Scott Walker, Rick Santorum in Manchester, N.H.


Scott Walker, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and others were in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday to campaign in advance of a candidate forum hosted by the Union-Leader. I went to the Walker and Santorum events.

Scott Walker Theo's Pizzeria ManchesterWalker met voters at Theo’s Pizzeria. I was seated at a booth with two brothers, Alex and Mike, who had driven to New Hampshire from New York. Alex is a college student and seems slightly more engaged politically than Mike, but both are enthusiastic and eager to meet Walker. Alex wonders how these candidate events work, and — as an old hat by this time — I obligingly explain how I’ve previously met Perry, Fiorina, Carson, and Kasich, though I do have to admit that I moved to New Hampshire from New York City only last year. (I grew up in Maine!) We’re joined by Ricochet’s own James of England before Walker arrives, and we quickly fall into a discussion about the Supreme Court. Alex voices his concern that conservative causes will suffer if the next Supreme Court justices are appointed by a Democrat in the White House.

How to Insult Friends and Not Influence People


Obama PipelinesIf there is a perfect microcosm of President Obama’s foreign policy, it is the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed oil pipeline would stretch from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, essentially duplicating pipelines already in existence or under construction. It would deliver much-needed crude oil in a cost-effective way to the great refineries of Texas and Louisiana and — at a stroke — reduce American dependence on hostile foreign sources while also giving an economic boost to America’s closest ally. All this makes Keystone XL the foreign policy equivalent of a no-brainer. The crude will come into America whether or not Keystone XL is approved, either in existing pipelines or via an overstretched rail system. There would simply be less crude and likely at a significantly higher cost. Even if one accepts the global warming theories peddled by the Obama Administration, the crude that would flow through Keystone XL would have only a marginal impact. In a world where China is building coal power plants at a record pace, a few hundred thousand barrels of Canadian heavy crude is dust in the balance.

So why has the Obama Administration blocked Keystone XL since almost the moment it entered office? While the issue is a minor one in domestic politics, it is of disproportionate importance to a small group of Democratic donors. These wealthy activists have accepted the tenets of the Greenista creed and regard industrial civilization with contempt. They do not view the extraction of resources – or the constructions of great pieces of infrastructure – as tools that allow ordinary people to live richer and better lives. They view industrial civilization as a threat to the goddess Gaia; the common man be damned.

Whether Keystone XL would have much of an impact on global warming is irrelevant to these activists. It is, however, of tremendous symbolic importance. If the construction of a vital and largely harmless piece of infrastructure can be stopped so easily, it will act as a precedent. It will help drive investment away from the pipeline sector and, over time, make fossil fuels more expensive. This is part of a long, slow march to end industrial society. To placate, this small group of rich cranks, the Obama Administration has weakened the American economy and insulted a harmless and valuable ally.

Why Hillary’s Lies Don’t Matter


shutterstock_287370743The only thing that seems to be multiplying faster than the national debt, Donald Trump’s audacious comments, or the left-wing punditry’s gasps of horror over the death of what was apparently the globe’s favorite mammal, is Hillary Clinton’s accumulation of prevarications about … well, nearly everything she’s ever said for the past generation or so.

Hillary’s claims about never having been served a subpoena and maintaining only one device for her emails were lies. Her claim that Colin Powell did the same thing she did — and that she wasn’t required to turn over anything to the proper channels — was another whopper. Finally — and this is the kicker — her insistence that people “should and do trust me” should have generated tears of laughter from pollsters. It was for good reason that the late William Safire once claimed that Hillary Clinton was a “congenital liar.” And that was almost 20 years ago. Matters have not changed at all since that time — and arguably have gotten worse.

The question is whether or not her pathological lying makes any difference to her chances to become the next president. The most likely answer is, tragically: no, not a bit. Why not? Because we live in an era saturated by habitual lying, brazen lawlessness, and spectacular hoaxes.



shutterstock_235463509The San Francisco Chronicle — no doubt to the concern of President Obama, who hates incendiary language in politics — is trying to resurrect the “GOP War on Women.” 

