Russia 1

An illuminating article. For us, lifelong students of Communism and the modern history of Russia, almost as full of surprises as of affirmations.

Angelo M. Codevilla writes at CRB:

What 21st-century Russia is in itself, to its neighbors, and to America flows from the fact it is no longer the Soviet Union. As the red flag came down from the Kremlin on Christmas Day 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin, when asked what he thought of Communism, nearly wept as he replied: “I wish it had been tried somewhere else.” Vladimir Putin, who famously said that the USSR’s collapse had been a tragedy, nevertheless shares the Russian people’s consensus that their country was Communism’s first and foremost victim, and that no one knows how long it may take to live down its dysfunctions. To its neighbors, this Russia is a rebudding tsarist empire. To Americans, it is a major adversary despite the lack of clashing geopolitical interests.

After Communism

The Revolution of 1917 was possible because socialists, in Russia and throughout the Western world, believed that “present-day society”, as Karl Marx put it, is a jumble of “contradictions”, which could be resolved only by tearing down the pillars of the house. Once that was done, history would end: man and woman, farmer and industrial worker, producer and consumer, intellectual and mechanic—heretofore at odds—would live harmoniously, freely, and prosperously ever after.

Because they really believed in this utopian dream, the socialists gave absolute power to Lenin and Stalin’s Communist Party to wreck and reorganize—to break eggs in order to make a delicious omelette. But Communism, while retaining some of Marxism’s antinomian features (e.g., war on the family and on religion), became in practice almost exclusively a justification for the party’s absolute rule. For example, the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and by other Communist regimes owed precisely zero to Marx, but was a finely tuned instrument for keeping the party in control of wealth.

The Leninist party is gone forever in Russia because, decades after its leaders stopped believing in Marxism, and after Leonid Brezhnev had freed them from the Stalinist incubus that had kept them loyal to the center, they had learned to make the party into a racket. That, and the residual antinomian features, made Russia into a kakotopia. Russian men learned to intrigue and drink on the job rather than work. Shunning responsibility for women and children, they turned Russian society into a matriarchy, held together by grandmothers. In a thoroughly bureaucratized system, each holder of a bit of authority used it to inconvenience the others. Forcing people to tell each other things that both knew not to be true—recall that “politically correct” is a Communist expression—engendered cynicism and disrespect for truth. The endless anti-religion campaigns cut the people off from one moral system and failed to inculcate another. Alcohol drowned unhappiness, life expectancies declined, and fewer Russians were born.

Religious morality? Communism not a religious morality? Not the same religious morality in certain vital respects? All red capes waving at us bulls!  But for the sake of what’s to come, we’ll only stand and paw the ground – and give a snort or two.

The Russian people rejected Communism in the only ways that powerless people can—by passivity, by turning to anything foreign to authority, and by cynicism. Nothing being more foreign to Communism than Christianity, Russians started wearing crosses, knowing that the regime frowned on this feature of the Russia that had pre-existed Communism, and would survive it.

A louder snort. But on:

No sooner had the USSR died than Russia restored the name Saint Petersburg to Peter the Great’s “window on the West”. Even under Soviet rule, Russians had gone out of their way to outdo the West in Western cultural matters—“nekulturny” (uncultured!) was, and remains, a heavy insult in Russia. Moscow let countless priorities languish as it rebuilt in record time its massive Christ the Savior cathedral to original specifications. As the Russian Orthodox church resumed its place as a pillar of the Russia that had been Christianity’s bastion against the Mongol horde as well as against the Muslim Ottomans, golden domes soon shone throughout the land. Whatever anyone might think of the Russian Orthodox church, it anchors the country to its Christian roots.

Few Americans understood Vladimir Putin’s rise to power at the close of the 20th century as the reassertion of a bankrupt, humiliated, resentful people looking to make Russia great again. Since then, Putin has rebuilt the Russian state into a major European power with worldwide influence. Poverty and a resource-based economy notwithstanding, it is on a sounder financial basis than any Western country. Corruption is within historical limits. The leadership is appreciated by the vast majority, whose national pride and solidarity dwarf those of Western publics. Nearly all Russians approve strongly of its absorption of Crimea. Russia effectively controls Ukraine’s eastern end, and has exposed the West’s incapacity to interfere militarily in the former Soviet empire. In the Middle East, Russia is now the dominant force.

In sum, the Russian bear licks its deep wounds as it growls behind fearsome defenses.

