In the US House, Insider Money Buys Leadership Positions

The US House of Representatives is not a meritocracy. And that’s a shame.

House “leadership” doesn’t actually have anything to do with leadership. It has everything to do with money.

In a story about the fall from power of Nancy Pelosi, Michael Barone describes how the House leadership process evolved from seniority to raw cash.

For years, liberal Democrats had decried the seniority system, which automatically made conservative Southerners (and/or senile members) committee chairmen. There they could and did block liberal measures from coming to the floor.

After the big Democratic victory in the 1974 election, Democratic leaders conceded that the caucus could vote on chairmanships if a sufficient number of members signed petitions for such a vote.

That was the first move. Before 1974, leadership went, pretty much, by seniority. The way to rise to the top in the House was to hang around a long time.

Then, another change gave us the current system of producing “leaders.”

After their big victory in the 1994 election, House Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, instituted a similar procedure.

Chairmen would be determined by the Republican Steering Committee, on which party leaders had a major share of the votes, and there would be a six-year term limit (occasionally waived) on chairmen.

Another result: Members compete for elective chairmanships by raising money for colleagues, largely from Washington insiders.

That is, the reforms make the House more accountable to voters than the seniority system, but also more responsive to lobbyists.

If you’re wondering how Ann Wagner rose so quickly to House leadership, now you know. She used her insider status with the biggest donors to buy her place.

One way she did that: Export Import Bank and Boeing. Being in a safe seat, Mrs. Wagner was free to raise money for other Republican House candidates. At the same time, Boeing wanted to rescue its crony Ex-Im Banking system from a conservative attack.

After months of silence on the Export-Import Bank, Ann finally gave Ex-Im a strong endorsement and a commitment to defend the crony operation against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

The GOP could go a long way toward limiting the influence of lobbyists and crony capitalists by reverting back to the post-1974 Democrat rules. Just let the whole caucus vote on leadership.

Some Protesters Couldn’t Care Less About Mike Brown

If you think the mall protests are about the police, Ferguson, Mike Brown, or Darren Wilson, you could be wrong.

For some, Mike Brown is a pawn. The protests are mere opportunities to exploit.

Travis Martin, a protester who was at the bowling alley and the Justice Center, said he didn’t think that activist leaders had done enough planning and promotion for an event at the Galleria.

“I think the main organizers weren’t so focused on anti-capitalism. They are more focused on justice for Mike Brown,” said Martin, 27, a student at the Washington University School of Law. (source: stltoday.com)

Got that? The protesters were too worried about justice. Travis Martin seems all about destroying free market capitalism.

I admit that I admire people who take to the streets to express and promote their point of view, even if I don’t agree with them. Demonstration, protest, and even civil disobedience are political tools. Used well for just causes, these tools build great communities.

When people honestly and openly use these tools, democracy works. It’s okay for people to disagree, but the partisans must be forthright. When protests drive an honest debate, the community or society can choose a course. Protests can initiate debates that matter. But only when the protests are transparent.

When people hide in the shadows of a larger protest, hoping to hijack emotions to destroy the greatest engine for equality, wealth, and advancement in human history, they do not advance democracy; they advance a lie.

Now that Travis Martin has exposed the hidden anti-market ends of the Mike Brown protests, the organizers must purge their ranks of the agitators. If the organizers permit the anti-market agitators to stay, then we are free to call the movement a fraud.

Gratitude Is Not a Privilege

Gratitude, like love, is bound only by our choices. The more we give, the more we keep.

I tried to ignore Ferguson today, but I glanced at Twitter hashtag #Ferguson a moment ago. The first tweet I read inspired this post. Someone wrote that “being able to be thankful after #Fergson is a privilege itself.”

I understand how someone could feel that their “gratitude privilege” had been revoked. We lost our daughter just before Christmas in 1994, about four weeks after I got out of the Navy. I cursed God, of course, and life and everything.

