Last week, the Internal Revenue Service informed the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means that they had “lost” nearly three years worth of emails from Lois Lerner, the disgraced IRS official at the center of the scandal involving the IRS targeting of conservative and tea party groups, because her computer crashed. Naturally, many were skeptical of the claim given its questionable convenience.
Many also arrived at the logical conclusion that if the IRS had actually “lost” Lerner’s emails, then surely they would be able to recover them from the emails of other officials at the IRS that she was communicating with. Yet, today the IRS announced that it has also “lost” the emails of six other high-level officials at the center of the investigation into the suppression of conservative groups by the agency.
The Obama administration promised to be the most transparent administration in history, little did we know this would mean they could make things disappear entirely. Given the convenient details of the misplaced emails this is clearly not a computer problem, as the IRS claims. This is a fundamental failure of leadership at the highest levels and a betrayal of the nation’s trust. ‘It’s a glitch’ may as well be the 21st Century version of ‘I am not a crook.’
As Charles Krauthammer said, “Nixon was a piker to the Obama Administration when it comes to concealment, hiding, or pretending that they can’t find stuff.”
Think about it. Why didn’t Nixon use the excuse that the recording system crashed? Maybe he wasn’t as corrupt as our current administration.
The overly convenient and lousy excuses coming from the Obama administration are generally reserved for guilty adolescents and banana republics. It’s clear that the administration has moved from obstructing the activity of conservative and tea party groups to stonewalling Congress by whatever means necessary.
The rampant cover-up by the IRS of its targeting of conservatives is beyond outrage. If this were a Republican administration, Democrats would have already drawn up articles of impeachment. You doubt that? Democrats introduced six different impeachment resolutions during President George W. Bush’s tenure in the White House. Republicans have introduced exactly zero impeachment resolutions against Obama.
I think it is past time for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the IRS from top to bottom. It’s clear that a deceitful administration will not police itself.
There was a seismic event on Tuesday night in the 7th District of Virginia as sitting U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost in a landslide to a virtually unknown tea party candidate. It’s quite rare for a Member of leadership to lose an election. The most recent examples are when John Thune beat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle for the Senate in 2004 and when Speaker Tom Foley lost to George Nethercutt in 1994. Before that, you have to reach all the way back to 1952, when the sitting United States Senate Majority Leader lost to a young, upstart businessman named Barry Goldwater.
Sometimes politics is just crazy interesting. Cantor losing is crazy interesting.
How did it happen?
The immediate conventional wisdom being pushed by the D.C. chattering class is that Cantor’s willingness to support comprehensive immigration reform was THE reason. Conventional wisdom is pushing the narrative that the tea party is racist and will not tolerate anything but the strictest enforcement bills coming out of Washington.
Immigration may have played a role, but it was far from the only – or even biggest – reason for Cantor’s loss.
Fundamentally, the reason Cantor lost is because he came to embody all that base Republican voters despise: ladder-climbing insider, close ties to K Street and Wall Street, too focused on Washington, and generally being out-of-touch with his district.
Cantor’s schedule on Election Day is the perfect microcosm of what went wrong. Most candidates I have worked for – including candidates for Governor, Senate, House, down to state legislature – spend Election Day getting out the vote. That means going to headquarters and joining volunteers making calls to voters, stopping at a few polling locations and shaking hands, etc.
Cantor started the day doing a fundraiser in D.C. Then stayed in D.C. until votes concluded around 3 p.m. Then, drove down to his district, presumably in time for the “victory” party. There was no personal touch of voters in the district. No urgency of making sure he did everything he could to ensure victory.
Secondarily, he lost because he thought he could bury his opponent with TV and did nothing to build grassroots support. In fact, he worked against much of the grassroots in the district by trying to replace various precinct and party leaders with loyalists.
His ads tended to be over the top or too cute by half – and over-using the “liberal college professor” claim. Even his positive ads were over-produced – the best ads politicians can do for themselves most of the time is look right into the camera and talk to voters like adults.
The biggest shock of the night was how shocked he and his team were by the outcome. You only get stunned in politics when you don’t have your finger on the pulse of what is going on around you.
I’m sure there will be mountains of analysis done on top of what has been written so far, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals: if you lose touch with your constituency and get caught up in the insider game in Washington, it can catch up with you.
The kidnapping of more than 200 young girls by the terrorist group Boko Harem in Nigeria is horrific.
We can debate how we got to the point that this terrorist group was able to pull this off. We can, in part, blame Hillary Clinton, who, while she was Secretary of State, worked against listing Boko Harem as a terrorist group, despite strong evidence of their close ties to Al Qaeda.