The Neighborhood

Russia’s Westernism is neither imitation nor love of the West. It is the assertion that Russia is an indispensable part of it. The Russians saved Europe from Napoleon, and from Hitler, too. That they did the latter tyrannically, as Soviets, does not, in their minds, disqualify them from their rightful place in Europe, or justify Europeans, much less Americans, trying to limit Russia’s rightful stature. Today’s Russian rulers are not gentler or nicer than the emperor who shook off the Mongol yoke—who wasn’t known as Ivan the Nice Guy. Like their forebears they are calculating Russia’s stature in terms of the limits—primarily in Europe—set by their own present power as well as by that of their immediate neighbors.

Russian writing on international affairs focuses exclusively on the country’s role as a member of the European system. By the 2030s, if not sooner, the Russian government will have filled such territory, and established such influence, as befit its own people’s and its neighbors’ realities, and will be occupied with keeping it. More than most, Putin is painfully aware of Russia’s limits. Its declining population is less than half of America’s and a tenth of China’s. Despite efforts to boost natality, its demography is likely to recover only slowly. Nor is its culture friendly to the sort of entrepreneurship, trust, and cooperation that produces widespread wealth. What, then, are Putin’s—or any Russian leader’s—national and international objectives?

As always, Ukraine is of prime interest to Russia because it is the crux of internal and external affairs. With Ukraine, Russia is potentially a world power. Without it, it is less, at best. But Putin’s pressures, disruptions, and meddlings have shown him how limited Russia’s reach into Ukraine is, and is sure to remain. Hence, Russia’s conquest of Ukraine east of the Don River signifies much less the acquisition of a base for further conquest than the achievement of modern Russia’s natural territorial limit in Europe. The 20th century’s events forever severed Ukraine and the Baltic states from Russia; even Belarus has become less compatible with it. Modern Russia is recognizing its independence, even as the Soviet Union at the height of its power effectively recognized Finland’s. As the Russian Federation’s demographic weight shifts southeastward—and Islamism continues to gain favor there—the Russian government will have to consider whether to shift its efforts from keeping the Muslim regions within the federation to expelling and building fences against them.

As the decades pass, post-Soviet Russia will have to work harder and harder to cut the sort of figure in Europe that it did under the tsars. That figure’s size is the issue. The Russian empire’s size has varied over the centuries according to the ratios between its and its neighbors’ national vigor and power. In the past, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the Hanseatic powers, Germany, all have shrunken or swollen Russia. Borders and spheres of influence have varied. There is no reason why this should not be so in the future. Russia will neither invade Europe nor dominate it politically because its people lack the political will, and its state the capacity, to do either. During Soviet times, this will and this capacity were the product of the national and international Communist Party apparatus, now gone forever.

A glance back at this gargantuan human structure reminds us of how grateful we should be that it now belongs to history. The Communist faction that resulted from the 1918 split in the international socialist movement—like the rump socialist faction that ended up governing Europe after 1945, but unlike the fascist one—already intended to conquer the world. (Fascism, Mussolini’s invention, recalled some of ancient Rome’s peculiar institutions and symbols—the fasces was the bundle of punishing rods carried by the consuls’ lictors—and added governing Italy through business-labor-government councils. It was not for export.) Communists worldwide came under the firm control of the Soviet Party’s international division run by formidable persons like Andrei Zhdanov and Boris Ponomarev, disposing of virtually unlimited budgets and, after 1929, of the services of countless “front organizations.” These, the party’s hands and feet and its pride and joy, reached out to every imaginable category of persons: union members, lawyers, teachers, journalists, housewives, professional women, students, non-students. Each front organization had an ostensible purpose: peace, through opposition or support of any number of causes. But supporting the “Soviet line” was the proximate purpose of all. Through tens of thousands of “witting” Communists, these fronts marshaled millions of unwitting supporters, helping to reshape Western societies. Soviet political control of Europe was eminently possible, with or without an invasion, because the Soviet domestic apparatus had marshaled Soviet society, and because its international department and front organizations had convinced sectors of European societies to welcome the prospect.

The tools that today’s Russia wields vis-à-vis Europe are limited to commerce in natural gas, and to the opportunities for bribery that this creates—witness Russian Gazprom’s employment of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Not only do European governments not fear being invaded by Russia, they refuse to diversify their sources of natural gas, and generally oppose American sanctions imposed on Russia because of its actions in Ukraine. The notion among European ruling parties that the voters who are in the process of rejecting them for various “populist” and nationalist options, are pining for Russian-style governance or tricked by Russian wiles is a baseless attempt to sidestep the ruling parties’ own failures.

