Why An Independent Commission On Russia is Coming

So far, it seems a split is growing in the GOP over the president, and some are just tired of spinning stories and avoiding questions, every day. No, I’m not going to add to the flood of Comey articles that abound in the wake of his odd firing, I just want to summarize the change in weather patterns.

Within hours of Comey’s firing, Congressman and House Freedom Caucus member Justin Amash (R-MI) called the president’s letter “bizarre.” Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) lamented that he “just can’t… find an acceptable rationale for the timing,” while Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) echoed that sentiment, saying “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning.” Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) also called it “very troubling,” as Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said it only confirmed the need for an independent investigation.

We’ll see how this plays out.

However, something does seem to being missed in this constantly changing news cycle: the political winds are shifting toward establishing an independent commission to investigate the Russia’s election meddling. In Rep. Amash’s tweet about the president’s “bizarre” letter, he himself said his staff is “reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia.” Meanwhile, both Senators McCain and Lindsay Graham called for one a month ago.

Regardless of where this latest storm lands, far too many questions exist to ignore. And, the Senators just want answers.

It’s probably for the best, since confidence in either side appears to be stretched thin, although the Senate hearings have been full of mutual admiration for civility and “bipartisanship.” Unfortunately, it’s turned CSPAN into MTV Real Life for political junkies like us, and a source of fodder for the president’s twitter feed. An independent commission could work mostly out of the sight of cameras and able to focus on their work.

An independent commission requires an act of Congress, and this likely won’t be difficult to pass. The president could veto the measure, but the number of Republicans wanting an independent commission is growing, and we know the Democrats won’t turn it down. A veto will not stop a commission, if Congress wants one.

I am as frustrated as anyone that these distractions continue, seemingly every day. I’ve made no secret of my distaste for our president since the day he announced his candidacy two years ago. But, here we are, in control of 31 states, the US Senate, the House and (so far) the presidency. I’ll take the wins where and when we can get them. Instead of working on taxation, true health care reform, overhauling government regulation, honest and humane immigration reform, or Article V campaigns, we’re more galvanized than ever. No one wants to talk to the other side, let alone vote for compromises in legislation. Every day, there’s another bombshell story, mistake, or flat out lie that we must rationalize and talk our way around.

I’m sick of it. I want to get something done.

Hopefully, an independent commission can lift the heaviest burden from the House and Senate intel committees, and supplement the work of the DOJ and (hopefully still) the FBI in getting to the bottom of these countless questions. Maybe then, the Senate and House can show Americans why they trusted them time and again to take the reins and prove our policies work better for everyone.

Sad: Why Obamacare repeal will never happen

The latest news on Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare is not good. After failing with their first effort, Republican House members seem to have fallen short yet again with Plan B.

Chances for success this time around looked good initially, after House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (NC) and Tuesday Group co-chair Tom MacArthur (NJ) announced they had reached an agreement on legislation that would supposedly meet the approval of both the conservative and moderate wings of the Republican Party.

It was Meadows’ conservative group that spearheaded opposition to the previous bill, though a significant number of moderates also joined them in that effort. This time it’s the moderates – including MacArthur’s co-chair Charlie Dent – who say they will vote against the bill in its current form.

From The Hill:

“Centrists opposed to the new bill are largely echoing Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who said the negotiations between Meadows and MacArthur only exacerbated his earlier problems with the bill … Dent, in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, said he worried that people with pre-existing health conditions might be left without insurance because of the changes, something supporters of the bill have fiercely denied.”

Already more than 20 Republicans have stated they would not support the bill. If 23 Republican House members oppose it, Democratic support would be needed for the bill to pass – and the likelihood of that happening seems to be virtually zero.

The sad truth is that Obamacare will likely never be repealed. Oh, we may get some watered down meaningless bill that claims to do something, but the bulk of the ACA will never go away – and there are at least two major reasons for that.

