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July 21st, 2014 at 8:11 pm
Rick Perry to Send 1,000 National Guard Members to Border

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry announced today that he intends to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard members to the state’s southern border to reduce crime in areas teeming with illegal immigrants.

The decision came after several failed attempts to get similar assistance from the Obama administration.

If implemented, the decision will cost Texas taxpayers about $12 million a month. Though he could empower Guard members to arrest and detain illegal immigrants crossing into Texas, Perry has not committed to doing so.

Instead, the Guard is likely to play an assistance role to federal Border Patrol agents. “We think they’ll come to us and say, ‘Please take us to a Border Patrol station’ [for processing],” says the head of the Texas National Guard.

The move makes sense since Texas has absorbed many of the 57,000 unaccompanied minors that have crossed the border with Mexico since last October. The additional hands will, if nothing else, beef up the law enforcement presence in places where crime is on the rise, giving Border Patrol agents much needed assistance in steering and clearing the area.

Given the federal government’s duty to secure the border and the Obama administration’s failure to do so, this is probably the best Perry – or any other governor – can do for the time being.

July 15th, 2014 at 11:36 am
Judiciary Could Force Obama to Work with Congress

John Fund documents the Supreme Court’s growing impatience with the Obama administration’s refusal to adhere to the letter of the law in a piece out today with National Review.

Citing Jonathan Adler, a conservative legal expert, Fund highlights several recent Supreme Court decisions that slap down the executive branch’s significant regulatory overreach. Justices on both sides of the ideological spectrum – from the liberal Kagan to the conservative Scalia – refuse to grant President Barack Obama and his bureaucratic lieutenants the authority to change statutory requirements on a whim to suit policy goals the underlying law does not allow.

This backdrop is important as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hand down its decision in Halbig v. Burwell, a case that challenges an IRS interpretation of ObamaCare that, if overturned, could prohibit the subsidies most Americans need to pay for the law’s expensive insurance plans.

Weighing in the challengers’ favor are the 13 unanimous Supreme Court decisions that have invalidated moves by Obama executive agencies since he took office. In its reasoning the Court has consistently said that the president must adhere to the constitutional framework for making laws, which limits the executive to faithfully executing (i.e. carrying out) what Congress has actually passed as legislation.

In the ObamaCare context, that means striking down the IRS rule that explicitly ignores the prohibition on giving federal subsidies to users of the federal health insurance portal.

Making them available only on state exchanges was an enticement to get states to foot the bill for implementation. It has since backfired with 34 states declining the deal.

Does that complicate the Obama administration’s ability to call federal ObamaCare plans affordable? You betcha. But it also preserves the constitutional check on a president prone to act beyond his designated powers.

Though it might be unpleasant for the White House and its allies, the world will not end if Barack Obama is forced to negotiate with Congress. Another judicial reminder to respect the structure of the Constitution would be a public service by the D.C. Circuit – and the Supreme Court.

July 14th, 2014 at 4:42 pm
Illegal Immigration Cleanup Falls on Public Schools

“All politics is local,” goes the saying, and it looks like local public school districts will be the political entities dealing most directly with the surge in illegal immigration when classes begin.

“While politicians spend the summer fighting over how to turn back the tide, school leaders across the country are struggling to absorb a new student population the size of Newark, New Jersey,” reports the Chicago Tribune. “More than 40,000 children, many of them fresh from violent, harrowing journeys, have been released since October to stateside relatives as courts process their cases.”

The issues facing public school personnel include lack of immunizations, emotional distress caused by the trip north and an expected surge in non-English speaking students. The money and manpower required to meet these challenges is immense, but at least as far as local schools are concerned, also worthwhile. No one wants to perpetuate the trauma caused to the children who survive this experience.

It’s important to remember that each child is a person deserving of care and assistance, and one hopes that public officials will work with civil society organizations – including faith-based groups – to help each child heal.

That said, the fallout from the Obama administration’s deliberately poor management of the southern border is a profound object lesson in avoidable tragedy. As usual, the cleanup effort will be done by those that can least afford it.

July 10th, 2014 at 5:07 pm
Texas Not Turning Blue While Obama in State

President Barack Obama went to Texas this week, and all he got was a few million dollars in campaign donations amid a bipartisan smackdown.

