Ryan Rightly Slams Ex-Im

I'll have more tomorrow on the "budget deal," likely Speaker of the House Paul Ryan's statement that the process used to reach that deal "stinks," and his promise that things won't work this way when he's in charge.

For today, I want to point you, and particularly conservatives who are skeptical of Ryan, to his welcome and forceful statement against reauthorization of the cronyist organization known as the Ex-Im Bank. See Ryan's statement below.

I would urge all Republicans to contact their members of Congress, especially Republican members, to urge them to keep Ex-Im dead. Sadly, a "discharge petition" has been launched by corporatist Republicans working with big-spending Democrats over the objections of some of the most prominent and respected members of the House, including Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling. You may not be surprised to learn that John Boehner supports Ex-Im; yet another positive contrast for Paul Ryan to make with the departing Speaker.

Any Republican who signed on to the discharge petition, and especially Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee, should face primary challenges from true fiscal conservatives, particularly if the district is safely Republican. Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney reports that Fincher raises almost all of his campaign contributions from PACs, bringing in approximately nothing from the Tennesseans he is supposed to represent. Two days after moving to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank, Fincher deposited a $2,000 check from General Electric, a firm which benefits from the cronyist "bank." Stephen Fincher represents the absolute worst in politicians, a man who is feathering his own nest at the expense of his district, his state, and the nation; his disgraceful self-characterization as the "conservative champion for reforming the Export-Import Bank" would be laughable if it weren't so cynical.

For more intellectual ammunition against Ex-Im, I encourage you to read my friend Don Boudreaux here, here and here.

And now, Paul Ryan's statement on Ex-Im:

"Mr. Speaker, I want to express my strong disapproval for this bill for the Export-Import Bank.

"This is a pretty profound debate we are having. It's about what kind of economy we’re going to have. Are we going to reward good work or good connections?

"I think there are plenty other ways to expand opportunity in this country, and corporate welfare is not one of them. The biggest beneficiaries of this bank, two-thirds of their money go to 10 companies. Forty percent goes to one company.

"And this bank does cost money—just ask the Congressional Budget Office when they use real scorekeeping. Remember Fannie Mae? Remember their accounting? Remember when they told us they weren't going to cost any money—until they did? And it cost us billions.

"The other excuse that I just don't buy is, 'other countries do this, so should we.' We shouldn't acquire other countries' bad habits. We should be leading by example. We should be exporting democratic capitalism, not crony capitalism.

"There is this criticism by those against the free enterprise system who compare it to competition, like a sport. Where the critics of free enterprise say there’s a winner and there’s a loser, just like a boxing match or a football game. Well, that's true when it comes to crony capitalism. That is the case when it comes to corporate welfare. Because in that case, the winner is the person with connections. It's the company with power. It's the company with clout.

"The loser is the person who is out there working hard, playing by the rules, not knowing anybody, not going to Washington, hoping and thinking that the merit of their idea and the quality of their work is what will win the day. That's what is rewarded under a free enterprise system.

"Free enterprise is more about collaboration. It's more about transactions of mutual benefit where everybody benefits, and the rising tide lifts all boats. Equality for all. Equal opportunity. That's free enterprise. That's small d, democratic capitalism. This thing is crony capitalism, and I urge it be rejected."

The Irrefutable Case for Paul Ryan

(UPDATE: On Wednesday evening, the Freedom Caucus announced that a “supermajority” of its members support Paul Ryan for Speaker. While they did not reach the 80 percent threshold of the caucus members needed to issue a formal endorsement, this is, as Rep. Ryan put it, “a positive step toward a unified Republican team.” Ryan’s becoming speaker is still no sure thing, though more likely than it was Wednesday morning. Some Freedom Caucus members seem hesitant to switch their endorsement from Rep. Daniel “Not the Dictionary Guy” Webster; perhaps they should have thought of that before endorsing someone who never had a chance to win the job. The group’s official statement notes that “While no consensus exists among members of the House Freedom Caucus regarding Chairman Ryan’s preconditions for serving, we believe that these issues can be resolved within our Conference in due time.” Some conservative writers are hoping aloud that Ryan will not run for Speaker if he does not have an official endorsement of the caucus as he previously sought; it is, as it should be, unlikely that the difference of a single-digit number of votes within the Freedom Caucus will cause Ryan to turn away from this path. Despite the consensus within the Freedom Caucus, I expect continuing griping and sniping from the usual suspects…)

"Unacceptable,” says Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS). “Obscene,” says a Tea Party group. A conservative “death warrant” says a well-known right-wing pundit.

