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Self-Evident

UPDATE, 9:00 p.m. EST: Virginia political blogger Tom White offers an example of Shaun Kenney’s recent behavior in the service of Eric Cantor’s primary campaign.

In early March, a third candidate named Peter Greenwald was still active in the primary race. Greenwald, along with Dave Brat, was challenging Cantor from the political right. White, who felt Brat was the stronger challenger to Cantor, wrote a post suggesting that Greenwald bow out of the race.

Shortly thereafter, Shaun Kenney interviewed Greenwald. Kenney prefaced the interview by referring to White’s post:

So I read this piece from Tom White over at Virginia Right over the week, and I couldn’t help but think that it just didn’t sit right. So I took the time to do a “Five Questions” interview with former U.S. Navy commander Peter Greenwald at his home in Chesterfield. What I found was that Greenwald — far from the lunatic or fanatic some are feverishly trying to paint him as — is a remarkably profound and Christian man with the courage to wear his faith on his sleeve.

What was supposed to be a one-hour chat turned into a two-and-a-half hour conversation about faith and family, motivating principles, America’s national security and defense, and above all else Greenwald’s overwhelming concern for the federal debt and the national deficit.  One thing struck me very quickly — Greenwald is a genuine candidate with very real motivating principles that are different than David Brat’s more libertarian-leaning concerns.  Greenwald was a realist in every term, knowing that he had an uphill campaign against Majority Leader Eric Cantor with a small chance of success, but knew that any victory he had would be attributable — according to his faith and values — to God.

Walking away, I drew two lessons: (1) Brat is not going to push Greenwald out of the race, and (2) Greenwald and his army — flying column might be more like it — are going to wear out significant shoe leather making a go of this campaign.

Recall: Kenney’s consulting firm was hired by Eric Cantor’s campaign, and Kenney was subsequently appointed as Virginia GOP executive director. Days after Tom White suggested that Greenwald bow out of the race so a stronger challenge to Cantor could arise, Kenney criticized White and conducted a praise-filled interview with Greenwald.

Kenney’s interview oddly referred to Brat as “libertarian-leaning,” claimed Greenwald has “very real motivating principles” as opposed to Brat, and insisted that Brat would not push Greenwald out of the race.

In service to Eric Cantor, it appears that Kenney spent two-and-a-half hours misrepresenting himself and his motives to a former U.S. Navy commander. In the commander’s home. Was he directed to do so? Did his employer know or approve of the dishonest interview?

Forget it, Jake. It’s Cantortown.

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UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. EST: Eric Cantor’s primary opponent Dave Brat has provided me with an exclusive response:

“Since no Democratic challenger has emerged from that party’s own primary process, the GOP primary election on June 10 will result in the next U.S. Representative for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Yet with this revelation, any pretense of fairness regarding that June 10th election has been dashed.

We now ask Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins to explain how and why Shaun Kenney was appointed Executive Director.

We are also calling for an independent investigation into the financial relationship between Eric Cantor, Shaun Kenney, and the Republican Party of Virginia.”

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On a local website co-managed by Shaun Kenney, the newly appointed executive director of the Virginia GOP, a colleague of Kenney’s admitted last night that Kenney’s political fundraising and consulting firm is employed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Cantor is now campaigning to retain his seat in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Cantor’s challenger for the GOP primary on June 10 — Dave Brat — is politically on Cantor’s right, and is thus receiving national interest from conservative/Tea Party groups that are disappointed with Cantor’s record as majority leader.

The magnitude of the revelation can not be overstated: GOP voters in Virginia’s 7th District have just learned that the person appointed to manage the primary election season for the party is being paid by one of the candidates. And, in addition to the disqualification of Kenney as a fair arbiter of the primary, the financial ties obviously raise the question of whether Cantor, the most powerful Republican in Virginia, had Kenney installed as executive director.

Further, the article revealing the financial ties attempts to describe a longstanding relationship between Cantor and the partners at K6 Consulting. However, this appears to be irrelevant. Cantor’s own financial disclosures for 2013-2014 do not include any records of payments made to K6 Consulting or any other entity tied to Shaun Kenney. The article claims that the upcoming FEC financial disclosure will reveal that K6 is employed by Cantor.

Unless Cantor’s financial disclosures were incomplete, K6 Consulting signed a contract with Cantor just in the past few weeks or months, as Kenney was being selected as executive director.

Indeed, this matches with what I have heard from multiple sources.

