Monday, February 29, 2016

Minnesota Losers United

Speaking of Minnesota losers endorsing Marco Rubio, the Star Tribune jumps on the Marco Rubio bandwagon:

We believe Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is best equipped to carry forward the philosophy of free people and free markets — of limited government, free trade and strong national defense — that has long animated the GOP and enriched American political life. 

That inspiring prose could be helpful to Rubio, unless you take time to consider the source and weigh the odds that the editorial board of the Star Tribune truly cares anything about advancing the philosophy of free markets, limited government, etc.  Either they are blowing smoke, or you take them at their word and sympathize with the quadrennial shock and frustration suffered when the Star Tribune editorial board realized the effects of their past endorsements of the small government all-star team of Barack Obama (twice), John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton (twice), Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter, etc., etc.   Let’s please remember this concern for small government and free markets when it comes time for them to endorse Republican Candidate X vs. Democrat/Socialist Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.   (Especially if it’s you Marco, watch your back!)

The institutional voice of the Star Tribune has long been known for insult editorials and drama queen rhetoric and they continue that tradition with this Rubio endorsement:

The insurgent candidacy of Donald Trump has unleashed a heedless xenophobic spirit that threatens to splinter the GOP and wound the country if a unifying alternative isn’t found.

Those words sound eerily familiar.  Where have we heard rhetoric like this before?

Hillary Clinton for one: "One of the most distressing aspects of this campaign has been the language of Republican candidates, particularly their front-runner, that insults, demeans, denigrates different people," Clinton said.  "It's not only shameful and offensive, which it is. I think it's dangerous. And it's dangerous in several ways," she said.

And Bernie Sanders:  … "there are demagogues out there, people like Donald Trump, who are once again attempting to divide us up in xenophobic and racist ways,” Sanders said during a roundtable discussion at The Nation’s Mosque in northwest Washington.

And Martin O’Malley:  “There's a lot of hatred being spewedin the Republican race, he added, “and I think sometimes as Democrats we are too cautious in the face of that xenophobia.”

And Joe Biden:  "There's one guy absolutely denigrating an entire group of people, appealing to the baser side of human nature, working on this notion of xenophobia in a way that hasn't occurred in a long time," Biden said at the backyard reception, held around the swimming pool at his Washington residence.

Uncanny resemblances.  And I’m sure the average Minnesota caucus goer has learned over the years to put as much faith in the advice of the Star Tribune on which Republican to vote for as they would advice from Hillary Clinton.

One more precious pearl from the Star Tribune endorsement of Marco Rubio, regarding what's wrong with Trump:

He … has accused a two-term Republican president of “lying” to lead the nation into war.

The “Bush Lied” accusation is a sign of a historical ignorance and/or political character assassination and the user of it should rightly be chastised.  After the Star Tribune editorial board gets done with Trump, maybe they’ll have time to confront other perpetrators of this slander, for example, members of the Star Tribune editorial board.  From their 2004 Presidential endorsement of that champion of limited government, John Kerry for President

The way Bush did it demonstrates another of the most important reasons to deny him a second term: his pattern of deception and secrecy. He sold the war on Iraq, a defanged nation, by repeatedly suggesting a connection between Saddam and 9/11. He argued that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction posed an urgent threat to U.S. security. The connections didn't exist, and neither did the weapons. 

Donald Trump is, to say the least, an imperfect messenger.  But the message, of having a controlled immigration system run by the consent of the people, and the government enforcing the rule of the people’s laws, existed before Trump.  He has been smart enough to latch onto it, and it has propelled his rise.  The fact that his articulation of the message is often so crude and counterproductive, and people still support him, is evidence of the absolute dearth of other credible messengers.   No other Republican candidate has fully embraced an approach contrary to the current policy on immigration, or can be trusted follow through on his words  - see the NYT story on Marco Rubio’s willingness to be a useful tool for the status quo.   Truth be told, you probably can’t trust Trump either on these issues, but in this election cycle, he appears to have the shortest nose at the Pinocchio audition.

