Video: Ronald Reagan Wants the Transportation Empowerment Act

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Want to fix Missouri’s roads and cut taxes at the same time? Well, two American conservative icons showed us the way almost 50 years ago.

The Establishment likes to attack grassroots conservatives by claiming Reagan would have opposed the Tea Party. They’re wrong, of course, and the Transportation Empowerment Act tells us why.

In 1967, shortly after Ronald Reagan became governor of California, William F. Buckley Jr. asked Governor Reagan if was even possible to be an effective governor.

“What’s meant by that,” Buckley went on:

Are we now so dependent on the federal government that the individual state is left without the scope to make its own crucial decisions? Isn’t the individual state in the matter of taxation required to make do with what amounts to the leftovers?

Reagan’s reply told the whole story:

The TEA would keep gasoline taxes in the state where they’re generated. So all the taxes you pay at the pump here in Missouri would stay in Missouri for the Missouri governor and legislature to allocate.

The Transportation Empowerment Act

Here’s how it works according to the bill’s architect, Congressman Tom Graves:

How it Works

  • Transfers almost all authority over federal highway and transit programs to the states over a five-year period.
  • Lowers the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents from 18.4 cents over the same time period.
  • During the five-year phase out, states will receive block grants that come with vastly fewer federal strings attached.

What It Does

  • Immediately reduces the bureaucratic burden involved in the construction of critical transportation projects.
  • Results in a faster administrative response to the transportation problems Americans face, such as traffic, commuting, and access.
  • Gives states greater flexibility in their tax structure.
  • Connects where people want to work with where they want to live.
  • Opens opportunities to develop new mass-transit solutions, innovate environmental protections, and improve the financing of projects.
  • Creates jobs and grows the economy.

Where Do Missouri’s Republicans Stand on TEA?

So far, the only Missouri member of Congress to sign onto the TEA Bill is Rep. Billy Long (HA-78%). That means we need to work on Ann Wagner (HA-63%), Jason Smith (HA-74%), Vicky Hartzler (HA-64%), and Sam Graves (HA-65%). (Leutkemeyer[HA-57%] is a lost cause, so I won’t ask anyone to waste their time.)

Heritage Action has key voted the Transportation Empowerment Act, meaning that all members of Congress will be judged by their performance on the bill. Because Establishment Republicans love Washington power, how our delegation handles the TEA Bill will tell us a lot about their commitment to Reagan-Buckley conservatism.

Call or visit Rep. Ann Wagner’s Ballwin office and ask her to co-sponsor HR-3486, the Transportation Empowerment Act.

Ballwin District Office

301 Sovereign Court
Suite 201
BallwinMO 63011

hours: M-F 9-5:00pm

Phone: (636) 779-5449

“People want to spend less time in traffic and more time enjoying life. Our bill does away with the Washington middleman and streamlines the highway program, allowing more projects to be completed at a lower cost. This approach paves the way for commuters to move more easily between home and work, freeing up important family time and cutting out hours of frustration behind the wheel.” – Congressman Tom Graves

Sound a lot like Reagan, doesn’t it?

Chairman Ed Martin Demands Mississippi Investigation

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I’m on the road this week, but I’m thrilled to get this email from Missouri GOP Chairman Ed Martin:

Over the past few days, I have reached out to many but not all of you about some of what Missouri Republicans were asking about re Mississippi especially about the racially divisive ads run in support of Senator Cochran.

Many of you gave me good advice, some were silent, and I got lots of input from Mississippi too.  My purpose in this is for us – we the RNC – to lead and help find out exactly what happened and move past it.  I consider this type of leadership central to our role as party leaders.

Some of my discussions were not easy with others being brought in via forwarded emails and some were contentious (with one exchange bordering on threatening) as folks want to move on.  I mean this to be an RNC issue – that we sort out.  But we cannot shy from the truth.

