Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson has been on an unprecedented roll. As a result of soaring in both national polls consistently putting him at 8-11% (or as high as 13% in states like Colorado, 15% in Ohio), and from conducting a record number of high-profile media interviews, he has achieved a new milestone for a modern third party candidate—he’s actually receiving return fire from both conservatives and liberals trying to arrest his momentum. Johnson has been hailed as a tactical genius for running what may be the most successful alternative campaign since Ross Perot in 1992 (i.e., on track to getting at least half of the 19% Perot got). But he has also been savaged as a nerdy “psychopath” who is acting as a spoiler to elect either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, depending on which side is complaining about his presence in the race.
Clearly, somebody is scared. According to an analysis at the Libertarian Republic, Johnson in theory even has a better chance of victory than Donald Trump, given the billionaire’s high negatives. What is upsetting the “big boys” is not only the fact of Johnson’s much higher than normal national poll numbers, but the ‘hang time’ of his popularity—he simply hasn’t faded as we enter the final months of the campaign. This breaks the mold, this is a tremor in the force, as far as the movers and shakers are concerned. It’s an indicator, among other things, that the political establishment’s control over the public’s perceptions (telling the voters who to pay attention to, who to disregard) is now broken, and didn’t stop being broken at the end of the major party primary season. From Trump and Sanders, to now Johnson and Jill Stein (of the Green Party), We the People are deciding on the merits who to consider a serious candidate, not the media pundits and mega donors. No wonder The Powers That Be are sweating hard.
Who Knows What Aleppo Is?
The most peculiar, electrifying, watershed moment in the campaign so far has certainly been Johnson’s gaffe on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program on September 8, where he was cryptically asked “What do we do about Aleppo?” His oblivious response—“So what is Aleppo?” was followed by a more or less on-point answer about the mess created or aggravated by US meddling, blundering and presumption in Syria and the Mideast region. But the damage had been done, as the Main Stream Media now had their magic “Rick Perry–oops” moment sound bite to beat him up with, including instantly spreading the meme that he was now “disqualified” as a candidate:
This is a blessing in disguise for Johnson. LP candidates are usually not treated as important enough by the media to have their own flaps. Apparently somebody at NBC networks finally noticed Johnson has been pulling crucial votes away from Hillary, and is not happy about it. Gary is “too high” in the polls, and has gotten “too big for his britches,” so it was time to bury him. Notice in the video that host Joe Scarborough immediately piled on (probably having gotten talking points fed to his ear piece). Johnson’s important enough to get a news cycle!
His eventual answer to the question, while clearly showing signs he was caught off-guard, was a sensible expression of how US foreign intervention was and is making a bad situation worse. Senator Rand Paul (the other liberty candidate of the year, Republican division) would have said substantially the same, except more confidently, and without initially appearing uninformed. Perhaps he can make lemonade out of that substance, from the lemon that was his way of presenting it. Gary can also mention that the New York Times also got the details wrong about Aleppo, Syria in reporting the Johnson flap, twice. They first erred in calling it the capital of the Islamic State (wrong, ISIS’s de facto capital is Raqqa), then later “correcting” that to say Aleppo was the capital of Syria itself (wrong, Damascus is). I wonder, is the Times now “disqualified” from doing reporting, following the media’s new “one strike, you’re out” gaffe standard?
Again, the crucial aspect of the episode is that the media bothered with trying to bury Johnson at all. The MSM wouldn’t do that unless, unless—Gary Johnson matters. Being at 8% or higher may not earn him a slot at the upcoming debates (falling short of the 15% bar as per the stilted, third-party excluding criteria of the Commission on Presidential Debates, or CPD), but it is certainly more than an asterisk, as it shows the LP option has real drawing power this year. So much so, in fact, that traps were set for him to fall into, to ensure the CPD would have the cover to keep him out of the big Donald/Hillary face-off, and from there drop the LP’s poll numbers back down to obscurity, “to restore the normal order of things.”
As extra insurance that third parties would be kept out of the debates, TPTB even managed to get the judge overseeing a long standing lawsuit Johnson has running against the unfairness of the debate commission to drag out the proceedings. The intent was to stall the progress of the case until—you guessed it—after the election, even though discovery had been completed and the briefs had been filed. Then in August, the judge tossed out the suit altogether, perhaps because the delay tactics had become too obvious. Translation: the elite establishment covers all the bases when it comes to steering who gets to be seen by tens of millions in the fall election struggle. The outsider trend of the past year has thrown the overlords for a loop, but they still expect to use foils like their Commission to control the finish line. The entire point of the CPD’s existence, in fact, has always been to look like an official public body as it excludes other choices, while taking the brunt of the criticism (including legal challenges) for doing so, that should have been directed squarely at the Republican and Democratic party machines that are behind the excluding. Through such devices, they maintain a rigged system while keeping their direct fingerprints off the dirty work.
Is Johnson Hillary’s Running Mate?
On the other end of the spectrum, both establishment conservatives and the “alt-right” have also laid into Johnson, out of concern that he may be a stalking horse for Hillary, and over his seeming embrace of certain anti-liberty, slavishly PC notions (see later). Heading the pack on the mainstream side have been organs like National Review, or most reporters on FOX News. The latter savaged Johnson over the Aleppo remark (they were less offended by his lapse in knowledge, as by Johnson’s lack of commitment to prioritizing foreign policy down to the most recent headline details, to suit their fixation on the subject). Within the alternative media, both Breitbart and Alex Jones’ Infowars show have taken Johnson to task:
At least the alt-right’s complaints are mostly substance-based, unlike the establishment’s “waaah, you broke our little rules” usual control games. When Johnson made the pragmatic decision to largely triangulate, not attack Hillary voters, and run a left-libertarian style campaign, he should have foreseen the trade-off to get those votes was going to be attacks from the anti-Hillary forces. While the LP is absolutely benefiting from this strategy in the interim, to hopefully get a 5% or more election result per state in November (and with it, permanent ballot status for the LP across half the country), its ongoing affect on the party’s image is indeed troubling. Is winning the votes worth losing the liberty cause? Exactly what is Johnson and running mate William Weld doing making so many questionable remarks that seem to favor gun control, restricting religious liberty, carbon taxes or other new taxation, globalist trade deals like the TTP, Presidential executive orders, and the like? To liberty populists, theses stances make Johnson sound like he’s Hillary’s running mate, not just a candidate triangulating her.
And why has he gone out of his way to express hostility to much of the alternative media, and populist sentiment on these and other issues, even joining the MSM in casting much of the liberty movement as being extremist or racist? The grassroots alternative media and its supporters, after all, is where most of the resistance to the statist/PC regime is today. It’s a bad thing for pro-liberty people to be recycling the same smears laid against every successful mass movement that is opposing the statist and globalist regime. Johnson’s strategy is thus good for getting the LP short term votes, but the theme of his campaign conforms more to that regime, than to liberty.
The alt-right is opposed to him because he strikes them as being more pro-globalist, left authoritarian, and cravenly PC-controlled than pro-liberty. This creates an unnecessary divide in what should be a major alliance between liberty forces, in effect re-instituting the rift between the libertarian and patriot movements, factions whom Ron Paul had recently unified. So while Johnson’s approach for the moment is currently confounding the right and left, it is a move that isolates the LP side of the grassroots from achieving inroads in building or insuring a broader coalition going forward. That is regrettable, given several populists have come to Gary’s defense over Aleppo, and might be more supportive if many of his stances weren’t dividing the liberty movement:
Pragmatism, Populism and Principle
Johnson’s tactics are therefore good for building the LP in the short term, but not likely to win a national election in the long term. He basically has found a seam between the high unfavorability numbers of both major party contenders, coupled with an issue set appealing to millenials disaffected by Bernie Sanders’ primary defeat, and has used that opening to carve a 10% niche vote in the fall election. But this practical niche vote breakthrough does not translate into a winning majority vote—that problem will have to be figured out by the “regular,” more platform or principle-compliant LP candidates and major party liberty candidates that will follow the 2016 race. For the meanwhile, that means bearing with Johnson’s approach even where it displays certain inconsistencies or incoherencies.
