As we’ve reported here, those involved in the behind-the-scenes GOP nomination process — from sheriff to presidential candidate — are quite aware that the GOP leadership’s carefully chosen argument employed against conservative, grassroots challengers is perhaps the least authentic, defensible opinion you’ll hear coming out of Washington.

Conservative challengers are not engaged in a purifying “purge” of the GOP. Everyone — except the private citizen voter and donor being misled — knows the truth is the precise opposite.

Darin LaHood, the son of former Obama administration Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is the GOP leadership/establishment favorite to replace disgraced former Rep. Aaron Schock in Illinois’ 18th District. The district is heavily conservative, and John Boehner, Steve Scalise, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the House GOP leadership fear an actual conservative holding this seat, as one would be able to retain it and be a consistent problem for them.

That’s why Scalise and Boehner threw a D.C. fundraiser for Darin LaHood, that’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Darin LaHood their endorsement and thousands in donations, that’s why Darin LaHood told the obvious lie — what he knew the conservative 18th wanted to hear — during his debate that he would oppose the Chamber’s, Boehner’s, and Scalise’s “top priority” of passing Obamatrade, and that’s why the Chamber went further, lying to a local newspaper that Mike Flynn had sought out their endorsement.

After Monday’s final debate and the following endorsement for Flynn from kingmakers Mark Levin and Dana Loesch — recall, Darin LaHood’s campaign had only agreed to a debate if the candidates were limited to 90-second answers and not allowed to address each other — tips have been flowing to me from the disillusioned within LaHood’s campaign.

If it seemed to you, immediately following Aaron Schock’s resignation, that the state GOP and Governor Bruce Rauner were trying to clear the field for Darin LaHood, that’s because they were trying to clear the field for Darin LaHood.

Aaron Schock resigned on March 17; his final day in office was March 31. Governor Rauner then had a few days to announce the key dates for the special election.

Remember when Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned in 2012? Under then-Governor Pat Quinn (D), potential candidates were given 12 weeks to gather enough signatures to make the primary ballot.

Governor Rauner instead decided that candidates could begin circulating petitions on about April 7 until April 20: 13 days, instead of 12 weeks.

Rauner also set the initial primary date for June 6. Eventually he relented and moved the date until July 7, this Tuesday. But the petition period was kept at 13 days.

A source who was working in Rauner’s office at the time — and still is — says the reason for this was exactly what it appears to be: Governor Rauner wanted to clear the field for Darin LaHood, hoping he would run unopposed.

Further, the petition dates seemed to only apply to challengers like Mike Flynn. Witnesses report that at the McLean County Lincoln Day Dinner on April 2, LaHood’s team was circulating petitions.

Five days earlier than allowed.

Governor Rauner’s undemocratic support for John Boehner’s chosen candidate appears to have gone much further than setting near-impossible dates for challengers to comply with. In a special election primary, turnout is everything. Candidates must focus on getting out the vote for this election, which is predicted to only have a single-digit percentage of district voters participating.

Obviously, having an accurate roll of likely supporters to reach out to could be the resource that decides the election.

The approximately 40 interns who have been knocking on doors for Darin LaHood have been sent out prepped only with an app loaded with address information for voters who pulled the lever for Governor Rauner in 2014.

They will be using the Red Dialer app over the next few days until the July 7 election to contact those Rauner voters by phone.

Click here for Governor Rauner’s office number: ask them why they shared their voter data with one candidate.


The nascent Darin LaHood campaign, back in late March, told potential campaign employees that it would be an easy campaign because LaHood would probably be running unopposed. LaHood was called “the chosen one.” (See below for background on that.)

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On April 28 last year, Dave Brat channeled Andrew Breitbart by showing up outside and speaking to the press before a cynically staged PR event by Eric Cantor’s team was about to begin. Cantor’s team had surreptitiously — yet transparently, to folks above 18 who read the news — invited Congress’ leading House cheerleader for open borders, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, to call Cantor “the number one man preventing amnesty” with the cameras rolling.

In reality, Eric Cantor had toured with Gutierrez the year prior to discuss ideas for passing an amnesty bill.

After his defeat, Politico revealed that Cantor and Obama, among others, had been literally days away from advancing amnesty on the House floor until Brat’s win killed the project.

Brat’s savvy move to expose the event before it started got him national press for the first time, and this was about the time Mark Levin — America’s top-selling political author and a syndicated radio host with nearly 10 million daily listeners — jumped in with both feet. Brat was invited to appear on the show several times, and Brat’s name recognition, fundraising, and volunteers jumped.

Without Levin’s support, Brat very likely doesn’t sink Cantor, and Congress passes Obamagration.

So Levin stepping up is a big deal.

As I’ve been reporting here, those of you with better things to do than gain privy to the behind-the-curtain GOP primary process — we hold our nose and peek in so you don’t have to — might not be aware that the Nixonian, Clintonian tactics employed by the Cantor team last year are simply how today’s GOP leadership/consultant class chooses to operate in every single primary featuring a reliable John Boehner foot soldier vs. a conservative challenger.

They act with disdain for election integrity, for local government, and for the GOP voter who wants nothing more than an honest portrayal of the choices being presented.

On the advice of groups like Republican Main Street Partnership, they deliberately lie about being opposed to GOP leadership, about bearing conservative viewpoints that run contrary to their records, and about their always-less-funded challenger from the right being a moderate or liberal in John Locke’s clothing, while knowing that description is a precise reading of their own strategy.