Obama was in the Lone Star State to help fundraise for various liberal candidates and causes as part of a much larger effort to ‘Turn Texas Blue’ for Democrats.

But his performance outside the rubber chicken circuit angered officeholders across the political spectrum.

The issue is Obama’s refusal to visit Texas’ southern border where tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors are streaming into the country and causing a humanitarian crisis.

“I don’t know whether he heard what I said,” Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry told Sean Hannity. After being ignored by Obama for months, Perry finally got a brief face-to-face with the president aboard Marine One.

Perry urged Obama to deploy the National Guard to the border as a national security measure. Obama demurred. “A leader acts,” Perry said, “and what I haven’t seen out of this president are actions that make me think he understands what’s going on.”

Henry Cueller agrees. The Texas Democratic congressman says that Obama’s refusal to visit the border and get a firsthand account of the situation risks creating his own ‘Katrina moment;’ a reference to George W. Bush’s slow response to a hurricane disaster that quickly sunk his presidency.

Prior to this Texas Democrats had been gearing up to capture the state’s top political offices.  The 2014 election was supposed to be a milestone. But with Obama’s failed policies and lackluster performance hurting its credibility, it looks increasingly like a tombstone.

July 8th, 2014 at 5:33 pm
Keep an Eye on Mike Lee

If you want to see what the future of the Republican Party might look like consider Mike Lee’s social network.

The Utah Republican has an enviable number of connections to fellow U.S. Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. Each is strategic. With Paul it’s teaming up on civil liberties issues like reining in the National Security Agency and prison reform. Few remember that it was Cruz and Lee who helped force the government shutdown to halt ObamaCare. And now Rubio is coming around to Lee’s push to make the tax code more family friendly.

As James Antle puts it in a terrific post, “You don’t have to agree with all of the aforementioned proposals to see how different the Republican Party would look if Lee’s policy entrepreneurship with Paul and Rubio gained traction: Less identified with war, wiretapping, and mandatory sentences; more identified with reforming government programs and cutting taxes for the non-rich.”

By influencing the policy platforms of three likely GOP presidential contenders in 2016, Mike Lee is also forging friendships that could make him one of the most powerful officeholders on Capitol Hill.

Keep an eye on Mike Lee. He just may be the most important Tea Party Senator not running for president.

July 4th, 2014 at 4:58 pm
The Declaration as an Art of Liberty

If after reading yesterday’s post you’re looking for some refresher material on the Declaration of Independence (and other Founding documents), I encourage you to visit Arts of Liberty. (Full disclosure: Jeff Lehman, the founder and director of the project, is a friend of mine.)

There you’ll find a short study guide asking all the right questions. Chief among them this Independence Day:

What is the central message of the Declaration of Independence? Does it aim more at political innovation or restoration? To whom is it addressed, and what is the significance of the intended audience?

Read and grow wise.

July 3rd, 2014 at 7:14 pm
Does the Declaration Empower Govt as Much as Secure Rights?

An allegedly misplaced period is causing at least one liberal academic to argue that the Declaration of Independence is as concerned with empowering government as it is with securing individual rights.

The argument runs like this. On the official transcript of the Declaration housed in the National Archives a period appears after the familiar phrase, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” However, the period doesn’t appear on the earliest version of the document we have, nor does it occur on other reproductions.

Removing the period changes the fundamental balance of government, argues Danielle Allen.

“That errant spot of ink,” summarizes the New York Times, “she believes, makes a difference, contributing to what she calls a ‘routine but serious misunderstanding’ of the document.

“The period creates the impression that the list of self-evident truths ends with the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ she says. But as intended by Thomas Jefferson, she argues, what comes next is just as important: the essential role of governments – ‘instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed’ – in securing those rights.”

According to Professor Allen, “The logic moves from the value of individual rights to the importance of government as a tool for protecting those rights. You lose that connection when the period gets added.”

What we have here is a grammar czar masquerading as a political theorist.

Whether or not the period is included, the logic of Jefferson’s argument is the same: Individual rights precede the formation of government. In fact, the only reason governments are formed is to secure the enjoyment of these pre-existing rights; among these being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When a government becomes destructive of these ends, the people have the right to abolish the government and found a new one that will secure them. If Professor Allen and others will recall, the vast majority of the Declaration sets forth the reasons for dissolving the bonds between the British Empire and the American colonies before declaring the latter free, independent and self-governing.

