Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ky Caucus Coming Along

Those naysayers who opposed the Republican Party of Kentucky conducting a presidential caucus should ponder this: Chris Christie's filing today makes him the eighth presidential candidate to file. Moreover, Carly Fiorina is expected to file shortly.

Each of these candidates pays a hefty filing fee, to help offset the cost of the caucus. Coupled with the money that Sen. Rand Paul put up in September -- plus efforts to streamline the cost -- this may actually make money for RPK.

In addition, no other state is holding a caucus the same day as Kentucky. Many, perhaps all of the candidates, will be able to attend. That will provide momentum for those Republican candidates seeking to flip the House. How great for a first time candidate for state house to be endorsed by every single Republican presidential candidate?

The caucus will also lay the ground work for get out the vote efforts. Out of 120 counties, 114 now have an organization in place to conduct the caucus.  It doesn't get much more grass roots than that.

It would be great to see Sen. Paul nominated. But even if that does not occur, the caucus will have a spill over effect that will help Republicans flip the House -- or, if that happens before the session --  keep it Republican and improve the margin.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My CJ Column on San Bernardino

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal  on why gun control cannot stop radical Islamic jihad:

We can all relate to the venue of the massacre. The terrorist attack in San Bernardino occurred at an office Christmas party, a potluck among colleagues. That fact is particularly poignant given all the trope in recent years about a War on Christmas.
San Bernardino is part of a war, and not just on Christmas. The two terrorists who killed 14 people and injured 21 others were part of a war against America and our way of life, a war against Christianity and Judaism, and a war against Western civilization.
This is true whether or not the shooters were acting on orders of a terrorist organization; it is clear where their sympathies lay.
Syed Rizwan Farook was born and raised in America. Tashfeen Malik was an  email-order bride brought to the U.S. on a “fiancée visa.” One of the most chilling facts of this tragedy is that she passed counter-terrorism screening. It may have been Malik who radicalized her husband, given her family’s ties to terrorism in Pakistan.
The couple was living the American dream: a secure job with benefits, a home in a safe neighborhood, freedom to worship at their mosque, a healthy baby. They were hardly marginalized or oppressed.
Whereas most parents baby-proof their home, Farook and Malik’s home included a cache of bullets, bombs and raw materials for making IEDs.
The couple tried to destroy their digital tracks the day before their rampage. Nonetheless, social media accounts connect both Farook and Malik to international terrorism suspects. Oddly, the couple appears to have supported rival factions of Islamofascism. Malik (under a nom de guerre) pledged her allegiance to an ISIS leader. Farook’s connections were to affiliates of al Qaeda.
Yet the Obama administration’s media apologists floated narrative after bogus narrative to portray the San Bernardino shooting as something other than what it clearly was: radical Islamist jihad.
The initial coverage tried to link the shooters to attacks against Planned Parenthood because there is a Planned Parenthood clinic 1.5 miles away from the shooting. Must be some crazy right-winger trying to take away women’s “right to choose.” Maybe a Tea Partier!
The next false narrative was workplace violence. This is the same storyline that the Obama administration maintains to this day about the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan, who yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he killed 13 people.  Sure, Fort Hoot and San Bernardino were “workplace violence” in the sense that people died a violent death at their place of employment.
The same could be said of the flight crews on 9/11. They, too, died on the job.
Americans are not stupid, contrary to what the administration and media elites think. We can differentiate a terroristic attack from workplace violence.
Yet our current leaders seem unable or unwilling to draw this obvious distinction. Something (competence? candor?) is missing from the Obama administration’s response to the very real threat of terror we face.
It took President Obama four days to call the massacre terrorism. Then he gave a prime-time speech to the nation from the Oval Office to do nothing more than state the obvious. It was unclear whether Obama had just figured out that this was terrorism or had come to the reluctant conclusion that most of the country already had drawn.
So Obama tried to change the subject, by arguing to curtail the Second Amendment right to bear arms. The day before, The New York Times had gone so far as to run a front page editorial — its first in a century — advocating the confiscation of certain classes of guns.
This comes straight out of the playbook of former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Obama is just politicizing the deaths of San Bernardino to achieve a policy objective that he wanted anyhow. Rather than attack the enemy — radical Islamic jihad — he wants to disarm those of us who need protection.
San Bernardino happened notwithstanding (or maybe because of) California’s strict gun laws. Likewise, prohibiting people on the “no-fly list” from buying guns would not have prevented this shooting as that list is both under and over-inclusive. Neither Malik nor Farook was on that list, though the late Sen. Ted Kennedy was.
Gun control cannot stop a committed jihadist; it is dishonest to pretend otherwise. A box cutter and a plane become weapons of mass destruction in the hands of an Islamofascist. So can underwear, a shoe, and fertilizer.
Obama told us shortly before the massacre that Americans are safe from an attack such as recently occurred in Paris. San Bernardino proves that Obama is demonstrably wrong. We are not safe under his watch. The presidential election cannot come soon enough.
Bridget Bush is a Louisville attorney and founder of Elephants in the Bluegrass blog. Her column appears every third Wednesday in the Courier-Journal.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rep. Denny Butler Switches to Republican Party

According to Insider Louisville, Rep. Denny Butler (District 31 in Louisville) has flipped to the Republican Caucus. With Butler's move, Republicans now hold 47 of 100 seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Butler's switch comes as a surprise to many and raises the distinct possibility that enough Democrats could switch parties to give Republicans a majority before next year's election.

Monday, November 16, 2015

KY Should Hold Off Accepting Syrian Refugees For Now

I'm all for welcoming refugees, but Homeland Security needs to make sure it is properly vetting people. That's why governors across the nation are demanding answers from the administration and refusing to take in any more Syrian refugees until these questions are answered.

It's now well known that a passport found near one of the attackers in Paris indicates that he came from Syria as a refugee through Greece. Thus the fear that inadequate measures to identify refugees allow terrorists to slip in undetected. Indeed, ISIS boasted that it would do just that.

Let's focus on screening and then resettling mothers and young children first. They should be the priority as refugees.

So what say you, outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear?  Common sense would dictate caution.  Why not delay taking in any more Syrian refugees and let Gov.-elect Matt Bevin determine how he wants to proceed?  Bevin will be stuck with the repercussions; let him make the decision.

Once Homeland Security can weed out potential terrorists from true refugees, then let's be generous and welcoming to these people. They need our compassion. But first, due diligence is in order.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

John Kasich Needs to Quit the Race

Last night's debate was mostly tedious -- a problem that Gov. John Kasich exacerbated. Every time he opened his mouth, he was like nails on a blackboard. There is just something terribly irritating about the man. It may be his lousy posture. Or his tendency to whine.

