Worse, the mistrust and outright backstabbing over the last few cycles further hinders the coalescing of the coalition.

The Democratic Party is no completely controlled by the “progressive” wing of statists, and worse. There is no policy put forward by that party that is not a furthering of federal control of our lives. Given our two-party system, the Republican banner is the last redoubt remaining for those who share the vision of the Founders, of limited government and individual liberty. Conservatives/liberty-minded and other generally-right persons must share the Republican Party, even though we don’t always trust one another. The Libertarian Party is fun to flirt with, and has ideas worth incorporating, but is not a viable option if unseating progressives is the primary goal.

With that in mind, the Republican Party, and Reince Preibus its Chairman, have introduced some reforms to the presidential nominating process. One of these reforms brings the debates within the purview of the party. The party itself will now determine the debate timing, format, rules and invite or exclude participants as well as selecting moderators. On balance, this makes sense as the mainstream press has, more or less, forsworn any objectivity and simply uses the debates to further the left’s agenda. We, on the right, should be pleased with this first step.

However, those of us of conservative/Tea Party inclinations should also be wary. As mentioned before, the party’s interests are not always the same as ours (see immigration as an example) and we are right to be cautious before full-throated approval is given.

Hugh Hewitt, radio talk show host and Townhall.com blogger wrote a piece recently praising Mr. Preibus for the changes and made some recommendations. His piece is here. Mr. Hewitt, whose radio show I listen to regularly, can fairly be described as in the establishment camp. He offers some advice to the party on how to make the debates interesting, but misses some opportunities to make the debates truly showcase a right-of-center perspective and to help close ranks within the coalition.

First and foremost, the rules for including candidates in the forums must be published as soon as possible. Excluding candidates preferred by a substantial portion of the conservative base would be a recipe for electoral disaster once again. The last thing we need is for a sizable number of people to say “a pox on both their houses” and stay home. The fairness principle is going to be watched closely and the rules should allow for challengers to the establishment/donor-wing of the party should have leeway to raise money and name-recognition without being penalized for doing so.

I agree with the notion that too many debates probably did not help our side, especially with the MSM stage managing them. But, not allowing insurgents is antithetical to our freedom-based principles, limits our choices to “approved” candidates and would have precluded a 1980 Reagan victory if similar rules held in that election. The party must recognize that its internal reputation is not much better than its external one. Closing that gap is critical to victory.

Second, we can not just assume Hillary is the 2016 nominee. She may well be, but let’s not plan our campaign and selection of a candidate around that thought. No good leader assumes only one scenario is possible.

Mr. Hewitt spends a fair amount of time discussing location selection. He has some good points, including Hillsdale or Colorado Christian is a great recommendation, but I think this has less influence on voters most other factors.

Other than the inclusion/exclusion of candidates, moderator selection and format will probably sway wary conservatives more than anything else. Inspired choices here could lead to fascinating debates, but might also serve to show that the party is interested in hearing from the various factions within its coalition. Here, I think, Hewitt shows his establishment heart. He acknowledges the radio host community, but his inclination is towards mainstream journalists and those who appear on his show. Who cares what Ezra Klein wants to ask our candidates? I certainly do not. He may be interesting to read or listen to for conventional Democratic talking points, but as someone to vet our nominee he is not.

Conventional journalists should be on the list for name recognition and to help expose questioning to conventional interests. But Hewitt’s does not draw enough from the liberty/conservative wing. How much more interesting would the debates be if Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin, Kurt Schlichter, Hermain Cain, Mike Lee, or a Dana Loesch were peppering the candidates with questions that reflected the concerns of the conservative wing. What if P.J. O’Rourke could represent the libertarian side?

Closely related to this and crucial to the end game is showcasing our talent to represent the brand that the Republican Party wants to convey. I think Mr. Hewitt misses this point entirely. The debates will provide the best forum to “brand” the party and our suite of capable leaders that will stand apart from the amateur hour of the Obama Administration. So, who asks questions is important; how they ask those questions and what they ask are equally important.

