Patterico's Pontifications


Hillary Clinton: Scandal Plagued

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:11 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Poor Hillary! Girlfriend just wants to announce her presidential campaign, but between the pesky issues of all things Benghazi, an email scandal that won’t go away, a Nigerian donor, an Iranian government front group , a cronyism scandal involving her brother and others and a sharply declining favorability rating, she has felt compelled to delay the announcement.

Now this:

Hillary Clinton wiped “clean” the private server housing emails from her tenure as secretary of state, the chairman of the House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi said Friday.

“While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement.

Clinton was under a subpoena order from the panel for all documents related to the 2012 attacks on the American compound there. But David Kendall, an attorney for Clinton, said the 900 pages of emails previously provided to the panel cover its request.

Kendall also informed the committee that Clinton’s emails from her time at the State Department have been permanently erased.

Gowdy said that Clinton’s response to the subpoena means he and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will now contemplate new legal actions against Clinton.


Jay Cost: Two Reasons Not To Leave The GOP (With Added Graphic Of Current GOP Field)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:58 am

[guest post by Dana]

In the past few years, an increasing number of commenters here at Patterico’s have expressed their disenchantment and frustration with the Republican party. Some have already reached their tipping point and made the decision to leave the party. After all, how long does one keep waiting…and waiting… and waiting to see promises be kept and conservative principles represented?

With that, last week Glenn Beck announced he was leaving the Republican party to become an Independent. Beck’s reasoning was not surprising:

They surrendered on the abortion bill, surrendered on executive orders on illegal immigration, common core. They helped push through $3.5 trillion in deficits this last year. They won’t fight Obamacare. They voted to confirm Katz Unstein (ph). They thwarted the bill on the NSA data collection. They’re still not doing anything on Benghazi. They haven’t done anything on the targeting of conservatives with the IRS. They haven’t done anything on the VA. They also threw an election against Chris McDaniels to Thad Cochran. They actually went to the Democrats and played the race card. I mean, I can get that from Hillary Clinton’s people….

We had to have the house. Then we had to the House. Then we had to have the House and the Senate. Now we have to have the White House. And then when they get the White House, the House, and the Senate then it becomes the Bush administration where it’s just as bad on deficits and everything else. They don’t have any intention of doing anything.

He also noted the establishment GOP’s disrespectful treatment of Tea Partiers like Sens. Mike Lee and Sen Ted Cruz.

His final word on the matter was one of futility:

“Four years ago I was with them. Four years ago I said ‘work from the inside: Let’s change it. Let’s get new guys in there.’ I think it’s too late.”

Days later, Jay Cost offered two reasons why Beck should reconsider his decision: the lack of a viable third party and the belief that party reform can happen.

[T]he Republican party is not going to let conservatives go anywhere else. There has never been a viable third party in the country, at least not one that has persisted over the long run. This has to do with the nature of our elections. Political theorist Maurice Duverger demonstrated fifty years ago that winner-take-all contests centered around discrete geographical areas typically produce a two-party system. There are exceptions, but they’re rare.

Moreover, third parties that do thrive temporarily are co-opted by one of the two major parties — usually to the detriment of the ideological movement that spawned the third party in the first place.

As if all that isn’t enough, even the seemingly easy task of forming a third party is a challenge. The two parties can be thought of as opponents in most respects, but they can also be understood to operate a cartel that restricts entry by competitors. A third party will thus have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get itself listed on the ballot, and even more to be included in presidential debates. None of this is coincidental. The two parties want us to have a choice … between the two parties!

Regarding a GOP reformation, Cost remains optimistic about the future in light of positive changes that have already taken place:

[T]he Republican party can be reformed. It may be very hard to do so, but the GOP is not a political machine. It is not a closed system, impervious to change. It’s open, and grassroots reformers have recourse — in the form of party primaries. They may be seriously out-financed in those contests. Still, it is one thing to be an underdog, and another to have no hope of change at all. And there is hope.

In fact, I’d argue that there has been an extraordinary amount of change within the GOP over the last generation. Reformers have made some real gains.