When one does go through Johnson’s stances on issues, for example, it does have to be said he does seem to provide ammo to his enemies on the point of sacrificing principle for pragmatism, while often shunning populist expressions of liberty. While many of his issue stances sound like normal liberty pronouncements, a lot of the positions lack context or show the direction of those issue points, thus do not convey an accurate picture of Johnson/Weld’s “libertarian” views. I’m speaking as one who supports Gary and the LP, but really, a lot of items on his agenda amount to neocon hijackings or mutations of the liberty agenda upon scrutiny, not principled positions. The “fair tax” is not pro-liberty, it’s a replacement of one version of legalized theft with another. TPP, which Johnson supports, is not “free trade,” it’s managed trade via international big government. Free immigration does not equal not having lawful naturalization procedures to process migrants, in a manner that protects both their and current citizens’ safety or property from force and fraud. Etc., etc.
The Role of Populism and Nationalism
So what is the solution that will integrate these elements to produce a longer term expansion of a pro-liberty coalition? In a word: embracing populism and nationalism (aka, sovereignty) interests of the public, while steering them in a liberty direction. The relevant political issue for the liberty movement, has been how to dialogue about liberty to the public for the purposes of winning a national campaign. The closest we have come was not with Johnson, but with Ron and Rand Paul. If either had won a major party nomination, the presumption is the existing coalitions within it could have carried them to victory in the fall election. Given the defeats of Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 trying to explain liberty in a straightforward, rational way, Rand Paul attempted a careful rhetorical approach, especially on foreign policy, that stressed pragmatic maneuvers, verbal compromises or empty gestures, etc, to produce a conciliatory relationship with the ‘mainstream’ political leadership and media (or statist establishment) towards promoting liberty.
But while effective in minor instances, this approach failed to gain votes or to reach what should have been friendly voting blocs, and failed to succeed in changing the media’s coverage or leadership’s statism-driven policy framework. What did appear to work was the approach of the ‘outsiders,’ who did reach the voting blocs the Pauls should have reached, and engaged in open opposition to the MSM’s biased practices and marginalization tactics. This is an anti-elitist, or populist trend, that acts as a useful carrier system for promoting policies that run against the establishment. E.g., in the case of foreign policy, Donald Trump got farther in advancing a mainly non, or less interventionist policy by “dressing it up” with nationalism, which was his version of finessing the issue, than Rand got with the rhetorical approach. This “nationalist impulse” also appeared to work well as a presentation vehicle for non-collectivist trade (anti-TPP) and migration policy, for the purposes of engaging more voters.
Liberty opposition to statism is intellectually persuasive to us, the members of the choir, but is not, in truth, emotionally compelling enough to overcome the statist frameworks influencing most of the mass public. We need neither embrace nationalism, nor demonize it, in order to use it as a tactic to get votes for liberty candidates and policies. Its use in foreign policy, as one example, “sells” non, or less intervention in a manner a straightforward anti-war appeal does not, because ‘America First’ displaces the emotional memes pushed by the War party to prioritize foreign meddling. Populism and nationalism should be considered as neutral additional aspects of the political grid, re-imagined in a three dimensional way, and as the opposites of elitism and globalism:Our movement reached a maximum 10% plateau with the Pauls pursuing an issues-only, rationalistic approach in defacto educational campaigns. Absent solving the framework-changing dynamic above, we apparently can only educate that 10%, or liberty base vote. Going beyond that base (be it inside a major party, or through the LP) will require getting past the status quo frameworks, and getting past the establishment obstacles that set and enforce those frameworks. That is why the future of the movement depends on adding such strategic political competences to our efforts, not just concentrating on the intellectual factors.
At the least, we can’t just keep ridiculing the LP for being a “failure” because they supposedly lack those competencies, while giving the failures of the Paul candidacies a pass, because we want to ignore developing those competencies. The answer is not to demonize Trump or other “outsiders,” but to take cues from his and similar successful case examples to learn how to engage reachable voting blocs, how to win primary contests, and how to defeat media bias.
What we learned from the three Paul losses, versus the Trump victory within the GOP, is that the consistent liberty candidate we want will have to openly battle the media, the donors and the party leadership (aka, the populist impulse), while building a coalition outside of the 5% liberty base. Thinking we can win primaries from just the 5% base, while being polite with the MSM, or without making peace with the reachable party factions above, is a recipe for continued defeat. The grammar for how to get a non-kingmaker approved, alternative candidate to victory has been established by the outsiders. Take it and win, or leave it and keep losing.
Liberty is on the rise, as such things as the double digit poll numbers for Gary Johnson’s LP candidacy, the UK’s recent Brexit election, or as the establishment-blasting “outsider trend” in the US can all attest. But this doesn’t mean the international special interests favoring the Total State are resting in their attempts to steer mass opinion in their direction. As the aim of the globalist cabal to accelerate their agenda falls further behind schedule and under increasing resistance, the deep politics apparatus (namely information warfare, covert intelligence, false flags, black operations, etc) have gone into overdrive to recover momentum and achieve its goals. Lately these projects have been unfolding in the news one on top of the other, in America and overseas, for anybody to see who’s been paying attention.
Ops Go the Weasels
Major covert projects like Operation Gladio in Europe have been well documented, with false flag violent incidents serving to execute a strategy of tension to steer the public into continuing to support NATO and the Cold war. The saturation of American journalism and entertainment by the CIA’s assets participating in Operation Mockingbird (as discussed by Carl Bernstein and others) has likewise manipulated domestic public opinion with pro-state propaganda for decades. It’s been previously noted here how these deep politics operations, relationships and orchestrations are running under the surface of the ‘news’ and political developments of the moment, without being so acknowledged by the mainstream media (MSM). The main memes being pushed through such maneuvers involve division—dividing the world into the West vs. Islam factions, or within America, into black vs. white, or pro-cops vs. anti-cops factions. The point of the division is to ensure continuity of power and policy of the statist elite, by keeping the rest of us arguing with other. Such a diversion neutralizes any chance for change, by turning politics into irrelevant entertainment. The major objective of the ops (among others) appears to be providing a continued pretext for for military intervention abroad, or militarized policing and omni-surveillance at home.
Within the two-party puppet show, the immediate purpose of these projects is to impact the elections. The “outsider trend” that has caused the rise in the polls of genuinely independent third party candidacies like those of Johnson, or the major party insurgency of Trump, has the statist establishment in an uproar. Trump’s hints at dismantling the globalist machine (from backing out of trade deals, to drop-kicking NATO, and pushing back at PC narratives that steer the domestic agenda) represents an affront to their control over, or expansion of their system. President Obarry in particular probably wants Clinton to succeed him because 1) she will continue his statist policies, and 2) since Hillary will be most likely much worse than Soetero was as President, she’ll make everybody forget how bad he was. That’s probably one reason why a couple of people involved in suing the DNC over how they unfairly tilted the party apparatus in supporting Hillary over Bernie Sanders have wound up suspiciously dead. One blog commenter coldly summed it up with, “you have to be crazy to believe 3 deaths in 6 weeks of people specifically involved in Clinton/DNC lawsuits is coincidental.” Another put things this way:
Barack will find a way to save Hillary. He killed John Ashe for Hillary. He’ll kill someone else or launch a false flag attack on the LGBT community or some other minority group to rally the faithful behind the cause. It’s his agenda that’s at stake after all. Hillary must win if his legacy–murder, mayhem, open borders, unvetted Syrian refugees, the Muslim Brotherhood, fake pandemics, ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, endless wars, geo-engineered droughts, unconstitutional executive orders, TPP and humongous trade and federal budget deficits–is to stand the test of time. Winning isn’t everything; it’s the future itself….
One problem for O, though, is that Hillary isn’t as charismatic as the current POTUS, or her husband, and thus isn’t exactly energizing the Democratic base to come out for her. So, time to stoke up racial or voting bloc tensions—from mobilizing the Soros-funded Black Lives Matter (BLM) operatives to stir up racial strife and “all cops are pigs, put’em in a blanket, fry’em like bacon” arguments, to baiting latinos with fear over dire warnings that Trump will deport them—whatever works, work it. And if that doesn’t work, a few dead bodies can always be counted on to get people upset. It need not be O, Hillary, or the Bush clan who is directly responsible for the hit—pending an investigation of each false flag, let’s just say ‘elements of the government’ (probably intelligence) acting as cutouts for the elite, are the parties that actually take the anonymous call, and carry out the hit orders.