Despite their self-measurements, they are in fact nothing new. Just the latest iteration of each era’s power-hungry. Hayek, the Federalist, Shakespeare, the Bible.

You know what they do — and you also know that if they are to lose, the truth spread wide is invariably the culprit.

Click here to listen to Flynn speaking on Levin’s show yesterday to those 10 million conservatives.

Levin isn’t the only kingmaker who jumped in for Mike Flynn yesterday.

See below for Dana Loesch — syndicated host, bestselling author on gun rights, and queen of conservative Twitter — tweeting my article from yesterday morning on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lying about Mike Flynn “seeking their endorsement.”

In the land beyond Washington where words have meaning, here’s what actually happened: the Chamber had mailed Mike Flynn their candidate survey. Flynn answered the survey by disapproving of the Chamber’s top priorities – Obamatrade, the Ex-Im Bank, amnesty — and thus intentionally taking himself out of the running for the endorsement while disseminating his actual platform.

You know — acting with respect for election integrity, respect for the GOP voter, etc.

After I brought it up and Dana Loesch did what she does best with it, the Chamber now refuses to release a copy of Flynn’s survey answers to clear this all up:

Visit Loesch’s Twitter page: she’s still at it, and will be at it for Flynn through the July 7 election night.

Also visit Levin’s massively read Facebook feed for more Flynn support.

Below are links to my coverage of Mike Flynn describing the GOP leadership’s disreputable stewardship of the Ray LaHood campaign:

The Darin LaHood Campaign Asking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Lie About Mike Flynn Is Everything You Need to Know About the GOP Establishment

Darin LaHood Campaign Uses Literal Strong-arm Tactics: Manager Assaults Debate Moderator’s Colleague, Charges Filed

Darin LaHood, Campaigning: ‘I’ve Been Very Critical of D.C. GOP.’ Darin LaHood, Fundraising: ‘Come Hear Boehner, Scalise Endorse Me For $1000s a Plate’

Dusting Off Nixon Tactics? GOP Establishment Darling Darin LaHood Appears to Be Push-Polling Voters Against Conservative Candidate Mike Flynn

The race will be upon us quickly after the July 4 holiday weekend, making GOTV everything. Fundraising and volunteers and phone banks are pivotal.

Among private sector Americans, the rift between GOP leadership and the conservative wing of the party remains a vigorous debate to be won in the spirit of free association. Yet, as we’ve covered here time and again, the behind-closed-doors split between GOP leadership and conservatives is not about ideology, but process.

GOP leadership runs on the same iron-deficient, integrity-challenged structure that defines the Democratic Party: any tactic that advances their power is considered moral. They employed such a tactic yesterday, when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — transparently in tandem with the campaign of their chosen GOP establishment candidate, as described below — chose to offer a quote to a local Illinois newspaper containing an outrageous lie about the conservative challenger.


Darin LaHood and Mike Flynn held their first debate last week on Wednesday for their primary campaign to replace disgraced Renaissance Faire honoree Aaron Schock. The election takes place in eight days, on July 7.

LaHood, son of former Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is the candidate favored by national GOP leadership.

Despite shaping his campaign around defending his conservative credentials, on May 18 LaHood flew to Washington, D.C., where John Boehner and Steve Scalise threw a $1000-plus per head fundraiser for LaHood’s campaign.











(Left: invitation to Darin LaHood’s D.C. fundraiser. Right: Aaron Schock, Spring Break 2005)

At Thursday’s debate, moderator Ian Bayne brought up the Trade Promotion Authority bill and the TransPacific Partnership bill (together known as “Obamatrade“), an Obama administration-crafted push which had cleared a key hurdle last week in Congress due primarily to the support of GOP leadership in both the House and Senate. The bill has received tyrannical support from John Boehner, to the hair-raising extent that Boehner followed through on threats to remove House Republicans from their committee assignments if they dared oppose it.

The bill has also been rabidly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Said the Chamber in a press release:

TPA is the Chamber’s top trade priority before the Congress.

If unfamiliar, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the beating-heart target of conservative anger at GOP leadership’s fostering of “crony capitalism.” The Chamber is the muscle behind GOP leadership’s push for amnesty, which, for the Chamber’s purposes, would increase the supply of cheap labor, thus benefitting many of the largest GOP leadership corporate donors at the expense of the U.S. citizen worker.

At the debate, when moderator Ian Bayne raised the issue of this bill dubbed “Obamatrade,” LaHood answered that he would not have supported the billLaHood’s response was questionable for two reasons:

1) Considering John Boehner took the extraordinary step of punitive action against GOP dissenters on this bill, its hard to imagine Darin LaHood would get his own Scalise-headlined, Boehner-attended fundraiser if they knew LaHood would be coming to town in a few months with the intention of sinking it. It’s just as hard to imagine that Boehner wouldn’t have asked LaHood about his position prior to the fundraiser.

2) Just one day before the debate, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce flew a top-level figure to Illinois. There in Peoria, the Chamber held an event to announce they are endorsing Darin LaHood for Congress.

To defuse any claim that LaHood did not welcome the endorsement – LaHood attended and spoke:


Said LaHood:

Obviously they know my record, they know what I’ve advocated for. To have them here today, to come from Washington, D.C. to represent this organization and all across the country means a great deal, and I’m proud to have it today. I think it reflects the record I’ve had in the State Senate, and the issues I’ve advocated for here locally.

Remember: the Chamber says that Obamatrade is its “top trade priority before the Congress.”

