The Donald Phenomena vs. Candidate Trump

As of September, Donald Trump’s success have more to do with his persona phenomena than his bona-fides as a candidate. He’s proven himself capable of injuring other contenders, but the race to the White House is a marathon, not a sprint. When the “new” factor wears off, we’ll have to see if Trump is more than a grand prank.

Trump’s bid for the White House is something the establishment machine of both parties didn’t see coming and have no clue how to handle. Trump has broken the wall between mass entertainment and levers of power, and they’re freaked out. For better or worse he’s a man the unwashed masses are already emotionally attached to, which bodes ill for political theater built on knee-jerk voters. Should Trump win the primary, he will be unstoppable in the general.

That’s a big if. First Trump has to win the primary, complete with GOP delegate shell games and rigged election processes. The primary voter is a wholly different beast from a general election voter. The average general voter tunes into election news coverage 3 weeks before election day. Sound-bytes and party prejudices form the bulk of his/her decision process; there’s not time to learn anything else.

The primary voter absorbs political news as a lifestyle, not an event. Ignorance and prejudices can influence this voter as well, but local political climate impacts them far more. This is the main reason the Republican National Committee changed the rules for its national convention; crippling legitimate grassroots votes is their 5th food group.

Trump as a candidate is less impressive. Based on stump statements he’s more of a moderate policy-wise. He’s advocated for universal healthcare, but holds a hard-line on illegal immigration. He has plenty to say on domestic financial policy, and that’s great, but primary voters care about moral issues as well. So far he’s also thin on foreign policy, but as waves of Islamic “refugees” crash over Europe, we’ll be hearing more from all candidates on that.

As a businessman he’s played both sides of the aisle. I don’t hold that against him, but there are voters that do. Trump has one ace in the hole; he’s not beholden to the existing D.C. power structure. There’s been debate over whether he’s willing to self-finance his entire campaign. That’s important, because Obama would defund Planned Parenthood before the RNC gives Trump a red cent.

If for no other reason, all non-establishment Republicans should be thanking Donald Trump for wrecking GOP Inc.’s strategy to elect Jeb Bush, using “splitters” to break up the anti-D.C. vote.

Winners, Losers, and Embarrassments at CNN’s GOP Debate

CNN is hardly a trustworthy source for news, and it’s clear their primary goal for the night was to see how many times they could shout “he called you a poo-poo head! Go fight!” But debates provide candidates with a relatively unfiltered opportunity to make sound bytes. Here’s who won, who lost, who treaded water, and who really needs to go home.

THE WINNERS: Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, & Ted Cruz.

Carly Fiorina made the most of her prime-time debut, and managed to make waves without playing the gender card. Her comments on abortion and the character of the nation were meaty and moving. Her personal connection to the tragedies of drug use made her more than just another candidate. CNN tried their best to make it about gender, but Carly gave them zero help. Drudge has her finishing second behind Trump, and she wins the most improved prize of the night as well.

Marco Rubio has much to atone for to conservatives, who will not forget his role as spokesman for the Gang of 8 amnesty push. His remark on speaking Spanish so a Univision translator doesn’t get to shape his message had merit. It was a nice save for Bush, who was losing badly to Trump for the same policy. Rubio also got a corner market on an issue that impacts the most voters; government assaults on families, the bedrock of society. He connected the breakdown of the family unit to several of the national problems we face, making the case of “save the family, save the country.” He may have some vision after all.

Ted Cruz does not make friends in Washington, which makes him friends in principle with most Republican Party voters. He knows how to blend policy with personality, and understands how to play “good, better, best” with the audience. He doesn’t waste his time bashing other candidates; he used sound byte seconds to sell himself as the best option. He’s arguably the most Reaganesque candidate around. Should Trump fizzle, he will be best positioned to take the mantle.

THE LOSERS: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump & Chris Christie.

If you have a burning desire to make 2016 a contest between older, angrier relatives of previous presidents, Jeb Bush is your guy. He admitted to an illegal activity on live TV, tried to out-liberal Trump on abortion, and wound up promoting a very royalty-esque view of the presidency. It’s not like he has a choice though, his whole candidacy reeks of hereditary aristocracy. Just… no.

