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Monday, November 30, 2015

"Hope Yes? Then Vote Yes!"

“Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to
make some changes, starting with how the House does business… At this point, nothing
could be more inspiring than a job well done. Nothing could stir the heart more than
real, concrete results.” —Speaker Ryan, October, 29, 2015

We have turned the page and begun a new chapter of our majority. Speaker Ryan has laid
out a bold vision and emphasized the need for inclusion and regular order. I want to lay
out what I believe is the Whip team’s role in implementing Speaker Ryan's vision and our
responsibilities to contribute text to this exciting chapter.

I believe Speaker Ryan is asking for more from each of us. He is asking us as individual
Members to roll up our sleeves and become better legislative entrepreneurs. And he is
asking us to work better and harder as team members—at the Committees, the specific
caucuses, our state delegations, and the Conference as a whole.

And now I am asking the Whip team to adapt to this new, more inclusive environment. I
want the Whip team to be integral in:

· Making regular order a sustainable operating model
· Generating ideas and solutions from the bottom up
· Bolstering the work of Committees throughout the legislative process

· Communicating our House GOP vision

House Republicans are the most powerful force for limited government, strong national
defense and economic opportunity that exists in America today. But it is not enough to
just talk about conservative values. We need to pass conservative policy. And we can
only advance our values when we are united. Without 218 votes we have limited
influence. And it is the primary responsibility of the Whip team to build 218 votes to
advance those policies.

The Whip team is the strongest and most diverse organization in our Conference that
reaches into every committee, region and issue of the GOP Conference as whole. As we
open the process and allow more amendments and more committee-produced bills to
come to the floor, the pace will increase—and along with it so will the workload of the
Whip team.

The Whip operation will be critical to the success of this new era of our majority. We will
continue to develop mechanisms, products and platforms that assist in educating on the
policy, purpose and process of legislation moving to the House floor. I ask that each of
you share with me your ideas on how best to make this happen.

Hope Yes? Then Vote Yes!

I am optimistic that with greater inclusiveness and a more open Floor process, the House
can produce legislation that generates broader support from our Conference when we get
to final passage.

But, let’s be honest. Not every bill we are asked to vote on will be perfect and there will
be times when the choices we face are less than ideal. We are Members of Congress—
that’s part of the job. Too many in our Conference are falling into the pattern of voting
no on tough bills while actually hoping the bill passes because they know that the
outcome will be even worse if the bill fails.

To be clear, any Member who disagrees with the substance of a bill and genuinely
believes failure of the bill to pass is a better outcome not only has the freedom, but the
responsibility to their constituents to vote no. That is not the type of vote that has raised
frustration and concern within our Conference. The vote that hurts our Conference is the
no vote from a Member who hopes the bill passes, but relies on others to carry that load.
That vote isn’t fair to the Members who shoulder the responsibility of voting yes, and it
isn’t fair to the Republican Conference as a whole.

While we always strive to reach 218 with Republican votes, sometimes that is not
possible with divided government, and the story of a bill that passed with 150 Republican
votes is much more positive and assertive than the story of a bill that passes with 79
Republican votes. My point is simple: if there are 150 Republicans who hope the bill
passes, then there should be 150 Republicans who vote yes on final passage. As a
Member of the Whip team, I hope and expect you will do your part to help us build
consensus and help Members lean in to communicate back home why the tough vote was
the right vote.

I am really proud of the work the Whip team has done these past 16 months. In short,
we’ve delivered in a big way for our Conference. It is a great record and base to build
upon over the coming months.

President Obama, the mainstream media, Minority Leader Pelosi, Senate Democrats,
outside groups—they have all taken their best shots at House Republicans. We have
responded with a more united, focused, and bold Conference under the direction of one
our country's most dynamic young leaders to come along in a long time. I hope you are as
excited as I am to get back on offense and advance our bold conservative vision for all
the country to see and embrace!



