Thursday, April 13, 2017

Warped powers

America's founding fathers were not isolationists. They recognized that there were connections between the nations of the world and American interests, but history is clear that they considered it vital to connect American interests to any action against the interests of other nations.

Our very first president sent military aid to belligerents in a foreign land. He was not an isolationist. This point needs to be stressed because there are quite a few toward the right end of the American political spectrum that have a sanitized view of the founders philosophy regarding our place on the globe. It is equally important to stress the point that Washington did not unilaterally send US troops to follow that military aid to Haiti.

Much debate has ensued in recent days regarding President Trump's unilateral cruise missile barrage on an air base in Syria. Some say the President is within his constitutional limits to strike out on his own in cases like this, some say he is not. How can the Constitution support both sides of this argument?

In some cases the Constitution is unfortunately vague, or leaves a gap for others to fill in. The Constitution touches on war making powers in descriptions of the powers of the legislative and executive branches. The powers of congress are covered in Article 1 Section 8, and the most quoted salient point grants Congress the power:
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
The President's authority is described in Article 2 Section 2:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States;
And that's pretty much all we have from the Constitution on the authority of warring. The gap in the descriptions is that the text contains no restraint on the President in his role as commander in chief. As a result, one side in the debate claims that no restraint was intended and that the President can command his forces beyond our borders as he chooses. The other side claims congress' war declaration power is intended to restrain the President. Which side of this argument a person, or politician, is likely to take generally depends on which party controls which branch of government at any given time.

What really shouldn't be in question is which side of this debate America's founders would be on if they were part of our contemporary discussion. It is clear from their historically recorded fundamental distrust of centralized executive authority, and from comments we have from the founders themselves that the elected representatives of the people were to decide when American blood and treasure would be placed at risk in foreign war. The following quote from James Madison is long, but it covers a variety of points on this subject:
In no part of the constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. Beside the objection to such a mixture to heterogeneous powers, the trust and the temptation would be too great for any one man; not such as nature may offer as the prodigy of many centuries, but such as may be expected in the ordinary successions of magistracy. War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.
While the argument that the President's strike on Syria doesn't fit some specific definition of "war" is made in many statements in the ongoing debate, it is clearly not an act of peace. War and peace are ends of a spectrum that Madison identifies here as falling under the control of congress. Here the President is offered the authority to declare neither war nor peace - or anything in between. The contempt that Madison held for executive power is crystal clear in these comments he made to Hamilton. The idea that he would support giving carte blanche power to strike at foreign lands to the person described in this quote is preposterous on its face.

In the young United States there was very little in the way of a standing army. In the early days federal troops were raised with specific things in mind, like protecting the frontier from Indian raids. An oddly consistent talking point for supporters of executive war powers includes using the Barbary wars as examples of unilateral executive war making in the time of America's founders. Problems with the Barbary states were nothing new to our young nation. This conflict began as soon as the British dropped their umbrella of protection from American ships at the beginning of the revolutionary war. The idea that Congress was not part of the war making process on the Barbary states after the drafting of the Constitution is a hollow talking point with no historical validity.

In Jefferson's first inaugural address he made it clear that he considered his authority to end at defensive action, unless authorized by Congress to go on the offensive. Though they did not issue a formal declaration of war, Congress provided approval for the first Barbary war at President Jefferson's request. They commissioned the building of our first naval vessels for this purpose. Congress did declare war in the second Barbary war. Nothing in these examples implies that there was an expectation that US Presidents had the authority to unilaterally strike foreign nations - even those that had declared war on us. To use this as an example of executive authority to strike without congressional consultation at foreign nations that are in no way threatening US interests is the height of intellectual dishonesty.

The issue of unilateral belligerent presidential escapades in foreign lands came to a head at the end of the Viet Nam conflict. Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (commonly referred to as "Act") in 1973. President Nixon vetoed the resolution and it became law when Congress voted to override Nixon's veto. The Resolution reconciles the ambiguities in the constitutional text with the spirit of the founder's intent. This is a legitimate role of our legislature.

