Marco Rubio on the Iran Deal


A few days ago, Jeffrey Goldberg published the transcript of his interview with Marco Rubio in the Atlantic. I won’t try to summarize it, because I found the whole thing interesting — which is noteworthy in itself. It isn’t easily reduced to a soundbite, because he’s actually making arguments.

I don’t want to prejudice your views unduly, but there’s no reason for me not to say that Rubio seems to me in much better touch with reality than the other candidates have so far. He’s not saying things that make him (and by implication America) sound insane. He’s not scoring cheap points. He’s not talking about himself. He’s answering the questions directly. He’s obviously aware what he would inherit if he were elected.

This Isn’t an Electorate; It’s a Lit Match


shutterstock_299214437And this cycle keeps getting weirder. From Phillip Rucker at the Washington Post:

Presidential candidates usually don’t run on promises to vacate the White House once they get in office, but that’s what Lawrence Lessig said he might do as he begins exploring a protest bid for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

Lessig, a Harvard law professor and government reform activist, announced Tuesday morning that he was launching a presidential exploratory committee to run as what he called a “referendum president” with the chief purpose of enacting sweeping changes to the nation’s political system and ethics laws.

How to Defeat Donald Trump


mRy1-WKNqy9pppPiVZx0FaQIn the 1980 Presidential Election, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan faced a third party challenger, in the form of disaffected Republican Rep. John Anderson. He was a ‘moderate’ who wanted to raise gas taxes, register guns, and was skeptical about the effect of energy deregulation on solving the energy crisis. He initially ran for the GOP nomination but went third party when he didn’t get anywhere in the Republican primaries. I am old enough to remember how the Main Stream Media swooned over him, how they said he was the harbinger of a new era in politics. On Election Day, Ronald Reagan buried him. While he got 6.6% of the popular vote, he didn’t win a single state. Even with a splinter candidate on the ballot, Ronald Reagan still managed to win over 50% of the popular vote.

Considering that Republican Party of today has another loose cannon – this time in the form of Donald Trump — I was wondering if there are lessons in Reagan’s handling of Anderson that would be applicable to the current situation. I think there are. The most important is that you actually have to campaign for something. Ronald Reagan clearly did. Everybody knew where he stood. Anderson? Well, he’s in the middle, at least that’s what Walter Cronkite told me. John Anderson is a moderate like me. What’s he stand for? I dunno, moderation I guess? You see Anderson’s problem.

Trump is obviously different in this regard. Everybody knows Trump is against Mexican immigration, and that this has fueled his rise. It is fueling him because conservatives feel stabbed in the back by the GOP establishment over it. To beat Trump, you must champion immigration with the same zeal that he does. Hug Trump on immigration, not allowing an inch of daylight between your position and his. This will have the effect of neutralizing immigration in the primaries. Of course, to do this effectively, you have to act as if you really believe what you say and — to do that — you really have to believe it, advice that can’t really be followed either by Sen. Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush. With immigration effectively dealt with, you are free to go after Trump for his liberal and anti-conservative past, and the electorate will now listen to you.

Biden His Time


Joe-Biden-yellow-CorvetteIn the incipient quest by Democrats to find an alternative to Hillary Clinton, the once unthinkable is now being seriously discussed:

Mr. Biden has not yet announced whether he will join the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, but reports over the weekend that the 72-year-old former Delaware senator was seriously exploring a bid reignited discussion among Mrs. Clinton’s advisers about what his potential candidacy would mean for the contest ahead.

When Biden was announced as Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008, there were countless tongue-in-cheek theories about his selection. My favourite was that Joe Biden as Vice President would make Barack Obama assassination proof: Even the most deranged of Islamists would shrink from the thought of a Joe Biden presidency.

So, What’s the Headline News Today?


Daily-News-headline-newspapersAs you probably know, Google, Facebook, and other news aggregators work very hard to please you. In fact, they’re sort of like the creepiest guy you could imagine dating. (Adapt the simile as appropriate, if you date ladies.)

They study every term you search and think deeply about what it says about you. They remember every link you’ve ever clicked, and they ask themselves, thoughtfully, “What does it mean that she was interested in that?” They keep a list of all your friends. They study what your friends search for and what they click. They know where you live. They know what you buy. They know when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake, they know when you’ve been good or bad, and they know when you’ve got a touch of the flu.

They’re fascinated to discover that you like certain sports teams — wow, she likes Ronda Rousey too, we’re perfect for each other. They know who your favorite celebrities are, and they can even tell if you’re pregnant before you can. (They don’t even mind if it’s not their child — that’s how much they love you.)