Donald Trump needed to use this debate to look presidential and (finally) provide more substance on his solutions. He failed on both counts. Trump looked especially bad against Fiorina; her sound byte friendly solutions made him sound full of hot air by comparison. He’s not out by any stretch of the imagination, but to really pull off the invincible act he’s been working, you need to let voters know you have fresh and viable solutions. Shouting “you’ll have more of everything!” doesn’t count. People want to believe Trump can actually do what he promises, he needs to make it easier for them.

Chris Christie is what we call a “niche candidate,” which is a nice way to say “no one in a red state will vote for him.” He has the bravado persona going for him, but Trump has a lock on that slot. Christie managed to look fairly relateable with his body language, but his debate statements didn’t match. He likes the cudgel of government domestically, but not on places like the Mexican border. Primary voters are the polar opposite of Christie, who needed to show his ability to be a president to more than the deep blue north east. He failed.

TREADING WATER: Scott Walker, Ben Carson, & Rand Paul.

Scott Walker did a good job of highlighting his record, but the persona he projected on stage didn’t match the resume. He’s got good experience in battleground state dynamics, but next to the other ten candidates on the stage he doesn’t look like he can take on problems like Putin, ISIS, or China. He made no gaffes, but didn’t make himself memorable. Hint: Asking a CNN moderator if you can speak is like asking Obama for religious protection for Christians. Take a page from Fiorina and elbow your way into the game.

Ben Carson is the non-DC candidate that isn’t Trump. That makes him stand out, and he has been gaining ground. His training as a meticulous, methodical surgeon may be working against him here though; the sound bytes candidates need to produce in debates didn’t happen. Carson didn’t articulate much substance, but that’s another thing he has in common with Trump. The Donald can get away with it though, because he hides a lack of substance with a mind-blowing helping of style. Carson needs to show how he’s more than a one-trick pony, sooner rather than later.

Rand Paul didn’t get much time in, and seemed to have a fidgeting problem. He did have one shining moment though when he made the case against perpetual US boots on the ground. What Fiorina did for the unborn, Paul did for our service men and women. He consistently does a good job on substance, so he didn’t lose ground there, but he didn’t have the energy onstage to make him look presidential. I wish appearances weren’t that important, but I don’t make the rules.

PEOPLE WHO NEED TO GO HOME: Mike Huckabee, John Kasich, CNN.

Mike Huckabee was invited, and there were no empty podiums, so I assume he was present. What little time he had was wasted; I can’t remember a single thing he said less than 3 hours after the debate. Huckabee has the same problem that Christie does, but in the South. To this day I can’t find a meaningful mission statement for his campaign. He needs to retire with dignity… if that’s possible.

John Kasich seems to talk about his 90’s accomplishments quite a bit, which makes him more qualified than Hillary, but not by much. The world we live in today is very different than the world of the 1990’s and if he wants to rest on those laurels, he needs to show how 20 year-old accomplishments can be repeated in modern day. In unrelated news, my 15-year-old son said “Is Christie standing next to the guy that looks like Garry Shandling?” #HailHydra

Dear CNN. “What would you want your Secret Service code name to be?” Really? That’s your attempt at a “lighthearted question?” Really?! That was only slightly more embarrassing than, “What woman do you want to put on the $10 bill?” Carly Fiorina totally pwned you when she hi-jacked your 5th grader question and forced something worthwhile into it. Go home, and take your Flight 370 psychic with you.

Why Donald Trump Really Scares The Establishment

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. GOPe Inc. had all the numbers run, right down to the district level. Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president, and crony capitalists the world over could count on business as usual. They had no reason to fear. Between professional sports, Hollywood, and reality TV, voters had no interest in primary season… or really anything of consequence.

Then, the Establishment’s beloved bread and spectacle produced a juggernaut, capable of breaking the firewall between entertainment and reality. His name is Donald Trump.

Our entertainment glutted culture is precisely what makes The Donald so formidable. Name recognition is the single most valuable thing a candidate for office can have, surpassing even money. It’s why every two years, busy intersections across the nation get more sign graffiti than a truck-stop bathroom and registered voters get more robocalls than an actual woman on Ashley Madison.

Donald Trump has been a household name since John Bohener was a “foot solider in the Reagan Revolution.” He’s made billions, married supermodels, and built a top rated reality show using two words America ache to tell their government, “You’re fired.” Both parties have abused our sound-byte culture for decades, and now they have to out play a man with more exposure than Miley Cyrus. Next to Trump, Bush looks like that kid riding home from the dentist.

When the audiences of “Here Comes Honey-boo-boo” and “Jersey Shore” know your opponent’s name, you’re sunk. No amount of commercials, hit pieces, news appearances, debates, campaign stops, book signings or straw polls can hurt such an opponent, and Karl Rove’s hundreds of millions will be wasted again. This crowd welcomed back Chris Brown after beating Rihanna; they don’t care about integrity, or poise, or even criminal history (which is why Hillary has a chance). Trump is from their side of the tracks, and he’s saying the same things on TV that people have been screaming at their TVs for 20 years.

Like ancient Rome, the establishment of both parties have been using entertainment to distract America from their hijacking of our nation. They may try to attack Trump on substance, but it will likely fail. Our culture hasn’t cared about substance for a while; one look at Super Bowl ratings vs. primary election voting numbers tells us if they did there would have been a revolution by now.

Dear Establishment, witness your creation. Now choke on it.

2014 Election Season is over soon, right? RIGHT?

It’s that time again!

Below are my thoughts on races which are contested. Please feel free to copy, forward, post to social media, print and burn, etc. Brace yourselves, winter is… already here, apparently.

Unites States Senate:

David Perdue has given voters little reason to vote for him, however this race now has more to do with removing Harry Reid as the majority leader in the Senate than it is about Georgia’s interests. Perdue will likely be less horrible than Saxby Chambliss, but that’s not saying much. This is a hold your nose vote, but a Democratically controlled Senate smells worse than Perdue.

Governor:

Nathan Deal has given voters less of a reason to vote for him than Perdue has, which is quite an accomplishment. The problem is that his opponent, Jason Carter is the grandson of Jimmy Carter, and has done nothing to convince the public he’s any different than grandpa. Jimmy Carter is on record as a supporter of Hamas, and is vocally anti-Israel. If we’re going to accept political dynasties, we could at least require that they not publically support Islamic governments. On the other hand, if we had a democratic governor, perhaps the executive and legislative branches would actually investigate each other, and we might clear out some of the rampant corruption in the crossfire. I voted for Nathan Deal, but it’s really a toss-up… mostly in a “toss your lunch” sort of way.

Secretary of State:

Brian Kemp is the GOP choice, and he’s actually made locating ballot information much easier. His opponent, Doreen Carter (no relation), has vague language on her website, but appears to be favoring a relaxation of the voter ID laws. I’m calling this one for Brian Kemp.

Lt. Governor:

L.S. “Casey” Cagle is the Republican in the race, and since his opponent, Connie Stokes advocates for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion on her front page, it’s kind of a no-brainer. Go with Cagle.

Attorney General:

Ugh, Sam Olens, the chief enabler of GOP corruption in the state capitol. I just can’t bring myself to vote for him. At the risk of a democrat starting a political witch hunt in Georgia, I’m going with Greg Hecht.

Commissioner of Agriculture:

Gary Black is the incumbent, and information on the race is hard to find. Gary looks like he has his stuff together, so I’ll go with him.

Commissioner of Insurance:

Ralph Hudgens is the GOP choice, and looking at his opponent, Liz Johnson, you can’t do worse than her. Her own website is abrasive, and has a section called “Liz’s Soapbox.” Just… no.

State School Superintendent:

Richard Woods is the GOP choice and publicly against Common Core. Game, set, match.

Commissioner of Labor:

Mark Butler is the pick here. His opponent, Robbin Shipp has plastered support for endless unemployment benefits on her front page. Also, when her Planned Parenthood and the ALF-CIO’s endorsements are front and center, it’s not a good bet.

Referendums:

No. 1: “Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?”

I voted NO. Maybe I’m being petty, but colleges across the country need to have a greater dose of reality. Maybe their staff wouldn’t be for every new tax if they had some skin in the game.

Cobb County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax: Basically they’re asking for more taxes for “stuff.” Until they stop wasting money on the incoming stadium, I’m not giving them another dime. NO

For the recap:

Unites States SenateDavid Perdue

Governor – Nathan Deal

Secretary of State – Brian Kemp

Lt. GovernorL.S. “Casey” Cagle

Attorney General – Greg Hecht

Commissioner of Agriculture – Gary Black

Commissioner of InsuranceRalph Hudgens

State School SuperintendentRichard Woods

Commissioner of LaborJ. Mark Butler

Number 1 Referendum – NO

Local Sales Tax – NO

It’s almost over… we’ll get through election season together.

An open letter to the protesters and police of Ferguson

Dear protesters and cops. It seems this whole Ferguson conflict is about trying to trumpet the wrong issue, while concealing the right one. Each side has valid points, but you’re debating all the wrong things.

Protesters:
The Wrong Issue – Racial oppression. Despite growing evidence to the contrary, most of them assume Michael Brown was unarmed and shot in the back by a police officer for racial reasons. For the sake of argument, we’ll assume that’s true. Even if it is, stealing moon pies from 7-11 is not going to bring about change. If your community is consumed with rage, why destroy property where you live? If you, the looter, can’t distinguish between a tool of oppression and the guy that sells you a $1.65 slurpee, the country has no reason to put faith in your opinion that Michael Brown was a target of racial oppression. If you must riot, don’t loot. Also, pick a target closer to your oppressive source.
The Right Issue – Militarization of civilian police. The Ferguson police have gift wrapped examples of their unchecked power. They’re arresting reporters on air, gassing reporters, threatening reporters with bodily harm on air, and standing by while you loot. It proves they’re not there to restore order; they want to show you whose boss. The eyes of the nation are on their ego-inflating camouflage, itchy tear-gas fingers, and patty wagons from Baghdad. You have years of materiel here. Heck, you could even make a case for the 2nd Amendment, because Ferguson is what it looks like when only the police have guns.

Law Enforcement:
The Wrong Issue – Public unrest. The Brown shooting itself is looking more and more justified. But your actions since then show you don’t care about a dead young man, whatever the reasons. At best it looks like callous disregard for human life, in which case, you are untrustworthy to protect it. At worst, it looks like you are intentionally trying to harm black people, which should land you in jail. Are you not human? Can you not mourn the tragedy of life cut short with the community? People outside Ferguson want to believe you, but right now, you’re proving the looters correct. You might say there’s no point in grieving with a rioting crowd. You couldn’t be more wrong. Be the better man, lead by example, and show your community that hate does not bring justice or healing.

The Right Issue – Cops have a hard job. You are the guys tackling that rapist to the ground, cuffing a child molester, and doing what you can to curb endless gang violence. You are the one wrapping a blanket around the hungry child found wandering a mile from his drunk parent’s home, and all too often you see evil you can do nothing about. Don’t let it steal your humanity. It appears Darren Wilson had a split second to make a threat assessment on a guy bum-rushing him. It might have been wrong, but he’s human. That’s what you need to remind people of, your humanity. People want to believe you, because the alternative is a world in which the police feel superior to the population they serve, and entitled to abuse the public how they see fit. Don’t be that guy.

Why is there such anger in Ferguson? Because it’s safer to be enraged than sad. This is a tragedy, but uncontrolled rage neither avenges the fallen, nor advances your cause. As Gandhi would say, dear protesters and cops, be the change you want to see in the world.

-Shelby Blakely, grieving American.

Wings of the Same Bird of Prey

After working in politics for five years, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Washington is a two-party system. the Establishment Party, and everyone else. The Establishment Party has notable members such Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Eric Cantor. They have one plank in their platform, “Stay in power.”

To the establishment party, it’s not about results, not even close. It’s about ensuring their party is the group that decides. There are certainly ideologues within the party, but the trappings of power, insulation from their own laws, and elevation above the unwashed masses; these are the goals of party elites.

How does the nation at large excise these political parasites?

“Find that which your enemy holds dear, and he will be more amenable to your demands.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War

What does this enemy hold dear?

Power.

Where does this power come from?

People dependent on them.

How do we seize that?

We must force the government to compete.

How?

With the free market.

We must do the job the government is claiming to do better, faster, and cheaper. It’s illogical to assume that millions of people dependent on the Federal Government will suddenly decide to act against their own interest. What they need is a better option, one that does not rely on government funds. This solution will not come from Washington; it comes from local, organized, and privately managed charities. America already knows how to do it; we just need to realize that the establishment party is competing for a monopoly on dependents. So far they’re winning but one thing still keeps them up at night.

If Americans help each other, we’ll quickly figure out we don’t need them anymore. Government has already proven they’re horrible at meeting people’s needs; they’re only ahead because no one else is showing up on the field.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. – Gandhi