Matthew DesOrmeaux

Recent Posts From Matthew DesOrmeaux

Rand Paul leaves GOP, joins Libertarian Party

In a move that is sure to send shockwaves through the Washington establishment all the way to the 2016 presidential election, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced Tuesday morning that he is leaving the Republican Party and joining the Libertarian Party.

“I’m not leaving the party,” the Tea Party standard bearer said in a statement, “the party has left me.” Paul has long considered himself a libertarian Republican, so this announcement simplifies that description considerably, while leaving uncertain how he will caucus his votes in the Senate.

This also puts the younger Paul on the opposite trajectory as his father, former Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, who ran for President first as a Libertarian in 1988 then later as a Republican in 2008 and 2012.

Senator Paul has of course not officially announced his candidacy for President, but given his campaigning, fundraising, and network-building over the last two years, that is all but certain. It is unclear how this latest move affects those plans. Paul’s statement doesn’t mention the future 2016 campaign directly.

It is certainly a historic move, though. This makes Rand Paul officially the first Libertarian in Congress. In most years, there are Libertarian Party candidates for House and Senate races across the country, but they rarely get more than 1-5% of the general election vote. If anyone can improve on that performance, it may be a sitting US Senator.

However, it is unclear if Paul will have a chance to prove that any time soon. He is up for reelection for his Senate seat in 2016, but he may opt to run for President instead. Officials in his home state of Kentucky were already working to change state election law, which currently prohibits candidates from running for both Senate and President in the same election.

House Intel chair and NSA enabler will not seek reelection

Mike Rogers

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) announced Friday morning that he would not seek reelection in the 2014 midterms. He has served seven terms in the House since 2001, after serving in the Army and then FBI in the 80s and 90s. He has been chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House since Republicans took back that chamber in the 2010 elections.

Rogers is considered by most to be a reasonably reliable conservative representing a red, but not deep red, district. He has received the following lifetime ratings from various conservative and media organizations:

Yes, Rand Paul is the future of the GOP

Over at the American Spectator, Reid Smith and Jamie Weinstein (so much for that “I before E” rule, right?), debate whether Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party.

Smith takes the pro-Paul position in his part, “A New Age of Liberty,” in which he touts the libertarian scion’s innovative tactics and positions and success in just three years in the Senate. Weinstein takes the anti-Paul side, under the head “GOP Less Libertarian Thank You Think,” using more concrete examples, but making less sense doing it.

Weinstein’s main point against Rand Paul is ideological, and no surprise, focuses on the area where he differs most sharply with  party leadership: foreign policy. He argues that while Paul turned heads with his drone filibuster and then helped defeat the authorization of force in Syria resolution, the Syria result was an exception, and the continued support for military action against Iranian nuclear capability is the rule. Paul didn’t tilt the party more isolationist, Weinstein claims, people just didn’t like the options in Syria. While a convincing argument, we have another data point now with which we can test this theory: Ukraine.

Followingly less than a year after the Syria debate, 56% of Americans say we should “not get too involved” in Russia’s annexation of Ukraine either. And while 67% of Republicans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the situation so far, 50% say it’s important we don’t get involved.

There are no good options in Ukraine

Crimea

First, a timeline:

2/27:

US intelligence does not anticipate a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

2/28:

Russian forces arrive “uncontested” in Crimea, barricading roads, commandeering the Sevastopol airport.

Obama warns of “costs for any military intervention in Ukraine”.

3/1:

Putin requests permission to deploy the Russian military to Ukraine.

Within an hour, the duma grants, and the full Russian invasion of Ukraine begins.

As we can see, Russia takes American threats very seriously. And why should they? President Obama’s planned strike on Syria was stopped in its tracks (fortunately) by behind-the-scenes dithering, overwhelming popular opposition, and congressional uncertainty. Putin knows America has no stomach for military intervention after almost thirteen years in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The scourge of publicity stunt legislation

On Monday both the political and sports worlds were set ablaze with news of an impending national ban to keep gay players out of the National Football League. Doom! Panic! Set hair on fire! One problem - there is no ban - no law, no bill, no executive order, no league mandate of any sort.

A Washington, DC lobbyist no one had ever heard of issued a press release saying he was writing a bill to do just that. He claimed to have House and Senate sponsors ready to introduce the bill, but named no one, and no one has come forward to corroborate. Nevermind that such a bill would never reach the floor of either chamber, make it out of committee, be passed, or signed into law, especially by the First Gay President™. But since the lobbyst identifies as a Republican and NFL draft prospect Michael Sam had just come out, it was instant news bait. The entire media was basically trolled into covering the story as if it were breaking news.

But this kind of sensationalism creates real harm in both the proposal itself and the way it’s reported. For example:

Poll: John Cornyn cruising to runoff-free reelection, Wendy Davis facing blowout

Sorry, RINO hunters, it looks like you’re going home empty handed this time.

There aren’t many state election polls, but in Texas elections the Tribune is a big one, and their poll results out Monday for statewide races show no big surprises.