First, Speaker Paul Ryan has thus far proven incapable of bringing the factions of his party together. In fact, one might argue that Paul’s questionable methodology of keeping the initial healthcare proposal under lock and key for as long as possible points to an unwillingness on the Speaker’s part to even attempt uniting House Republicans.

“ ‘I think we’re making very good progress. … We’re going to go when we have the votes, but that’s the decision we’ll make when we have it,’ Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Thursday at his weekly news conference.”

Which sounds an awful lot like a pre-emptive excuse for pulling yet another healthcare bill before it receives any official consideration. Apparently, the Speaker graduated from the leadership school of ‘Where are my people going, that I may lead them?’

Second, now that the insurance industry has taken its place among programs controlled by the federal government, any efforts to root it out would be met with heavy resistance – far more resistance than many members of Congress are willing to face.

Again from The Hill:

“Many vulnerable Republicans are running scared. One moderate Republican was overheard in a House cafeteria this week telling an aide: ‘If I vote for this healthcare bill, it will be the end of my career.’ “

Therein lies the problem. And though it’s easy – and correct – to lay blame on career politicians putting self-interest above what’s right, we must remember that if they didn’t have to answer to a self-interested populace, those representatives might be less concerned about having to buy votes every other year.

So as much as it may pain us to say it, Obamacare is probably here to stay. Just as Social Security did, it is quickly becoming an untouchable political third rail.

Conservative groups to Trump: Support Freedom Caucus!

After more than a week of back-and-forth between President Trump and the House Freedom Caucus, conservative groups are not backing down in their push for Republicans’ long-promised repeal of Obamacare.

The political tussle began after the withdrawal of the American Health Care Act, with the President praising Freedom Caucus members who stood in firm opposition to the plan. But as things are prone to do with Twitter One, the tide quickly took a 180-degree turn.

That salvo touched off a series of volleys between the two sides that included 2018 primary threats from the President and multiple mic-drop moments from Freedom Caucus members that proved the group would not back down.

In the face of Trump’s (and establishment Republicans’) willingness to continue the GOP’s perennial losing game-plan of abandoning its base, several conservative groups in Texas formed a coalition (Mr. Speaker, are you watching?) that published an open letter to the President. The full text can be found here, but the basic gist is that draining the Washington swamp should not begin with removal of the few pieces of solid ground that exist there.

“Mr. President, the Freedom Caucus is not the problem – the D.C. Swamp from whence this ‘retain and reform’ bill came from – is the problem … we urge you to work with, and ally with, the House Freedom Caucus, not actively attack it, and undermine it … Texas grassroots conservatives are praying for your success as you work to rebuild our nation. Let’s do it together.”

The letter was signed by nearly 100 leaders of members of various well-known conservative groups, including Grassroots America, Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, multiple local TEA Party groups, and multiple state GOP executives.

Will the letter have its intended effect? Who knows, especially given the highly temperamental nature of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue recently.

You can contact the White House to share your thoughts at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact, and take part in the conversation on Twitter @resurgent or by using the author’s link above.

Freedom Caucus mic-drops on Trump threat

If President Trump thought this morning’s Twitter threat against the House Freedom Caucus was going to scare members into submission … well, let’s just say the art of this deal didn’t exactly turn out to be a masterpiece.

Just to review, Trump began his Twitter tirade against the HFC on Sunday, continued it on Monday, and just this morning followed up with an out-and-out threat:

Well apparently those Tweets did nothing to scare caucus members – in fact they may have had exactly the opposite effect, as noted by the great responses from today and earlier in the week mentioned in a Roll Call story from earlier today:

Rep. Trent Franks (AZ): “If somebody can get to the right of me in the primary, God bless him.”

Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (NC): I don’t know of too many people who can challenge me from the right.”

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (TN): “In my district, we’re very conservative, so if he gets me out office, he’s going to get someone more conservative than me.”

Virginia Rep. Dave Brat offered his own theory as to what may have led to the President’s posts.