Process of Elimination

Just in time for the unparalleled drama and excitement of the precinct caucuses comes the latest course offering from Prager University. Who Not to Vote For:

Adam Carolla isn't going to tell you who to vote for. But he is going to tell you who NOT to vote for. And in a time when candidates running for office promise the moon, one of America's funniest comedians shares a few tips about how to spot the candidate that you should run from.

Timely and sage advice indeed.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Laettner's Lament

The highlight of Christian Laettner’s career as a Minnesota Timberwolf occurred after one of the many, many loses he suffered as a member of that woeful team.  As remembered by Michael Rand in the Star Tribune in an interview of Laettner:

You were talking about how everyone else on the team is a loser but you're a winner. You're pointing at dressing stalls saying, "Loser, loser, loser" ... until you get to yours and you say, "Winner."

That incident from 20+ years ago has some resonance in contemporary politics.   Loser!  Loser! Loser! Laettner seems a natural for a position in the coming Trump Administration, perhaps Secretary of Loser Identification.

I just hope Laettner wasn’t skulking around the Minneapolis Hyatt earlier this week when Marco Rubio rolled in to town with his retinue of new supporters:

Capping a strong week in Minnesota with endorsements, a state office and new state staff, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio on Tuesday visited Minnesota to erect a bastion against other candidates’ dominance in the race. 
… Rubio gained endorsement support from former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and current U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen this week. 
“What we need if we want to win is a candidate who can not only speak to all of us in this room but just as effectively speak to the people who aren’t in this room. Who might never consider coming into this room because they hate politics and they distrust Republicans,” Hennepin County Commission Jeff Johnson, who is Rubio’s Minnesota campaign chairman, told the crowd Tuesday. “Marco Rubio is able to do that.”

I’m not saying Jeff Johnson is an expert on inspiring hate and distrust in Minnesota voters, but he did manage to lose not one, but two, statewide elections (for Attorney General and Governor).

Tim Pawlenty’s expertise in how to win Presidential campaigns was no doubt honed in 2012, when he was the first major declared candidate to drop out after he lost the Iowa …. Straw Poll.   Yes, a non-binding beauty contest preference poll that was so influential that it went out of business last year due to lack of candidate interest.

And then there’s Norm Coleman, who not only lost two statewide races himself, but he upped the ante on Jeff Johnson by losing them to the likes of Jesse Ventura and Al Franken.
If that doesn’t provide enough evidence of the power Norm Coleman’s magnetism, let’s not forget prior to picking Rubio as his favorite candidate this year, Norm Coleman has already served as the co-Chairman of the super PAC dedicated to Lindsey Graham’s presidential campaign:

“I think Lindsey is just in a league by himself.”

And then jumped off that bandwagon to endorse Jeb Bush:

“The sense I get as I talk to folks on the ground is that Jeb is gaining momentum on the ground,” he said. “In a place like New Hampshire, which really prizes retail campaigning, that’s where you’re going to see a difference.”

Now he’s on to Marco Rubio.  And I think if you give Coleman two or three more chances at this, he’s going to be backing a winner!

I don’t mean to be too harsh on Johnson, Pawlenty, and Coleman (although that does sound like a dynamite name for a mortician’s practice).  These are the Republican leaders in Minnesota.  And, for the last couple of decades, being a Minnesota Republican leader means being a loser.   You lose elections, over and over and over.   The traditional “The Party Decides” model assumes prominent endorsements play an outsized role in picking eventual winners.   But decades of loss chokes off the supply of prominent, influential endorsers (see the list of commercial products endorsed by Minnesota Timberwolves over the past 20 years for reference).  For Minnesota Republicans, that model is broken.

But you have to give our losers credit for trying.  And who knows?  Some analyses show Minnesota as perhaps the only state Marco Rubio is leading going into the Super Tuesday voting.   Maybe it’s working.  Losers -- we like them here.  Not that we have much choice.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Let's Go Crazy!

