October 27, 2015

Can we cogitate together?

I've been watching very carefully the news surrounding the 40-member House Freedom Caucus (HFC). Knocking a sitting speaker out is certainly a dramatic move that speaks of a certain power, clearly orchestrated by HFC members, and they one-upped themselves by helping knock off Boehner's best-chosen replacement.

I'm fully aware (and thereby will provide TS'ers with the information necessary to edify themselves) that the HFC certainly strikes a very Buckely-esque pose with its famous "STOP!" motif. But there was something fundamental going on in the people's house that cuts to a deeper theme.

1. HFC's pimples
I was very moved by Tom McClintock's letter describing how HFC was apparently cutting the GOP's nose to spite... an unclear someone's face. Today on the Hugh Hewitt show, John Campell (reasonable and retired -CA) related how the GOP's vision - allowing the Em-Im Bank to persevere but with drastic and far-reaching changes to its structure - was blocked by the HFC members, so the establishment GOP cooperated with Dem's to get an utterly un-reformed bank back on the slate. Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good in a way Reagan would surely have shunned.

I was also rather unnerved during the Benghazi committee's session with HRC by Jim Jordan's (Head of HFC - OH, and laudably willing to go to the matt on the now-fading IRS scandal) pugilistically pontificating and postulating at an un-responsive former Secretary of State.

2. My point.
I don't think the HFC ousted the speaker so they could slam shut the door on immigration, nor to put the gavel in Duncan Hunter's (smart, principled if dull - CA) hand. As relayed very well by Nick "Mick" Mulvaney on the Hugh Hewitt show on Oct. 1st and 14th (and by others at other times), the HFC was really railing against the top-down power structure that was foisted on the House by Speaker Pelosi, and seemingly happily inherited by John (headed for the showers - OH) Boehner.

3. What does the HFC really want?
mostly - to use an interesting phrase that meant a lot to both Campbell and Mulvaney a return to regular order. As near as a direct quote as I could get (the wily Hewitt jealously protects his podcasts) also notes

We always thought the conservatives were underrepresented, for example, on committees. We’ve been retaliated against [by] sitting members [who] have raised money in primaries against conservatives. That kind of stuff has got to change. That was part of that poisonous atmosphere that Boehner allowed to sort of fester

And lastly, how "Members must have the ability to bring amendments into committee and on the floor" to which I said huh? what the _____ has been happening up there?

Certainly there's been some good with the Tea Party (any enemy of Boehner...) inspired members helping the new congress classes of 2010 and 2012 greatly stymie the latter parts of Obama's agenda: (1) sequester, (2) immigration "reform" which appeared to be glorified amnesty with very little fundamental reform (tho' the last being stopped was just as much due to a massive grassroots primal scream).

But now, the "STOP!" movement is losing steam to the inevitable and understandable impulse to legislate, make deals and DO things (criminal sentencing reform, budget "deals"). Here is the deeper theme, which possibly played out in small part during our discussion on immigration last week, whereby I poorly expressed the belief we are poised at a delicate, if not quite desperate point in our nation's history. A constitutional crisis, even.

I agree with Mirengoff (Get off my lawn! - PL) where

the left is bent on radically transforming American values, institutions, and ways of living, and will use almost any tactic, regardless of its legality, to accomplish the transformation.

Certainly Boehner and likely Paul Ryan (good speaker - WI) are of the "other" mindset in viewing:

the current moment as a normal clash of opposing parties and opinions — serious, but not exceptional.

Thus we can explain the difference between my "It's a Crisis!" approach to today's immigration scenario:
- crucial that immigration and spending need to be fully and firmly brought back under control.
vs. JK's which is more in line with the "others"
- the nation of historically recordable immigration should press heartily on
to quote Mirengoff:

Ryan probably yearns to strike a grand budget deal with the Democrats. For him, such work is far more fulfilling that saying “no” to Democrats.
Understandable, as the instinct of officials elected with other ideas than filling their pockets is up the instinct to legislate and to deal.

4. Bad press can kill an otherwise mighty offensive
HFC members should well note this instinct, and all the bad press that is likely coming their way and find a way to work circumstances that require dealing with the Dems (and "other" GOP types) is necessary as a tactical matter. In these cases, the bargains should be minimal, not sweeping or far reaching.

GOP voters seem to be thinking “outside the box.” Another way of looking at it, though, is that they perceive our politics as having moved into a new box in the Age of Obama.

Who was aware there is a house LIBERTY CAUCUS? I wasn't.

Were TS'ers aware of the “Pledge to America” – saying in part In a self governing society, the only bulwark against the power of the state is the consent of the governed, and regarding the policies of the current government, the governed do not consent An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching* judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values.

* - [I argue massively overreaching in NFIB v. Sebelius yet underreaching, in King v. Burwell]

I'll have to get this:

author - and con law prof mugged by working for in DC for a Dem Congressman - Elizabeth Price Foley, put it best: limited government, Constitutionalism, control the borders.

114th Congress Tea Party Posted by nanobrewer at October 27, 2015 12:31 AM

Heh. I went searching for a Review Corner of Ms. Foley's book. I guess I did not review it, but I did find this comment: "I enjoyed Elizabeth Price Foley's book on the TEA Party but feel she erred in including immigration." JG's "I am the Lorax" comment is much more deserving of a click.

Of course there are substantive, liberty minded folks in House Freedom Caucus. What gave me hope for the last five years was the feeling that thy were ascendant in the Republican Party. My present ennui is based on accepting that they have hit their ceiling and that many hold views on immigration that are orthogonal to liberty.

Trump is now second in the polls, which augurs well for eventual demise. But Dr. Carson, whom I respect and admire deeply, is N-O-T an agent for freedom. Conservatism, perhaps, "common sense" if you hope for that in Government. But he is not a deeply philosophical thinker. He will shut down decriminalization in marijuana because "it's bad for you. He's a Doctor." Maybe bacon is next.

When I do agree with the TEA Partiers and HFC, I question their tactics. Jim Geraghty catalogs the excesses today Ann Coulter calls Jim DeMint leader of "the surrender caucus," Rush . . . well, let me let Jim tell you:

Late last week, Rush Limbaugh called Ryan "the new Cantor" and seemed to suggest the Freedom Caucus was acquiescing to the "donor class" agenda.
Then again, maybe nobody is ever good enough. Dave Bossie is now making the argument that Trey Gowdy wasn't the right man for the job of heading up the Benghazi Select Committee.

Throw all our bums out every two years and allow the other side to accumulate Reps. and seniority in the likes of Elijah Cummings and Nancy Pelosi.

I don't feel I have a place in this party anymore. Maybe I can become a Colin Poweel/David Frum media darling type... There's good money in that.

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2015 12:50 PM

I only recently learned of the House Liberty Caucus, separate, apart, and quite different from the House Freedom Caucus. The latter votes as a bloc (not very "free" that) and the former does not.

I'll jump past the subject of last week's sparring and go straight for "agent for freedom." I've been pondering this question: If the "donor" or ("political" "establishment" "chamber of commerce" "Council on Foreign Relations" or "other") class in Washington, comprising the federal Leviathan bureaucracy, really calls the shots, what individual man or woman can be an "agent for freedom" that could slay that dragon?

Short answer - none of them.
Longer answer - we have to find a way to take our money back away from them.

Posted by: johngalt at October 27, 2015 2:54 PM

Being less fatalistic, I think the ones with the best intestinal fortitude are, in alphabetical order, Cruz, Fiorina, and Trump.

Cruz and Trump, I imagine, might begin to take the windmill tilting personally and revert to the "king of the hill" masculine form that can distract a chief executive from her true goal - shrinking the power and intrusiveness of government.

Posted by: johngalt at October 27, 2015 3:08 PM

JK's comment "don't feel I have a place in this party anymore" recalls to me RedState Eric's comment that I quoted here,

The overarching goal [of The Left] will be to convince you that no one agrees with you and there are no voices echoing you

Since I can't offer you my CLiP T-shirt... perhaps I can help focus on similarities? Starting small, I'll say {cough}Sequester! Given the option of being unhappy with "tactics" vs. considering Freedom's future under an HRC administration, I think the clear choice is to make tough choices, that will continue to forward the cause of freedom, inch by stinking inch.

Agreed that the TP and HFC should go sotto voce on immigration (again, focusing on the above). I kind of hope the HFC will disband after helping get a conservative elected to the Leadership post... the committed ones should then join the HLC, and the pugnacious ones can count their scalps and dry their powder...

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 27, 2015 6:50 PM | What do you think? [4]