Allen’s real project, though, is reading the Declaration as a collectivist document that empowers government to legislate equality. In a summary of her book Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, Allen tries to make the most out of her ink blot by arguing that “Its list of self-evident truths does not end, as so many think, with our individual right to the ‘pursuit of happiness’ but with the collective right of the people to reform government so it will ‘effect their Safety and Happiness.’ The sentence laying out the self-evident truths leads us from the individual to the community – from our individual rights to what we can achieve only together, as a community constituted by bonds of equality.”

It’s impossible to square Allen’s interpretation with anything we know about the Declaration and the Founding. The Lockean theory driving the document puts individuals ahead of the group, and government – the largest expression of a group – at the service of the rights-bearing human person. If the group violates a person’s God-given rights (i.e. the inalienable ones endowed by the Creator), the group loses.

Going forward, it would be better if Professor Allen sticks to answering the marginally interesting question of the Declaration’s intended punctuation. Doing more – like trying to inject of a political philosophy into a blank space – risks making her contribution seem less important.

July 2nd, 2014 at 6:22 pm
An Energy Policy that Creates Jobs and Prestige

“By boosting our energy production, the U.S. could restore its diminishing influence in the world without expending blood and treasure – in fact, we would reap major economic benefits,” writes Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Nunes is an up-and-coming member of the House Ways and Means Committee and is known for thinking big on how to use tax reform as a means to reestablish American leadership in the global economy.

Rationalizing our energy policy would go a long way too.

Thanks to improvements in technology large, untapped domestic oil and natural gas reservoirs are now reachable. States like North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma are moving to capitalize, while huge potential awaits enterprising politicians and businesses in California and Colorado.

The benefits are many. More energy production means more jobs in extracting, refining and shipping. For example, an entry-level rig worker in North Dakota averages about $66,000 a year, while the average oil industry job in the state was $112,462 as of 2012. That also means more jobs for people serving workers flush with disposal income.

There’s also a national security angle. With Iraq’s oil fields under siege by Islamic militants, Venezuela constantly swayed by demagogic collectivists and Russia threatening to cut off natural gas shipments, it’s time for the United States to take the steps necessary to ensure greater energy independence.

Unsurprisingly, Nunes wants President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, as well as implement other measures to put the nation in a game-changing position. Of course, that isn’t happening unless Obama adopts Bill Clinton’s triangulation strategy.

Don’t hold your breath.

Still, Nunes makes a compelling case for using national energy policy as a way to improve both our domestic economy and global prestige.

It’s an angle that economically recessed, war-weary Americans might soon embrace.

June 30th, 2014 at 2:08 pm
Obama Goes Outside Military Brass, Medical Community for New VA Chief

Robert McDonald, former CEO of Procter & Gamble, is President Barack Obama’s nominee to run the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs.

McDonald’s nomination is catching some in the veterans’ community off-guard. Unlike previous VA Secretaries, he’s not a general – though he did graduate from West Point and serve for five years as an Army paratrooper before jumping to P&G.

He’s also neither a medical doctor, nor does he have experience administering a hospital; traits that some think would be useful for a person stepping into the nation’s largest health system with 1,700 facilities.

Indeed, the case being made for McDonald is that his background in brand management and customer service signals that Obama thinks the main problem at the VA is bad leadership.

Which brings us to an interesting question – Is McDonald’s job just to make the VA’s public face more attractive, or is it to get the sprawling department into tip-top, customer satisfaction shape?

The answer depends on how much latitude President Obama is giving McDonald to operate. For example, in places like Phoenix where staff and administrators falsified records to get performance bonuses, does McDonald have the authority to fire and hire political appointees as well as career civil servants? Does he have the flexibility to outsource patients to private medical providers in regions where the VA hospitals are overbooked?

Senate Republicans should ask McDonald these and other questions during his confirmation hearings. Veterans and their families deserve to know whether the VA’s new chief has the power to be a turnaround artist, or just a place warmer.

June 27th, 2014 at 6:17 pm
Cover Oregon Offers Bonuses to Staff Not to Leave

Oregon’s failed ObamaCare website is so fraught with failure the state is offering to pay employees bonuses just to keep them on the job.

