Kasich Hints At Leaving The Republican Party

During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich surprised no one when he expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the GOP and gave indications that he may leave the Party altogether.

In response to Tapper’s review of GOP senate candidate Roy Moore’s past controversial remarks, Kasich issued the following comment.

“I don’t run the party, I can tell you for me — I don’t support that. I couldn’t vote for that,” he said on Tapper’s State of the Union program. “I couldn’t tell you what the heck I’d have to do, but I don’t live in that state (Alabama). Those claims — I mean — the’re ludicrous. They’re divisive. And if that’s where we’re headed… If the Party can’t be fixed, Jake, then I’m not going to be able to support the Party. Period.”

Tapper then asked for clarification. Specifically, the CNN anchor questioned if the outgoing governor would ever become an independent if the GOP does not change its ways.

To that, Kasich did not offer a definitive answer.

 

The idea of leaving the Republican Party and becoming an independent is, of course, a serious consideration of Kasich’s.

The governor of Ohio ran as an anti-Trump candidate during the 2016 Republican primary. After winning only his home state, Kasich went on to become one of the president’s most vocal critics from the right. Taking centrist positions on various issues, such as Defending Obamacare and wanting permanent legal status for Dreamers, the GOP governor has continually called for moderates on both sides of the aisle to come together to enact change.

In August, a source to Axios revealed that the idea of a “unity ticket” between Kasich and Colorado Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper has been causally discussed between the two men. Under the proposed plan, both candidates would run together as independents in the 2020 cycle, with Kasich at the top of the ticket and Hickenlooper as his running mate.

Claims of formulating an independent run for the White House in 2020 were emphatically denied.

However, it should be noted that CNN also reported an independent claim that the governor duo were in talks of running a unity ticket together.

Kasich and Hickenlooper are both finishing the remainder of their second terms and will be vacating office in January 2019 — they have nothing better to do. The two governors have become very familiar with each other over the years, having worked together extensively on health care, economic and other reform packages.

Having made two separate bids for the White House already — both times only drawing lukewarm interest from conservative voters — Kasich may feel that an independent campaign is his only possible route to the Oval Office.

As for now, Kasich has not completely shed his Republican affiliation.. but let’s not be too surprised if (or when) that day finally comes.

Why A Government Shutdown Is A Bad Idea

 

 

There are some issues that conservatives of good conscience can disagree on and remain well within core conservative principles. One of these is the issue of shutting down the government. As President Trump and congressional Republicans consider shutting down the government over funding for the “big, beautiful wall,” they should avoid falling into what is Democrat trap.

The core problem for Republicans is a lack of votes. Although Republicans have a majority in both houses of Congress, the margins are slim and they lack the 60 votes required to end a Democrat filibuster. As a legislative strategy, a government shutdown does nothing to resolve this problem.

The only way for Republicans to pass a bill funding the wall – or anything else for that matter – is to make Democrats and moderate Republicans change their votes. The way to do that is to sweeten the pot. To give Democrats something they want in exchange for something that Republicans want.

A shutdown would do the opposite. It would be a combative policy that would further alienate Democrats and give them no incentive at all to vote for the Republican bill. In fact, a government shutdown would play directly into the hands of Democrats who want nothing more than for the Trump Administration to fail.

Further, if Republicans are determined to pick a fight, the border wall is the wrong issue.  Polling indicates that about two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s wall. Numerous studies, including one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), have indicated that a Trump-style wall would be a boondoggle that is hugely expensive yet ineffective. This is especially true in Texas where the Rio Grande forms the border with Mexico and much of the land on the border is privately owned by ranchers who need access to the river’s water.

Add to that the fact that voters don’t like shutdowns. When Republicans shut down the government over Obamacare in 2013, the party’s approval quickly tanked. In fact, Gallup found that Republican approval sank to its lowest point ever. If Obamacare’s failures had not turned the tables on the Democrats, Republicans would have likely suffered a wipeout in the 2014 midterms. Through it all, Obamacare remained intact.

The 2013 shutdown occurred with a Democrat president in office and the GOP still took the brunt of the blame. There is little question who would be blamed if Republicans, who now control the White House as well as both houses of Congress, shut the government down over the wall.

As a strategy, a government shutdown offers very little for conservatives to like. It would be an unpopular strategy used to enact an unpopular policy, but that isn’t the worst part.

The worst part is that it won’t work. A government shutdown would inevitably lead to yet another embarrassing defeat for the GOP and President Trump. There is simply no way for the party to win without Democrat votes for cloture.

Democrats would use a shutdown to tell the country that President Trump and the Republicans are incapable of governing. It would be difficult to prove them wrong.

Collusion, Fusion, McCain and ???

