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The Latest Front On the GOP Civil War

President Donald Trump has “tweeted” his displeasure with the Koch brothers and their formidable fundraising network, and all of our liberal and Democratic friends here in Kansas are enjoying the latest internecine conservative and Republican spat. From our old-fashioned Kansas conservative Republican perspective, though, we can hardly stand to look.
By now you surely know who Trump is, and well understand the passions he inspires on both sides of the political divide, but if you’re not a political junkie you might be less aware of the Koch brothers. They’re Charles and David Koch, who inherited their father’s multi-million dollar oil drilling and refining business and shrewdly parlayed it into a multi-billion dollar enterprise that not only refines most of the gasoline America uses but also carpets the country’s floors and builds the mattresses the country sleeps on wipes up its kitchen spills with paper towels. These days it’s just Charles, as David has resigned from public life as he continues a long battle against cancer, but their generous funding of pro-free market causes made both brothers and their John Bircher father a bogeyman of the left long before Trump arrived on the scene. Suffice to say that the left has long regarded anything Koch-funded with the same paranoia as the right’s response to anything that the left-leaning multi-billionaire George Soros has done.
Which makes a Trump vs. Koch feud so appealing to the left, and so difficult for us. We don’t like anything Soros funds, have our quibbles with certain Koch policies, and if you’re a regular reader you by now know that we don’t have much use for Trump.
We’ll have to admit to a hometown bias on behalf of Koch. Our elementary school was literally next door to the Koch Industries building, and although our former school has long since been razed and the Koch Industries campus has vastly expanded we find it hard to believe that any globalist conspiracies were ever hatched there. Charles Koch still shows up for work there everyday with a beautiful impressionist landscape by Kansas artist Berger Sandzen behind his desk, and it’s impossible to go to the symphony concerts or musical theater productions or art museum or zoo exhibits around here without seeing in the program that it was generously funded by Koch family, and he’s a big reason the Wichita State University Wheatshockers’ basketball squad is a perennial top-25 program. He was once a celebrity guest star at the local media’s “Gridiron” show, as well, and we found him a most friendly fellow when chatting backstage.
For the most part we’ve also appreciated his political philanthropy. We liked the emphasis on low taxes and limited government and a general live and let live attitude, although we disagreed with Koch’s libertarian stance on fighting Islamist terrorism and restricting illegal immigration, and in every case we figured it was Koch’s hard-earned money and free speech and none of our business how he spent it. Koch declined to support either Trump or the equally unqualified Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the last presidential election, as we did for our own reasons, and he continues to disagree with Trump on matters ranging from trade policy to federal deficits to presidential temperament, as we do for our own reasons, so the feud was inevitable.
“The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade,” Trump “tweeted” on Tuesday. “I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas.” Trump boasted that Koch had praised his recently-signed tax cut bill and regulatory roll-backs and conservative Supreme Court appointments, as we have, alleged that Koch only opposed his protectionist policies to dodge tax on his multi-national earnings, then boasted that “Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn.” From here on the political sidelines in the middle of the country, it all seemed pure balderdash.
If “globalist” means being generally supportive of the carefully crafted arrangements that have been made for the past prosperous decades of global prosperity, we’re sure that neither we nor either of the Koch brothers will mind the pejorative. As for the Koch’s multi-billion dollar network of like minded big bucks donors being a total joke, we’d love to see Trump produce the tax returns that show he’s got more money in the bank. Koch is indeed weak on the border, but only to the same extent that Trump’s border wall is fantasy is too draconian. The acknowledged merits of the tax cuts and regulatory roll-backs and Supreme Court appointments in no way disprove that pretty much everything else Trump has done to create “Powerful Trade: has been catastrophically stupid. Trump can rightly boast that he’s President of the United States without the Koch network’s support, but his base of support is among those budget-balancing “Tea Party” types in the Freedom Caucus who have benefited from Koch’s support than Trump’s support over the years, and whose rural constituents are smarting from Trump’s trade wars lately, and it remains to be seen if Trump will ultimately outsmart those wily globalists next door to our former elementary school at every turn.
At this point we don’t really have any dog in the fight, as the old political expression goes, and in any case we have our own mishegas to deal with here in Kansas. The heavily Koch-funded Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback introduced a radical tax- and budget-agenda to win election, got it enacted after a Koch-funded “tea party” wave ousted the more skittish Republican incumbents in the primaries and, and then narrowly won reelection even though the promised tax revenue increases hadn’t materialized. By the time Trump tabbed him to be something called “Ambassador for Religious Freedom” Brownback left office with same polling numbers as when President Nixon took that final flight on Marine One, and although we always found Brownback a nice enough fellow in our Kansas encounters and thought his economic theories worth a try, he’s left our party in a mess.
So far Trump is backing long time slavishly devoted acolyte Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who seems to be trailing incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is talking about school funding and otherwise distancing himself from the Brownback agenda that got him elected as Lt. Governor and thus wound up with him in the governor’s office after that Trump appointment.
So far as we can tell, neither the Koch brothers nor Trump got it any of it right, and although none of the Democrats around here are very scary we don’t think they have any better ideas. We hold out some faint hope for what’s left of the Republican party that used to more placidly run things well enough around here, and guided our Republic through some perilous times, but jut in case we’re also hoping the Democrats don’t go crazy left.

