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Who Is Tom Steyer: The Important Work of Powerline’s John Hinderaker

Wednesday, April 23, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

“>Steyer0027

Since I take the First Amendment seriously, I don’t begrudge any person of vast wealth the right to spend every last penny of it on political causes.

But neither do I believe that just because someone declares himself to be a do-gooder that he is in fact intent on doing good as opposed to, say, making even more money.  Nor do “conversion stories” play well with me.  Once a capitalist, folks ought not to be allowed to attack free markets without media comment on their change of heart.

Billionaire Tom Steyer appears to have secured the fealty of the entire Democratic Party on the Keystone XL pipeline, from the president through the lowest ranking member of Congress, and that is not the sort of “corruption” that allows campaign finance reform laws their last few breaths of life under the gaze of this Supreme Court.  The sort of corruption the proponents of campaign finance have to point to is “quid pro quo” Abscam bribes.

Now Steyer runs a giant “influence operation,” but it is perfectly legal and perfectly in the open.  But is is poorly understood and that is where the MSM is falling down.  “I’m not the Koch brothers” Steyer proclaims, but of course he is: He’s a wealthy American spending his money on various candidates and causes for reasons we can only dimly if ever suspect.  The Kochs appear genuinely interested in a world view anchored in free people and free markets.  Steyer seems genuinely motivated by a fear of global warming.  The latter motivation is as absurd to me as the former makes obvious sense based on history.  But the one thing that is certain is that the Kochs and Steyers are doing exactly the same thing: using money to influence politics.  And, to repeat, that is fine.  That’s the First Amendment at work.  See Putin’s Russia, the mullah’s Iran, the PRC or its client North Korea for states wherein such speech is not permitted.

Where our MSM fails, however, is in shining a light on Steyer and the Kochs equally.  They are fooled by Steyer’s proclamations of “good guy” status and have given him a free ride on the origins of his wealth, or at least they are silent on that point.

John Hinderaker isn’t, however, and everyone should read John’s “The Epic Hypocrisy of Tom Steyer.”  This is the sort of reporting the Wall Street Journal, TheNew York Times, and The Washington Post should be doing, but the Powerline commitment to deep digging is a wonderful thing and yields this sort of gold.

Turns out that Mr. Steyer has made a lot of money –a lot of money– from investing in coal.  Good for him.  Coal is one of those things that greatly improve the circumstances of billions of people around the world by allowing them to live more comfortably and longer lives.  It is a precious natural resource, and the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal, which is a good thing as well.  Like oil and natural gas, coal is freedom, because energy is freedom.  Thumbs up to coal billionaires.

But shouldn’t the MSM who are covering Mr. Steyer’s endless campaign against GOP candidates and the Keystone XL pipeline at least note for their readers the source of some of his vast fortune?

Since they won’t do their job, I hope you will help get out the word by linking to John’s piece and tweeting it pout again and again.  Tom Mr. Coal” Steyer deserves as much attention as airtime he purchases.

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““If we are attacked, we would certainly respond” –Hillary’s Friend, Sergey V. Lavrov

Wednesday, April 23, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Just reminding folks, the mouthpiece of Putin is Sergey Lavrov with whom Hillary believed she had forged a strong bond and through who the U.S.-Russian relationships was to be reset.

It isn’t just the Russians who are pushing President Obama (and through his his present  Secretary of State John Kerry and his past representative to the world Hillary), it is also China, which issued a statement yesterday after the president reiteration of its standing alongside of Japan in its South China Sea Dispute with the PRC.  From the New York Times:

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said Wednesday that China was “firmly opposed to treating the U.S.-Japan security treaty as applying to the Diaoyu Islands.”

“The United States should respect the facts, in a responsible manner abide by its commitment not to choose sides over a territorial sovereignty issue, be cautious on words and deeds and earnestly play a constructive role for peace and stability in the region…”

Two weeks ago SecDef Hagel got knocked around rhetorically by the Chinese while visiting the PRC, and the president’s show of unity with the Japanese is getting the same sort of reception from Beijing.  Still the usual suspects put their faith in paper agreements, like the one being signed on a naval code of conduct in the South China Sea.

This faith in papers signed by authoritarians is remarkable given that the Russians signed a paper on Ukraine less than a week ago which is already worthless, just like the New Start treaty with Russia.

Russia is using its “green men,” notes Max Boot, and China’s provocations in the South China Sea are part of a comprehensive strategy to dominate that ocean which isn’t going to change but which can be opposed by the presence of ships –ships which are fewer and fewer in number because of the president’s defense budget.  If anyone really wants to contain Putin and the PRC, they have to support serious and immediate hikes in defense spending.  Paper is no way to stop with country or for that matter Iran.

Powerline’s Scott Johnson posted a televised exchange between Bill Kristol and Nick Kristof which underscores how liberals and of course those to their left just refuse to see the realities of how the world.  Please watch the whole thing.

The Longest Congressional Campaign And The House Leadership Battle

Tuesday, April 22, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

We have grown used to long presidential campaigns.  Those begin the day after the “off-year” election ends, and we ought to expect “exploratory committees” and even formal declarations of a campaign for the presidency to pour forth in November and December of this year.

GOP Chairman Reince Priebus may hold off the onslaught of presidential primary debates by pushing out an official schedule of 2015-2016 RNC-sponsored debates in late summer or early fall of this year, which would allow top tier candidates to waive off all other invites, but even if sanity returns to the debate process the new schedule of primaries and the ever-present need to raise big dollars for a long campaign means you can hear the engines being turned over on possible presidential campaigns already.