Another example is the massive shooting at an Orlando night club in June, which happened a day before Trump was originally scheduled to do a devastating speech about Hillary’s email and Clinton Foundation scandals. It was unlikely the Trump speech would control the news cycle after that, and that’s part of the point. The nature of the victims—gays at a gay bar, during Gay Pride Month—suggests a very convenient timing and target selection to draw sympathy to a Democratic voting bloc, and control the news cycle. Did somebody call up the CIA/FBI in Orlando and ask “which shepherded sicko asset of ours can we activate this weekend?” Perhaps the Muslim shooter in question (who had passed multiple security screenings) was not so much cleared by the FBI 2-3 years ago, as he was acquired by them as an asset after proper ‘vetting’ (“yep, he’s crazy enough to work with us as a sleeper”). That is, the point behind the watch lists is often not to stop the radicals, but to recruit them for future use, as psycho patsies on standby.
More Ops, Fewer Cops
The same goes for the Dallas sniper(s) shooting in July, which was “official storied” into being just another single shooter incident. It would have taken two or more expert riflemen to mow down that many armed cops that fast, and it’s not even clear if the suspect (Micah) was an expert. The cops went down too rapidly to be getting hit from one rifle. This is verified by several videos that got YouTubed that recorded how quickly the shots ran out. Earlier, cops reported there was a triangulation, with multiple guns at different elevations. Apparently the feds didn’t put the usual ‘one guy, nothing to see here’ line out to the media and local cops fast enough.
Most likely 2-3 expert shooters were involved, who then left (or were arrested, then ‘instructed’ to be released), with the patsy suspect left to be the one who would take the blame. Also notice these cop death incidents are becoming increasingly the norm right after a spate of well-publicized civilian deaths by cops performing excessively violent engagement. Every time the focus is on police brutality, a violent cop death shows up to put the focus back on supporting more militarized cops. Hmmm…
What this points to is a pattern of ops that serves (immediately) the GOP’s purposes in countering the complaints of the people about the rise in police brutality, misconduct or overly aggressive approaches to suspects. More crucially, “support our cops, blue lives matter” serves as a domestic equivalent to “support our troops” in deflecting attention away from the advance of militarism both home and abroad. When even routine suspect confrontations on the street are handled like SWAT team raids, it undermines trust in the police. But when murdered cops, or all the victims of militarized police can’t be discussed without the subject being turned into race by the BLM crisis actors, it undermines our ability to to even rightly engage the problem. The problem is not racism, but militarism, and the false, state-worshiping idolatry afforded to government men in uniform.
Neither side seems to notice how efficiently they have been played, while being distracted away from uniting on the right issue. Thus the twin concerns of the people, for the preservation of its civil liberties, and for public safety as maintained by reasonable peace officers, get set against each other to support the the aims of a rights-crushing police state, and the military industrial complex. The original, positive intent behind the meme “Black Lives Matter” was to simply emphasize that black Americans were disproportionately represented among the victims of wrongful police violence—not that they were most of the victims, or the only victims, or let alone the only lives that mattered. Yet once co-opted by the professional Left, AKA the left end of the establishment table, and infiltrated outright by government provocateurs (much like the way the Black Panthers were ruined by COINTELPRO in the ’60’s, or the way Occupy was wrecked five years ago), a real grassroots movement was converted into yet another divisive partisan weapon, just in time for the big election year. Just the other day, a BLM event was held on behalf of LGBTQ causes. What in the world does that have to do with the original issue? Nothing, of course, but it has everything to do with consolidating the left before the US election.
On the other end of establishment manipulation, conservatives have been snookered by the FOX/Bush/Koch brigade into believing concern for the murdered cops renders all other issues irrelevant or subordinated. Or, dead police make the black victims of police brutality guilty as (not even) charged, as if those black lives don’t matter. Does it ever strike them that this attitude is just as selectively concerned about murdered people as the “only black lives matter” race-driven agenda of BLM? Or that such cop idolatry is precisely one of the things that is encouraging more black ops shootings of cops, or the public in the first place?
Putin Knows How ISIS Grows
This last point goes double for the right’s preoccupation with “naming the enemy” in the war abroad, via the holy incantation “radical Islamic terror.” How is it “supporting the troops” to be throwing them into the meat grinder of paid mercenaries, who are being armed and funded by the same US government that is sending the troops to fight them? Yes, you heard that insane sounding sentence right—ISIS, like Al Qaeda before it, is a US government funded op. Just as with the previous Mideast threat, from the 9/11 inside job on, ISIS has been the monster puppet created in order to provide a pretext for ongoing intervention, and to weaken the Muslim countries in the region. Putin is on record about how this works, how they aren’t merely funded by credit cards, and blunt about how the “radical” Muslims are motivated:
As pointed out by Seymour Hersh, “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” Obama/Obarry and Hillary simply followed up on this plan by secretly supporting ISIS, i.e. Sunni radicals to fight the Shiite Muslim controlled nations. Objective of this black op? Same as domestic: division. Muslims vs. Muslims, West vs. Muslims, white vs. black, police versus the people—all it takes is few dead bodies to put everybody in a righeous rage, and at each other’s throats.
The whole mainstream framework of the debate over ISIS is war hawk heaven (“there’s an evil radical irrational group out there, they can’t be reasoned with, they just want to kill us, they could be anywhere, so we have to fight them forever, everywhere on earth, until we win”). Pro-peace and freedom advocates will not be able to get our message through until we short-circuit this “threat-threat-threat” drumbeat narrative, as it is the foundation justifying ongoing, unending, unlimited militarism and surveillance. With 800,000 dead civilians on the Mideast side after 15 years of war, who actually has been threatened more?
It’s all about keeping the US enmeshed in war and empire, and justifying the above civilian body count. Pointing out that the US/West created ISIS cuts through this scam like butter, as it points out there IS a scam going on, and that there is a rational covert op basis for their actions, not craziness. The beheadings performed by ISIS mercenaries are done for their manipulative effect, not out of hateful insanity (obviously the US establishment only care about them for their pro-war usefulness, as they have not been upset about the Saudi government performing mass executions by beheading). ISIS, like Al Qaeda before it, is a cynical invention of moderate, secular intelligence, not radical religion.
One good sign that Trump is well aware of the black op covert shenanigans going on is the presence of former (fired) Defense Intelligence Agency head Lt. General Michael Flynn as one of his advisors. He didn’t get fired over alleged “disruptive” managerial changes he proposed, but over his failing to support the whole hog war on Syria that Hillary and General Petraeus had in mind. And at DIA, Flynn was one of the only such moderating presences in the Obama Administration. Circa 2012, Flynn wanted to concentrate on fighting ISIS more efficientlly, whereas Obama wanted to push a political narrative that he had beaten ISIS post the so-called “Osama raid” of 2011, while expanding the war to oust Assad in Syria. Flynn noted this discrepancy.
Why would Flynn’s idea of better integrating the intelligence from different agencies in the region be considered “disruptive,” unless the real focus of some of them was not stopping ISIS, but on toppling Assad, and so linking the data would let the cat out of the bag? “Oh! So on the one hand, we’re gathering intel to fight ISIS, but with the other hidden hand, other agencies are funding and supplying them!” He was thus being kept out of the decision making loop about expanding the intervention, and got pushed out when he noticed. The real trajectory of the administration seems to be still bent on removing Assad, using ISIS as its covert spear, no matter how long it takes—translation, another ‘long war’ quagmire.
Short War, or Endless War?
Among the candidates with the most likely shot of winning, Trump has offered a way out of the quagmire, as he is probably a Reaganite or Jacksonian on foreign policy. That means, he believes in intervention to settle a fight situation “somebody else started,” and for the US to always project strength in foreign affairs. That is “peace through strength” interventionism, but it’s reaction based and short term, thus of a different kind than the pro-active, open-ended, systematic program of the neocons, who push preemptive war (launching aggression), regime change, nation building, US empire building, no-exit long wars, belligerent diplomacy, unconditional support for Israeli policy, etc. This makes him defacto non, or much less interventionist compared to Hillary, who is forever part of the Clinton-Bush axis of neocon endless war for endless regime change.