With that being true, we should have our terrific lineup of governors included in the pool. Those that are not running, or have already dropped out, should be asked to pose questions about how our candidates intend to govern, what they would do to rectify the lack of professionalism displayed by the current executive branch and what pitfalls they may foresee in governing effectively.

Having current state chief executives talk about real-world issues of governing would not only display for the non-Republicans that the party is serious and knows how to be effective, but will also allow party members to hear the candidates talk about navigating implementation of their policy. This is a level of depth nearly unheard of in presidential debates. While it can get mucky, it is crucial to effective governance and deserves a hearing.

We should also invite the nearly rans, once rans and recent droputs to participate in a meaningful fashion. What was important to their candidacy, what were voters asking about, etc? Including these people shows respect for their constituencies which is increasingly important to our unwieldy coalition.

Townhall Debate

Townhall Debate

Finally, while Mr. Hewitt eschews townhalls, he dismisses them too quickly. One of the reasons voters seem to like townhalls is that they bypass the middleman. Voters want to see people, normal people, ask questions without having to be filtered by someone else. The Twitter question gimmick appears to be a way of pretending to hear from “common people” but most voters recognize that these are simply filtered by the moderator. Are townhall questioners vetted as well? Sure, but at least it is a head nod toward populism.

To me, a better idea would be to include one Republican voter in each of the debates as a guest questioner. The guest can not be a party hack, or the local state chairman. That would be silly and not help the cause. Somehow, Mr. Preibus should find a way to solicit potential questioners and select the winners in some fair manner. Now, I do believe that once selected, the person should work with the party on questions and questioning. We can not have completely irrelevant questions or have the debates demeaned in some fashion. It will be a challenge. The payoff, however, of listening to the concerns of everyday Americans is huge, while fighting the Romney problem of appearing detached from the concerns of those everyday Americans.

The opportunity to heal the wounds within the party and rebrand the party externally is tremendous. It needs to happen for the sake of the country and the conservative movement. We no longer have a William Buckley or Ronald Reagan who commands the respect of all factions. We are on our own. The work to bridge the gaps is hard and requires humility and acknowledgement that there are good intentions on all sides.

Make it happen, Mr Preibus. No one else has as much influence on the process to make this successful.

Why, Chipotle, Why

by Jamieson Weaver

Today, I had my heart broken. And not by a boy (perish the thought)! Today I saw this headline: Drop the Burrito! Chipotle Bans Guns in Store.


My first thought was: “NO! I CAN’T DROP MY BURRITO. I LOVE MY BURRITO”. And then the deeper implication hit me, imagine what a small group of people can do by being loud. And by loud, I mean obnoxiously loud and annoyingly persistent.

A couple days ago, I read an article about Chipotle allowing a group who believed in the right to openly carry guns show up to a Dallas area Chipotle with their arms. After reading about it, I was proud of Chipotle, but didn’t think about it much because what they were doing was followed all the laws of the state of Texas, which allow for open carry. I went on with my week.

Today, I stopped into Chipotle between shifts at work to grab lunch. Later, on a break during my shift, I read on twitter that Chipotle had asked its customers not to bring guns into its establishment, unless they are law-enforcement officers due to a social media campaign brought on by a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. They used the hashtag #BurritosNotBullets to communicate their message to Chipotle’s HQ.

I would like to take this time to describe how much I adore chipotle. When I am at home, I probably inadvertently go once a week. In college, the nearest Chipotle is 35 minutes away. I still manage to go probably once a month. I love Chipotle. But because of their recent actions, I will have to think very seriously about whether I will continue to eat there. While I understand and appreciate that Chipotle is a private entity and they can do whatever they please, I strongly believe they are following faulty logic.