Last week, I was told that in recent weeks Shaun Kenney was overheard on more than one occasion — and at two different locations — claiming that “he had landed the big fish, Cantor.” The two locations were the Republican Party of Virginia Headquarters and the Richmond General Assembly Building.

 I will update this article as I receive more information.

Last week, Erick Erickson reported that John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy — the three most powerful Republican members of the House — would be attending a private weekend retreat at Amelia Island to discuss how to “bolster our incumbents who are under attack from the far right.” The retreat is sponsored by Republican Main Street Partnership, a PAC headed by liberal Republican Steve LaTourette and funded by several Democratic Party-supporting organizations.

Since Erickson’s report, Boehner has announced he will not be attending due to a “scheduling conflict.”

As of today, the event has disappeared from Main Street’s Events page.

Will Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy still attend? Is the event still on?

I have placed calls to both congressional offices. I have also contacted Main Street to ask why the event listing has been removed, and why Main Street’s website contains no other mention of what would be their largest event of the year.

(Author’s note: In looking to cover House primaries involving moderate Republican incumbents — particularly those enjoying the approval of current GOP House leadership — now receiving a strong challenge from the right, I was introduced to the candidacy of Frank Roche in North Carolina’s Second District

It’s a fascinating race. In the past month, Roche’s campaign to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers has evolved into a case study of Tea Party/conservative gripes with national GOP leadership, a representative example of the current party rift. Each recent development received national attention; some of the developments were broken here.

Please do look back and examine the recent campaign coverage. The key theme I hope you take away from it — and be sure to apply this lens as you absorb similar news regarding national GOP leadership: A curious voter will soon know exactly what policies Roche supports, and how he intends to govern. Objectively, the same cannot be said of Ellmers.

Just this morning, Ellmers — who two weeks ago claimed she had the same immigration stance of Tea Party stalwarts Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and of libertarian Rand Paul — published a half-page op-ed in the left-leaning Sanford Herald, a local paper generally supportive of Democrats.

Her topic? Supporting “public-private partnerships.”) 

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Steinberg: With Renee Ellmers’ recent appearance with Laura Ingraham, her speech to the Moore County GOP convention, where she claimed to have the same immgration stance as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul, this video that just surfaced of her berating constituents who actually do hold views similar to Cruz, Lee, and Paul — your primary has become a referendum about immigration policy and the GOP.

Your immigration stance — do you align your policy with those three?

Roche: I think I am probably a little more aggressive in my stance than the three senators, and certainly more so than Representative Ellmers.

I’m looking for something quite different than what we’ve experienced over the last four decades. And I’m not only talking about illegal immigration. We of course have to stop this once and for all by properly securing our borders, getting a handle on our short-term visa program, and, of course, dealing with those who are here illegally — which would not include amnesty, or anything like amnesty, or “path to citizenship,” or any other semantic twist of phrase they want to use.

But where I really want to put emphasis is the legal side of immigration. That’s where we need to make dramatic changes.

We need to sharply reduce our yearly legal immigration. We need to move away from family reunification as a basis for our immigration system, and to go back to a national origins-based system, one based on the economic interests of the United States.

Lastly, the other key metric here is that we must move away from official recognition of multiculturalism, identity politics, and political correctness. These social counterparts to our immigration numbers are what makes immigration so damaging to the United States, so divisive.

We can start by simply applying our current laws. We have strong laws on the books. It’s really not that difficult to come up with effective immigration policy, but it takes the courage to change what’s been in place for 45 years.

Steinberg: Your district, NC-02 — what are the chief industries in your district, and has immigration policy factored into any challenges facing your district’s economy now? And those challenges, do you tie them to Ellmers tenure?

Roche: The challenges facing the Second District are not that different from the challenges facing America, generally speaking, with respect to immigration. The Second District, we have agriculture, we have housing, we have high-tech, and in all those sectors we know that immigration is playing a large role. In my hometown area, it’s becoming known as “little India” as a result of the use of H1-B visa programs to bring in IT workers from India, and also Asia. In housing and agriculture, we see more of the Hispanic worker. In this area, it’s not just the low-skill workers, it’s the high-skill level as well. It’s not just Hispanics, its Asians and Russians and Europeans. Simply, immigration policy in general is impacting the ability of citizens in the Second District to gain employment.

It’s also impacting the ability of these industries to see growth in wages. We know now, the evidence is clear that one of the key damaging aspects to immigration policy in regards to economics is the cap on wages. Real wage growth and real hourly earnings are being impacted by immigration policy.