Subtitled “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Donald.” Okay, that’s far from true. I still think Trump’s mixture of plastic populism, economic ignorance, and dangerous demagoguery is a toxic brew for the GOP and the country. If the next four years are going to be a continuation of the erosion of the United States as an economic and military superpower and a bastion of freedom in a chaotic world, far better for that to occur with a Democrat in the White House.

However, I have come to see one potential positive aspect of the prospect of President Trump. Assuming that he appoints a savvy and strategically savant Secretary of State, there would never be a better opportunity to employ the “Madman Theory” of foreign policy. What exactly is this “Madman Theory” you ask?

Madman Theory:

The madman theory was a primary characteristic of the foreign policy conducted by U.S. President Richard Nixon. His administration, the executive branch of the federal government of the United States from 1969 to 1974, attempted to make the leaders of other countries think Nixon was mad, and that his behavior was irrational and volatile. According to Nixon's theory, leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response.

Nixon explained the strategy to his White House Chief of Staff, H. R. Haldeman:

“I call it the Madman Theory, Bob. I want the North Vietnamese to believe I've reached the point where I might do anything to stop the war. We'll just slip the word to them that, "for God's sake, you know Nixon is obsessed about communism. We can't restrain him when he's angry—and he has his hand on the nuclear button" and Ho Chi Minh himself will be in Paris in two days begging for peace.”

In October 1969, the Nixon administration indicated to the Soviet Union that "the madman was loose" when the United States military was ordered to full global war readiness alert (unbeknownst to the majority of the American population), and bombers armed with thermonuclear weapons flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days.

The administration employed the "madman strategy" to force the North Vietnamese government to negotiate a peace to end the Vietnam War. Along the same lines, American diplomats (Henry Kissinger in particular) portrayed the 1970 incursion into Cambodia as a symptom of Nixon's supposed instability.

The actual effectiveness of the Madman Theory is open to debate. But it’s easy to imagine that it least could have played a role in bringing the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating tables in late 1972 after the US unleashed Operation Linebacker II, which was the heaviest bombing campaign of the war directed against Hanoi and Haiphong. If Nixon was willing to go farther with that bombing than any American leader before and if he was mad (or at least unstable) who knows how much further he would be willing to go? The North Vietnamese very well may have decided not to find out.

Now the beauty of putting this theory into practice with a Trump Administration is that there would no need to feign or exaggerate the madness of the Commander in Chief. As Max Boot put it when I raised this possibility on Twitter yesterday:

No, the madness would be all too real and quite obvious for all to see. And no one would want to call President Trump’s bluff knowing full well that he wouldn’t hesitate to carry it out.

Imagine the potential power this would provide to a wily Secretary of State trying to convince other countries to come around to a position more favorable for the United States.

“If I have to go back to President Trump and tell him we don’t have a deal, I don’t know what’s going to happen. You know how touchy he is. Would hate to think about what he might do if he got angry…”

And this wouldn’t have to be limited to countries we normally consider as antagonistic to American interests like North Korea, Iran, or Russia. The EU starts cracking down on American tech companies over privacy concerns?

”You got a real nice city here in Brussels. It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.”

The possibilities for utilizing this in foreign policy are almost endless. Let’s get nuts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

HWX: New Hampshire LIVE

It’s a special HWX episode, recorded LIVE during the New Hampshire primary, and heard LIVE in the Ricochet chat room. Relive the excitement as the votes rolled in on Tuesday night and the shocking results were announced.
Topics also addressed include:
  • Megyn Kelly’s hairstyle
  • Suggestions for spicing up concession speeches
  • A recap of the Iowa results, with our new special elections correspondent and a safe space/trigger warning for those concerned about too much Trump talk
  • A series of emotional tributes to the candidates we lost along the way: Martin O’Malley, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Rand Paul
  • the exciting announcement of FINAL results, as they happened.

Ricochet400HWX was brought to you by Hillsdale College and their Constitution 101 course. You can sign up for FREE today. Once you start the course, you’ll receive a new lecture every week to watch on demand, along with readings, discussion boards, and more. Sign up for Constitution 101 for FREE at That’s Hillsdale dot edu slash ricochet. slash ricochet.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.