After spending over $250 million – and retaining more than $50 million in federal grants – to build an ObamaCare health insurance exchange that failed to enroll a single person, Oregon decided to switch to Healthcare.gov, the federal equivalent.

Apparently, though, the crisis isn’t over. Since April, 27 staff members of Cover Oregon have left, taking with them valuable skills that can’t easily be replaced in time to transition to the federal website. To staunch the bleeding, Oregon is making a total of $650,000 in bonuses available to the remaining 163 employees, if they stay on till the end of the job.

As I explained in my column this week, state officials are primarily responsible for the costly disaster that is Cover Oregon. This news is just one more reminder that simple, avoidable mistakes by politicians and bureaucrats have huge and prolonged consequences.

H/T: NRO

June 25th, 2014 at 2:25 pm
Isn’t Not “Following” the Law the Same as Breaking It?

No one wants to be David Ferriero right now.

He’s the U.S. Archivist, the man in charge of keeping all of the federal government’s records for posterity.

Apparently though, no one told the IRS. Twelve days ago the agency revealed that it has conveniently lost two years’ worth of emails from Lois Lerner, the former IRS supervisor at the center of a scandal that targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

“Any agency is required to notify us when they realize they have a problem,” Ferriero told a House Oversight committee panel. One imagines that an alleged hard drive failure vaporizing thousands of emails qualifies as just such a problem.

By law, the IRS is supposed to alert Ferriero within days. He wasn’t notified until earlier this month – about three years after the crash occurred.

When pressed, all Ferriero would say is that the IRS did not “follow” the law. He would not say the agency broke the law.

It doesn’t matter. The truth is obvious. Every new revelation in the IRS scandal only serves to harden the perception that so-called public servants abused their positions.

June 24th, 2014 at 6:42 pm
Oregon v. Oracle ObamaCare Brawl Heating Up

There is a nasty fight brewing between Oregon’s governor and Oracle, the software company the state hired to create its doomed ObamaCare website.

Earlier this year Cover Oregon, the state board that contracted with Oracle, decided to scuttle the project after spending upwards of $300 million for a website that failed to enroll a single person.

When Oregon nixed the deal in April, Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber blamed the entire fiasco on Oracle, suggesting the state should consider suing the company to recover its losses.

But at a House Energy and Commerce hearing last week in Washington, D.C., Oracle hit back.

“The website was operational in February,” Oracle said, but “the state of Oregon pulled the plug on it for political reasons.”

The company had previously written to state officials that “Cover Oregon executives have stated to Oracle that application functionality is sufficient to support individual enrollment. However, Cover Oregon has not agreed to give individuals direct access to the application. Thus Cover Oregon, not Oracle, made the decision to keep the exchange closed to individuals even though the functionality has been delivered by Oracle.”

Kitzhaber may face a surprisingly difficult reelection campaign due to the spectacular failure of Cover Oregon. The governor embraced ObamaCare early, so any negative fallout from the law’s poor local performance could sink him.

To be fair, though, Oracle isn’t totally without blame. Saying that the website was functional in February when the enrollment period began in October – and ended in March – is hardly prompt performance. Does anyone seriously think that one of Oracle’s private sector clients wouldn’t be threatening legal action under the same circumstances?

Whatever the outcome of the ongoing investigation, Oregon’s ObamaCare debacle is sure to cost taxpayers even more money as lawyers, tech consultants and political strategists get their part of a never-ending spending spree.

June 12th, 2014 at 7:05 pm
The Liberal Case Against Common Core

Diane Ravitch is calling on fellow liberals to oppose Common Core.

The NYU education policy expert wants Congress to investigate how Bill Gates bought off various groups to support his Common Core initiative, and whether Gates colluded with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to ram through implementation.

First, consider who wrote Common Core.

“The writers of the standards included no early childhood educators, no educators of children with disabilities, no experienced classroom teachers; indeed, the largest contingent of the drafting committee were representatives of the testing industry,” Ravitch writes at the Huffington Post.

Not only this, but “No attempt was made to have a pilot testing of the standards in real classrooms with real teachers and students. The standards do not permit any means to challenge, correct, or revise them.”

Ravitch then reminds her liberal readers why state and local control matters. “Until now, in education, the American idea has been that no single authority has all the answers. Local boards are best equipped to handle local problems. States set state policy, in keeping with the concept that states are ‘laboratories of democracy,’ where new ideas can evolve and prove themselves.”