The strategy largely worked in 2012, but flopped in 2014, especially in the Colorado Senate race, where Mark Udall argued that everything Cory Gardner said from “Have a nice day!” to “We must defeat terrorism!” was attack on the fairer sex. But the Chronicle — no doubt concerned with the GOP’s ability to be competitive — warns that attacks on Planned Parenthood might help GOP candidates in the primaries, but it will doom them in the general election.

So what tactic should the Republicans take? Should they shy away from defunding Planned Parenthood? Should they let female members take the lead on the issue? Or should they point out that the Democrats are continuing their War on Babies? While the Democrats rely on cartoonists to draw pictures of bad, white, Republican males with bazookas pointed at defenseless women, our side has documented photos and videos of real-life carnage on the unborn (or recently born).

Film Review: Best of Enemies


BestOfEnemies“Say again, Mr. Vidal? I thought I just heard you call me a ‘pro- or crypto-Nazi.’ Could you please repeat your words clearly for the jury in my forthcoming slander suit?” Alas, you won’t hear words to that effect in Best of Enemies, the engaging documentary about ABC’s ten televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley before the 1968 Presidential Election. Unfortunately, Buckley took the bait and called Mr. Vidal a “queer,” and compounded the slur by threatening physical violence.

The man we know as WFB had the decency to later repent. In contrast, we learn that Vidal, in his dotage, would replay the video of that moment to guests in his Italian villa. Lacking footage of these private screenings, filmmakers Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon instead treat us to a clip of Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. I’m not sure how the author of Myra Breckinridge would react to that, but it serves to illustrate the filmmakers’ view of where Vidal wound up.

My summer with Todd


1345566802126.cachedIn August of 2012, the Missouri organization I head voted to endorse Todd Akin for Senate. One day later, he opined that subsidized school lunches were a bad idea. Three days later, he made his now famous comments on rape.

A couple of days after Akin’s self-immolation, I had a conversation with a long-time Missouri Republican leader, an elected official who has long been a friend of our organization.  He had famously called upon Akin to leave the race, and his disgust with our standard-bearer was palpable. Akin’s propensity to shoot himself in the foot was no surprise to those who followed Missouri politics closely. As my friend said: “He should have said nothing for the whole campaign except, ‘My name is Todd Akin and I paid for this ad.'”

Akin’s lack of self awareness was well known to his general election opponent as well, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Akin in the three-way Republican primary. In a meeting I’d had with her before the primary, she told me that Akin would be the eventual winner. I thought she was letting her hopes overwhelm her considerable political skills. I didn’t know she was financing his amateurish campaign, ensuring that she got to pick her opponent.

Betting On The GOP Nomination


I recently signed up for an account with PredictIt, a new site that’s replaced the long-defunct InTrade. While we’re tracking what the Ricochet members prefer and what the different pollsters around the country are researching I thought it would be interesting to get a unique perspective. This “poll” is interesting because it’s people putting their money where their mouth is.

With no further introduction, I present you the GOP nomination race according to the bettors. I’m willing to guess that this will be as close to the actual outcome as any poll out there.rnom16

Our Non-Ideological Brethren &
the Muddle in the Middle


independentThere is a great swath of America which has no defined ideology. Nixon spoke of the silent majority. Reagan had his Democrats. Today’s punditry speaks of the “independents,” a growing segment who cannot abide either party. Obama, too, had his non-ideological supporters: people inspired to vote who might otherwise not participate. Though not a majority in themselves, they were enough to make one when cobbled with the otherwise disparate left-wing coalition. Mitt Romney — as competent and good a man as has ever run for president — was outmatched, unable to pull enough votes from those unmotivated by ideology, and too uninspiring to capture sufficient support from the Republican base.