Many Jacksonian conservatives regret being manipulated into falling for the unending war interventionism of the neocons, although they are reluctant to admit they were duped. Trump’s campaign gives them cover to separate themselves from the Empire’s agenda of continued foreign meddling, without otherwise abandoning their pro-war inclinations. Trump knows from advisors like General Lynch, or from the DNC email leaks, or from admissions by Putin, that ISIS are mostly mercenaries supported by funding from oil sales from Turkey and other nations, and covertly by US intelligence. This support is provided as a means of maintaining a pretext for the US intervention in Syria, the goal of which remains regime change by ousting Assad. As such, the real way to stop ISIS and put an end to the neocon Syrian regime change project, he thus also knows, is to cut off the funding of ISIS and seal off the Turkish border, which would starve them out and make them easy to finish off within a few weeks of a military mop-up operation. Quick and temporary, done and done. No more quagmire, and no more covert op “fear, fear, threat, threat” campaigns.
In the face of all the covert op manipulation, designed to cow people into one fear-based, politically correct position after another, one can say that “they’re tired of all this PC, so let’s just ignore it.” But avoiding confronting it allows PC to continue to dominate and chill the framework of discussion over issue after issue. The status-quo busting campaign of Donald Trump is instead brawling with it, not tiptoeing around it, thereby defanging it over the long term in controlling that framework. If the approach polarizes, so be it, as the limp wristed, “don’t make waves” avoidant approach has accomplished nothing, and demoralized the non-PC side for far too long.
A Quick Note on Brexit
Whether events like “Brexit” shows Trump will be elected remains to be seen (we’ll find out in November). But very plainly, it shows the mass voting trends that have manifested in his candidacy are independent of him, are international in scope, and were unanticipated by the statist and globalist elites around the world. Now ex-UK PM David Cameron clearly had no clue, when he called for the Brexit referendum, that vote would actually go against staying with the EU, nor did the entire UK establishment and media sense that their non-stop beat down of the ‘leave’ side would backfire on them. Likewise, US leaders did not see Brexit coming either.
Thus domestically, the Brexit vote contributes to the body of proof that the Trump phenomenon was not planned or coordinated by the establishment. The same voter dynamics supporting ‘fed up’ populism, national sovereignty, protected borders (to contain illegal or unvetted immigration), and push back of the establishment, etc., are at play in both movements. TPTB or insiders wanted neither Trump or Brexit, or their issue agenda to dominate the scene, and have tried to stop both at every turn. The two developments are tsunamis they did not see, cannot control, and are presently being drowned by.
P.S.: For those interested here is my electoral vote prediction for the election, as broken down by the US map below. There is actually a possibility that Gary Johnson can carry a state (in this election, Utah) based on current polling trends, so I’m calling UT for the LP.
As predicted eight months ago, the statist club of Washington, DC (comprising both Republicans and Democrats) have basically cleared Hillary Rotten Clinton from criminal prosecution for either the Benghazi disaster, or from negligent mishandling of thousands of emails related to State department business through an unsecure private server. While it remains to be determined whether either she, her aides or Bill Clinton will face the music over the apparent “pay to play,” cash for political favors set-up of the Clinton Foundation, it’s safe to say the deep politics arrangements of the elite were deemed too vital, and too interdependent on the Queen Authoritarian to sacrifice one of their chief establishment super agents to such a mundane thing as justice.
Acolytes for Hillary are crying “it’s over!” despite the extremely tacky aspects of the entire two affairs (such as the Attorney General Loretta Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton on her plane while the investigation was still in progress), and a lack of basic answers to outstanding questions spanning several years. After nearly four years, and multiple investigations, how is it that we still don’t know who gave the stand down order, that delayed available armed forces from arriving at the Benghazi compound in time to save Ambassador Stevens? Why doesn’t the final report from the Republican led committee even offer a guess? Or offer at least a theory as to how the supposed “terrorists” had the intel to know exactly how to break into the facility, and knew exactly where to go to find the diplomats?
The Just US System
On the email side, it gets even worse, with the FBI Director holding a press conference to outline six different felony violations performed by the Madame Secretary in the mishandling of classified data, only to recommend no criminal referral to the Justice Department. With that action, James Comey, the FBI head and token GOP hand picked by Obama to provide a fig leaf of legitimacy for the Democratic administration in clearing Hillary, has become the new Ken Starr. He was there, just as the man from Pepperdine 20 years ago, to be the “respected Republican” who is titled or poses as being an independent investigator, yet proceeds robotically to complete the cover-up of the Clintons. Sen. Rand Paul, who to his credit was the sole dissenting vote against Comey’s confirmation as Director, looks like a gigantic statesman today. The Obama Administration, by contrast, looks like it is thumbing its finger (or entire arm) at the rule of law, confirming the justice system is indeed broken, or as Richard Pryor originally said, is for “Just US.”
As noted by observers like Judge Andrew Napolitano and many others, this outcome looks like a conspiracy to evade the law, and does not represent the system of a free society where all people are supposed to be protected equally by the law, and equally subject to the law. In fairness, it can be noted that there is a notorious history of the Clintons in terms of “body counts,” and the suspicious deaths of people around them. Judge Nap, unlike Jim Comey, was not facing the prospect of a barbell ‘accidentally’ falling on his neck. But the bad optics of his ‘determination’ remains. Consider the key detail that Comey declared he could not make the criminal referral because he did not conclude there was criminal intent behind Hillary’s actions, when the relevant statutes don’t even require intent to be established in order to indict and convict. Where was this concern about intent considered in the Obama Adminstration’s relentless prosecution of other alleged violators of the Espionage Act? Since whistle blower Edward Snowden had no criminal intent behind his handling of classified material, will the government cut him a break as well? Or does the discretion to not pursue prosecution in the face of tons of evidence only extend to “just us” elite club members like Hillary?
The Fix, of Course, Was In–Until It Wasn’t
Let’s backtrack to the politics for a moment, to discuss what’s really going on. Trump can beat Hillary, and that’s why the GOP leadership was working hand over fist for months to try to deny him the nomination. Those leaders serve The Powers That Be elite (who control both parties), not the rank and file. The ENTIRE ESTABLISHMENT’S plan this year was to have another weak Republican milquetoast robohawk guy throw the election to her, just like in 2008. Only in that year, she proved to be such an overrated candidate that the elite’s Democrat plan B—the black guy with the Arab name and very questionable records—got past her in the primaries.
This year the establishment sacrificial lamb to Hillary was supposed to be Jeb, with Rubio or Christie serving as plan B. The party leadership knew this was supposed to lead to conservative voters being de-energized and largely staying home, as in ’08 and ’12—that was the very point, the whole key to getting Hillary elected. With all the focusing on Trump, people are missing that this is where the fix was in. Repeat, with or without Trump allegedly being a plant or stalking horse, TPTB intended for Hillary to win. So if Trump is somehow still betrayed at the GOP convention and replaced by a weak tea guy, we were still supposed to be stuck with a GOP milquetoast shill blowing it to Hillary in November.
The only escape plans from this outcome were a) Hillary getting indicted (which Obarry would never do), b) Rand Paul winning (which didn’t work out at all), and c) the unexpected, which is what the Trump ascendancy appears to be. NO ONE expected Trump to dominate the race as he has, including Trump, including the Clintons, including the media. Which means the impact he has had in decimating Jeb and the mega-donors behind the other puppets was not anticipated. The elite took care of the first two obstacles, but still can’t figure out Trump. Which also means, the would-be Hillary queenmakers didn’t think somebody else (outside the club) might win, and perhaps follow-through on the corruption investigations upon their taking office. As in, really following up on evidence that supports indictments, with actual indictments.
In light of this, the heart of the current matter is evident: Hillary Inc., was hellbent on dodging a legal bullet, no matter how ugly it looked politically in the short term. The optics of the FBI formally advising “we recommend Clinton be charged with X felony counts of negligent mishandling of classified data, criminal intent to misuse classified data, violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, lying to prosecutors, lying to Congress, etc” would be devastating to Hillary’s election quest, regardless of what DOJ did with the referral. The fear was not over getting indicted by this Administration, which she knew Obama would never allow, but over what the next Administration would do. That prospect is probably what led to the desperation meeting on the plane this past week. There may have been a growing realization on the part of Clinton that, once the referral was publicly on record, if the Democrats lost in November, a President Trump (or Johnson) might actually follow through with the indictment upon taking over DOJ in January.