Some rave about his record of achievement, but  that's just not enough.

Although I don't think that Central Casting needs to pick our nominee, we do need to select someone who won't make people want to throw a brick through our TV screens.

Kasich is cutting into the time of more viable candidates, and he is hurting the Republican brand. Time for him to go.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Congratulations, MacBrown

Kentucky Republicans are very fortunate that Mac Brown has agreed to serve as Republican Party of Kentucky Chair.

Brown is a prolific fundraiser.  But he is so much more: a guy who thinks deeply about policy as well as politics -- someone who wants to find solutions to help all Kentuckians. Brown is a conservative, but resists being pigeonholed. He's willing to reexamine our positions on issues, as evidenced in his C-J column earlier this year on restoration of voting rights for felons who have paid their time. He is logical but also creative.

I was struck that Brown was aware of, and bothered by, the fact that the West End has no public middle schools. Like Rand Paul, he does not accept that Republicans should write off the votes of African-Americans, who have been so poorly served by the Democratic Party. I look forward to Brown continuing  and broadening the outreach efforts that Rand has started in that regard.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What a Great Night in Kentucky

Kentucky Republicans are ecstatic; we are all pinching ourselves because the victory was so much more extensive than most of us had thought possible.

Matt Bevin did not just win:  at nearly nine points, that's not just a mandate, that's a landslide. Note that even if Jack Conway had picked up every single vote cast for independent Drew Curtis, it still would not have been enough.

I thought there was a possibility that Bevin would win based on yard signs in even the most liberal parts of Louisville, but the margin is stunning. The polling could not have been more off the mark.

I am so proud that the first African-American elected to statewide office in Kentucky is Republican, Jenean Hampton, a unabashed conservative and early Tea Party patriot. This puts the lie to the notion that the Tea Party is racist. It also dispels the myth that Kentuckians hate Obama -- and Democrats suffer from association with him -- because Obama is Black and Kentuckians are racist. Kentuckians hate Obama because he's liberal and his policies hurt us. His race is beside the point, as Hampton's election makes clear.

It was certain to me months ago that Allison Ball and Ryan Quarles would win comfortably. No surprise there. But 61 percent for Allison -- wow. The Republican bench is deep, young and talented.

How sweet that Mike Harmon upset Adam Edelen. Mike had no money and suffered the indignity of some very unfair negative ads from Edelen. Meanwhile, as he was campaigning to be reelected as auditory, Edelen was telling people -- even Republicans -- that he was planning to run against Rand Paul next year. And he was viewed as an up and coming star within the Democratic Party. So much for the mainstream media narrative that Rand Paul's Senate seat is in jeopardy because of Edelen.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vote Bob Heleringer for District Court Judge

There are close to two dozen candidates for Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge. I will be voting for Bob Heleringer. He's smart, experienced and a good guy.

There is an unfortunate tendency for lawyers whose practices are languishing to run for judge as a way to get a steady salary. That is not true of all candidates, by any means, but it is something the voter should be alert to. Need for a job is not an adequate reason to elect someone judge. In fact, it should be a disqualification.

Bob Heleringer does not need the job. He's had a successful career. He's also been able to juggle a career in the State House and more recently as a columnist in addition to practicing law, That speaks l to his time management skills as well as his interest in public service.

District Court is a very intense place. The judge's demeanor is of paramount importance. Heleringer has the intellect for the job, as well as three decades of legal experience. But his most important attribute is that he treats people with respect and is good at helping people of divergent views work collaboratively. He has a sense of humor -- very important in a place as stressful as District Court -- and he demonstrates humility and courtesy in how he interacts with others.

To my mind, he is the clear choice.

That MSNBC Debate Was an Outrage

Here's a guest post from Jack Richardson on the Republican Presidential Debate:


On October 28, 2015 the third Republican Presidential Debate was hosted by CNBC. Recriminations over the format, the host network and the moderators were swift and like a tidal wave washing over the Republican National Committee, as well it should. While some of the Neanderthals at the Republican National Committee are still ringing their hands and trying to figure out why Donald Trump is leading in the polls, the debate debacle on Thursday night proved that the Republican voters have already figured it out.

As Rush Limbaugh and others have suspected and are now talking about more openly, is this a rigged game? Is the fix in? Are the people we have trusted, i.e., the RNC in on the fix? It would sure seem so given the utter incompetence and lack of control the RNC has exhibited in the way it has managed the debate format for its candidates.

Well, I'm one of those who believe it's a fixed horserace. I will never forget the night that George H. W. Bush was debating Bill Clinton and in the middle of the debate Bush looked at his watch. Boom. The campaign was then and would later be reported as being one of the worst run re-election campaigns in history. At that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks.....the powers to be have tapped Clinton on the shoulder. The fix was in. No one with Clinton's scandals and background should have won that election, but sure enough ole George turned it over to Clinton. George's glance at his watch told the story. He was tired and ready to be done with it and  be off to Kennebunkport, Maine. 

Back to the CNBC debate. The Republican voters already know that if officers of any of Donald Trump’s companies had delivered a disaster as occurred with the CNBC moderated debate, the next morning Trump would have called a meeting, walked in and said, “you are all FIRED!” That’s why the Republican voters support Trump. He’s on target, he's to the point, and he doesn’t tolerate incompetence.

Don’t misunderstand. This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump, it’s a condemnation of the RNC’s mismanagement. The hierarchy within the RNC has allowed the Republican field to be cast in a horrendous light as we have agonizingly watched over the last three debates. Quite simply, the degree of ineptitude and sheer stupidity with which the RNC has allowed the debates to be structured and hosted is nothing short of the most egregious political malpractice imaginable. If this were a Middle East venue, there wouldn’t be a simple firing, heads would and should roll.  

In view of the importance of this election and the importance of these debates, heads should roll and the Republican voters are going to be the executioners. I was not completely on board with the voters' decisions until Thursday night. Forget firing anyone, let’s break out the pitch forks and torches and hunt down those at the RNC responsible for the ambushing the Republican candidates have experienced over the last three debates. Those RNC decision makers should be run out of town. 

Senator Cruz, Senator Rubio, Donald Trump and Chris Christie gave red meat to the audience Thursday night. You could almost hear a collective roar across the country when Cruz castigated the CNBC moderators for their bias. The Republican voter gets it.They have been screaming for someone to come to the rescue, for someone with the guts enough to stand up and tell it like it is. The Republican voter knows that something is dreadfully wrong and it’s in our leadership.

