The public appears to believe that the case against Donald Trump is a matter of temperament and judgment, and that the case against Hillary Clinton is a matter of character (that she is corrupt and a liar).  The media are willing to consider policy differences, but it is hard to find a commentator willing to make the obvious point that Trump has assembled a hodgepodge collection of both conservative and liberal policies, while Clinton is a consistent, extreme leftist.  For a Republican journalist or commentator, the choice between the candidates should be obvious.

So, why do the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, prominent talk-radio hosts, and other keepers of the William F. Buckley/Milton Friedman flame insist that they will not support or vote for Trump,  even if the cost of that decision is a Clinton victory?  Specifically, why do conservative elites choose to ignore the fact that the Trump platform, for all its hodgepodgeness, is way more conservative than Clinton’s?  (Not that that is such big deal.  Who isn’t more conservative than Clinton?)  Bear in mind, we are not talking about Clinton vs. Romney, we are talking about Clinton vs. a Republican candidate who can check more conservative boxes on his scorecard than Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger, McCain, or Romney.  Doubt that?  Consider RomneyCare, consider “W” on deficit spending or “compassionate conservatism,” consider McCain on just about anything.

Hard to escape the conclusion that the elites of the GOP are offended by Trump because they dislike his style, that they consider him vulgar, temperamental, loud, and altogether someone they would not want to admit to their club.  This is not nineteenth century bigotry, this is contemporary bigotry.

Why else would any a Republican ignore the fact that a 50/50 Republican is better than a 0/100 Republican, and that personality flaws are less damaging than policy flaws or character flaws?  If Trump has character issues, how could they possibly rival Clinton’s? Trump may be wrong (or at least under-informed) about international trade, and his platform for immigration reform may be considered extreme (though it is now scarcely distinguishable from that of Marco Rubio).  But all in all, Trump, as a neophyte conservative, appears to be a quick study.  Consider his eventual endorsement of an ObamaCare replacement model that resembles Paul Ryan’s excellent plan, his policy-advances on trade and immigration, his list of acceptable Supreme Court nominees, etc.  Trump is still no Milton Friedman or Ronald Reagan, but really, are you aware of Clinton’s policy preferences, of her vow to continue the Obama transformation?  Do you understand her views on fiscal and monetary policy?

Are you prepared for the consequences of your snobbery, of your having turned up your sensitive noses at the crudeness and vulgarity of Trump?



It is down to this:  the Supreme Court issue is way more important than any differences of policy, character, or temperament between the candidates in the presidential election.  Nothing else matters, because of this:

  • When both the president and a majority of the Court are leftist, the president can act as a dictator, because Congress cannot stop the president and a leftist Court will not stop the president.
  • If Ms. Clinton wins the election, the odds are that it will be at least three decades before conservatives regain a majority on the Supreme Court.

Congress cannot stop the president. Until the Obama presidency, American presidents issued federal regulations and executive orders when they wanted to “fill in the blanks” in an Act of Congress, to provide clarification or greater specificity.  But under Mr. Obama, regs and orders are mainly for changing existing laws or creating new ones; they are for doing what Congress had been asked by the president to do but did not.  They are the president’s excuse for ignoring – for exploiting – congressional gridlock, using his pen and his phone.  This is far worse than judicial activism, this is defiance of Congress and the judiciary, this is open disdain for the constitutional model of separation-of-powers.

The judiciary will not stop the president.  A lawsuit can contest the legality of a particular regulation or order, arguing that it was unconstitutional because it was, in effect, a form of legislation, a way of getting around the executive branch.  In the highest-profile recent case involving the constitutionality of an executive order, United States v. Texas, a prominent immigration-case, the lower courts ruled that the president’s executive order was unconstitutional, and, as the Supreme Court was deadlocked at 4 – 4, the lower court ruling remained in place.  However, there was agreement among the commentators that the Supremes were split along ideological lines –  the four lefties voting to reverse, the four conservatives (including Kennedy) voting to uphold. This outcome confirmed the general public impression that a leftist-dominated Court could be counted-on to uphold virtually any executive order issued by a president.

The consequence:  when the judiciary is unwilling to invalidate regulations and orders, it affords the president clear-sailing, freedom to ignore Congress.  We now know what that means when we have a modern Democrat as president: so long as conservatives do not have a majority in the Supreme Court, we live in an autocracy, a de facto dictatorship.