The Lefty globalists think that? There’s a surprise! Whatever makes them think so? We see the populist movements as being unequivocally towards conservative nationalism, self-determination, personal liberty, not … neo-tsarism.

Europe’s rulers know that Russian military forces are not built to conquer the continent, because these forces lack the wherewithal for large-scale projection of power. Instead, they possess formidable capacity for what soldiers call “area denial”. This fits Russian leaders’ strategic goals, the people’s sentiments, and material constraints. The wars that today’s Russian military are built to fight are in areas that today’s Russian military sees most threatened by the U.S. and NATO, on its borders with Poland and Lithuania (where Russia crushed the Wehrmacht in 1944-45), and in Ukraine, north of Crimea. Russia’s military posture has ever been, and gives every sign of remaining, strategically defensive but operationally offensive. Now as before, when war seems imminent Russia’s operational doctrine calls for taking the initiative in a preemptive manner.

Although Russian strategy would be to surround and seal off foreign troops by air and ground, for the first time in Russia’s history, military manpower is scarce and precious. Economizing manpower is one reason why the country has fully integrated nuclear weapons in ordinary military operations, recalling nothing so much as President Dwight Eisenhower’s doctrine in the 1950s of “more bang for the buck”. To seal off the airspace, and to provide an umbrella for their ground forces, the Russians would use the S-400 air-missile defense system—the world’s best, which is now deployed around some 300 high-value locations. Strikes (or the threat thereof) by the unique Iskander short-range missile would preclude the foreign forces’ escape, as Russian troops moved in with Armata tanks, which carry the world’s best reactive armor.

Possession of perhaps the world’s best offensive and defensive strategic forces—comparable to America’s and far superior to China’s—is why Russia is confident that it can contain within limited areas the wars that it needs to fight. Because Russia has nothing to gain by military action against America or China, this arsenal is militarily useful only as insurance against anyone’s escalation of border disputes, and as the basis for Russia’s claim to be a major world player.

Priorities and Collusion

Russia loomed small in U.S. foreign policy from the time of the founding until the 1917 Bolshevik coup, because the interactions between America’s and Russia’s geopolitical and economic interests were few and mostly compatible. Given that these fundamentals have not changed, it would be best for both countries if their policies gradually returned to that long normal.

But for both countries, transcending the past century’s habits is not easy. The essential problem is that neither side’s desires, nor its calculus of ends and means, is clear to the other, or perhaps to itself. It seems that the main thing Putin or any other Russian leader might want from America is no interference as Russia tries to recreate the tsars’ empire. Thus Russia’s continuing relations with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America can only be understood as Cold War inertia—the almost instinctive sense that what is bad for America must somehow be good for Russia. The U.S. government, for its part, while largely neglecting Russia’s involvement in the Western hemisphere, tries to limit its influence in Europe while at the same time reaching agreements concerning strategic weapons—a largely Cold War agenda. The soundness of these priorities on both sides is doubtful.

Both Russia and the U.S. fear China, and with good reason. The crushing size of contemporary China’s population and economy frightens the Russians. The fact that some Russian women marry Chinese men (disdaining Russian ones) embarrasses them and has made them more racially prejudiced than ever against the Chinese. Yet Russia aligns with China internationally and sells it advanced weapons, paid for with American money—money that China earns by trading its people’s cheap labor for America’s expensive technology. With these weapons as well as its own, China has established de facto sovereignty over the South China Sea and is pushing America out of the western Pacific. Nonetheless, the U.S. treats Russia as a major threat, including “to our democracy”. For Russia and America to work against one another to their common principal adversary’s advantage makes no geopolitical sense. But internal dynamics drive countries more than geopolitics.

Nowhere is this clearer than with the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election—a charge which has roiled American public life for the past two years and counting. Interference in American life? That is what the Soviet Union was all about. By contrast, current concerns about Russia are a tempest, albeit a violent one, in a domestic American teapot.

In America, the Soviets worked less through the Communist Party than they did in Europe. Here [in America], they simply seduced and influenced people at the top of our society. Even in America prominent persons in the Democratic Party, academia, media, and intelligence services (or who would become prominent, e.g., future Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and CIA Director John Brennan), were Communists more or less openly. Far more important to the Soviets were persons convinced that Soviet and American interests were identical. Harry Hopkins, for example, who ran the U.S. government on President Franklin Roosevelt’s behalf, considered Stalin’s objectives to be so indistinguishable from America’s that the KGB considered him to be effectively Stalin’s agent. By contrast, Alger Hiss, an important State Department official, was one of many controlled Soviet agents within the U.S. government. But the compatibility between Hiss’s views and those of many in the U.S. ruling class was striking. For example, even after Soviet archives confirmed Hiss’s status as a Soviet agent, Robert McNamara, secretary of defense under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, like many of his class, angrily insisted on Hiss’s innocence.