So when Darin LaHood said at the debate that he would not have supported Obamatrade, Flynn responded with a zinger:

I hope you told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that when you accepted their endorsement yesterday.

This was, objectively, Lahood’s worst moment of the debate, a debate which was punctuated by several bursts of applause and cheer for Flynn, yet none for LaHood. This moment was even worse than the debate’s exchange on term limits, which had resulted in LaHood’s botched answer that led to a botched answer that led to a successful aggravated assault. (Pending the result of the Bloomington, IL police investigation, of course. The department is currently reviewing the hotel’s security footage.)

This was worse because term limits are not a vigorously upheld tenet of conservatism when compared to opposition to crony capitalism, “pay for play,” and amnestied labor. All of these issues, which are both promotedand facilitated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, far outweigh the relative outlier issue of term limits in the mind of conservative voters and private sector Republicans in general.

And the LaHood campaign’s response proves they are deeply troubled about fallout from Mike Flynn’s answer that threw doubt on the veracity of LaHood’s stated opposition to Obamatrade.

In the aftermath, they chose to publicly challenge the Obamatrade exchange from the debate, and they have challenged nothing else that transpired that night.

How they challenged the exchange — as stated in the headline — is the type of textbook beltway insider, House of Cards, Primary Colors, Clintonian tactic which the GOP leadership now doesn’t bat an eye about employing.

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I posted earlier today about last night’s debate between GOP establishment candidate Darin LaHood, and conservative challenger Mike Flynn. During the debate — which the LaHood team had demanded be conducted with only 90-second answers and absolutely no conversation between the candidates — Darin LaHood stumbled answering a question about term limits.

Prior to the debate, LaHood had been promoting himself as a strong advocate for term limits, a position advertised on his campaign site:

As a Senator, LaHood fought to increase transparency and promote ethical behavior in Springfield by sponsoring legislation to create term limits for elected officials and establish higher ethical standards for lobbyist and elected officials.

However, LaHood — in one instance prior to the debate — refused to commit himself to the term limit legislation he had sponsored. The question came up again during the debate, and LaHood refused to commit himself again. A local paper documented the exchange here:

LaHood, however, pointed out he’s pushed for term limits as a state senator but avoided the question. When asked for a third time how many terms he would serve, he said, “I want everybody to serve three terms.”

At the debate’s conclusion, moderator and radio host Ian Bayne’s show reporter approached LaHood and asked the question again.

The reporter was shoved away from LaHood forcefully by LaHood campaign manager James Reis, which was confirmed by witnesses. Today, Bayne filed charges.

James Reis has been campaign manager for Darin LaHood for just a few weeks, after the prior manager was fired.

According to an insider, Reis was hired on the recommendation of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who has endorsed LaHood.

The radio station on which Bayne’s show appears has released the following:


LaHood Campaign Manager Under Investigation for Aggravated Battery:
Assaulted Reporter Asking LaHood For Answers on Term Limits

(NORMAL, IL -  6/25/2015): Talk Show Host Ian Bayne’s morning show reporter on WRPW “Cities” 92.9 FM Talk has filed a police report alleging aggravated battery on James Reis, campaign manager for State Senator Darin LaHood’s congressional campaign.

Reis shoved Bayne’s reporter yesterday evening at 9:00pm while he was attempting to get a question answered from Senator LaHood. This happened directly after a congressional debate between Mike Flynn and LaHood, sponsored and aired by Cities 92.9.

“LaHood thinks that recent attacks on my program by local government gives him the right to instruct his campaign manager to assault my staff,” said Bayne. “We just want Senator LaHood to tell us how many terms he intends to serve in congress, he won’t answer, and would rather assualt us than answer the question.”

The police report can be read here

Audio of the incident can be heard here

LaHood has been avoiding answering questions about term limits, but claiming to be supporting them. When pressed, during the debate, LaHood dodged the question, saying that he “supports term limits if made law” but refusing to answer if he personally will serve more than the 3 terms he pledged to support being made into law.

Audio from Bayne’s program containing debate audio can be heard

A story in the local paper about the debate, documenting LaHood’s avoidance of the question on term limits, can be read here

The July 9 primary will determine the Republican that will replace US Rep Aaron Schock in congress.

Cities 92.9 is a Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity/Levin affiliate. Bayne’s program has been on the air just over one year, and has recently attracted attention for the mayor of Bloomington’s refusal to answer questions from the program, opting to file a civil charge to restrain anyone from the program from asking her questions about city government. The civil charge was dropped on June 10. Cities 92.9 is on the web at

As reported here yesterday and by Katie McHugh last week, and as mentioned yesterday by Ace and picked up by kingmaker Mark Levin last night, it’s time to reconsider any fist-pumping you might have done when Rep. Aaron Schock announced he was stepping down in scandal.

Aided by the national GOP, the Illinois’ GOP’s behind-the-scenes behavior — both before and after the resignation — show a party that isn’t so much following its obligation to police itself as much as one that realized Schock was quite terrible at dodging those external and internal controls. Leadership settled on Darin LaHood as a suitable replacement, and coached him towards their spineless, voter-disdaining strategy of publicly condemning leadership in preparation for joining it.

Last night, Darin LaHood had a first debate with Mike Flynn. Accept the term “debate” in its loosest definition. LaHood originally rejected any such forum, and has been self-parodically urging the district to “Vote Early” in the already-open early balloting, as if doing so could possibly be of any benefit to the voter, the democratic process, or to anyone but the candidate who fears he might later slip up or be further vetted:


(“Vote NOW. I respect your intelligence.”)