We are used to that.  What we aren’t used to is a long Congressional campaign like the one already begun.  Take a look here at Tom Cotton’s wonderful ad against Mark Pryor which released yesterday.  This is wonderfully effective 30 second spot (especially when you consider that Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor is himself the real “entitled” candidate having inherited his Senate seat from his dad), and it is the sort of ad that used to emerge after Labor Day when campaigning picks up in a steadily growing crescendo.  But it isn’t even Memorial Day yet.  It isn’t even May!  Cotton is out raising and hammering Pryor like an anvil with six months of sprinting left ahead.  So it is in many other Senate and House races.  So it will continue to be.

The primary reason why the 2014 race is already begun is because to the 2014 legislative session is already done.  Really.  Very little in the way of important issues will be voted on or even make it to the House or Senate floor unless Justice Ginsburg retires (and one Beltway lefty, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank doesn’t think that is happening.)  There isn’t a “must-pass” piece of legislation left since the “doc fix” was passed in late March, and while the details of the various appropriations bills matter a great deal, they won’t to the public beyond a few headline grabbers and one day stories.

There just isn’t much to do or see happening in the Congress, and if you are in a safe House seat or not running in a Senate campaign, all there is is the routine of constituent service, key hearings –more on this below– and of course conspiring to advance your own interests within the House GOP Caucus.

Thanks to House of Cards season one, there will be greater-than-ever public interest in the House GOP leadership contest that will follow any announcement of a step down by Speaker Boehner –now or in the new Congress– or after the election should the Speaker wish to try and hang on to his gavel.  (That would be a messy, terrible start to the new legislative year, but it is possible.)  Few folks outside of DC and the hard core politicos ever used to pay attention to such proceedings, but new media and new television has changed that.  Caucus doings can fuel an entire three hours of radio programming on a regular basis, with lines jammed and interesting guests and callers weighing in.

I interviewed Robert Costa Monday about the looming House leadership battle –the transcript is here– and Costa believes the Speaker hasn’t decided to retire yet, and that a return of Senate control to the GOP would incline him towards trying to keep his Speakership going.  I think that would be a disaster for the GOP, even if he was successful in the internal battle to not be embarrassed by the balloting.  The party needs a new face and a new agenda, one worked out quickly and put forward rapidly in coordination with the new GOP Senate majority if assembled –very early in 2015 –very early– if it is to have a chance against Hillary.  That is why the Speaker would help the GOP greatly if he announced his intention to step aside after the election and let the incoming caucus begin now to figure out its new leader.

For reasons Costa discussed, the front-runner to succeed Speaker Boehner is Majority Leader Eric Cantor but Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, could mount a very credible challenge to Cantor, and here is the default bottom line on where the spring and summer will be spent in the House: In a dance of positioning between those two and their camps.  Which brings us to hearings.

The House GOP has lacked a strategy on everything over the 18 months since President Obama’s re-election –or rather, it has been the victim of too many agendas, from the various approaches to opposition to Obamacare, to the debates over the shutdown and the debt battles, on how to handle the Benghazi investigation and the IRS abuse oversight hearings, to what to do about immigration.   The Caucus leadership could not get organized to put a plan in place so a score of plans bloomed.  That’s where we find the House GOP still: in the ditch without a coherent plan on getting from here to November.

A schedule of recesses is not a plan.  There is no ready-to-roll-out set of hearings on Benghazi, the IRS and especially Obamacare, no planning for the months ahead that would reflect a commitment to coherence between now and then.  What ought to have been published months ago still doesn’t exist.

The paralysis within the House Caucus isn’t going to resolve until at best November after the election and leadership voting.  But couldn’t the Speaker, the Majority Leader and Whip, the Conference Chair and NRCC Chair get the key Committee Chairs –Issa, Camp, Upton, and Hensarling– into a room and the nine of them agree on a “hearing of the week” to hold on Wednesdays when they are in session between now and November, with a story line attached and a clear presentation?  This isn’t hard to do: Status of Obamacare rollout, week 1 (Energy and Commerce), Status of Benghazi investigation, week 2 (Oversight and Government Reform), Status of IRS investigation week 3 (Ways and Means), Status of Unemployment and Weak “Recovery,” week 4 (Financial Services), Status of IRS and Obamacare investigations, week 5 (Oversight and Government Reform).

Then repeat.  The repeat again.  Three hearings on each subject between now and the fall recess.  Each hearing with a review of the key storyline and data and new witnesses and serious questions.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Focus and execute.  Schedule and prepare.  Leave the hollowing out of the military and the collapse of the Obama foreign policy to Senate voices like Kelly Ayotte and Marco Rubio who have already taken leading roles on the crises that American weakness has engendered.  The House should focus on those issues they want to drive the November election.

This isn’t hard to do, but it hasn’t been done.  If it is done, the longest Congressional campaign will have energy and focus overarching its hundred different battles and the leadership fight may fade from the headlines a bit.

But if there isn’t a plan, gossip and scheming will fill the void.  Which would you prefer?

 

Springtime In Washington: Watching The Obamacare Spin Bloom and Russia Grow

Monday, April 21, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Washington Examiner column this morning concerns vast cohort of older Americans and the highly unlikely prospect of their being spun on the reality of Obamacare, no matter how many press conferences and speeches the president delivers.  Watching the spin unravel under the wight of the reality of the fractured and ever more expensive health care system won’t be entertaining given the misery involved, but it will be highly informative for a country readying to vote in crucial midterms.

Meanwhile the Ukraine crisis which John Kerry was supposed to have solved last week lurched back into crisis mode, and the New York Times begins its take down of a second GOP would-be opponent of Hillary –former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  Spring has come to the Manhattan-Beltway media, and its trials include ignoring the same story line in the democratic camp -Bill Clinton, Harry Reid– as is pursued with GOPers like Jeb Bush.  Familiar and comforting, as is the history of midterms in the sixth year of a presidency.

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