Pascal’s Wager – Bet On Trump

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Though born a few years after the official end of the Renaissance, Blaise Pascal was a true Renaissance man. He was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and top notch Christian philosopher. His most famous work is the book Pensees. The most famous item in that tome is a discourse on why it is logical and rational to live a Godly life even if you don’t believe in God.

This has become known as “Pascal’s Wager,” and can be summarized thusly: A rational person should live as though God exists. If God does not exist, you lose nothing except some worldly pleasures by believing in Him. But if God does exist, you gain eternal life by living a good life, but will suffer eternal damnation if you deny Him through a life of debauchery. (A giant hat tip to Father Lawrence at St. Francis High School long ago for patiently taking the many, many hours necessary to get this across to a bunch of thick-skulled seniors in “Apologetics” class.)

Pascal’s wager has become my fire-wall in arguing with the Kool-Aid drinkers of  NeverTrump. Backed into a corner on the fact that a federal judiciary appointed by a President Hillary is a clear and present existential danger to all things conservative, the last refuge of these scoundrels is that Trump can’t be believed. They say that Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court appointees – developed with the input of the impeccably upright and conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society – is a scam, that he has no intention of appointing such stellar conservatives to the courts.

This is where old pal Blaise comes in. His wager applies to the Trump v. Clinton presidential choice in this way: If the NeverTrump folks are right and I am wrong – if Trump’s court appointments would be mediocre at best and as bad as Hillary’s at worst – then we are no worse off by voting for Trump. Whether he wins or loses, we still have an awful judiciary.

However, if I am correct and the NeverTrump folks are wrong, then Trump’s court appointments will be full of young Antonin Scalias and Clarence Thomases. That represents the difference between salvation for conservatives and our values from a Trump judiciary and the gang rape of the Constitution which is certain with a Hillary-appointed judiciary. This is a wager that ought to be obvious even to the most deranged NeverTrumpster. The only rational bet, the only safe bet – vote – is for Trump.

Rational thought, however, has never been a strong point of the NeverTrump cabal, and NeverTrump-land has lately become a logic-free zone. They obsess on irrelevancies, frothing about how much rent he charges his campaign office in Trump Towers, but ignore Hillary making the State Department a giant cash laundromat for her foundation. Hillary lying to the families of the four Americans murdered in Benghazi is not as important to them as how many copies of “The Art Of The Deal” the campaign has purchased.

NeverTrump-land is inhabited by large egos and small minds, happy to play into the hands of the left-wing media to elect Hillary. No minor official who served in a previous Republican administration is too obscure not to be given breathless headlines and interviews as they denounce Trump. Any former Fourth Assistant Undersecretary to the Chief Deputy Paper Shuffler in the Department of Swamps and Sewers is guaranteed 15 minutes of fame if he or she will wax hysterical about the dangers of Trump.

The moral preening of NeverTrump is as unending as it is astounding. Conservative icon Richard Viguerie aptly described the situation as a battle between “the new puritans and Trump’s revolutionary conservatives.” The conservative grassroots workers who are rallying to Trump are not rich or famous and don’t want to be. They want to be left alone to live their lives and raise their families as they see fit – through traditional conservative American values. By supporting Trump in order to do so they have become revolutionary conservatives.

On the other side of this divide is an a group of self-appointed conservative grandees – inside the D.C. beltway, insulated, isolated from the real world. Led by Billy Kristol, Bow Tie Will and National Review magazine, NeverTrump has devolved into a group of holier-than-thou pearl clutchers. They are the new puritans, horrified that this brusque, brash brute from New York dared to rouse the rabble in fly-over country, and did so without their permission.

Kristol and Will fit Vice President Spiro Agnew’s description perfectly of “nattering nabobs of negativism” and “effete, impudent snobs.” National Review was once a great magazine, founded by conservative giants Bill Buckley and Bill Rusher. As they rail against Trump, the new puritans currently running National Review have made it largely irrelevant. By embracing NeverTrump they are ignoring one of Buckley’s most famous bits of advice. He said that when faced with a choice between less-than-perfect candidates, conservatives should always choose “the most rightward candidate with the best chance of winning.”

Hmm, the most conservative candidate with a chance of winning. That’s apparently a tough one for our new puritans.