Further, LaHood insisted that the debate rules only allow each answer to run for 90 seconds, and that the candidates be barred from … speaking to each other. Namely, the requests of a self-assured public servant who intends to be accessible.

During the debate, in response to a question regarding the candidates’ opinions of House GOP leadership, LaHood said the following:

 I have been very critical of the Republicans in Washington.

This was, of course, not news to House GOP leadership in Washington.

Because about five weeks ago, Darin LaHood flew from Peoria to Washington for a one-hour cocktail event at 27 D Street, SE, at which he was very critical of GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and GOP House Speaker John Boehner, both of whom attended the cocktail event, having agreed beforehand to listen to his impending critique and perhaps sponsor it and deem it worth several thousand dollars per head VOTE EARLY VOTE DARIN:


Interestingly, Darin LaHood’s first major campaign funding came from the Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization founded by former GOP congressman and Boehner ally Steve LaTourette as a vehicle for supporting centrist, establishment Republicans and advising them on how to defeat challenges from the right.

Check their list of members and review those members’ prior campaigns: so far, Republican Main Street Partnership’s advice has generally proven to have been “pretend you oppose groups like Republican Main Street Partnership.”

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Of course, the establishment, amnesty-supporting U.S. Chamber of Commerce has picked this very moment to endorse Darin LaHoodLaHood enthusiastically accepted the endorsement.

That’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, people, not just the local Peoria Chamber of Commerce.

I will add much more here in the coming days, but trust me now on this one: this is being considered an important national election by House GOP leadership. They badly want to retain this seat as a rubber stamp vote for Boehner.

They didn’t want Schock gone for his corruption, just for his instability.

Folks — I was the first columnist last year to recognize the Dave Brat campaign as the right tool at the right time with which to strike a blow against national GOP leadership that would actually affect some change. The GOP leadership/Chamber of Commerce/Obama push to enact amnesty was coming to a head within days. Then Brat won, and they’ve been stymied for over a year. And just this morning, I was sent this article from The Nation: Before Eric Cantor lost, he was ready to find a way to restore complete federal oversight — meaning the Eric Holder/Loretta Lynch DOJ — over elections in some southern states. This section of the Voting Rights Act was recently struck down by the Supreme Court.

The truth, as Katie McHugh has begun to reveal, is that LaHood may be as corrupt as Schock. The GOP just decided to cut their losses with Schock and to install another foot soldier.

I’ll publish here what I can of what I’ve discovered. But trust that a Mike Flynn win is not a local win — it’s a national blow against Boehner approaching the importance of the Brat victory.


As Katie McHugh wrote Sunday evening, the July 7 GOP primary vote to replace corrupt pheasant-aficionado Aaron Schock in Illinois’ 18th District is not the populist, throw-the-bums-out celebration of constitutional republicanism that James Madison had in mind. Instead, the primary is yet another example of the great unraveling of Republican party leadership, which — under John Boehner and the GOP consultant class — has become the power-hungry, unbridled government force the GOP was intended to displace.

I was contacted by a politically active 18th District voter yesterday, a participant in this primary who is aware of the platforms and history of the top candidates: Darin LaHood, the GOP establishment’s preferred candidate for the seat and the son of Obama’s former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; and Mike Flynn, an editor at, which can not plausibly be mistaken as a moderate or progressive outlet.

The voter received a call from number 309-265-0588.

This is a local Peoria number being used by Venture Data, a Utah-based survey research firm. (It’s common practice when conducting political phone surveys to “mask” the call’s origination point by using a local number.)

The voter’s story describes a textbook example of a push poll being used to aid the fortunes of Darin LaHood. (The call is described below.)

Not being associated with push polls is considered to be of primary importance to survey research firms’ reputations, not to mention the candidate’s campaign itself. Indeed, Venture Data’s website includes a prominent link on their site to a page detailing their push poll policy:


Clicking that link brings you this:

Venture Data L.L.C. is a survey research company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company operates call centers located in Salt Lake City, UT, Eugene, OR, and Kent, OH. We, the ownership and staff of Venture Data, are committed to providing our clients with accurate consumer and voter opinion data. We use industry standard scientific methodologies and practices for telephone based survey research to collect opinion data.

We recognize that in the heat of highly charged election campaigns tempers will flare and accusations of impropriety are likely to fly.

In light of this, we want to make it clear that Venture Data L.L.C. has never conducted nor participated in what is commonly referred to as “push polling.” Our activities are strictly limited to conducting telephone survey research wherein we gather the opinions of a limited number of representative voters and deliver that data to our clients. We adhere to strict methodological standards.

You’ll find a quick, basic definition of “push poll” at Wikipedia, but it’s one which you can confirm with a polling professional, as I did yesterday. Essentially, testing the effectiveness of a negative political message — which is legitimate, if distasteful, research — is most easily distinguished from the activism of a push-poll by whether or not the firm is making an effort to gather actionable data.

If the caller doesn’t take the time to learn anything about you that could be used by the campaign — demographics, etc. — you’re probably being push-polled.

If the caller asks questions containing obvious negative misinformation about one candidate which the opposing candidate could never plausibly use on the campaign trail, you’re most definitely being push-polled. A candidate is paying a firm to misrepresent itself as being engaged in data collection, when they are actually trying to secure your vote with a privately told lie.

