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Conservatives Eye the Speakership

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s shocking decision Thursday to drop out of the race for speaker presents conservatives with a perhaps once-in-a-generation chance to truly seize power in the House.

Having taken Speaker John Boehner’s scalp and now McCarthy’s, too, conservatives are in the driver’s seat, and everybody knows it.

From many accounts, McCarthy, of California, was derailed when some 40 House conservatives declared they would support another candidate, leaving the expected speaker-to-be without the 218 votes he would have needed to win in a full House vote.

That conservative faction is now calling the shots, and it has some clear demands: No speaker will be tolerated who will:

  • Sit by while millions are spent by business groups to oust conservatives in primaries;
  • Go behind the caucus’s back to negotiate legacy-buffing budget deals with President Barack Obama;
  • Refuse to face with the White House over principle, or who quakes at the thought of shutting down the government.

Conservatives want the next speaker to be much more aggressive than Boehner — and, it turns out, McCarthy.

“They want a speaker who is going to go toe-to-toe with this president,” said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council. “They don’t expect to win all the time. But they want them to fight.”

Here is a look at some of the leading possibilities for the top House post, in order of their rankings, by two conservative organizations, Heritage (H) and FreedomWorks (FW), based on votes in the current congressional session. The caucus must choose a candidate before the scheduled full House vote Oct. 29.

  • Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio H: 96 percent; FW: 100 percent. The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus has declined to run previously but could change his mind with McCarthy out. Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Thursday before McCarthy’s announcement, Jordan said it is vital for the leadership to change. “The case we gotta make is the one the American people are making. When you have 60 percent of your voters — your voters, Republican voters — who think we’ve betrayed them. Not disappointed, not slightly off track — betrayed them. Then we had better figure this out. We had better start standing for the things that we told them we would stand for.”
  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas H: 85 percent; FW: 91 percent. The seven-term congressman previously had taken his name out of the running for speaker. But one congressional aide said Hensarling could potentially be a “bridge” candidate who could unite the various factions of the caucus. The Financial Services Committee chairman has been a sometimes Boehner antagonist and is a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
  • Rep. Tom Price of Georgia H: 80 percent; FW: 91 percent. Mentioned as a potential speaker candidate after Boehner’s announced his resignation, he had been locking up support for his planned run for majority leader. With McCarthy now remaining in that role, though, Price could decide to make a move for speaker. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that an interim speaker may be the way to go. “The best course would be for us to select a candidate for Speaker who will serve in that capacity for the next 15 months,” he said in a statement. “This would allow the House to complete the business in a responsible manner, providing ample time for everyone’s voices to be heard, leading into full leadership elections in November of 2016.”
  • Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas H: 79 percent; FW: 91 percent. The Rules Committee chairman had been running for whip. He could decide to go for the top job instead.
  • Jason Chaffetz of Utah H: 81 percent; FW: 82 percent. The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee publicly declared himself an underdog when he launched his bid for speaker on Sunday and bluntly admitted that he did not have the votes to win. But that was then. With McCarthy out, Chaffetz’s odds presumably improve somewhat. Still, his bid still must be considered a long shot. The Americans for Legal Immigration political action committee accuses him flip-flopping on the issue of citizenship for illegal immigrants. He told reporters after McCarthy’s withdrawal that he believes it is time for a “fresh start” in Congress, According to USA Today. “That was the whole genesis of my campaign, but we need to have a lot more family discussion, because we need to find somebody that our whole body can unite behind and do what we were elected to do.”
  • Daniel Webster of Florida H: 77 percent; FW: 73 percent. He had been gearing up for a run against Boehner and now seeks the position on changed political terrain. Webster, a three-term representative and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, promises to move power from a handful of men and women in the leadership to the rank and file.
  • Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana H: 60 percent; FW: 73 percent. The current whip, Scalise was another candidate for majority leader. With Boehner retiring and McCarthy bowing out of the race to succeed him, that would leave Scalise next in line based on House leadership hierarchy. Of course, that could also hurt him. Among some representatives, anyone associated with Boehner may be tainted, and Scalise voted on Sept. 30 for a temporary spending measure that kept Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer support intact.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin H: 57 percent; FW: 18 percent. He says he doesn’t want it, that he has a young family and wants to be with them, but that didn’t stop him from running for vice president. He was all the buzz after McCarthy dropped out, and the pressure on him is intense to change his mind. Many think he is the best possibility for uniting the caucus, having credibility with both conservatives and the establishment wing. Signs as of Thursday evening were that he is considering a run — or at least seriously mulling it.

