Speaker Ryan?

Seems that a lot of people want him in the position – and he’s highly reluctant to do it. Partially this would be because as Chairman of Ways and Means, he’s already one of the most powerful people in Washington; another part would be that Speaker is a thankless job…but I think another part of it would be a supreme lack of ambition on the part of the man. And that, in and of itself, commends him highly for the job.

First off, let me say I’m not one of the scorched-earth variety of conservative. I do believe that compromise is necessary to get anything done in DC, unless by some miracle you wind up with the White House and a massive majority in Congress – and everyone is pretty much on the same page. That happens very rarely. Running through the history I can really only think of three times it happened – early in the Civil War when the secession of the South left the GOP is absolute control in DC, and when the Democrats blew out the GOP in the 30’s and 60’s. Other than that, if you want to get things done, you have to offer at least something to the minority party, even if it is in practical terms eye wash.

That said, I do believe that the problem with the Congressional GOP is the fear of a fight on principle. Part of this is, of course, because some of them lack any principles – they are in politics for purely personal ambition and they are only GOP because they wound up living in an area of the country where the GOP is dominant…move some of them to the San Francisco Bay Area and in a week they’d become ultra liberal because that is how you get ahead (and don’t let us kid ourselves – a lot of liberal Democrats are just like that…move them to a GOP area of the country and watch them shift to the right to maintain electoral viability). Another part of it is that a lot of people who go into politics are really small people – pitiable creatures who are kept up awake at night by a hostile leading article in a newspaper; who worry what their perceived betters in the socio-economic food chain might think of them; who’s greatest fear is being found on the “wrong” side of an issue. The combination of this has hamstrung the GOP, especially – because our leaders, unlike the Democrat leaders, are mostly a mixture of the two things – the unprincipled and the afraid. Of course, Democrats do have it easier – the MSM, largely being of the left, shields the Democrat leadership from the fires of public scorn. But even with that advantage, the bottom line is that the Democrat leaders are willing to fight. Say what you will of Reid and Pelosi, they do go to the mat and get down and dirty in the political game…more then willing to take a hit in order to advance the Democrat ball.

These facts are just common to democratic governance – the chances that any particular person entering politics will be a genius along the lines of Lincoln are just as good that any particular person entering music composition will be a Mozart. That is, the chances are just about zero. These people who rule in our name are made of the common clay of humanity – heir to all the follies of humanity. But in the normal run of events, most of the time the people who rise to the top do have something extra…that extra bit of drive or intellect or simple desire to make things work. They are willing to take risks – even risks which can ruin them, if it comes out badly. For some reason or another, since the fall of Gingrich, the Congressional GOP has lacked anyone on top who has that little extra. This is why I welcome this bit of disarray in our ranks – it means that we’re about to shake things up. Now, maybe we roll snake eyes and get even worse leadership…but maybe we get lucky and hit the jackpot.

I don’t know if Ryan is the jackpot – but he’s certainly better than the current crop of leadership, while still retaining that “insider” status which makes him acceptable to the unprincipled and the afraid. And, just perhaps, he’ll be able to craft a strategy to advance our agenda, and prove he has the mettle to stand up to the slings and arrows…making himself the willing target of abuse. I guess we’ll see – if Ryan accepts it, and then if he can do the job.

Boehner to Resign

Now this is some stunning news:

Just last night The Hill reported that Boehner ally Patrick McHenry was sniffing around to find primary challengers for Mark Meadows, the GOP rep spearheading the “oust Boehner” movement in the House, presumably to scare Meadows into backing off. Twelve hours later, Boehner’s on his way out. What happened? Did Boehner decide to quit awhile ago and kept his secret so well that even pals like McHenry didn’t know? Or did Boehner himself only make this decision very recently?

He hung on long enough to meet the Pope, but not long enough to totally disrupt news coverage of the Pope’s UN address this morning. Huh…

There has been a revolt brewing in the House for a while against Boehner – and the revolt is because Boehner simply will not fight for core, conservative ideas. It is inexplicable to me that he hasn’t passed 100 conservative bills to cut this, defund that, reform the other…it doesn’t matter if they can’t get thru the Senate or, if they do, that they’d be vetoed by Obama. That, indeed, would be the whole point of the exercise: to demonstrate to the American people that the reforms they want and need are being blocked by Senate Democrats and/or Obama. But Boehner doesn’t do it. For all the world to see since 2011, Boehner has been completely helpless against the President – and even giving him a GOP Senate to work with hasn’t helped.