We can also blame this administration’s general position on terrorism – or probably better said, lack of strong position against terrorism.
Case in point:
Seriously? The reaction by the greatest nation on earth to the horrific kidnapping of more than 200 young girls is a twitter hashtag? What, exactly did they expect to accomplish with a Twitter hashtag and a profile picture?
Even what the President said about it is incredibly disappointing:
“I have this remarkable title right now, the president of the United States,” Obama said, “And yet every day when I wake up, and I think about young girls in Nigeria or children caught up in the conflict in Syria — when there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids.”
What Obama doesn’t seem to understand is that he has more than a “remarkable title” – he has remarkable responsibility that he is supposed to employ.
But, when you think about it, the vast majority of President Obama’s tenure has been more style than substance. It isn’t about doing something, it’s about projecting – expressing opinion rather than doing the hard work of affecting actual change.
In a word, our president is a slacktivist. Like so many other high-minded liberals, he thinks that tweeting something out, or creating a hashtag about an issue is actual activism. Well, it’s not.
It’s past time for this administration to understand that we can’t conduct foreign policy with a hashtag. #Seriously
This was originally posted at AmericanEncore.org
At colleges and universities across the country there are designated “free speech zones.” College administrators limit political speech and activity to one area. As Virginia Postrel explains:
A “free speech zone” is a tiny portion of campus, usually far away from the main thoroughfares, where students are allowed to hand out leaflets or hold protests and rallies only after they have filed the proper paperwork and given plenty of notice.
Designating a limited “free speech zone” does much more than keep noisy demonstrations away from quiet study spaces. It’s a way of squelching spontaneous action or immediate responses to controversial news. Free speech zones, says FIRE president Greg Lukianoff, “teach students that speech should be contained by officials, controlled and feared, rather than celebrated, utilized and engaged.”
Putting aside the absurdity of free speech zones, it must be discussed how loosely some campuses define controversial or political speech. As this blognoted earlier this week, American values and knowledge of our freedoms have eroded because anti-American forces have been institutionalized. Our schools, colleges, media and even some in our government are actively working against American ideals.
Last week we learned just how far we’ve come from Reagan’s call for “informed patriotism” when the University of Hawaii told a group of students that they weren’t allowed to hand out copies of the U.S. Constitution. The college administrators explained their decision by saying:
The University policy [for events] says that RISOs [Registered Independent Student Organizations]can’t approach people. We run a diverse campus and people can feel intimidated and it’s like they [the students] can’t say no. We have a free speech zone for students to use and it’s between the theater and new student services building….
This isn’t really the 60’s anymore. People can’t really protest like that anymore, times have really changed since the movement back then…
Indeed, times have changed. University of Hawaii administrators are acknowledging the rules of exercising our freedoms have changed, but are unrepentant about their role in it. In the 1960s, students rightly protested unjust laws. Today, students are barred from handing out copies of the supreme law of the U.S. on the rights of citizens and the responsibilities and limits of government. Current campus rebels aren’t breaking the law, they’re educating fellow students about it! What’s more, the administrators claim students can feel “intimidated” by those who are sharing a document that limits government and grants rights to U.S. citizens.
These students at the University of Hawaii and students across the country who are standing up to campus administrators give me hope in the resurgence of the defense of our freedoms. I’m also grateful to organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for representing students in their fight against college administrations. It’s not just enough to support fellow Americans, we must also encourage them to continue speaking out and using the tools we have to ensure that they can always do so freely.
The Arizona Republic ran a lengthy story on the front page of a recent Sunday edition about the 1964 presidential campaign of conservative icon Barry Goldwater.
Here is the lede:
“Barry Goldwater’s insurgent presidential bid 50 years ago was a spectacular failure as a political campaign.”
What jolted me was the “50 years ago” phrase. 50 years! That’s nearly a lifetime. And yet his campaign was one of the most consequential efforts of the modern-day conservative movement. As George Will has quipped, “Goldwater won the election, it just took 16 years to count the votes,” in a nod to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
It was Reagan’s epic speech “A Time For Choosing” that launched his national profile.
In that speech he said:
Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.” And the Cuban stopped and said, “How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.” And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.
This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.
Thus, Goldwater’s loss was America’s, and the world’s, gain with the election of Reagan in 1980.
When you look back at Goldwater’s convention acceptance speech, at this moment in time it is downright prophetic:
Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways– not because they are old, but because they are true. We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom – freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature’s God; freedom – balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.
Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom’s model in a searching world. We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom’s mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.