These people, who have me wondering whether those who shape conservatives’ opinions or cast votes representing us in Congress really care about the country more than hearing their own voices, are objecting to conditions laid down by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) for him to reluctantly agree to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House.

The rule and operating policy changes for the House that Rep. Ryan suggested were put forward as items to benefit the party, the Congress, and the country; Ryan emphasized that these changes are a good idea, and perhaps absolutely necessary to return the House to being a functional legislative body, whether or not he becomes Speaker.

As usual, Paul Ryan is right.

A personal note before continuing: I’ve known Paul Ryan since before his first election to Congress and supported him with a contribution in that first campaign. (We also had a few beers at a Chicago White Sox game, although I’m a Cubs fan. Hey, at least they made the playoffs.) He was then and remains today an intelligent, funny, slightly nerdy, patriotic, policy-minded, family-oriented, self-effacing true gentleman.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64434/irrefutable-case-paul-ryan

Stand for Something

When Hillary Clinton faces Trey Gowdy and the “Benghazi Committee” on Thursday to discuss her “private e-mail server” and the deaths of four Americans in Libya after her State Department refused requests for additional security, she will likely repeat her recent argument: “It’s purely partisan politics.”

But even if Kevin “Whoops” McCarthy’s boneheaded statement were true that the committee’s initial purpose was, in part, to harm Hillary Clinton — and it would not surprise me if it were true in his mind even if not in Chairman Gowdy’s — that does not change the facts which the committee has uncovered exposing Mrs. Clinton’s incompetence, above-the-law haughtiness, and violations of policy, common sense, and possibly several federal statutes.

Neither the media nor the public should give any credence to Hillary's attack-the-messenger deflections; that those seeking the truth are Republicans (who may hope that Mrs. Clinton’s political ambitions are damaged by her true character coming to light) is irrelevant. After all, would Democrats be seeking the truth at all? When it comes to her violating rules or laws that protect national security, what difference at this point does it make? I mean, Chris Stevens is still dead, right? Isn’t the partisanship of her GOP questioners at least equally matched by the partisanship of House Democrats whose constant goal is to stymie and shut down the committee in order to protect Mrs. Clinton from the consequences of her own cynical (and perhaps criminal) behavior?

Is there a candidate in this race (including Donald Trump, about whom more in a moment) who stands for so little other than her own desire for power? Bernie Sanders is a nut, and Joe Biden not far behind, but at least they believe in something; I cannot name a single fundamental principle regarding the proper role of government which Mrs. Clinton deeply believes and which she has consistently held dear. I defy you to find a Clinton supporter who can find such a principle either (in her, and perhaps in themselves.).

Speaking of cynical behavior and loose attachment to principle, how about The Donald? This week's breathless media focus is on Trump’s strange (and, at least for most Republicans, politically unwise) unsubtle assignment of responsibility for the 9/11 attacks to former President George W. Bush, triggering applause from liberals and a furious response from the current Bush family candidate for president.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64409/stand-something

Umpqua Immorality

I don’t often write about gun issues; there are more than enough pro-2nd Amendment voices out there to cover that beat and, I admit, some part of me wishes it would vanish as a political issue. (I say that as someone who owns about a dozen guns, from pistols to shotguns to “assault weapons” and am quite capable with each of them.)