The establishment is looking more and more desperate. And there’s an important parallel here to the presidential race. The establishment put all of its chips on McCarthy, and then when it became clear that McCarthy couldn’t get the votes, the establishment is left trying to scramble for Plan B. Meanwhile, that same establishment has put more than $100 million on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who — like McCarthy — is a highly flawed candidate.

Wouldn’t it be smarter for the establishment to change course on Bush now, instead of waiting until it finds itself facing yet another eleventh-hour crisis?

This piece first appeared in PoliZette.

Obama’s Liberal Certitudes

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough Thursday morning put his finger squarely on the most astonishing and dismaying thing about this president, which is that he is fully vested in the prosaic, anti-intellectual liberal trope that conservative thinking isn’t actually thinking at all.

It’s what every conservative has experienced at one time or another with your random liberal: that other viewpoints simply are not to be tolerated and are informed either by stupidity or malice.

Scarborough was riffing on President Obama’s comments the other day – during what was supposed to be a bipartisan “conversation on poverty” – in which Obama suggested Fox News describes the poor as “leeches” and that better news reporting might make his political opponents – and “the body politic” – see the light of truth that only he and others of the enlightened Left can perceive

Scarborough said:

Barack Obama says, if we are to change the way that John Boener and Mitch McConnel think . . . change the way they think? Is he really the sole arbiter of what is right and just? Is he the only one who cares about the poor?

The arrogance of it all is staggering. People have disagreed in this country since Goerge Washington had Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton together in the same Cabinet. You work out differences. It’s a creative friction. It’s not “Im’ right, you’re wrong.”

President Obama doesn’t know much about friction. He knows better about proclamations and executive orders.

At least Obama shifted the conversation from race to “class,” saying, “what used to be racial segregation now mirrors itself in class segregation and this great sorting that’s taking place.” I give him credit for backing off the unhealthy over-focus on race that he’s been conducting as of late.

And while I don’t agree that class bias is the central problem for the poor, I accept that he thinks this and understand he has a reasonable argument to make.

And I believe, as an irretrievably unreformable optimist, that I might be able to present arguments that would alter his views, even if just a bit. But I don’t believe that more-accurate reporting will change what he thinks. That there is some sacred text of infallible thinking that would make him tearfully embrace my vision of the truth.

Obama thinks

It’s profoundly discomfiting to have a leader of a country with such a dismal, uninformed view of the philosophy held by his opponents and tens of millions of people around this nation. In fact, 38 percent of Americans consider themselves conservative, compared to 34 percent who say they are moderate and just 24 percent who are liberal, according to Gallup.

Maybe Obama needs to watch a little less sports and read some John Locke, some Friedrich Von Hayek, or some Milton Friedman.

Imagine how relaxing that would be on a Saturday afternoon instead of golf?

A Cry for Help From Baltimore

President Obama’s principal solution to the problems of the inner city is to slather on more money and government. Because these are the things he believes will abet change, even though minority communities have been banging their heads against the wall of government solutions for 50 years and come away dizzy with impoverishment every time.

An eloquent plea for helping the poor by removing the hand of government came today on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal – “My Baltimore Business Problem,” by Jay Steinmetz, who owns a supply-chain management company in downtown Baltimore.

His message is very simple. It amounts to, Please, no more government kindness. Let me just run my business so I can hire people and help lift this place out of poverty.

From the piece:

When the building alarm goes off, the police charge us a fee. If the graffiti isn’t removed in a certain amount of time, we are fined. This penalize-first approach is of a piece with Baltimore’s legendary tax and regulatory burden. The real cost of these ill-conceived policies is to the community where we—and other local businesses in similar positions—might be able to hire more of those Baltimoreans who have lost hope of escaping poverty and government dependency.