Within minutes of that tragedy, though, I was already thanking people. A high school classmate was the EMT supervisor who responded to the call. Bob Geigel drove me to the hospital and stayed with me until my dad arrived. I have never thanked him publicly. Until now.

My Aunt Jane was beyond wonderful that day. Aunt Mame, too. The priests of St. Gabriel. The people of St. Gabriel. Strangers. The Kutis family. Anonymous donors who paid for her funeral.

In my greatest hour of despair came the greatest surge of gratitude I ever felt, before or since.

Gratitude is a choice. It’s sometimes an obligation. But gratitude is never a privilege. Anyone can feel grateful anytime they wish.

Even Michael Brown’s mother and father have an infinite number of reasons to be grateful. They have received love from strangers. They have been flown to Europe and given a stage to present their grief and their hope. They have memories of their son.

Gratitude and grief are not opposite ends of single line. They coexist as perfectly as turkey and stuffing. For those who believe in redemptive suffering, such as Christ went through on the cross, grief can be the reason for gratitude, even when we suffer for the sake of others.

Yes, Michael Brown’s family has reason to grieve. And the privilege to grieve. They also have the capacity to thank, and I have no doubt they have thanked many people and felt remarkable gratitude in the last 90 days.

On this Thanksgiving, I am most grateful that, by God’s grace, I overcame the thought I had in December of 1994—that there is nothing left to be grateful for. I pray for the author of that sad tweet that he, too, overcomes the silly idea that gratitude is a privilege reserved for a few.

Happy Thanksgiving.

8 Ideas to Save Christmas in Ferguson

Nixon buck-passed while Ferguson burned. With the city’s main business district laid to rubble, buycotts won’t have much effect. And Christmas is around the corner.

Who got hurt last night?

  1. People who own businesses
  2. People who work at businesses
  3. People who rely on businesses

Time is short. The people affected by last night’s riots need help rebuilding and jobs right now. While I don’t have complete plans, I can throw out eight ideas. Please make one of these come to life.

  1. 100 St. Louis companies hire 1 affected person for 1 year. Longer if they wish, but guarantee a job for 12 months starting December 1.
  2. 100 companies (St. Louis or elsewhere) adopt one damaged business each to rebuild. And it’s not just the businesses with physical damage. Most Ferguson and Dellwood business need out of business funding.
  3. 100 St. Louisans can sponsor Christmas this year for one affected family in Ferguson. Start with a list of employees who are out of work because of the violence last night.
  4. Companies and charities can establish a fund for rebuilding destroyed property. Let the private companies’ CFOs manage the money, not government or NGOs who have a way of making a billion dollars disappear.
  5. What if our well-endowed universities donated from their endowments to a redevelopment fund? Maybe give students credit for helping rebuild.
  6. I’ve been asking for this since August, but how about a state sales tax holiday for Ferguson, Dellwood, Florissant, Hazelwood, and other affected cities? If I were governor, I’d call a special session next week to pass that law in time for the holidays.
  7. Add an option to the 2014 Missouri Income Tax forms allowing business and individuals across the state to donate from their tax refunds to offset the cost of the state sales tax holiday.
  8. Hold Saturday morning resilience classes for business owners and their employees, followed by a two-hour workday to help in recovery.

These ideas need your help.

If you know someone who can make one or more of these ideas come to life, please email a link to this story. Ask them to get it started.

If you have better ideas, please include them in the comments. (Yes, people read the comments almost as much as they read my nonsense.)

Thanks. Let’s not let St. Louis go the way of Gary, Indiana. We cannot rely on government—government is the problem, not the solution. We have to rely on ourselves.

The Worst of Humanity and the Absence of Leadership in Ferguson

I should be in bed. But I can’t take my eyes off the images of Ferguson burning to the ground.

A liberal friend on Twitter admonished me not to be political. Maybe he’s right.

But I’m pretty sure Dellena’s 911 Beauty Salon burned in Ferguson tonight. It seems everything else has, too. The airport is closed. St. Louis’s image may be taking a fatal blow. The region might go the way of Gary, Indiana.