(Read this excellent Larry Sabato article from 1996, where he explains that the push poll was pioneered by Richard Nixon. An argument can be made that today’s Boehner/McConnell/”GOP Establishment” tactics in general were pioneered by Nixon, too.)

The 18th District citizen tells me that the caller from Venture Data did not attempt to gather any information that might be plausibly used by a campaign.

He says the caller asked him only one question before following up with several questions painting Mike Flynn in a negative light to conservative voters, questions with zero basis in Mike Flynn’s history or campaign. Again, the argument that these follow-up questions are legitimate attempts to test negative campaign messages is negated when the messages are complete fabrications which Darin LaHood could never plausibly use during his campaign against Mike Flynn

That last part is easy to discern, since Mike Flynn has written a few hundred words of his political opinions each day for years at Breitbart.

This is the one initial question, with the wording to the best of the voter’s recollection:

For the July 7 primary GOP election, do you now support Darin LaHood or Mike Flynn?

That’s the extent of the actionable research conducted by Venture Data on this call. “Darin LaHood” was never mentioned again on the call. The voter answered:

I’m supporting Mike Flynn.

Then came the follow-up questions:

Would you be more or less likely to support Mike Flynn if you knew that he supports gun control?

Knowing Flynn’s platform includes unwavering support for Second Amendment rights, the voter, flustered, says he replied:

Who do you work for?

He says he repeated this question several times over the next minute, never receiving the answer.

The caller then asked another question on an issue LaHood could never plausibly use against Flynn during the campaign:

Would you be more or less likely to support Mike Flynn if you knew that he supports amnesty?

After this question, the caller says that he was fed up, understanding this was not a legitimate phone survey but an attempt to privately smear Flynn among otherwise uninformed voters. The caller asked a couple more questions about being “more or less likely to support Mike Flynn,” to which he simply answered “more likely” to convey the point that he would be voting for Mike Flynn no matter what.

I called Venture Data yesterday afternoon to ask questions about this poll violating their stated policy. I was directed to leave a voicemail, which as of now has not been returned.

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So, Who Does Obama Want to Win in 2016?

May 14th, 2015 - 12:29 pm

Conflicts between narcissistic, ambitious, above-the-law personalities predictably follow a tragic — though funny to normal people — trend. The relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton never stood a chance of being anything but textbook Shakespearean: the proximity to power of “ME!” personalities can be tracked by an inverse relationship with their grasp on how grownups are expected to behave after the age of, say, 25. At this point, both have descended to headgear-and-forehead-zit levels of maturity:


Fine, I leaked the f-in’ email server story. But she totally started it.

He’s hot stuff, she’s all that. Was never gonna work. Despite her being the best chance for Obamacare, open borders immigration, and the other pillars of his “change” to survive the next few years and become established as historical legacy, he has transparently been sandbagging her campaign. He simply needed to lash out; that’s what faded messianic types do when the flock shrinks.

But it’s a mistake to consider that Obama has heretofore been hostile to his possible predecessors without any thought of what those actions mean for his accomplishments.

He can’t silently bear watching his self-possessed greatness be torn down. He must see to it that he be recalled as the root force behind progressivism’s charge. He needs his work to remain intact, and he will likely spend the coming years telling us about his historical role.

This is the path that leftist leaders take, pre-history to Woodrow Wilson to Jimmy Carter.

They don’t expect to fail, they inevitably do, then they employ the contradictory defense mechanisms of blaming everyone else for their failure while simultaneously preaching that they were ultimately somehow successful, perhaps in “a larger sense.”

The next president does matter to him. While he obviously has begun the process of ego defense — see his attack on Fox News yesterday — this is not a man who accepts that the writing is on the wall for his legacy. He still has hope that nothing will get rolled back — and perhaps he is right about that. And he also knows that it matters, as part of that fight, who wins the White House next.

Which makes his recent behavior mystifying.

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Politico has announced that Michael Steel, John Boehner’s press secretary, is taking his conservative voter marginalization talents to South Beach:

Michael Steel, one of Speaker John Boehner’s top aides, is moving to Miami to work in a “leadership role” for Jeb Bush’s political action committee.

Steel has worked as the press secretary for Boehner since 2008, when the Ohio Republican was the minority leader of a battered Republican party in the House. He has guided Boehner’s communications operation for seven years, helping craft the strategy that made the Ohio Republican speaker, and subsequently playing a key role advising him in day-to-day governing, including high-stakes negotiations with President Barack Obama.

Steel will be an adviser to Bush’s Right to Rise Policy Solutions PAC, “with a leadership role in policy and communications,” according to a source familiar with the role. Right to Rise is the precursor to Bush’s all-but-certain presidential campaign.

If you needed a sign that the fix is in, that the party really has the House of Cards mentality required to push a third Bush, I’m not sure what else is required beyond Jeb taking on Boehner’s key staff.

If you still held out hope that GOP leadership sees 2016 as a chance to fight the existential threats created by Obama and not as a chance to consolidate the power of a couple dozen blue bloods … well, meet Michael Steel. This is the man who, as Breitbart’s Matt Boyle tweets, ”helped Romney/Ryan lose to Obama, and helped Boehner lie for years.”

The much-discussed GOP rift is nothing more profound than this: a minority class of royalty has the reins; the GOP voters and the many principled representatives and senators tiptoe around them. The non-sinecure wing of the party racks up electoral win after win, from Congress down to local municipalities, whereas the GOP royalty racks up legislative loss after loss.