The bottom line is that our modest 14,000-square-foot building is hit with $50,000 in annual property taxes. And when we refinanced our building loan in 2006, Maryland and Baltimore real-estate taxes drove up the cost of this routine financial transaction by $36,000.

State and city regulations overlap in a number of areas, most notably employment and hiring practices, where litigious employees can game the system and easily find an attorney to represent them in court. Building-permit requirements, sales-tax collection procedures for our multistate clients, workers’ compensation and unemployment trust-fund hearings add to the expensive distractions that impede hiring.

Contrary to President Obama’s suggestion in a news conference following saturated television coverage of the riots, lack of urban “investment” is not the problem. The Maryland state and Baltimore city governments are leveraging funds to float a $1 billion bond issue to rebuild crumbling public schools. This is on top of the $1.2 billion in annual state aid Baltimore received in 2015, more than any other jurisdiction and eclipsing more populous suburban counties.

The simplest, most direct way to offer hope to discouraged people is to hire them. The Baltimore business community has a simple message to law enforcement and elected officials: “Help us help you.” People making good wages, working at jobs they are proud of don’t destroy themselves or the place where they live.

Many liberals, including President Obama, in their hearts dislike conservatives and believe the right is merely conniving to help the rich and oppress the proletariat. Obama, ostensibly the president of all of us, actually says things like this. But most conservative leaders that I listen to believe truly that in the notion that the gifts Obama bestows are destroying the poor.

Obama handout

It occurs to me how much this mimics good and bad parenting. So many parents give in to their kids and shower them with electronics, garbage excitingly repackaged as food, and other bright and shiny objects that make children happy in the short run but ultimately do great harm.

Oh how much harder to make the kids read a book or drag them to a museum on the weekend. Even, these days, just to make them play outside with their friends instead of firing up an Xbox.

Do this and your kids will think you’re a troll blocking their bridge to happiness. But incurring the their anger and the inconvenience of not just leaving them to the supervision of their iPad is a greater love.

And no, I’m not comparing the poor to children. It’s a analogy meant only to illustrate to bad consequences of good intentions incorrectly applied.

One day maybe liberals will recognize that they don’t have a monopoly on compassion. If the country is to be saved, hopefully those in disadvantaged communities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic, will recognize it first.

Bob Dylan, Conservative?

Leftie, folkie icon Bob Dylan was singing from the supply side playbook the other day during an interview with AARP magazine, touting a little trickle down economics for his fellow seniors.

As noted in the Wall Street Journal:

DYLAN: As long as there’s suffering, you can only be so happy. How can a person be happy if he has misfortune? Some wealthy billionaire who can buy 30 cars and maybe buy a sports team, is that guy happy? What then would make him happier? Does it make him happy giving his money away to foreign countries? Is there more contentment in that than in giving it here to the inner cities and creating jobs? The government’s not going to create jobs. It doesn’t have to.

People have to create jobs, and these big billionaires are the ones who can do it. We don’t see that happening. We see crime and inner cities exploding with people who have nothing to do, turning to drink and drugs. They could all have work created for them by all these hotshot billionaires. For sure that would create a lot of happiness. Now, I’m not saying they have to—I’m not talking about communism—but what do they do with their money? Do they use it in virtuous ways?

Q: So they should be moving their focus here instead of . . .

DYLAN: Well, I think they should, yeah, because there are a lot of things that are wrong in America, and especially in the inner cities, that they could solve. Those are dangerous grounds, and they don’t have to be. There are good people there, but they’ve been oppressed by lack of work. Those people can all be working at something. These multibillionaires can create industries right here in America. But no one can tell them what to do. God’s got to lead them.

Are the failures of President Obama prompting some new thinking? If Bob Dylan is saying conservative things, is a new era at hand?

The Tyranny of the Experts

Liberals aren’t extremists. They are sensible people. Unlike the extremists, who are on the right, they know what they’re talking about.

President Obama is not just a liberal. He’s a Leftist. So that would make Obama very sensible.

And liberals – I’m sorry, sensible people – obey the experts.