I know this freedom is not the fruit of every soil. I know that our own freedom was achieved through centuries, by unremitting efforts by brave and wise men. I know that the road to freedom is a long and a challenging road. I know also that some men may walk away from it, that some men resist challenge, accepting the false security of governmental paternalism.
And I pledge that the America I envision in the years ahead will extend its hand in health, in teaching and in cultivation, so that all new nations will be at least encouraged to go our way, so that they will not wander down the dark alleys of tyranny or to the dead-end streets of collectivism. My fellow Republicans, we do no man a service by hiding freedom’s light under a bushel of mistaken humility.
I seek an American proud of its past, proud of its ways, proud of its dreams, and determined actively to proclaim them. But our example to the world must, like charity, begin at home.
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution. Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.
Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.
Arizona should be proud of producing the father of modern-day conservatism. Barry Goldwater was a principled and stalwart defender of freedom every moment of his political career. He saw the future of the conservative movement in Ronald Reagan, and it is now the time for conservatives to redouble our efforts to groom the conservative leaders of the future.
The future of our country depends on it.
Remember these words from President Obama? “Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia. The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
The foreign policy of the 1980’s brought down the Soviet Union, it would appear that Obama’s foreign policy is bringing it back.
We are fewer than two years past that debate and Russia has invaded Ukraine, a sovereign nation. The Ukrainian people took to the street to demand freedom and democracy and to protest a government that allowed neither. When the government attempted to violently crush the demonstrations the people overthrew the government. As we know, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin however, contends: the government in Ukraine, the people’s government, is illegitimate because the leader, Yanukovych, was illegally overthrown; that Yanokuvych remains Ukraine’s legitimate leader; that Russia has a right to use military force in Ukraine because the ousted Yanukovych (the legitimate leader according to Russia) formally asked for Russian for assistance in quelling the revolt.
To which the President of the United States responded, “President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.” Well, there’s a strong statement from a powerful man.
In 1982, the USSR-controlled Polish government declared Solidarity, the first non-communist union in the Soviet Bloc, to be illegal. Ronald Reagan let the world know where America stood:
“I know Poland is a faraway country in Eastern Europe. Still, this action is a matter of profound concern to all the American people and to the free world… The Polish military leaders and their Soviet backers have shown that they will continue to trample upon the hopes and aspirations of the majority of the Polish people. America cannot stand idly by in the face of these latest threats of repression and acts of repression by the Polish Government…The Polish regime should understand that we’re prepared to take further steps as a result of this further repression in Poland. We are also consulting urgently with our allies on steps we might take jointly in response to this latest outrage… when anyone is denied freedom, then freedom for everyone is threatened. The struggle in the world today for the hearts and minds of mankind is based on one simple question: Is man born to be free, or slave? In country after country, people have long known the answer to that question. We are free by divine right. We are the masters of our fate, and we create governments for our convenience. Those who would have it otherwise commit a crime and a sin against God and man.”
Strangely, in his February 28 statement about events in Ukraine, Obama never uttered the word “freedom.” Instead, he said,
“Throughout this crisis, we have been very clear about one fundamental principle: The Ukrainian people deserve the opportunity to determine their own future… we are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe. It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people… the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The nation that once said big things, did big things, and led the world, now confronts Russian aggression with talk of “lawyers” and “people deserving the opportunity to determine own future.” The world perceives America as weak and perception is reality.
What happens when America is weak? The world is less safe. Syria crosses “red lines” with impunity, Iran and North Korea flex their muscles, Russia invades neighboring states, and al Qaeda does not—contrary to Obama’s 2012 campaign spin—run.
America has suffered terrorist attacks at home, Fort Hood, the Boston Marathon, and abroad, Benghazi—for which no one has been brought to justice. Are we safer today than when Obama took office?
No, we are not. Since our nation’s birth, the fundamental purpose of our government is to defend its people, to ensure our liberty. If Obama fails to perform this most basic purpose he should not pursue vast domestic undertakings like Obamacare. Because, if Obama cannot keep our nation free and safe, health care will be the least of our concerns.
A common refrain I heard from friends this last week or so was “if you are taking flack, you know you are over the target.”
In this case, “flack” was a 7,000 word hit piece on me (along with my company and 501c4 organizations with which I’m associated) by a liberal non-profit called ProPublica. ProPublica was founded by Herbert Sandler, a left-wing banker at the center of the housing crisis, as described by the New York Times:
At the center of the controversy is an exotic but popular mortgage the Sandlers pioneered that helped generate billions of dollars of revenue at their bank. Known as an option ARM — and named “Pick-A-Pay” by World Savings — it is now seen by an array of housing analysts and regulators as the Typhoid Mary of the mortgage industry.