Last November, the country class turned the House map all red except for a few blue pixels, but you can’t even see those on a standard-def monitor:


The Democratic Party: “Still Visible at 1920 x 1080

That’s the good news, but you’d be mistaken to take any of that as a sign that the party’s national leadership — meaning no more than a handful of congressmen and a handful of “strategists” who wield an absurd amount of power yet aren’t known outside of greater D.C. – was the driver behind that victory. Voters drove that victory, not them. Party leadership simply rode it. And now, they do not have the principles, vision, or talent to make good on any of the citizen demands they’ve been blessed with the honor and duty of carrying out.

And it’s not them, it’s us. Shame on us for thinking a historic midterm landslide — two of them! — was enough legislative power that even the GOP establishment would be able to follow through on your demands, much less understand them:


“Get a border fence built while Dems control Southeastern Iowa? I’M NOT FRIGGIN’ BATMAN.”

The folks now running the GOP will never, never, never get the job done for the voters. Whether you are a moderate or conservative, they will never claim a victory for you. Let’s stop pretending the GOP’s leadership problem, the party’s D.C. vs. country-class rift, is solvable. It isn’t

Perhaps it would be solvable if the rift was simply ideological. Conservative vs. moderate is about political ideas, but this rift doesn’t have a damn thing to do with ideas. The party will never stop failing legislatively because the rift is fundamentally about power and the establishment’s unbreakable desire to retain it. That’s why we use the term “establishment”: it’s about power for them. We knew that before the election, we hoped for a different result, and now we’re just four months older and crankier. I’m heartened that the GOP field for president contains more than one name with a track record of facing down the GOP’s leadership/strategist class, but let’s stop pretending that any of the GOP presidential nominees — save one — has any hope of being the party’s guiding voice. 

Take the Michael Steel hiring to mean this: if anyone but Jeb wins, he or she will spend the term being hamstrung by the GOP, not aided by it

The most confounding part of this leader-follower dynamic is that the GOP establishment has managed to keep the majority of the party completely out of the board room, despite being the least intimidating political cabal since the Muppets went to Washington. Who on planet Earth — seriously, the whole thing — is intimidated by the “GOP Establishment” besides most other elected members of the GOP? The strategists and fundraisers behind Boehner, McConnell, and the others you know I’m referring to aren’t the icy, psychopathic manipulators of a Bond movie. They aren’t Putin. These guys are a bunch of lawyers, hangers-on, doughy guys who hit the elliptical twice a week.

And yet all of us, from the unengaged Republican citizen to us political careerists, act like there’s nothing we can do. We act like in the great historical record of American history, these guys matter, because they possess power. All of us have been dead wrong about where the power lies, and always will lie, in a party that runs on the voter’s belief in the rights of the individual. They don’t just need you more than you need them — their livelihoods don’t even exist without your consent. But we consented.

Want actual Republican advancements? Stop worrying about the Democrats until your own party leadership is exposed.

Peel back the curtain on the lamest show in town. Honestly, it’s about a dozen congressmen and a dozen strategists preventing that wonderful vibrant movement of principled voters that have better things to do with their lives than chase donors and committee spots. They aren’t faceless teflon billionaires, they’re sitting ducks to an inquisitive GOP electorate.

October 30, 1961, sets a crystalline example of what sort of power we have over nature: we cannot damage a fraction of what liberals, for a quarter-century or so, have believed we can. Yet, when viewed only at the scale that matters to human life, the hell we can make of nature is as terrible as imagined.

Put the following coordinates in Google Earth’s satellite view – 73.809948 N, 54.545890 E — and you can see what the worst blow man ever struck against nature actually did to the planet:


That red marker marks the site where Tsar Bomba, the most destructive hydrogen bomb ever detonated, left a pinprick scuff on the Earth. The estimated 50-megatons-of-TNT explosion released a fraction of the energy unleashed by a late summer tropical depression.

To one who makes political decisions based on a worldview that man can cause or halt a rise of the seas, the Tsar Bomba detonation site represents reality. Industrialized humanity is not locked in battle with nature, as Secretary of State John Kerry believes; in reality we can’t get her attention. But on the scale of years and miles, irrelevant to nature, on which we measure our lives, Tsar Bomba is a terror.

Zoom in on that marker. Silly ideas like Man vs. Nature disappear, but real horrors like Man vs. Man take its place:


You are looking at about 25 square miles of molten rock, cooled 50 years.

Gaia doesn’t care; she’s cooking a few trillion tons of rock under your feet right now. But Man certainly cares — 25 square miles of vaporized civilization would brings the species to economic and moral armageddon. Kerry and Obama direct their decision-making as if Man vs. Earth is a very real war, yet Man vs. Man’s evil is a topic for paranoids.

Could a nuclear Iran eventually produce a hydrogen bomb of this caliber? Folks, a nuclear anyone can eventually produce a nuclear anything. Once Iran is able to produce a nuclear weapon, no matter the yield, it represents the ultimate leverage. A bomb is bargaining power to put an immediate stop to any further inspections, after which the Iranian nuclear program continues unfettered.

It took 50 years of further technological development to produce a tool such as satellite photography with which to view the true scale of Man’s effect on nature. Look at the whole of Earth in comparison with our greatest explosion, and you’ll see mankind is irrelevant to nature when considered on nature’s scale.

But look much closer, at the miles and the Earth that we can grasp: Man’s point of view reveals Iran’s intentions to be a horror, and President Obama’s worldview irrational.