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On Friday, March 21, Ron Woodard of NC Listen reported on a meeting he had with Renee Ellmers on the topic of immigration and amnesty. He claimed he had exited the meeting appalled both by her positions and by her behavior.

One of the constituents attending the meeting recorded the conversation.

The Randolph Tea Party posted the clips online, and exclusively forwarded the links to PJ Media. Four clips of the meeting are embedded below.

At one point, Ellmers says of Woodard: “You don’t have any damn facts.”

Ellmers claims he is stereotyping, and constantly interrupts him. This conduct occurred after she had inconvenienced the group by changing locations at the last minute, refused to let all of the attendees into her office, and insisted she had to be leaving shortly.

Listen to her positions on immigration, and see if they follow her claim that she holds the same positions as Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee. Yesterday, Lee’s Communication Director Brian Phillips answered her claim with this statement:

Sen. Lee’s position has been very clear: piecemeal legislation, one bill at a time, evaluate and verify each step as we implement the reforms. We have read Rep. Ellmers’ most recent op-ed on reform and it sounds a lot like how the Gang of Eight tried to sell comprehensive immigration reform, something Sen. Lee spent several months last year opposing.

WATCH VIDEO ON NEXT PAGE

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Last Saturday, Renee Ellmers (R-NC02) — a 2010 Tea Party favorite who has since lost the support of conservatives — gave a brief speech to the Moore County, North Carolina GOP Convention. During the speech, she claimed to hold the same views on immigration as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and even Dr. Ben Carson.

This statement came a few days after Ellmers’ tendentious appearance with Laura Ingraham last week — an interview that might have progressed smoothly had Ellmers actually expressed the same views on immigration as those four.

Ellmers’ brief speech in Moore County offered no specification backing her claim, did not address how the statement was at odds with her recent appearance with Laura Ingraham, and was given seemingly without considering that someone would reach out to one of those four for comment.

(I have — I will print any responses here.)

Following Ellmers’ speech, the convention attendees proceeded to select her opponent Frank Roche two-to-one in the straw poll. A terrible showing, especially considering she is the two term incumbent, and this was a GOP convention, not a Tea Party gathering.

Here is the speech in its entirety:

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Ellmers appearing with Laura Ingraham to discuss immigration was a harebrained decision, a mistake clear to anyone familiar with Ingraham’s commitment and experience opposing amnesty. Following that error, Ellmers compounded it by highlighting the praise she received from the Mark Zuckerberg-led, transparent, dopey amnesty ploy “Americans for a Conservative Direction.”

We cannot know, but these bizarre two weeks of campaigning by Renee Ellmers sure looks like the result of an ambitious candidate attempting to please national GOP leadership ahead of her constituency. Or perhaps one promised aid from the national party, an amount she believes sufficient to hold off her conservative challenger Frank Roche.

Though she has generally governed with an abandonment of her 2010 platform and base, the current missteps now seem less the work of an amateur, and more that of a two-headed monster: national leadership and Ellmers’ local team, trading off on odd and even days. I don’t know how else to figure it.

Either way, I do not see how she recovers, considering both the makeup of her district and the already significant anger over her tenure. Ann Coulter endorsed Frank Roche yesterday, and she hadn’t even seen this video yet.

Again, I have reached out to Cruz, Lee, and Paul, and will post any responses here.

References to Stalinist ideological purges, and Trotsky’s fate, bear no resemblance to the Tea Party/conservative  movement’s increased willingness to directly confront party leadership, which is currently constructed of ideological moderates.

RINOism, whatever the definition, is not the chief concern. Well … it is the chief concern in one manner: it is troubling to a GOP electorate — of which the largest portion self-identifies as “conservative” rather than “moderate” — to see party leadership perpetually gauging just how closely they can embrace the Constitution per his or her daily schedule. But ideology is not the underlying problem creating the party’s rift; instead, the rift arises from the issue of accountability and representative governance.

Adherence to the stated purpose of the House as being the home of federal representatives most closely bound and responsible to the district they serve — that’s the root desire of conservatives, and a party leadership that respects that principle as the first order would significantly repair its standing, no ideological shift required.

A lovely anecdote from the Constitutional Convention frames the concern: George Washington, aware of the sway his voice held within the chamber, kept generally silent during the sessions. However, he chose to speak up regarding the apportionment of House representatives to the states; he wished for fewer citizens per representative to keep the official more tightly in the hand of the people.

In contrast, a hallmark of statism — actually, an element of the definition of statism — is the subjugation of local governance and interests to the national concern, to the centralized power. The House, and for our interests, the GOP, simply does not fulfill this mandate.

