THE COLUMN: The Shadow President

Under the British parliamentary system there is something known as the Shadow Cabinet, which consists of the leadership of the Out party, whichever it may be. Right now, with Boris Johnson having hung onto his prime ministership despite ample reason for the Tories to have dumped him when they had the chance, and should have, the shadow PM is Keir Starmer, the former editor of a radical Trotskyite magazine Socialist Alternatives, although he seems to have modified his fire-breathing leftism since his college days and is now considered "soft Left." As such, Starmer is Leader of the Opposition, and stands at the head of an entire replacement cabinet; should the current government fall or be voted out at the next scheduled election in May of 2024, the British public already knows who's going to be in charge and what they're going to get.

Here in the U.S., the picture is far less clear. Our cumbersome presidential election system, which now begins the day after the midterms and drags on for nearly two years of jockeying and primaries and media flaps and get-out-the-vote shenanigans, and even then doesn't end on Election Day, produces nothing but a single candidate by the spring of the election year. Then more mystery: who will be the running mate? Which rivals or friends or party hacks might wind up in the prospective cabinet? Nobody knows for sure until the announcements are made, the veep before the vote and the others afterward if the ticket is successful. Even then, there is still a nearly three-month "transition" phase before any of this can legally take effect; by the time Inauguration Day rolls around, half the country is already heartily sick of the new guys and the media is openly wondering who'll be running four years later.

The clock is ticking, Joe.

This cycle, things are a bit different. With the Biden administration visibly failing—the hero's welcome given to former president Barack Obama recently spoke volumes about where the real power in Washington lies these days—and speculation rife about whether or even how quickly a senescent, feeble president can be replaced and by whom, the time has never been riper for the Republicans to have a shadow president of their own. As it happens, they have two. 

First, of course, is Donald Trump, the recent president, who appears to be determined to get his old Oval Office back, running on a campaign of I-wuz-robbed grievance. The final three months of the Trump administration were an epic mess, beginning on Election Night when the nation went to bed with Trump comfortably ahead in all the swing states he needed to win to put him over the top, and waking up to one of the most extraordinary reversal of fortunes in our history. 

The mishegoss continued with the flurry of rejected lawsuits seeking in effect to overturn the posted results, including the Supreme Court's disgraceful refusal to hear the one constitutionally based suit, brought by the state of Texas contesting the results in four battleground states (Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin), they were absolutely obligated to hear. But the Roberts Court dodged the issue, saying that Texas "lacked standing" to bring the case.

The icing on the cake was the Jan. 6 demonstration during which Trump said: "We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard." And the rest, as they say, is ongoing history. Trump may feel he is "owed" support because of his loss or his endorsement of various candidates, but as they say in Washington, if you want a friend, get a dog. 

I wuz robbed.

The other is Florida governor Ron DeSantis, a former Congressman who won a squeaker election against, in retrospect, a manifestly unsuitable Democrat candidate in Andrew Gillum, whom DeSantis beat by half a percentage point. Following the election, "Gillum was found inebriated and with a man, who had identified himself on websites as an escort, who was treated on scene for a possible overdose. Crystal meth also was reportedly found at the scene." Florida thus dodged a bullet, DeSantis got a leg up on the other politicians of his generation (he's 43, Trump is 75), and in just a couple of years has transformed himself into a national figure. How did he do it?

As the old saying goes, it's better to be lucky than good, but DeSantis has been both. Practically since he took office, events have broken his way, starting with the unnecessary hysteria over Covid-19 that, in the final analysis, was the thing that destroyed the Trump administration. After briefly flirting with lockdowns, DeSantis reversed course, bit the bullet, ignored media flapdoodle over "cases," and made Florida the free-state alternative to such draconian fascist entities as New York and California. Florida boomed as its rivals faded, hemorrhaging population and losing economic and political clout while the Sunshine State and also Texas happily welcomed the refugees.

DeSantis has been lucky in his enemies as well. Incredibly, the now-"woke" Walt Disney Company—the embodiment of family friendly entertainment since its founding in 1923 through its founder's death in 1966 and up until recently—has decided that the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill (which DeSantis enthusiastically signed) preventing state teachers from discussing human sexuality, sexual orientation and "gender identity" with children in kindergarten through third grade is the hill the company wants to die on

“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” the statement reads. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

Disney’s public opposition to the law follows an employee walkout in protest of CEO Bob Chapek’s mishandling of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Don't say it. Don't even think it.