He made billions selling his bank to Wachovia before the housing meltdown, making him the very definition of “evil billionaire.” (Other liberal billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer have also supported ProPublica).
Inexplicably, five days after the ProPublica piece was posted on their website, The Arizona Republic ran it as a front page, tabloid-style story. It was a complete “cut and paste” job from ProPublica, and even though the Republic is my hometown paper, they never called me for comment.
There is something a bit surreal about walking out to your driveway and seeing yourself staring you in the eye. The nearly life-size photo on the front page caused one colleague to remark, “That’s a head shot size usually reserved for Presidents or terrorist leaders.” I’m clearly not the President.
The Republic did allow me to publish a response. However, after publishing 7,000 words attacking me, they only allowed 550 for my response. That’s ok – you can read a more full response here.
Here are a few highlights from my response in the Republic:
I firmly believe that anonymous political speech is not a danger to our nation — it has played an important role throughout our history. Anonymity in political speech protects the speaker from retribution, but it also serves a greater good: It allows the public to listen to ideas without any bias toward the messenger.
ProPublica hopes to bully CPPR and other conservative groups out of existence because we’ve been effective. Thanks to President Barack Obama’s mismanagement of the country, particularly the failure of “Obamacare,” liberals know they can’t win against us in a fair fight of issues and ideas.
Instead, the left must resort to intimidation. Their tactics include boycotts, threatening businesses, digging through divorce records to personally embarrass and hurt the families of those with whom they disagree, etc. But, before they can employ these methods, they need to know who to target. This is why they demand the disclosure of donors to conservative causes.
The Republic is my hometown paper; I’ve interacted with its staff regularly and always held them and the publication in high esteem. I was extremely disappointed by The Arizona Republic’s complete lack of journalistic integrity in this instance. The Republic made itself a willing tool of the left. That is a shame and a real disappointment to this lifelong reader.
The Founders would be appalled at this organized attack on political speech by the media (and the government). Consider this: the Federalist Papers were not only anonymously written, they were anonymously funded! Today, Madison, Jay and Hamilton would be castigated as “dark money.” Good grief!
Fundamentally, the Left’s attack on conservative speech is driven by fear. The Left knows it can’t win the hearts and minds of the American public with their nanny-state mentality, so they have to change the subject away from the content of the speech and who is doing the speaking. Therefore, they attack.
I haven’t and won’t let attacks from the Left stop me from advancing the cause. It is disappointing that they have stooped to a level that includes airing personal issues related to my divorce. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a political operative (that is, a non-public official or non-candidate for office) having their divorce records exposed in the news media.
At the end of the day, I remain resolved to continue to fight for the freedoms endowed to us by our Creator, first and foremost among those being our First Amendment freedoms.
(picture courtesy of Dr. Fred Vidal)
Last year, I posted what is below. It’s even more relevant today:
On this day, 102 years ago, God made Ronald Reagan – ok, so He made him before that, but you get the point. Reagan was a blessing to America, becoming President at the very time that his country needed him. If there was ever a time we needed another Reagan, it is now.
Reagan embodied a concept of America very different than our current President. In his final address to the nation from the Oval office he spoke of the success of America as an example of freedom.
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
Happy birthday President Reagan. We miss you, we need you.
The State of the Union has evolved into a national conversation on social media. Twitter and Facebook light up for a couple hours in ways rarely seen in politics. I did my duty by tweeting out snarky comments and posting on Facebook.
The best post-speech commentary came from National Review’s Jim Geraghty:
My Fellow Americans, the State of Our Union Is . . . Interminable
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. The only part of the president’s State of the Union address that you need to read:
“I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program — a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.
For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again — and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.
“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.”
Cory Remsburg is a Dagwood sandwich of courage, determination, inspiration, and all-around bad-assery.
The rest of the speech was interminable, meandering, shifting in tone, unfocused, and at least twice as long as it needed to be. In a development that surprises no one, his fans liked it, his critics largely hated it, and millions upon millions of Americans wondered what happened to their favorite shows that usually air at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The only thing worse than a boring State of the Union? Having three GOP responses. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers did a fine job, but I don’t understand why Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul gave responses other than feeding their own egos.
The thing that mystifies me is why the response is not done with a live audience. One of the best GOP responses in recent years was Gov. Bob McDonnell when he delivered his response from the state capital of Virginia with a live audience. It made a world of difference on how the response played to viewers across the country. But no one has replicated that model since, and the responses have been mostly yawns.
I’m just glad it’s over.