“Whoever is in the President’s ear isn’t giving him the full story on what we’re trying to achieve,” Brat said.

Franks also seemed to point a finger at establishment Republicans in what may have been a veiled reference to Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I think Congress failed the President rather than the other way around, and I can understand his frustration.”

For his part, Ryan apparently also understands but stopped well short of defending the Freedom Caucus.

“I understand the President’s frustration. I share his frustration.”

At least the two sides have that in common.

Note to Speaker Ryan: Maybe you can use that common frustration to start a productive dialogue and actually allow Freedom Caucus members to have a hand in constructing a full repeal and replace bill that the entire party could support – you know, like every Republican alive campaigned on in 2016.

It’s the kind of thing a good leader would do.

Trump won’t let up on Freedom Caucus

Is there anyone left in the US who believes President Trump is a conservative? If so, he seems to be doing all he can to prove you wrong.

You might recall that Trump used his legendary infamous Twitter account Sunday to attack the House Freedom Caucus over its refusal to support the establishment Republican healthcare overhaul.

On Monday he was back at it.

After leaving that bone for a few days to chase his tail go after the New York Times and other press outlets, The President took to gnawing on it again this morning – only this time he included an overt threat.

Though most Freedom Caucus members are likely to retain their seats, such a threat coming from the highest-ranking elected party member in the nation cannot be overlooked. The very idea that a sitting Republican President would threaten to oust the members of his own party most appealing to its base – a notion that likely has Ronald Reagan rolling over his his grave – should serve both to embolden Freedom Caucus members and as further proof that conservatism has no friend in the Oval Office.

Though traditional blue states were largely responsible for elevating Donald Trump to the White House, he would do well to remember that he couldn’t have made it without the support of traditional red states – those which are overwhelmingly conservative and which have put many of the Freedom Caucus members in office.

If attacks like these – which do nothing but further divide the party – continue, the Republican Party will continue its march to the left, and conservatives will be more and more unwelcome as time passes.

Either that, or the conservatives Trump so effectively sicced on Hillary Clinton in November will turn on him in 2020.

To avoid either scenario, President Trump needs to step up to the plate and find a way to unite the party, rather than sitting in the dugout throwing insults.

 

Republicans Go to Jail Too. They Need an Ethics Office.

Led by Congressman Bob Goodlatte, House Republicans want to scuttle the Office of Congressional Ethics. It seems they don’t like the way the office is treating them and I suspect they fear Democrats will use it against them in the coming years as Democrats seek to make ethics the center piece of their argument against Trump.

But there needs to be an independent ethics body in the House of Representatives. Likewise, it is hard to argue the Office of Ethics has run roughshod over congressmen of either party. After the Democrats’ check kiting scandal that led to the downfall of a series of powerful Democrats, the Office of Congressional Ethics showed its value and necessity.

Congressmen have a tendency to scratch each other’s backs and cover for each other. I’m not sure, beyond what I speculated about above, why Goodlatte would want to scrap that office, but I think we can all admit it looks really bad.

It also is something the House Republican leaders were opposed to. Both Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy opposed the effort.

The move to effectively kill the Office of Congressional Ethics was not made public until late Monday, when Representative Robert W. Goodlatte, Republican of Virginia and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that the House Republican Conference had approved the change. There was no advance notice or debate on the measure.

The surprising vote came on the eve of the start of a new session of Congress, where emboldened Republicans are ready to push an ambitious agenda on everything from health care to infrastructure, issues that will be the subject of intense lobbying from corporate interests. The House Republicans’ move would take away both power and independence from an investigative body, and give lawmakers more control over internal inquiries.

For the record, these are the Republicans who were convicted of crimes in the last decade in Congress (all citations from Wikipedia).