The strength of the War Powers Resolution has never been tested in court. Unfortunately it has been used as a tool of the opposition to attack President's from both parties for political purposes. President's of both parties consistently ignore the law, while Congressional majorities from both parties refuse to make an effort to enforce it, or bring it to court for a ruling.

The question of whether it was right or wrong to strike at Syria is a subjective question and opinions will vary. The question of whether the President had the authority to strike at Syria should not be a subjective question. This should be a matter of law plainly resolved for the guidance of Presidents and Representatives irrespective of political party. The question of which causes the men and women of our armed forces should be asked to risk their lives for is not a question that one man should answer for an entire nation. In a republic, these are decisions that should be made by a republican process - as the founders intended.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Flynn Flammed

You can tell when a Republican is in the White House. Every potential misstep is Watergate, and every potential misstepper is Adolf Hitler. The day when this finally wears thin and people wise up to the media and democrat theatrics can't come too soon. At least we're all getting brushed up on the finer points of obscure 218 year old never once used laws. How about that Logan act eh? What would we do without it?

Michael Flynn is gone. I say good riddance. Trump can do better. Flynn now has the distinction of having been hired by two presidents in a row and let go by two presidents in a row (Obama and Trump). Bye Felicia.

There are a few possible scenarios about Mr. Flynn's wild, and brief, ride and mostly they all end with it being the right thing to do to let him go. Yes there are other miscreants in the mix, but that doesn't absolve Flynn of his sin.  A few possibilities;

Scenario 1 - Accepting the public narrative

  • A reporter reveals Flynn engaged in conversations with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, on December 29th (the day Obama announced sanctions).
  • Reporter wonders "What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?".
  • Flynn told VP Pence that he did not talk about improper stuff with Sergey.
  • Pence supported his guy and publicly made false statements based on the bad info that Flynn gave him about not discussing the stuff.
  • Routine FBI surveillance of Sergey revealed that Flynn did talk about the stuff with Sergey.
  • Flynn confessed, apologized, and resigned.
Best case with this scenario is that the Trump admin has a NSA that will lie to them to cover his backside. It shouldn't have taken days to ask for his resignation in this scenario. Your NSA lies to you, you fire him. Once is once too much.
Scenario 2 - Conspiracy theory 1
Start with scenario 1 and add the possibility that Pence actually knew that Flynn had talked about the stuff at the time he was defending Flynn. In this scenario Pence's public presentation was a bluff. When it got called, scenario 2 became scenario 1 for all intents an purposes. The appearance that you have an NSA that lies to you becomes the public's reality and the NSA still gets fired.
Scenario 3 - Conspiracy theory 2
Add to scenario 2 the possibility that the December message to Sergey was sent on behalf of Trump/Pence. Here Flynn hasn't actually done anything on his own to put the administration in a tough spot. The ensuing theater around the issue still presents some difficulty in keeping Flynn, but there is the possibility that the administration might have stood by a loyal team member and just rode it out.
Scenario 4 - The big conspiracy theory
Consider the possibility that Mike Flynn was actually a focus of the surveillance. Flynn is a US citizen and stuff isn't supposed to be collected on him without a warrant. The information that was leaked shouldn't have been available to be leaked. The FBI investigation would have had to include looking for something like collusion between Russia and the Trump team for the leak to have been just a simple leak. 
Of course this scenario still leads into one of the first three, so still a better than 2 in 3 chance Flynn gets the boot.
All of the hoopla from the left about this being a scandal for the Trump administration is misdirected. If there is a real crisis that needs to be investigated here(and I think there is), it's with the retention of surveillance data on a US citizen, or the possibility that the warrant covered Trump team members, and of course the subsequent leaking of the surveillance. Two of these, The leaking and retention without a warrant, should result in charges against the people involved. The third involves the possibility that the warrant covered Michael Flynn, and the implications of that are enormous.