And now he’s out. The Establishment will try to get someone as pliable as Boehner as a replacement but I think the line has been drawn: if you don’t fight, you will be forced out.

Turley’s Testimony

In all of the chaos that has been swirling around the last week or two, i.e.; the border crisis, the Malaysian airliner, and the Gaza Strip, what has been lost or certainly under reported is the very important Congressional lawsuit against Executive Authority. Notable George Washington University law professor and admitted Obama supporter Jonathan Turley testified in front of Congress this last week in support of the lawsuit, and his testimony was very compelling and should get the attention of anyone who respects the Constitution and the founding of our country. Turley warns not only of unlawful unilateral changes to legislation by the executive branch, but also of the “fourth branch” of government, and the increasing power of agency deference, and the enactment of law through regulations. The testimony is found in full text here, and is a good weekend read. Many of us here have spoken to this issue quite a bit calling for the need to limit the size and scope of the federal government, and to see that the House, through elected representatives, and the States assert their Constitutional authorities. Unfortunately, in the face of those statements, we have been called racists and extremists by the very people who either support the expansion of unilateral power and the departure from the tripartite system our founders intended, or by those who are so willfully ignorant they pose an extreme danger to our republic. I contend it is the latter. In his testimony, Turley explains how he sat in bewilderment when the President stood in front of the Congressional body and told them straight up that he would go around them if they failed to act and many of them stood up and cheered. How sad is that? Congress cheering a President that promises to strip them of their elected responsibility. This lawsuit must go forward, and it must succeed, and this is just the first of many actions the people must engage in to regain control of this government, and of this country. Below are some excerpts:

While the President is clearly exasperated by the opposition that he has encountered in Washington, the Framers created a system that often forces compromise between factional and political groups. That legislative process tends to produce laws with a broader base of support and, frankly, a better product after going through the difficult revisions and conferences. What emerges is not always perfect but it does have the legitimacy of a duly enacted law. It is that legislative process that is the key to the success of the American system. Thus, the loss caused by the circumvention of the legislative branch is not simply one branch usurping another. Rather, it is the loss of the most important function of the tripartite system in channeling factional interests and reaching resolutions on matters of great public importance. 

The rise of this fourth branch in our tripartite system raises difficult questions.65 Today, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations. Adding to this dominance are judicial rulings giving agencies heavy deference in their interpretations of laws under cases like Chevron. Recently, this Supreme Court added to this insulation and authority with a ruling that agencies can determine their own jurisdictions — a power that was previously believed to rest with Congress. In his dissent in City of Arlington v. FCC, Chief Justice John Roberts warned, “It would be a bit much to describe the result as ‘the very definition of tyranny,’ but the danger posed by the growing power of the administrative state cannot be dismissed.”

Federal Legislative Criteria

This is a idea I’ve been kicking around for a while. Has anyone here ever asked his or her Congressman or Senators what criteria they rely on when they write a bill, co-sponsor a bill or vote on a bill? If you’ve ever read a House or Senate bill, particularly one of the uber-long and complicated ones like The Affordable Care Act or Dodd-Frank, you’ve probably wondered if there are any criteria at all, other than to make it so long and complicated that no one will or can read it. I’ll bet, without a great deal of effort, we here at B4V can come up with a comprehensive list of criteria that we could forward to Congress in the form of an open letter.

Number one, IMO, would be, what is the goal of the legislation, and is the means to achieve that goal allowed by the Constitution?

Second: do the projected benefits outweigh the projected costs? (ie. can we afford it?)

Third: Has the issue been addressed before, and, if so, what was faulty about previous legislation that prevented it from solving the problem? IOW, is it a new idea, or has it been tried before?

Fourth: will the proposed legislation duplicate any existing program/s (think the dozens of federal jobs and job training programs currently in existence)?

Fifth: is there a sunset provision in the bill in the event that (a) it doesn’t achieve the stated goal, or (b) it does achieve the stated goal?

Well, I think you get the idea. Everyone feel free to chip in. I have a feeling we can come up with a very long list, most of which will come as a complete and utter surprise to our lawmakers.

With a Measure of Disgust…

Oath of Office
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” -Oath of office for Congress.

Just words– without one iota of consideration as to what those words mean.