So the answer was clear: make sure there would be no criminal referral. The prospect of that referral probably was on the table at some point in the last year. But the way it has worked with the Clintons and the FBI for 25-30 years is, the Clintonistas push back, and pressure all investigators involved to moving to a “no foul play/no charges” conclusion, while pressuring anybody not onboard out of the investigation. For example, go ask Ken Starr’s lead prosecutor, Miguel Rodriguez, who was pushed out of the Vince Foster “suicide” case for pursuing a different line of inquiry that suggested foul play, such as the second bullet wound he found on Foster’s body. So through slyly disguised bribes (“Hillary invites Lynch to stay on as Attorney General in her first term”), blackmail, extortion or other hardball, Hillary has probably delayed the current overlong process from reaching the point of the FBI recommending indictment for months. The intimidation of Comey and other FBI staff to cave must have been immense. The result? Grandma skates, and is still on the lam.
The Prosperity of the Wicked
Well, at least for now. Under the current establishment, yes, certain high powered crooks don’t get indicted. But all the non-Hillary candidates have to do is say, “that WILL change in six months, if you elect me.” The key issue, as always, is how to defeat the rigged game. The contentious rationalizing away of clear-cut wrongdoing that attends many scandals is a main reason why most crooked lawyers/politicians get away with things. They know 1) almost everything can be turned into fine-point legaleze, which destroys interest in the matter over time (because most people don’t want to sweat the details), and 2) while misdirection and other faulty reasoning can be quickly spotted, objected to and thrown out in a courtroom, such techniques are readily used in speeches or media coverage to spin “crimes were committed” into “mistakes were made,” to exonerate the hoods in the court of public opinion.
That’s why it seems the only scandals that tend to stick are sex scandals. A sex scandal can’t be blamed on a low-level flunky, a gray area in the law, a partisan witch hunt, or turned into something too complicated for the public to understand. Either person X did something with person Y, or sent naughty communications to Z, or not. This is a prime reason for the Spitzers and Weiners being out of office, and why the Clinton sex flaps have had a much longer shelf life than the financial ones, which were much more serious and numerous.
So as much as we may prefer to focus on the Clinton scandals that are “respectable” to discuss, those were always fool’s gold. Perhaps the big picture is, given their control over the system, the Clintons were never going down over “mishandled emails,” which is how most regular people (who don’t sweat the details) summarize the whole matter, as there were always too many lawyer escape routes around the issue. It’s more likely we can stop the Clintonistas over Mr. Epstein and Orgy Island. If that happens, the prosperity train the wicked Clintons have been riding may finally hit the end of the line.
On the other hand, a strategy of triangulation is being employed by LP candidate Gary Johnson that may also help. Instead of focusing on her scandals, Johnson is making no attempts at this time to be negative about either Clinton or Trump, as evident in his upbeat ads, and interview comments that deny Hillary is guilty of any wrongdoing. “Is Gary denying reality?” rings the cry coming from my fellow Libertarians—to which I suggest, no, just sidestepping it temporarily, for a greater cause. Cynically speaking, it might be that he is aware that one of the people on the Clinton body count list was named Gary Johnson, and he doesn’t want to be the second one.
But more likely, it’s a tactical move. Johnson is polling roughly at 10% whenever his name is included, and believes he is drawing from both the major party candidates. Johnson is playing politics, to attract whatever Democrats he can who are uneasy with Hillary’s baggage. There are Democrats who quietly don’t want to vote for her, but don’t want to appear to be “converting to the GOP” or to Trump (especially on cultural issues) by openly opposing her. So Gary is triangulating Hillary and her critics, so as to look like a reasonable social left alternative. He is aware of recent polls that show he is already attracting more votes from Hillary than from Trump, so he and running mate William Weld have been emphasizing their social liberalism, and general positivity, to welcome voters to personal liberty and fiscal restraint concepts. While this is not the most accurate or principled way to promote liberty, it is (so far) paying off very well in positioning the party this year for an historic vote outcome in the Presidential race. Grandma may still be on the lam, but 2016 may be the year the LP arrives.
As Barry Soetoro, AKA Barack Obama prepares to exit the White House in a few months, it’s appropriate to summarize what he has done that can conceivably be said to to reduce authoritarian force and aid in furthering the success of peace and freedom. IT IS AN EXTREMELY SHORT LIST, compared to the much longer tally of awful firsts he has piled up, but I will try to remain entirely positive about his presidency for this one commentary.
I. Criminal Justice Reform
By late into his tenure, it was not clear if Obama would ever get to concrete actions on this front, but he delivered in his second term by commuting the sentences of hundreds of people harshly dealt with by the so-called “justice system.” This action shows more compassion than displayed by the last seven Presidents combined (Republican or Democrat, see related graphic below), thus rebounds greatly to his credit. By putting the unprecedented weight of the presidency behind the issue, Obama has joined a bi-partisan movement to undo the injustices of that system, that includes figures ranging from civil libertarians, to right wing sites, to Supreme Court Justices. Among the onerous issues needing reform is the incarceration-happy structure of American law and its courts, which has applied robotically punitive sentences (like mandatory minimums) to the point where over 2 million citizens are behind bars, while 7 million total are in prison, under parole or probation at any given time. While the US has 5% of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s prison population. Even on the initial “engagement of suspects” end of the justice spectrum, abusive treatment and excessive force dominates the institution—stats show there is one police brutality incident every eight hours in the US, and more people have been killed by police in the US since 9/11 than soldiers have been killed in war. This brilliant summary video of the issue by Abby Martin lays out the incredible extent of the problem:
The documentary touches on vastly more territory than Obama has acted on, but he has started the process of turning this around. While Congress is still thrashing out major details holding up a reform bill in this area, Obama’s commuting of sentences has provided some immediate relief for the most egregious cases of punitive sentencing. It’s a bandaid, but an act of decency well within the powers of any President to perform, to show good faith in addressing the issue. As he has stated: “The power to grant pardons and commutations… embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws.”
One of the two core aspects of the damage wrought by the injustice system has been the disproportionate representation of the black or minority population engulfed by the corrections industry, as stated in this overview: “Our nation’s laws should be focused on imprisoning the most dangerous and violent members of our society. Instead, our criminal justice system too frequently traps non-violent offenders, who are disproportionately African American men, in a cycle of poverty, unemployment and incarceration. The unfortunate consequence of this type of system is an entire group of people facing almost insurmountable odds of ever rejoining society. The injustices within our system are potentially sentencing an entire generation of those who committed youthful mistakes to a future without the opportunity for rehabilitation.”
The other heart of the matter, of course, concerns the drug laws, which have needlessly driven more non-violent offenders into the cages of the incarceration industrial complex than any other factor. The zeal by which the War on Drugs has been waged can be measured by everything from the decades old classification of a mild substance like marijuana as a Schedule I drug, to more recently, the insistence of the DEA that it can pillage all private medical records without probable cause, in its never ending hunt to find more drug law violators it can turn into inmates. Obama has not indicated he will move on either point in his time remaining, given the current drug warrior political climate (mostly fomented by Republican hacks in the pocket of the prison industry), but he has at least lightened up on medical marijuana, in line with the now 25 states that have formally legalized its use. To the extent this is cautiously moving the subject in the general direction of decriminalizing pot (which comprises 80% of recreational drug use), it will lead to less incarceration, thereby fewer non-violent offenders languishing in cages, and more personal liberty—so let’s call it an accomplishment.
II. The Iran Deal
In foreign policy, Obama was saddled in his first term by the war happy, blood soaked battle axe Hillary, with whom he apparently had to appoint as Secretary of State (with a lot of autonomy, judging by her email and private server set-up) as part of a deal to settle their 2008 primary battle. This sent his policy off in a likely far more relentlessly interventionist, hyper-belligerent, more-militarism tangent than he ever intended. In the second term much of this continued, having been set in motion and pushed forward by the neo-con war maniacs in Congress, but Obama managed a swerve in the case of handling the matter of Iran. Instead of manipulating “concerns” over the country’s nuclear “program” (i.e., its reactor technology, that the US hawks and Israel kept conflating with it developing nuclear weapons) into another pretext for bombing another Muslim country, Obama collaborated with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in taking the negotiation track. This resulted in the brilliant de-fanging of the war party via the device of the P5+1 multi-national agreement, AKA the Iran deal.
We should remember that 1) controlling Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon is a phony issue, since US intelligence (all its agencies) has confirmed it’s not trying to do so, and 2) the P5+1 Iran deal is a multilateral positioning tool, that deflates Israel’s and the US fomenting of the phony issue. To the US Empire, the actual issue is, Iran is a significant regional power that is independent of US control, so it must be reeled back in, by pushing it as being a ‘threat.’ The neocons want to undo the Iranian revolution of 1979 (when it toppled the US puppet ruler the Shah) and “re-acquire” the country as a client state of the West. The war hawk’s real goal has been to (as usual) perform regime change and co-opt another country by unilaterally fostering a pretext to justify military action (invasion, occupation, bombing) or isolation of the nation (sanctions, propaganda or belligerent “diplomacy”). To the war party, when it comes to the 23,000 bombs the US drops on Muslim countries each year, or the millions of Muslim civilians killed abroad since 9/11, too much is never enough.
This tactic has previously allowed the US to unilaterally define the issues being negotiated, and then unilaterally define if the target country is ‘breaking’ the agreements. Surprise, surprise, the targeted nation is always painted as violating a deal, so the process merely serves as a vehicle to justify furthering a military or ‘isolative’ response. The P5+1 has monkey-wrenched the neocon march to war, as it involves 5 other nations plus the UN monitoring Iran’s compliance. This takes away the war hawk argument that “Iran couldn’t negotiate,” and the US/Israeli propaganda ability to unilaterally determine that Iran was violating the deal. Well, Iran did negotiate, did agree to a deal, and is abiding by it, as per clear criteria verified by multiple monitors. This cuts off the disingenuous or weaponized use of the diplomacy to create a pretext for militarism.
So devising and supporting the Iran agreement has been a defacto method of neutralizing the war machine. It’s not a perfect liberty or non-interventionist approach, as our government should not even be in the business of interfering with Iran’s (or other nation’s) sovereign right to make technological advances, especially a nation who (as per being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty) the US is supposed to be helping, not impeding in its development. But through setting one form of intervention against another (agreements, versus bombs) it has cleverly disabled the hawks from fomenting war. The monitoring process, which Iran is demonstrating compliance with in severely limiting its uranium enrichment, while intrusive, robs neocons of the key propaganda meme “they’re building the bomb!” needed to get the public behind escalating the conflict. Call it “meddling as a form of harm reduction,” to head off yet another round of military adventurism. This hardly makes Obama an anti-war President, but it does qualify as an anti-war, pro-peace accomplishment in this instance.
Small wonder that the war party has intensified their rhetoric against Putin since the Iran deal, such that as a political matter Obama could not be seen to collaborate with him again, be it on Syria or other fronts, so as to reach similar agreements to resolve or stabilize those conflicts. After a year in place, it appears that Iran is substantially complying with all aspects of the deal, as monitored by the P5+1 and IAEA. Bottom line substance: The agreement prevents or greatly dampens the prospect of war, Iran remains independent and maintains its sovereignty, and Obama can be credited with formulating a defacto anti-war outcome in at least one major Mideast conflict.
III. Opening Cuba, Closing Gitmo
Somebody had to do it, after nearly sixty years and nine Presidents perpetuating a failed policy of embargo and isolation of the Castro regime. Somebody had to say “enough, already” and try a new approach. As noted by the Daily Caller, “Since December 2014 Obama has chipped away at the restrictions on U.S.-Cuba relations with executive orders that get around the Trade Embargo enacted by Congress, which only it can repeal. Meanwhile a bipartisan effort has set out to repeal the embargo itself.”
While the FOX/neocon camp has complained the liberalization of relations comes without a movement by Cuba towards removing its tyrannical practices, or cooperating in turning over criminal exiles to the US, that can be equally said about the six decades of embargo policy, that also failed to produce those changes. The only thing the “isolation” accomplished was make sure the Castros forged trade and diplomatic relations with nations that were independent of US influence. A change to a more open or collaborative business model will probably create economic and logistical links that will foster incentives for Cuba to reform itself that the embargo could not. Already, the change in policy, or at least atmosphere, has already led to excitement among journalists who want to explore the forbidden country, agents of the travel industry, and investors who ponder the potential of supporting businesses and property purchases on the island. In other words, trade and commerce encourages peace, as the money factor creates leverage for each country to work with each other.
Obama has also upset the Cuba-baiters with his continued appeals (from the start of his Presidency, to present) for closing down the torture center on the Gulf Coast known as the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, or ‘Gitmo,’ and even turning over the base territory back to the Cuban government. HORRORS, cry the war party, which never believes the Empire should shut down bases anywhere, nor admit any of its actions were ever wrong, or ever disclose what it is doing in those clandestine facilities, or ever “give in to the terrorists” of 9/11 or after. All those dogmas are challenged by Obama’s initiative to take Gitmo out of the equation, and moving remaining inmates to non-military prisons and courts. What were they doing being tried in military courts in the first place, since the Constitution demands that such courts can only be used if civilian courts are not in session?
What The Powers That Be are hiding is that most all of the detainees at Gitmo were not guilty of terrorism, were and are being horribly tortured (going way beyond stray instances of waterboarding), and that the real architects of 9-11 are elements of the US government and cooperating foreign intelligence agencies. The whole point of keeping everything under military control or other cover-up was, and is, to keep the above truths secret from most of the public. Obama is not leading a charge to undo all of this, but these simple strides he has proposed for Cuba do amount to an accomplishment, towards more transparency, more constitutional procedure, and less belligerence.
The Bernie Moment
The departure of Obama leads one to wonder what Democratic Party majority will emerge to nominate candidates going forward. The 2016 primary season just ended has put Sen. Bernie Sanders, the emerged leader of the incoming ‘millenial’ generation of more full-left Democrats, in an awkward position: cede the nomination race to the horrid Hillary Clinton, or stay loyal to the millenials and progressives who were cheated out of defeating her, and who represent the increasingly dominant voice of the party. But why would the ‘Bernites’ feel that the system was rigged against them? Well, aside from the hack “superdelegates” who all declared for Hillary at the beginning of the year, or the myriad election “irregularities” that kept happening throughout the primaries (yet always to the benefit of Hillary), they point to outrages like this:
Notice that this Associated Press announcement about Hillary clinching the nomination, which was reported on June 6, the Monday evening before the California primary, was prepared by the campaign on June 4, two to three days prior—suggesting open collusion between the campaign and AP to optimally time the story to damage voter turnout for Sanders.
And they wonder why Bernie “refuses” to concede? If the GOP had conducted the same lowdown dirty tricks, or the same frontloaded, massive “superdelegates” scheme in place giving the elite chosen frontrunner a 20% head start, Jeb Bush would have been the Republican nominee. Those “day one,” Clinton-declared superdelegates colored primary voter behavior and media coverage throughout the race, giving Hillary an “inevitable” aura and edge she would never have maintained without it against Bernie.
Why should Sanders give up, given the above, and the reality that Hillary has offered him nothing of substance, that he doesn’t already have? His delegate totals already guarantee his name can be placed into nomination at the convention, thus giving him his prime time speech. His delegate strength also already gives him the ability to influence changing some party planks and rules, the main one of concern being ending the scheme where hundreds of superdelegates can announce their bias at the start of the primaries.
The fundraising and email/mailing list Sanders has developed gives him the ability to go anywhere—run as a socialist, run again in 2020, turn his resources over to, say, Elizabeth Warren or other selected younger progressive, etc. He has the ability to unilaterally tank the Hillary campaign via not vigorously endorsing it, or outright telling millennials to go elsewhere (stay home, vote Green).
Bernie should be demanding the same exact deal Hillary got in 2008—a major cabinet post, substantial autonomy in that position, and the inside track for a clear shot at the nomination in 2020 or 24 for a real progressive of his choosing. He should also demand a change in the party rules going forward so that there are far fewer superdelegates (say 5-10% of delegates), who cannot all declare their choice at the start of the primaries, thereby skewing the media coverage and voting behavior of the rank and file.