The Impending Death of the Republican Party Has Been Greatly Exaggerated


ObamaYoungIt is a time of great change in American politics. Long-established voting patterns have been disrupted. Messages that resonated with the previous generation fall flat on the ears of the young. One political party is losing the under-35 vote so severely that their ability to win future presidential elections is in doubt. Strategists scramble to find ways to make their party appeal to these young voters, who have been raised in an era so very different from that of their parents. The year is 1989.

It is said that history doesn’t repeat itself, but that it does rhyme. In the case of parties losing the youth vote and then fretting about their future, the same word has been rhymed with itself, as if the song of history was written by Kanye West. Before conservatives begin passing out the Kool-Aid or making evidence-free demands about how the Republican Party must change to appeal to young voters, it would benefit us to gain some historical context.

Our journey begins with a New York Times op-ed written in 1988 by a pre-midlife crisis E.J. Dionne.

#BlackLivesMatter’s Weekend with Bernie


Over the weekend, a handful of #BlackLivesMatter activists took over the podium at a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle and proceeded to berate the crowd with a litany of racial grievances while a frustrated Sanders stood aside. We’ve got a great discussion on the matter going on on the Member Feed (Not a member? There’s an easy way an easy way to fix that.) Warning: video contains some brief uses of language outside Ricochet’s Code of Conduct:

An Open Letter to Trump Supporters and the GOP Establishment


My fellow Americans:

It hasn’t been a good week for relations between us, has it?  Make that more like a month.  I’d like to dial the temperature down a bit and take a look at where, and who, we are. You have every reason to be frustrated and angry with our current politics. Only on occasion do our leaders do something useful; only slightly more often do they stop something terrible. But screaming that we’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore — while cathartic — doesn’t take anyone anywhere.

The GOP Debate Without the Bloat


I’m was feeling uneasy after watching the first major GOP debate, so I tried an experiment. I agreed with Mike Rapkoch’s observation that the format of the debate made it nearly impossible for me to get a good read on any of them. So I decided to take the transcript and edit it ruthlessly. I took out the long questions, then cut out all the repetition, meaningless words, well-trod political clichés, jokes, irrelevant meandering, crude but irrelevant appeal to emotion, and personal anecdotes. I left only specific, verifiable (and politically relevant) statements about what the candidates have done, statements about what they believe, and statements about their policy proposals. You can compare it to the full transcript, here. 

Basically, I got rid of all the rambling and flab.

Obama’s Success: It’s the Institutions, Stupid


Over the past few weeks and months, Obama has been winning. His administration has proved unstoppable on just about every item on its agenda, from environmental and energy regulation to illegal immigration to gay marriage to Obamacare. Indeed, the president recently acknowledged this obliquely, saying that gun control “has been the one area where I feel that I’ve been most frustrated and most stymied.” It’s difficult to find any other area where conservatives have held back the progressive tide. The next president will be hard-pressed to contain the damage to our economy, our international interests, and our liberty.

Two competing narratives dominate the 2016 GOP nomination contest. The first stresses competence and experience. Obama, this narrative goes, came to office as a community organizer with no real-world experience and little political experience. He surrounded himself with ignorant young hacks, and has stumbled from one mistake to another. Thus we need to nominate an experienced administrator with a proven record as an executive: no more first-term senators.

Shaun’s Musings: No Perfect Human, No Perfect Candidate


If you agree with me on 9 out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist. –-Ed Koch

Growing up, I observed on many occasions that my mother really didn’t have any opinions of her own. She read the Boston Globe regularly, and watched Fox News as if it were somehow the only news network out there. She raised me to be a conservative, but she read a liberal newspaper and watched a conservative news network. It seemed to take a toll on her ability to hold or state her beliefs consistently. For example, she would argue she was against abortion because it is the killing of an unborn child, something she’d heard from Fox, but would later say that an unwanted child is a burden on society, which she’d read in the Boston Globe.

Why Republicans Haven’t (Yet) Lost The Selfie Vote


Kristen Soltis Anderson is a pollster who’s spent the last few years arguing that Republicans can do better with young people, if only they can figure out how to tailor their message to the Millennial generation. Last month, she published a book on the subject, The Selfie Vote, and has been doing the media rounds promoting it. Here’s an an interview with her on the Cato Daily Podcast, and here’s another with Reason’s Nick Gillespie:

Substance v. Style: Is There a Better Way to Debate?


Is there a better way to have a political debate? After watching the first part of last night’s debate on Fox, then switching off the video to listen along with Ricochet’s chat feed, I was struck by its disorderliness.