How could this be changed?  With Scalia gone, we have a potentially-deadlocked Court:  4 of the remaining justices are leftist, 3 are conservative, and Kennedy is a swing vote who sometimes give the leftists a majority. But if Clinton were elected and another leftist were appointed as the successor to Scalia, that would give the left a clear majority of at least 5 to 4.  Here is what it would take for conservatives to regain a majority on the Court:

  • A Republican president. Let’s call that a 50/50chance, a 50% probability in any election.
  • A  Republican majority in the Senate, at the same time as we have a Republican president.  (The Senate must approve all nominations to the Supreme Court.) Recent history:  in the 64 years beginning with the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, a single party has held both the presidency and a majority in the Senate only 27.5 years – 43%  of those years.  (Nixon never had a Republican Senate in his 6 years, Ford did not have one in his 2, and Bush The Elder was 0-for-4.)   Let’s generously round the 43% up to 50%.  So, the probability of having both a Republican president and a Republican Senate in any year is only 25%, under the basic formula:  when two events are independent, the probability of both occurring is the product of the probabilities of the individual events. 50% of 50% is 25%.
  • The departure of a lefty justice at a time when we have both a Republican president and a Republican Senate. The probabilities?  Let’s start with the fact that since 1930 (the nomination of Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes), there have been only 39 justices appointed to the Supreme Court, of whom 8 still serve, meaning the turnover is only 31 justices in 86 years.  So, we appoint, on average, just one new justice every 2.77 years, meaning the probability of even one court-opening in any year is only 36%.  As there is only a 50/50 chance that the departing justice would be a lefty, the likelihood of an opportunity to replace a lefty with a conservative is a mere 18% (50% of 36%), or once every 5 ½ years.
  • Now the punch line: All of that would have to happen at least twice in order to get the conservatives up to a clear majority.  What are the chances of the requisite alignment of the stars and planets occurring not just once, but twice?  The chance of its happening in any year is, 18% times 18%, or just a bit more than 3%.  Three percent per year means once every 33 years! Willing to live under a dictatorship until 2049? Does that work for you?  For your kids?  Your grandchildren?

Temporary relief:  We might not have an autocratic government continuously for the entire 33 years.  Even if Clinton won, we might get temporary relief at a later time if a Republican were elected president.  But that, by itself (absent the other requisite conditions), would not be enough to appoint two conservative nominees to the Supreme Court, it would merely make life a little better for a few years.  Once that president’s term ended, the nation would revert to being at the mercy of a presidential dictatorship.

So, are you anti-Trump conservatives and Republicans  still feeling OK with sitting out this election because of your distaste for Mr. Trump, still dreaming that you could turn this all around with better candidates in 4 or 8 years?  Still confident that a Republican president and Congress in 2020 or later could set things straight again?  Sorry, will not happen.  Even if the Republicans kept control of the Senate this year, despite a Clinton victory, we already know that a Republican-controlled Senate would not have the fortitude to spend 4 whole years continuously refusing to approve any Clinton nominees  to fill the Scalia seat.  So, we would be back to the 33-year scenario.  Are you willing to bet everything on Mitch McConnell overseeing a Republican retention of the Senate and leading a “no” vote on every single Clinton nominee for up to 8 years?


Republican Derangement Syndrome

We are eight weeks away from an election that could grant Hillary Clinton a mandate to achieve her life’s ambition of transforming our liberal, democratic republic into an authoritarian, centrally-planned state.  And Dorothy Rabinowitz (see Wall Street Journal, 9/29/16) is still sniffling about the stylistic and temperamental shortcomings of Mr. Trump.  Ms. Rabinowitz might have been more persuasive had she addressed the differences between the candidates on substantive matters, but the more-important point is that this election is about just one issue: control of the Supreme Court.

  •  It is certain that Ms. Clinton would fill the Scalia seat, as well as any other seats that became vacant during her reign (e.g., Ginsburg’s), with people who share her view that the U. S. Constitution is an obsolete nuisance that can and should be brushed aside to make way for presidential Executive Orders and federal regulations.  It is also clear that a Clinton-style Supreme Court would give the White House the functional equivalent of the power of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
  • We cannot be certain that Mr. Trump is more respectful of the truth than is Ms. Clinton, but we do have his pledge to fill Supreme Court vacancies with responsible lawyers and jurists who do not share Ms. Clinton’s vision of turning our legislative and judicial branches into window-dressing.  He has given us a list of possible nominees, and the list is impressive and convincing.

Ms. Rabinowitz indicates that Ms. Clinton, though burdened by certain “proclivities” (like, lying?), is “experienced, forward-looking, indomitably determined, and eminently sane.”   She neglects to mention that Ms. Clinton is a big-government/static-economy socialist, but, picky picky.

The central point is that Trump, despite his flaws, would give us an independent Supreme Court and Clinton would not.  The only other core-issue, the elephant in the room, is that the fastidious right is nearly as concerned as the left over placing Donald Trump’s finger on the Nuclear Button.  This fear, more than quibbles about policy or doubts about his character and personality, lies at the core of Trump-aversion syndrome.  Rabinowitz et al seem to fear that Trump might blow up the world if some nation insulted his wife or questioned his net worth.  Understood, but would you reject someone who might push the button at an inappropriate time, who might decline to go through the charade of assembling 30- member Coalitions of The Willing, and instead elect someone who has shown that she would never push the button, no matter how grave the danger we faced, someone with a lifetime resume’ of finding reasons NOT to take appropriate military action, whether in Benghazi or generally in the Middle East?  Do you, like Ms. Clinton, fear battle more than you fear loss of your independence?