To guarantee the party leadership complies, he should hold out from suspending his campaign and get his name placed into nomination at the convention, thus guaranteeing him an independent nomination speech (i.e., not one cleared by Hillary Inc.). He should also not turn over his magic lists until his terms are substantially met—or maybe not even then. If they welsh on his demands, he can call them out on it in his prime time speech. Only by negotiating with backbone this way, will Sanders get anything meaningful out of the Hillary coronation. Either way, over the long term, Bernie’s holding most of the cards right now. This is a tipping point cycle for the Democratic Party, because if Hillary loses, it may be the last time a candidate positioned as a “centrist” can prevail against the increasingly dominant progressive wing of the party for its nomination.
While I previously resolved to cease talking about the 2016 major party primary race, the broader phenomenon of the fate of the “Ron Paul Revolution” (sometimes past stylized as the love ‘R3volution’) in light of this year’s election warrants one more set of reflections. From the looks of it, Paul supporters have gone into a frenzy of acrimony over their next direction, in the wake of failure of the Rand Paul candidacy, compared to the success of the “outsiders” in attracting voters disaffected by the statist establishment controlled political system.
Some liberty activists are downright in shock over the support given by many paleo libertarians like Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo and even others in the grassroots in supporting Donald Trump following the Rand fiasco. They have declared such libertarians as “the enemy,” who never understood liberty, and are thus taking what’s left of the R3volution in exactly the wrong direction. Allow me to bottom line what has been happening, as I speak critically of the movement as one who was and is in it, converses with the community regularly, and who started one of the first five Paul meet-up groups in the country.
Circa 2007, the emerging Ron Paul candidacy coalesced around the grassroots liberty movement, and performed an amicable takeover in leading it while Ron was an available mainstream Presidential candidate. The movement had existed long before that, seeding the liberty and truth message for decades through the educational campaigns of the LP, CP, and the alternative or patriot media. Virtually all agreed upon Ron Paul as a unifying candidate based on his consistent voting record, distinguished image and credentials, as well as his ability to grow the base of liberty supporters (producing the harvest from the liberty seeding that had occurred prior). But, truth be said, we didn’t win a single primary in three tries, with either Paul. In football terms, we never got a single first down.
The Ron Paul movement is fragmenting because Ron (and Rand) Paul is no longer a candidate, not because paleolibs, the LP and other grassroots folks “never really understood” liberty. The truth is, Pauls are not the center of the liberty movement, they were simply the best vehicles the movement adopted for attempting to run a real liberty candidate for President within the major party system. It has also become evident that much of the support given to Paul was personality-cult driven, instead of being based on a long-term strategic commitment. In the wake of three failed national campaigns, two major dynamics driving those defeats have been identified: 1) the Pauls’ inability or unwillingness to build winning voting coalitions beyond the 5-10% liberty base, and 2) the institutional barriers set up by the special interest run establishment, who control the major parties and media.
The Paul movement has become divided because, post Paul, there is no agreement over, or ability to acknowledge, how to address the other, above two dynamics. And without a Paul being in the picture, there is no reasonable basis for continuing to center the liberty movement around the Paul movement, which was just a subset of it. So some voters we could have reached or retained have gravitated toward other elements, from the Tea Party to Occupy, to the outsider trend, that they perceive are engaging their concerns, and are confronting the elite establishment. To succeed going forward, we need candidates who stand for liberty, and who can/will put voting blocs together to win something, and who will confront the elite. Fixating on liberty positions alone, is not enough. We need to pursue a fuller or more correct strategic direction, not just the correct policy direction.
One of the surest lessons learned from the last three election cycles (for those willing to receive the message) is the institutional resistance to the liberty message has become well adapted to the threat posed by either Paul. As coldly stated well by the Architect establishment figure in the Matrix movies, “rest assured, this will be the sixth time we have destroyed it, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.” The elite already knows how to rig the primary process of the regime to contain and defeat the Pauls, while installing their approved puppet as the nominee, as they demonstrated in 2008 and 2012. And they were already doing the same to Rand in the 2016 cycle, apart from Trump, via the tried and true methods—limiting media mentions of Rand, giving him the least debate time, subtly suppressing his poll numbers, etc.
The Unexpected, the Opportunity, and Denial
But something unexpected happened this time—the overcrowded GOP field caused people to seek out a different kind of candidate who stood out, as a matter of establishing a unique marketing position, that the media could not marginalize. The elite was so busy trying to crowd Rand out, that they overlooked that this situation might create an opening for another independent candidate. Meanwhile, on the undercrowded Democratic side, progressives actively sought (and found, in Sanders) a fresher message than that provided by the over-controlled press releases issued by Queen Hillary. Trump et al outsiders have come along, and totally defeated the elite’s attempt to get traction for this year’s approved puppets, namely Bush, Rubio and Walker, with Hillary getting past Sanders mainly because of a super delegate overloaded, or rigged system. The plan was obviously for Bush, Walker, or Rubio to throw the election to her, not for a loose cannon egotistic billionaire to knock all three of those stooges out of the race.
The resistance of many Paul supporters to welcoming this basic breakthrough confirms everything I and others have said, about the Revolution being fraught with cultism, and people being in denial. There has been an unfortunate tendency by admirers of Ron and Rand Paul to credit them, and only them for things achieved by the broader liberty movement, or for positive developments outside the movement. Accordingly, while Trump has specifically performed a lot of establishment disruption this past year, that Rand simply did not accomplish, the Revolution’s response has largely been, nah, “he didn’t do any of that.” So, was it Rand who drove Jeb and Marco out of the race? Was it Rand (not Trump) who got the elites to waste over $200 million trying to stop him? Rand who challenged PC for the last 9 months straight? Rand who disabled the Donors? Rand who connected with, and embraced the anti-establishment voters? This inability to give even partial credit to anybody unless their name is Paul, has helped kill the Paul movement. Strategic gains need to be recognized, no matter who helped bring them about.
Was the Movement Hijacked?
The Paul cultists nonetheless maintain that the voters who were attracted to the outsiders were ‘stolen’ from Paul, and that ‘the FrankenTrump Monster’ is opportunistically leading them down an anti-liberty path, as his method of hijacking the movement. But how can something be taken from you that you never owned? While candidates like Ted Cruz did try to cynically triangulate the liberty vote, it’s not as if it was unfair for him to try to engage it, in order to win more votes. If Rand doesn’t even own his base vote, that would go double for claiming the liberty side has exclusive dibs on the rest of the reachable GOP vote as well. So in fact, these blocs were not hijacked, they are voting groups the Pauls did not pursue, thus were abandoned or orphaned. We never had most of them to begin with, in order for them to be hijacked. The position that these voters cannot pursue other candidates without ‘abandoning’ liberty, is Paul-centric, and exclusively oriented around the issues, at a time when we are past the Paul candidacies, and now understand that emphasizing our core issues can grow the liberty base, but it cannot by itself create voting coalitions that win elections, nor displace the statist establishment.
The movement has been splintering because many are failing to move towards incorporating those other two dynamics. They remain stuck at being exclusively Paul and issue-centered, having learned nothing from the last three failed campaigns. Engaging coalition building and the anti-establishment voters is not going in the opposite direction, it’s about going in a liberty-building direction by not staying stuck in 2007, and acting like the 2008, 2012, and 2016 defeats didn’t happen. The three campaigns done by the Pauls suggest they are only capable of doing overly cautious, educative efforts that fail at or avoid engaging major voting blocs to build a winning coalition. They, and others following that model, will not be able to win and get in the White House. The only way I see Rand getting in the White House is by accepting the GOP nominee’s offer to be his running mate.
Why is this movement the only place in politics that thinks we can get into the White House, by avoiding gaining the confidence or support of most voters? Rand couldn’t ever become President based only on the liberty base, even if he hadn’t lost part of the base vote, due his compromising approach. He or whomever an eventual successful national liberty candidate turns out to be, has to build a winning coalition. Rand becoming Vice President, or put in a large position in the next Administration, would be helpful towards that end. If engaging or creating alliances with trends, demographics and voting blocs that aren’t libertarian is something the liberty base can’t live with, it simply means that base is not serious about winning, ever.