And the governor is absent. The National Guard is nowhere to be seen.

Mandy Murphy on KTVI Fox 2 has reported numerous times the governor promised Ferguson officials and businesses that the National Guard would be there to protect their lives and property.

At least eight buldings are burning to the ground. Bakeries. Restaurants. Parts stores. I shopped in most of them this summer and fall during BUYcotts.

People are watching their humble livelihoods burn.

The fire departments are standing by. They want to fight the fires, but they can’t. They can’t because the police presence is insufficient to suppress sniper fire from the human feces that use tragedy to unleash evil on good people.

Meanwhile, the governor is absent. He’s chasing that buck that he refused to stop in a disastrous interview that exposed his feebleness.

And, doesn’t the Attorney General have a role in all this? I haven’t heard his name.

I don’t know how we remove a governor in Missouri, but it’s damn time to get that ball rolling.

God bless the people of Ferguson. And may God unleash swift and fearful justice to the bastards responsible for this.

UPDATE: The Governor is not taking calls from Ferguson Mayor as he pleads for National Guard support. He cannot get through to any of our Congressional delegation.  Care to explain Claire McCaskill? Roy Blunt? Ann Wagner? Lacy Clay? This is the time that leaders lead.

UPDATE:  After hours of pleading and tweeting, Govenor Nixon claims he’s ordered more National Guard for Ferguson. At this point, one Guardsman would be more. (1:11 am)

Big ISPs Will Back Net Neutrality Someday

I don’t want Barack Obama regulating the internet.

At the same time, conservatives who believe big corporations are always right better pop their heads out of their Chambers of Commerce.

Greens Didn’t Kill the Incandescent Light Bulb—Corporatists Did

The way big businesses got big and stayed big has nothing to do with business and everything to do with politics. Big corporations use their money and influence to bribe government to kill competition.

The best example of this is the incandescent light bulb.

You probably think that environmentalist wackos drove federal legislation to ban Edison’s invention. But you’re wrong. Totally wrong. Environmentalists, for the most part, recognize that fluorescent bulbs pose a much bigger threat to the planet than incandescent bulbs. In a study by University of California-Davis:

> [W]hen the team took into account the longer usage of those devices, CFLs have three to 26 and and LEDs two to three times higher potential harmful effects on the environment than incandescent light bulbs because of the heavy metal toxicity issues. As such, the team suggests that research efforts and technology drivers must now focus not only on enhancing energy efficiency but also on reducing the use of hazardous and rare metals.Incandescent bulbs are cheap and relatively easy to make. The cost of entering the market is low. Despite marketing terms like “cool white” and “natural amber,” there’s little difference from one bulb to another.

Three huge corporations dominated the incandescent bulb market for decades—General Electric, Phillips, and Sylvania. Timothy Carney describes the situation in the Washington Examiner:

Competitive markets with low costs of entry have a characteristic that consumers love and businesses lament: very low profit margins. GE, Philips and Sylvania dominated the U.S. market in incandescents, but they couldn’t convert that dominance into price hikes. Because of light bulb’s low material and manufacturing costs, any big climb in prices would have invited new competitors to undercut the giants — and that new competitor would probably have won a distribution deal with Wal-Mart.

Compact fluorescent technology, however, is more difficult for low cost manufacturers and start-ups. So the big three leaned on members of Congress to pass a law banning incandescent bulbs. And Congress did, with early help from Republicans. (Republicans appreciate GE’s campaign donations just as much as Democrats do.)

This is exactly how big business operates. When the free market rejects their innovations, they use government to force us to buy. Says Timothy Carney:

[T]he threat of competition kept profit margins low on the traditional light bulb — that’s the magic of capitalism. GE and Sylvania searched for higher profits by improving the bulb — think of the GE Soft White bulb. These companies, with their giant research budgets, made advances with halogen, LED and fluorescent technologies, and even high-efficiency incandescents. They sold these bulbs at a much higher prices — but they couldn’t get many customers to buy them for those high prices. That’s the hard part about capitalism — consumers, not manufacturers, get to demand what something is worth.