The comradeship of American liberals and Soviet Communists lasted to the Soviet Union’s end. In May 1983, for example, in an incident widely reported at the time and confirmed by Soviet archives, former U.S. senator John Tunney visited Moscow and, on behalf of his friend and classmate—and prospective Democratic presidential candidate—Senator Edward Kennedy, proposed to KGB director Viktor Chebrikov that Kennedy work with Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov to “arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA” because “the only real potential threats to Reagan [in the 1984 election] are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations”. Kennedy promised “to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews”. Collusion, anyone? Today, with the Soviet Union gone, its moral-intellectual imprint on our ruling class remains.

The contemporary notion of Russian interference, however, owes nothing to Russia. It began when, in June 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) tried to explain how a trove of e-mails showing its partiality for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders got into the public domain, alleging that they had been hacked from its server by Russian agents. To this day, there is zero evidence for this, the DNC not having allowed access to that server by any law enforcement agency or independent party.

Throughout the rest of the 2016 campaign, this narrative merged with one from CIA Director John Brennan and other leaders of U.S. intelligence, who were circulating a scurrilous dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, that alleged Trump’s connections with Russia. The Obama Administration used the dossier as the basis for electronic and human surveillance of the Trump campaign. Together, these narratives prompted a two-year investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which found no basis for the dossier, or for a relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, the assertion of Trump’s indebtedness to Russia became the pretext for #TheResistance to the 2016 election’s result, led by the Democratic Party, most of the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and the media.

In Europe as well as in America, the establishment’s protagonists have pointed to Russia to allege that their rejection by the voters is somehow “undemocratic”. Larry Diamond in the Wall Street Journal, following Robert Kagan in the Washington Post, wrote that “in one country after another, elected leaders have gradually attacked the deep tissues of democracy—the independence [from sovereign voters] of the courts, the business community, the media, civil society, universities and sensitive state institutions like the civil service, the intelligence agencies and the police.” Voting against the establishnment, you see, is undemocratic!

What Are Our Interests?

Making impossible a rational public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia is the very least of the damage this partisan war has wrought. American liberals believed the Soviet Union’s dissolution was impossible; conservatives flattered themselves that they caused it. Few paid attention to what happened and how. Once the Soviet Union was gone, the West in general and Americans in particular presumed to teach Russians how to live, while helping their oligarchs loot the country. Russians soon got the impression that they were being disrespected. At least as Soviets, they had been feared. The Clinton Administration was confident that Russia would become a liberal partner in the rules-based international order. At the same time Clinton tried to load onto Russia the hopes that the U.S. establishment had long entertained about global co-dominion with the Soviets. In the same moment they pushed NATO to Russia’s borders—a mess of appeasement, provocation, and insult. Long-suffering Russians, who had idolized the West during the Soviet era, came to dislike us.

As the George W. Bush Administration fumbled at the new reality, it tried to appease Russia by continuing to limit U.S. missile defenses in fact, while publicly disavowing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; it formally objected to Russia’s dismemberment of Georgia, while effectively condoning it. The incoming Barack Obama Administration tried to go further along the same self-contradictory line by withdrawing anti-missile support from eastern Europe, and quietly promising even more restraint. But when, in 2014, Putin seized Crimea, Obama imposed serious economic sanctions and agreed to place NATO and American troops in Poland and the Baltic States. Then, for the most tactical of domestic political considerations, the Obama Administration, and hence the U.S. establishment, decided to try explaining the course and results of the 2016 U.S. election campaign as “Russia’s attack on our democracy”.

What are the American people’s interests in Eurasia, and how big are these interests? Although today’s Russia poses none of the ideological threats that the Soviet Union did—and despite the absence of geopolitical or any other clashing interests—Russia is clearly a major adversary in Europe and the Middle East. Its technical contributions to China’s military, and its general geopolitical alignment with China, are most worrisome. What, other than Soviet inertia and wounded pride, motivates the Russians? The U.S. maintains economic sanctions on Russia. To achieve precisely what? From both sides’ perspective, it is difficult to see what good can come from this continued enmity.