There is a fair amount of chatter that Flynn getting ousted is all the media's fault and they brought down one of Trump's inner circle. That's a pile of pasture puddles. The king of media trolling is the guy that just accepted Flynn's resignation. It's unlikely that Michael Flynn is out for any reason other than Michael Flynn. The silver lining is that Trump has an opportunity to trade up.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Still partying like 1965

In 1965 US immigration policy officially became a weapon aimed at the heart of American culture. Those things that promoted or protected traditional American political and social philosophy were diminished, while those things that encouraged political and social change were expanded. There were no significant populist elements propelling immigration policy in this direction. The move was driven by political elites intent on making America less American through immigration policy.

After more than 50 years of anti-American emphasis in US immigration policy the idea that some effort might be made to introduce America-centric elements into that policy is being received as a declaration of war by the left. For far too long the left/right debate over immigration has been treated as disagreements between factions that both want what is best for America. The reality is that in these decades when America should have been promoting Americanism abroad, America's political elites have worked to globalize American culture at home while working to remove the elements of American exceptionalism from the cheap generic democratic reforms promoted through US foreign policy.

Burdened with a left-wing that hates the idea of American exceptionalism, and a Republican Party that doesn't think it's worth making a fuss over, the march of America toward a "salad bowl" reflection of the global community is as predictable as it is inevitable. Only in an environment where the political powers see transformational immigration as a goal, or as something they just don't worry about, does the lawlessness we've witnessed surrounding US immigration become a possibility.

For the left, the governance of any nation is a potential archetype for global governance. The idea of making the world look more like America is rejected in favor of making America look more like the world. Citizens of western nations watch agape as their politicians show no sympathy for those citizen's concerns of potential cultural identity clashes in the face of a staggering influx of immigrants and refugees with which they have virtually nothing in common.

To the left, Islam is just a sub-culture in a border-free, America-free, Utopian world - a world that they can exploit, manage, and centrally plan. The favoritism toward immigrants that are more different from existing or traditional US population clarifies the true goals of the US approach to immigration as little else can. A pogrom has been taking place against Christian populations in the middle east, yet they have been virtually unrepresented among recent middle eastern refugees bound for America. This clearly gives the lie to the idea that these programs are about compassion for refugees.

In this case the cynical view is the rational view. The refugee crisis is simply an opportunity to be exploited by the left in it's ongoing assault on America. The motive is the opposite of love or compassion. Further evidence is seen in the left's view of immigrants from Mexico versus their view of immigrants from Cuba. Immigrants from mexico are more amenable to left-wing political views, immigrants from Cuba are not. What seems like the application of a double standard toward these two populations is simply a consistent standard of what best serves the left-wing political agenda to de-Americanize the United States.

For evidence that left-wing elitists see themselves as citizens of the world first, and citizens of America when it suits their sensibilities, we need look no further than NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent declaration that deportations should start with him. Cuomo is not an immigrant by any measure. His statement makes it clear that he sees America as no more than a member state of a global society which holds his first loyalty. In equating his actual birth-right citizenship with the status held by an illegal immigrant, he also reveals his sense that no member of the human race should be considered more or less American than any other under the law. There is no common ground in this position for starting anything resembling a reasonable debate.

It's time to start calling the America haters out for what they are, and stop responding to their theatrical accusations that anyone who disagrees with their immigration positions is anti-immigrant. There is no potential constructive outcome to be gained by being defensive toward people that could not care less what your motivation is for resisting them. I don't care why the left hates America, or why they are threatened by American exceptionalism or first principles, or why they recoil at the idea of an American melting pot. I just want their anti-American agenda defeated. Conversely, the left does't care why I think the American idea is worth protecting and preserving, they just see it as an obstacle. Hating America simply needs to become much less popular in America.