Conservatism, with its less-sanguine view of humanity (history is not exactly proof of mankind’s benevolent nature) can be pretty dark. We distrust others, see more adversaries than friends in world politics, and generally distrust governance. We often seem like the Debbie Downer at the 4th of July picnic. This somber tendency allows us to be caricatured as staid, pessimistic, obstinate, scolding, judgmental, stingy, and even selfish. We don’t like change. We are — at best — cautious and our attachment to the past can seem, well, backward.

Our non-ideological brethren do not share our sentimental attachment to what has worked in the past. They are aware of our country’s problems in a general sense, but grow impatient as we immerse ourselves in the arcane analyses and details of political solutions. They can be drawn to the left by the likes of Obama, who ignores the ugly details and simply forges ahead. Conservatives chatter about fundamental issues like so many chicken littles and nothing meaningful happens. Our non-ideological brethren can only assume that since there has been neither economic meltdown, nor war, nor other catastrophe, then the chattering conservatives were just that and Obama — forging ahead like FDR and LBJ before him — was right: there is nothing really wrong that government cannot juggle, tweak, or fix.

Hillary’s Very Brady Problem


Brady-Hillary-640x480Tom Brady just got handed a four-game suspension for his role in “Deflategate.” Poor fella. He now has to spend a month of Sundays cooped up at home with Gisele. If I were DirecTV’s braintrust, I’d try to convince Brady to do one of those Sunday package ads lickety-split. On the heels of Brady’s punishment, I posted this item at My thoughts:

1) There’s an opening here for the Republican National Committee: change Reince Priebus’ job-title from chairman to commissioner. Then wait for Trump to say or do something outrageous (that won’t take long). And once he does, suspend Trump for the first four primaries and caucuses of 2016.

More seriously . . .

The Counterattack Begins


Friday morning saw something rare on the floor of the United States Senate. It was badly needed for the sake of the American people and — like most good deeds — will probably not go unpunished if the GOP leadership, leftist media, and Beltway insiders. In fact, the reprisals began almost immediately.

Poison Pills


dr marioIt’s quite a pell-mell race for the Republican nomination. There seems to be a whole spate of articles and political punditry asking what Republicans want in their nominee. In my judgement, this is a flawed question. My inclination towards negativity — i.e. correct and unassailable thought — lends itself to asking of the proper question: What factors should disqualify a candidate from being a nominee?

I call these “poison pills,” things that either primary voters or the general electorate won’t (or can’t) swallow. Being an arch-naysayer, I think I’ve come up with a pretty good list. After I made it, I began to cross-off the names of candidates who had one or another of these fatal flaws. I was left with few candidates and little hope. Below, is my decidedly unscientific disqualification list. Leave your own “poison pills” in the comments, or dispute some of mine.

  • Supports Common Core;
  • Fought public sector unions;
  • Helped Obama get elected;
  • From Texas;
  • A former CEO;
  • Never had an official legislative or executive position;
  • Primarily defined in religious terms;
  • Looks like a used car salesman;
  • Has an isolationist or anti-intervention foreign policy;
  • Not well-spoken; and
  • Is named “Bush.”

Incompetent Political Experts: Canada Edition


hello_my_name_is_consultant_badg_450Two recent posts, Martel’s well-written account of his experience with Republican Party “experts” and Dave Carter’s pointed questions for the political consultant class, made me remember my own experiences with campaign consultants north of the border.

Before the 2004 federal election, I accompanied my local candidate to an election-readiness session designed to get the party’s volunteers ready at the riding level. A (rather cute) French Canadian woman, a corporate PR flack by profession, led a session on strategic communication. She claimed to advise party leader Stephen Harper daily. We, the rubes, were there to soak up her wisdom.

This was a heady time for conservatives in Canada. The Reform Party and the old Progressive Conservative Party had united a few months before under the Conservative label — ditching the word “progressive” — and had a dynamic new leader, Stephen Harper. United, with a decade of vote-spitting behind us, we all had high hopes of defeating the ruling Liberals. The election-readiness session, held in downtown Toronto, was meant to ensure all our swords were sharp and the chain of command clearly understood.