Capitalism ruining their party, the bulb-makers turned to government. Philips teamed up with NRDC. GE leaned on its huge lobbying army — the largest in the nation — and soon they were able to ban the low-profit-margin bulbs.

The ISPs Lobby, Too

As I pointed out, some big internet companies spend big dollars lobbying.

Statistic: Total lobbying expenses in the United States in 2014, by sector (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

The big ISPs—Comcast, AT&T, Charter, etc.—sit in the fourth biggest lobbying sector. They will find a way to use net neutrality to their advantage.

When they do, some big net neutrality bill will sail through Congress with bipartisan support. And the co-sponsors will have served their master.

Lesson Learned

  1. The last thing I want is for Barack Obama to turn the internet into a public utility. He will regulate what you can and cannot say online.
  2. But don’t blindly support whatever some huge corporation tells you to support. Corporations use unprincipled, self-serving politicians like Rep. Ann Wagner, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Claire McCaskill to dictate terms to the free market.

  3. Ideology isn’t easy. Comments on this blog sometimes surprise me. The writers seem to want an easy boolean answer to complex problems. Republican is good and Democrat is bad. Conservative is good and liberal is bad. Private enterprise is good and government is bad. But it’s not that easy. Self-governance requires critical thinking, not knee-jerk reaction to labels.

  4. Don’t avoid the real question. The real question is not “what would Reagan do?” The question is “will it liberate?” Net neutrality, like many other ideas, can liberty or bind depending on how it’s implemented. For more, see the two links below.

Learn more about net neutrality from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Learn even more about leftist attempts to hijack to net neutrality at the Cato Institute.

Rex Sinquefield Buys High-Priced Call Guv

mad-scientist-rex
Rex Sinquefield’s Mad Scientist Blimp-Piloting X-Ray Glasses.

The billionaire with the great big blimp buys another politician.

After a raising a measely $66k in campaign contributions, Catherine Hanaway sold her soul to wierd billionaire Rex Sinquefield. The price? $750,000 down plus $10,000 a week through the election.

With Rex, nothing is ever what it appears.

You might know that Rex is tight with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat. You might also know that Koster is planning to run for governor himself. Or, at least, he was. The New York Times story about Koster pimping out the AG’s office might have changed his mind. And if Senator Claire McCaskill decides to run for governor, Koster will take some other primary-free race like a good Democrat. In the meantime, Koster is the lone Democrat seeking the office of governor after Jay Nixon stops mishandling the buck.

So, has Rex abandoned his old friend Koster? Hardly. In fact, from where I sit, Rex is using Hanaway to clear the field for Koster.

Hanaway is a sloppy candidate. She’s about as inspiring a speaker as Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. She fought against concealed carry in Missouri, even blocking a bill as Speaker of the House in 1998, earning an NRA rating of D. That’s D, as in dill weed. (Hanaway reluctantly voted for a concealed carry bill in 1999 because she could no longer muster support to suppress the bill.)

If Catherine Hanaway is the Republican candidate, Koster will stroll into the governor’s mansion without a fight. And Rex knows it.

Rex’s $1 million payout to Hanaway looks like a bid to discourage more viable Republicans from running.

If I’m right, Catherine Hanaway ain’t getting a ring and a date from Rex. She’s getting used. She’ll cash in, and that’s it. It’s a transaction. She’s a pawn. Catherine Hanaway will be tossed aside like yesterday’s paper once the field is cleared.

That’s how Rex plays chess.

Failed Consultant Seeks Funding for GOP Establishment

mad-scientist-rex
Rex Sinquefield’s Mad Scientist Blimp Piloting X-Ray Glasses

People tell me Republican consultant John Hancock is a really nice guy.

I think they’re right. And, as Hancock’s clients have learned repeatedly, nice guys finish last.

The clearest example of Hancock’s failure was John Brunner’s campaign for US Senate in 2012.

Brunner is an exceptional businessman with a remarkably clear and accurate political philosophy. Had Brunner succeeded in winning the GOP nomination for Senate, Claire McCaskill would be retired, the GOP would have a Senate majority already, and Rand Paul would have a philosophical friend in the upper chamber.

John Brunner is too decent a man to blame John Hancock’s ineptness for Brunner’s primary loss to Todd Akin. But everybody knows what happened.

Hancock turned the bold and libertarian Brunner into an establishment-sounding amateur. Hancock put Brunner in a straight-jacket, making the most pro-liberty candidate in a field of three sound like Hancock’s idol, Ann Wagner. Brunner, being a first-time candidate and a businessman familiar with delegation to experts, trusted Hancock. And Brunner got burned.

Some cynics I know say that Ann Wagner’s cabal enlisted Hancock to keep Brunner in check. These highly skeptical people think that Brunner’s libertarianism would attract lots of young voters, squeezing out the GOP establishment. I’m not that cynical, though, because Hancock’s campaigns fail the establishment, too.

Before straight-jacketing Brunner, Hancock’s campaign prowess gave us Secretary of State Catherine Hanaway and Governor Ken Hulshof. Or, no, wait. Those two went down in flames, too. In fact, I can’t find a single statewide election Hancock won. Hancock is to campaigns what I am to golf.

Now, Hancock wants to run the Missouri GOP as Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. He promises to raise lots of money for the state party, and it’s likely to come from Rex Sinquefield, the weird billionaire political pimp with a great big blimp.

Look for Hancock to get a big check from Rex in the coming weeks. Hanaway and Wagner will throw their support behind him. Then Hancock will wow the right with Fair Taxes and education reform ideas.But real end game is Sinquefield’s total, personal ownership of Missouri government.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Nice guys finish last.

Government Is For Sale. Here’s Who’s Buying

Updated: the original title said “Congress is for sale.” My mistake. I meant Government.

Once upon a time in America, people built companies by filling society’s unmet needs. To survive, a company relied on innovation, quality, and, of course, good advertising. The best advertisement being word of mouth.

That’s all changed now.

The way to grow a successful company is to get government to protect your market, dampen competition, and require people to buy what you sell.

Here’s who’s paying for the privilege of thwarting competition.

Infographic: Google Is Among the Biggest Lobbying Spenders in the U.S. | Statista

You will find more statistics at Statista

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce bought the Export Import Bank. And amnesty.

The insurance companies, along with the hospital corporation, helped write Obamacare.

Why does Google know more about you than your spouse? Because Google pays government to let them.

This is government. Want to change it?

It’s Not Pro-Immigrant; It’s Anti-American

Let’s be honest with ourselves: President Obama’s unilateral, dictatorial action on immigration is not to benefit illegals. It’s to punish American voters for rejecting him.

This is personal.

In two years, the next American president will let this and many other Obama executive orders expire. Executive orders are not law. They expire with the term of the president who signed them. No future president is bound to renew them. And the next president won’t.

So life for the illegals will get worse. Instead of wrongfully believe they’ve been denied something, they’ll correctly feel they’ve lost something. They’ll feel vulnerable and abandoned. All because Obama needed to “get even” with the American people.

Increasingly, Obama’s actions are not just wrong; they’re evil.

The Governors

Governors

Republicans were supposed to lose governor seats. Instead, they picked up nine or ten. That’s huge, because governors become presidents. Executive leadership is different from coalition “leadership,” and governors are real executives. Look for the GOP’s gubernatorial wins to play big roles in 2016 and 2020.

This Morning (New York Times):

Democrats seem to have their best shot in Florida, where the state’s former Republican governor, Charlie Crist, is running as a Democrat against the Republican incumbent, Rick Scott. The polls also show up-in-the-air races in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the Republican incumbents, Rick Snyder and Scott Walker, appear to hold nominal leads.

If the Republicans lose one or two of these races, it will complicate what might otherwise be an impressive performance for them in governors’ contests nationwide. Republican governors in competitive states have no business losing in what should be a good year for the party.

Tonight (Reuters):

Republican governors in Florida, Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin fended off Democratic challengers on Tuesday in four hard-fought contests that proved wrong predictions of punishment for incumbents over an uneven economy and fiscal problems.

Republicans also won back the governorships in three Democratic strongholds, Massachusetts, Maryland and President Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, according to projections after polls closed in most of the United States.

Biggest winner: Chris Christie. At chairman of the Republican Governors Conference, Christie worked to raise money and campaign for both likely winners and for dark horses. They all won. Christie immediately became the frontrunner for President in 2012

Biggest losers:

  1. Barack Obama. The one campaign he worked on was his buddy’s in Maryland. Maryland’s as blue as a Marine’s dress pants, and Obama’s law school pal, Anthony Brown lost.That red stripe on those on those Marine dress pants got wide, fast.
  2. Abortion. Wendi Davis corralled a lot of Democrat cash in a race to make abortion an issue. She did. And she lost.Big:

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”>

Turns out the only late term abortion in Texas was Wendy Davis’ campaign.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 5, 2014

  1. Hillary Clinton. Hillary campaigned for a dozen losers. I’ve said for two years I don’t think she’ll run for president. She’s a terrible campaigner, and she’s more powerful as king-maker. Now, she’s almost limited to that role.
  • BarackObama. Obama a two-time loser? Of course. Illinois elected Republican Bruce Rauner to end an embarrassing stretch for the Land of Lincoln. Obama’s home state (politically) is Illinois, where the President still enjoys a 50 percent approval rating. But Rauner beat incumbent Pat Quinn.

  • This election means the GOP nominee in 2016 will rise from the ranks of governor. Christie has the best shot. But don’t count out Scott Walker.

    Tomorrow, I’ll write my thoughts on what tonight’s election means to Obama’s legacy. And it might shock you.

     

    Thank You, Heritage Foundation

    I’m sitting at Reagan National Airport waiting for my flight home. I just spent 24 hours meeting the people who keep HA_Sent_Logo_Final_Blue_webAmerica free. Well, besides the people in uniform. It’s the Heritage Foundation’s donors and leaders. It’s Heritage Action and its Sentinels.

    It’s decidedly NOT the ruling class, the two big parties.

    I had the high privilege of sharing a panel with 14 people who work a lot harder than I do. People like Jim Duncan of North Carolina and Kevin Kookogey of Tennessee. These are people who abandoned the safety and comfort of anonymous recline to work on the front lines of our war for America’s future.

    Heritage Sentinels–over 9,000 strong–make life on Capitol Hill a little less comfortable for members of Congress. Al French told a story of one Congressman who told a Sentinel, “I’ll have to look up that bill. I don’t know much about it.” The Sentinel said, “What? You voted FOR the bill two days ago!”

    The Sentinel program, and Heritage Foundation’s great research and communications, couldn’t happen without donors. Heritage turns down big dollar offers from corporations and chambers who hope to influence Heritage toward the established ruling class. While principles make for great headlines, they also force Heritage to rely on generous private donors. Like my new friend Sylvio.

    Sylvio made my trip a blast. He’s a fellow Catholic, originally from Detroit. He worked in the auto industry and retired to Mississippi.  One of the most pleasant humans I’ve ever met, and a man who deserve our thanks.

    Mostly, I want to thank my Heritage Action leaders: Ben Evans, Jessica Anderson, Russ Vought, and Michael Needham. They all could make a lot more money and live more comfortable, quiet lives outside of the political nightmare of Washington. But they put America’s future before their immediate comfort. The enable and empower the largest grassroots community organizing force in American politics, and future generations should know their names.