I’m just getting more and more nauseated every time I think of this whole damned bunch of traitors, liars, opportunists, and career criminals.

I’ve lost every iota of optimism and faith in government.

They are no longer public servants, placed in a position of trust.

They–the lot of them– are self-serving, egotistical leeches who are in it for no one but themselves.

The inmates have taken over the asylum.

God have mercy on our nation, and please, drain the swamp, once and for all.

I’m so disgusted.

Tim Scott Appointed Senator

From the Washington Post:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announced Monday that she will appoint Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to the Senate.

Scott will replace Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is leaving the chamber in January to head up the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“It is with great pleasure that I am announcing our next U.S. senator to be Congressman Tim Scott,” Haley said. “I am strongly convinced that the entire state understands that this is the right U.S. senator for our state and our country.”

Sen.-designate Scott, 47, will become the only African-American currently serving in the Senate and the first black Republican to serve in the upper chamber since the 1970s. He will also be the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction…

Clearly just a clever plot by those wascally, wacist Wepublicans!  Imagine, the nerve of them!  Having a female, racial minority governor appointing a black man to the Senate?  Obviously, its just to throw dust in everyone’s eyes so they won’t see the Klan hood peaking out…I mean, its not like the two Latino governors of American States are Republican…oh, wait…

Tell ya what, Democrats – you can keep all the old, white guys like Charlie Crist…we’ll go Forward! with people who actually want to make America great again.

Whatever Happened to Compromise?

In the previous thread Robin Naismith Green ended a comment with the following question:

Enough blame how about some action and cooperation between the parties?

To which I responded:

Robin, the Tea Party is forcing the GOP to trend to the right at the same time that the Democrat Party has lurched violently to the left. I’m not sure how you get cooperation between such polar opposites. For example, which of the principles that guide your thinking would you be willing to compromise on? Which of our principles do you think we should compromise on. What is the ultimate goal if we both give up a little? Specifically, can you picture a country where we all get along, and how would you accomplish that when we clearly don’t want the same things. Would the ultimate compromise be to make each of us equally miserable?

And then Amazona added:

Good question. But you need to ask the right questions first. For example, the first step toward working together is agreeing on a goal. Cooperation happens when both sides agree on a goal and then only have to find ways to achieve that goal, which usually involves some give-and-take. What we are seeing, and have seen for quite some time, is goals being thrown under the bus in favor of gross and blatant demagoguery.

Example: Let’s say the Left says its goal is to feed poor children. The Right agrees, this is a worthy goal. Therefore, the next step ought to be rational discussion about how best to do this. But what happens is, the Left says there is one way to do this and only one way, their way, which happens to totally contradict the Right’s objective political philosophy, so letting the Left have its way would not be compromise, it would be capitulation.

So poor children do not get fed. BUT….the true goal of the Left is met, which was never the feeding of poor children but the demonizing of the Right, because once the Right has walked away from an entirely dogmatic and unacceptable position the Left can then trumpet its claim that the Right doesn’t care if children go hungry. And this was the intent from the get-go.

So if you truly want cooperation and true compromise, drop the either/or paradigm, and agree that the goals are shared and the only thing left is to figure out how to meet them.

We often talk about compromise.  Compromise used to be the glue that held our government together and made it work.  It was an historic compromise back in 1983 that extended the solvency of Social Security by 2 decades.  But when George Bush attempted to reform and save Social Security again early in his first term, saying publicly that EVERYTHING was on the table, compromise was nowhere to be found.  It appeared to anyone who was paying attention that for Democrats, the campaign value of being able to say that Republicans wanted to destroy Social Security was greater than actually fixing the program for future generations.

So when exactly did compromise die?  And, unless you’re living under a rock, you’d have to admit that, if it’s not dead, it’s at least in a coma.  Many on the Left cite Newt Gingrich as the single individual who banished compromise from the D.C. lexicon, and in some respects, they would be right.  But David Axelrod’s reference to Gingrich as the Godfather of Gridlock notwithstanding, Gingrich’s compromises with Bill Clinton probably accomplished more in terms of historical, meaningful legislation than any Speaker in my lifetime:

So what did Clinton and Gingrich accomplish during this era of (relatively) good feelings? Here are a few notable bills, each of which passed with broad, bipartisan majorities.