The greatest threat in this country is the insidious liberal ideology and political correctness  that has infected and plagued the media, our universities and our political discourse. It is a suicidal mentality that is delivering us into the hands of our enemies and the voters are alarmed. Just when this country needs leadership that leadership is missing particularly within the RNC. The Leaders in the RNC have been and are committing political malpractice on a scale not seen since the re-election campaign of President George Herbert Walker Bush. 

The Carson and Trump campaigns are attempting to get the other campaigns to get together and force the RNC to restructure the debate format. It’s outrageous that our candidates are having to fight within their own party to protect the candidates. The RNC should be ferociously protecting our candidates. The Republican voters have now come to the realization that we can’t win anything with the leadership we have. They have truly become the loyal opposition, that is loyal to our opposition.  Hillary Clinton couldn’t have any better friends than those in charge at the RNC who are responsible for the debate debacles.
Whoever allowed the Republican presidential field to be displayed to the American public as they have been over the last three debates should forever be ostracized from the political process. Whoever chose CNBC with the sanctimonious, arrogant, smug moderators straight from the rotting socialist bowels of the Democrat Party should be nailed to a stockade and put on display to forever endure the scorn of the Republican voters who have become exasperated at the incompetency at the RNC.

Any one of the people in the Republican slate running for President would be a healing salve to the open festering wound that socialist policies have brought about in this country. The Republican voters are screaming out for its leaders to help the party save the nation. But no, the RNC leadership is proving as deadly as liberal corruption is proving lethal to the country. The voters are watching their country die and they are terrified. Likewise the Republican voters are enraged over the ineffectiveness of their party and have concluded that the problem lies with the leadership. Consequently, the Republican voter has embraced the outsiders, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, to lead the party.

Some in leadership say these candidates are unelectable and will never survive a campaign against Hillary Clinton. That just further emphasizes all the more how the failure of RNC leadership policies has brought us to this crisis. Heads should roll. 

The deafening cheers of the crowd Thursday night when Cruz went on the attack against the media explains why Trump and Carson are leading. The RNC is still scratching its head. That alone is evidence enough that RNC incompetence runs so deep that we need a wholesale purge and the Republican voter is about to do it. How much clearer does the message need to be to the RNC than the debate audience’s response to Cruz, Rubio and Trump’s attack on the media? How dare those at the RNC be so stupid as to allow such a debate format, much less the liberal moderators. The rest of the Republican field would do well to follow the examples of Cruz and company.

Of no little discomfort to this writer is why has it taken so long for the field of Republican candidates to recognize that the media is the enemy. Why have so many of the candidates taken the bait the media types have thrown at them and attacked one another as if those attacks would never be used by the Democrats in their general election ads against whoever the Republican nominee might be? Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment needs  to be implemented: speak no ill of another Republican.

When it comes to the moderators every Republican candidate should be schooled in how not to let the moderator set the premise of the question or the agenda. If a question is ridiculous then attack the question. Point out why it is ridiculous and state how it should be rephrased and then answer the question as rephrased. Never, never, never allow a liberal moderator to get by with framing the issue or setting the agenda. That’s why Trump, for all his shortcomings, is ahead.  The audience will never hear a candidate’s answer until the ringing in their heads of the absurd question from the moderator is exposed, disposed and rephrased.  The Republican field was at fault for allowing the moderators to draw blood for nearly fifteen minutes before attacking the questions and the questioners.  Trump has no hesitancy doing that. The voters love him for it. The RNC was at fault for the format and for the host and allowing the pick of the moderators. 

The debate formats were wrong headed from the beginning. To have picked CNBC is political malpractice in the extreme not to mention the moderators. There is no excuse for not knowing the pedigree of the moderators. That kind of virulent, unbridled and obsessed liberal bias doesn’t just emerge overnight. All three of the moderators have a trail of liberal bias stench that even a blind blood hound could have detected. The RNC has failed the Republican voters. To have allowed the debate to go forward with this news outlet with these moderators, heads should roll. 

​The Republican voter wants; the Republican candidates to be unified against the enemy, which includes the media. They want what Cruz, Rubio, Trump and Cruz delivered in their assault on the media. They want competency at the helm of the RNC where CNBC-like debates do not occur. Without Republican solutions soon, we are doomed as a nation. Until the RNC is fixed the nation will not have a solution to its problems. Heads must roll.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My C-J Article on the U of L Hooker Scandal

Reprinted with permission of the Courier-Journal

Katina Powell’s Breaking Cardinal Rules is a blemish on the face of the University of Louisville, but it is not the face. And like all blemishes, this sordid episode will eventually go away and the face will heal.
U of L is taking appropriate steps to investigate Powell’s allegations; we should reserve judgment until the facts are confirmed and that process complete. Calls for Coach Rick Pitino’s resignation are premature. He’s entitled to the same presumption of innocence any of us would want.
Even if Powell’s allegations are true, she does not, cannot fully and accurately portray U of L as an institution. Context matters. There’s a big campus outside Minardi Hall.
Based on exhaustive coverage of her e-book, I’m sure Powell makes no mention of theninety (90!) U of L students who have won Fulbright Scholarships since 2000. That’s more than all Kentucky schools combined. In several recent years, U of L led the nation in Fulbright winners, surpassing Harvard. The NCAA cannot take that away.
The Fulbright statistic reflects two realities. First, U of L is attracting smart students as quantified by the rise in its ACT scores. More important, U of L gives students with the desire and ability the mentoring, advising and encouragement they need to win scholarships like the Fulbright, Rhodes and Truman.
I doubt that Powell’s e-book mentions that this fall, thanks to a $6.3 million grant, U of L opened the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at the College of Business. While self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders draws huge crowds, U of L is becoming a haven for the teaching and research of free enterprise and entrepreneurship as a way of  “advancing the well-being of society.”
Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter, the primary donor, wrote in this paper recently:
"The Center for Free Enterprise teaches that free enterprise empowers people to reach their full potential and achieve great things. It also teaches that everyone, regardless of his or her station in life, is blessed with gifts and talents that can be used to benefit others. When people are free to apply their skills and pursue their dreams, they are capable of finding tremendous self-fulfillment, self-esteem, and self-respect."
The Center for Free Enterprise is not just a huge catch for U of L; it also can play a critical role in our nation remaining a capitalist economy at a time when many “progressives” reject the concept of the free market. I particularly look forward to the Center's speaker series.
The Center for Free Enterprise is the latest vehicle to draw top-notch students to U of L under President Jim Ramsey, but by no means the only one.
Take, for example, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership, of which I am honored to serve as chair of its Board of Advisers. The McConnell Center offers not just scholarships, but seminars, trips and programming for undergraduates, as well as civics education for Kentucky teachers and a strategic broadening seminar for select members of the U.S. Army. Many of its lectures and speeches are open to the public. (Those who enjoy history and politics should get on its mailing list.)
The Brown Fellows Program similarly has caused many high-caliber students to apply to U of L, matriculate and do important research, even overseas. And the U of L Honors Program gives students small, rigorous classes and opportunities for additional international travel.
I admit that I view U of L through the prism of proud parent of a current undergraduate who is getting an excellent education. He is challenged, knows many of his professors well, and while working hard is enjoying his experience as Cardinal immeasurably. Like 5,000 U of L students, he lives in campus-affiliated housing.
U of L is no longer a commuter school. New construction has rendered the campus unrecognizable compared to when I moved here 20 years ago. This, in turn, has drawn new restaurants and shops near campus.
U of L has benefited from a powerful and loyal alum, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He has been an important champion of U of L, helping it secure millions of dollars in federal and private money. The transformation of U of L’s campus is a direct result. That metamorphosis  continues: The U of L Foundation expects to spend another billion dollars in new construction by 2020.
The U of L student who sued Powell for allegedly tarnishing U of L and diminishing the value of her education should take heart when that suit is dismissed, as it will be. The Powell saga will pass. No matter how it is resolved, no matter what the NCAA does or the news coverage that ensues, U of L will move forward, and upward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dem Debate Was a Snoozefest