At this point, I am asking Reince to lead us – to appoint a committee of we RNC members to get to the bottom of the facts regarding the racially divisive ads and to report back to us for the August meeting.  I have purposely left the membership of this committee up to Reince so that he can move quickly.

I do not mean for this to be hostile but I do mean this to be about truth-telling.  I hope you will consider supporting my request.

Thanks.
You and I both know that Ed Martin is a stand-up guy. You may not know the pressure the GOP establishment puts on Ed. They didn’t want him as chairman because of actions like this.
Simply put, Ed Martin puts America before the Republican Party, and the Republican Party hates it.
Ed needs our support. The establishment will come at him with knives.
I’m with Ed.

Obama’s Katrina

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Visuals: Some of the thousands of children suffering in a humanitarian disaster at the US border on the top of the split screen. On the bottom, President Obama drinking beer and shooting pool with locals 246 miles away.

Audio: President on deploying National Guard to alleviate humanitarian crisis: “I’d be happy to consider it,” but it would be “a temporary solution.”

Face it: the press was going to blame George Bush for Katrina no matter what. That’s what the press does. I understand that.

But the Bush administration’s handling of the post-Katrina crisis was a visual disaster on par with the humanitarian disaster.

Don’t worry, though. This isn’t a critique of post-Katrina actions. It’s an observation of Obama’s handling of the what’s going on with the flood of illegals.

The Border Crisis is Obama’s Katrina.

First, Obama’s actions led led to the crisis. As we used to say during the Reagan Administration, ideas have consequences. As Senator Ted Cruz told Fox News:

It’s important to understand what causes this… President Obama unilaterally and illegally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people who were here illegally who came as children.

I’ll say it again: no reasonable person will deny that the humanitarian disaster along the US Southern border is a disaster the President asked for.

And the crisis threatens to swamp the scale of Katrina.

Cautious Prediction

Obama’s smug arrogance and complete lack of urgency or compassion for the children dumped on America’s door step borders on pathological. The crisis reveals Obama as a psychopath. If he really doesn’t care, he’s an indifferent psychopath. If the border disaster is a Cloward-Pivens tactic, he’s a power-hungry psychopath. Obama has no path out that doesn’t lead through the psychopathic jungle.

A glance at the mainstream media tells me that Obama’s amen chorus is ready to abandon their former hero. But I could be wrong, and it wouldn’t be the first time.

No matter what, Obama’s psychopathy is undeniable.

I Am a Right-Leaning Libertarian

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What political label do you give yourself?

Yesterday, I blogged about calling myself a Republican. I was a kid.

Then, from about 1996 on, I called myself a conservative.

Over the past year or so, I’ve taken on the label of libertarian. Now, a simple online test confirms that I’m a right-leaning conservative. [Take the test yourself]

That’s exciting, because I feel like I need a new label.

Labels Matter

I know there was a movement a couple of years ago to abolish political and ideological labels. But the brain likes labels, just as it likes other shortcuts. We want to know the time, not how to build a clock. But group labels are far more important than mere shortcuts. Labels change the way we treat others and increase our willingness to cooperate.

In short, a simple common name triggers assimilation into a preferred group.

Research by Henri Tajfel and others shows that this in-group/out-group dynamic happens for the lightest of causes. In one experiment, he divided a group of otherwise similar people by flipping a coin: heads go to one team, tails to another. Almost immediately and with no additional information, these subjects rated their “team mates” as more interesting and having better artistic taste than the other team’s members.

Someone who identifies as “Republican” favors other Republicans over any other label. Likewise for conservative, liberal, progressive, Democrat, centrist, and, of course, libertarian.

So simply saying “I am a libertarian” changes your view of yourself and of everyone else in the world. That’s powerful stuff.

Why Libertarian Might Be The Thing

I’ve pointed out before that the Millennial generation (born between about 1982 and 2002) is becoming increasingly libertarian over time. Ironically, Millennials are also joiners who favor group activities and work well with others. But they want to work in self-forming and self-directed groups, much like the GIs of World War II and very unlikely the radical individualists of Generation X (born about 1962 to 1982).

Also, the Millennials will be the largest generation in American history to date, surpassing the Boomers by several million. With Boomers now reaching elderhood and Generation X being uncentered and small in number, political influence will quickly shift from Boomers to Millennials by 2020, when even the youngest Millennials will have reached voting age.

And Ron Fournier, writing at the National Journal, speculates that Millennials might soon abandon both establishment parties.

In politics, Millennials rewarded President Obama in 2008 because they liked what he was selling. But he quickly damaged his post-partisan brand, and young voters drifted away in 2012. Going forward, Diggles says her beloved Democratic Party can’t take Millennials for granted. This is a choosy bunch, a generation of disruption.

After establishing a sociological profile, Diggles pulls together a variety of polling (including surveys I wrote about here and here) to show how young voter attitudes are already defying conventional politics.

  • Since Obama’s election, the number of self-identified independents among the Millennial Generation has increased by 11 points, nearly twice the pace of all other generations. “They aren’t satisfied with either side,” she says.
  • More than other generations, they believe government can play a positive role in people’s lives. That could be good news for Democrats, but think of the events that have shaken Millennials’ faith in government: Iraq, Katrina, the financial crisis, and the Affordable Care Act rollout. More than half of young voters think something run by the government is usually inefficient, up 9 points since 2009. The percentage of Millennials who “trust the government to do what’s right” all or most of the time fell from 44 percent in 2004 to 29 percent in 2013.
  • They’re skeptical of big institutions, including corporations and churches. In a warning to Democrats, Diggles writes, “Millennial voters are unlikely to align with a political party that expects blind faith in large institutions – either governmental or nongovernmental.”
  • They are socially tolerant, which raises severe problems for the GOP.

But Be Careful

Millennials might not adopt the libertarian label. They may go someplace else entirely. My guess is their preferences will remain what we call “libertarian.” They will want government to do fewer things but do them well. They will want government to greatly reduce or eliminate prohibition on behavior, but they will expect punishment for behavior that hurts others. They will expect charity to become a private matter, but ostracize the selfish and greedy who refuse to help out in a pinch.

Most of my life I felt like a libertarian but identified as a conservative or Republican. That was a cop out, really. There just weren’t enough libertarians to form a critical mass.

So call me an opportunist or a coward or a bandwagoneer. Just so long as you call me a libertarian.

UPDATE: Dave Leonhardt writes in the NYT that Millennials could morph into more traditional conservatives. H/T Ben Evans of Heritage Action.

One Irrefutable Definition of Leadership from Tom Landry

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s funny, really, that America celebrates the day we signed up to fight a brutal war for independence, not the day that war was won.

But I want to write about football.

I’ve always hated the Dallas Cowboys.

Cut me a little slack, though. I was a Big Red fan from childhood, and a season ticket holder from 1978 to 1983. (“Big Red” refers to the St. Louis Football Cardinals for those of you under 40.) My heroes were Conrad Dobler, Dan Dierdorf, Jim Hart, Tim Van Gelder, Terry Metcalf, Jim Otis, Council Roudolf, Roger Wherle, Larry Stallings, Larry Wilson, J.V. Cain, Roger Finney, Tom Banks, Bob Young, Mel Grey, Roy Green, Pat Tilley, Ottis Anderson, Theotis Brown, Jim Bakken, Johnny “Dr. Doom” Barefield . . . shall I go on?

The St. Louis Cardinals played in the NFC East in the 1970s and 1980s, along with the Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the New York Giants. That was a killer division back then, and the Cowboys were killerest of all.

My anti-Cowboy aquifer runs so deep and cold that I once said, “If the Cowboys were playing al Qaeda I don’t know who I’d root for.”

As I matured . . . Strike that. I haven’t matured.