Ron Bailey: The Anti-Malthusian


As conservatives, we’re dispositionally inclined to worry about the things we might lose — or have already lost — and it sure feels like we’ve been on the losing side of things of late. And, heck, even if all goes well in 2016, it’s going to be devilishly difficult to undo the damage that’s been done. In short, there’s no shortage of legitimate reasons to feel down about some very important issues.

On the other hand, there’s also plenty of reason for optimism and hope, and Ron Bailey’s new book The End of Doom showcases some of the most promising trends of the next century. Specifically regarding population growth, access to commodities such as food and energy, medical advances, and the likelihood that we’ll be able to adapt to innovate our way out of the challenges of Climate Change.

Perhaps this Man Should Not Be President of the United States


Okay, folks, all kidding aside, this Trump thing has gone too far.

Tim Mak is a good reporter. I was once on a press junket with him, and I saw someone who took a great deal of care to get the facts right. This piece — ostensibly about rumors that Donald Trump raped his ex-wife, Ivana — contains what I trust to be an accurate quote from Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization:

There Is No Long Game


shutterstock_180292460During his excellent speech before Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz repeated a common complaint of Republican voters:

The American people were told, “If only we have a Republican majority in the House, things will be different.” Well, in 2010, the American people showed up in enormous numbers and we got a Republican majority in the House. And very little changed. […] Then the American people were told, “You know, the problem is the Senate. If only we get a Republican majority in the Senate and retire Harry Reid as majority leader, then things will be different.” Well, in 2014, the American people rose up in enormous numbers, voted to do exactly that. We have had a Republican majority in both houses of Congress now for about 6 months. What has that majority done?

While debating the possibility of de-funding Planned Parenthood the other day, a fellow Republican insisted we needed total control — a Republican president and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress — for that to happen. Appropriations are not a significant authority, apparently. Since Roe v Wade, he told me, Republicans have enjoyed such total control for only two years, under President George W. Bush. That’s two out of 40 years. In order to prevent about a million children from being slaughtered every year, I’m being asked to wait for an electoral scenario which has only happened once in my lifetime.

On the Arrogance of Republican Party “Experts”


Several years back I worked for a state Republican Party running a Victory Center, or local campaign headquarters. I devoted more to that job than I had to any job prior and more than I have to any job since.  The hours were nine to nine Monday through Friday, nine to five on Saturdays, and near election day several hours on Sundays. Initially, I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to contribute to a cause about which I cared very much.  Moreover, it didn’t hurt my ego to be interacting on a regular basis with people I had regularly seen on television and their close advisors.

During my initial state of humility, I found myself taking in every bit of knowledge the “experts” for whom I worked imparted to me.  When I was told to do something, I did it, and did it as well as I could without question.

Why Is the Republican Base Upset?


I think there are many reasons why the Republican base is upset, and it is correct to be upset. I am not a Donald Trump supporter, and I am not sure at this point whether Mr. Trump will continue his candidacy until there is a nominee for the presidency or will discontinue his campaign before that. Donald Trump himself may not be sure what he will do at this point. However, any Republican politician who does not understand why Trump appeals to some voters in their constituency will regret it in the results of the 2016 elections.

I think I understand why The Donald appeals to many in the Republican base, but I’m not sure what to do about it in order to keep Hillary Clinton from being elected. Certainly, criticizing your base or potential voters is not a winning strategy for Trump’s opponents when those voters have reached a tipping point. Individual voters may have different tipping points, but without ranking them in importance here are my candidates for why people are saying “we have had enough.” Which significant ones have I overlooked?

Jeb Bush’s 10% Solution


Jeb BushIt sounds like a good idea:

Portraying himself as a political outsider — despite his family’s 12 years in the White House — Mr. Bush called for a 10 percent reduction in the federal work force, an immediate hiring freeze, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and a six-year waiting period before members of Congress can lobby on Capitol Hill.

Just so you don’t think Jeb! is a mean and heartless man, readying himself to flood DC with pink slips, his civil service trimming comes with an important caveat: