The problem with Biden is Biden

Richard ben Kramer’s “What it Takes” is the finest book ever written about American political campaigns.  He covers the 1988 Presidential race, and Biden is one of the six candidates he embedded himself with.  You get the sense that Biden, his campaign, and his family trusted ben Kramer, and his account rings true.

Joe Biden is an incredibly undisciplined politician.  He has an extremely hard time coming to a decision.  He has little faith in his own judgment, but is utterly convinced that he has special political gifts.  He has a mediocre mind, but thinks he has an inner genius.  On those occasions when he connects with a crowd, he can put on a great performance. He has the gift of Irish bullshit, and he thinks that’s all he needs.

The on again off again drama of the announcement of his candidacy could be torn from the pages of “What it Takes”.  This is Joe Biden.

How long he lasts before his candidacy implodes is anybody’s guess.  He’s never been subjected to the kind of scrutiny he’ll be getting.  He’s over the hill, and he’ll make some sort of spectacle of himself when he departs.  He’ll be the center of attention when he quits, and he’ll milk it for all it’s worth.

Because, at his core, Joe Biden is above all else a drama queen.


Trump, tariffs and the new (old) Republican Party

Trump now threatens the European Union with tariffs on $11 billion of EU products.  As an nationalist, not an internationalist, the President is focused on the best interests of the American worker and American business.  Tariffs are a tool he’s more than willing to use.

Historically, Republicans have always been for restrictions on free trade.  As Abraham Lincoln said in 1847, “Give us a protective tariff, and we shall have the greatest nation on earth.”  Protectionism goes all the way back to Alexander Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures.  The second bill signed by President Washington was Tariff Act of 1789, imposing a broad 5% tariff.  It was gradually increased. and stood at 40% in 1820.

From 1820 to the end of World War II, American industry was the most protected in the world.  High tariffs were coincident with economic growth.  Between 1871 and 1913 tariffs were never lower than 38%, and annual increase of Gross National Product averaged 4.3%.  The United States became the economic superpower of the world while it protected its industries.  A small country, with a small domestic market, can be punished by competitors for high tariffs.  The huge market of this country allows us to thrive with protection.

Southern Democrats were the champions of free trade.  They were commodity exporters, and wanted a free market in cotton.  The 1896 defeat of Democratic President Grover Cleveland by Republican challenger William McKinley was all about the tariff.

This all changed after World War II.  Before Trump, every Republican Presidential nominee  in the post-war era was for free trade.  And while the rest of the world recovered from the war, American free trade policy did us little harm.  But as foreign competition returned around 1970, American industry began to suffer.  But regardless of the consequences to the welfare of the American workforce, free trade remained Republican dogma.

It was part of the conservative economic gospel, from Buckley to Goldwater to Reagan.  And it was ardently supported by international business interests, so it brought in contributions.  Because of this commitment to free trade, Republicans could never truly be the party of the working man.

Then came Trump, and the switch to the restrictions of fair trade.  Trade that is fair for the average working American.  In the big picture, free trade may be good for Wall Street, and even the nation as a whole.  But if the benefits are concentrated, and the costs of free trade are disproportionately borne by the working man, then it’s not fair, and it doesn’t pass muster.

As a Republican fair trader, Trump is a new breed of Republican, and also a return to the party’s roots.  This is the kind of Republican the base of the party wants, even if it splits the party with the Chamber of Commerce.  Trump has rebranded the party, and it’s not going back.  If, with fair trade, Trump brings more black and Latino workers into his camp, he will have a majority of the country as his base.

Trump has singlehandedly transformed the Republican Party.  It’s now once more the party of fair trade, and the working man.

One man with courage has made history.

(This appears in today’s American Thinker)


Yes, you got to show us your steenking batches

In foreign affairs, American Presidents have a free hand.  The Constitution is short and sweet on the subject.  “The President shall be Commander in Chief. . .” is all it really says.  Congress has to declare war, but it has declined to effectively exercise this power, deferring to the President.   The Courts are extremely deferential to the President in foreign affairs.  Divided counsels are dangerous, and this country has but one voice when it speaks to the world:  that of the President.

Right now our President is beyond pissed off.  He, and his country are being disrespected by the Mexican government.  They are turning a blind eye to the invasion from Central America.  While they’re laughing at us from behind our back.

Trump won’t put up with it. He can’t.  His credibility is on the line.  If the Mexicans can make a fool of him,  he loses respect.  Trump can not allow that to happen.

He won’t shut the border, but don’t underestimate the power of an American President to have his way in a dispute with a foreign country.  We have Mexico by the throat, economically, and there are many ways to start squeezing.

Then again, maybe I’m wrong about Trump.  Maybe he’s all talk.

[An edited version appears in today’s American Thinker.]

Don’t commit parental malpractice

Chances are, your kids and grandkids are going to go to public schools, which are controlled by school boards.  Those board members are responsible for policy, and every parent and grandparent needs to be an informed voter, and not let the radical left teacher’s union elect the board members, and control the policy.  If you don’t take control of your school board, you’re not being a responsible parent or grandparent.

The loss of Kai Binkley Sims in the Anchorage School Board race yesterday is a case in point.  The woman who beat her will be a loyal ally of the teacher’s union on the board.  The teacher’s union elected her, and they will control her.  The parents and grandparents of Anchorage, Alaska aren’t doing their jobs.

Babbie and I spent 27 years of our lives in Anchorage, and all three of our sons went through the public schools system.  Since we left in 2001, Anchorage has changed, and not for the better.  In the Anchorage that I knew, there’s no way Kai Binkley Sims could have lost.

All of Alaska has changed, for the worse, over the last 20 years.  Governmental dependency is pervasive.  The whole state’s on the tit.

The Permanent Fund Dividend program may be part of the problem.  It apparently has attracted the wrong kind of immigrant.  Not the kind that wants a big job, but the kind that wants a handout.

When I became an Alaska State Senator in 1983, the Permanent Fund was just coming into its own, and I was against any dividends.  I didn’t want to foster dependency.  Large capital projects would be a better use of the money.

But my first few weeks in office I saw how these capital projects were being funded.  It was frivoulous, it was corupt, it was, in fact, criminal the way the state legislature was funding these projects.  Everybody and his brother was ripping off the State of Alaska, and half of all that Prudhoe Bay oil money was pissed away.

So I became a supporter of the Permanent Fund Dividend.  And it was only by the political use of the dividend that the fund itself hasn’t been frittered away.

But at what cost?


It’s not just the economy, stupid

We are in the midst of a great political transition, from one era to another.  Such transitions are rare in this country.  “The End of the New Deal Era, and the Coming Realignment” in the American Interest, by Frank J. DiStefano,  says there have been five such eras in our history.  At the end of each era, in response to the failure of the old party system, the parties reinvent themselves, making new coalitions in attempting to form a majority.  DiStefano says the Democrat and Republican coalitions of the New Deal era which is just ending are both inadequate, and need a do-over.

What DiStefano doesn’t appreciate is that the reinvention of the Republican Party has already taken place.  It happened in the 2016 election.  Today’s Republicans are nationalists and populists, and constitutional conservatives.   Out goes the Chamber of Commerce.  In come the working men and women of America.

So, DiStefano is right, except only one party is in disarray, and it’s the Democrats.  The cascade of Presidential candidates is a sign of incoherence.  The party is fragmenting.  The only traditional Democrat, with proven appeal to working class whites, is the besieged Joe Biden.  The man’s ego is so enflamed, and he’s such a drama queen, that it may take him a while to accept reality.  He’s toast.

Bernie Sanders is head and shoulders above the rest, a man who is intent on transforming the Democratic Party into a vehicle to advance socialism.  He’s a lunatic, a true believer in a totally discredited, crackpot ideology.  As long as he’s in the race, he’ll pull the party further to the loony left.  The mix of abortion extremism, gun control, climate hysteria, open borders and warmed over socialism is not a winning set of issues.

So when you think about the cards being dealt Donald Trump, it’s not just the economy.  He has a full hand.  And he plays the game well.

(This appears in today’s American Thinker)