— Bud Norman

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On the Rumored Death of Hillary Clinton

The internet rumor mill has had Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at death’s door for some time now, but its latest claim is that she has already died. We expect her death will have some effect on the upcoming presidential election, if true, so we decided to consider the arguments being made. As far-fetched at it all seems, at this point just about anything seems possible in this crazy election year.
There turned to be a variety of Clinton-is-dead theories floating around, but at least they seem to agree on the basic fact that she is dead. They all seem to settle on the same evidence, which includes all those indisputable coughing fits that even the most polite media have been forced to acknowledge, and all that network-broadcast footage that does seem to suggest she’s not the most physically fit women in the world, not to mention that widely-viewed cell phone camera account of her collapse into the arms of her entourage as she made an early exit from a Sept. 11 memorial service, and the undeniable fact that the goofy faux-surprised face she sometimes makes sure does look like a seizure if subjected some herky-jerky editing. Throw in the fact that the woman who emerged from Chelsea Clinton’s apartment about two hours after the nominee’s looked more sprightly and youthful than one who collapsed into the campaign entourage’s arms, as well as some close-up looks at a unidentified shiny thing that dropped onto the ground during the collapse, and that some mumble-mouthed local television news anchor in Dallas led a report by saying “We begin with the breaking news about Hillary Clinton’s death,” with some strange transmission problems from the pool coverage of a recent campaign rally that suggests a faked “green screen” event, and it’s as good a death certificate to the internet rumor mill.
There is no cause of death listed, but it could be anything from that bout of pneumonia that was reported to pesky Parkinson’s Disease that’s been widely rumored to something far more sinister. Our favorite theory is that Clinton agreed to “vanish” in some devilish pact with the left-wing multi-billionaire super-villain George Soros, but there’s also the more predictable chatter about how the Democratic Party’s powers-that-be have lately panicked about the tightening opinion polls and decided to take drastic actions. Some theories hold that she’ll be replaced with one of the party’s two or three available body doubles to finish out the race, others that the doppelgängers and the “green screens” will only be used until another suitable candidate can be rustled up, and all agree that people are saying that something’s going on.
Which all seems somewhat possible if not at all probable in this crazy election, but we can’t help wondering where these women who are so unfortunate as to closely resemble Clinton come from, and whether the family and friends and neighbors who had long kidded them about the resemblance will notice their sudden unexplained absence for the rest of the campaign, or even for the four or eight next years of her presidency. Perhaps they’re homeless women who have been subjected to the sort of extensive plastic surgery that SPECTRE used to create that pilot’s body double who stole a nuclear weapon in “Thunderball,” but as bad as Clinton has been as a candidate we doubt they’d be up to even her standards. We also can’t help wondering why such a diabolically brilliant Democratic Party that could enlist every media in the country to collude in it’s “green screen” recreations of a news event would be taking so long to announce a new nominee, who couldn’t possibly bring the years of scandals and resulting unfavorable ratings as Clinton, and would be far better positioned against a Republican nominee with such years of scandals and resulting unfavorable ratings as Donald Trump.
Still, in this crazy election year we suppose anything is possible.

— Bud Norman