The Chicago Way comes to Virginia

By invalidating the signatures proffered by Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry and keeping them off the primary ballot, the Republican Party of Virginia has given Mitt Romney a very big Christmas gift. Now, the pundits and political neophytes have taken the party line that the Gingrich and Perry campaigns are to blame for this failure. But are they? In a scenario which would make Tammany Hall blush, the RPV kept off Romney’s biggest challengers. In Chicago, it is all in a days work.

The RPV rule is 10,000 signatures (with 400 from each district) gets scrutiny. If the candidate gets 15,000 signatures (with 600 from each district), there is no scrutiny. Thus, had Gingrich and/or Perry submitted 4,000 bogus names to reach 15,000, there would be no scrutiny. It should be noted that some of these districts are heavily democratic. The odds of finding a GOP voter in these districts are pretty great. Yet somehow, Romney and Ron Paul found these folks: or did they?

It appears Ron Paul did not meet the 15,000 signatures needed to get the waiver but he got certification without any of the signatures verified. We can only assume Mitt Romney got his 15,000+ signatures. As to Perry and Gingrich, their signatures came under heavy scrutiny.

In the Chicago, its not only important how many votes get cast but who does the counting/verifying. Once the signatures get below 10,000, the verification ends and the results are announced. Since it is now a two-man race, the VA primary is now a winner-take-all primary. The winner gets 49 delegates.

Perhaps, the RPV subscribes to the theory that all candidates are equal but some candidates are more equal than others. Perhaps, there is innocence from all concerned. However, I submit if the RPV were to be fair, they could either allow write-in votes or put in a ‘none-of-the-above’ box for voting purposes and keep the delegates proportional. If they fail to take any remedy, then I would say the fix was in for Romney. I am not sure how this will play out in the rest of the nation. If I were Romney, I would push to allow Gingrich and Perry on the ballot. The perception seems to be someone is cheating the voters of Virginia.

That being said, this episode shows there are only 4 legitimate contenders for the GOP nomination. By not submitting any signatures, it is time that Santorum, Bachmann, and Huntsman withdraw from the race. They are wasting our time.

I have one other recommendation for the GOP; stop these open primaries. Only the members of the GOP need to nominate a candidate for POTUS. To make them open is to create too much temptation for non-GOP/non-conservatives to create havoc.

The RPV wants to close the process to some candidates but open the voting for everyone. And you wonder why the GOP is clueless ……

Anyway, Merry Christmas Mitt; enjoy your Pyrrhic victory. I am pretty sure this will resonate very well with the Tea Party folks.

Spartan

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The Conservative Crack-Up Part III

The Polls, The Electorate, and My Prediction

In all my years of working in and observing politics, I have never seen such fluctuations in the polls as I have seen in the last few months. First, Bachmann, then Perry, followed by the erstwhile Cain, now Gingrich. I think there are three reasons beyond ‘anyone but Romney’: 1) the people are looking at who is the smartest person at the time (in very much the belief that Obama is a smart man), 2) the polls are a reflection of the positive media coverage for whatever candidate is presumed the leader and the negative coverage of the other candidates (a combination of lazy analysis and a lack of caring), and 3) perhaps, the polls are wrong (not in the data but the methodology).

I believe there is deception in the promotion of Obama as a very smart person. Outside of the flowery words (which never seem memorable-like JFK) and party and ideological hacks telling us how bright he is, there is very little data to prove Obama is smart. No academic records are ever produced and no dissertations are ever released. Yet, the perception that Obama is smart remains. However, instead of demanding evidence of scholastic achievement, opponents of Obama seek to find someone who is as smart as Obama. This leads to a unhealthy vetting; not as to policies and beliefs but as to whether the candidate is smart enough to take on Obama. I think the polls reflect this dynamic.

I believe the media coverage has a lot to do with the up and down nature of the polls. The media has a nasty habit of building people up in order to destroy them later at their convenience. They also focus on minor issues as though they were major catastrophes and treat major catastrophes as mild irritations. They realize that most people are too lazy to go behind the headlines.

There seems to be two competing narratives from two different directions concerning Obama. The narrative from the MSM is that Obama is smart and a tough opponent to debate. The other narrative is Obama is the anti-Christ. Both narratives are patently false, but persistent.

The former is two fallacies; Obama is neither smart nor tough to debate. Let’s face it, when you listen to Obama, you do not get a feeling of brilliance. As for the ‘tough to debate’, that is some of the best sleight of hand the media has ever foisted on the public. Ask yourself a question; how many times have you watched a debate and thought Candidate A won the debate but only have the pundits after the debate say that Candidate B won the debate? I am not sure why the electorate allows itself to be led around by the media.