Today’s triangular U.S.-Russia-China calculus is not comparable to the Soviet-Chinese military confrontation of the 1970s and ’80s, when both the U.S. and China feared Soviet missiles, and the U.S. best served its own interests by implicitly extending its nuclear umbrella over China. Today, the problems between Russia and China stem from basic disparities that U.S. policy obscures by treating Russia as, if anything, more of a threat than China. The best that the U.S. can do for itself is to say nothing, and do nothing, that obscures these disparities. Without backhanded U.S. support for close Russo-Chinese relations, the two countries would quickly become each other’s principal enemies.

Ongoing U.S. anxiety about negotiations with Russia over weaponry is nothing but a legacy of the Cold War and a refusal to pay attention to a century of experience, teaching that arms control agreements limit only those who wish to limit themselves. Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing the Iskander missile; the U.S. was right to withdraw from the agreement, but mistaken in ever expecting another country not to arm itself as it thinks best. In that regard, Americans should not listen to, never mind accommodate in any way, Russia’s (or any other country’s) objections to U.S. missile defenses. These are in our clear and overriding interest. Defending America as best we can—against missiles that might come to us from anywhere, for any reason—is supremely our business.

What then are America’s legitimate, realizable demands on Russia?

Putin’s Russia, by its 2015-18 intervention in Syria and its management of Turkey, achieved the tsars’ historic desire for a warm water port. Although the former conquest is firm, keeping Turkey friendly to Russia must ever be troublesome. Absent a friendly Turkey, Russia’s renewed control of Crimea and even the Syrian bases will be of very limited worth for any but defensive purposes. Whatever else might be said of its role in the Middle East, Russia has brought more stable balance to local forces than ever in this young century. Only with difficulty will American statesmen regret that our old adversary now deals with some of the problems that bedeviled us for a half-century.

The U.S. would be more secure geopolitically were Russia merely one of several European powers. But it has always been an empire, whose size has varied with time. An independent Ukraine has always been the greatest practical limitation on Russia’s imperial ambitions. That is very much a U.S. interest, but is beyond our capacity to secure.

U.S. relations with Russia regarding Ukraine are analogous to U.S. relations with Europe 200 years ago. Our overriding interest then was to prevent the Europeans from holding any major part of the Western hemisphere. By stating America’s intention to guard its hemispheric interests while forswearing meddling in European affairs, the U.S. encouraged them to face that reality. Today’s Russia realizes it cannot control Ukraine except for its Russian part, nor the Baltics, never mind the Visegrád states. The U.S. could lead Russia to be comfortable with that reality by reassuring it that we will not use our normal relations with Ukraine or with any of Russia’s neighbors to try to define Russia’s limits in Europe. We should realize that our setting such limits is beyond America’s capacity, and that it undercuts the basis for fruitful relations.

The U.S. prefers the Baltic States, and especially Ukraine, to be independent. But we know, and should sincerely convey to Russia, that their independence depends on themselves, and that we regard it as counterproductive to make them into American pawns or even to give the impression that they could be. Ukraine’s independence—and hence Russia’s acceptance of it as inevitable—depends on Ukraine retrenching into its Western identity, rejecting the borders that Stalin and Khrushchev had fixed for it, and standing firmly on its own feet—as, for example, by asserting its Orthodox church’s independence from Russia’s.

Wise U.S. policy would remove sanctions that previous administrations placed on Russia on behalf of Ukraine. Fruitless strife has been these sanctions’ only result. For example, they emboldened Ukraine to suppose it had U.S. support for presuming it had the same right to navigation in the Sea of Azov, passing under a Russian bridge, as it does in the Atlantic Ocean.

But in accord with the Monroe Doctrine, we should be willing to wage economic war on Russia—outright and destructive—on America’s own behalf, were the Russians to continue supporting anti-U.S. regimes in the Western hemisphere. If you want economic peace with America, we would say, stop interfering in our backyard. We Americans, for our part, are perfectly willing to stop interfering in your backyard.

In sum, nothing should be geopolitically clearer than that the natural policy for both America and Russia is not to go looking for opportunities to get in each other’s way.

The GOP – thwarted and vengeful? 14

The Republican establishment is appalled at the prospect of their nominee being Donald Trump.

What might they do about it?