…The group of solid conservatives, meanwhile, has grown. The Senate already had many such members, like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Tim Scott. But now they are set to be joined by Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, and Joni Ernst. My back of the envelope calculations suggest that the number of solid conservative senators has risen from about a dozen in 1995 to 20 or so today.

Cost also notes changes in the House as well, observing that the “insurgent” class of House reformers is now large enough to make real noise.”

And yet, he makes an important distinction: while conservative reformers have won elections, there have been little to no actual breakthroughs. He believes this is by design:

That is one of Madison’s big points in Federalist #10 and #51; he wants our system to be responsive to changes in public mood, but — fearful of fractious majorities — he also promotes a system of checks and balances to slow change down. Moreover, the powers that be in the Republican party have been doing things a certain way for a century and a half. They are not going to give up just because conservatives have won a handful of elections.

Regardless, Cost believes conservative reformers should remain in the party, be inspired by recent conservative wins and continue to push the big rock uphill toward reform.


NOTE: I’m adding Nate Silver’s “graphic conception of the GOP field” as I think it’s helpful to have a visual of the various divisions and overlaps of the current GOP field. Thanks to Kevin M. for the link.


Does Ted Cruz’s Legislative Record Show Him to Be Confrontational?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

Noah Rothman at Hot Air:

Cruz’s approach to legislating since he took a seat in the Senate 26 months ago has been confrontational, self-aggrandizing, and alienating to adversaries and allies alike.

Is that borne out by objective fact, or simply an impression fostered by Big Media and repeated by Rothman? The Hill cites an objective study of Cruz’s legislative record and shows that, applying a measure of bills introduced and votes cast, Cruz is hardly the loner that Big Media and Rothman claim:

Let’s look at bills passed by this Republican Senator in a Democrat-controlled Senate, comparing his record to other Senators:

Cruz has sponsored only one bill that was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by President Obama.

In April 2014, Cruz introduced legislation to prevent representatives to the United Nations who are believed to be spies or terrorists from entering the country. It was approved unanimously by the House and Senate and signed into law only weeks after having been introduced.

The legislation was provoked by Iran’s pick of Hamid Aboutalebi to act as ambassador to the U.S. In the late 1970s, Aboutalebi was a member of a group that seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage for more than a year.

. . . .

While it’s just one bill, Cruz is no outlier here. Only four Republican Senators in the 113th Congress had more than one bill signed into law, and another 16, like Cruz, had just a singular bill signed into law.

The piece also says that Cruz “has a history of breaking with GOP leadership on votes, although it’s not as extreme as one might suppose.”

In 684 votes spanning his entire time in the Senate, Cruz has bucked party leadership 73 times. His 82.8 percent rate of voting with the party in the 113th Congress ranks him 29th out of 45 Republicans.

Similarly: “The 65 amendments Cruz put forth in the 113th Congress ranks him 12th in his party and 13th overall.”

As a constitutionalist, I would measure Cruz’s success as a legislator more by what he can repeal than by what he can pass. And of course, with Barack Obama in the White House, he can’t pass a law to repeal much of anything. But he can lead an effort to try to repeal the worst legislation passed during Obama’s tenure. And he has — an effort that gave Republicans a black eye that led to their huge losses in 2014. (Eye roll.)

And it is this area and this area alone, as far as I can tell, where Cruz is seen as such a troublesome meddler. He has had friction with party leadership over his desire to repeal ObamaCare. He has risked his political reputation over his desire to repeal ObamaCare.

Or, you may think, he has taken these steps to stake out a position as the main opponent of ObamaCare. In other words, he isn’t being principled but rather opportunistic.

Let’s pretend that view is right. So what?

I don’t really care what Cruz’s internal motivations are, although he does a damned good job articulating them as flowing from a principled constitutionalist view. I just want him to act like a principled constitutionalist. It would be nice if that flowed from actual principle, as I suspect it does. But as long as he keeps acting that way, I don’t much care why he does it.

As for Rothman’s citation of “insiders” who say Cruz can’t win: I’m perfectly happy to listen to people’s electoral predictions. Please show me proof that they predicted Obama would win when he first announced, and I’ll listen to them even more closely. If you can’t show me that proof, then their predictions are just guesses, like anyone else’s.

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