I was the only member of my family who stayed awake for the whole thing.

What an unimpressive, unattractive and unlikable group of candidates. And how homogeneous: it looked like an all-white meeting of the AARP.  

As I watched Bernie Sanders, I kept thinking that he reminded me of someone, but I had a hard time discerning who that was, He looks somewhat like Dick Cheney. When he speaks, or rather yells, however, he reminds me of a socialist Archie Bunker.

My favorite part of the debate was when Anderson Cooper asked if anyone else on the stage was a socialist. Hillary dissembled about her love for small business, but it didn't matter. The fact that the question even needed to be asked should have told the American people all they need to know about the Democrat Party of today. Not that much of America was watching,

Obama's infomercial at the beginning -- replete with images of Joe Biden -- was something.  Not sure what, but something. Whoever edited it to include the shots of Uncle Joe plainly was no fan of Hillary. That big screen of the infomercial looming above the debate auditorium reminded me of a scene in 1984, where the proletariat watches a propaganda movie. I kept waiting for Obama to tell us that "we have always been at war with Eastasia,"

Hillary's performance was predictably robotic (at the risk of being redundant). Hillary needs some artificial intelligence so she can learn to emote. I hope and pray that she is the nominee.

She was lucky to have Webb, O'Malley and Chafee on the stage to make her look better by comparison, which is not saying much.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Coal Becomes Bipartisan -- At Least in Swing States

Democrat candidate for governor Jack Conway didn't always love coal. Back in the day, he drew support from the Sierra Club. Not this year, at least in terms of campaign contributions.

Conway is competing with Republican nominee Matt Bevin in a gubernatorial race that appears to be a statistical tie. One of the reasons that Conway is doing as well as he is in an increasingly red Kentucky is that Conway has been careful to reiterate his support for the coal industry. Indeed, Conway and Bevin appear to be indistinguishable on the issue.

Conway has opposed the Obama administration's Mercury and Air Toxics rule.  He also joined attorneys general of other states in lawsuits to halt new ozone rules. Conway says that he will not continue outgoing Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear's plan to implement Obama's anti-coal rules. (One has to wonder whether Beshear would have a change of heart on the issue if he were not term limited.)

It is no surprise that Conway has seen the light, so to speak. In Kentucky, coal literally keeps the lights on. The Obama administration's relentless attack on the coal industry has contributed to an economic crisis in Eastern Kentucky that long ago ceased to be a recession. It is a depression that has caused enormous suffering.

Conway is not the only Democrat to have an epiphany regarding coal. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, like Conway is the Democrat nominee for governor. Koster recently announced that he will join more than a dozen states that are suing the Environmental Protection Agency to halt new rules that are supposed to cut carbon emissions -- rules that are designed to kill the coal industry once and for all.

Koster's reasoning applies with equal force to Kentucky:  coal keeps utility rates down, and that gives the state an advantage in luring new businesses. (Unfortunately, Democrats' opposition to right to work, tax reform and tort reform negates that advantage regarding energy on job creation.)

Conway and Koster demonstrate that coal is becoming a bipartisan issue. Not in states on the East or Left Coasts, perhaps. But in states where the two parties are competitive, the economic impact of the rules has transcended the political. As voters have come to the realization that the EPA regulations would raise their own utility rates, Democrats have likewise come to understand that policies that kill the coal industry can also kill their political aspirations.

Moreover, voters -- and candidates -- have begun to realize that Obama's carbon rules are regressive:  they hurt poor people disproportionately.

As Harry Alford, President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce testified before Congress, Obama's Clean Power Plan would raise energy costs by 16 percent for blacks and by 19 percent for Hispanics. Minorities are slipping further and further behind in the Obama economy; the new carbon rules just makes it that much harder for people to escape poverty.

All those people who complain that we need more bipartisanship should be pleased to see that opposition to the Obama war on coal is becoming bipartisan.

For those who haven't thought deeply about coal or climate change, here's an additional reason to oppose Obama's regulations:  they run 1,560 pages and contain 76 different acronyms,  How can any business, in any sector, survive that kind of regulation?  If Obama really cared about the environment he'd tell the EPA to stop killing so many trees.

Consider, too, that these regulations are not part of a statute that Congress passed. It is a safe bet that not a single member of Congress has read all 1,560 pages. Anonymous bureaucrats -- unelected an unaccountable -- drafted the carbon regulations. Anyone who cares about limited government and transparency in the democratic process therefore should oppose the anti-coal regulations on that basis alone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My C-J Column on Title IX Kangaroo Courts