Russia this. Russia that. Collusion ad nauseam. Treason. Impeachment. Obstruction. Blame it all on Hillary and the Democratic Party Right?

Wrong.

Perhaps the most amazing part of this entire imbroglio is the total lack of attention paid to the genesis of the Fusion GPS Steele Dossier. That lack of attention can be directly traced to senior Republican leadership who seem quite content to sit back and watch the President on the hot seat day in and day out.

Important facts are being revealed due to two defamation libel lawsuits, one here in the U.S. and one in the U.K.: (McClatchy)

Now, two lawsuits — one in the United States and a second in the U.K. — are being brought by lawyers for Aleksej Gubarev, a Cyprus-based Internet entrepreneur whom Steele’s Russian sources accused of cyber spying against the Democratic Party leadership. The British court documents are legal responses in the British suit and do not reflect the entire docket. The British suit is related to a similar lawsuit in the United States, against online news site BuzzFeed.

While not a party to the lawsuit. the plaintiff is seeking to depose Sen. John McCain R-AZ about his role in the creation and dissemination of the Steele Dossier. Although McCain’s involvement has been known for some time, it has received along zero attention. But perhaps, his involvement provides clues to its origination.

The fact of the matter is Fusion GPS was first engaged by a Republican Presidential candidate during the early days of the primary race. This candidate’s campaign funded Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Candidate Trump. Basically, they wanted dirt on Mr. Trump, and used a firm affiliated with the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton to further that effort. It was only after this candidate decamped the primary race, that the Hillary campaign became involved and furthered the Fusion GPS Steele Dossier efforts. (McClatchy)

The British court document also confirmed that Washington research firm Fusion GPS, co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, had been hired to conduct opposition research by one of Trump’s GOP primary opponents. Later, Democrats paid for the same research on Trump’s past and alleged Russian ties. (Emphasis added)

The Washington Times adds more on the Democratic contributions (Wash Times)

Since the dossier was circulated widely among Democrats, Mr. Page said, he believes the Clinton team possessed it and relied on it based on what some of Mrs. Clinton’s surrogates said publicly.“After the report by Yahoo News, the Clinton campaign put out an equally false press release just minutes after the article was released that afternoon,” said Mr. Page, who has tracked what he believes is a series of inaccurate stories and accusations against him.

Which Republican Presidential candidate started this hot mess? A clue might lie in how early on Sen. McCain became involved: (McCatchy)

According to a new court document in the British lawsuit, counsel for defendants Steele and Orbis repeatedly point to McCain, R-Ariz., a vocal Trump critic, and a former State Department official as two in a handful of people known to have had copies of the full document before it circulated among journalists and was published by BuzzFeed. The court document obtained by McClatchy confirms that Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and a Russia adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, discussed the 35-page dossier with McCain.

To date, there has been no investigation who that person is. But as Aesop said, “You are known by the company you keep.”

Ask yourself this: Which of the Republican presidential candidates was known to be closely aligned with Sen. McCain’s NeoCon foreign policy views? Which sitting Senator Republican presidential candidate also voted in lockstep on immigration with Sen. McCain. Which current Republican Senator 2016 presidential candidate virtually echoed all of Sen. McCain’s vitriolic distain for candidate Trump?

If you answered ‘Who is a certain “southern bachelor” for $500 Alex’, you very well might be correct. The clues certainly appear to point in that direction. Sen. Lindsey Graham R-SC seems to have his lips permanently parked on Mr. McCain’s posterior, and both RINOs take every opportunity to trash Russia and the President; all the while positing their outdated neocon nonsense.

Without a doubt, the liberal media deserves blame in this affair. Ditto for the Obama administration and Ms. Clinton. But honesty requires, no honesty demands we admit Republicans opened this particular Pandora’s box and have worked it like a rented mule and profited from it.

It would be refreshing to see the conservative Trump haters go after the senior Republican leadership for allowing this genie to get out of the bottle instead of laying it all at the front door of the White House. But I wouldn’t lay odds on that happening.

Survey: Young Voters Leaving GOP in Droves

Young voters have never been a strong demographic for the Republican Party. The group was one of the core areas of support for Barack Obama and conventional wisdom has held for years that young voters trend liberal and then become more conservative as they get older. A recent study from Pew Research disputes the conventional wisdom and has alarming news for the GOP.

The Pew study included several surveys of voters of all ages over a 15-month period from December 2015 through March 2017. The survey found that about one in ten voters from both parties switched parties at some point during the 2016 election season. The numbers were similar for all age groups across party lines with one exception.

Almost half (44 percent) of Republicans aged 18-29 left the party at some point during the campaign. About half (21 percent) of these young Republicans returned by March, but 23 percent still identified or leaned Democrat two months into the Trump presidency.