In contacting several campaigns and local officials for background on the 2014 primary races, I’ve heard some tales of corruption, intimidation, and K Street/Alinsky sludge within the party, from leadership to the town and county level. Skin-crawling stuff. Dopey Scandal teleplay stuff.

And I have yet to hear of the culprits being connected to good-standing Tea Party/conservative officials and campaign teams. Instead, the target always seems to be them; the conspirator, always from the “establishment.”

The party leadership in the House does not currently include anyone who consistently serves as a conservative, who consistently advocates and votes for the life, liberty, and property rights of the individual. Importantly, this is not a problem in itself. On a district-by-district basis — I live in New England, which currently has only one(!) GOP official in either the House or Senate, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire — Tea Partiers/conservatives can and should be supportive of whomever the district is willing to elect from the party. If the district is moderate to liberal and elects a moderate Republican, that official should be allowed to fulfill his or her moderate campaign promises.

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Were my money and resources at stake, no current House GOP member better embodies the party’s leadership rot than he: his incessantly measured, strategically incoherent tacking reveals a party now guided by advisor-class tutelage, not conservatism. Additionally, his status as party-protected and groomed future speaker establishes the taking of his seat as a viable means for delivering a message to leadership.

Eric Cantor has earned his primary challenge, and I would suggest to national donors that Dave Brat is the predictably conservative challenger worthy of your interest. And with Cantor’s favorables low and VA-7 possessing a conservative soul, Cantor’s incumbency doesn’t present the imposing challenge the party might otherwise assume of it.

The tenancies of Cantor and other “establishment” Republicans deserve sunlight. I intend to provide some here at Self-Evident over the following weeks with this “Moderate Danger” series. I expect these postings will expose the situation in a manner not generally considered during the typical “RINO” vs. conservative debate, at least in terms of winning:

Always, we argue of which strain of Republican is more palatable on Election Day. Instead, we should first be discussing and exposing — from local sheriff races to presidential primaries — just how many roadblocks the GOP lays down in the path of viable conservative candidates.

First, let us know which seats you think deserve attention. I’m currently focused on Cantor and Renee Ellmers, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

 

Earlier today, the AP and Reuters reported that Russian forces rammed the gates of the Ukrainian military base near Sebastopol, which they have been holding under siege:

The two sides were reportedly in the middle of negotiating the Ukraninian soldiers’ terms of surrender, when the pro-Russian Crimean militia started assaulting the journalists who were reporting from the area.

According to early reports, members of a pro-Russia militia used a truck to break though the gate of the base. The truck got stuck at the gate, and Russia soldiers climbed over it. Some 70 Ukrainian troops were said to still be holding out in the bunkers. Russians troops who broke through the perimeter demanded the Ukrainian soldiers surrender.

Dangerous escalation, leading inexorably to a military showdown? It appears Putin is simply outsmarting Western intelligence — and certainly Western leadership — with the gambit, causing a global ruckus and perhaps eliciting further concessions. Because moments ago, Russia pulled away:

Putin, rather elegantly, is keeping the chattering Western diplomatic corps on its heels. He understands the American administration and the fractured, economically hamstrung European Union well enough to know he has a hell of a lot of rope to play with before comparable arms show up.

Even then, he knows the opposition will remain fractured as long as he doesn’t take a step drastic enough to offend Western sensibilities. And remember, chemical weapons can no longer can be considered outside of those sensibilities, thanks to last year’s Western humiliation in Syria.

The West lacks the moral coherency of the Reagan/Thatcher/Pope John Paul/Lech Walesa era of Western leadership. Such coherency is the only thing that could ever prevent Putin, or anyone like him, from batting around the free world and it’s penumbra like a chew toy.

Hey, GOP: Embrace ‘We Told You So’

March 7th, 2014 - 1:50 pm

An eggshell-walking style of outreach — employed by the RNC since the left convinced mainstream culture that “conservative” means “fascist” — has been carried out by the Party despite it not having a smidgen of evidence in regards to its effectiveness.

You won’t see any tiptoes at CPAC; the convention offers plenty of bombast. But do note that much of it is emitted by those who, when exposed to a less-partisan audience, measure how tightly they can be seen embracing the Constitution. Mitch McConnell wouldn’t dare wave that firearm — and I’m suspicious that the specific firearm he chose was focus-grouped — in front of undecideds. Party leadership unfailingly goes with “avuncular” around potential new voters, despite being unable to back this decision.