  • Michael Grimm (R-NY) pleaded guilty of felony tax evasion. This was the fourth count in a 20-count indictment brought against him for improper use of campaign funds. The guilty plea had a maximum sentence of three years; he was sentenced to three months in prison. (2015)
  • Trey Radel (R-FL) was convicted of possession of cocaine in November 2013. As a first-time offender, he was sentenced to one year probation and fined $250. Radel announced he would take a leave of absence, but did not resign. Later, under pressure from a number of Republican leaders, he announced through a spokesperson that he would resign. (2013)
  • Rick Renzi (R-AZ) was found guilty on 17 of 32 counts against him June 12, 2013, including wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, money laundering and making false statements to insurance regulators. (2013)
  • Bob Ney (R-OH) pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements as a result of his receiving trips from Abramoff in exchange for legislative favors. Ney received 30 months in prison. (2007)
  • Duke Cunningham (R-CA) pleaded guilty November 28, 2005, to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in what came to be called the Cunningham scandal and was sentenced to over eight years in prison. (2005)

There have also been Democrats, from William Jefferson who had money in his freezer to Chaka Fattah.

The Office of Congressional Ethics seems like a good idea and I have not yet heard a compelling reason for scuttling it, other than Bob Goodlatte wants more power.

5 Reasons #NeverTrump Must Run a Conservative Third-Party Candidate

 

As conservatives come to the end of sitting shiva over Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party, many in the #NeverTrump movement are wondering: what next? After all, honorary American citizen Winston Churchill had a little something to say about surrender. A third-party conservative candidate can accomplish something positive this election cycle even if winning the White House remains the remotest of wild dreams.

  1. A conservative third party will lay out the principles of the conservative movement of the future – a new Sharon Statement of non-negotiables. 

Not only would a third party give us a candidate to rally around, but it would also give us a platform. With the virtual implosion of the “establishment,” this is the opportunity for conservatives to decide what principles and policies are truly important to the cause, and build a constitutional restorationist party platform. Additionally, like the Against Trump issue of National Review, it would provide a line in the sand for future historians, when liberals begin the inevitable attempt to sling the albatross of Trump’s misdeeds around conservatives’ necks.

  1. It will deny Trump the White House.

The pundits who assured us that Trump could never secure the nomination are the same ones assuring us that he’ll never get to hang his gold-lettered nameplate on the White House gates. Conservatives should prefer divided government to President Trump, for the reasons detailed here. Recent polls have shown toss-ups in key states.

A reasonable goal for a conservative third party would be to aim for 15 to 20 percent of the popular vote and victories in a state or two. Utah, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas – states that have shown real resistance to Trump’s nomination, but have low Democrat registration numbers – could be potential targets for a conservative candidate.

  1. It will give conservatives a reason to turn out and vote down ticket, when many might otherwise stay home and create a disastrous year for state and Congressional races.

Practically speaking, staying home in protest dooms Republicans down ticket – Republicans conservatives will desperately need to oppose either a Trump or Clinton administration. The new Trump voters are unlikely to vote a straight Republican ticket, since many are crossover Democrats themselves. Having an exciting third party candidate to rally around will bring conservatives out to polling stations in November, many of whom may not bother to vote at all when the Presidential choices are so unappealing.

  1. It will get a conservative on stage to communicate the conservative message to the country.

The presidential election every four years provides an opportunity for millions of Americans who do not normally follow politics very closely. If no conservative third-party candidate emerges to communicate that message, the next six months will be a conservative message-free zone. A candidate with high enough name ID to break through the polling barriers to get onto the debate stage would ensure that Americans hear conservative ideas while they’re tuned in to hear them.

  1. It will make it more difficult for Trump to ignore conservatives as a voting bloc.

Quietly staying home will not give Trump much incentive to placate conservative voters, something he’s proven he’s disinclined to do anyway. There are thousands of Republican voters preparing to hold their noses and vote for Trump who will think twice when presented with an even minimally-viable alternative. The threat of losing these voters will restrain Trump’s inevitable liberal pivot for the general election.