Obama provided the most succinct summary of the left's antipathy toward America when he boasted about being "days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America" to a cheering crowd...of Americans. This is the agenda of the American left in a nutshell. It's time for people that love America to recognize that they don't need to justify their resistance to the left's efforts to fundamentally transform their country. It's been time since 1965.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Straw-memes and bold faced lies

I like memes. They've become very popular on social media, and they're great for conveying a simple message or getting a point across in a pithy way. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, as they say. Unfortunately, it's just as easy to use a meme to create a thousand words of lies or deception as it is to make a legitimate point. The surge of deceit that has permeated political discussions on social media in this past year has not neglected the use of memes.

One of the lessons of the 2016 presidential campaign is that people have a greater affinity for having their views affirmed than they do for the truth. The fact itself is not shocking, but I can only confess amazement at the degree to which this is true. Some memes are simply bold faced lies - somebody makes something up out of thin air that affirms the target audience in their bias or positions. The more diabolically clever examples target both sides of the political spectrum, to wit...


I saw multiple conservative Donald Trump supporters sharing this meme on Facebook. If it isn't obvious to you that Sarah Palin never voiced this quote, it should be. It's simply a lie created to assure haters of Sarah Palin that she's weird and worthy of their contempt. Ironically, it roped in supporters of Trump that were looking for reassurance that it was OK for Trump to "talk dirty". So we see a meme that was intended to mock Sarah Palin being used by people that admire Sarah Palin to borrow her credibility to defend and legitimize Trump's dirty talk.

The name of the Facebook page where this meme originated should have been all the warning that a Trump supporter needed to realize that something wasn't quite right. "Stop The World The Teabaggers Want Off" is not exactly a TEA party friendly phrase. A brief visit to the page, and reading through some of the comments there, makes it pretty clear that they are targeting an audience that hates Sarah Palin, hates the TEA party, hates conservatives, and has nothing but contempt for the very people that were sharing their meme in support of Trump.

Then there are memes that create a straw man response to issues that aren't quite the actual issue being raised. These "straw-memes" reduce a strong argument, or reasonable concern, to a weak or illegitimate argument. To stick with the previous theme...


There were different versions of this meme making the rounds. This one is clever because it attacks its opposition from a couple of different angles. First it subtly tells people that read this book or saw the movie to shut-up about Trump saying naughty words (and it was apparently a lot of people). Then it falls into the straw-meme category because Trump using a naughty word wasn't the issue with his infamous live-mic episode. It isn't a news flash to anyone that Trump uses naughty words, or engages in "locker room talk". The issue was the act that he was confessing, not the words he used in the confession.

Denigrating "American women" seems like an odd approach to winning their votes, but this is the 2016 election cycle. Sweet Meteor of Death is polling so well for a reason. I know, I know. I'm being mean to Donald Trump. Now I'm putting myself at risk of accusations like this...


Pulled straight out of a headline from the "news" site dedicated to spitting on the grave of Andrew Breitbart, this meme ridiculously mischaracterizes both Beck's position and statement on this topic. Beck doesn't support Clinton, but he has committed the unforgiveable sin of not being a fan of Trump. Yes, he can be a drama queen, and his overdeveloped sense of empathy drives me a little crazy from time to time, but suggesting that Beck is a traitor or enemy to the conservative movement in any way, is simply to lie and cause unnecessary division between conservatives for someone's political agenda.

By this point in the conversation someone typically pipes up with some comment or question about why I'm not saying bad things about democrats or liberal candidates. Basically, it's because it isn't relevant. I'm a constitutional conservative, and a Republican. The only binary choice I face in any presidential election is whether I will vote for the GOP nominee, or not vote for the GOP nominee. If Hillary Clinton exemplified the height of virtue, it would never overcome the stink of her ideology in any way that could compel me to vote for her. Until some conservative third party has an actual shot at winning an election, there is no chance that my binary calculus is going to change.

The left engages in manipulation, deceit, lies, fraud, and corruption as a matter of course. That is the nature of the left. It is one of the reasons that I am a conservative, and a Republican. It is also why I have great contempt for the people currently working to mainstream the deceit, lies, and tactics of the left into the movement and the party in which I have invested myself. The people that created these memes, and numerous similar memes and headlines, have one thing in common - a complete lack of respect for the audience they target.