While patrons might feel “unsafe” in a restaurant that allows people to carry guns, these people must not get out much! Here is a list of places that the average American probably frequents that allow citizens to carry their guns: McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chick Fil A, Target, and Wal-Mart. The list goes on and on. In addition to this, anytime a place is defined as “Gun Free,” that is essentially a giant blinking sign for unstable criminals with access to firearms to go shoot it up, because no one there can defend themselves. This is basic common sense, people. An armed criminal would be wise not to storm into Wal-Mart with a gun, because they have no idea who has a concealed carry.

People should feel safer knowing that there is a possibility that a gunman could be taken down by a citizen who has taken a 12-hour gun safety course to be certified to actually shoot the gun safely. Because of the pressure of a group of moms with a twitter addiction, Chipotle decided to change their policy on guns, contrary to state laws on gun control.

Hoping that they will change their policy or do something to make the rest of the nation feel safer (allowing guns)! Or I will be sorely missing my beautiful Chicken and Guacamole burrito. Help a sista out, Chipotle!

“Spreading the Wealth”

by Token

Back in the 2008 election, there was a brief kerfuffle when then-candidate Obama told Joe the Plumber that we needed to “spread the wealth around.” It was one of those off-the-cuff glimpses in to the governing philosophy of the Obama Administration. He warned us, but either not enough listened or free Obama phones were just too enticing.

spread wealth
Roll with this non sequitur for a moment and take a look at the richest counties in the United States. There seems to be an unhealthy correlation with proximity to Washington DC. Living near and off the federal government has become the closest thing to a sure thing since Jon Cusack went on a road trip back in 1985.

How do these two things relate? Well, let’s take the President at his word; that he genuinely cares about redistributing wealth. We will just take it in a geographic sense. Let’s relocate most of the federal departments and scatter them across the country and “spread the wealth around.” Why should you have to leave near our nation’s capital to enjoy a little federal largess? And as an added benefit, this is as near to shovel-ready stimulus as you are going to get. Many cities have open office buildings just waiting for inhabitants. Also, U-Haul has trucks available. (Mental note – buy stock in U-Haul)

We no longer have a need for an imperial city. At one point, perhaps, it made sense that the federal bureaucracies were concentrated in DC. Communications were easier and access to bureaucracies by legislators made sense. However, communication technology is no longer at the speed of horses, so perhaps it is time to rethink concentrating all of our regulators and bureaucrats in the same place.

Take the VA scandal that is unfurling at this time. This is a disgrace unworthy of our nation and certainly of our veterans. This is a Washington mindset, even if it occurred in Phoenix, and Albuquerque and where ever else next. Could this have possibly happened if the VA was based in Ft. Hood of Ft. Bragg? Possibly, but less likely. These vets would have been neighbors and friends, not distant actuarial table statistics.

Yes, I know that there are satellite portions of agencies spread hither and yon, but I am talking about full-scale decentralization of the overly massive executive branch.

spread wealth2

First, let’s dispense with the easiest objections. Congress and the President should remain in the capital city. We pay them to work together and it is proper they locate in our capital. It probably makes sense to leave the Secretary of State and the Defense Department in DC for diplomatic reasons. The rest, however, have to go.
Secondly, is it feasible? Of course it is. Pack them up and move ‘em. It happens all the time in the corporate world where companies relocate. If the President needs to talk to the head of the Interior Department he can call him on the phone. We could even have the new headquarters offices outfitted with Telepresence rooms. This whiz-bang technology makes your virtual meetings as normal as physical. Do it. It is worth the money.

One final qualification is necessary. I would love to get rid of entire departments. There is no need for the US Government to have a Department of Education. This is a state function and the federal agency exists only to usurp proper state functions. That is an argument for another day. I wish that were not so, but if we are stuck with it, this function can relocate with the others.

Why do this? Take the VA example from before or let’s keep going with the Department of Education; call it ED for short. Who benefits, besides the bureaucrats themselves, from having the department in DC? Well, obviously a mess of lawyers and lobbyists seeking to gain rent from having taxpayers lavish them and their clients with untold millions. Who else? Nobody. Not a one.

