Entries in Donald Trump (20)

Monday
Jul092018

Ralph Nader’s speech to conservatives re. crony capitalism

The American Conservative (TAC) is the publication that predicted the fall of the Bush dynasty and the rise of Donald Trump.  They wrote about the populist shift in GOP politics when most Washington-based journalists were confidently predicting that Paul Ryan was the next big thing.

The American Conservative recently held its 2nd annual conference on crony capitalism, "Cronyism in Action: Government's Cozy Ties to Big Tech & Big War." Ralph Nader gave a special address on the Military Industrial Complex entitled, "Eisenhower's Warning: Prophetic and Presently Understated."  You can watch it here:

The conference began with opening remarks by the Hon. C. Boyden Gray, former ambassador to the European Union, and a board member of The American Conservative The first panel, on the military-industrial-congressional complex, featured journalist and TAC contributing editor Mark Perry as moderator, POLITICO reporter and defense editor Bryan Bender, investigative journalist and TAC contributor Gareth Porter, Mandy Smithburger, director of the Project on Government Oversight, and Caroline Dorminey, a defense policy analyst at the Cato Institute. You can watch a video of the first panel here:

The second panel debated the role of cronyism in the technology industry and featured TAC executive editor Lewis McCrary as moderator, writer and Open Markets Institute fellow Matt Stoller, Washington Examiner commentary editor

Tim Carney, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Stacy Mitchell, and Information Technology and Innovation Foundation founder and president Robert D. Atkinson. You can watch a video of the second panel here:

For more information or to subscribe to The American Conservative, please contact John Burtka, at… jburtka@theamericanconservative.com

Tuesday
Jul032018

New Jersey GOP: Don’t be afraid to be Republicans.

By Rubashov

A weekend before the NJGOP held its Leadership Summit in Atlantic City, New Jersey, two contributors to this website attended a gathering of conservative academics and writers and journalists, hosted by an organization founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr.  The 500 present where in Philadelphia to enjoy a nice dinner and listen to a lecture by a writer named Rod Dreher.

Rod Dreher is the senior editor of the national magazine and website, The American Conservative.  This is the publication that predicted the fall of the Bush dynasty and the rise of Donald Trump.  They wrote about the populist shift in GOP politics when most Washington-based journalists were confidently predicting that Paul Ryan was the next big thing.

Dreher wrote a book last year that set the academic world talking.  It was debated in all those places that thoughtful Republicans go to figure out what the world is, and how they – and what they believe – fit into it.  Conservative journalists and think tanks debated the vision Dreher presented – and the book was a popular success, a “New York Times Bestseller”, in fact.

The book is called The Benedict Option (A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation).  It calls for Christian conservatives to reassess their relationships with the outside world – with institutions like the Republican Party and corporate America. 

Once upon a time, conservatives gave their votes to “pro-business” corporatists and in exchange received their “protection” on policies impacting traditional values.  The battle over same-sex marriage ended all that, exposing the business community as cheerleaders for the materialistic “sex and shopping” culture that sustains their short-term profits.  

In response to this and other betrayals, Dreher suggests that believers prepare themselves for a hard time, for a period not unlike that suffered by eastern Christianity during the Communist occupation of their nations and cultures.  The idea is to hold oneself apart, become stronger in belief and in practice, and build new institutions outside the hubbub and the madness.

David Brooks of the New York Times wrote that The Benedict Option was the most important and discussed book in a decade.  Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the book prophetic and something every Christian should read.  Many have.  And they are starting to look at things differently, and beginning to reassess.

It's not only conservative Christians who are recoiling from a betrayal by the Establishment of which they once thought themselves a part.  Working class Americans of all ethnicities, creeds, and genders have given up on a Democratic Party obsessed with global capitalism and a Labor movement that threw them over for an immigration agenda that bloats the gray economy and threatens their jobs.  In his book, The Unwinding, An Inner History of the New America (2013), George Packer extended this loss of connection and idea of betrayal to the broader American middle class.  Meanwhile, libertarians are aghast at the growing regulatory police state and endless “war” economy.  While the election of Donald Trump has left many old-time, business-centric Republicans wondering who is who and what is what. 

