principles

A Memo to Conservative Voters

#earmarks | #WhatTheyVotedFor

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)

MEMORANDUM

To: Conservative Voters

re: Come up for air

Once upon a time, earmarks were a big deal. Or, rather, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe nobody ever had anything to say about the issue, ever.

The Republican-led House is being somewhat overshadowed by the nomination fights engulfing its Senate counterpart. But on the GOP side of the aisle, one of the issues that will start heating up in the coming weeks is the debate about bringing back earmarks.

The House Rules Committee will hold a series of hearings before making a decision about whether and how to soften the current earmark ban.

Rules Chairman Pete Sessions said members are frustrated by the House’s lack of control over spending priorities because of the earmark ban, noting that it’s approximately $18 billion of appropriated funds that the administration gets to decide how to spend instead of Congress.

(McPherson)

See, after a while, the Republicans you elect prove the point: Whatever vaunted principle you’re invoking about this, that, or the other, and evil Democrats and blah blah blah? You do realize the only reason anyone should believe you is pretentious ritual and societal code?

No, really: After all this cry-wolf, the words coming out of your mouths simply are not believable. And the thing is―and this is key to understanding and addressing the #trumpswindle―the basis of that pretense is an asserted standard that it should somehow be impolite to simply presume that, because you are advocating conservative politics, you are necessarily aiming to swindle people. To the other, at some point your neighbors need some believable suggestion that all your fretting and wringing and bawling about principle isn’t just an eminence front.Do you think, just maybe you could ask your elected Republicans to not prove the lie?

(more…)

Keystone Courage (Trumping Toomey)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).  (Photo: Getty Images)Steve Benen summarizes―

So, after dodging an easy question for nearly a year, Toomey will put off voting until late in the afternoon―75 minutes before polls close―and then he’ll grudgingly make an announcement about his preference.

―and on this occasion I must dissent: This is, quite clearly, not an easy question.

Ask Speaker Ryan; I hear the question started getting to him, by the end.

To the other, hemming and hawing probably beats attempting the dangerous and unadmired flip-flop-flip. Better to stand around looking like an idiot than to open your mouth and insist. Wait, that’s not how it goes, is it? Never mind. Republicans. The Party of Accountability. Values. Principles. Astounding. Or not. Whatever.

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Image notes: Top ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube). Right ― U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). (Photo: Getty Images)

Benen, Steve. “Paul Ryan and the candidate who must not be named”. msnbc. 1 November 2016.

—————. “Paul Ryan’s principles waver at election’s finish line”. msnbc. 7 November 2016.

—————. “Pennsylvania’s Toomey not through playing presidential games”. msnbc. 8 November 2016.

—————. “Under fire from the right, Ryan condemns a Democratic dystopia”. msnbc. 18 October 2016.

Even Less Admirable (The Chairman’s Daughter’s Whatnot)

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT03) questions Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. during her testimony in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on 29 September 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This is not what we would ordinarily call a profile in courage:

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz again reversed his position on Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy on Wednesday night, saying he’d vote for the Republican nominee but wouldn’t endorse him.

“I will not defend or endorse @realDonaldTrump, but I am voting for him,” Chaffetz tweeted Wednesday. “[Hillary Rodham Clinton] is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA.”

The House Oversight Committee chairman had previously backed Trump’s candidacy before withdrawing his endorsement on Oct. 8 following the revelation that the Republican nominee had made lewd and sexually aggressive comments while filming for an “Access Hollywood” interview in 2005.

(Lima)

Then again, this is Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT03) we’re talking about, so it’s not like anyone expects a lot. To that end, we should at least note the accomplishment, the e’er graceless flip-flop-flip.

(more…)

The Ted Cruz Show (Coward)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in detail of photo by Getty Images, 2016.

Via Associated Press:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he waited until January to begin criticizing Republican rival Donald Trump because he didn’t want to become “roadkill” like other candidates who had challenged the front-runner.

Cruz made the comment Wednesday during a forum hosted by a conservative talk radio host near Milwaukee. It marked Cruz’s first campaign stop in Wisconsin, which holds its primary April 5.

Cruz was asked about a previous statement he made calling Trump “terrific.” Cruz responded by noting that his campaign has had a plan since launching a year ago, and said he needed to build his base of support first and get his record out before drawing contrasts with Trump.