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On Saturday, the Washington Post reported on an unexpected event taking place in Virginia’s Seventh District headlined by that district’s former congressman. WaPo must have had a blast wording the headline, although they could also be praised for simply reporting the facts straight:


They deliberately chose a pic of Cantor’s face expressing “I’m none-too-pleased to be the target of this surprise celebrity roast,” but Cantor actually was the headliner, offering tips for how to once again lead Virginia establishment Republicans to victory:

According to organizers, Cantor gave an invitation-only crowd of more than 100 people tips on how to frame their message to voters as Republicans prepare to defend their slim majority in the state Senate this year. Activists from the establishment wing of the party are also focused on delivering the swing state of Virginia for the party’s 2016 presidential nominee.

I would expect WaPo to be putting quotations around “establishment,” yet even they no longer see a need to expound on the term and how it has come to represent the left wing of the GOP. This is of primary importance: even the influential paper of the Democratic establishment, one not known for its sharp insight regarding the GOP rift, now identifies — without further explanation — Eric Cantor and his supporters as the left wing, inside-the-Beltway element of the Republican Party. He is colloquially known as being in opposition to the Tea Party, conservative wing of the GOP.

These facts on the ground are why last Saturday’s event struck both local and national observers as incomprehensible. The evening was described as a kickoff event for a newly formed statewide group calling itself the … Virginia Conservative Network.

Everyone, everyone knows what happened in 2014. Cantor was defeated by a challenge from the right. No one in America — let alone in Virginia’s Seventh — who follows national politics believes that Cantor had the conservative platform in that race. Most observers also know that Cantor, under the strategic guidance of campaign manager and Sopranos extra Ray Allen, moved Heaven and Earth to portray his opponent as not only an establishment Republican, but even as a liberal. The tactic failed dramatically, both by offering extra name recognition to Dave Brat and by underestimating the District’s knowledge of Cantor’s by-then extensive record.

Wrote WaPo, in yet another sentence that could be accurately classified either as “wise-ass” or as “straight reporting”:

The day-long meeting of the Virginia Conservative Network featured a who’s who of establishment Republicans in the mold of Cantor, many of whom are frustrated with the party’s loss of all five statewide offices in recent years.

In other words, the advisors who encouraged Cantor to fabricate his conservative bonafides for the purposes of defeating a conservative challenger, which resulted in a historic, history-making loss, have chosen to double down on the same strategy as a means for returning the establishment to power.

“Virginia Conservative Network” couldn’t even fool a liberal WaPo reporter four words into writing her headline. Yet it looks like it’s once more unto the breach for these ill-advised establishment Republicans.


The remainder of the Washington Post article certainly didn’t help the establishment’s cause. The Post undersold the facts mentioned in their subhead: Dave Brat’s supporters didn’t merely “feel” shut out from the meeting. At least one was physically kept from entering, despite being invited into the room by two other attendees. Wrote WaPo:

Ron Headlund, a Brat volunteer, said he was blocked from the suburban Richmond DoubleTree hotel where the meeting was held.

That doesn’t remotely capture the pettiness of what actually occurred. Ron Hedlund was physically kept from entering the room by none other than Linwood Cobb, the former Seventh District GOP chairman who lost his seat entirely due to his tactics in furthering Eric Cantor’s career. “He grabbed my arm and stopped me,” Ron Hedlund told me. “I was motioned to by two acquaintances within the room, told to come in and join the meeting, and Cobb grabbed my arm and wouldn’t allow it.”

Ironically, and of course, WaPo actually quoted Cobb discussing the Virginia Conservative Network’s supposed “big tent” aspirations:

Cantor was joined by Linwood Cobb, his right-hand man in the Seventh District Republican Committee whose ouster foreshadowed Cantor’s own defeat.

Rep. Brat and his supporters were not invited, Cobb said, because the meeting was not focused on the district but on a statewide effort to expand the party by reaching out to minorities and other groups who might not normally vote Republican.

“The statewide aspect of it is a big factor of what we wanted to start working toward,” Cobb said in a phone interview. “We are not going to win statewide [by] just talking to conservative Republicans or just tea party Republicans. We’ve got to go beyond that to win.”

So the meeting “was not focused on the [Seventh] district,” it was focused on Districts 1 through 6 and 8 through 11 or something. Although it was held within the Seventh District, and the former Seventh District congressman gave the keynote, and the former Seventh District chairman played bouncer with a supporter of the current Seventh District leadership. Local conservative political blog The Bull Elephant summed up the circus:

Given the focus on “winning elections again” and “party unity,” it seems more than a little uncouth not to invite the guy who just wrote the book on how conservatives win elections. We suppose “unity” must have an alternate definition of which we are unaware.

And that particular concept of unity is what is troubling about this weekend’s meeting. For instance, one of the workshop sessions was entitled, “Reclaiming the Elephant.” There is a lot of meaning packed into that title, but just on the surface there is an implication that something that is rightfully theirs has been taken, and needs to be seized back. We’re sure a lot of this came with window dressing about tending to the Republican brand, etc., but underneath it all, the thing being reclaimed is simply power for its own sake. If it was truly about messaging and electoral temperament, how can one fault (and conspicuously exclude) a man who won a landslide campaigning — quite literally — on the Virginia Republican Creed?

The clear implication is that the 7th District Congressman and his ilk have stolen something, and Cantor and his gang plan to take it back.