Kevin Rex Heine writes (in part only – so please follow the link and read the whole thing) at RIGHTMI.com

To say that the 2016 Republican Presidential Campaign has become interesting since June of last year is a bit of an understatement, to say the least. An out-of-the-blue “chaos injection” on June 16th (that FOX News polling saw coming as early as March 31st, but no one else picked up on until late May) became the nationally-recognized front runner not five weeks later, completely leapfrogging the “heir apparent” (who promptly went into a freefall, and has now exited the campaign). Because of this chaos injection, one candidate, who was until that point considered to be irrelevant, leapfrogged to become the national runner-up about five and a half weeks later (and was the national front-runner for three days in November), and two young guns are now openly tussling for second place nationally, neither of whom were supposed to have a realistic chance to begin with.

As should have been expected, the thorough derailing of the coronation train for the republican heir apparent makes the professional political establishment very unhappy, and, of course, they’re hell-bent on doing something about that. But the reason that all of their scrambling is increasingly ineffective is that they don’t seem to really understand the causa provocare of the outsider’s challenge, perhaps because they really don’t understand the degree to which the typical voter is disgusted with the political status quo in America, or why. Thus, predictably, the flailing increasingly exposes them for who they are and what they intend, which conversely makes the outsider’s job that much easier. …

Beginning with congressional leadership action in late 2013, carrying through the 2014 national and state party decisions to modify the primary calendar and delegate allocation and binding rubrics, and concluding with the state legislative actions in early 2015 to set the 2016 primary calendar into law, the roadmap was set to secure the nomination for one John Ellis Bush, and accomplish it knowing that their hand-picked candidate would only rarely poll outside the 15% to 20% range of popular support until after the “game day” primary on March 15th (Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio). Anticipating viable “outsider” challenges from Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and even Rick Perry (Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum being considered either irrelevant or improbable, and Donald Trump completely unanticipated), the split-and-fracture strategy was implemented, and augmented by compromising from within the four anticipated challengers (a sabotage job that only Cruz seems to have recovered from).

Thus, with every single intel tripwire triggering in the exact order and construct needed to validate the hypothesis, the 2016 presidential cycle was looking to be a colossal exercise in futility for the grassroots activists and main street voters, as the coronation trains to Cleveland (republican) and Philadelphia (democrat) were designed to produce a very specific general election match-up (Bush vs. Clinton), which would be a win for the professional political establishment and deep pocket financiers regardless of the November outcome. And then . . .

… The one and only reason that Cruz has no path to nomination, absent Trump, is because the RNC/GOPe “roadmap to Cleveland” was specifically and explicitly designed to prevent Cruz (along with Perry, Walker, Paul, and Carson) from ever securing enough delegates to become the nominee, or enough delegation majorities to force a floor fight over the nomination. The roadmap was designed to produce exactly one predetermined result (with a backup option in the event that ¡Yeb! failed to gain traction), and lock it down on the first ballot in Cleveland. The one and only reason that both Cruz and Carson are still in the mix is that, eight months ago, Trump came in and proceeded to singlehandedly shred the establishment roadmap, and systematically demolish two years of meticulous backroom planning.

Accepting these truths also means accepting the reality that Cruz has exactly two options if he wants any post-convention relevance: (a) Do whatever is necessary to mend fences with both Carson and Trump, and position himself to provide constitutionally-sound policy advice to Trump post-convention, and perhaps even post-election. (b) Broker some behind-the-scenes deal with Rubio, and position himself to become Rubio’s running mate (or Rubio to become his), on the assumption that a combined Rubio-Kasich-Cruz effort can force a contested convention. …

Given that Donald Trump had floated the idea of campaigning for POTUS before (1988, 2004, and 2012), as well as for Governor of New York (2006 and 2014), one could forgive the professional political establishment, deep pocket financiers, and corporate media talking heads for not taking the guy seriously on Wednesday, March 18th, 2015, when he launched his exploratory committee for the republican POTUS nomination. But in the thirteen weeks between then and the Tuesday, June 16th, formal announcement of his candidacy (“I am officially running for president of the United States.”), Trump did things that he wouldn’t do if this were a mere publicity stunt – stock divestitures, disconnecting conflicts of interest, and escrowing certain real estate sources of income. Yeah, he’s serious about this, and because he isn’t owned by either Wall Street, or K Street, or the RNC/GOPe party apparatus, by the time that the professional political establishment, deep pocket financiers, and corporate media talking heads actually figured out that “The Donald” was, in fact, quite serious about his stated intentions . . .