Reprinted with permission from the Courier-Journal

Colleges must be terrifying places these days, with the supposed explosion of rape on campuses. Why would any parent pay $60,000 a year for private tuition if there truly is a “rape culture” on college campuses?
Also frightening:  the response to this rape “epidemic” has led to an increasing number of students who are falsely accused of sexual assault and subjected to Star Chamber prosecutions on campus.
Typically the accuser is a young woman and the accused is a young man, but not always.
Some friends shared with me their daughter’s experience of such a situation at an elite college in another part of the country. Their daughter was accused by a former friend of sexual assault. The accuser complained to the college.
What happened next requires some background on an Obama administration initiative against campus sexual assault; that culminated in Title IX policy from the obscure Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) in the Department of Education.
Title IX, enacted in 1972, prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive any federal funds (nearly all colleges and universities). It’s the statute that led to increased opportunities for women to play sports and receive athletic scholarships.
In 2011, OCR announced in a Dear Colleague Letter that Title IX applies to sexual assault and that schools that are not proactive enough in addressing sexual assault will be punished. To avoid the risk of losing federal funds, schools responded by instituting pseudo-judicial tribunals to address sexual assault accusations.
My friends’ daughter was hauled in front of one of these campus kangaroo courts. She was fortunate: her parents understood that she needed a lawyer. And they could afford to hire one to represent her in this burgeoning area of law — defending students accused of sexual assault not in court, but in Title IX proceedings. However, because the rules of the campus hearing did not permit her to have a lawyer present, her lawyer could only accompany her as an “adviser.”  That is, he had no right to make objections or cross-examine witnesses.
As a group of 28 Harvard Law professors noted, Harvard’s proposed procedures for conducting Title IX investigations and hearings lack the most basic elements of fundamental fairness and due process. The procedures stack the deck against the accused.
That’s exactly what OCR wants. For example, OCR requires the standard of proof to be the much easier to prove “preponderance of evidence” (50.01 percent) rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt” (99.9 percent). Typically there are no sworn statements or subpoenas, no rules of evidence. No right to an attorney or right against self-incrimination.
Fortunately, witnesses — other than the accuser — were truthful and my friends’ daughter was exonerated. She was not expelled or labeled a sex offender. She graduated on time notwithstanding the distraction and stress of the false accusation. Her parents will be paying off that legal bill for years but consider it money well spent. The college, meanwhile, with a hubris only the Academy could muster, continues to ask this family to donate to it.
Sexual assault, when it really occurs, is a crime. It should be investigated by professional law enforcement, not campus police. It should be prosecuted by actual prosecutors —not college administrators. Expulsion from college is not a sufficient punishment for rape:  jail is. To the contrary, merely expelling a true perpetrator just sets him free to rape non-students.
However, boorish behavior should not be equated with sexual assault. By failing to make that distinction, Syracuse University’s recent decision to ban the “kiss cam” from the Carrier Dome trivializes the seriousness of rape and non-consensual sex.
The recent AAU survey used to quantify the so-called “epidemic” of rape is problematic not just because only 19.3 percent responded to the survey. It defined “Sexual assault” and “sexual misconduct” so broadly that it included “remarks about physical appearance.”  That may be sexual harassment; it’s not sexual assault.
Likewise, spontaneous inebriated sex does not necessarily constitute sexual assault. It depends on the facts and circumstances; it is too nuanced for college  tribunals to adequately address, while trying to prevent an OCR shakedown.
As Glenn Reynolds has written, the supposed explosion in rape and sexual assault on campus is media hype of a phony crisis to justify federal intervention. The rate of rape and sexual assault, like violent crimes generally, has plummeted. And it’s lower for college students (6.1 per 1,000) than non-students (7.6 per 1,000).
Sexual assault is wrong, pure and simple. So is leveling a false accusation.
Colleges should take steps to protect students from crime, including sexual assault, and provide resources to victims. We expect colleges to take reasonable measures to keep their students — our children — safe. Not just from rape, but from false accusations of sexual assault.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Comer to Run For Whitfield's Seat

Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield announced earlier today that he is retiring from the Congressional seat he has occupied since 1995.  Agriculture Commissioner Jamie Comer is said to be announcing his candidacy tomorrow for Kentucky's First Congressional District.

Comer fell 83 votes short of becoming the Republican nominee for governor earlier this year.

Why Did RGA Go Dark on Bevin?

I freely admit I did not see coming the Republican Governors' Association's decision to stop running ads on behalf of Matt Bevin.

My sense is that the race is tight, so I don't think the RGA has abandoned him as a lost cause. Rather, I think that Bevin's fundraising numbers must be bad.

RGA has the money, and almost no other races this year. But the national party organizations like to see the candidate raising his or her own funds rather than waiting for the national money to pour in. The RGA money is sort of like a matched donation in that sense.

Bevin made a big point at the GLI lunch that he would not be beholden to anyone. This rugged independence may be why he hasn't been very aggressive on the fundraising front.

For example, Bevin did not reach out to the big donors one would expect to get a call the day after the primary election until an inexplicable amount of time had passed. There have been a spate of fundraisers for him recently, but it is rather late to be just now asking for contributions.

Jack Conway is in many respects the complete opposite. All he does is fundraise. It's a way to make the campaign look like it's doing stuff without actually mixing with the great unwashed. Apparently Conway doesn't even like to mix with the big donors; at a recent fundraiser, Conway had to  be prodded to get up and work the room of major donors. Not a people person, that Conway.

Bevin has the luxury of being able to self-fund. Not only is the guy rich, the vast majority of his personal fortune is said to be liquid. He needs to write his campaign a big check, stat. Then I would expect the RGA to go back on the air.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Make Obama Use His Veto Pen

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes to achieve much. As a result the base is angry and frustrated -- directly leading to the rise of Donald Trump.  Talk radio, in particular Hugh Hewitt, are pressuring McConnell to use the "nuclear option" to get rid of the filibuster. That would allow Republicans to pass legislation with a bare majority, rather than the 60 vote super-majority now required to end a filibuster with a cloture vote.

McConnell wisely resits the pressure to nuke the filibuster because he recognizes that it has protected conservative principles by allowing Republicans to block terrible legislation, such as union card check. McConnell's concerns are well-placed, given that Republicans have only had more than 55 votes in the Senate once in the last century.  If history is any guide, Republicans will need the protection of filibuster. Republicans should take the long view on this issue.

McConnell is also correctly concerned about the Senate as an institution. As George Washington explained, the Senate is tea saucer that cools and slows down the hot water sloshing out of the tea cup:  the House of Representatives. Does the filibuster slow things down?  Yes; it's supposed to.

But the anger among Republicans is real; it is wide as well as deep. McConnell needs to acknowledge that fact and modulate accordingly.

I'm no expert on Senate procedure. However, it seems to me that Republicans can use the reconciliation process -- which only requires 51 votes -- to send a bill to Obama that keeps the government from shutting down. Attach to that a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood. By using the reconciliation process, there is no filibuster.  Therefore, there is no need for a cloture vote to end a filibuster. Likewise, there is no need to nuke the filibuster to get around Republicans not having 60 votes.

Recall that the reconciliation process was what Democrats used to enact Obamacare.