Won’t rent-seeking continue any way? Sure, as long as we squander our children’s inheritance making a current weasel-class wealthy, that is true. But, couldn’t we at least make it harder? It is great for lobbyists to walk up the street from the Capitol having bribed a Senator to the Education Department where he can schmooze some bureaucrat into accepting a set of regulations he has already written to implement SB 2014 – the “Spend Countless Dollars on Unnecessary Spending Act of 2014.” The regulator, tired from a day of surfing the net and avoiding the phone is only too happy to have had someone else do his work for the next few weeks. So, he takes the regulations, transfers them via copy and paste in Word into a government-approved format, drops them on the supervisor’s desk and is off to the Bahamas. The supervisor, too lazy to wonder why these regs are already done, sends them to the Secretary for implementation and takes two weeks off also.

But, I digress.

What is the value of moving all these functions around? I think it would benefit us greatly for our government overseers to live amongst us rather than being cloistered within a ring surrounding our fair federal city. People in Washington become OF Washington, rather than citizens of a democratic republic. We need the bureaucracies to be out living in the rest of the country where real people do real things.

As a mental proof, here is the conversation within DC: Lois, the IRS hunter “I stopped 5 tea party groups from getting tax status today.” Her neighbor sniffs with condescension, “well, I listened in on 5 Congressman’s phone calls.” Now, picture that conversation in Des Moines: Neighbor to Lois the partisan hack working for the feds, “YOU DID WHAT? Isn’t that illegal, or at least unethical? Why are you bragging about that? Aren’t you ashamed?

Imagine how much better it could be with the Department of Transportation in Los Angeles. Perhaps the folks working there might become more efficient in allocating resources to solve real problems with traffic. Energy? Again, if we have to have one, move it to Oklahoma, Texas or North Dakota where our energy issues are being mitigated in the private sector. Perhaps that pipeline might be approved more quickly (I know it is Obama holding it up, roll with this.) VA? Put it next to or on a military base. I guarantee problems will be resolved a bit faster.

Imperial cities were great for their time. The world has changed. It has actually become more of a detriment than a benefit to have all of these people working in the same place. Group think has replaced efficiency. Move them out, quickly. The stimulus would be great for those new locations and the benefits great for the country. Spread the wealth, Mr. Obama once said. Let’s take him up on it.

Emily Letts: Things Happen!

by Jamieson Weaver

If you’ve been paying attention to the news/internet in the last few weeks, you may have heard the story of Emily Letts. Emily, an abortion counselor in New Jersey, filmed herself getting an abortion “to show it wasn’t scary — and that there is such a thing as a positive abortion story. It’s my story.” The video has over a million hits on YouTube, you can watch it here. This woman writes, in her Cosmo opinion article, that the reason that she got pregnant was, and I quote, “I hadn’t been using any kind of birth control… So I tracked my ovulation cycle, and I didn’t have any long-term partners. I thought I was OK. But, you know, things happen. I wound up pregnant.” (Cosmo).

emily letts

This woman decided to get an abortion because, essentially, birth control didn’t seem all that safe, even though she tells the people she counsels every day to use it. And because she didn’t think it was safe/decided not to use it, she wound up pregnant. Following her logic a bit further, because she was irresponsible and didn’t use a condom or birth control, the life of her unborn child should be terminated. She should just kill the baby which is the product of the unprotected sex that occurred because “things happen.”

I wonder if “things happen” is an excuse that stands up in court. Like if someone went out into the street and just shot someone dead and testified saying “things happen,” the jury would just let them off the hook? They most certainly would not. Why are we treating this any different? People who are calling for “reproductive rights” can call it a fetus all they want, but this is a LIFE growing inside a woman. A life. Call it what you want, but that’s what it boils down to. And I’m not quite sure how a human in the womb is ANY DIFFERENT than a human on the street, other than the fact that a human on the street can run, hide, and defend themselves, but a baby in the womb has no voice.