When you have the truth on your side, get out the truth. If the truth isn’t on your side, switch parties.

I wager the swing-voter open to voting Republican will recognize the GOP’s wealth of correct pronouncements since 2008, whether they come from mealy leadership or Ted Cruz, and the average American open to voting Republican for a first time won’t reject the scorecard solely due to the manner of delivery. A person making such judgments wouldn’t be open to voting Republican.

Remind voters of the 2008, 2010, and 2012 GOP platforms, and dare them to find a flawed GOP prediction. Just one. Dare them to name just one successful Democratic prediction.

Or, fill them in:

– The GOP was correct about innovation and exploration being a wiser approach to energy than a full-scale implementation of wind and solar energy. Those approaches were taken throughout Europe, bringing Spain, Italy, and now Germany to the brink of collapse and an increased investment in coal. Meanwhile, U.S. free market innovation led to the fracking boom, a cleaner, safer means of extracting energy and a secure bridge to future energy innovations, “green” or otherwise.

The Democratic platform on this issue could not have been more wrong.

– The GOP was correct in its general rejection of bailouts and Treasury printings as the quickest means to an economic recovery. Yes, George W. Bush disagreed, but the majority of the Party rejected his opinion.

– The GOP was correct in its analysis of the Middle East as an area whose tumult is fueled by various strains of Islamic extremism and oppression rather than anger towards the U.S. or Israel. Later, the GOP was correct in its analysis of the “Arab Spring” as a Sunni Islamist uprising rather than a sudden embrace of Jeffersonian democracy. The scale of lost lives and crushed hopes of freedom due to U.S. failure to respond correctly is difficult to fathom now; the repurcussions will last decades.

– The GOP was correct in its analysis of Putin as an aspiring Soviet tyrant. (Yes, Bush was initially incorrect regarding Putin as well.) The hopes of millions of Russians have been crushed and the safety of Eastern Europe imperiled directly as a result of the Democrats “reset” policy.

– The GOP was correct in its analysis of Obamacare as a guaranteed failure, the source of increased costs rather than decreased costs, as a legally dubious law bound to create a Constitutional crisis, as the destruction of the doctor-patient relationship, as a tax on the young and the not-yet born. You name it, the GOP was correct about Obamacare.

The Democrats have rarely invested as much energy in a bill as they have with Obamacare. They treated it as the best idea they ever had.

– Sarah Palin demonstrably outsmarted the Democrats on every single issue she ran on.

Run on the “I Told You So” platform. Literally trot out quotes and video from the prior six years, and challenge voters to identify either a failed conservative prediction or a successful Democratic prediction.

The truth obliterates the Democratic platforms, so this should be easy, but the GOP never chooses easy.

Yesterday, we published the transcript from a 20-minute phone interview I conducted with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on the topic of his newly created GOHConservative PAC. Gohmert described the PAC as a means for providing support to “conservatives who [GOP] leadership was not going to help.”

During the interview, Gohmert made a disturbing claim about current GOP leadership. The claim drew responses later in the day from the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee. Said Gohmert:

I’ve had people tell me that Republican donors to Senate members have had people call them, tell them “don’t help this Republican or that Republican because the party doesn’t like what they stand for.” Are you kidding me? And then they bash the Tea Party people, and say they’re the problem?

To be clear, Gohmert is claiming that the GOP privately contacted specific donors and told those donors to withhold money from conservative/Tea Party candidates.

Raffi Williams, deputy press secretary for the RNC, responded by email to Gohmert’s claim:

The RNC is actively working to build a better, stronger Party that can win elections in 2014 and beyond. The Tea Party has been and will continue to be an indispensible part of getting more conservatives elected to office.

Also, NRSC Press Secretary Brook Hougesen emailed the following statement:

We really don’t know what Congressman Gohmert is referring to. The conservative grassroots movement and the tea party brings energy, enthusiasm, and a commitment to defend liberty that is essential in building a Republican Senate majority.

On Monday evening, Gohmert emailed me this exclusive statement in response to the RNC and NRSC:

It’s a bit concerning that the RNC and the NRSC leadership don’t acknowledge or aren’t aware of efforts to undermine grassroots and Tea Party candidates. It is critical that establishment Republicans understand that they cannot keep alienating independent minded but caring Americans who want a choice in an election and not a Democrat-lite. As a result, last election, too many conservatives simply stayed home.
We have forwarded Gohmert’s latest statement to the RNC and NRSC, and we will publish any further responses via updates to this post, so do check in later.