Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Cruising the Web

Kevin Williamson explains why the mini-rebellion against Boehner was worthwhile and why he's glad Boehner won.
I am of the view — intensely unpopular among many conservatives — that John Boehner has been a pretty good speaker, that his is a nearly impossible job, and that 99 percent of those who castigate him as a weakling and a sellout — officeholders and free-range critics alike — could not hope to perform half as well as he has. But Gohmert’s challenge was nonetheless welcome.

This is why we have elections — to choose representatives. The 2014 congressional elections were quite good for conservatives, who are restive and impatient for reform. Many of them fault congressional leaders, especially John Boehner and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, for being too eager to compromise and too generous in their terms. There might have been a mutiny against McConnell if all the likely candidates for Senate majority leader — Senators Rubio, Paul, Cruz, etc. — weren’t running for president.

Will Rogers famously joked: “I don’t belong to any organized political party — I’m a Democrat,” and there has long been a great deal of self-congratulatory myth-making among Democrats about the freewheeling nature of their party and the array of independent minds that compose it. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth: Congressional Republicans are in fact more likely to buck their leadership, and to vote against the majority of their party, than are Democrats. The Republican party is mainly organized by ideology; the Democratic party is mainly organized by the bundling of special interests — the Teamsters and the people who demand federal subsidies for sex-change operations are not obvious policy allies, but the Democrats offer sops to both, so they work together.

The Republicans, and conservatives at large, are a fractious bunch because values play a more outsize role in Republican politics than in Democratic politics. Republican voters are jurors weighing the evidence and deciding whether Boehner et al. should be charged with the felony of being too soft. Democrats are horse-traders, and they’ll stomach Barack Obama’s stand against gay marriage if they think that they can get something (e.g., federalized health care) out of it — or if they think he’s insincere, which is generally a safe bet.

Louie Gohmert probably should not be the speaker of the House. But his unsuccessful run was nonetheless a good thing for the party — a much better thing that the brute-force display of the Republican leaders who leaned on representatives who might otherwise have cast a protest vote — or more than that — for Gohmert. Papering over philosophical and political differences through a show of official might by the Republican leadership will not make the disputes within the party go away — it will only cause them to fester.

Tuesday was an excellent day to have that fight. Wednesday, it is time for a different one.
I exactly agree about Boehner and McConnell. I've never been in favor of those who let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yes, they've compromised with Obama, but would continual, fruitless shutdowns that the GOP would end up losing anyway be an improvement?

My first thought as I read the news that the coup against Boehner was "if you're going to strike against the king, you should kill the king." Boehner understands this.+

Jake Tapper has the same idea thinking of The Wire: "You come at the king, you best not miss." Omar Boehner

Joel Gehrke explains why the coup failed. They were too late and too unorganized. Those aren't good recommendations for leading the House.

Comparing Boehner to Putin doesn't help either. And one S.C. Republican who voted against Boehner in 2013 explains quite explicitly why he voted for Boehner this time. His explanation clarifies why the coup was doomed.

I used to think that, of course, Chris Christie was going to run for president. After all, I've been receiving news alerts from Christie since he became governor. Why include an obscure North Carolina blogger on his mailing list if it weren't to get his name out there and build a national reputation preparatory to a national run? But he sure acts self-destructively in a political way sometimes. He had to know that his presence in Jerry Jones' box would get national attention. That didn't bother me so much until we learn that his trip and attendance at the game was comped by Jones and that Christie had helped a Jones company get a contract to supply the hospitality at One World Trade Center which is covered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey which Christie had half-control over. It might not be technically illegal, but it sure looks bad. After Bridgegate, Christie should have been smarter than to do something so public with the appearance of corruption. Maybe, he just doesn't care anymore about national office. I didn't think he had much hope anyway, but it would be nice to narrow down the list of potential candidates a bit.

Dorothy Rabinowitz has a masterful answer for those wringing their hands over policemen turning their backs to Mayor de Blasio.
The amount of righteous hand-wringing inspired by this silent, civilized protest has been remarkable. Noteworthy too, for having been churned out by the same progressive-liberal quarters of the media that were enraptured by the demonstrators—hordes that swarmed the streets of New York, determined that there should be no lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, no Christmas shopping (they invaded five department stores), no traveling on the city’s highways.