The timing of Trump’s entry into the campaign was, I believe, intended to take advantage of the entire RNC/GOPe 2016 primary construct, once it was locked into place, in a way that allows him to use the rules changes against the very people those changes were designed to benefit, effectively hoisting them on their own petard. Should Trump secure a majority of the convention voting delegates (Rule # 40(d)), and a majority of the delegations of at least eight states severally (Rule # 40(b)), then, according to Rule # 16(a), which binds delegates to the outcome of their statewide (or district-specific) popular vote on at least the first ballot at convention, one Donald John Trump, Senior, becomes the nominee of the Party of Reagan. Game, set, and match to Trump, and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about it . . . on paper.

Trump was also savvy enough to know what he was walking into … brilliantly [exposing the weakness of] the road map during a presser last August (full video here). Yet, since his entry, he has spoken the truth both to the powerful and the common on trade reform, immigration reform, foreign policy failures, tax reform, and veterans’ issues (among many others). In doing so, he has forced the other candidates, on both sides of the aisle, to respond by engaging in serious discussions on those very same issues. He also had the stones to go after George W. Bush regarding 9/11 and Iraq, which is supposed to be sacred ground to “republicans” … And that wall on our southern border? Notice that neither Felipe Calderon nor Vincente Fox are questioning whether the wall should be built, but only that Mexico will not be paying for it (a distinction that the press is somehow overlooking). Yet, there’s something that neither of them wants us to know about, which likely provides a means (in addition to renegotiating trade agreements and impounding the foreign aid) to raise enough money – at Mexico’s expense – to pay for the wall. …

But –

Just because the game may soon be all but over on paper doesn’t mean that the powers that be are going to quit, no siree! The uni-party globalists are aware that a Trump win ultimately means that their hands will be forcibly pried from the public trough, and they don’t care for reversing the decline of America that not only they, but also their philosophical ancestors, have been engineering for a shade over a century. The prospect of a nominee, and in all likelihood a president, who isn’t owned by them (therefore doesn’t answer to them), has detailed insider knowledge of what needs to be done to restore America to greatness (plus openly “America first” in his thinking), and is well aware of what they’re up to, has them quite concerned. And those of us who’re paying attention are seeing the indicators that they’re preparing to reach deep into their bag of dirty tricks.

Students of history may recall the “Republican Disunity” 1964 campaign ad run by Lyndon Johnson, which focused on public remarks from republican governors Nelson Rockefeller (New York), William Scranton (Pennsylvania), and George Romney (Michigan), said remarks calling the credibility of republican senator and presidential nominee Barry Goldwater (Arizona) into question, and saying in effect that Goldwater’s nomination and election would essentially end the Republican Party. This was the ad that ultimately gestated the principle now known as Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.

(Which was, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”)

More recently, in the 2014 U. S. Senate primary runoff in Mississippi, the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled out all the stops to defend one of the establishment’s own (Thad Cochran) against an insurgency challenger (Chris McDaniel). Recall that McDaniel won the initial matchup on June 3rd, but because he finished 1,719 votes short of an outright majority, a runoff election took place three weeks later. During those three weeks, racist attack ads, paid for by prominent republican senators and Karl Rove’s super PAC motivated black democrats to show up and boost Cochran to a 7,667-vote runoff win. (Apparently, a little vote buying didn’t seem to hurt, either.)

Now, while you’re thinking about Goldwater and McDaniel, allow me to also remind you of Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller, and Ken Cuccinelli, each of whom upset an entrenched establishment insider in their primaries, and each of whom was subsequently and openly betrayed by the Republican Party in the general campaign. These five names should suffice to remind you that the RNC/GOPe will not hesitate to burn down their own house, as long as they retain their seat at the public trough. And yes, that means that the professional power brokers and deep pocket financiers will have no problem with a Hillary win this year, because they will still have the access that they crave, and the damage to liberty and the republic be damned.

The signals were already being sent late last year, that the professional political establishment was preparing to lay the groundwork for one of two options, either (a) force a contested convention, so as to block Trump’s nomination on the convention floor and insert a more suitable option, or (b) field an independent general election candidate – à la George Wallace – who can potentially pull enough states to force an Amendment XII Electoral College deadlock, and throw the election to the House of Representatives. Option A requires the candidates already in the field to be able to, individually or collectively, hold Trump below the 1,237 delegates needed for nomination majority; option B requires someone acceptable to the RNC/GOPe, who could credibly conduct an independent campaign against both Trump and Clinton.