When a pundit, or one of the many new crack-pot news sites attempts to manipulate and deceive their audience, whether for clicks or to advance a political agenda, the only thing they deserve from that audience is mutual contempt. Unfortunately, we see these manipulators rewarded time after time as affirmation not only blinds the abused from being offended by the insult - but spurs them to willingly, even eagerly, propagate it. The cynical void of compassion and level of disrespect that these tactics display toward the Americans targeted by them is staggering. It has no place in the conservative movement or the Republican Party. The grass-roots, the people, are to be empowered through truth and principle to be the safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society - they are not tools to be manipulated by political schemers. They deserve the respect of those that seek their support or cooperation.
"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

11-09-2016

Mark Levin has reluctantly declared his intention to vote for Donald Trump. Just as many other conflicted conservatives have done, he has set defeat of Hillary Clinton as his higher priority. Unlike many others that have done the same, he has not donned the cheer leader's uniform or chosen to ignore those positions taken by the GOP nominee that conflict with his convictions. Prior to this campaign cycle this has been a fairly common occurrence among conservatives. In this campaign cycle taking such an approach invariably invites acrimony and invective from others that might have done the same in previous election cycles.

Around the 2007 time frame we saw a conservative movement really come to life. It was a time of high energy and rising activism among conservatives. It was impressive that this conservative movement began to really take off under a Republican president, and that much of it was in opposition to the policies and agendas of that president and other establishment Republicans. There was a certain legitimacy that came with being the loyal opposition. In roughly a decade that has followed, the conservative movement has made significant gains. Some bad legislation has been stopped, and significant conservative gains have been made at the ballot box. Loyal conservative opposition within the GOP has had much to do with these gains. We've grown used to relying on watchdogs like Mark Levin and grassroots TEA party leaders to rally support for or against a variety of political issues throughout the years. But while Levin has not lost his voice of opposition during this election cycle, many of those other watchdogs have stopped barking completely.

The Trump campaign, the GOP establishment, and the Democrats are all watching and taking note. Where they were previously convinced that people were serious in their opposition to any one policy or another (comprehensive immigration reform, for example), the silence of the watchdogs on these topics now will almost certainly convince them otherwise for the future. When Trump supported increasing the minimum wage many were silent. Those that spoke out faced accusations of being Hillary supporters. When Trump supported amnesty for illegal aliens many were silent. Those that spoke out faced accusations of being Hillary supporters. When the idea of the government supporting child care for all was floated at the GOP convention many were silent. Those that spoke out faced accusations of being Hillary supporters. Today the Trump campaign has adopted government subsidy of child care as a policy position. Silence has a cost.

The reality is that those conservatives that opposed Trump's support of a minimum wage increase, amnesty, government funded child care, etc. oppose the minimum wage, amnesty, government funded child care, etc. If that opposition is not voiced it caries no weight with the political class. If there continues to be no specter of consequences, or organized outcry from the conservative movement for such positions before the election, it's hard to see a reason for Trump or anyone else in Washington to take such opposition seriously after the election. If conservatives don't care enough before the election to raise a fuss, or to pick up a phone and tell Donald Trump what they think of his plans to open the national coffers for child care, or any number of other terrible positions, he will think after the election that it just isn't important enough for anyone to seriously oppose him on. And he'll probably be right. If Hillary wins she will know it as well. So will the GOP establishment. The window for convincing any of them otherwise is rapidly closing.

The silence of the voters speaks volumes about what is not important to them. We need to be careful about what we aren't saying. Among my conservative friends there are quite a few that have put a stake in the ground claiming that Donald Trump has no chance of winning the presidency. Whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing, I've never joined that crowd. I also have quite a few conservative friends that are actually excited about the prospect of a Trump presidency, and I've certainly never joined that crowd. In another election year I'd probably be closer to the position of the first group, but the democrats actually nominated Hillary Clinton. While opinions vary, probably more than in any election cycle I've seen, my opinion is that we've been presented with the two worst major party candidates of my lifetime. My expectation has been that Trump will pull it off.