In closing, I want to once again make clear that I am well aware of Trump’s imperfections, both as a person and as a candidate. However, none of those imperfections threaten the future of the country. Hillary appointing far-left zealots to the federal judiciary and bureaucracy absolutely does. Longtime conservative warrior and comrade-in-arms Allen Brandstater  (we met in 1965 in “Youth For Reagan For Governor”) put the choice this way: “It’s between castor oil, which is unpleasant but won’t kill you and arsenic, which will.”

Bill Bennett, Secretary of Education during the Reagan years, put it a bit more elegantly: “Our country can survive the occasional infelicities and improprieties of Donald Trump. But it cannot survive losing the Supreme Court to liberals and allowing them to wreck our sacred republic. It would reshape the country for decades.”

Pascal’s wager would no doubt be on the castor oil, infelicities and all, instead of the arsenic.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

John Kasich and the “NeverTrump” Quislings

 

U.S. Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX24HM9

When Germany invaded Norway in World War II, they needed a collaborator in the Norwegian government to urge the Norwegians to reject their heritage and embrace the foreign ideology of Nazism. They found Vidkun Quisling, who was installed as Prime Minister.  He was a willing accomplice, telling his countrymen that the Germans may be bad, but were better than the alternatives.

Norwegians didn’t quite see it that way, and when the Germans were no longer present, patriotic Norwegians promptly tried Quisling for treason and executed him. Webster’s Biographical Dictionary notes, “The word Quisling has come to mean a traitor or turncoat.”

All of which brings to mind John Kasich, Mitt Romney and the other “NeverTrump” diehards.

Kasich has started running anti-Trump ads in Ohio. Mitt Romney never misses an opportunity to put a knife into his party’s presidential nominee. They are joined by a rag-tag bunch of GOP wanna-be’s, has-beens, never-beens and folks looking for quick “clicks” to their websites or blogs. The one thing they have in common is that they all sing off the “Home on the range” Clinton song book. In the midst of their anti-Trump screeds never is heard a discouraging word about the Democrat nominee.

Some of them are driven by a stiff-necked, blue-nosed, prissiness which cannot abide a GOP nominee they deem to be crude, rude and socially unacceptable. Others, specifically Billy Kirstol and the Bow Tie, are mourning their lost influence among Republican voters – those knaves who had the nerve not to vote for candidates favored by the ossified conservative establishment. Kasich is still smarting from his humiliating defeats at the hands of said GOP voters, as he managed to win exactly one state – his own. The motivation clearly missing from them and the other “useful idiots” in the NeverTrump camp is doing what is right for the country, even if it means swallowing a bit of their titanic egos.

They and their like are quintessential Quislings. They are selling the same snake oil that ol’ Vidkun tried to sell to the Norwegians – abandon your principles and your beliefs to embrace the foreign ideology of Clintonism. Sure, the Nazis may be bad in some respects, but that warmongering, alcoholic, mad-man Churchill is even worse. Substitute Clinton for Nazis and Trump for Churchill in the above sentence and you have a pure distillation of the NeverTrump outlook.

Those of us of a certain vintage have heard this all before. We heard it used against Barry Goldwater in 1964, and against Ronald Reagan when he ran for governor and president. The “NeverTrump” critique of Trump is sometimes a verbatim repetition of the pejoratives (for UCLA graduates that means really bad words) hurled at Goldwater and Reagan.

Mitt Romney is proof that the poisoned fruit doesn’t fall very far from the poisoned tree. His father George, at the time the Republican governor of Michigan, actively campaigned against Barry Goldwater and for Lyndon Johnson. George also opposed – surprise – Reagan when he ran for president. The Romneys are at least consistent in their political tone-deafness and treachery.

As I said in previous columns about the NeverTrump derangement, I know some fine folks who have qualms about Trump – as do I. However, a large majority of these conservative activists have come around, are supporting Trump and plan to vote for him, clothespin on nose or otherwise. For they realize that a) a Clinton presidency represents an existential threat to our freedoms and b) the only candidate who can prevent that is named Trump.