Disney, however, is a private company operating under an extremely generous sweetheart deal with the state of Florida regarding its theme park and environs in Orlando, so you'd think its corporate executives like Chapek wouldn't want to poke the alligator that protects them. But Woke is just another name for Stupid, so naturally Disney blundered right into the governor's wheelhouse.

An escalating fight between Disney and Florida over the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill has pushed state lawmakers to threaten to strip the company of special privileges that essentially give it the sovereignty to act as its own government. Backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, some Republican lawmakers have called for the repeal of a 1967 law permitting the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The legislation affords Disney the authority to act as its own county with the ability to impose taxes, adopt ordinances and provide emergency services on land that’s home to its sprawling theme park resort, among other powers of self-government.

“As a matter of first principle, I don’t support special privileges in law just because a company is powerful,” DeSantis said March 31 at a news conference. “They’ve lost a lot of the pull that they used to have, and honestly, I think that’s a good thing for our state. You should not have one organization that is able to dictate policy in all these different realms, and they have done that for many, many years. If that stops now, which it should, that would be a good thing for Florida.”

That's not all. For years, Disney has been given super-duper-special treatment in Congress over its copyrighted characters like Mickey Mouse, which should have reverted to the public domain as long ago as 1984, but have been steadily extended through 2024 as an act of favoritism to Disney. Now Congress is taking another look

A number of Republican lawmakers have signalled they may block Disney from renewing copyright on an iconic Mickey Mouse cartoon as punishment for the company’s stance on Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Rep Jim Banks, chair of the Republican Study Committee, is circulating a letter among the GOP caucus in which he tells Disney CEO Bob Chapek of his intention to oppose any future extension of Disney copyrights, National Review reports. Disney’s rights to its Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse, first seen in a 1928 short film, are due to expire on 1 January 2024, although more recent depictions will remain protected by separate copyrights.

No matter how agitated Disney's woke workforce is, this is a fight Disney can only lose and DeSantis can only win. Disney and other work corporations exist in a fantasy-fueled Twitterverse in which nothing is more important than extending the Left's fetish about sexual license unto the generations. That Disney's core audience—the suckers who shell out a fortune to partake of the dubious joys of Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida—is dead set against the sexualization of children is just another reason to do it. The usual suspects in the media, naturally, are overwhelmingly in favor of the law's repeal, as a glance at Google will readily confirm, and as can be seen by their insistence on siding with the Democrats and calling it the "Don't Say Gay" bill—three words that aren't in the bill and certainly not in the title.

With enemies like the company that bought Harvey Weinstein and the mainstream media, DeSantis doesn't need friends. Meanwhile, the governor has the wind at his back: more than a dozen states are considering similar bills, putting the Florida governor in the de facto driver's seat on the issue. From Covid to the Chinese suborning of America's institutions to the sitting daffy duck called Disney, DeSantis has staked out positions in direct opposition to the Biden Democrats—exactly what you'd expect from a Shadow President who's looking forward, not backward. 

Obama was 47 years old when he became president; DeSantis, should he run, and win, would be 46. Trump will be 78. You do the math. 

THE COLUMN: The Specter That Haunts America

A specter is haunting America—the specter of the Democrat Party. Like an evil spirit that cannot be exorcised, the Democrats have been plaguing the United States since Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton in 1804. Ferociously pro-slavery, the Democrats divided the country practically from its inception, blocked the path to abolition and eventually took up arms against the nation after the election of the first Republican president, firing on Fort Sumter and seceding en masse from the Union. And, a week after they had lost that war, one of them assassinated Abraham Lincoln, elevating a Democrat from a Confederate state to the presidency, and plunging the country into more needless turmoil.

With a track record like this (read all about it) it's a wonder the party is even still legal. And yet, after the bloodiest war in our history—and with a sizable component of "peace Democrats" in the North actively rooting and voting against Lincoln in the election of 1864 while supporting his opponent: the failed Union general George McClellan—they're still around to plague us. It wasn't until the arrival of Ulysses S. Grant as commander of all the Union armies in 1864 that Honest Abe found the right man for the job: someone who would mercilessly crush the life out of the Democrats and their armies, destroy slavery, and reunite the states.