Speaking at a White House press conference a week ago with British PM David Cameron, Obama sought to emphasize that the deal he strikes with Iran will be utterly verifiable, which I might believe except for the fact that I CAN’T KEEP MY DOCTOR EVEN THOUGH I LIKE MY DOCTOR.

Know what I mean?

Anyway, Obama said:

Anything that we do, any deal that we arrive at — if we were to arrive at one — would be subject to scrutiny across the board, not just by members of Congress, but more importantly, by people who actually know how the technical aspects of nuclear programs can advance and how we can effectively verify in the most rigorous way possible that the terms of the deal are being met.

Now, do you see where the problem is here?

It’s here: not just by members of Congress, but more importantly, by people who actually know . . . 

This statement is at the heart of what liberals believe versus what conservatives believe. I’m sorry, what sensible people believe versus what people who are not sensible believe.

You see, the liberal specimen does not trust average people. He doesn’t trust them to care for themselves, or to care for others. Because he knows that they are like children – less knowledgeable and capable than himself. They must be provided succor, told what’s best for them, and generally condescended to for their own good and to increase the chances they will survive, a task to which they are unsuited.

And so the liberal instead only trusts either other sensible, intelligent people like himself, or a class of humans known as “the experts.”

The liberal himself is an expert on many things, and we know this because he will freely inform us of it. But sometimes, the experts, with their rarified knowledge about a particular field, must be enlisted to provide extra knowledge.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with experts. Conservatives – I’m sorry, extremists – like experts too. Except conservatives believe the experts are there to serve the people. To provide them with good advice that people, capable as they are, can use to make decisions. Experts, after all, often disagree.

For the liberal, experts are not here to advise. They are here to rule! Experts rule! Because they’ve done the research, and they know what’s best for you. You may have voted for one policy, but if an expert has devised a different policy, well then, that’s your policy!


Experts often can be found in government bureaucracies, where they sit tight, sometimes for decades, and run their models and perform their calculations. When Republicans are in charge, they don’t have quite enough to do, and they bide their time. But when someone like Obama takes over, well, presto! Their expertise is now eagerly plucked by White House officials and used to whip the masses into electric vehicles.

Now, a sensible person like Obama understands that Congress, representing the people as it does, cannot possibly know what it’s talking about, because the people themselves don’t know what they are talking about.

The problem is, while Obama understands it, James Madison didn’t get that you should probably be required to have a PhD to serve in Congress, and so it’s nowhere in the Constitution.

And so, Congress and the Constitution are quaint institutions that, while fun to learn about in school, hardly seem to appreciate the need for experts to make decisions.

But Obama appreciates it. That’s how he could let loose a statement like, not just by members of Congress, but more importantly, by people who actually know. Because he has contempt for Congress. Because they are not part of the feudal class of Mandarins in the bureaucracy, along with their colleagues on special outside task forces, who actually should be in charge.

So don’t mess with the experts. Do you presume to criticize the great Oz, you ungrateful creatures?

Unruly things like Congress, market forces, and democracy must be overruled in favor of five-year plans and, even better, six-year plans. Human behavior will adapt to the grand schemes of the people who actually know what to do. Sensible people.

Earth hasn’t warmed is 16 years? Don’t believe your eyes. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Look over there to the work of the wizards, who say climate change is right on track.

The Senate won’t be permitted by Obama to review the Iran treaty. Because, as Obama said last Friday, “it’s my team that’s at the table. We are steeped in this stuff day in, day out.” Leave it to the experts.

This is why Obama wasn’t the least bit serious during the State of the Union when he said he wanted to involve Congress in his business.

So butt out, Congress, Okay? You, and the people you represent, don’t get it. I mean, please, be sensible.

But the people do know what they’re talking about. They need only to choose among the wizards, or ignore them altogether. Because they can click their own heels all by themselves, and go back home, to Kansas.

How to Deal With Your Liberal Relative this Christmas

Every conservative has one.

Even if your entire family is conservative, you raised your kids to love freedom, you left copies of National Review lying around for them to read, there always ends up one liberal at the family holiday table.