The latter is just plain ridiculous. There is no such entity as an ’anti-Christ’. It is not possible that there exists an equal and opposite entity of Christ. It is possible for people to be ’against Christ’ but no entity can have the same power and stature of Christ; but for evil.

Nonetheless, the electorate is looking for the candidate who can address these two narratives. When one does not properly vet a candidate; perceptions matter. Positive media coverage increases perceptions, negative media coverage causes a negative perception.

I believe the current polls are a reflection of the emotional angst of the electorate seeking an easy answer to the current political situations. The one thing polls can not accurately define is the real support for the candidate. When one adds the dynamic of a top-down campaign, even the candidate has no idea what is his real strength.

Supposedly, Cain was raising tons of money when the allegations of the mistress came to light. When Cain ’suspended’ his campaign, he did not mention the strength of any donations or his neophyte campaign. The question now becomes; who deluded who?
This is why I believe the polls are wrong.

The perception now has become Newt is up in the polls; followed by Romney and Paul. Yet, there is no data of fundraising or any status of his current campaign and GOTV efforts. It eerily reminds me of Cain.

My Prediction

I strongly believe the adage that successful campaigns have three things in common: money, organization, and luck. It is often said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. As of this 19th day of December, only Romney and Perry have any real money. Santorum, Bachmann, Huntsman, Gingrich have little to no money. Gingrich is the latest beneficiary of the emotional electorate but his support is beginning to crater. The money will soon crater.

As for organization, Santorum has very little, if any, outside of Iowa. He may do well in IA but will not be able to capitalize anywhere else.
Huntsman, is playing for NH. He will get a little traction from IA, but if he does not do well in NH, he is finished. Even if he does well in NH, he has little to no organization in SC and beyond.

Bachmann has a little organization in NH and is starting to put an effort in SC. In SC, she has hired the Wes Donehue as her spokesman. He proclaimed Gingrich was buying Tea Party votes in SC. The problem is, Newt is not. This is an odd way of advancing Bachmann’s political campaign. Either she is not a serious candidate or she is not a serious conservative. At this point, I remain convinced she is in the race to help Romney. I am not sure what she has to gain other than the title of Ambassador to Malta.

Gingrich is finally putting together a campaign staff but it is small and most likely unable to fill the needs of a front-runner. If Gingrich continues to crater, they will be looking for work elsewhere.

Romney has organization in IA, NH, and SC. Perry has an organization in IA and SC. Ron Paul continues to have his merry band of idealists run his organization. I think these three will win, place, and show in IA. A fourth place showing by Newt will end his front-runner status. Romney and Perry will both claim the “Comeback Kid” status. Their battle royalé will begin in SC.

I see Romney and Perry being the only two who can fight a fifty state primary battle. Paul will be able to compete but his ceiling will be very low. Will either candidate avoid a brokered convention? Whether that happens or not, consider Perry lucky to survive.

Spartan

The Conservative Crack-Up Part II

Conservative Thinking in Today’s Politics and Punditry

The modern Conservative Movement has its roots in folks like Russell Kirk and William F Buckley. Their work was heavily influenced by the work of Edmund Burke. Like Burke, they sought to strike a logical balance between liberty and authority.

Kirk and Buckley were not alone. The Conservative Movement 50 years ago was a dazzling panoply of strategic thinkers, moralists, and idealists. It was a melding of a top-down/bottom-up movement. They built the foundation of the present Conservative Movement in an uncompromising fashion. They built the foundation for the rise of Ronald Reagan. While looking over the current political landscape, this foundation is being gutted by compromise and petulance. It is the sign of moral indifference and intellectual laziness.

I posit the Conservative Movement has broken into two significant groups: those who want to build/rebuild a conservative foundation on the local/state level and those who want to gain/maintain power in Washington DC. The former want change from the bottom-up. The latter promise a top-down change to begin from DC. It is the classic battle between the idealists and the status quo. This is inherently a battle of the Tea Party against the Establishment; where neither can co-exist without the other. The Tea Party won an impressive battle in the election of 2010. It not only helped the GOP capture the US House but also various state legislatures, state and local offices. It was a tremendous rebuke for Obama and the Democrats. The political future going forward looks bright. All that could change in 2012.

The presidential race of 2012 is extremely important for a couple of reasons; mainly, the continuation of the Tea Party and the end of the Obama rule by fiat. To that end, it is important that the right candidate win the GOP nomination.

