The Establishment Looks for ‘Plan B’
The Republican Establishment designed the process to deliver the 2016 presidential nomination to a business-friendly moderate who avoids so-called social issues. The consultants who rewrote the party rules after 2012 are now trying to explain to their patrons what went wrong and how to fix it.
Plan A, of course, was to assure the nomination of Jeb Bush, whose views are the perfect reflection of the Republican donor class. But despite many months of campaigning, $114 million of political funds raised through June 30, and two presidential debates watched by a record-setting average of 24 million people, Jeb Bush has dropped to sixth place, registering only 4% in the latest Pew poll.
One reason for Jeb’s poor performance is that he never learned from Ronald Reagan’s example how to prepare for a presidential campaign after his narrow defeat at the 1976 Convention in Kansas City. Reagan then traveled the country speaking to small audiences of grassrooters and fielding their questions.
The immigration issue, and the way it has grabbed the attention of the grassroots, made it difficult for Jeb Bush to secure the Republican Party nomination in the usual way. Bush will continue to try, of course, and may be able to play insider politics to line up more endorsements and donors with wads of political money.
But the kingmakers always have a Plan B if their first choice stumbles. In 1964, for example, Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton was carefully groomed as a second-choice alternative who could jump in the race after Nelson Rockefeller failed to stop the conservative Barry Goldwater.
Speculation has been in the media that Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, or Chris Christie is the Plan B for the Establishment in case Jeb Bush fails to gain popular support. But Rubio is tied for only fifth in Iowa and fourth in New Hampshire, Christie has failed to gain any real support and Walker has dropped out completely.
The abrupt withdrawal of Scott Walker is the clearest indication of the Establishment trying to regain its control of the process. Walker admitted that his early withdrawal is part of a donor-driven strategy to “clear the field in this race” to pave the way for an “alternative to the current frontrunner” (Donald Trump) — and, he said, “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same.”
Walker insisted that candidates should have a “positive” message and that only “candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner” should be considered. He stressed that “Ronald Reagan was good for America because he was an optimist,” and complained that “the debate taking place in the Republican Party today is not focused on that optimistic view of America.”
Contrary to Governor Walker, who may not have realized that the words “positive” and “optimistic” are consultant code for “business as usual,” every poll shows that the voters, by a margin of nearly 3 to 1, say the country is on the “wrong track” or headed in the “wrong direction.” Those voters don’t need more happy-talk; they’re looking for a candidate who’s willing and able to turn the country around and “make America great again.”
When Jeb Bush and some of these other candidates tried criticizing Trump, polls showed that any loss in support for Trump simply went to another outside-the-Establishment candidate, such as Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina. So Plan B is striking out as badly as Plan A did.
It may be that the only alternative left for these Republican would-be kingmakers is the late entry of a new candidate to enter the race. We are already hearing rumblings about resurrecting Mitt Romney.
On the Democratic side, Vice President Joe Biden has been considering whether to enter the race, so it is obviously not too late for a new candidate to emerge. Indeed, an entirely new candidate could be nominated as late as the Republican
National Convention next summer in Cleveland, as occurred at the famous Republican convention of 1880.
The grassroots must be vigilant to anticipate and counter the attempts by Republican insiders to impose an unwanted candidate on the American people. When we fought for and nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964, we did not win the general election that year, but we built the conservative movement and laid the foundation to win five out of the next six presidential elections.
When the Establishment is allowed to pick the Republican nominee, a candidate unable to win the support of the all-important middle-class America results. Establishment candidates have been unable to win the popular vote in five out of the last six elections, and that outcome is not something any Republican should want to repeat.
Congress Must Exercise Its Power of the Purse
Whenever Republicans and conservatives gather among themselves — and I’ve been to many such meetings in recent months — people talk about the need for new leadership in Washington. Every day I hear Republican voters expressing disappointment with the Republicans who occupy the top jobs in the U.S. House and Senate.
The intense desire of Republican base voters for effective leadership is what explains the success of the three “outsider” candidates for president — Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. Trump and Carson have consistently shown double-digit leads over all the other candidates, and Carly dazzled the grassroots with her compelling performance in the CNN debate.
While other candidates resorted to inside-the-beltway jargon about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, Carly cut to the chase with her vivid declaration: “I dare Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain. This is about the character of our nation.”
Since the mainstream media has ignored the video evidence, Democrats think they can get away with pretending it doesn’t exist. One pro-abortion journalist even said the video “may have been a figment of Fiorina’s fevered imagination.”
To see for yourself the truth of what Carly said, just point your computer to the seventh video released by the Center for Medical Progress and advance to the 5:56 mark. There you can watch as Holly O’Donnell, a former employee of Planned Parenthood’s body-parts customer Stem Express, explains what her job required her to do. https://youtu.be/FzMAycMMXp8
Warning graphic video:
The House voted on September 18 to suspend funding for one year while the video evidence against Planned Parenthood is properly investigated, along with another bill to require medical care for infants born alive during an abortion. Both bills are also supported by a majority of Senators, so why weren’t they attached to a bill that funds the government for the fiscal year that started October 1?