Ravitch’s commentary is just the latest in a long line of bipartisan populist backlash over the top-down imposition of Common Core. Voters don’t have much of an opportunity strike back at the elites who are pushing this, but they can remove politicians who support the switch.

As Ravitch’s piece shows, opposition to Common Core is quickly becoming a rallying cry on both the right and the left.

Let’s hope it continues.

June 11th, 2014 at 7:34 pm
Surge in Illegal Immigration Triggered by Alleged Fed Govt. ‘Free Passes’

A Border Patrol memo obtained by the Washington Times and referenced today in a Senate hearing identifies the main reason Central American women and children are risking illegal entry into the United States – A guaranteed ‘free pass’ by federal government.

“The immigrants come seeking ‘permisos,’ which apparently are the ‘notices to appear,’ the legal documents given to non-Mexicans caught at the border,” reports the paper. “Those notices officially put the immigrants into deportation proceedings. The immigrants usually are released to await a court date, giving them a chance to fade into the shadows in the interior of the U.S.”

According to the Border Patrol memo, “This information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth and international and local media.” It goes on to say that, “A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration ‘permisos’ until the end of June 2014.”

The only permissive immigration policy I’m aware of that is slated to end this month is President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – program.

In my column this week I explain how President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action program impels more illegal immigrants to bring or send for their children, hoping that once here the federal government will expand the de facto amnesty program.

Recently, President Obama announced that he is extending DACA another two years to the end of his presidency. That means we can expect to see increasing numbers of Central American and perhaps other illegal immigrants flooding into the country seeking those promised “permisos” that allow them to drift into the shadows and avoid deportation.

Given enough time to put down roots perhaps they’ll demand to come out of the shadows on a pathway to citizenship.

June 10th, 2014 at 5:26 pm
Interim VA Chief Adopts Boehner’s Private Option Fix

Last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that “any veteran unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days [have] the option to receive non-VA care.”

This week it was revealed that 57,000 veterans have been waiting 90 days or longer for care from VA facilities.

But at a time when the White House is dithering, the acting VA chief is adopting Boehner’s approach.

“The interim VA secretary said he would spend $300 million to increase hours for VA medical staffers and contract with private clinics to see veterans who are unable to get care through VA medical centers,” reports the Washington Post.

Kudos to Sloan Gibson, the temporary VA secretary, for leveraging the private sector to care for those who’ve rendered the highest public service.

June 5th, 2014 at 11:37 am
The Brave New Job Market

“The number of jobs requiring medium levels of skill has shrunk, while the number at both ends of the distribution – those requiring high and low skill levels – has expanded,” says a new research report from the Dallas Federal Reserve.

This employment polarization is changing the standard of living for those in the middle class since, “The number of people performing low-skill, low-pay, manual labor has grown along with the number undertaking high-skill, high-pay, non-routine, principally problem-solving jobs.”

Moving to the wealthier pole requires adapting to non-routine cognitive work since computer automation and off-shoring makes jobs such as “brokers, clerks, tellers, cashiers, telemarketers, title examiners, bookkeepers, insurance underwriters, travel agents and technicians” increasingly irrelevant.

This is sobering news for those aspiring to middle class status. There was a time when a college degree qualified a person’s cognitive abilities, and working according to a companywide routine virtually guaranteed a middle class lifestyle. That time is past. Going forward the likelihood that a person will escape the perils of low-income will depend greatly on her ability to be increasingly entrepreneurial in every facet of her work; whether as a full-time employee or independent contractor.

It’s a reality many formerly comfortable middle class workers would like to avoid. But with computing power and automation spreading quickly everywhere, it looks like the only option available.

Welcome to the brave new job market.

June 4th, 2014 at 8:02 pm
Remembering What the Taliban Stands For

By now you’ve probably heard about the scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s deal to free five Taliban officials held at Guantanamo Bay for what increasingly looks like a deserter from the U.S. Army stationed in Afghanistan.

Those in the mainstream media defending the move – including a Daily Beast columnist who tweeted, “What’s the argument that these five Taliban guys are so dangerous? Are they ninjas? Do they have superpowers?” – would do well to remember how the Taliban’s members earned their cells at Gitmo.