To be sure, Obama would veto a bill with a rider that defunds Planned Parenthood. He has said so, and in this instance, I take him at his word. Make him veto it anyhow.  If the government shuts down as a result, it will be on his watch.

The Planned Parenthood videos are horrific. Desperate measures are called for as a response. Making Obama veto a bill is a start.

Friday, September 25, 2015

McConnell Reacts to Boehner's Resignation

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor regarding the resignation of John Boehner:

"Grace under pressure.

“Country and institution before self.

“These are the first things that come to mind when I think of John Boehner.

“He is an ally. He is a friend. And he took over as Republican Leader at a difficult time for his party.

“When some said Republicans could never recover, he never gave up.

“When some gave in to defeatism, he kept up the fight.

“Because he did, Speaker Boehner was able to transform a broken and dispirited Republican minority into the largest Republican majority since the 1920s.

“That’s a legacy few can match.

“He flew across the country more times than he can count to support members of his conference, and to recruit new members to the cause. As leader of a new majority, he turned the tide in Congress and brought conservative reform in many areas. He worked tirelessly to provide hope to those who dreamed of a better life and to middle-class families who struggled under the weight of this Administration. 

“John knows what it’s like to struggle and to dream of something better. He’s lived it.

“That a young man from Reading, Ohio wielding a bar towel could one day wield the gavel of the U.S. House of Representatives — it reminds us of the continuing promise of this country.

“I know yesterday was an incredibly important event for the Speaker. It was his aim to bring the same spirit of grace that has always guided his life, to others. You only had to look out onto the Capitol lawn to see what he achieved. And that he chose this moment to make this decision, means he will be leaving us in a similar spirit.

“I know we’ll all have more to say in the weeks to come. But for now, thank you, my friend.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Warming Up to Matt Bevin

I went to a fundraiser for Matt Bevin last night and it has caused me to rethink my opinion of him:  I was very impressed by how thoughtful and substantive his answers were to a wide range of topics. It's no secret that the guy is very bright. What I had not previously noticed, however, is how creative he is with respect to coming up with solutions to solve problems. That's an attribute that we could use more of in our elected leaders.

But what really impressed me was his temperament.  This fundraiser was held at a club, and a member who may have been overserved wandered in from the bar during the event. This person asked an aggressive question about the horse industry, to which Matt politely responded. His response was not satisfactory to the questioner, who kept interrupting him, not with questions at this point, but to argue -- even getting profane. Matt was relentlessly polite and displayed no anger whatsoever. And he kept trying to address the substance of the topic all the while being yelled at and interrupted -- at his own fundraiser.

This contrasts the narrative that local political reporters have been pushing about Matt's temper and temperament. 

A couple other things stood out from the evening.

 I was joking with Matt about Sweaty Jack Conway's debate performance under the heat of the television lights. Matt informed that Conway was sweating profusely back stage, even before they went under the stage lights. He said that Conway appeared to be extremely nervous while awaiting for the debate to start.

How odd for someone who has served two terms as attorney general and run for Congress and U.S. Senate to be so nervous about a debate; he has more debate and campaign experience than Matt and Drew Curtis combined. It reinforces my theory that Conway does not really want to be governor; he is running out of a sense of entitled noblesse oblige.

I asked Matt to about his comment that he would appoint qualified people regardless of their party affiliation; I told him this bothered me as a conservative -- that I didn't see how he could govern as a conservative if he appointed people who do not espouse conservative principles.  

Matt clarified that he would appoint qualified conservatives regardless of party affiliation. He made the point that there are still many Kentuckians who are Democrats by registration as a historical accident rather than a reflection of ideology. Someone who agrees with him ideologically -- and has the requisite expertise for a given position -- might still be a good selection notwithstanding party registration. And he indicated that in the vast majority of instances, he would likely appoint a Republican. I thought it was a good answer and it eased my doubts on the point.

Finally, I have to credit Matt with how much he as improved as a candidate. That reflects a discipline and willingness to learn, and speaks well to his ability to govern.

This race is tight. Republicans, conservative Democrats and independents who want Kentucky to be its best need to get behind Matt Bevin now.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Six months ago, I would never have guessed that his presidential campaign would burn out so quickly.

I met Scott Walker at a Federalist Society event a few years ago.  He gave a good, substantive speech that highlighted the reforms he has enacted in Wisconsin. I was particularly impressed with his record on battling the teachers' unions, which in my view, have done more to harm education in this country than almost anything.

I was also impressed with his ability to survive the relentless attacks and recall elections the Dems kept throwing him -- particularly in a purple state.

In light of Walker's record --both in policy and politically -- I thought he merited a serious look as a presidential nominee.

And yet he never caught on. This is just not his time. That he realized this so quickly is to his credit and reflects his political acumen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Happy Hour Debate

Gov. Bobby Jindal is on fire.  Can't believe this is the same guy who froze during his State of the Union rebuttal when he was first elected.  I loved the point that his criticism of Trump did not violate Reagan's 11th Commandment -- because that only applies to Republicans!

This is quickly turning into a two person debate between Jindal and Rick Santorum.


Kim Davis is now an item in the debate.  George Pataki seems to be the only one to understand that she was an elected official who took an oath to uphold the law.  He would have fired her.

Kim Davis does not bake wedding cakes.  She is not a member of the private sector.  Totally different issue.


Jindal is right.  Stop appointing judges with blank slates as records.  Pick conservatives with known track records who are willing to go on the record rather than hide what they believe.

Glad Fisher Didn't Take a Selfie!

Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher's potty tweet is now a national story. The Huffington Post has the original photo, plainly taken while Fisher or one of his minions was sitting on the toilet.  The tweets he got in reply are classic.

Yes, Kentucky has been getting all kinds of publicity lately.

I guess this is Fisher leading from behind.

Jack Conway is Delusional

Jack Conway sent the following email last night:  "I just left the stage. . . . I feel great because we clearly came out on top."

Were we at the same debate?

Aside from sweating more than Richard Nixon, he performed abysmally.  Speech and debate teams should study the video as an example of what not to do.

Even the unknown independent, Drew Curtis, beat him.

For Conway to send an email blast touting how well he did is just unhinged.

Jack Conway has the stench of defeat.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bevin Wins Debate

Matt Bevin out-touched independent candidate Drew Curtis to win tonight's Bluegrass Debate at Bellarmine University. Jack Conway performed poorly and was the clear loser. in third place.

Curtis displayed a sense of humor that was appealing at first but then degenerated into flippancy. That's too bad, because his intellect was impressive. Had Curtis played it straight, he would have won the debate easily. When he was serious -- particularly on the pension crisis -- his answers were thoughtful and well-reasoned.