Nothing shows the failure of leadership better than the apparent decision by Republican leaders in Congress to allow those bills to die like the fully formed fetus on the table in the abortion clinic shown in the video, its legs kicking just as Carly said. After making a pro-life gesture or what’s known as a “show vote,” the Republican leaders apparently decided to allow federal money to continue flowing to Planned Parenthood in the next fiscal year.
Newly elected Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), who upset then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the primary last year, revealed on C-SPAN that House and Senate leaders decided months ago to abandon “regular order” for funding the government. They planned all along to push through a government-wide Continuing Resolution (CR) at the end of September, to be followed by an Omnibus spending bill just before Christmas.
In other words, we’re about to see a repeat of what happened last December when House Speaker Boehner and Senate leader McConnell, working behind closed doors, cobbled together the 1,600-page, $1.1 trillion “cromnibus” spending bill and forced it through the lame-duck Congress on a narrow, bipartisan vote. Nancy Pelosi delivered enough Democratic votes to compensate for the 67 conservative Republicans who voted against that monstrosity, which even included the money to implement Obama’s executive amnesty of 5 million illegal aliens.
Most Republicans ran on a promise to return our government to the Constitution. Our founding document clearly vests in Congress the power of the purse by providing that “The Congress shall have power to . . . provide for the . . . general welfare of the United States” and that “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.”
This is the same Republican Congress that passed the Corker bill, which exempted Obama’s dangerous deal with Iran from the two-thirds vote in the Senate which the Constitution requires. Congress has done nothing to curb the judicial supremacy by the Supreme Court and lower courts on social issues, despite clear authority in the Constitution for Congress to withdraw jurisdiction.
Our system is built on checks and balances, yet Congress is standing by while the President and the Supreme Court are encroaching on Congress’s powers. Congress should use its spending power to push back against overreaching by the other branches.
A final note: Carly Fiorina was the only candidate on stage who firmly declined the moderator’s invitation to recommend a woman for the $10 or $20 bill, replacing Hamilton or Jackson, two great men without whom America as we know it would not exist. The ten male candidates should have had the fortitude to resist that bad feminist idea.
America Has Taken More than Our Share of Refugees
The United States is the most generous nation in the world, and we have taken many refugees from foreign lands. Europe has not offered to take refugees from Central America, so why are some politicians here insisting that we take many thousands of refugees from the Middle East?
While refugee crises are tragic, crimes committed by transplanted peoples against unwarned, unprotected victims in our own country are even more tragic. Politicians demanding that American neighborhoods accept thousands of refugees, without proper screening or any indication by the migrants that they genuinely want to assimilate into our culture, should be rejected.
Americans are horrified by images of tens of thousands of people, mostly unattached Muslim young men from the Middle East and Africa, crossing unguarded borders into Europe. The news media often describe these people sympathetically as refugees from the civil war in Syria, but many could be migrants seeking a more comfortable life in a rich society with a cradle-to-grave welfare state.
The scene is eerily reminiscent of the tens of thousands of people from Central America who crossed into the United States last summer. Often described sympathetically as unaccompanied minors fleeing gang violence, most of those Central American arrivals were able-bodied, tough young men who left their families in search of better economic opportunities.
Wealthy European nations did not offer to help out by accepting thousands of migrants from Central America. We did not expect that of them, and they should not expect it of us now.
The Muslim migrants follow a route through Turkey, Macedonia, and Serbia into Hungary, the European country closest to the Middle East, and from Hungary they can travel throughout 26 European nations. That route may soon close when Hungary completes the razor-wire fence it is building along its entire 108-mile border with Serbia.
The free movement of people across national boundaries, without passports, is required by the Schengen agreement, one of the central principles of the European Union. It makes those 26 member countries subject to the weakest link, the country with porous borders, in this case Hungary.
The idea of creating nations without borders, allowing the free movement of people inside a common perimeter, was pushed by President George W. Bush when he met with the Mexican president and the Canadian prime minister at Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005. Soon after that first summit of “the three amigos,” the Council on Foreign Relations published “Toward a North American Community” which called for a “seamless market” with “a more open border for the movement of goods and people.”
Fortunately, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to put some brakes on giving away the security of our neighborhoods to thousands of people having unknown intentions about the United States and our way of life. “Before agreeing to accept tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, the Obama administration must prove to the American people that it will take the necessary precautions to ensure that national security is a top priority, especially at a time when ruthless terrorist groups like ISIS are committed to finding ways to enter the United States and harm Americans.”
Our daily freedoms could be sharply limited if terrorists were to slip into our country along with migrants from areas hostile to the United States. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) warns that “we’re really not able to vet Middle Eastern applicants now, and if we increase that number, we’ll be even less able to do so.”