This year, Tea Party conservatives have learned the hard lesson that we are not just the minority of the electorate, we’re a minority even within the Republican Party. But a determined minority can do a great deal to sway the path the country; self-described liberals have never broken 25 percent in polls, yet they’ve undeniably deeply influenced the history and culture of the United States. An organized conservative third party bid has real, tangible benefits, and declares us as what we ought to strive to be – a vocal, organized remnant standing athwart history, yelling ‘Stop!’”

Sleep Walking to Ford’s Theatre

The American journalist, William Shirer, who penned one of the greatest books of the 20th century, The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich, observed that no other political party “came close to attracting so many shady characters,” as Adolf Hitler’s National Socialists as they accrued power in Germany.

While the Nazis battled for power, some senior leaders such as Joseph Geobbels and Gregor Strasser, advocated allying with the Communists and Socialists. Both factions believed more government control would solve Germany’s problems. But for Hitler this was heresy. He had won the support of prominent industrialists who opposed the unions, socialists and communists. His financial support would collapse if he embraced his political adversaries. The die was cast. The National Socialists and the Communists clashed until Hitler’s Nazi’s finally gained more power and political influence.

Hitler promised a reinvigorated Germany, and he consistently blamed Germany’s leaders for stabbing the country in the back at Versaille. As the Weimar Republic began its gradual collapse, Hitler’s shadow government was waiting in the wings, ready to seize power. Astonishingly, the Nazi’s never earned a majority of the German vote. Hitler took advantage of Germany’s multiparty system and through assassinations, intimidation and effective propaganda coerced Hindenburg and others to cede political power to him.

America shares some unnerving similarities with 1930s Germany with the existing political environment.

A weak and feckless President has depleted our military, abandoned our allies and appeased our enemies. ISIS exploits our weak national security and immigration system by ruthlessly attacking our citizens in California, Tennessee, Texas and elsewhere. Americans feel unsafe and uncertain about the future. Our economy is anemic, and millions of Americans are out of work. Obama has aggressively destroyed jobs in coal country and refuses to unleash American job growth. Instead, he bows to environmental extremists in rejecting the Keystone Pipeline.

Our countrymen (rightfully) feel betrayed by an out of touch ruling class that has engaged in profligate spending and burdened Americans with a 19 trillion dollar debt. Our politicians routinely lie, abandon promises to constituents and commit political adultery with K street lobbyists. America’s immigration process is ridiculously complicated and in need of major reform. We were promised a wall that was never built. The rule of law is ignored by President Obama, and he habitually ignores and disrespects the Constitution. The major parties have frontrunners campaigning on nationalist and Marxist propaganda. The truth is being ignored by the main stream media, but Americans still have time to rally. Many Christians recognize the division, disorder, deception and hatred from both the Trump and Sanders political factions as the spirit of antichrist. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Instead of building a shadow government as Hitler did in Germany, Donald Trump has constructed a shadow party within the GOP. He’s essentially mounting a hostile takeover, much to the alarm of principled conservatives and the GOP establishment.

The arrogant and out of touch GOPe continually anger the Republican base. Just this week, Mitch McConnell and his minions demanded Ted Cruz kiss the ring and apologize to them for calling them exactly what they are–a cartel controlled by special interests. No wonder Americans are so disgusted with Washington. They understand so many Washington work for K Street instead of Main Street. They’re quite ready to beat the daylights out of these political sell outs at the ballot box.

So the party of Lincoln and Reagan finds itself in a deep trance, sleep walking to Ford’s Theater. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and his sycophants, populists, low information voters and useful idiots eagerly await to do the deed. Many Republicans see the imminent demise of the party of Lincoln but nobody can seem to stop it. The spirit of Lincoln–of freedom–is dying before our eyes. Ted Cruz and principled conservatives are waging an intense battle to disrupt the rendezvous and wrestle control away from a propagandist nationalist. It is a battle worth fighting but the odds of victory grow dimmer by the hour.

It’s midnight in America. Will America wake up before its too late?