Hillary Clinton is a ship in a sea of ice bergs. She could be sunk by any one of them at any time and they are slowly but surely drifting her way. Over the past year Trump has simply made a game of bumper cars with his ice bergs and perceptions of him are probably not going to shift dramatically one way or the other going forward. In recent days Hillary's health has become a real issue for her campaign. The video of her being loaded like an old suitcase into the van at the 9/11 memorial ceremony is startling in how routine it seemed to be for her handlers. She was clearly not in control of herself, and pneumonia doesn't do that. If she is replaced as the Democrat candidate before the election, that could be bad news for Trump.

If you can't look at these two candidates and recognize what makes them both extremely unpopular, you may be a political junkie in need of a twelve step program, but on 11/9/2016 one of them(or Hillary's replacement) is going to emerge the winner of this contest. As much as Trump and the establishment would like to lay the blame for his potential defeat at the feet of the "never Trump" crowd, the math doesn't support it in anything but a razor thin election margin. The few political junkies that are going to be swayed by Beck or Shapiro or some guy on facebook questioning Trump's position on the minimum wage is almost nothing. Even ardent opposition like Beck and Shapiro aren't telling others how to vote. They're simply open about their own personal choice on the subject, and the heat they get for that is unbelievable.

Fear is a powerful motivator. A couple of days ago a post was making the rounds on facebook about a large Tea party facebook group essentially planning a pogrom against conservatives that didn't support Trump. When looking for explanations for those things that just don't seem rational in this election cycle I consider that fear may be driving much of it. It may silence many who see the future and the election as things so fragile that they may break at the slightest whisper of anything but support for a political candidate. It may be behind the berserk attitudes some conservatives direct at each other. I don't know. I am convinced that whatever is driving so many warriors of the conservative movement to self-censorship or vitriol against other conservatives is not healthy and indicates a misplaced faith. We need to have it out of our system soon. This election cycle will end. Only conservatives can determine what the conservative movement will look like on 11/9/2016.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pivotless Trump

Donald Trump is catching a lot of preemptive flack over rumors that he may be backing away from his deportation plans. It's politics so it's not that strange that people are sensationalizing things that aren't that sensational, but I have to say that I'm surprised that this would be a surprise to anybody. For it to be newsworthy, shouldn't it be news?

After getting his campaign off the launch pad by highlighting the negative effects of illegal immigration, promising to build a wall and promising to be tough on immigration enforcement, he's now being accused of pivoting on his signature issue. My challenge to those making the claim that supporting legalization is a pivot for Trump is, -prove it-. What are the examples from this election cycle of Trump publicly stating that he did not support legalization for illegal immigrants currently living in the US?

One of my gripes with Mr. Trump has been that he is nebulous (to be generous) on policy. He frequently makes contradictory position statements on a variety of issues, but his position on legalization is one of the rare exceptions to this rule. In this area he actually has a conviction and that conviction doesn't align with the idea that legalization should be off the table. The incongruity in his rhetoric has always been the deportation talk.

Whether it was statements last year about having an expedited way to get illegals back to their jobs after deportation, or his response to the deportation question in the June Bloomberg interview stating "I think people are going to find that I have not only the best policies, but I will have the biggest heart of anybody," it should have been clear to everyone that his call for a "deportation force" was campaign trail rhetorical nonsense.

In that June Bloomberg interview he also said he wouldn't do mass deportations and leveled the accusation that Obama "...has mass deported vast numbers of people — the most ever, and it's never reported.". Seriously. I'm probably as staunchly opposed to legalization as anybody, but even I wouldn't see any point in deporting 11 plus million people if you're just going to bring them right back in. The point of the exercise isn't simply to create massive amounts of bureaucratic busy work for DHS. And even Donald Trump understands that.