Stark financial problems also stand against welcoming so many strangers into our country. More than 90% of recent refugees from the Middle East are on welfare, according to official statistics published by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Our welfare system is already strained by the Central American migrants who entered our country illegally and never went home. There are a potential 6 billion people in the world who would like to partake in the American welfare system if given the opportunity, but we cannot afford to foot the bill for everyone in the world who does not have a job.
We should learn from our experience of accepting about 55,000 Somali refugees between 1983 and 2004, which happened under the Clinton Administration and three different Republican Administrations, and taking another 27,000 Somalis between 2008 and 2013 under the Obama Administration. Many were settled in Minnesota, where Somali participation in a food assistance program increased to 17,300 adults and children, not even including Somalis subsequently born here.
An open-door policy towards Syrian refugees would be dangerous and costly for American communities. As Senator Sessions says, “Our policy should be to keep the refugees as close to home as possible. For the cost of one in the United States, we could probably provide maintenance to 10, maybe more, in or near their home country.”
Congress Should Hold Hearings on Fantasy Football
A new form of gambling has suddenly appeared in America, and the outfits raking in the money claim that what they’re doing is perfectly legal. In the last four years, two recently formed companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, have collected billions from the mostly young men who place bets on their smart phones on what’s called fantasy football.
Many people first heard about this when a DraftKings employee won $350,000 for coming in second place in a FanDuel contest that cost $25 to enter and featured $5 million in cash winnings, including $1 million to the winner. The New York Attorney General is investigating whether the employee benefited from inside information, but the bigger question is the eye-popping jackpot.
Fantasy football means imaginary games played by imaginary teams in imaginary leagues, which are made up of real players whose playing statistics are compiled from real football games. So instead of betting on the actual NFL games, fantasy football participants bet on something that depends on the actual NFL games.
It’s illegal in most places to bet on actual NFL games, but fantasy football enables participants to do something similar by betting on fantasy teams that win or lose based on how real NFL players perform each week in real NFL games. Participants then boost the audience for sports channels by wasting untold hours watching out-of-town teams that affect the outcome of their bets on fantasy football.
The National Football League has long sought to protect football’s reputation as America’s most popular sport by prohibiting legal bets on real football games, except in Las Vegas where heavily regulated oddsmakers calculate point spreads. But the opportunity of drawing a new audience of obsessive football fans to cable TV was irresistible for the NFL, which has made deals with the fantasy football industry.
The National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball have also been seduced by the lure of the fantasy sports gambling business, which hooks new participants so rapidly. As MLB executive Robert Bowman explains, “It’s daily. It’s quick. You know quickly if you’ve won or lost. It seems so obvious. How did we miss this?”
Gambling in America has always been strictly limited to state-sponsored lotteries and state-regulated casinos and horse racing. State-based gambling is reinforced by federal laws that prohibit any form of interstate gambling where bets are placed by telephone or through the mail.
In 2006, the outgoing Republican Congress voted overwhelmingly to extend the federal interstate gambling ban to the internet, which was then becoming widely available. This federal ban on internet gambling, however, contained a loophole for “fantasy sports” gambling schemes that supposedly contain some elements of skill.
Through this loophole, billions of dollars are being bet on football, to the point where it overshadows sports betting in Las Vegas. In less than a decade the number of those enticed to play fantasy football has skyrocketed to more than 50 million.
Hard-sell television ads entice viewers to participate in fantasy football games that can cost them many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and even addict them. Average American football fans, mostly men, are transformed into gamblers by get-rich-quick promises using these fantasy sports schemes.
The NFL heavily promotes this because the more that people bet on fantasy football, the higher their television ratings and the greater their revenue. The advertisements for this during football broadcasts amount to money in the bank for the NFL, and nearly every team in the NFL now has its own deal to profit from fantasy football.
The chairman and CEO of one of the biggest Las Vegas casinos, Jim Murren, observed earlier this year that politicians are “absolutely, utterly wrong” in pretending that fantasy football is not gambling. “I don’t know how to run a football team,” he declared, “but I do know how to run a casino, and this is gambling.”
Bookmakers from the United Kingdom, where sports betting is legal, are trying to penetrate the U.S. market. “I’m all for daily fantasy betting,” said one English bookmaker, “but nobody is in favor of unregulated internet gambling and that is exactly what daily fantasy sports is.”
The NFL’s chief marketing officer, Mark Waller, told the Wall Street Journal that he wants to bring fantasy football into the curriculum of elementary schools. “You should be able to learn a lot, particularly around math. How many points do I need? How many points does this player get?”
By hooking children on fantasy football, the NFL hopes to lock in another generation for its television ratings — and some will be hooked on gambling, too.
Most NFL stadiums were built using taxpayer money, and the public should have a strong say in objecting to their use to promote gambling on football. With the NFL trying to push this into elementary school curriculum, it is time to push back.