The interviewer-driven Q&A style is confusing. Granted, the debate had to involve ten candidates, and it was only fair that each was given time to make their case. But the haphazard format made it nearly impossible for me to get a good read on any of them. With a format like this — and this has been true ever since Nixon and Kennedy had at it — wit and charm trump substance. For example, although I was impressed with Rubio, I’m still not sure what he proposes to do to spark small business development.

The Trump Debate Corner


Donald-Trump-angry (1)A lot happened at the main debate tonight, but let’s focus on Trump on this thread, because, face it: He’s probably the reason most people tuned in.

I didn’t watch the debate; I listened to it from my computer, on Ricochet. From just of one of his answers alone, Trump came out looking as bad as I’d imagined him to be. I’ll dissect it and some more to show you why.

First, his answer to Megan Kelly when she asked him about his rude comments about women just made him sound angry. By the end, he seemed to be attacking Megan just for asking the question.

John Kasich’s Crime Against Inanity


KasichDerpA statesman is allowed the occasional crime against humanity, but he’s damned for his unforced errors.* Nixon was driven from office not for the questionable bombing of Cambodia, but third-rate burglary gone wrong at the Watergate. Clinton was impeached not for bombing aspirin factories, but for the Lewinsky mess.

John Kasich — who has enough support to be on stage for the main debate this evening — committed an unforced error on Sunday, and now we get to see how he handles himself.  In an interview, Chris Wallace asked about his “D” grade from the Cato Institute**, and Governor Kasich replied: “I don’t know who these folks are. Another Washington group.”

There are three possible ways to interpret Kasich claiming not to know what the Cato Institute is:

Advice to Trump: Pull a Crazy Ivan


CrazyIvan_Logo Back in the day — long before Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War with determination, character, and sheer personal strength — Russian submarine commanders had a signature maneuver called “the Crazy Ivan.” Essentially, it meant doing something sharp and unexpected, like a hard turn to port or starboard, or another course change that wasn’t anticipated by American or NATO submarine hunters on the surface.

There will be a lot a tense and coiled-up candidates on the platform during today’s debate. They’ll be nervous and maybe even a little over-prepared for whatever curveball the frontrunner, Donald Trump, decides to pitch.

So, what if he doesn’t? What if he pulls a Crazy Ivan and simply presents his ideas in a moderate and statesmanlike fashion instead? What if he spends his television time presiding over the proceedings, complimenting Scott Walker, say, on his union reforms, or Jeb Bush on his Florida record? What if he acts like a relaxed and confident grown-up who knows he’s way, way ahead-in-the-polls? What if, in other words, he acts like he’s already president?

The Republican Effort to Defund Planned Parenthood Was a Good Start: Keep It Up


Planned Parenthood has not been defunded, and probably never will be. Republicans gave it a go, but, as Ricochet editor Tom Meyer explains, the votes were not there, Obama would have vetoed the measure anyway, and the Democrats would have another arrow in the quiver of their self-righteousness in their constant war on those who they see prosecuting the war on women. Practically speaking, the move was doomed before it hit the floor. As a sad and disappointed lifelong prolifer, I will concede the pragmatic point of view.

Nonetheless, the barbarism and unfathomable cruelty of Planned Parenthood (and other abortion factories) simply must be challenged.

The Ethical Dilemma


shutterstock_68073163The folks at Planned Parenthood and its defenders are trying to mitigate their public relations nightmare by reminding us that fetal tissue played a vital role in the development of vaccines, including polio. Their main points are:

  • We are doing vital work in saving lives.
  • If you received the vaccination and you don’t have polio you are already an accomplice, so get over it.

Where then, do you draw the line?

Most of us received the vaccine as a matter of course, before we were old enough to understand the concept of the ethical dilemma. But we surely could have understood when we had our own children vaccinated; that is, if we had even known about the history of the research.

Is There a Democratic Donald?


President Starbucks?Howard Headshot - Book Photo - Fall 2010

Potent friends of America’s lord of latte, Howard Schultz, have been pressing him to join the Democratic primary, thinking the time is right for someone who’s not a political lifer. For the passionate 62-year-old — watching the circus from Seattle — it may be a tempting proposition […] After coming up from the housing projects in Brooklyn, Schultz reimagined Starbucks and then revived it. He has strong opinions, and even position papers, about what he calls the fraying American dream. While he was promoting his book on veterans last year, he honed a message about making government work again and finding “authentic, truthful leadership.”

That was from Maureen Dowd, so take it with a pound of salt. It’s unlikely that Schultz will be putting down his caramel macchiato anytime soon. Politics isn’t business. While both fields attract similar Type A personalities, their basic MOs are radically different.