I could not even recall Curtis's name going into the debate.  I thought he was just a gadfly. It was startling, therefore, to see him out-debate Conway -- a lawyer.  To be sure, expectations for Curtis were low to non-existent going in to the debate.

Conway looked like he was going to throw up.  He sweated more than Richard Nixon.  His color was bad and his usually coiffed hair looked disheveled.  Any time Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was mentioned, Conway kept repeating that he understood that there were passionate feelings on both sides of the issue.

Conway took a few swipes at Bevin's character. He criticized Bevin for not releasing his taxes.  Bevin got an assist from Curtis, who basically said he (Curtis) would not only release his taxes but give tours of his house, that is "who cares?"

Bevin confronted Conway about crying on camera while announcing that he would not appeal the decision that struck down Kentucky's marriage amendment; Conway replied that he just wanted to save the taxpayers money.  As if any Democrat would cry over that!

Conway was asked about the Democrats' lack of response to sexual harassment of women who work in state government in Frankfort.  He replied something about how smart his wife is, and how he has two daughters and even his dog is female.  Embarrassing. Just embarrassing.

Black Lives Matters Needs Cops, Too

Here's the link to my latest Courier-Journal column. It is on the C-J website now, and will appear in tomorrow's paper edition.  Thanks to the C-J  for giving me permission to reprint:

There were many images of first responders on the 14th anniversary of 9/11.  Police officers stood behind the bereaved at the 9/11 Memorial, guarding them and mourning with them.
As a mother of boys, I recall that the most popular Halloween costumes for little boys in 2001 were firefighter and police uniforms. That resulted from the courage of the first responders on 9/11. The blessing that came out of that terrible day is that we witnessed numerous ordinary people become heroes. It was a powerful lesson.
Recently I heard of a local police officer who became a hero in a quieter way. LMPD Officer Michael Leek gave a new bike to an eight-year-old whose last two bikes had been stolen.
WHAS reported that the boy, Clarence, had helped the officer search for lost keys. The two began talking, and the officer observed that Clarence needed a new bike. The child explained that he had owned a new bike, but that it had been stolen, so he was making due with an old one. Two weeks later, Leek again saw Clarence and asked where his bike was; the older bike, too, had been stolen.
Leek surprised Clarence with a new bike. The boy’s mother cried with gratitude. Clarence now says he wants to be a policeman when he grows up.
Leek wasn’t just thoughtful and generous. He was intentional about getting to know the people on his beat.
He noticed Clarence and remembered him; he asked questions and followed up. He let Clarence know that he saw him and heard him, that he was not an anonymous poor kid in a rough neighborhood. Leek saw Clarence as an individual, and likewise, that is how their interaction caused Clarence to see Leek.
Leek’s concern about the theft of Clarence’s bike harkens back to the “broken windows” theory of policing that did much to make New York City safe under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The idea was that when police crack down on minor crimes like pan-handling and jay-walking, it transforms the culture from lawlessness into order.
An eight-year-old’s stolen bike is a petty theft, just as a broken window is not a crack house. Fix the broken window, and reduce the odds of the house becoming a haven for drugs. As the murder rate soars in cities across the country, it’s an approach to law enforcement worth revisiting.
Leek’s gift to Clarence is particularly poignant while the Black Lives Matter movement  demonizes — and endangers — police. To be sure, there are bad cops, just as there are bad citizens. Both should be punished under the rule of law. But their numbers should not be overestimated and should not detract from the vast majority of police who risk their lives and serve with professionalism, anymore than the criminal element should be taken to represent a community or racial group.
That brings me to a segment I heard on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show. Bennett’s demeanor and erudite analysis contrast with the vitriol of most of talk radio. But even Bennett’s measured delivery cannot take away the ugliness of certain facts.
The Black Lives Matter movement recently held a protest — kept safe by a police escort — at the Minnesota State Fair, hours after a Houston policeman was gunned down. The protesters chanted: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon!”.
Certainly “pigs” refers to police. What I had not previously understood is this: “pigs in a blanket” refers to cops in body bags. Notwithstanding the protest leader’s dissembling, the chant calls for the murder of police officers, pure and simple.
The chant does not distinguish between good cops and rogue cops: it calls for the murder of all cops. So I cannot help but think of Officer Leek and the 9/11 heroes when I contemplate the phrase.
And I think of eight-year-old Clarence. His life matters. Not because he is black. It matters for the same reason that all lives matter, because he is a human being created in God’s image. I am grateful for police such as Officer Leek who protect Clarence and all of us. I pray for their safety.
The Obama presidency was supposed to usher in an era of post-racial healing. Why, then, does President Obama not condemn the chant “pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon”? His silence in the face of this call to violence does not promote racial healing, but rather the opposite.
Terrorists killed 215 blacks on 9/11; that number is dwarfed by the thousands of American blacks murdered by criminals annually. Showing support for those honorable police and first responders who seek to prevent and redress such tragedies demonstrates that black (and all other) lives truly matter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Down Ticket Candidates Continue to Impress

The Republican Party of Kentucky held a fundraiser last night for all the state-wide candidates below Matt Bevin.  Bevin,  Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Congressman Brett Guthrie were guests of honor.

The event raised $250,000.  Not too shabby.  Donors had the choice of giving to the party or to the candidate.

I've written before about my friend Allison Ball, who is running for Treasurer, as well as Whitney Westerfield, who is running for Attorney General. Both are outstanding candidates.

Last night, I had the opportunity to meet the rest of the slate. Wow.  As McConnell pointed out, not that long ago the party had to dragoon people to run for these down-ticket races.  Now we have these stellar candidates; it bodes well for the future of the party.  Any of these people, down the road, would be well-suited to run for Congress, U.S. Senate or a governor.

Specifically, I am referring to Ryan Quarles (running for Commissioner of Agriculture); Mike Harmon (running for State Auditor); and Steve Knipper (running for Secretary of State).  They had my vote already. Now they will get some of my money. Each of these candidates impressed me as sharp, conservative, and real -- just genuinely nice people.

Quarles appears to be winning against a candidate who doesn't seem very bright. My son commented after he heard her Fancy Farm speech that it was the first time that he had heard someone (Quarles) criticized for being too well-educated. It struck him as ignorant. I've heard similar comments since.

Mike Harmon is running against Adam Edelen. I am going to try to watch that debate. Harmon has a great sense of humor and I expect he will do very well against Edelen.  Edelen, meanwhile, is telling people (even elected Republicans) that he plans to run against Sen. Rand Paul.  So he is using the position of Kentucky Auditor in the interim.  Lots of politicians use lots of offices for spring boards.  But to run for reelection when you know that you are already seeking the next office the following year seems slimey and opportunistic.