The conservative grassroots activists and worker-bee types get it. The folks who actually walk the precincts, make the phone calls and stuff the envelopes are the ones showing true statesmanship and leadership. It is a few insular, sclerotic, self-appointed conservative leaders, who haven’t broken a sweat in decades, who deign not to get their fingernails dirty by doing actual political work, who are having the hissy-fit.

Like ghostly apparitions of George Romney, Nelson Rockefeller and Bill Scranton they are doing everything possible to torpedo the Republican nominee, hoping to create the self-fulfilling prophecy of a Clinton victory. Of course, if that comes about these same folks will deny any responsibility for the disasters that a Clinton presidency will most surely bring.

In his absolutely must-read biography “Witness,” Whittaker Chambers describes the “useful idiots,” those Americans who were enamored of the Soviet Union and refused to see the truth. He wrote, “To me they seemed to know little about the forces that were shaping the history of our time. To me they seemed like little children, knowing and clever little children, but knowing and clever chiefly about trifling things while they were extremely resistant to finding out about the important things.”

The NeverTrump brigades are Hillary Clinton’s useful idiots. I re-emphasize to them that control of the Federal judiciary and federal bureaucracy are the important things. Everything else, including each and every one of Donald Trump’s manifest faults, are the trifling things.

When I speak of an existential threat to basic American freedoms, conservatives and our institutions I am being quite literal. A President Clinton will infest the Supreme Court and the full federal judiciary with liberal activists who will make Ruth Bader Ginsburg look like Anton Scalia. She will populate the federal bureaucracy with conservative-haters who will make Lois Lerner look like Mother Theresa.

Chambers also wrote in “Witness” about continually running up against a certain force as he was battling the Communists. He says he finally recognized that it “was the forces of that great socialist revolution, which, in the name of liberalism, spasmodically, incompletely, somewhat formlessly, but always in the same direction, has been inching its ice cap over the nation for two decades.”

That socialist ice cap has now been inching its way over America and her freedoms for about nine decades. Its work is almost complete. Give it another four years and the ice cap will envelope everything, blocking out all rays of light, hope and constitutional freedoms.

The only way to keep that from happening is to vote for our imperfect but absolutely essential candidate – Donald Trump.  If you can’t do that, pick up a Berlitz course in Norwegian. If you’re going to act like Quisling you might as well know the language.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

Never Trump Does The Hindenburg

Donald TrumpThat crashing sound and acrid burning smell you’ve noticed of late is the “NeverTrump” (NT) movement meeting political reality in the same manner the dirigible Hindenburg met the ground in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

To review the bidding, the NT cabal is led by a small coterie of Republican elitists and disgruntled king-makers. They think that the 13 million or so GOP voters who chose Donald Trump in the primaries (a record, by the way, and some two and a half million more votes than Mittens Romney received in 2012) should be given the middle finger, told to go pound sand, and then be expected to embrace whichever pliable stooge the establishment puts forward after they steal the nomination from Trump.

They are unlikely to succeed in overturning at the convention the clear popular choice of rank and file Republicans across the country, but that hasn’t stopped them from trying. Like the Hindenburg, NT is kept afloat by a combination of hot air and noxious gas. The most gaseous in the effort is William Kristol, he of the perpetual smirk. He has been holding his breath and stamping his feet since midway through the primary process. He’s throwing a gargantuan tantrum because the “little people” who make up the GOP base didn’t listen to them.

Billy Kristol’s main claim to fame is that he was Chief of Staff for Vice President Dan Quayle. Billy used to like to boast that he was the smartest person on Quayle’s staff.  As Charles Krauthammer observed, this “is akin to being the tallest building in Topeka Kansas.”

As if to prove Krauthammer correct, Billy’s first self-described “bombshell” for NT was to announce that David French would run as a third party alternative to Trump. If you are asking “David who?” you’re in good company. French is a writer nobody has ever heard of who writes for a once fine magazine, National Review, that nobody reads anymore. Eventually, even the anonymous Mr. French could see the Hindenburg-like trajectory of NT and withdrew from consideration. What followed was a series of trial balloons that made the Hindenburg look like the Starship Enterprise.