The five released prisoners “were top officials in the Taliban regime: a provincial governor, a deputy defense minister, a deputy intelligence minister, a top arms smuggler, and a top Taliban military commander. Two of them are wanted by the United Nations for war crimes committed against Afghanistan’s Shiites,” writes Robert Tracinski.

Tracinski then gives a sampling of what these kinds of Taliban officials do:

  • Bomb schools because they let girls play sports
  • Shoot a girl in the head because she stands up for her right to be educated
  • Mutilate women to punish them for disobedience in their roles as marital slaves
  • Drag a 7-year-old out of the yard where he is playing and hang him from a tree because his grandfather spoke out against the Taliban

America can’t right every wrong in the world, but surely it should be counted on to keep the world safe from criminals in its custody. Freeing five prisoners so they can rejoin the ranks of a known terrorist organization is a deplorable dereliction of duty. If any of these men go on to commit more crimes, those who agreed to their release will share the blame.

June 4th, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Boehner to Obama: All Vets on VA Wait Lists Should Get Private Option

“All veterans on waiting lists should be able to easily access care outside the VA without waiting for a potentially corrupt facility to approve their request,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) writes today in a letter to President Barack Obama. “Our veterans should not be left in limbo, relying on what your own audit acknowledges is a ‘systematic lack of integrity within some Veterans Health Administration facilities.’”

As an immediate remedy Boehner calls on Obama to support legislation coming from the House Veterans Affairs Committee that would allow “any veteran unable to obtain an appointment within 30 days the option to receive non-VA care.”

If the president and his congressional allies have a better alternative they better put it forward. Too many veterans are waiting.

June 3rd, 2014 at 5:54 pm
Vet Groups Part of VA’s Dysfunction?

Recently, Yuval Levin wrote a characteristically sober and insightful post about the structural problems afflicting not just the Veterans Affairs hospital system, but the VA itself.

Amid other obstacles to reform, Levin explains why certain veterans groups share some of the blame for the VA’s managerial mess.

It is impossible to overstate the political power of the veterans’ interest groups over the VA. The simplest way to describe it is that they get everything they want, period. There are many powerful interest groups in Washington, but because their domain is carefully limited and politically and culturally sensitive, the vets’ groups have a kind of command of their arena that I don’t think any other sort of interest group approaches. And this is a big part of the reason why the VA is so dysfunctional, because it is not subject to congressional or administrative oversight in the usual sense. It answers fundamentally to the vets’ groups. They often informally review its annual budget request before it goes to OMB. They are uniquely involved in drafting budgets on the congressional side. They are considered a necessary signoff on every major decision. Their firm opposition to something is the end of the story. Their priorities are the VA’s priorities. And yet they are very well positioned to treat failures that result from their own distorting power over the system as reasons to increase their power.

Every successful interest group enjoys a certain amount of leverage to get what it wants, but the power exercised by veterans’ organizations that Levin describes is itself a scandal in need of reform. Somewhere the public’s commitment to serve those who served all got hijacked by lobbyists imposing policy choices that are clearly having deleterious effects on retired and disabled veterans. Any reform of the VA department needs to include whatever measures are necessary to uproot this latest case of regulatory capture.

May 28th, 2014 at 5:33 pm
Texas Tea Party Knocks Off GOP Lt. Gov. in Run-Off

It’s been a tough two years for outgoing Texas Republican Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. First, he lost a bitter U.S. Senate primary fight to Ted Cruz in 2012, and yesterday he was blown out 64-36 percent in a run-off election to maintain his current job. After more than a decade in statewide office, the multi-millionaire Dewhurst is out on the political streets.

None of this was inevitable. Dewhurst was an early favorite in his matchups with Cruz and Patrick; the latter currently serving as a State Senator and formerly as a conservative radio show host. Not long ago Dewhurst was trying to shore up his conservative bona fides by shepherding a Voter ID law over strenuous objections from Democrats. However, even that wasn’t enough to overcome his past support for in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants and other moderate tendencies.

When Ted Cruz challenged Dewhurst for the Senate it was said that the standards for conservatives had to be higher in Texas than most other states. Dan Patrick is perhaps the most outspoken elected conservative in Texas politics right now, with a clear path to becoming one of the most powerful political figures in the state.

In two years, Texas Republicans have selected two deeply committed conservatives to important offices with national reach. Time will tell if Cruz and Patrick make good on their opportunities.