Come back, Ulysses, your country needs you.

Then, as now, the media was the enemy of the Republicans. The southern newspapers were rabidly supportive of the rebel cause, but the northern press was rife with naysayers, crybabies, and bedwetters for whom no victory was good enough, and every defeat proof positive that Lincoln was an ape and Grant was a drunk. Nonetheless, Grant shook off fierce media criticism of his bloody but critical victory at Shiloh in 1862 and a few years later accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Va.

Who is our Grant today? Rather than being ashamed of their explicit anti-Americanism, the modern Democrats have doubled down on betting against the U.S.A. Their shambolic, cognitively crippled president shuffles through one executive order after another, signing anything his handlers in the exiled Obama administration up in Kalorama shove under his nose. The domestic energy industry has been at least temporarily hobbled, our woke armed forces are an international joke, career criminals like George Floyd are elevated to secular sainthood, and behavior that not long ago would have gotten you arrested for child abuse, such as "transgender"  hormone blockers for toddlers, or for contributing to the delinquency of a minor with explicit homosexual propaganda in grade school. Democrats hail these "advances" with their usual blather about "breaking barriers" and "pushing boundaries" but anyone with an ounce of common sense knows what they're really up to

The midterms are still eight months away but Real America is crying out for succor right now. Gasoline, home heating oil, electricity, natural gas—the prices continue to soar, already past the point of recent plausibility and heading into economic terra incognita. Millions of illegal aliens pour across the nearly erased southern border. A befuddled Joe Biden threatens to sleepwalk us into an armed conflict with the ghost of the old Soviet Union in the form of Vladimir Putin's Russia, and disinformation is rife on both sides of the conflict in the Ukraine. In a parliamentary system, Biden's government would have fallen right after the debacle in Afghanistan—but barring a miracle we've got another three years to suffer.

For just over a year, Americans have watched with admirable patience as their economy collapsed, their legal system was perverted to serve the interests of a few, their nation's military degraded, and their freedom of speech subverted via the government's fascistic and unconstitutional co-opting of the social media sites. Meanwhile, woke corporations and a thoroughly compromised media crack down on the commercial and personal privacy of anybody that runs afoul of the New Normal while manic Greens demand a return to the days of three-masted schooners and windmills. Such relentless cultural and economic sabotage would be considered an act of war if done by anyone else—but here it goes by the fellow-traveler names of "dissent," "patriotism," and "progressivism."

Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

For a time, it seemed as if Donald Trump might be the answer. Deeply flawed personally, Trump had everything break his way in 2016, including the good fortune of running against the most repellant figure in the Democrat Party at that time, Hillary Clinton. But with Covid-19 weaponized against him, first in a Chinese lab, then by the CDC and a bona fide madman named Anthony Fauci, Trump was unable to overcome his provoked overreaction to the phantom Covid menace, the unconstitutional changes made to swing state electoral systems, a senescent Biden, and his own inability to control his mouth, and shamefully lost in 2020.

As we learned in the back alleys of Berlin and Moscow during the Cold War, the way to fight shadows is with other shadows; America could do worse if we had some semblance of the British shadow-cabinet system. British election campaigns are short, and the transition time between governments brief, because the voters already know who would take over if and when the current government falls. Instead, we prolong our nominating processes for a year or eighteen months before getting to the endless campaign itself. After which we waste two months "transitioning" and then suffering through a honeymoon period (except in the case of Republicans) during which the new Man of the Hour can do no wrong, but much damage can be done to the nation. The first thing Biden did, for example, was trash the Keystone XL pipeline from the oil fields of Canada to refineries in and around the Texas Gulf Coast—which is one of the principal reasons gas is now pushing five bucks a gallon.

We don't have shadow cabinets, but we do have two shadow presidents. One is Trump, who is making noises about running again, largely on a platform of grievance and revenge for his loss in 2020. Whether this would be enough to boost him back into the White House is questionable; while he may have received more than 70 million votes, the fact still remains that even more people voted against him. He lost the 2020 election as he had won the 2016 election: narrowly. But Trump will be 78 years old in 2024, one year younger than the tottering Biden is now. 