For the most part, this primary race is between the contenders, the pretenders, and the never was. In many ways, it is a dog and pony show. At this moment, the presumed frontrunners are Gingrich and Romney. Both are technocrats; Gingrich being the governmental technocrat and Romney being the economic technocrat. Both are anathema to the interests of the Tea Party. Huntsman is a combination of both government and economic technocrat while the erstwhile Herman Cain was an economic technocrat. All four portray themselves to be ’outsiders’ and friends of the Tea Party but they are not. All four have promised change but their record is dismal to nonexistent. A nomination win by any of the four would be the end of the Tea Party. I will add that Michele Bachmann is nothing more than a Tea Party show horse with just as dismal to nonexistent record.

Yet, what interests me is the defense of Romney, Gingrich, Huntsman, and Cain by the conservative pundits. Romney is defended by the folks at NRO as the best hope for conservatism. We are told that we don’t understand the depth of Romney’s conservatism because he governed in a blue state and conservatives in a blue state govern differently from their beliefs. The problem with this kind of thinking is that nasty issue of RomneyCare; the impetus for ObamaCare. If it is so anathema to conservative ideals, why does Romney continue to defend RomneyCare. A hint: Romney is never, ever wrong.

Ann Coulter supports Romney as the only person who can defeat Obama. That alone is the reason we should coalesce around such a candidate. Let’s not examine whether Romney is truly pro-choice or pro-life; he is a multiple choice chameleon on all issues. Forget the flaws, full speed ahead. With such clairvoyance, it is amazing Ms. Coulter can not pick the winning lottery numbers on Saturday night.

Gingrich is a bit more interesting. He is a well-known commodity among conservative circles. He gets all the credit for the 1994 takeover of the House as well as all the blame from poor negotiating with Clinton over the budget to GOP election losses in 1998. There was an attempted coup to replace Gingrich as Speaker by the Conservative members of the House. Instead of being gracious and accommodating, Gingrich took to a whisper campaign against Bill Paxon, one of the ringleaders of the coup. It was a despicable act by a desperate man. This was the candidate who claimed the Paul Ryan budget was “right-wing social engineering”; only to walk balk on his statements later. The damage to Ryan was incalculable. As Ryan said, “with friends like Newt, who needs the Left,”.

Yet, there are folks rushing to the defense of Gingrich. They are led by folks at the Weekly Standard, the American Spectator (with the exception of Quin Hillyer–who has never relented on the Gingrich mistakes) and anyone willing to give Gingrich a microphone.

Huntsman would be better suited to run as a Democrat, yet, there are some conservatives who believe Huntsman is the type of conservative who would attract the political center. Perhaps, they should trash that argument after McCain’s dismal performance in 2008.

I am saving Cain for last. This is the candidate for whom I have had the least respect. First of all, Cain is a Libertarian and any definition that he is a conservative does injustice to the meaning of conservative. He is also a populist. This makes him a danger because he has no core convictions. He sticks his finger in the air and goes with the wind. His domestic and foreign policies were quite incoherent, yet he plodded along. When he was accused of sexual harassment, we heard defenses ranging from Camp Perry did it to ‘see how the liberal media treats a Black conservative‘. Cain was defended by all kinds of conservatives from Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, to Sean Hannity. The most interesting defenses by far were made by Robert Stacy McCain at The Other McCain and The American Spectator. There was no pretense of objectivity or curiosity. It went all the way until Cain announced the suspension of his campaign. It was as though whatever Cain said was the Gospel truth. Have no fear, he is making up for his Cain coverage by attacking Perry.

I am not saying that none of these men have the right to run for office but let’s be honest as to who they are. The defense of these four is hypocrisy and show a break between today’s conservative thinkers and the legacy of the Conservative Movement. The Old Guard of the Conservative Movement would have vetted all four before investing their time, money, and energy on their campaigns. We all must do better but we should demand more from the folks who are extending the legacy of William Rusher, Paul Weyrich, William F Buckley, and the many others did the heavy lifting. We do them a great disservice when we compromise our principles.

Spartan

The Conservative Crack-Up, Part I

Some time ago, R. Emmett Tyrrell wrote a book titled, The Conservative Crack-Up.  Tyrrell makes the argument that while conservatism has become popular as a political philosophy, Tyrrell argues conservatives have had little effect on the American culture.  I submit the current ‘crack-up’ is worse, as today’s conservatives have little effect on American politics.