Ron Hedlund later posted about his experience on Facebook:

Early Saturday morning of the CVN event, my phone starting buzzing with calls, text messages and voicemails from conservatives across the district asking me if I was aware of this meeting and wanting to know if I had, in fact, been invited. I was in absolute shock to learn that even the congressman himself was unaware of such an event …

While on a conference call with several concerned conservatives, I began to fathom the gravity of the situation and immediately started dressing and determined to make a trip across town to find out what this gathering was all about …

Turns out a few other concerned conservatives came by out of curiosity. Some, like myself, actually asked to pay the $20 registration fee and were denied entrance. They were told it was by invitation only.

When I was asked by more than one attendee to join them in the conference, I was assured the event was open to Republicans. I explained the situation of earlier denials, but they insisted I join them. My friend Ken Davis and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement: “Sure, let’s give it a shot.”

We followed Korey Stuart and Bill Thomas upstairs. As Bill Thomas was engaged in conversation with Linwood Cobb, I passed by toward the registration table and said hello to Mr. Cobb. At that very moment, his eyes grew as big as saucers and he reached out and grabbed my right forearm and jerked it toward him. All the while, he was angrily telling me that I was not allowed in. I turned to Bill Thomas, who was visibly shaken, and said, “See, I told you they would not allow me in.”

Bill Thomas was most apologetic and remained shaken. Linwood moved around in front of me and stood in the doorway to prevent my passage. Attempts and rational discussion were met with a stone face and absolute silence. Others inside including Korey Stuart were witness to Mr. Cobb’s antics.

I turned to walk away and sit in the lobby while others denied entrance came to watch those streaming in and out of the Virginia Conservative Network. I should point out that not all those in attendance were privy to the antics employed by the Cantor organization.

Delegate John O’Bannon came out to apologize for the strong-arm tactics and for not opening up the meeting to others. So too did Henrico County Chairman Don Boswell. He did not think this is how to unite the party and win elections. I was heartened to know that not all those suckered into Ray Allen’s trap wanted to play a part in it.


So what really happened last Saturday? Obviously Virginia’s establishment GOP is looking to reorganize and reclaim its relevance, and further, to tear down the actual conservative wing of the party. Part of their strategy is to yet again pretend to not be the establishment. Many of the local GOP members invited to attend would not have come had they known the true circumstances, so that tactic was partially successful, at least until they saw the grabby bouncer.

But what does a reorganization of the establishment entail? Is there an end goal in mind?

I am hearing from several sources that the content of the meeting also including much discussion of 2017, not 2016.

In 2017, Virginia will be selecting its new governor, and this meeting on Saturday was reportedly less about regrouping the establishment and more about establishing the groundwork for a possible 2017 Eric Cantor run for Virginia governor.

This isn’t an out-of-the-blue development: back when Cantor vacated his seat several months early to join investment bank Moelis & Co., Politico reported the following regarding Cantor’s future plans, as per an unnamed aide:

Though the possibility of a political future seems unlikely now, Cantor still wants to leave open the possibility of running for office. He has said as much to players in New York and Washington. Cantor will be responsible for opening an office in Washington for the firm and Moelis is also hiring Kristi Way, his longtime Richmond-based chief of staff.

“It’s no secret Eric wants to leave that door open, but that’s not his focus now,” said one former senior Cantor aide.

Apparently, sources believe that, just five months into his position at Moelis, that is his focus now.

Further, the Virginia establishment is reportedly ready to go with a challenger to Dave Brat for 2016, though not one with a particularly enviable image in Virginia currently. Sources say former lieutenant governor Bill Bolling is even closer to announcing as a primary challenger to Brat in 2016 than Cantor is to announcing a run for governor.

In 2013, the GOP devastatingly lost a shot at the governorship when Ken Cuccinelli was narrowly defeated by Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The Virginia GOP establishment’s scorched-earth tactics with the conservative wing of the party was to blame. The conservative Cuccinelli didn’t get significant support from key members of party (not to mention the national GOP), and perhaps the biggest culprit was Bolling.

In an article titled “VA GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling Undermined Cuccinelli Campaign”, reporter Michael Patrick Leahy writes:

Virginia’s incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling helped Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly defeat Republican Ken Cuccinelli in several ways. Not only did Bolling refuse to endorse Cuccinelli, he also transferred $446,674 remaining in his gubernatorial campaign committee to his newly formed political action committee, the Virginia Mainstream Project, which spent no money to support Cuccinelli.

Bolling’s new political action committee was ostensibly established to support Republican candidates running for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013 and the Virginia State Senate in 2015. Its relative inactivity, however, suggests it was more likely a place for Bolling to park his 2013 campaign cash as he worked behind the scenes to undermine Cuccinelli in hopes that he himself would become the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2017. It secured only two additional donations of $500, and spent a mere $45,760 on nine Delegate candidates in 2013, leaving it with a healthy bank account of $399,993 in cash unspent on election day.

Nothing says “big tent,” or “expanding the party” as per Linwood Cobb’s quote regarding the new organization, like sandbagging your party’s candidate in hopes of making a future run yourself. Now, sources say Bolling is apparently instead interested in taking a run at Brat, and this nascent Virginia Conservative Network is the first step in once again failing to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, anywhere, not even the Washington Post’s.

The rumblings are that Cantor and Bolling and Allen and Cobb want the Virginia GOP back, are using the same tactics that got them removed from power last time, and are demonstrating the same behavior that points to a governing motive of power rather than public service. None of it makes any sense strategically, politically, ideologically, or otherwise. Establishment’s gotta establishment, I suppose.