Maybe your daughter found him at that liberal arts college you sent her to and married him. Maybe it’s your sister, who rebelled against mom and dad in her teens and never quite drifted back. But it’s someone.

For me, it’s my mother’s boyfriend. We get along pretty nicely, until the subject turns to politics. And then we go from zero to sixty in about three seconds.

It happened a couple of months ago in a Thai restaurant. You could hear the sound of chopsticks being set down all over the place as the battle escalated. People stealthily craned to look, as if rubbernecking a particularly bad highway disaster. Why everyone was too polite to tell us to shut up I don’t know, because we certainly didn’t care if we ruined their red curry chicken or not.

Anyway, in this video, comedian Tom Shillue explains how to avoid such incidents and maintain decorum at the table this year. Remember, the Left knows it’s right, knows you’re evil, and isn’t listening to you anyway. So just enjoy the ham.

Got any stories to share about your liberal relatives?

H/T to the Daily Caller.

Thatcher’s Hopeful Lesson

Conservatives in America are searching, and even despairing. They see a nation in decline and a Republican Party that lacks serious leadership and fortitude. But Margaret Thatcher, who died today, reminds conservatives that there is always hope, and that a single individual can achieve the impossible.

Thatcher, it must be said, did something her ally Ronald Reagan did not: she permanently changed the direction of her country.

Reagan certainly interrupted America’s decline and gave the right a beacon to sail endlessly toward. But just 20 years after he left office, the country elected the most leftist president in its history. And four years later, it elected him again.

Even after the lessons of Reagan, who reversed the nation’s economic decline and made clear he was doing it with free market principles, the country added a vast new entitlement, Obamacare,  that will make the government an inextricable presence in the daily lives of every American – not just those who have suffered some misfortune, including the misfortune of getting old.

And it’s the springboard for much more pervasive government intrusion. If the government can dictate your health care, it can dictate anything. Obamacare changes the whole game, and Obama knows it.

Meanwhile, even after Reagan defeated the Soviet Union by confronting it, appeasement and disengagement is back in style, as the United States reruns the tragedy of Vietnam by withdrawing too quickly and too completely from Afghanistan and Iraq while trying to negotiate with Iranian mullahs who, like HItler before them, are just trying to buy time for their evil ends.

But in Britain, as a Labor Party official once acknowledged, all are Thatcherites. She suspended what was believed even by her own Tory Party a hopeless drift to the left. She broke the unions that were destroying the country and, following the tenets of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, put Britain on a free market path from which it has never really turned back. A Labor Party that had been busy instilling socialism in the 1970s today accepts many of Thatcher’s values.

But not in the United States. The Democrats originally decided, under Bill Clinton, to mimic the Republicans. But Obama, through the force of his own personality and the purity of his left wing intentions, erased all that and, as improbable as it seemed, marched the Democrats right back toward socialism.

It is the great question of our time. Can capitalism save itself from itself?

Capitalism, combined with democracy, is just so successful that it breeds its own destruction by creating so much wealth. Wealth creates a desire for comfort. And so, with all the money lying around, the government starts handing out gifts – yes, gifts. And gifts once given are far harder to take away than had had they not been offered in the first place, and so they continue to be supported even after the government is out of money.

And that is where we find ourselves. Just today, the Wall Street Journal reported that 5.4 percent of the civilian workforce is on disability, compared to 1.7 percent in 1970. Since the recession began, the number of people on disability has risen from 7.1 million to 8.9 million. Did all these people suddenly get sick?

Reversing course will take someone who believes strongly enough in conservative principles, and who has the strength of character, to weather all attacks in the pursuit of what’s right. Who won’t stand down when assailed by political correctness, when confronted by the inevitable accusations that they love only the rich, hate minorities, are cold-hearted to the poor, and want to start wars with every nation on earth.

It will take someone like this:

Bill Whittle: Be a Conservative and Like It

As Republicans and even some “conservative” leaders around the nation melt into a slurry of mushy moderatism and propose jettisoning the philosophy that twice elected Ronald Reagan – by landslides – along comes Bill Whittle of PJTV to remind them and everyone else the power of unflinching conservative ideology. It’s a theme I’ve been striking around here,… Continue Reading