On Monday, Hillary Clinton brought out her “gun control” plans. Frankly, they’re not worth much discussion because there is simply no chance that her wish list will become reality, especially her outrageous desire to allow gun manufacturers to be sued for crimes committed with the guns they’ve made. The plan is nothing more than her continued tacking leftward toward Bernie Sanders and the specter of Joe Biden as she tries to cling to the Democratic nomination. Meanwhile, the public drifts steadily toward valuing the Second Amendment over controlling gun ownership.

Hillary’s gun “news” is old news the moment it leaves her “untrustable” mouth, moistened by the same fake tears which she thinks won the New Hampshire primary four years ago.

But it’s news from last week that I simply can’t get past.

As I’ve listened — over and over — to comments made by Umpqua Community College interim president Dr. Rita Cavin following the mass shooting on her campus, I find myself becoming ever more furious with the mindlessness of those, especially in liberal academe, who oppose a rational use of guns.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64269/umpqua-immorality

A Man Against the Machines

On Wednesday night Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly and pundit/columnist Charles Krauthammer debated the ignorance and passivity of the American electorate.

O’Reilly argued that polling showing Vice President Joe Biden leading every Republican in a hypothetical presidential election despite the same poll respondents’ recognizing that the country is on the “wrong track” demonstrates that Americans are “simply dumb, don’t pay attention, and don’t care.” He ascribed this cognitive dissonance to people who “don’t have to live in the real world anymore” because their “machines” can “obliterate reality” as drugs and alcohol once did.

Krauthammer offered a substantially different view: In addition to political arguments (an important one being that Biden is currently a “sympathetic abstraction” whose popularity would certainly decline upon becoming a declared candidate), he responded to O’Reilly with a question: “What’s your evidence that we have a greater number of lemmings today than we had thirty, forty, fifty years ago?” O’Reilly had to admit that “the evidence is anecdotal,” hardly a strong position for such an aggressive claim on his part. As I often say — and I can’t claim to have come up with this myself — the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

Krauthammer continued to push back on O’Reilly’s Luddite claim that Americans are wildly uninformed, and more so than in the past due to smart phones, iPads, and computers: “I don’t think Americans are less aware of their surroundings than they were when they lived on a farm with no information from the outside a hundred years ago. They have infinitely more information; they are more literate, more involved, and I think the explanation obviously lies elsewhere.”

The right answer lies in between the two men’s arguments (though Krauthammer is, as always, closer to correct than O’Reilly is).

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64237/man-against-machines

Media and Muslims

Complaining about liberal media bias is like complaining about a puppy peeing on the rug: it’s just what they do, and if you don’t like it then don’t have them in your house.

We’ve all seen editorials masquerading as news and television anchors impersonating objective journalists when hosting Republican debates or Sunday talk shows. We, America’s non-leftists (whether or not Republicans), know the game and filter our processing of “news” and debate questions through that lens.

But the media’s recent obsession with what Republican presidential candidates think of Muslims (or whether President Obama is one), their badgering of said candidates with questions that are irrelevant to the governing of the country, their distraction away from legitimate issues and into the looking glass of political correctness so extreme that it is literally ridiculous (i.e. not just silly but, as one online dictionary puts it, “deserving or inviting derision or mockery”) demands a response beyond “that’s just what they do.”

It started at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire last Thursday when Donald Trump received a question so ignorant that I believe the questioner was a Democratic Party plant: after calling President Obama’s a non-American Muslim, the man seemed to ask when the United States will “get rid of” its Muslim population (although one could have also interpreted him as asking when we will get rid of Islamist “training camps” that he implied exist in this country).

Trump scoffed at the question, brushed it off with a generic response, and moved on. Perfectly appropriate even if a better answer would have been a brief parry such as “I believe President Obama when he says he’s a Christian but his Iranian deal does make me wonder about his understanding of the goals of radical Islam.”

The media along with liberals like Hillary “I was appalled” Clinton and Lindsey Graham went into a frenzy of “he should have repudiated the question and the questioner,” arguing that aspiring to the highest leadership position on the planet means having a duty to set the record straight regarding any erroneous or dubious or even insulting assertions about opposition politicians or a particular faith. We know that Clinton’s “disappointment” was sincere because she “quickly put out a tweet” about it.