Telecommunications Act, 1996 described by the Federal Communications Commission as “the first major overhaul of telecommunications law in almost 62 years.” The House passed the final version of the bill by a 414-16 margin, with 236 Republicans and 178 Democrats supporting it.

Welfare reform, 1996 — a landmark bill to end cash payments and instead encourage recipients to find work. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 328-101 margin, with 230 Republicans and 98 Democrats.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, 1996 — a law that allowed people to change jobs without fearing the loss of their health insurance due to pre-existing conditions, as well as provisions dealing with health information privacy. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 421-2 margin, with 227 Republicans and 193 Democrats.

Taxpayer Relief Act, 1997 — which established a child tax credit, tuition tax credits, and penalty-free withdrawals from IRAs for education expenses and first-home purchases, as well as a decrease in the capital gains tax and limitations on the estate tax. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 389-43 margin, with 225 Republicans and 164 Democrats.

Balanced Budget Act, 1997 — a bill that cut spending in order to balance the budget by fiscal year 2002. The House passed the final version of the bill by a 346-85 margin, with 193 Republicans and 153 Democrats.

My feeling is that today’s lack of compromise is the result of two dynamics: distrust between the parties and the wide chasm that separates their respective agendas.  I’m not sure exactly when the distrust factor entered the picture (at least in terms of modern-day politics), but a good guess would be the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA).

The ratio in the final deal — the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) — was $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. It sounded persuasive at the time. Believing it to be the only way to get spending under control, most of the president’s colleagues signed on. He disliked the tax hikes, of course, but he agreed to it as well.

You don’t have to be a Washington veteran to predict what happened next. The tax increases were promptly enacted — Congress had no problem accepting that part of the deal — but the promised budget cuts never materialized. After the tax bill passed, some legislators of both parties even claimed that there had been no real commitment to the 3-to-1 ratio.

So the question remains: how do we get compromise back?  Or maybe a better question: do we want it back?

The Impending Implosion

The American Progressive movement is soon to collapse upon itself and we can
probably expect the self destruction to be loud and messy – there are signs of it already — everywhere.  The brain trust at MSNBC are getting more shrill by the day, as evidenced by Al Sharpton’s recent tirade; Elizabeth Warren appears poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory due to a convenient lie told to further her liberal cred and career; Obama is now known to have told a similar lie to further his standing in the progressive movement including his recent endorsement of same sex marriage; Obamacare is most likely to lose in the SC, as is their lawsuit against AZ; even some democrats are now opposing the incessant attacks on private equity; the “war on women” has gone no where; and now they find themselves the subject of 42 lawsuits on behalf of a very powerful institution in the name of the Catholic Church, and these are just some of the current troubles confronting this regime. Add to that the Euro crisis, the Egypt thing isn’t turning out well and oh yeah, there’s that economy thing, and we’ve got the makings of the perfect storm

Scott Walker winning in WI will hopefully be the beginning of the end for progressives, culminating in November, and most likely we can expect an all out assault on conservatives, decency and common sense by the media, the administration, and by their loyalists, ie; OWS, SEIU, AFL-CIO, etc, throughout the summer. I hope Romney stays focused and on message through what portends to be a very vicious campaign, and I hope conservatives will hold him to account to do the necessary things to get us back on track when he wins. This is an important election in not only rescuing the country, but in hopefully “fundamentally transforming” the Democratic Party of Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, into the party of people like Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford and Joe Manchin, and digging back into the past, people like John Breaux and Sam Nunn. Maybe then we can start getting things done.

Thanks to Cluster for the content of this post.

UPDATE, by Mark Noonan:

Can you say “meltdown”, boys and girls?  From the LA Times:

Artur Davis, one of President Obama’s earliest supporters and a former co-chairman for his presidential campaign, announced Tuesday that he was leaving the Democratic party for good.

In a post published Tuesday on his website, Davis was vague about his future political endeavors, but declared: “If I were to run, it would be as a Republican. And I am in the process of changing my voter registration from Alabama to Virginia, a development which likely does represent a closing of one chapter and perhaps the opening of another.”

Davis, who represented Alabama’s seventh congressional district from 2003 to 2011, was notably the first member of Congress outside of Illinois to endorse then-Sen. Obama’s 2008 presidential bid. And it was Davis who seconded the official nomination of Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention…(emphasis added)

This is pretty huge – this is the draggled, rotting, tail-end of “hope and change”.