After the Cardinals moved onto Phoenix, my passions against the Cowboys subsided a bit. When Jerry Jones crassly fired the legendary coach Tom Landry, I immediately became a Tom Landry fan. Landry might have been the wisest and most gentlemanly NFL head coach of all time.

Tom Landry took winning as seriously as the next guy, but football and winning were not the most important things to Landry. In 1979, he berated and fired linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson because Henderson was goofing with a camera while his team was getting massacred on the football field.

Landry did more than humiliate Henderson, though. He might have saved Henderson’s life:

Just this morning, 9/11/94, I heard Hollywood Henderson — X-Cowboy of considerable fame — from Austin on the Fox Network. He said that in the days when he was playing for the Cowboys and “at the same time doing drugs,” and “ruining his life,” he “resented Tom Landry.” He resented Tom Landry’s Christianity, and the fact that he had a happy family life.

Now, in 1994, after spending some time in prison, and after 11 years of being free of his drug addiction, Hollywood Henderson says that he has a little different slant on life. He said that he once was hopeless, but is now hopeful. He says that today, Tom Landry is his “role model”!

The Hollywood Henderson story typifies Tom Landry’s simple definition of leadership:

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.

—Tom Landry, Hall of Fame Coach of the Dallas Cowboys

Few people actually want to lift weights, eat healthy diets, and build stamina. But we all want to avoid disease, live long lives, and look good in a swimming suit. We need someone to help us do what we don’t want to do so we can achieve what we want to achieve. That someone is a leader.

America didn’t want to go through another deep recession in the early 1980s, but Ronald Reagan and Paul Volcker knew we wanted America to flourish again, so they orchestrated an interest rate driven recession that finally choked out inflation—from 13.5% in 1981 to 3.2% in 1983.

And the Revolutionary Army didn’t want to winter in Valley Forge, but Washington helped them fight through to ultimate victory and independence.

I know some people don’t like my criticizing Republicans who put their own personal agenda or the party’s power before American greatness and freedom. I sure don’t like it. Many are even more reluctant to get leverage on the GOP with bold actions. People worry that getting political leverage on Republicans could help Democrats and their anti-freedom agenda.

But we need more than a victorious Republican Party. We really don’t care about the name of the party that delivers us from tyranny, crony capitalism, and fascism. We want a strong, prosperous, and free America. In the words of the preamble to the Constitution, we want to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and posterity.

When I encourage liberty lovers to get some leverage against miscreant Republicans, I do it only because I want us to achieve what we all want to achieve. And I recognize that achieving our big goals often requires doing things we don’t want to do.

Here’s what Hollywood Henderson said about Tom Landry:

I have a vision of him standing on that tower. He was maybe three stories above the team in training camp. That’s sort of where I remember him the five years I was in the Cowboys’ training camp–30 feet in the air overseeing us. Untouchable. We couldn’t throw a rock and hit him. I tell you, you sort of didn’t like him. You were afraid of him. You resented him. But when the dust settled, you wanted to be like him. When you had a family, took care of a company, managed people, you idolized him.

 

I think it’s a uniquely American quality that we commemorate the dates we signed up to do the hard work, not the dates we accomplished the mission. July 4th, 1776. December 7, 1941. September 11, 2001. We are a people of rash vows. Or, at least, we wish we were.

G. K. Chesterton wrote an essay “In Defence of Rash Vows.” In it, he summarized the importance of this American tendency to celebrate the making of the vow:

The man who makes a vow makes an appointment with himself at some distant time or place. The danger of it is that himself should not keep the appointment. And in modern times this terror of one’s self, of the weakness and mutability of one’s self, has perilously increased, and is the real basis of the objection to vows of any kind. 

Tom Landry’s leadership gives us the confidence to make appointments with ourselves in the future so long as we have leaders who will drive us to do what we don’t want to do in order that might keep our appointment.