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64133/media-and-muslims

About Last Night

Over at the American Spectator web site, I've posted my brief review of last night's debate with (roughly) two sentences on each candidate's performance. Please have a look!

http://spectator.org/articles/64100/about-last-night

Let's Get Radical

Liberal pundits are wetting themselves over the supposed “radicalization” of the Republican Party, their cries ever more plaintive with the rise of Donald Trump as the GOP front-runner. (See here, here, here, and here.) Other than Trump’s call to deport the American citizen children of illegal aliens — radical in its political, logistical, and legal insanity — and his characterization of high CEO pay as a “complete joke” and “disgraceful” — radical for its being a perennial Democratic talking point and one of the first campaign issues dishonestly put forward by Hillary Clinton — very little that Trump says, to the extent that he ever says anything of substance, is outside the parameters of long-running conservative discussion.

At the same time, a self-described socialist who isn’t even a Democrat and has never met an economically harmful idea that he didn’t love now leads presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Sanders is truly radical, though even he, only slightly more than Trump’s relationship to the GOP, is not that far outside the usual conversation of an ever-more-leftist Democratic Party. But finding a “mainstream” media report noting the radicalization of the Democrats would be a suitable final challenge on a high-stakes scavenger hunt.

Expecting or encouraging media recognition of the fact that each political party has been moving for years toward more consistent support of its philosophy — explaining the demise of “moderates” in both parties — is a pointless exercise. Today’s reporters and editors only perceive a “radicalization” of the right because their personal views are so deeply “Progressive” that they don’t see calls for “free” college, punitive taxation of the successful, or even attacks on police as radical.

So as long as the GOP is going to be called radical, why don’t they actually give the people some radical ideas to consider? Why don’t they endeavor to move the conversation aggressively toward economic liberty, limited government, and other principles which prior heroic radicals such as James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington would recognize as the very purpose of our nation’s existence?

Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64084/let%E2%80%99s-get-radical

Insult, Jail, and Redemption

Donald Trump is a brave truth-teller…right?

When he says to Rolling Stone about Carly Fiorina, Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” don’t you think he’s probably talking about her face? Don’t you think he’s just calling her ugly?

Instead, he claims he was talking about Fiorina’s “persona.” Seriously, Donald? You expect us to believe such an obvious lie? Even Hillary couldn’t get away with such a whopper. So grow a pair and fess up.

Trump then went on to slam Fiorina’s professional career and called Ben Carson an “OK doctor.” A one-man wrecking crew, The Donald.

Every other word out of this man’s mouth is “tremendous” or “fantastic” or “phenomenal” when talking about his sister or his (temporary) friends or the Mexicans he doesn’t think are rapists. And when talking about people he doesn’t like much, including President Obama or his Republican foes, he says that they’re “failures,” “terrible” and “stupid” people whom he’ll beat “so easily.” His level of dialogue and range of vocabulary is one step above Valley Girl.

When it comes to seriousness of policy, I’d call Trump a mile wide and an inch deep but that’s an insult to people who are a mile wide. Trump is more like a yard wide and a molecule deep. He is perhaps the least substantive candidate for president this year, and that’s saying a lot in a field that includes Martin O’Malley.

Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
http://spectator.org/articles/64039/week-insult-jail-and-redemption

Colorado GOP justified in ending presidential caucus poll

Two weeks ago, the executive committee of the Colorado Republican Party voted to eliminate the presidential preference poll, which has been held in each of the two prior presidential cycles — and with Colorado caucus participants choosing someone other than the eventual winner both times.

Heading into a nominating season that offers a greater-than-average possibility for a contested nomination at next July's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, the national party's rules requiring the "binding" of delegates in a straw poll is a compelling reason — though not the only reason — to support the decision to scrap the poll.

 

Please read the entirety of my op-ed for the Denver Post here:
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28757812/kaminsky-colorado-gop-justified-ending-presidential-caucus-poll

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