It took scarcely more than two days of Police Commissioner William Bratton’s managed permissiveness for the protesters—intoxicated by their media-accorded status on television and in opinion pieces lauding their peacefulness—to become violent. On Dec. 13, as thousands of protesters blocked the Brooklyn Bridge, two police officers were beaten and hospitalized as they tried to stop protesters from heaving a garbage can on police officers below the roadway.

But with a police demonstration involving a silent turning of backs, the media cheering section that had embraced demonstrators bent on shutting down the city became impassioned defenders of propriety. New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick solemnly accused the police who turned their backs on the mayor at the Dec. 27 funeral of Officer Ramos of hijacking an occasion for mourning....

On Monday at a news conference, a seething Mayor de Blasio rebuked police officers for turning their backs to him, calling it a “political action”—the implication being, as his allies in the media have been suggesting, that the officers were just using the occasions to express resentment over union contract negotiations. The remarks, made as he begins his second year in office, say everything about how little Mr. de Blasio knows about the city of which he is the mayor.

Could restoring regular order in the Senate really make it better?

Charles C. W. Cooke has some thoughtful words of caution about Britain's new policy of taking children from their parents if there is a possibility that the parents are radicalizing them and readying them for jihad. It is an ethical quandary.

How Huckabee's candidacy helps Jeb.

Glenn Reynolds makes a good point: with so much new blood in the GOP, why should the party go with Jeb Bush?
But nice guy or not, he's old blood. Leaving aside the matter of the Bush name — though neither his 2016 opponents nor his 2016 supporters will — he last ran for political office back in 2002. He's fresh only insofar as he's George W. Bush's younger brother.

Meanwhile, the GOP has a lot of actual fresh blood out there. Governors such as Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal or Susana Martinez, or senators such as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio, as well as some other possibilities such as Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson. Their freshness is accentuated when you look at the Democrats' tired standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, and perhaps even more-so when you look at the Dems' alternatives to Hillary, such as Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren.

This fresh blood would seem like the best chance to rejuvenate the GOP, a party that — for all its victories in 2014 and all its success in state races — still seems to many to be a bit sclerotic at the national level. So it seems kind of odd that the GOP establishment would throw all that away to back ... another Bush for the White House.

Old blood vs. new blood? The GOP needs to choose, and choose wisely.
I would add that if the Democrats are going with Hillary Clinton, the GOP should go for the contrast and put up someone fresh against her. I actually like Jeb, but if we're going to go for a moderate conservative from Florida with ties to the Hispanic community, I think Marco Rubio would make a fresher, more interesting choice than Bush.

Rich Lowry has some fun with the Harvard faculty who are so upset to have to endure Obamacare even after they supported the policy initially.
“For years,” the Times writes, “Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.”

In other words, they are getting the change they believed in — good and hard. As a wag commented on Twitter, karma is a pre-existing condition. The Harvard imbroglio is a little like the famously free-market University of Chicago economics faculty launching a revolt against tax cuts or deregulation.
As the saying goes, when you’ve lost the Harvard faculty . . . you’ve lost self-satisfied elites who never imagined that the policies that they support imposing on everyone else might come back to bite them. Perhaps President Barack Obama can issue an executive order waiving Obamacare for Ivy League faculties that believed his election was the dawn of a new era of enlightened rule.

The enrollment guide from Harvard’s human-resources department explains that rising health-care costs, some caused by Obamacare, account for the changes hitting the pocketbooks of the custodians of learning at Harvard. It cites specifically free preventive services and the extension of coverage for younger adults up to age 26 (as well as the impending “Cadillac tax” on pricey health plans).

Q: How many Harvard professors does it take to figure out that free government benefits aren’t actually free? A: As many Harvard professors who are forced to pay the indirect costs of those benefits.

To the stupidity of the American voter, in Jonathan Gruber’s infamous phrase, can now be added the stupidity of the Harvard faculty. If Gruber ever gets axed by MIT, he apparently shouldn’t expect a warm reception at Cambridge’s other elite university.

Gerald Seib looks at who are the most likely Democratic senators who might cross the aisle and vote with McConnell on some issues. Besides Joe Manchin, I wouldn't put much hope in any of them.

Pew breaks down the new Congress by religion.

So now we know what was in that 1795 Boston time capsule. There is something very cool about this.

Like father, like son.
Son of controversial Washington ex-mayor Marion Barry runs for his late father's DC Council seat while undergoing drug and alcohol treatment

Well, that's not hard: "AP’s Matt Lee Makes State Dept’s Jen Psaki Look Even Dumber Than Usual"

The Onion has the news about Scalia's "audition tape" for the Supreme Court. Good fun.