Senator John Cornyn, who according to the media narrative is pitched in a tough battle for his seat against insurgent conservatives, secures a solid 62% of Republican primary likely voters. Since all he needs to avoid a runoff is 50% in the primary, he looks comfortably poised to cruise to victory in November.

poll1

In the general election, Cornyn looks in no more peril against Democrats, who are likely headed to a runoff, with LaRouche acolyte and perpetual candidate, Kesha Rogers, holding the early plurality. The Tribune provides no direct matchup between Cornyn and Rogers or any other Democrat candidate for Senate, but with a +1 approval rating in a +10 Republican state in an off-year election, Cornyn should be representing the great state of Texas in Washington for another 6 years.

The Tribune poll also gages several other high profile Texas races this year, including governor and lieutenant governor. In the former, current attorney-general Greg Abbott’s lead over state senator Wendy Davis has expanded from 8 points last October to 11 points. In the October poll, when few knew who either candidate was, Abbott had only 29% support to Davis’ 21%. Now that both campaigns are ramping up, Abbott has a strong 47% support and Davis 36%.

The Tent can only be so big: An eviction notice to Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fischer

“We have a right…in various ways, to act upon our unfavourable opinion of any one, not to the oppression of his individuality, but in the exercise of ours. We are not bound, for example, to seek his society; we have a right to avoid it (though not to parade the avoidance), for we have a right to choose the society most acceptable to us. We have a right, and it may be our duty, to caution others against him, if we think his example or conversation likely to have a pernicious effect on those with whom he associates.” — John Stuart Mill

In varying degrees over the last few decades, conservatives, libertarians, and Republicans specifically, have been attempting to build and maintain a coalition of various interest groups and issue-focused individuals toward broader electoral victory. “The Big Tent,” it’s called. There are always differences of opinion between those groups, but it is almost always worth it to work through and look past them for the greater political good. Almost always.

There inevitably comes a time when a member of the coalition, even an influential, powerful member, says something so wrong, so disturbing, so vile, so repulsive, that, regardless of the good work he may do in other areas, it is no longer helpful to have him around. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has been crossing that line for years. It’s time to kick him out of our Tent.

Fischer’s most repugnant statements and views are usually about homosexuality. Given Biblical text, it’s understandable to think homosexuality is a sin. It’s even at the very least arguable, though becoming increasingly defeatist, to oppose what you consider “special” rights for homosexuals. However, it is not acceptable to do this:

CBO: Minimum wage hike would cost 500,000 jobs

An ever-increasing federal minimum wage is a statist panacea. Even Mitt Romney supported tying it to inflation in the 2012 campaign. But the CBO on Tuesday released its report scoring the proposals, and the numbers aren’t good.

If the minimum wage were raised on $10.10, as the Obama administration has proposed, somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million jobs could be lost over the next two years:

Once fully implemented in the second half of 2016, the $10.10 option would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers, or 0.3 percent, CBO projects. As with any such estimates, however, the actual losses could be smaller or larger; in CBO’s assessment, there is about a two-thirds chance that the effect would be in the range between a very slight reduction in employment and a reduction in employment of 1.0 million worker

Economists and politicians have debated for decades about the minimum wage’s effect on employment, but the non-partisan government calculator has spit out a decisively negative result, at least for employment.

cbo1

Adding more salt to the wound, the CBO finds that raising the minimum wage also won’t be the immediate fix for poverty that many thing it would:

The increased earnings for low-wage workers

Obama has gotten one individual liberty issue right

halo

Call it a case of the proverbial broken clock being right twice a day. President Obama has been terrible on most liberty issues, of course. He came into office promising a hands-off approach to medical marijuana states, but his DEA and FBI have kept the pace of the Bush administration on clinic raids. He has proposed and supported restrictive gun regulations, though his infamous “executive actions” didn’t end up amounting to all that much.

The myriad Obamacare mandates are egregious violations of individual and organizational liberty. But there’s one area where Obama has gotten it exactly right, or at least as well as can be expected from a modern President: individual rights for gay Americans.

Obamacare, in one photo

Given this week’s news of yet another delay to yet another Obamacare regulation that just five short years ago was going to literally keep people from dying in the streets, I thought an illustration would be useful. So here it is:

flaming train

Yep. That’s it. That’s Obamacare in a nutshell.

I first saw this image linked to Obamacare by Twitter user @cuffymeh (#FF) a couple years ago during the 2012 presidential campaign when the first delays and waivers started popping up. I laughed for a good 10 minutes. It perfectly portrays everything about Obamacare in one neat, catastrophic package.

The absurdly huge amount of flame represents the massive size of the failure so far. From waivers, to delays, to implementation, to website failures, to coverage gaps, to state rebukes, to ever-sinking poll numbers. It is uniquely appropriate that there are more flames and smoke than train in the photo.

While it is, of course, a still photo, the train does have a sense of motion, but it seems like a very sluggish, hampered speed. Obamacare has moved just as slowly and ungracefully. Some of the parts that would eventually become the law started being proposed in 2007 even before the 2008 presidential campaign heated up (pun fully intended).

Matthew DesOrmeaux

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married, father of two, atheist, libertarian, introvert.

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