Sunday, November 29, 2015

Deliberation in the Cabinet

In his memoir, Seeking Bipartisanship, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood writes of the absence of deliberation in the Obama cabinet:
During my time in the Obama administration, I never attended a Cabinet meeting during which a meaningful decision was reached about important issues. It was all for show. As far as I could tell, our discussions changed not a single mind on policy questions or administration strategy. The meetings simply allowed the president to announce that he had consulted his Cabinet about decisions he and his advisers had already made.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Protest and Faith

At The Wall Street Journal, John McWhorter writes:
The idea that only the naive or the immoral would question issues connected to something as broad and protean as race and racism is hasty at best and anti-intellectual at worst. What qualifies as discrimination? As cultural appropriation? As aggression? What is an ethnicity? What does racial courtesy consist of, and for what reasons? These are rich, difficult questions with no hard-and-fast answers.
Any insistence otherwise is religious. The term is unavoidable here. When intelligent people openly declare that logic applies only to the extent that it corresponds to doctrine and shoot down serious questions with buzzwords and disdain, we are dealing with a faith. As modern as these protests seem, in their way, they return the American university to its original state as a divinity school—where exegesis of sacred texts was sincerely thought of as intellection, with skepticism treated as heresy.
The impression that race-related positions are elementary tenets long resolved explains the “safe space” concept so often bandied about at universities today. Commentators harrumph that students who insist on this brand of safety are merely “whining,” but they miss the point; these students assume that any views on race and racism counter to theirs genuinely qualify as benighted and toxic. All of us seek “safety” from genuinely rancid views—how many of us would stay at a party where someone dominated the conversation with overtly racist bloviations? These students have merely overextended the bounds of the conclusively intolerable.

Friday, November 27, 2015

RNC Oppo

Elizabeth Williamson reports at The New York Times:
The vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Rodham Clinton once cited in 1998 works from cluttered offices on Capitol Hill, led by a man who was in high school when she first made the charge.
Raj Shah runs the Republican National Committee’s opposition research arm, a beehive of two dozen tech-savvy idealists who have already spent two years searching through decades of government documents, tax filings, TV footage and news archives. One of their colleagues in Arkansas turns up every day in the Clinton presidential library to probe the Clintons’ accumulated past. More than 330 Freedom of Information Act requests have netted 11,000 pages of records, and counting. The R.N.C. has also retained Mark Zaid, an attorney who also is representing the Gawker website in suing the State Department over records from Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

Today, presidential candidates start campaigning two years before the first primary vote is cast. That gives researchers a head start in finding flip-flops, fibs and perhaps most damaging of all, moments when politicians are caught being themselves.
Both political parties conduct opposition research — for proof of the Democrats’ prowess, there’s the “macaca moment” in 2006 that torpedoed the re-election of Senator George Allen in Virginia. In this political cycle Republican investigators have been given a rare gift: a clear front-runner with a long and public history.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 1863

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Professional Diversity and Politics

At The Baltimore Sun, my coauthor John-Clark Levin writes about Congress and professional diversity:
While there are 60 percent more men in Congress than in the general population — to the outrage of many — trained lawyers are overrepresented by about 6,021 percent: 213 members hold law degrees. About another 130 spent most of their careers in business or finance. By contrast, there are just eight engineers, two scientists, one economist and less than a dozen career military officers. The result is a massive skew toward the ways of thinking and problem solving taught in law and business schools.
Whether in legislatures or executive government, the core of policymaking is setting agendas and collaboratively making informed decisions. The legal profession instills reliance on adversarial process — wherein two sides present arguments to an impartial arbiter. On the other hand, scientists are taught to prioritize quantitative evidence, economists to study incentives and journalists to suppress personal bias. In government, these approaches can shape how politicians gather information, which experts they trust, and what solutions they favor. Diversity helps ensure that policies are based on the strongest evidence possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

White Christians and Party Coalitions

Many posts have dealt with religion and party politics.

At National Journal, Ronald Brownstein notes that white Christians dominate the GOP but not the Democratic Party: