Republicans are smarter than Democrats

I have always thought this. Not just that Republicans – or conservatives – have better ideas than liberals or Democrats. Which is true. But that Republicans are smarter than Democrats. A kind of reverse Professor-Gruber. This faith was shaken after Obama’s election and then his astonishing re-election defeat of Romney.

The Romney campaign’s analytics operation was soundly whipped by the Obama-Silicon Valley coalition or conspiracy. Romney relied on conventional consultants with some digital analytics thrown, Project Orca, which failed. Never really even beta tested, it crashed much of the time election day, which harmed turnout.

How the Trump campaign used analytics is described in Megyn Kelly’s interview with Brad Parscale here. The basic insight is that data-driven analytics should not just operate in one or a few spheres, such as turnout or media messaging. As the interview showed, the Trump campaign made just about every campaign decision based on data.  And who decided on this approach? Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Genius. q.e.d.  Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)


Missouri conservatives: you have a third choice next Tuesday

There is a third choice asyou vote for President. The latest Real Clear Politics poll average reveals that Trump has an 11.8 percentage lead over Clinton in Missouri. See it here. That means that 11.799999 percent of the expected votes to be cast are in excess of the quantity needed for Trump to win all of Missouri’s Electoral College votes.

In effect, all of these excess votes are wasted and could be used for another purpose. If you now plan to vote for Trump, but have an unresolved complaint or issue that you would like to raise with him or the Republican party, a voting tactic may be your only chance to voice your complaint.

There is significant precedent for this tactic. It is often used by members of your own state General Assembly. Legislators, knowing that a bill will pass whether the member votes for or against the measure, will sometimes vote contrary to the majority and even the legislator’s own belief system (often sanctioned by his own political party) if he believes the opposition vote will curry favor with his constituents or respond to the advocacy of a specific “special interest” group.

You may want to curry favor with yourself on Tuesday and vote for a third party or a write in candidate, if only as token opposition, to register your complaint about Trump.   Bruce-thumbnail

Bruce Hillis

Missouri Voter Guide 2016

Here, by popular demand, are my thoughts about the upcoming election.

For elective offices, I recommend voting a straight Republican ticket. With a Republican Governor and General Assembly, Missouri can finally remove the millstone around the state’s economic neck without needing veto overrides. The biggest economic issues are:

  • forced union membership
  • prevailing wage
  • relief from excessive taxatio and regulation

Removing the first wo and reforming the third would promote general economic growth and dramatically reduce the cost of construction by cities and school districts. This would help the union workers so adamantly opposed to these reforms. The bloat of tax credits for development and historic preservation, largely confined to St Louis and Kansas City, Democrat strongholds, have choked the state’s revenue stream for too long. There is hope they could be dramatically scaled back. Another critical issue is religious liberty. Josh Hawley as Attorney General would be of immense help here.

Some believe that the Republican General Assembly is too conservative, to the point that electing liberal Democrats might restore some mythical middle-of-the-road balance. But there is no compromise possible on right-to-work or religious liberty. If there were to be one, it would prove the maxim that to do nothing is often better than a bad compromise.

I recommend turning down every initiative and proposed constitutional amendment with the exception of the Constitutional amendment no. 6, dealing with verifying a voter’s identity, citizenship, and residence. United for Missouri has a fuller discussion of the constitutional amendments here. My comments on each amendment are below.

Constitutional amendment no.1.

“Shall Missouri continue for 10 years the one-tenth on one percent sales/use tax that is used for soil and water conservation and for state parks and historic sites…”

The decision here is not whether we approve of soil conservation and parks, but rather if a constitutional amendment is the proper way to fund a state department. The answer should be obvious. Four major comments: one, the Constitution is no place for individual taxes. It is for the general structure of state government. It should be up to the legislature to fund all state agencies. Two, this is a dedicated tax, which may not be used for any other purpose. Dedicated taxes are always a mistake, no matter the desirability of the benefits. The needs of government agencies are not the same from year to year. The invariability of the tax rate does not allow for adjustment and it takes away from the remaining pot of money available to all the other agencies. It exempts the conservation and parks departments from having to justify their budgets every year in competition with the other departments. Unearned entitlements are as bad an idea for bureaucrats as they are for people. Three, it sets a precedent for according this kind of preferential treatment to other agencies via new constitutional amendments. Four, there are rumblings that some funds from the tax have been improperly used. Regular funding would bring better accountability.

Let’s help the parks by funding them the same way as other departments by voting NO.

Constitutional amendment no. 2.

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to establish limits on campaign contributions by individuals or entities to political parties, political committees, or committees to elect candidate for state or judicial office…

This amendment follows the liberal howling about the Citizen United Supreme Court decision that individual together have the same free-speech rights as they do individually. There is no evidence that spending more money swings elections. There is evidence that campaign finance laws limit the amounts that may be given to political parties, weakening them and strengthening outside groups (think Soros.) This is a dangerous amendment & should be voted down, never to return.

Constitutional amendment no. 3

Shall the Missouri constitution be amended to increase taxes on cigarettes…and deposit funds generated by these taxes and fees into a newly established Early Childhood Health and Education Trust Fund?

The same comments about Amendment 1 apply here. Dedicated taxes are mistakes. Constitutions should not be used for policy purposes, even if they are disguised as For The Children. Some recent research suggests that early childhood education is either not effective or somewhat harmful. In any event the state should stay out of education. Toddlers should be with their mothers, not in some government provided nursery.

The television advertising in favor of this amendment stresses that Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation as if that were a reason to raise it. Many states have an income tax rate of zero; should they raise it? It also implies that stogie-chomping politicos in the capitol are against the tax. No explanation why this should be believed. And of course we all know that early childhood education is desperately needed. J

There are some curious provisions hidden in the fine print of this amendment. One is the prohibition on use of funds on abortion and human cloning, as well as distribution of funds to any facility providing abortion services. Is this to prohibit funding abortion for five-year olds? Then there is a prohibition of funding “tobacco related research of any kind.” Following which we notice a provision for a tax increase labelled an “equity assessment fee.” This would raise taxes substantially on the competitors of Big Tobacco, who did not participate in the huge 1998 nationwide tobacco settlement that enriched trial lawyers by hundreds of millions.

This self-serving proposal originates with the big tobacco companies and is beyond shameful. The only good thing about it is that it provides evidence that the mechanism for proposing constitutional amendments needs real tightening up.

Constitutional amendment no. 4

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit a new state or local sales/use tax or other similar tax on any service or transaction that was not subject to a sales/use tax or similar tax as on January 1, 2015?

This is a good one, deceptively labelled as the Taxpayer Protection Amendment. The claim is that if sales taxes were to be extended to services, taxpayers would pay more. Broadening the tax base is usually a very good idea, as it promotes equal treatment and would permit lowering the sales tax rate. The Canadian sales tax is called GST, for Goods and Services Tax. It is a fair tax. Why should services be exempt? What does January 1, 2015 have to do with good tax policy? United for Missouri claims that real estate agents are the primary initiators of this proposal. They are fearful that broadening the sales tax base would permit lowering the very high income tax rate in Missouri, which would then lower the value of the home mortgage deduction and thus of the value of houses. A very good AP story here states the organizers of the amendment are supported by a coalition of accountants, attorneys, banks, funeral homes, newspapers, and broadcast media. The hubris of these people is astonishing. If there ever was a self-serving proposal by ‘special interests, this is it.

Constitutional amendment no. 6

Shall the Constitution of Missouri be amended to state that voters may be required by law, which may be subject to exception, to verify one’s identity, citizenship, and residence by presenting identification that may include valid government-issued photo identification?

Opponents claim that voter impersonation is a non-problem, though a man elected by voter fraud currently serves in the Missouri General Assembly. This amendment permits the state to prevent impersonating a dead person or someone who has moved to another state but has not been removed from the voter rolls. It also prevents people voting in districts not their own. Finally it would prevent non-citizens from voting, a well documented and growing problem exacerbated by bad court decisions.

This amendment was made necessary by opposition from Democrats and a bad Missouri Supreme Court ruling invalidating legislation. The legislature then turned to a constitutional amendment to get this reform past judicial opposition. An obvious YES vote.

State of Missouri Statutory Measure Proposition A

Shall Missouri law be amended to increase taxes on cigarettes…use funds generated by these taxes exclusively to fund transportation infrastructure projects…repeal these taxes if a measure to increase any tax or fee on cigarettes or other tobacco products is certified to appear on any local or statewide ballot?

There are two tobacco taxation measures on the ballot. This one, Proposition A, is dueling with Amendment 3. Both claim to use the revenue collected for angelic purposes. Proposition A would use the increased tax revenues to fund a quite real funding gap for Missouri’s transportation needs. Again, dedicated taxes are bad policy. The legislature should come up with a way to address this need. This proposition has an interesting twist. The tax will “automatically and permanently be repealed” the moment “any tax or fee increase on some of all cigarettes or other tobacco products is officially certified to be placed on any local or statewide ballot.” In other words, the legislation introduces a poison pill to prevent any other tax on tobacco. Outrageous. The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, who promoted this attempt to circumvent Amendment 3, should be tarred and feathered.

 State of Missouri Official Judicial Ballot Missouri Supreme Court Judge

Shall Judge Richard B. Teitelman of the Missouri Supreme Court be retained in office?

Teitelman is one of the most leftwing activist justices Missouri has ever seen. His tenure with the notoriously liberal Legal Services of Eastern Missouri before he became a judge reveals his mindset. As a judge his opposition to tort reform and the death penalty along with his approval of homosexual marriage earned him opposition in his 2004 retention election. The Missouri Bar’s trial lawyers supported him at 80% then. The Missouri Supreme Court’s perverse decision striking down voter ID legislation made Amendment 6 necessary. This is an easy call: NO.   Troglo


The voters’ presidential choices – brilliantly depicted






This cartoon by the incomparable Ramirez courtesy of the great guys at the Powerline blog.

There are only two choices: a vote for Hillary is not an option. Either vote for Trump or do not vote for President. I am personally moving away from Evan McMullin, whose immigration policy is deficient. He claims “legalization is not amnesty. “ Unacceptable. Hoping against expectation, I might well vote for Trump.

I also believe more than ever that:

  • There should be closed primaries, to prevent hijacking by Democrats seeking to choose the weakest Reublican.
  • There must be a Conservative party for Missouri. It should inform voters of the real issues concerning  candidates for office as well as the initiatives and constitutional amendmensts that threaten our state. It should endorse candidates who meet our criteria and have sought our endorsement. We would accept people registered as conservative Democrats or Republicans (knowing that conservative Democrats are officially an endangered if not extinct species and there are too many liberal Republicans.) We would hope to attract the support of some of the Libertarian and Constitution party supporters. Where both the Republican and Democrat candidates for an office are too liberal to support, we should run our own candidate.    Troglo


What is a leppo? – This burning question answered

Surprisingly unknown to many, leppos are humanoids like those from Middle Earth. Their origin is in Raqqa, whence the terms raqqet and raqqeteering. They are now found worldwide. They sometimes take on human appearance, but perceptive scrutiny can see always through their many disguises. They have adapted well to – or infiltrated – urban and suburban environments. Appearing warm and cuddly at first, their mood can turn quickly and reward the unsuspecting with a vicious, often poisonous bite. Originally scavengers and predators eating dead and decaying matter, they prefer to feed off the gifts of the people they have gulled and often raid food pantries. They leave behind feces and disease, polluting the human food supply. Those who are in the know can locate them year-round, but they typically become more visible to most of us around Hallowe’en every other year. Their facial expressions, or masks, are well suited to this holiday. Like science-fiction creatures concealing their real appearance, their real but unacknowledged ambition is to conquer the world. Though pests themselves, they cunningly promise to rid us of the other pests, if only we give them the ability to do so.

Male leppos have type A personalities. Greedy to get our food, they promise to deliver us from the other undesirable pests, like skunks, rats, hedgehogs, possums, and the like, but of course at the price of granting them that power. They like to brag and beat their chest like Tarzan. One is on the Presidential ballot. Promising to stem the invasion of foreign mice and rats, this authoritarian faux Republican now brags about his big, beautiful door to let them back in. With a siren call he guarantees to keep our food supply safe and growing. But we have only his word, backed by a sad record of vainglory and muddled policies enunciated, revised, then taken back or reversed. Despite their vehemence, leppo promises, no matter how appealing, never pan out.

There are two kinds of female leppos. With serpentine mellifluousness one kind simply promises to rid us of the male leppos. This might appear desirable, since the leppo population would then dwindle. But dangling sexual blandishments these sirens seduce and then mate with the male leppos, producing rino-leppos. This tragically increases the leppo population considerably. The other kind of female affects a retreat into a devious catatonia signaled by an evil rictus in their mask. They use human surrogates for their ends, treating them like the vermin the males vainly promise to eradicate. Less direct than the males, these females are even more untrustworthy.

Gary Johnson of course knew what leppos were, but for political purposes chose to play possum. We now have two leppos on the presidential ballot. They are likely citizens born in the US, though in an underground burrow. But if a leppo we must have, how to break the conundrum of how to vote? The female spreading stolen gifts to voters has charmed them and appears destined to win. A vote for her would be unconscionable. Some argue the male leppo is less harmful than the female, who is of the second kind. If every single vote counted, it might be reasonable to vote for him. But if he is destined for a big loss, why waste a vote and go along with his fracturing of the Republican Party? A vote for the loser would be wasted since it would not signal our aversion to the future leppo empire.

Why not reform the system and create a negative vote? Such a vote would deduct from the total of the candidate receiving it. Then a negative vote for the female leppo would reveal our disdain, and would spare us a positive vote for the male. But in the absence of this sensible reform, fortunately we do not have to vote for a leppo. There are humans on the ballot. There are also in the presidential contest a human Lewis-Carroll-like marijuana-saturated caterpillar and two actual humans: a radical physician and a moderate conservative, Evan McMullin. A vote for the latter would appear best.    Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

Trump should act presidential

This presidential campaign is very similar to 2012’s. At the time Karl Rove said that any competent Republican could easily defeat Obama. There were a few problems, however, which made the prediction turn out false. The long Republican primary season gave the Obama team plenty of time to perfect their organization from 2008, using funds not spent in primaries. Their analytics were top-notch, with much help from Silicon Valley (some underhanded.) Romney eschewed analytics in favor of old-fashioned tactics; the Republican Project Orca was not beta tested properly and partially failed on election day. In addition, the Republicans nominated a candidate of moderate to liberal tendencies with known weaknesses. Romney’s religion, Mormonism, did not inspire confidence among many Americans. His support for RomneyCare in Massachusetts put him in a weak position vis-à-vis Obama. During the debates he did not assert himself sufficiently, against Obama or Candy Crowley. The media were of course all in for Obama.

This time the similarities are interesting. Again, any competent Republican should be able to wipe the floor with Miss Hillary, despite the media bias. The coronation of Miss Hillary was planned far in advance. While there was a primary struggle, the outcome was not long in doubt and the Democrats were able to keep some of their powder dry while building on Obama’s organization. Again the Republicans nominated a candidate with moderate to liberal tendencies, this time with staggering weaknesses. Trump’s positions change like a chameleon’s colors. While Romney pulled punches and ineffectively counterpunched, Trump is flailing wildly, rarely landing anything more than a glancing blow. His organization could hardly be said to be ineffective, since it scarcely exists. His blustering impetuosity and fatal inability to stay on message enables the Democrats to bait and manipulate him almost at will. He is wrong about trade and his touchback immigration policy with its “big beautiful door” for “the good ones” would amount to de facto amnesty. He is handling the election over to the Democrats and ruining the reputation and future prospects of the Republican party.