We get it, that historians might not forgive you purist republicans for voting for Trump.  But remember, you scarcely lifted a finger to support the losers he dispatched so readily in the primaries.  So, get over it: hold your nose, compromise your intellectual purity, and save your country.  Forget policy and personality. This election is about the survival of our constitutional system of checks and balances.  At this point, only the judiciary, only a Supreme Court not dominated by the left, can prevent keep this “progressive” coup from becoming permanent.  Remember, it is almost impossible to revert from the statist model back to the free-markets/free-people model. Think Venezuela.  Think western Europe.  Sitting out this election while pledging to nominate a better candidate in 2020 would be unrealistic and reckless.  We might not even be holding elections by then.


The Carlos Gomez saga continues.  In 124 plate appearances with the Rangers, since being abandoned by the Astros, Gomez is hitting .291/.371/.564 with six doubles, eight homers and 24 RBI. Since moving to the leadoff spot (16 games ago), he’s been even better:  349/.406/.698 with four doubles, six homers and 15 RBI.  His Rangers numbers, if sustained over a full season, would represent 40+ home runs, 120+ RBI, etc.  So, what happened?

Possible answers:  (i) He got a new opthmalogist, a better one than the one who prescribed the contact lenses with which he was a dud, a doctor who could provide contacts that enabled him to see the ball as well as he had seen it with the glasses he wore during a brief hot streak with the Astros this summer; (ii) he got a new hitting coach, a better one than the Astros’ coaches who have also overseen the sharp declines in the offensive production of two of the team’s four stars (Correa and Springer) and several of the lesser players; (iii) he likes the Rangers’ players and coaches better; and (iv) he is a mercurial head case who will never again sustain a consistently high level of performance over an extended period.

I vote for all of the above.  Of particular interest is the possibility that Gomez is way happier in Arlington than he was in Houston.  It does not escape detection that the Astros have a distinctive style, a personality, one that is thus not necessarily everyone’s dish of tea.  Despite all the enthusiasm and energy displayed by the team in general and especially its leaders (Springer, Altuve, and Correa), there is a fundamental conservatism to the Astros –  an Edmund Burke-style conservatism, enthusiastic but firmly grounded in the best of what has gone before.  Consider the number of players (including the team’s leaders) who favor the old-fashioned high-socks/short-pants look – deeply conservative, even when paired with the most daring contemporary baseball-footwear.  The leaders usually speak in a sober and reflective manner, a stark contrast to the effervescent, mercurial personality of Gomez.

And then there are the fans.  From the beginning of his stay in Houston, Gomez had the look and sound of an outsider.  It did not help that the Astros’ fans seemed, from the beginning, to view him as a showboat, a pouter, a guy determined to attract attention.  The fans clearly indicated that they were not prepared to indulge that kind of stuff coming from a low-level performer.  Like the old joke about a pretentious restaurant:  the food was lousy, and such small portions!


Colin Kaepernick is free to do whatever he wants during the national anthem.  If he wants to assume yoga poses and salute the flag with a middle finger instead of an entire hand, that is his legal right.  But his employer, the 49ers, is free to penalize him however it wants, subject to the terms of his employment contract.  That is their legal right.  Free country, free speech, free markets.  Employers cannot fire you for being black, brown, yellow, female, Jewish, gay, or old, but they most certainly can fire you for violating the terms of your contract.  End of legal discussion.

On the merits, the Kaepernick protest does not appear to signal anger against the NFL (which employs more black players than white ones) or his team.  Apparently Mr. Kaepernick’s disdain for the national-anthem ritual is intended to signal that he is not proud of his country, because he does not like the way black people are treated here. Remind you of anyone?

Is America sufficiently flawed to merit this kind of insult?  That is a matter of opinion, but there is an irresistible temptation to say, OK, what other country on earth would come closer to satisfying you?  And if there is such a country, why are you still here?  If your plan is to stay here and fix America, the only part of your plan that makes any sense is your pledge to donate a million dollars to community organizations, though it might be more impressive if you paid the money today – and if it turned out that Acorn is not your model of a community organization.  Have you considered that you could honor your nation while working to improve it?

If Kaepernick’s behavior inspires similar protests by other professional athletes, it will pose a dilemma for the various leagues and associations that set the rules for player contracts and standards of conduct.  Will sports become yet another part of our culture in which participants and fans will be required to take sides, that we will become even further divided on matters of social mores or political correctness?