Do you think it a coincidence that now – after convincing wins in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada (and a credible second-place finish in Iowa) – that the attacks on Trump start to ratchet up in volume, intensity, and viciousness, attack ads that will be using paid acting talent in an attempt to force Trump to respond, and take him off his message? Do you think it ironic that the Isolate-Ridicule-Marginalize strategy includes last cycle’s news, who has been conspicuous by his heretofore silence, suddenly weighing in to state his absolute certainty that there must be some sort of bombshell hiding in Trump’s tax returns? Do you find it curious that there is now intel that the deep pocket financiers have already developed a contingency plan in the event that neither Rubio nor Kasich have gained any traction by March 15th? Does it surprise you at all that the person currently envisioned as the savior of the RNC/GOPe professional political establishment [Mitt Romney], is not in the current field of candidates?

And you can bet that Donald Trump is well aware of what the power brokers and financiers are up to, as he made subtly clear at a Mississippi rally roughly two months ago. Even better, we now have the probability that a certain former chairman of the Republican Governors Association [Chris Christie], previously thought to be a part of the plan to grease the skids for a JEB nomination, may in fact have been a Trump mole the entire time. That hypothesis, if true, would explain much.

If this analysis is right, Donald Trump, far from being the oafish clown so many are making him out to be, is extraordinarily smart, highly politically astute .

Thus far, he has outfoxed them all.

 

(Hat-tip for the Heine article to Sonya Kantor)

Fattening the state 0

How does the seemingly benign campaign, figureheaded by Michelle Obama (see our post Great ideas from the pumpkin patch Janury 29, 2010), against childhood obesity, serve the socialist agenda of Barack Obama?

Michelle Malkin explains how. She writes:

Behind every seemingly good deed in the Obama White House, there’s a deep-pocketed, left-wing special interest. Take first lady Michelle Obama’s crusade against childhood obesity. Who really benefits from the ostensible push for improved nutrition in the schools? Think purple — as in the purple-shirted army of the Service Employees International Union. Big Labor bigwigs don’t care about slimming your kids’ waistlines. They care about beefing up their membership rolls and fattening their coffers….

The East Wing is now in full campaign mode — leaning on the nation’s mayors, traveling with the surgeon general and meeting with Congress and cabinet members to reauthorize the Lyndon Johnson-era Child Nutrition Act, which provides government-subsidized meals to more than 30 million children. It’s part of the Obama administration’s self-proclaimed “cradle-to-career” agenda for America’s youth.

For decades, school administrators have criticized this Great Society relic for outgrowing its initial conception. The program was originally created to use up post-World War II food surpluses… While spending on youth nutrition and wellness have ballooned, so have the kids. Nearly one-third of U.S. children are now overweight or obese. The feds spend $15 billion a year on nutrition in schools; the White House wants at least a $1 billion increase this coming fiscal year.

The well-intended program to feed poor kids has morphed into an untouchable universal entitlement with a powerful school-lunch lobbying coalition of Department of Agriculture bureaucrats, food-service industry executives and union bosses. Enter the SEIU. Headed by the White House’s most frequent visitor, Andy Stern, the powerful labor organization representing government and private service employees has an insatiable appetite for power and growth. Working alongside the first lady, the SEIU unveiled a major ad campaign this week demanding reauthorizing and funding increases in the Child Nutrition Act.

What’s in it for Big Labor? SEIU Executive Vice President Mitch Ackerman explains: “A more robust expansion of school lunch, breakfast, summer feeding, child care and WIC (the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program) is critical to reducing hunger, ending childhood obesity and providing fair wages and healthcare for front line food service workers” (emphasis added).

There are 400,000 workers who prepare and serve lunch to American schoolchildren. SEIU represents tens of thousands of those workers and is trying to unionize many more. “More robust expansion” of the federal school-lunch law means a mandate for higher wages, increased benefits and government-guaranteed health insurance coverage

They are casting food-services workers as indispensable saviors. The union has rallied behind P.R. efforts casting them as superheroes “serving justice, and serving lunch.” Opposing the union means opposing children’s health. SEIU propaganda features New Jersey school cafeteria workers like Leslie Williams of Orange, N.J., lamenting: “I love my work, but it’s getting harder to prepare nutritious meals on the low budget we’re working with. … It breaks my heart to see a child who’s hungry. As I see it, part of my job is to make sure the kids are well-fed.”

Actually, that’s the primary job of parents. Mom? Dad? Remember them? But the more responsibility we demand of parents, the less power and influence SEIU bosses are able to grab. Unionized school dietician and nutrition jobs are booming. And in addition to school breakfast and lunch, the SEIU is now pushing subsidized dinner plans and summer food service to create a “stronger nutrition safety net.” Translation: Perpetual employment for big government and its public employee union au pairs.

Cede the children, feed the state.