I never wanted to like Tom Landry. But I want to achieve the kind of things he achieved–helping people reach their goals even those goals required them doing things they don’t want to do.

Now, I’m going to work out.

Thad Cochran’s Pyrrhic Win

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit (another term for this would be “hollow victory”).

— from Wikipedia

I keep some things in a little box in my bedroom. Some Navy and submarine mementos, some letters, favorite photos of the kids that mean things only to me.

In that box are a few political reminders, too. Some Reagan campaign buttons from 1980 and 1984, Jack Kemp stuff from 1988, and a series of Republican lapel pins, buttons, and ID cards from 1980 through 1996.

Yes, I was a proud Republican for a long time. An old high school friend of mine liked to mock me for introducing myself as a Republican. It’s what I led with.

In 1996, I struggling to keep a little company afloat while working full time as an IS manager at a small healthcare company in St. Louis. I was also writing an online column three times a week. Financially, things weren’t so hot.

But politically, things were looking up. Republicans had taken the House of Representatives for the first time in my life. Democrat President Clinton was at the bottom of the polls. The Democrats had abandoned HillaryCare, and real welfare reform was assured.

Then, the Republicans nominated the only man alive who could lose to a weakened Bill Clinton. When Tony Bennett said, “We win!” at Clinton’s election night party in 1996, something came apart in my mind. Or in my heart.

Because of that troubled, pained revelation in 1996, I could feel Dan Riehl’s pain last Tuesday as the Cochran-McDaniel fiasco peaked.

I honestly hate seeing a thread of tweets like these. Dan’s a good guy who believes in liberty. As you’ll see, he’s a true Reagan Democrat who bought Reagan’s message of freedom and liberty and believe Reagan’s message was the Republican message. Like many of us, Dan has realized that the GOP never bought Reagan’s message. Republicans simply rode out the storm until Reagan rode off into the sunset.

  Yep.

Money talks, purpose walks.

So McConnell and the GOP establishment made their wish come true in Mississippi. They sold their souls to crush a purpose-driven conservative and preserve a fossil for another round of fundraising with the Chamber of Commerce.

At what price? From Politico:

The scope of the effort to suppress activist-backed candidates has been broader and costlier than is widely understood, covering at least 20 House and Senate primaries from North Carolina to California, and from coastal Mississippi to the outer tip of Long Island. The loose coalition of establishment forces encompasses two dozen advocacy groups, industry associations and super PACs that have raised and spent millions on behalf of Washington’s chosen candidates.

That’s why I’m taking it easy for the 2014 election. I’ll support Tony Pousosa  for St. Louis County Executive and a few other excellent candidates for various offices. I’ll vote, but a lot of my votes will go to the candidate I deem most likely to maximize my freedom and power, not the candidate the GOP chose for me. And when I talk to people, I’ll encourage them to look beyond the establishment parties we’ve been told are the only choices.

In Mississippi, the Republican power decided that crushing a principled grassroots candidate was more important than saving the republic. They won that battle. And they might win a few more this year. For many reasons, I think the GOP will do well in 2014’s general election, too. Might even win the Senate. I won’t be surprised at all if November brings news of the end of the tea party (again), and the return of the Republican Establishment.

But 2016 could be a very different story. Between 2014 and 2016, about 4 million reliable voters will die. About 2.8 million of them are reliable Republican votes. The deceased will be replaced by about 5.8 million new voters from a generation with a strong libertarian streak that grows stronger every day.

This Chamber of Commerce GOP of the 2010s has given Millennials no reason to consider the Republican party its political home. In Mississippi, the Republicans validated Millennial’s distrust of institutions. And in 2016, Millennials will decide everything.

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. — Plutarch

So, congratulations Mitch McConnell and Thad Cochran. One more victory like this and it’ll be the end of you.

Good riddance.

You might want to read:

The New American Political Dichotomy

What To Do About the New Dichotomy

Why We’re The RINOs

The American Masque of the Red Death