During the Reagan years, there were 3 kinds of conservatives:  the social conservatives, who rallied against crime, welfare, and abortion. The  economic conservatives, who rallied for less regulation, less taxes, and less government.  The foreign policy hawks, who rallied for a strong national defense and a coherent America

First foreign policy. Today, these kind of conservatives still exist but many of their issues have been muted or taken off the table.  However, one of the most insidious groups co-opting the Conservative Movement are the Libertarians.  In and of itself, Libertarianism is not an evil theory but it is incompatible with the conservative theory of governing and government.  They cloak their movement in Constitutionalism and the Constitution but it seems their end game is to create a laissez faire style of government where good and evil are relative to the moment and the perception.  They believe in a lack of government and not a codified form of government.  Somehow, this vacuum will not be filled but ignorant to man’s nature, someone will fill the void and that someone is usually a liberal democrat or a republican progressive.  A libertarian GOP will only concede more political ground to the Left.  Perhaps, a Ron Paul supporter will argue this is not true but it is more likely that a defense of Paul will include venom and vitriol as the dream is punctured.  The funny thing about Ron Paul’s foreign policy is they are very copasetic with the foreign policy views of Henry Wallace and George McGovern.

Can the domestic policy be far behind?     The Conservative Movement believed in standards and an absolute belief there was a right and wrong.  It was a belief that competence, hope, idealism, patriotism and American exceptional-ism were to be desired over anger, resentment, and desperation.  The Conservatives of yore were leaders;  they did not quit when challenged.  They had faith in what made America great.  They did not just talk the talk;  they walked the walk.  You knew them from their labors.

Today’s conservatives are eager to co-opt the libertarian argument for their own in hopes of gaining support for conservative causes.  This does not work.  The libertarian is by their very nature an emotional creature.  They are closer to the liberal mindset than they and conservatives realize.  They are more likely to blame a conspiracy for any failings of their policy and procedure.  They will blame Wall Street, the Zionists, the Illuminati, the Masons, the US Government, and a host of nefarious groups and individuals.  They believe Obama was born outside the country and despite a lack of evidence the belief survives.  These far-fetched beliefs only drag down conservative thinking and the Conservative Movement.

In Part II, I will discuss the state of conservative thinking in politics and punditry.

Spartan

Herman Cain: Trick or Treat?

10/31/11

Spartan

With regard to the allegations of Herman Cain and sexual harassment, there are two areas to be addressed:

1) the legal issues and

2) the political issues

The legal issues are somewhat murky. In a nutshell, sexual harassment is not just proposition and contact. It is also hostile work environment. From what I have read, someone who is accused of being a sexual harasser, usually has a track record. There are multiple claims, not just one. What happens to resolve these issues is even murkier. Settlements can be made without the knowledge of the person accused for any amount. Confidentiality is sometimes a part of these settlements. The terms for breeching the confidentiality of the terms of the settlement can lead to loss of settlement and other exemplary damages. The article does not interview or name either complainant. From what I have read in the article, I doubt a case can be made that a breech occurred. I find it interesting that a settlement was made without the knowledge or permission of Herman Cain. It can be done but can Cain be bound by the confidentiality of the agreement?

The political issues are another matter. I would recommend we stand on the sidelines and watch this matter play out. I don’t know and I would hate to guess what occurred. However, it is very important for Cain to get ahead of this issue, not by parsing definitions and events, but with full disclosure (without breeching confidentiality as mentioned above). If he starts putting down markers that these claims are false and all claims like this are false, it will only lead reporters to dig much deeper. If there are new allegations, they can not be explained with, ‘they are all lying’ or contrition. The media, which built up much of his campaign, will desire to tear him down. Liberals will dismiss the claims of a Juanita Broadrick; Conservatives will not be so dismissive. Cain will be the GOP’s version of Gary Hartpence.

One major difference between this and Justice Clarence Thomas. Thomas had only one accuser who could not substantiate any of her claims (then again, its the nature of the charge and not the evidence). Multiple claims will not play well politically for Cain.

There is another question that needs to be answered; was there a complaint filed with the EEOC? IIRC, when there is a charge of sexual harassment, a letter or questionnaire is usually written/sent to the EEOC. It should noted Clarence Thomas’ accuser, Anita Hill, failed to file such a letter/questionnaire. The EEOC investigates and then sends a letter saying whether or not there is reasonable cause to make a claim; a right to sue letter. The rule of thumb is if the EEOC says there is no reasonable cause for a sexual harassment case then the complaints are treated as though without merit. Therefore, why the payments?

Somewhere in the back of my political mind I hear that popular refrain; it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup.

Mr Cain, do you know how many cases of sexual harassment the NRA settled before you arrived? Do you know how many cases of sexual harassment the NRA settled after you left? Is the NRA in the habit of paying claims where no evidence exists?

To all the Cain supporters …… Trick or Treat?