Since Rod Dreher's lecture, there have been two regional meetings to discuss the practical implications of The Benedict Option on a state by state, party by party basis.  In each case, an individual reassessment is being made.  One political party organization that appears disconnected to its natural electorate is the Republican Party in New Jersey.  Indeed, it is such to the point of it being said not to possess an electorate at all, but rather a collection of voters who still notionally respond to the word “Republican”.

In arriving at this assessment, the discussion focused on what is a political party and how does it devolve the further it gets from its center.  In other words, everyone knows what it means to be a Republican and this reflects the generalizations held about the party nationally or globally.  But the further away you get from the center the greater the opportunity is for that message or "brand" to be corrupted, and its meaning lost. 

So what is the Republican Party – once we get down to the state level or county level – in a place like New Jersey?

(1) Is it the sum of the beliefs and aspirations of its members, as expressed every four years in a party platform?

(2) Or is it the network of profitable business interests of those who occupy leadership positions within the party?

This isn't a gibe at the leadership of the New Jersey GOP but rather a basic philosophical question.  Those engaged in this discussion are strongly influenced by Edmund Burke, who wrote:  "The principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged."

Burke considered politics to be a branch of ethics.  This separated him from Machiavelli and the modern political tradition which holds that "power" is supreme.

In light of this, the question above is posed.

So, will the NJGOP be guided by morality and ethics – and a written set of principles – or will it merely be a vehicle for men seeking power and the financial opportunities that flow from it?

Once upon a time, a certain Assemblyman – as Chairman of the NJGOP – came in for some very rough criticism because he would not formally endorse (or allow the Republican State Committee to endorse) the platform of the Republican National Committee, which had been debated and democratically approved in the summer of 2008.  

He was criticized for the part he played in leaving the New Jersey Republican Party without a set of written principles, but after he was removed as State Chairman by Governor Chris Christie, there was a new platform, adopted in the summer of 2012, debated and democratically approved as was the one before.  Sure enough, the NJGOP didn't adopt it either.  A new chairman, installed by Governor Christie, ignored the new set of party principles as had been the old.

And now there's been another platform, debated and voted on in the summer of 2016, by delegates from all across America.  And it too, has suffered the same fate as the others.  It has not been endorsed by the NJGOP – leaving the Republican Party in New Jersey without a set principles, a road map by which to judge its success or failure. 

Why?  Any poll will show you that most registered Republicans in New Jersey uniformly support the platform of the Republican Party.  So what makes it so difficult for the members of the New Jersey Republican State Committee to simply say, yes, we are Republicans and we support the democratically approved principles of our party as set down in the Republican Party Platform of 2016?

Well, in most cases, those state committee members are selected by Republican County chairmen in counties that have what is called a "party line".  This is s thumb on the scale at elections that enables a county machine to note who the "official" candidates of the party are. 

It is a system not unlike that practiced in less democratic nations and is thoroughly disreputable.  If New Jersey was a third world country organizing its first elections and it proposed such a thing, the United Nations would be bound to declare those elections rigged and undemocratic.  But New Jersey is part of the West and was established before the founding of the U.N.  So the political parties here are fortunate in that they do not fall under the scrutiny of international law. 

Most New Jersey Republicans are unaware that their state and local party organizations do not operate under a set of principles – or indeed any moral or ethical guide at all.  99 percent have no idea that the national Republican Party platform isn't used as a guide when recruiting potential Republican nominees for public office.

You see, most registered Republicans in New Jersey assume that there is one long chain of command leading from the White House of Donald Trump all the way down to the county committee level.  Republican voters believe that when the county party says that so and so is the "official" party candidate, they are hearing the word of the Republican National Committee.

Of course, this is not true.  That’s why there is so much confusion when state and local Republican leaders in New Jersey fail to match the rhetoric coming out of Washington, DC.  There is no direct line from the White House to the office of the local party boss.  And without a set of principles – a written standard by which to judge good from bad, success from failure – local party organizations are left with nothing but the will and wishes of a controlling party boss or cadre.

The employment and economic interests of many state and local Republican leaders tends to complicate things further.  Many county chairmen function as lobbyists or hold business connections and loyalties that are very much at variance with those principles of the Republican Party and the aspirations of ordinary Republicans.  This leads some party organizations to operate as for-profit mutual benefit societies or in some cases, sole proprietorships.  While some operate as entrepreneurs, others are more like placemen – granted patronage jobs or vendors contracts or some gift of status with which to do business. 

This is a surprise to many ordinary Republican voters in New Jersey, who still believe that their local party stands for the Republican platform.  In reality, when they vote Republican, they are not voting for who they think they are, but rather they are voting for the candidates put forward by what could be described as  independent operators, with agendas often at odds with the Republican Party platform. 

A review of the candidacies put forward by New Jersey Republicans in the last decade clearly shows that the Republican Party platform plays no role in the selection process.  What that means for average Republican voters is that instead of being a members of a party of ideas, of values, of right and wrong -- they are merely facilitators of what are often independent operators, who at times conduct themselves in ways that are more along the lines of an entrepreneur than an ideologue. 

A person’s vote is a very valuable thing.  Voters generally don’t treat it so, but it is.

Recently, Princeton University concluded a study that confirmed what many already feared – America is not a democracy.  How can we be?  Our precious votes are artificially funneled into two silos: Democratic or Republican.  If you want to look past those two, the media, academic, legal, and political powers of the Establishment won’t provide you with much.  “Pick one,” they tell us. 

We pledge our collective votes to one of two political parties with the understanding that we are going to get something in return.  That even if they try and fail, at the very least, they are going to stay somewhat true to what they say they are.  After all, we are voting for a national “brand” and we expect the candidates we vote for to reflect that.  We do not want to buy a new Ford only to learn that in New Jersey, a “Ford” is an aging Datsun.

If average voters think they are voting for a national Ford but instead get a local Datsun, then there really isn’t anything in it for the average Republican voter.  All they are doing is giving away their collective votes so that some local boss can harvest them to use to make money.  They think they are voting for people who believe in the platform of the Republican Party – of that thing they read about every four years and that largely reflects their values.  But it turns out to be just an illusion.  Someone has captured the Republican "brand" and monetized it. 

So voters turn-off, tune-out, and fail to turn-out to vote.

Voters are told how important it is to vote… by the guys who get jobs and contracts and status by monetizing other people’s collective votes. As for the average voter… maybe he or she loses a day’s wages by getting hauled up for jury duty (a delightful by-product of registering to vote).

And if you question how a new Ford is really an old Datsun… well then they call you names.  The true-believer is told he or she is some kind of freak for believing in the party platform.  What is wrong with you for thinking it was on-the-level?  Why would you ever believe that we actually believed in what we said we believed in?  Are you some kind of arsehole?

At the NJGOP Leadership Summit in Atlantic City, it was evident that very few could articulate what the Republican Party stood for.  The talk was all about the new technology available to communicate a message, rather than what that message is.  People who get paid to win campaigns in New Jersey were there to explain tactics and polling but not how to define and sell what we are burdened with… that word “Republican.”

The leadership of the NJGOP is now faced with the task of reconnecting a party with its voters.  To convince the one percent who profit from politics – and who control the levers of power – to allow a space for the 99 percent who simply want to vote for people they believe represent the values and principles of the Republican Party.

This will require patience and understanding – and will be made more difficult by the attitudes of some who use polling to determine political positions, rather than as a means to test arguments with which to convince.  The Democrats are in a position of hegemony because they invited in their true believers, gave them a seat at the table, and reaped financial benefits and grassroots activism by doing so.  They refused to follow public opinion. Choosing instead to make it

The career of Garden State Equality’s Steven Goldstein should be studied by every aspiring Republican activist.  At the start of his long march, when confronted with disheartening and frankly abysmal polling data, he did not jettison his principles, he shifted the conversation.  He used polling – not as a revelation to tell him what to believe – but as a tool for convincing others.

Remember that no more than 1 percent of those who vote are there to make money off the system.  99 percent show up to vote because they believe Republican means Republican principles and ideas and policies and the platform.  They are not in on the deal.  They get no cut.  So let's build institutions that these people can trust and that – more importantly – earn their trust.

So... which will it be?  A party based on ethics and morality – with a set of principles by which to judge its success or failure?  Or every man for himself, the pursuit of power, the worship of greed?  It is a time for choosing. 

The Republican Party in New Jersey can choose to open itself up to ideas and nail its colors to the mast and say "this is who we are and this is what we stand for!"  Ideas have brought the national Republican Party far – so why are they resisted in New Jersey?  Instead of avoiding issues, embrace them, use them, figure out ways in which to explain them and do so artfully to win the debate. 

For New Jersey Republicans, it is time to remember who you are.

Monday
May142018

Did McCann photo-shop picture with Trump?

For us, the candidacy of John McCann has been a bag of laughs.  So fond are we of poking fun at his haughty -- yet hapless -- way of stumbling forth, that a few of our contributors have seriously considered helping him in the primary.  That's how much we will hate to see him go. 

So here's the latest.  Somewhere along the way, the McCann campaign procured a photograph that pictures "Stumbling John" and The Donald shaking hands.  The President appears just a bit too animated, while McCann looks as if he just came from the shower and forgot to dry his hair.  We don't know where the photo came from, or when, or even if it is real.  

What leads us to question it is the McCann campaign's habit of changing the background to the photograph to suit their mood.  Why anyone would take such an important campaign image and then screw with it is beyond us. 

(SOURCE: McCann for Congress website)

(SOURCE: McCann for Congress Facebook page)

So what's next?  McCann shaking Trump's hand in front of the Eiffel Tower?  Or the two of them at the Great Pyramid of Giza?  Maybe they will photo-shop them with lederhosen or sombreros? Or in Turkish towels, fresh from a sauna?  There is no end to what the McCann campaign can do with this photograph... except bring back its original honesty, if indeed, it was there in the first place.

Yet another case of John McCann pissing down his own leg.  Or perhaps it was his campaign that pissed on his leg?  Either way, it left the candidate a bit... soggy.

Friday
Feb162018

McCann skips GOP primaries but works for Democrats

Every Republican with a pulse knows what happens in a primary.  Two or more candidates duke it out -- sometimes it gets downright nasty -- but after the votes are counted and the dust clears, all sides get together behind the winner of the Republican primary and go and beat up the Democrat and win the election in November. 

That's how it was in 2016, when a lot of good conservatives worked for presidential candidates like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Chris Christie, among others.  They fought for their candidates and against Donald Trump, but then got behind Donald Trump once he became the Republican nominee at the convention. 

Some Republicans, like Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, said that they couldn't support Donald Trump for President.  But at least they didn't support the Democrat ticket led by Hillary Clinton.   Later, Guadagno would be forgiven by many Republicans, including Mayor Carlos Rendo, who agreed to serve on her ticket in last year's gubernatorial race.

A very few Republicans, like candidate John McCann, continued to serve their Democrat paymasters (in McCann's case, Bergen Sheriff Michael Saudino) while Saudino was running for re-election as a Democrat on Hillary Clinton's ticket.  In our view, this is unconscionable.  Any Republican with a spine and worthy of the name should have campaigned against Michael Saudino in 2016.  He shouldn't have been taking a check from him.

But maybe John McCann doesn't understand the primary process too well because he doesn't vote in Republican primaries too often.  If his voting record is correct, McCann has showed up for one Republican primary in the last decade.  That's pretty darn lame.

Many see McCann as a Democrat straw man.  The Bergen Record has identified McCann as the "right hand man" to Democrat Sheriff Michael Saudino.  It was Saudino's feud with the Republican County Executive that undermined and ultimately lost Republicans control of Bergen County.  The coup de grace came when Saudino, a one-time Republican, joined Hillary Clinton and Josh Gottheimer on a ticket that crushed Republicans in Bergen County.  McCann remained Saudino's consigliore through all of this and ran for Congress (as a Republican) with Saudino's blessing and while still on the Democrat's payroll.

Sheriff Saudino has formally endorsed fellow Democrat Josh Gottheimer for re-election this year.  All this meddling in the Republican primary has the Democrats resembling the Russians. 

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday
Jan302018

Will Robert Hugin meet conservatives half way?

It's "the-past-as-future" for the neo-Whitmanites who want to make the New Jersey Republican Party their private, personal playground.  Yep, just like the good-old-days of "pass the cigars" and "let the interns beware."  And that was just what the ladies got up to! 

The current mantra coming from some GOP establishment types in New Jersey is that only a "moderate" can win statewide.  This is, of course, simply an opinion and an opinion that ignores the fact that the only Republican who has won statewide in the last twenty years has been Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment, and opposed to Same-Sex Marriage.  

Besides, in these very partisan times, merely having an "R" next to your name -- leave out supporting Donald Trump or Chris Christie -- is enough to preclude any significant support from voters who self-identify as Pro-Choice on Abortion, Pro-Gun Control, and Pro-LGBT.  If these are your first tier issues, what floats your boat, you are not voting Republican.  Period.

Despite this, there is a full court press to mint Republican candidates at all levels who intentionally suppress key parts of the GOP base.  And the trend has got worse, with the suppression of actual conservative candidates by key players in the neo-Whitman, "My-Party-Too" crowd.  Like true greedy crony capitalists, it's not in them to share.  But in elections that increasingly depend on identifying and turning out anyone who will even consider voting Republican, this is a disastrous trend. 

Of course, squishy candidates are real popular with the dregs of the GOP's Whitman-era glitterati --  cocktail-party liberals and crony capitalists who still want to show that they run the NJGOP -- and who are increasingly uncomfortable in the knowledge that they make up just a thimbleful of actual Republican voters.  Unfortunately for them, most voters are not looking to transfer more wealth and power to the one-percent, while infantilizing various "groups" deemed worthy of protection. 

Working class Republican voters and working class Democrat voters are really not that different.  They care about being able to have the means to life.  They want jobs, the opportunity to start a small business; to be free from the worry of foreclosure; an education system that balances costs with results; a safety net that hasn't all been spent before they need it, and a justice system that looks on them a free citizens and that keeps safe the places where they live, work, and shop. 

The  needs of working people are pretty straight forward.  If it were an ice cream shop it would be plain vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  Of course, the oligarchs of the Democrat Party can't provide that -- so they advertise a dozen flavors other than vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry -- while the "My-Party-Too" Whitman Republicans have placed out a sign that says, "Closed for business, we've run out of ideas."

Why this is so was the subject of a study conducted by Princeton University.  Take the time to listen to this video.  This is an issue that unites both Left and Right:

Which brings us to Mr. Robert Hugin of the Celgene corporation.  He is the promising candidate for the United States Senate that has the whole GOP establishment buzzing.  They say this erstwhile Marine is the man to beat Bob Menendez.  And a big reason they are so excited about Hugin is his ability to fund his own campaign.

Hugin earns over $20 million a year -- making him one of the best paid bosses in the pharmaceutical industry.  Before joining Celgene, he worked for Wall Street's J.P. Morgan & Company.  Hugin is a longtime member of Chris Christie's fundraising inner-circle, whose allegiance was transferred to Donald Trump after Christie dropped out of the 2016 presidential contest.  Hugin even served as a Trump delegate.  This biography strongly defines the man, making it hard to see how the average Bernie or Hillary voter could ever mark a ballot for him. 

But sure enough, it has emerged that Hugin is conveying to people the idea that he is "a different kind of Republican" and not one of "them" -- as in Pro-Life, et al.

Hey, you donated six figures to Chris Christie and served as a Trump delegate... so do you think you're going to fool a committed Democrat with that Pro-Choice on Abortion line?  You will only drive away thousands upon thousands of voters who want to vote for you, but for whom you will make it so that they can't, in good conscience.

Could Hugin run as the kind of populist who doesn't need cultural conservatives?  Sure, as a Democrat.  Those chocolate and vanilla "kitchen table" issues are grafted onto a cultural worldview that makes you a Trump populist or a Bernie populist.  Neither could have attracted so many voters had they adopted the other's cultural positions. 

In trying to have it all their own way, the "My-Party-Too" crowd might end up destroying the Republican Party in New Jersey.  Ideas matter to most voters and it is ideas that draw people to identify with a political party in the first place.  But in New Jersey, ideas are merely advertising gimmicks for the lobbyists, vendors, and consultants who increasingly run the GOP.  It is something almost unknown to most Republican voters... but too, too easy to demonstrate.  So few don't have Democrat money in their DNA. 

Many GOP leaders make money off Democrats -- or with Democrats.  Lots of money.  While most Republicans just get taxed by Democrats.  That's the great divide.  So where do you stand?  And would you like to know?

Already, conservative libertarian Dr. Murray Sabrin is thinking about another third party run -- like the one in which he almost sunk Christie Whitman.  Perhaps an even stronger candidate will emerge.  Surrendering cultural issues conservative voters to these candidates would not be a good strategy for Mr. Hugin. 

If cultural conservatives, reform conservatives, good-government conservatives, non-insider/crony capitalist conservatives, were to figure out that the fix was in, and that no matter how hard they worked with the GOP establishment they would never get a break, then who knows  -- in these troubled times of Trumpian rebellion and Bernite reaction -- how this could flower?  Would we see its fruit in the low, low turnout 2019 elections?  Would a third-party, seeking that elusive 10 percent, find its way? 

Instead of trying to stand-out and apart from the "usual" Republican through the tired and ultimately unconvincing trope of "a different kind of Republican" when it comes to issues like abortion and LGBT rights, Robert Hugin could act boldly to unify Republicans -- the establishment thimbleful and the conservative majority -- by finding a way to meet both half way. 

Yesterday, Senate Democrats blocked an effort to bring the United States into line with most of the nations on earth in preventing abortions after 20 -weeks, the point at which science has shown that an unborn child is sensitive to the pain of being... killed.  Every other country on earth recognizes this fact except North Korea, China, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, and the Netherlands.  Isn't it time we bring our laws into line with science and the rest of the civilized world?

The Senate's vote was on whether to stop the Democrats’ filibuster of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.  This legislation highlights how unborn children feel intense pain when they are killed in abortions. Fifty-one senators (forty-eight Republicans and three Democrats) voted to take the bill up for debate, but 60 votes were required.  Because Republicans don’t have 60 votes in the chamber to overcome the filibuster, Democrats successfully stopped the bill, which came after President Donald Trump indicated he would sign the bill into law.

Hey, you can still support Roe v. Wade and acknowledge the scientific fact that after 20-weeks, a child should not suffer the kind of death that the U.S. Supreme Court wouldn't apply to serial killers, mass-murder terrorists, and rapists who murder children in the commission of a sexual assault.  That, the Court would argue, is "cruel and unusual" for the worse criminals... but for unborn children... are we supposed to look the other way?

So be "Pro-Choice" on abortion.  But support the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act too.  Give conservatives something.