Patterico's Pontifications


Presidential Candidates: Your Choices on Both Sides

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 pm

This sums it up. These guys are hilarious.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Headlines: Support for the Wall

Filed under: Court Decisions,Immigration — DRJ @ 5:30 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

The HillJudge rejects House Democrats’ attempt to block Trump use of military funds for border wall:

A federal judge has ruled against congressional Democrats who sought to temporarily stop the president from using military funds for a border wall.

Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, handed the president a needed victory after the White House suffered several losses in legal battles with Democrats in recent days.

McFadden ruled that House Democrats cannot go to court to block Trump from using military funds to build the border wall “because the Constitution grants the House no standing to litigate these claims.”

The judge held that the House might have standing to sue in some cases but it did not show it had standing here.

And The Hill: Texas 7-year-old raises $22,000 for construction of Trump’s border wall:

A 7-year-old from Texas who’s raised $22,000 for the construction of President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a section of the structure on private land.

Benton Stevens, whose hot chocolate and lemonade sales have helped fund the project, joined members of crowdfunding group “We Build The Wall” in Sunland Park, N.M., for the ceremony, KFOX reports.

That is a lot of money for a child’s stand, even in Texas.


The Problem of Grifter Conservatism

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:44 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Jim Geraghty at NRO alerts us to a problem that we probably knew (or at least suspected) existed, but perhaps hadn’t given enough thought to: the explosion of Political Action Committees who raise money to ostensibly support conservative candidates, but who end up spending most of their revenue on administrative expenses, overhead, and the usual coterie of Beltway insiders. In a long, but well-worth reading column, he provides several infuriating examples, including the following:

Back in 2013, Conservative StrikeForce PAC raised $2.2 million in funds vowing to support Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor in Virginia. Court filings and FEC records showed that the PAC only contributed $10,000 to Cuccinelli’s effort.

Back in 2014, Politico [per site tradition, no link for bullies] researched 33 political action committees that claimed to be affiliated with the Tea Party and courted small donors with email and direct-mail appeals and found that they “raised $43 million — 74 percent of which came from small donors. The PACs spent only $3 million on ads and contributions to boost the long-shot candidates often touted in the appeals, compared to $39.5 million on operating expenses, including $6 million to firms owned or managed by the operatives who run the PACs.”

[. . .]

In 2016, Great America PAC raised $28.6 million from donors. They donated $30,125 to federal candidates. In 2018, Great America PAC raised $8.3 million from donors. They donated $31,840 to federal candidates.

[. . .]

In 2018, a federal indictment declared grassroots conservatives across the country gave $23 million to scam PACs run by William and Robert Tierney from 2014 to 2018, believing they were supporting conservative groups like “Republican Majority Campaign PAC,” “Americans for Law Enforcement PAC,” and “ PAC.” Only $109,000 went to candidates.

There are plenty more examples at Mr. Geraghty’s piece.

I know I am preaching to the choir, and I doubt that any readers or commenters here are gullible enough to fall for these sort of quasi-scams. Defenders of these operatives might tell us that the bulk of the donations go to “get out the vote” initiatives, but really, what are those other than slick advertising campaigns which line the pockets of well-connected Washington insiders and big city advertising firms? The idea that they are funded by, as Mr. Geraghty puts it, “little old ladies [who] get called on the phone or emailed or receive letters in the mail telling them that the future of the country is at stake,” should bother any of us who know senior citizens who might be susceptible to this sort of ploy.

It’s likely not just senior citizens, either. I suppose that twenty or so years ago I might have been inclined to donate money to an outfit that pledged to support candidates who vowed to battle the sort of sleazy dealings personified by Bill and Hillary Clinton, and perhaps at some point I did, though my memory is hazy on that. But I eventually realized that if I don’t think funneling money to Sacramento or Washington DC in order to alleviate our various social problems was particularly effective or prudent, it doesn’t make much sense to send a check to Newport Beach in support of a candidate running in Torrance, let alone a check to Alexandria, VA to support a candidate running in Colorado.

I am not going to express an opinion on whether or not Donald Trump attracts more or fewer grifters than a George W. Bush or a Barack Obama does, but I do think we should be on high alert when an old con artist like Roger Stone emerges from his dark alley. If you want to support the Trump reelection financially, there’s a pretty straightforward way to do so. Sending your hard-earned money instead to some fly-by-night outfit just because they use MAGA on their letterhead is ultimately self-defeating to the movement that President Trump purports to lead. If you really do want to support independent PACs, Mr. Geraghty has some suggestions, though be forewarned that they will be triggering if you are one who blanches at RINOs or the GOPe:

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Oh, every PAC does this.” Nope. In that RightWingNews study, Club for Growth Action PAC had 88 percent actually went into independent expenditures and direct contributions. Republican Main Street Partnership had 78 percent, and American Crossroads was at 72 percent. That allegedly corrupt “establishment” is way more efficient at using donors’ money than all of these self-proclaimed grassroots conservative groups. Over on the liberal or Democratic side, ActBlue charges a 3.95 percent processing fee when passing along donations to campaigns.

The piece at NRO is kind of depressing. The author provides several examples of GOP Congressmembers who lost their seats by small margins in 2018, and understandably asks if they might have fared better if they had been a bit better funded and could have devoted more money to local get-out-the-vote efforts instead of having it spent on bogus national GOTV operations.

Like I’ll bet many of you did, in the aftermath of the Barack Obama election and huge Democrat majorities in Congress I took solace in the emergence of the Tea Party movement which promised to restore Constitutional limits to runaway progressive government. I cheered on the rallies and the protests against intrusive big government programs like Obamacare, and celebrated when their efforts paid off in the GOP taking back the House of Representatives, even if some overzealousness on the part of the Tea Party might have cost it a Senate majority. So what happened to the Tea Party? Though we can probably all guess, here is what campaign finance lawyer Paul Jossey wrote the year that Donald Trump was elected President:

[T]he Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered — and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

As much as we should turn a gimlet eye towards the same old GOP K Street Washington crowd who flatters us with empty promises of a conservative agenda, so too should we be distrustful of the red meat PACs who peddle a cheap and empty populism that they themselves apparently don’t take too seriously.


Headlines: Trump Meets the Queen (UPDATE: Trump Meets the PM)

Filed under: International,Politics — DRJ @ 10:00 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

AP: Trump meets queen, escalates feud with London mayor

Nervous, Donald? How Trump acted like a ‘school boy on his best behaviour’ as he reunited with the Queen – but greeted Prince Charles ‘like an old friend’

Protest and pageantry: Donald Trump’s state visit, day one – in pictures

UPDATE 6/4/2019: Daily MailTrump calls mass protests against his UK visit ‘fake news’ claiming there was a lot of ‘spirit and love’ for him – as he promises country a ‘great’ trade deal and praises outgoing prime minister Theresa May as a ‘tremendous professional’


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