So the NT brain trust switched from recruiting a third party candidate to oppose Trump to stealing the nomination at the convention next week. I use the verb “steal” advisedly but correctly. The NT strategy is to change the rules (the rules every delegate to the convention ran under and was elected under) so that delegates legally bound to vote for Trump won’t have to do so. For instance, Republicans in my Congressional District cast 69.58 percent of their ballots for Trump, thereby earning him all three delegates from this district. The NT folks think that these delegates ought to ignore the votes of the 70 percent of local Republicans who sent them to the convention and vote for somebody else, anybody else, even if that person wasn’t on the ballot and received zero votes.

The tallest building in Topeka Kansas and his Quisling Caucus apparently think this would be a positive development for the GOP. After all, few things reinforce faith in democracy like ignoring the actual votes of the people. Billy World’s Trump Derangement Syndrome is so advanced that they believe changing the rules, not in the middle of the game but 95 percent through the game, and thereby stealing the nomination from the clear choice of the Republican primary electorate is justified by their prissy, starched collar, blue nosed disdain for this ruffian outsider named Trump.

Success for their larceny would rupture the party, perhaps irreversibly, but they don’t care. The great unwashed among the Republican voters – those barbarians in “fly over” country who ignored the advice of their betters inside the D.C. beltway – need to be taught a lesson. The Republican Party will be a shambles if their gambit succeeds, but at least they might have a chance to rule over the ashes. They need to destroy the party in order to save it.

As I said in my previous column, I know many fine folks who are skeptical of Trump. These are “worker bee” types by and large who, like me, had other favorites earlier in the primaries. The first part of conversations with them usually consists of my saying “yes, I know,” “I agree,” “you’re right about that,” etc. Lately to save time I open the conversation with, “I will stipulate to every negative thing you are going to say about Trump, now let’s talk about the 3 to 4 Supreme Court appointments and several hundred Federal court appointments the next president will have.”

For it is in the courts that the existential threat to our liberties lie. If there were 5 or 6 young, healthy Anton Scalias and Clarence Thomas’s currently on the Supreme Court I likely wouldn’t really care who won this November. But there are not. Donald Trump has published a list of stellar conservative jurists as candidates for court appointments. Hillary Clinton’s court appointments will be far left, quasi-Stalinist activists. She will fill the federal bureaucracy with conservative-haters who will make Lois Lerner look like Mother Theresa. The full force of the federal government will be embarked on a search and destroy mission against conservatives, our values and our freedoms.

Think I’m exaggerating? The Christian bakers in Oregon who demurred on participating in the gay wedding were not only fined $150,000 but also ordered to attend mandatory – mandatory – “sensitivity and diversity” classes. A couple of months ago Loretta Lynch promised to “vigorously prosecute” anyone who spread “inflammatory rhetoric” about Islam. The Obama-appointed U.S. attorney in Idaho has warned that it is “very likely against the law” to publicly comment in a “negative, provocative” manner on the case of three immigrant minors who molested a 5-year-old. The attorneys general of 11 Marxist U.S. states want to make felons of corporate CEOs who publicly challenge “climate change.” Add that to the violent onslaught on campus against conservative speakers. At a Trump rally in San Jose a month ago the police stood idly by while ordinary citizens were brutally assaulted (7 were hospitalized and cars vandalized while attempting to attend the public event). The day after, the mayor of San Jose blamed Trump and his “extremist” supporters for the disturbance. The local newspaper heartily agreed with him, stating that “extremist views like Trump’s have no place in civilized discourse and as such are certainly not protected by the first amendment.” Emphasis added. Those are chilling words, but just a sample of what would be allowed, nay encouraged, by a Clinton-appointed judiciary and executive branch.

Like it or not, there is only one candidate who can stop this from happening. His name is Donald Trump. Winston Churchill said of Democracy that “it is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” So it is with Trump the candidate. Imperfect, flawed and a thesaurus full of other pejoratives, but if you do not vote for him you are enabling the dark night of socialist repression that will most assuredly flow out of a Clinton regime. The shredding of the constitution will be on your head.

The last retort of the NT Clinton enablers is often “sometimes party loyalty demands too much.” Indeed it does. My first two votes for president were cast in 1972 and 1976. In neither year did I vote for the Republican nominee. I’m not supporting Donald Trump out of loyalty to my party. I’m doing it out of loyalty to my country.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.