When it's all said and done, I have complete confidence that Trump's "biggest heart of anybody" immigration reform would look a lot like "compassionate conservative" GW Bush's and John McCain's immigration reform plus a wall, or part of a wall, or a metaphorical wall. But after listening to Trump talk about immigration for the entire campaign cycle, I don't really see that as any pivot at all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Crossroads

In 2007 G.W. Bush and John McCain led an effort to provide amnesty to millions of immigrants living illegally in the United States. That action would have led to long term democrat majorities at the national level and at lower levels in some regions of the country. Conservative Americans burned up the Washington DC phone lines and crammed the in-boxes of elected officials to stop Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR). The outcry was so intense that the CIR effort was stopped, and has not been able to gain traction for nearly a decade.

That effort to oppose the 2007 Comprehensive Immigration Reform was a harbinger of what would become the TEA party movement. The movement brought together a number of frustrated factions of Americans that were fed up with an unresponsive, and entirely self-absorbed political ruling class that spanned both major US political parties. Among the groups that would unite within the movement there was never universal agreement on policy or even principle. But the movement found success in its focus on areas of agreement.

Like a lot of folks that were cynical about the prospects of America's political future I was encouraged by the TEA party movement. I've long held the conviction that the solutions to our nation's political dysfunction must come from the bottom up, from the broad base of the American people. The fantasy of the politician hero, or champion, is an obstacle to getting the nation on the right course. A movement motivated by a few common principles, or simply goals, rather than teams and personalities held great potential for overcoming the wrong-direction-momentum dragging the nation down.

Today the future of that movement is unclear to me. The divisions among prior allies seem to deepen every day - a growing schism between Mark Levin and Alex Jones wings of the movement. These factions were formerly able to unite to defeat CIR, and to achieve off-year election victories in 2010 and 2014. To a surprising extent the divide is presently not respectful, constructive, or amicable. The antipathy between the wings is increasingly based on the willingness to support a specific politician.

This is not a post about the GOP nominee, but it is about the affect that nominee may have on the future of the conservative movement. Will the movement that coalesced around stopping CIR in 2007 find the will to do the same if Donald Trump supports some form of amnesty as President? Or will this simply be accepted as a non-politician's "common sense" solution to the illegal immigration problem, just part of a negotiation to get a wall built.

We just watched a GOP National Convention in which the nominee's daughter introduced her father with a speech that praised the moderate political center, decried the "gender pay gap", demanded a solution for student loan debt, and pined for universal child care. Within days of that speech Trump himself reaffirmed his support for increasing the minimum wage. The TEA party movement would have excoriated Mitt Romney or John McCain for these positions when they were the GOP nominees. But today much of that movement is silent on these topics. So what  gives?

I'm daily looking for reasons to be confident that the TEA party movement will be there to hold a President Trump accountable when he promotes these ideas from the White House. When the next TARP, or CIR, comes along will former allies oppose them together even if President Trump supports them? Will there be a new view of accountability based on relativism? Bad policy is bad policy even if the democrat's policy is worse. After months of hearing "conservatives" talk about cuckservatives and Constitution preachers while using the idea of electing a "pastor" as an epithet, my confidence that the movement hasn't accepted the promise of a wall as down payment on some Faustian bargain is pretty low.

One thing that a Trump presidency is likely to do for us is reveal the depth and persistence of the divide in the conservative movement. Tim Huelskamp lost his Kansas primary for US Congress yesterday. There is no way to characterize this loss as anything but a tragedy for conservatism, Americanism, or the conservative movement in general. There is no question that his opponent was a less conservative, establishment, candidate. Yet today I've seen a lot of celebration about Tim's defeat from people that have identified as conservatives - celebration based on nothing other than the opinion that Huelskamp waited too long to support Trump. That's a tough divide to bridge.

I'm looking forward to more battles where conservatives are united by principle, rather than divided by politicians. But for now, the silence from not a few that have previously spoken out is saying a lot.