The primary virtue of a President is always to look out for the country’s interests first, to do the patriotic thing. To be presidential is to act this way. Most of us think Trump got in the race on a lark, knowing he would not get far, but in the process he would certainly build up his brand and help his businesses. But Trump and his family have consistently maintained that he is in the race for the sake of our country. Taking him at his word my opinion is that he should act presidential and withdraw his candidacy in favor of Mike Pence, who could then go on and easily defeat Miss Hillary.   Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)

Choosing a candidate: an ethic of voting

How to choose a candidate for public office? Recent research suggests that only 10% of voters actually vote according to the issues. Most people like or dislike a candidate based on superficial qualities like those in a popularity contest. These include race, sex, appearance (such as make-up in the Kennedy-Nixon debate,) voice (many dislike Ted Cruz’s voice,) and other negligible qualities.

This post is for the 10% who want the issues to determine their votes. We subjectively weight the issues according to a scale reflecting what is most important for us. So candidate A may score 7 of 10 on the issues and candidate B only 5, but we may choose B because those 5 issues are more important to us than A’s 7.

But there are other considerations. One is the ability – the political skill – to get proposals enacted into law without fatal compromise. In short, competence. Another is the personal character of the candidate. This is not limited to trustworthiness to keep campaign promises. It includes the bigger issue of personal character in general. A person in public office is expected to uphold the civic and moral virtues of his constituency, to be a positive role model, have good judgement, be someone you would entrust your most vulnerable family member with, be worthy of the bully pulpit. The President represents the entire country. Naked pursuit of power for personal enrichment, ego trips, furthering a revolutionary utopia, and the like are all disqualifying, no matter the issues or competence. In this respect Hillary and the Donald are both disqualified. Trump most recently displayed his petulance with a distasteful post-convention attack on Ted Cruz, notably repeating the accusation his father was helping Lee Harvey Oswald distribute leaflets for the Communist, pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba committee in 1963. Debunking of this here and many other places. Trump claimed the photo showed Cruz Senior having breakfast with Oswald and also that Cruz never denied his father was in the photo – both false. He stated that his source, the National Enquirer, is respected and trustworthy. Trump’s ego is clearly involved in this adolescent outburst. Hillary and her useful idiots will have a field day goading Trump into similar faux pas. If Trump is willing to hurt his campaign in this unforced error, think what, surrounded by sycophants, he is capable of doing as President.

Let’s consider the lesser-of-two-evils theory of voting. With two disqualified candidates, it is difficult to discern which one represents the greater evil. In the case of Trump, the question cannot be decided in isolation; we need more information, e.g. to know the outcome of the Senate races if Trump wins. In the likely event the Senate returns with a Democrat majority, Trump’s nominations to the Supreme Court would be borked and he would be forced to compromise. Trump is not a conservative, thus we cannot expect any of his compromises to be good ones. At best he would only be able to undo Obama’s worst executive orders and some of the worst regulations. By the by, popular distaste for Mr Trump might well contribute to loss of the Senate.

Let’s say now that Trump faces a Republican Congress. Even then Mr Trump would not be able to do whatever he wants; there would be some Republican and uniform Democrat opposition to his wildest ideas. Regarding the Supreme Court, he is unpredictable and despite promises quite capable of nominating the equivalent of Harriet Miers. He would, however, be able unconstitutionally to expand the powers of the Presidency beyond even what Obama has done. This would create damage far beyond his time in office. What he would do in the face of continuous stalemate over time or how he would respond to a disastrous turn of events is very unclear. I would expect him, a temporizer, to cave to liberal opposition, but he might react with negative emotion and petulant bluster. Either way as a transconservative he poisons the Republican well.

Matthew Franck, who finds both candidates totally disqualified for the Presidency, has come to reject the lesser-of-two-evils theory, in favor of a no-evil theory. His plausible ethic of voting, a riff on Cruz’s “vote your conscience,” is summarized below:

Vote as if your ballot determines nothing whatsoever—except the shape of your own character. Vote as if the public consequences of your action weigh nothing next to the private consequences. The country will go whither it will go, when all the votes are counted. What should matter the most to you is whither you will go, on and after this November’s election day.

His entire article is here.  I am not quite there yet. I still harbor some remnant of hope that Trump will realize the enormous responsibility of the Presidency and adapt. Leopards do not lose their spots, but perhaps Trump will mature. Time is running out.    Troglo

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)