The other is Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Smart, pugnacious, and unflappable, DeSantis has emerged as the chief thorn in Joe Biden and the Left's side. After his narrow win over a guy who was later found dead drunk in a Miami Beach hotel room he was sharing with a gay porn producer who had overdosed on crystal meth, DeSantis has cemented his hold on the former swing state, turning it solid red. Unlike Trump, who at the moment is powerless, the squeaky-clean DeSantis upstages Biden and the Democrats on a regular basis; his canny and unflappable handling of the "pandemic" has given rise to a new nickname for the Sunshine State: the Free State of Florida.

Message to China: up yours.

DeSantis, 43, can make no public noises about seeking the presidency at this point. He must get past his re-election for governor in the fall first and hope the voters rally to take back control of Congress from the narrowest-of-narrow Democrat majorities. With his wife, Casey, now seemingly recovered from a bout with cancer, he is sitting pretty.

It's widely thought that if Trump declares, DeSantis will wait his turn in 2028. But why should he spend four years on ice behind a lightning rod with no further political future? Polls already show him creeping up on Trump and a smashing re-election victory will only gain him more prominence. Lots can happen in three years, especially when his possible primary opponent is getting on in years. After Biden, will America want another geriatric president? Or will the voters prefer a guy 32 years younger, with nothing but upside?

The chances of Biden's running again are next to nil. If the Democrats could figure out a way to get rid of him without elevating the albatross known as Kamala in his place, they'd have already done it. Further, there's no apparent successor to Biden on the donkeys' side; should Biden somehow stumble toward a second term, a Biden-DeSantis matchup would be worth putting on pay-per-view. We could retire the national debt on the debates alone.

Meanwhile the shadows cast by DeSantis are lengthening, the clock is ticking, and all he has to do is wait. Now, a specter is haunting the Democrats. It's about time.

Listen to the author speak about this article and other things at the CutJib Newsletter podcast with CBD and JJ Sefton from Ace of Spades.

Biden's Dangerous 'Green' Assault on Oil

In an exchange with President Trump during their final debate last week, Joe Biden avidly supported both fracking, which is a major industry in Pennsylvania -- a critical swing state that he needs to win next Tuesday -- and the continued use of fossil fuels. In a normal year, which this manifestly is not, that would not be exceptional.  

The problem is, Biden has been pushed to the left all year, and is now supporting the Green New Deal of his party's radicals. When Trump called him out on this policy shift, Biden denied any change, and challenged Trump to prove that he was lying. Which Trump promptly did:

Biden further undercut himself on stage by stating that under his administration, the U.S. would be seeing an eventual end to the use of fossil fuels. That is why Biden and his staff are now trying to blur, err, clarify, his comment that he would have the country "transition from the oil industry by 2025,” (!!!) when asked by President Donald Trump if he would close down the oil industry.

"It has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time. And I'd stop giving to the oil industry. I’d stop giving them federal subsidies," Biden said.

"Basically what he is saying is he is going to destroy the oil industry," Trump retorted. "Will you remember that Texas? Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?"

Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who has the most radical policy record in the U.S. Senate, and has been  adamant about ending fracking and fossil fuel production, was among the first primary candidates to be booted by Democrat voters and uninterested donors. And this in a year when a majority of Democrat voters expect her to replace her ailing and mentally diminished boss during the course of his term. 

So is Biden a hypocrite? Is he a liar? Sure. But that is the least of the problems with his willingness to destroy a key national industry in service of the shibboleth of “climate change,” and the full control of the economy that would ensue under the Green New Deal. There are upwards of 300,000 jobs at stake in Pennsylvania, right this minute, which will be destroyed by ending the fossil fuel industries. More hundreds of thousands are at stake as well in Texas and Oklahoma.

Thanks to the Trump Administration's energy policies, the United States is energy independent for the first time in more than half a century. Domestic production is the reason the average price of gas at the pump is hovering down around $2.20 nationally – a huge decrease from average prices during the Obama years.

Energy independence is also a huge national security boon. Some of the biggest foreign policy successes of the Trump administration are arguably a direct result of no longer needing Arab oil. Indeed, the end of the Saudi – and entire Persian Gulf region – oil economy, due to vastly lower demand, has been a prime factor in new Saudi openness to relations with Israel.

Giving up our energy independence at this time to transition to so-called renewable energy sources would be a costly unforced error.