It’s not about our 5% base and beating up the other candidates, it’s about attracting more voters to us. It’s about connecting with them, not insulting them by bashing everything about the candidates who do connect with them. It’s not about the Rand following, or about viewing either Paul as the perpetual center of the liberty universe, it’s about reaching beyond the following to show the liberty approach engages the concerns of most voters. The inability of Rand (or much of the following) to do that is why his candidacy did not get a winning coalition of voters on his side.
So no, the outsiders of this election cycle are not hijackers, they are suppliers meeting the demand of the “liberty for all” marketplace. After three Paul defeats, that market ideally wants 1) progress in moving the country on “the direction of liberty,” not just more educational campaigns, 2) candidates who try to win, not just more educational campaigns, and 3) progress in busting up the establishment barriers to liberty, not just more educational campaigns.
Beyond the Base
The TP, OWS and the outsiders have actually had some success on points 2 and 3, whereas the Pauls did not. Moving the country in the direction of liberty requires addressing the strategic aspect, not just the liberty positions. If a person only wants to fixate on the latter, and ignore achieving anything on the strategic front, I invite people to join or rejoin the Libertarian Party. The LP runs educational campaigns all the time, to ensure it provides a real liberty option on the ballot, without regard for anything other than representing the true “direction of liberty,” position wise.
But the point behind the Paul movement was supposed to be getting such a candidate elected President, not just representing the 5-10% liberty base. That was the point behind supporting the candidate running within the major parties. But if the candidates could not succeed on both the position and strategic fronts (in building the coalition, and effectively taking on the elite), that didn’t eliminate the demand for somebody to succeed on those fronts. Demonizing everybody who has recognized the strategic progress being made by candidates and movements in those areas, is not productive. We can’t sell liberty for all if we don’t do outreach beyond the choir. Yet many Paulites have actually scolded me for “going in the wrong direction” for emphasizing anything other than conformity with the liberty agenda, when evaluating candidates.
Exactly how is talking about the liberty side winning elections and overcoming establishment barriers to liberty, going in the opposite direction? Only if one believes any consideration of advancing liberty that goes beyond its positions, is going “in the opposite direction of liberty.” That is, many think “the right direction” is to go on preaching to the choir, while demonizing anything else as being “anti-liberty.” That’s not merely disagreeing about strategy, that is having no strategy. It’s another manifestation of the binary mindset that refuses to to acknowledge the usefulness of strategic campaigns or trends for the movement. Instead, we should stay on target about the three things the liberty movement must do to make advances, (promote liberty positions, win elections, confront the establishment). Many people are stuck at just the first part.
Strategic candidacies who are not in our camp ideologically, but did reach out to voting blocs as we should have done, indirectly help the movement by showing us how to do likewise. Where they have successfully taken on the elite and MSM while we have not, they have set the stage for us to benefit in later cycles. Adding those strategic aspects is what will advance liberty politically, whereas only dwelling on our positions while calling that “a direction,” will not.
From Here to Victory, Eventually
Rand got just a third of the votes in Iowa, compared to Ron in 2012. The candidate and the strategy must be held at least somewhat accountable in light of those results. The truth is, both Pauls made mistakes that limited their appeal and ability to get the public to embrace liberty, so after three campaigns, it has been reasonable for supporters to notice this. Clearly the attempt to rhetorically finesse foreign policy issues needed to be tried, but having now been tried, it is also clear that it made no difference, as the base vote has not been expanded, by way of building winning coalitions. Future national liberty candidacies should proceed on a “back to principle” basis of presenting the views as clearly and openly as Ron did it in 2008 and 2012.
The failure of the Paul Revolution, again, has much to do with the personality cult surrounding the Pauls displayed by many of its supporters, which may have been more important to them in the end, than advancing liberty. Frankly, those supporters are only “pro-liberty” if it looks like, talks like, or behaves exactly like the Pauls—genteel, dryly rational, professorial. If progress towards the cause comes in any other form, like a brassy sounding talk show host, or a blue collar sounding, confident business leader, they call it “the enemy.”
Donald Trump is not libertarian, but his candidacy (as I have previously said) represents progress towards the cause of liberty by scuttling the elite’s kingmaker system that has prevented alternative candidates from getting the Presidential nomination of a major party for at least 36 years. Liberty candidates cannot get into the White House until that elite-controlled, approved insider puppets system is disrupted. In Star Wars terms, we have to disable the tractor beam, to escape the Death Star. Voters are leaning towards Trump not because his views are vague or even coherent, but because his resolve is convincing, and not controlled by mega-donors.
The GOP rank and file and public is frustrated with campaigns that have had the right positions for decades, but then caved or utterly failed to enact them once elected. The anti-establishment trend that Trump rode to first place with is thematically pro-liberty, as it confronts the statist/PC mainstream, shows resolve or backbone against it under pressure, and prioritizes American cultural or domestic issues, over war issues and internationalism. This outsider dynamic can serve as a battering ram to knock down the establishment-dominated primary racket, and once knocked down will bring more liberty candidates into office over the long term.
Poll Projections, vs Voter Data Based Projections
With that said, here’s my 2016 election prediction. First, let’s dispose of the obsession with early polling (the preponderance of which currently show Trump losing to Hillary). Polls done during the primary season, covering opinion 5-15 months prior to the fall election race, are historically meaningless. The preponderance of polls at this point or earlier in the 2012 cycle had Obama losing to Romney or the other GOP front runners. Most polls had Reagan losing to Carter at this point in the ’80 election year, and even had GHW Bush trailing Dukakis by double digits during the summer of ’88, etc.
Here is a forgotten point lost in all the fretting about polling data. Front runners are typically being protected and bolstered at this point in the primary season, such that their popularity in the later primaries creates a falsely inflated impression about their strength as candidates. Trump has been getting votes, by contrast, despite an ongoing massive negative campaign against him by party donors and leaders. Primary turnout may be smaller than the election turnout, but is a much more reliable index of voter intent and turnout than polls, since it provides actual voter behavior data, not poll projections about voter behavior. The BIG trend about this cycle is:
Republican turnout is UP by 60%, Democratic turnout is DOWN by 20%.
Note that the higher GOP turnout is largely being driven by the Trump phenomenon, despite his negatives, and despite active elite opposition to him. Lower Democratic turnout is largely being driven by tepid support for Hillary due to her negatives, despite widespread protection of her by the establishment. Obama (65.9 million) beat Romney (60.9 million) by 5 million votes in 2012. Using the 2012 election result numbers as a baseline, if we conservatively project from the actual primary voting data that the primary turnout trend will be at least 20% reflected in the election results, pro-GOP turnout should be up by 12%, and pro-Democratic turnout will be down by 4%. Do the math:
Republican/Trump: 60,933,500 votes, plus 12% (7,312,020) = 68,245,520 votes in 2016
Democrat/Hillary: 65,915,706 votes, minus 4% (2,636,632) = 63,278,960 votes in 2016
By this actual voter behavior data driven estimate, Trump will beat Hillary by 5 million votes.
The key to this being the most accurate projection, is having the ability to critically compare or counter interpret data. When I was at the Harris poll, it was emphasized that collecting or compiling the data was just one aspect of determining public sentiment–you have weigh it, and note what NET outcome it is driving as well. There is no such thing as a monolithic “higher turnout,” it is usually higher for one party than another depending on the year or the state.
The record rally crowds and voter waiting lines for Trump have largely been in competitive states, suggesting a net vote gain for Trump, not for Hillary. There is no voter data suggesting a comparable vote energized for Hillary in those states. Hillary’s turnout problem is compounded by several polls that indicate 33% of Sanders supporters will not vote for Clinton if she wins the nomination. Even if the residual turnout effect was reduced to 15% (resulting in a 9% higher turnout for the GOP candidate and 3% reduced turnout for the Democratic candidate), Trump still wins the popular vote over Hillary by 2.5 million votes.
Far more people are energized to vote for Trump than against him, from the actual voter behavior demonstrated this year. Most of the Latino vote and strongest anti-Trump sentiment is in well established Democratic states, or else states firmly locked in the red or blue column regardless, thus is mostly not a factor. From all this, I expect a strong enough popular vote for Trump to result in a electoral vote victory (e.g., via the GOP re-acquiring Florida, Virginia, and Ohio). That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.