“What makes these figures even more striking is the stability of nearly every other age group within both parties,” Republican pollster Kristin Soltis Anderson writes in the Washington Examiner. “On the Democratic side, roughly three-quarters of their voters stuck with the Democratic Party through and through – including those younger voters who supposedly felt so disillusioned with the Democratic Party over the treatment of Bernie Sanders.”

The leftward movement of young Republicans was partially offset in 2016 by the rightward movement of older voters. About a quarter of Baby Boomer Democrats left the party with 14 percent still identifying as Republican in March 2017.

“These voters no doubt played a large role in the success of Trump in states and counties with many ‘Reagan Democrats’ who were drawn to the GOP with Trump’s message,” Anderson says.

Nevertheless, Anderson sees long-term problems for the GOP. “The half of young Republicans who wobbled or left the party altogether were die-hard enough to be on board with the GOP all the way through the moment that Trump sat well atop the primary polls,” she says. Young Republicans who deserted the party to Barack Obama, because of the government shutdown or due to the party’s early embrace of Trump were already gone by December 2015 when the survey started.

Current trends suggest that young voters are also not becoming more conservative as they get older. Anderson pointed out in a separate column that both Generation X and Millennial voters are moving more to the left as they age.

“The Boomers got more conservative, Gen X got a little more Democratic, and over the last 10 years, the millennials got more liberal,” Anderson says. “It’s not just that Democrats have held a consistent advantage over the GOP with this generation (and they have – by massive margins), it’s that the proportion calling themselves liberal Democrats has increased substantially since the 2012 election.”

Demographic trends are not written in stone. The shift of young voters to the left is not foreordained for upcoming elections, but business-as-usual conservative politics will not win the group to the Republican Party. It will likely require an earthshaking event or a politician with a special connection to younger voters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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 – Including Mitch McConnell – Are Breaking With Trump

As President Trump’s missteps mount, some Republicans are starting to distance themselves from the two-week-old administration. The president has made many controversial moves including the temporary immigration ban, the newly contentious relationships with Mexico and Australia, Trump’s defense of Vladimir Putin and, not least of all, his attacks on the judges who ruled against his immigration Executive Order. One of the most high-profile Republicans to break with President Trump is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Over the weekend, McConnell told CNN, a network that Trump Administration officials no longer appear on, that he disagreed with the president on several important points. McConnell said that he didn’t want to “critique the president’s every utterance,” but then offered his critique on several recent utterances.

Responding to Mr. Trump’s defense of Vladimir Putin, Sen. McConnell offered unequivocal condemnation of the Russian president. “He [Putin] is a thug. He was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election,” McConnell said. “I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”

McConnell also disagreed with Trump’s angry tweets attacking judges who overruled his immigration ban. “I think it’s best not to single out judges for criticism,” McConnell said. “We all get disappointed from time to time…  but I think it’s best to avoid criticizing judges individually.”

Mr. McConnell also expressed a lack of support for President Trump’s call for an investigation of alleged voter fraud during last year’s election. “I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that,’’ McConnell said. “We ought to leave that at the state level.”

State elections officials have found no evidence of massive fraud in the election. Even the White House seems to be quietly allowing the voter fraud claim to die without President Trump’s promised investigation.

Some Republicans started to break with Trump after his immigration ban was unveiled. Representatives Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) took issue with the Executive Order’s broad reach that prevented legal residents and green card holders from reentering the United States. In Politico, Rep. Dent described a family of Syrian Christians in his district who had immigrated legally, “yet were detained at the Philadelphia International Airport and then forced to leave the country as a result of the Executive Order. This family now faces the uncertain prospect of being sent back to Syria.”

President Trump’s minimizing of Vladimir Putin’s murderous history has inspired more Republicans to take a stand as well. Senators Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) condemned Trump’s comment that, “We have a lot of killers… You think our country is so innocent?”

Not all Republicans are breaking with the president though. On CBS, Vice President Mike Pence denied that Trump had established a moral equivalency between Russian authoritarianism and the United States. ““I simply don’t accept that there was any moral equivalency in the president’s comments,” Pence said. “Look, President Trump throughout his life, his campaign, and in this administration has never hesitated to be critical of government policies by the United States in the past. But there was no moral equivalency.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has also been hesitant to directly criticize President Trump since the election. In spite of their policy differences, Ryan has taken the middle road by couching his criticism of the president is very specific, factual terms.

Speaker Ryan told NBC, “This president is hardly the first one to express frustration with the judicial branch. What’s important is his administration is complying with the ruling and taking the proper steps to resolve the issue quickly. This is our system of divided government, and I’m confident that when the process runs its course the order will be upheld.”