Coward.

You know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not cowardice. Maybe it’s what we call, “Texas courage”.

This is the guy who wants us to “trusTed”.

Which, in turn, begs a simple question: Why not?

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Image note: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in detail of photo by Getty Images, 2016.

Associated Press. “The Latest: Cruz says he didn’t want to be Trump ‘roadkill'”. 23 March 2016.

Savage, Dan. “Ted Cruz’s Secret Longings”. Slog. 5 February 2016.

Leadership (Scott Walker Bone Dry Remix)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (Image via Facebook)

This is something of a challenge: “Michigan has voted Democratic for presidents since Bill Clinton in 1992”, reports Bloomberg’s Chris Christoff. And this week? Well, this is not what we would call the strongest of pitches:

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Monday joined the list of politicians who’ve deflected this question from Michigan reporters: Would you have supported the U.S. loans to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to get through their 2009 bankruptcies?

“That’s a hypothetical question in the past. We’re going to talk about the future,” Walker said after speaking to 120 Lansing Republicans in an Oldsmobile car museum where he touted less government, less taxation, and more U.S. aggression toward Islamists in the Middle East. It was the first of two appearances Walker planned in Michigan as part of a national tour to build support and money as he explores a presidential run.

And then there is also the question of what a primary fight demands. Perhaps the best thing we might say about Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) whining half-heartedly about Hillary Clinton, polls, and principles is that it didn’t look or sound very good. We might suggest state Rep. Rick Jones (R-24) take the note, as quotes like, “I believe there’s Bush fatigue in this country”, neither count as ringing endorsements nor actually help anyone or anything.

Then again, when it comes right down to it, look at what is about to happen. This might actually turn out to be the one cycle in which the parties get to burn off all that self-destructive extraneity without it really making much difference. Let them borrow each other’s lines all they want.

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Christoff, Chris. “Scott Walker Tiptoes Past Michigan Reporters’ Most Common Question”. Bloomberg Politics. 4 May 2015.

Terkel, Amanda. “Martin O’Malley Goes After Hillary Clinton For Leading By ‘Polls,’ Not ‘Principles'”. The Huffington Post. 16 April 2015.

Mr. Paul’s Integrity

"U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks in Washington on Dec. 2, 2014." (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

“He has integrity. That’s pretty much it in a nut shell.”

Dominic Damiano

While we’re on the subject of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the question arises as to what, exactly, is this myth of integrity about the Kentucky junior.

There is, certainly, Simon Maloy’s consideration of Paul’s coming presidential run―

The true “compromise” that’s happening here is on Rand Paul’s much-vaunted libertarian principles, which he’s shown an eager willingness to shed as he moves closer and closer to announcing his presidential candidacy. He debuted on the national scene as a Republican who would stand on principle to buck the Republican establishment, and since then he’s steadily diluted his own positions to bring them into closer alignment with the mainstream of the party. The Rand Paul who once scoffed at the Republican “hawks” and “interventionists” has since joined their ranks in calling for a sustained military campaign to “destroy” the Islamic State. He used to support cutting aid to Israel, but now denies ever having espoused that position.

Reversals like these also undercut what is supposed to be the core of Rand Paul’s appeal: that he’s a “different” kind of Republican who can hold on to hardcore conservatives while simultaneously poaching traditionally Democratic voters. “Rand is the Republican who has the best chance of keeping and energizing the base while going into their constituencies,” a Paul aide said last August. “It’s kind of dangerous to have a Republican like Rand.” With each flip-flop, Rand is turning himself into the thing he can’t afford to be: just another Republican.

―but even that examination of a “spectacular crash” starts with the erroneous presupposition that the fake libertarian was ever a “man of principle”. And perhaps it is true that he was in some context a man of principle, staunchly dedicated to being a racist and misogynist with some assertion of integrity about his supremacist paranoia, but that doesn’t mean he should be allowed anywhere near children.

And with such a definition of “integrity”, neither, it seems, should Mr. Damiano.

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McLaughlin, Tom. “Rand Paul hosts fundraising dinner in Destin”. Northwest Florida Daily News. 30 March 2015.

Maloy, Simon. “Rand Paul’s spectacular crash: How a man of principle turned into a generic politician”. Salon. 26 March 2015.