The worst part of the video is that at the end she says “I feel in awe… That I can make a life. And I knew what I was gonna do was right [have an abortion], cause it was right for me…” What did you get from that statement? What I heard was “I enjoy the power of being able to create a life and then kill it. Because, you know, now isn’t a great time for me to have a baby. I don’t really want the responsibility.” This is the sorry state of our society. Where people are praised for getting rid of their responsibilities by “making them go away.” One day in the future, people will look back at our times and wonder how the heck some of us sat idly by and allowed a Holocaust 2.0 to occur, on the most vulnerable humans alive. Don’t be one of those people. Speak out! And pray for the approximately 3,288* babies that will be aborted today because the women decided for any number of reasons to kill the life inside her.

Why Is the Left So Comfortable With This?

by Token condi 2 Two universities have recently cancelled speeches by women of color. Let’s name them since the shame should be eternal: Brandeis (Aayan Hirsi Ali) and Rutgers (Condoleezza Rice). At nearly the same time, the government regulators and their enablers (Chuck Schumer comes to mind), are always looking to find new and innovative ways to regulate conservative speech, usually through some “revised Fairness Doctrine.”

Any casually following the news can come up with more and increasing examples of ways in which the left tries to limit conversations. Search for the terms “microaggressions”  and any college campus, or the new fashion “privilege” and you begin to see the pattern.

The problem is, this pattern is old. The term “political correctness” goes back a long way. I believe it is from Trotsky, but I can not be certain. This has two parallel branches: one is government coercion and the other is “social” or mob-driven. The idea is the same “Shut up because I don’t like your opinion.” Both are insidious and they have now come together nicely in the current Administration.

As we learned, again, from the Mozilla CEO incident, there is a playbook and it runs in a typical fashion:  Person A says something mundane, Person B claims offense, Person B rallies support from a vocal minority, Person C who has some responsibility concerning Person A panics, Person A is allowed to step away or be removed from the circumstance by Person C. There are naturally variations on the theme, but that is the way the game works.

Interestingly, though, this pattern mostly works against one set of political inclinations. Person A generally holds a “conservative” inclination on the given topic, even if Person A is not a conservative. Don’t believe that global warming will kill the planet in 40 days?  You are a Person A. Believe that we need to lower the planetary population in some unspecified manner (probably mass genocidal, though it always remains unstated) because humans hurt the plant? You are certainly not a Person A.

This is nearly exclusively a tool of the left and it seems to be accelerating. Read this magnificent opinion column from the Wall Street Journal for some additional background on why the Left has run a muck recently.

We know from recent history that the Left moans about this, mostly halfheartedly, when the Right has a whiff of power. But nary a word is said when it owns the near monopoly on power and culture that it has the moment. My question today is why? Why does this not concern them that the power could be turned on the Left in a time of Right ascendancy?

Picture the absurd converse situations: New CEO of Acme Inc takes over and it is immediately placed on the internet that she contributed to a group that partially funds Earth First among its other giving. Earth First is a particularly scummy group of enviro-ministers not wholly against violence to achieve its ends. Would we expect a hue and cry? Possibly someone in the conservative universe would post this, it would gather about an hour’s worth of notice and she would move on with her new role.

Scenario two might involve a Bizarro-world Chuck Schumer who would bang his shoe on C-SPAN demanding fair time on CNN, ABC, CBS, publicly-funded NPR, the NY Times, etc. for Rush Limbaugh to have “equal opportunity” access to expound conservatism.

That idea is so remote as to be laughable. But, that is the point. The Left simply does not worry about the levers of coercion to conformity that they have built ever being used against them and their indoctrination plans. The question is why?

We, on the right, have had our excesses, but never without warning ourselves that this is wrong and could be eventually used by the other team.

They don’t worry. It bothers me that the only answers I can conceive of are not great. One, they know we simply won’t abuse power in that way and they know it, even if they will scare up campaign dollars pretending that we might. The other answer is scarier. They know they have too strong a hold on at least one lever and can prevent it from ever being turned on them.

That bothers me.