I was also impressed with Steve Knipper, who is running against Alison Lundergan Grimes. Grimes should be worried about this race coming off her 16 point loss to McConnell. Apparently she is.  Knipper noted that after Grimes learned he had worked in China for many years and had adopted five children from that country, Grimes decided it was necessary to take her first trip there to prove her bona fides on international trade.  Grimes recently took an introductory IT class; Knipper's background, coincidentally, is in IT. Kipper said he would welcome a debate with her on IT issues. Knipper's central point is that the Secretary of State, which is in charge of elections, registration of corporations and other areas requiring efficient and effective computer technology and software, is very similar to a chief technology officer or chief business officer of a company.  It is not a way station for the politician daughter of a politician who longs for higher political office.  How fun would it be to finish off the bad Alison once and for all and end the Lundergan dynasty?  That, in and of itself, warrants a contribution to Knipper.

The fate of these down-ticket candidates is to a large extent tied to that of Matt Bevin. Each is strong enough, however, that if (God forbid) Jack Conway wins, they could still win -- but only if properly funded. These candidates have disrupted their lives and put themselves out there to advance conservatism and the Republican Party of Kentucky.  Let's all do what we can to support them. Not everyone can write a big check, or any check. But we can all post a yard sign or walk a precinct and make some calls.

Friday, August 28, 2015

I Like Whitney Westerfield's Odds

Everyone knew the Kentucky Attorney General's race would be tough for Republicans. Gov. Steve Beshear's been shaking down people to give to his son Andy for long time and to great success. However, money is not everything, even in an election.

I have finally met Whitney Westerfield and was very impressed. He struck me as quite bright. And like the best lawyers, he is creative. He has an excellent grasp of the issues and a good political instinct. He's personable.

This is the only competitive AG race in the country this year, so the Republican Attorney General's Association is poised to spend several millions here. For that to happen, Whitney needs to raise his share.

Once RAGA gets involved, Beshear's fundraising advantage will be cancelled out. With a level playing field, this is a winnable race for Republicans; Kentucky is now a red state.

It's time for Republicans to dig deep and support him.  Andy Beshear does not have to be inevitable any more than Hillary Clinton needs to be inevitable. But the election is fast approaching. Whitney needs money yesterday.

For those Republicans who have not been energized by this election, you need to meet and then donate to Whitney. Likewise for my friend Allison Ball, who is running for Treasurer. It really encourages me about the future of the Republican Party of Kentucky with such strong candidates in the down-ticket races.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Donald Channels Henry VIII

In case you missed my Courier-Journal column yesterday, here it is:

he narrative for this presidential election was supposed to be about which competing political dynasty would get to crown its heir.
This “inevitability” narrative is belied by the thousands who flock to hear Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Apparently Trump and Sanders did not get the memo about Bush and Clinton having a lock on the nomination.
Meanwhile, Bush and Clinton, like King Louis XVI or Tsar Nicholas II, are in denial. The excitement for Trump and Sanders reflects lack of enthusiasm for both heirs apparent. Both are waiting for their respective nemesis to self-destruct and for the peasants to wake up. It’s hard to see how that is a winning strategy, but we are nonetheless assured that Clinton and Bush remain as certain as death and taxes.
During the recent Republican debate, Jeb looked like he was having about as much fun as King George III reading the Declaration of Independence. Nor does Hillary seem to enjoy campaigning, evading reporters and questions about servers (and not the kind who pass canapés for Jerry Lundergan).
Jeb and Hillary give the impression that they are running due to a sense of duty sprung from a sense of entitlement. They convey no passion for the position they seek or pleasure in the process to obtain it. As candidates, they are joyless. Voters should do them the favor of sparing them the burden of governing.
Watching Clinton and Bush campaign harkens back to Sen. Teddy Kennedy’s failed candidacy and his interview with Roger Mudd in 1979. When asked why he wanted to be president, Kennedy stuttered and flailed as his chances evaporated. His famous last name was an insufficient justification for a presidential campaign. Nostalgia for Camelot and kinship in a political royal family was not enough.
Neither Jeb nor Hillary has self-destructed the way Kennedy did; there has been no dramatic moment when it all went wrong. There have been no dramatic moments whatsoever. Maybe that’s why the prospect of a Bush-Clinton election feels so stale. Regardless of how one views Bill Clinton, or Bush 41, or George W. Bush, America need not and should not recycle our leaders from the same few families. It’s the electoral equivalent of inbreeding.
Jeb enthusiasts argue that the presence of another Clinton on the ballot negates the dynasty issue for him. No doubt Hillary’s supporters give her the same assurance about Jeb. But two dynasties running against each other doesn’t take away the issue, it just robs the American voters of fresh blood.
It starts looking like the War of the Roses, with the Yorks fighting the Lancasters for the British throne. The War of the Roses ended with the establishment of the House of Tudor, which drew from the competing dynasties to start a new one. Maybe that’s why Trump, who has donated to both parties, is so optimistic about his prospects.
Donald Trump does resemble Henry (Tudor) VIII, starting with the strawberry blonde hair. There is a similar swagger, a similar propensity to flaunt wealth with glamorous excess, a refusal to be bound by rules, tradition or courtesy. Though he never used the term, Henry VIII attacked political correctness centuries before Trump took up that mantle.
Both Trump and Henry VIII appreciated beautiful women, which led to complicated marital histories. To be sure, Trump hasn’t decapitated any of his ex-wives. But he decrees “You’re fired!” with an executioner’s gusto.
And like you know who, Trump has even started taking on the Pope – says he needs to scare the Pope for his own good. As Hillary channels Eleanor Roosevelt, maybe Trump is channeling Henry VIII.
Perhaps that’s why Trump has seized upon illegal immigration as his signature issue: Henry VIII had no tolerance for those Scots who slipped in over the border.
As with Henry VIII, we never know what Trump will do or say from one day to the next. That unpredictability is exhilarating, and terrifying. It’s exactly the opposite of what we get from Jeb or Hillary. It keeps us mesmerized. The notion that Trump will make Jeb and Hillary look like grown-ups is not working. He just makes them look boring.
Trump’s rivals should emulate what he does well. He speaks bluntly about America’s challenges. He believes in American exceptionalism. He does not appease anyone. He has panache. He enjoys campaigning.
But we need a Man (or Woman) For All Seasons with wisdom and gravitas to stand up to him when he goes too far.
The Framers would not want us to pass the presidency between dynasties. Nor would they want to see us elect a president who styles himself as an autocrat. As the Israelites learned in the time of Samuel, think twice before you seek a king.