The man who ended Eric Cantor: Dave Brat’s unusual traits as professor make him a promising congressional candidate

Dave Brat

Robert Thomas is an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College, Class of 2011, where he completed his B.A. in Economics/Business and Philosophy. He currently resides and works in Arlington, VA and is pursuing an M.A. in Philosophy with a concentration in Ethics and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

Dave Brat’s name has been splashed across national media headlines ever since his upset primary victory over Eric Cantor. Most of the coverage has focused on speculation about the reasons for his electoral success, what it means for national political trends, and its impact on the House Republican leadership structure.

By contrast, little ink has been spilled and few keyboards have clattered with discussion about what to actually expect from him as a prospective congressman, and what he might achieve within the House. Maybe a firsthand perspective can help fill that gap.

Over the course of four years as a student at Randolph-Macon College, I had a chance to get to know Dave Brat well before his appearance on the national political stage. He was my professor in my studies in economics, my supervisor in my work as a student assistant with the Department of Economics and Business, and, alongside his colleague Ed Showalter, my coach as a member of Randolph-Macon’s team in the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges’ annual Ethics Bowl competition.

Across those four years and many experiences, I came to know him well and to respect him deeply.

As a professor with distinct conservative and libertarian leanings teaching courses on subjects like economics and ethics, it was a rare moment when he didn’t have a clear position on the topic of the day’s lecture, but he always pushed students to understand competing points of view and the arguments behind them.

Elizabeth Warren and progressives were shockingly quiet about foreign policy at last weekend’s Netroots Nation conference

Elizabeth Warren at Netroots Nation

After the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines plane full of AIDS activists last week, one of the most compelling moments came when conservative talk radio hosts began playing clips of President Ronald Reagan’s response in 1983 to the Russian government shooting down a Korean airliner carrying Americans during the height of the Cold War.

Compelling because the hosts in driving their points home juxtaposed that 20 minute clip with the 40 seconds Obama allotted to the Malaysian crash before launching into a prepared speech on infrastructure in Delaware. And the result was stunning. It became crystal clear in those minutes that the concern, care, and attention to strategy given to foreign policy tends to be heavy on the right, and less weighty from politicians on the left.

Consider the following:

Bill Clinton bombed aspirin factories, pulled out of Somalia leading to the Black Hawk Down incident, and had nuclear guidance technology stolen from labs in California only to turn up later in China. 9/11 can arguably be somewhat applied to eight years of his leadership as well, despite the urge to give the lion’s share of the blame to George W. Bush.

His wife, of course, was instantly infamous for the now and future oft-repeated “What difference does it make?” line from the Benghazi hearings following the death of four Americans at an embassy compound in Libya.

Her boss, our current President, can be saddled with the failed Arab Spring, the current Syrian Civil War, the reemergence of Vladamir Putin and a muscle-flexing Russia, the spontaneous development of an Iranian Navy, Russian spy planes off the coast of California, and the list goes on and on.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals just gutted Obamacare in a big way: Judges smack down another administration power grab

The U.S. District Court of Appeals delivered a huge blow to the Obama administration this morning, ruling that it’s illegal for the Internal Revenue Service to dole out tax subsidies for enrollees in the nearly three-dozen states on the federal Obamacare Exchange.

At issue in Halbig v. Burwell is whether the IRS has the authority to provide tax subsidies to enrollees in states that opted not to comply with Obamacare. A reading of the Affordable Care Act statutes in question (§1311 and §1321) confirms that the subsidies were meant to apply only to states with established Exchanges.

But the IRS, apparently unconcerned with the actual text of the law as passed by Congress, wrote rules to apply the subsidies to the federal Exchange, which didn’t exist until states refused to establish their own.

In a 2 to 1 decision this morning, a panel of judges from the U.S. District Court of Appeals agreed that the IRS overstepped its statutory authority, even though the majority acknowledged that the opinion will have major ramifications for healthcare policy.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” wrote Judge Thomas B. Griffith in the 42-page opinion. “At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

IRS can’t get its story straight: Official says he’s not sure whether email backup tapes were destroyed

 Tax agency official says he's unsure whether backup tapes with Lerner emails were destroyed

The Internal Revenue Service just can’t get its story straight as to whether or not Lois Lerner’s emails are still recoverable. Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the emails were lost and could not be recovered before Lerner’s attorney suggested that she may still have hardcopies of some of her records.

Now, according to testimony released by the committee, the IRS official who complies with document request from Congress says that the backup tapes on which Lerner emails are stored could still be lying around somewhere:

IRS deputy associate chief counsel Thomas Kane, who oversees the tax-collecting agency’s document production to Congress, told the House Oversight Committee in private testimony that he’s now unsure if the correspondence is backed up somewhere else.

“I don’t know if there is a backup tape with information on it or there isn’t,” he told investigators Thursday, according to a partial transcript released by Oversight Republicans on Monday.
[…]
“There is an issue as to whether or not there is a — that all of the backup recovery tapes were destroyed on the six-month retention schedule,” he said.

Today in Liberty: GOP Senator’s Obamacare lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge, Kevin McCarthy smears Rand Paul in Kentucky

“I used to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought being ‘patriotic’ and loving my country meant never questioning foreign wars. I was all rah rah America! show ‘em who is boss!…Boy…things change. I saw too many men in their early 20s who lost limbs in war. Their entire lives destroyed. Young 22 year olds dealing with post traumatic stress. Unable to live a normal life. Too many mothers crying over caskets. They will never be able to cope with losing their son or daughter at such a young age.”Julie Borowski

Vulnerable Democratic senator dismisses complaints of lost health insurance coverage under Obamacare as “anecdotal”

President Barack Obama made it pretty clear when he was trying to sell his healthcare reform proposal that Americans would be able to keep their coverage: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

But that has proved to be untrue for many Americans. PolitiFact handed President Obama the dishonor of “Lie of the Year” for 2013, noting that “the promise was impossible to keep” due to the narrowly written “grandfathered plan” regulations. And by the end of the year, nearly 5 million Americans received notices in the mail telling them that their health plans had been canceled because of Obamacare.

Caught in the crossfire were vulnerable Democratic senators who repeated President Obama’s misleading — to put it nicely — talking points. Among them was Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who promised on at least two occasions that Arkansans would be able to keep their coverage under Obamacare.

But when presented with the concerns of his constituents over the weekend during an appearance on local television, Pryor pushed back. “Let’s look at those stories and get inside of those stories,” he said. “A lot of this is anecdotal.”

Innovation is not a crime: Memphis has actually set up a task force to stop Uber, Lyft drivers from making a living

 Memphis has actually set up a task force to stop Uber, Lyft drivers from making a living

The war on Uber and Lyft has taken an unusual turn. It hasn’t been uncommon for regulators and politicians, usually at the behest of the antiquated taxicab industry, to take action against these and other app-based ridesharing companies.

The Virginia Department of Transportation, for example, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Uber and Lyft warning the two companies to stop operating or face fines. The agency, however, eventually backed off.

But Memphis, Tennessee, a town known for the Blues and great barbecue, has taken the crackdown against ridesharing to a strange new level. Regulators in the city have actually created a task force to target Uber and Lyft drivers:

Aubrey Howard is the head of the Memphis Permits department, “We are not attempting to curtail commerce. What we want is if they are going to do business here they have to follow the rules.”

Howard says if the companies are willing to pay the cost of permits and car inspections, they are welcome to stay.

Until that happens, he said the city is planning to send Memphis police officers after rideshare drivers, “We think sending out a task force will make these companies move a little faster.”

Howard says the main focus is passenger safety.

The city needs to know the people driving these cars can pass a background test with the FBI and pay the permit fees to be on the road.

How tech entrepreneurs Scott Banister and Peter Thiel are making Silicon Valley more friendly to Republicans like Rand Paul

Silicon Valley

Don’t look now, but Silicon Valley is being driven in a more libertarian direction. No, it may not happen overnight, but the efforts of a couple of well-respected entrepreneurs are sowing the seeds of liberty in the tech industry, which has generally had a leftist tilt.

Politico took note of the efforts of Scott Banister, a PayPal board member and tech investor, who spent much of the latter part of last week with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Silicon Valley as he courted tech donors and spoke at Lincon Labs’ Reboot conference in San Francisco.

“I think politicians usually have so little understanding of this space or they’re so not aligned with our interests,” Banister told Politico. “I think Rand both gets it and he’s very aligned.” Banister also indicated that he’ll some involved in helping Paul raise money for a presidential bid. “I think the good news is that I think Rand will have a very broad base of financial support,” he said.

Paul does indeed views that appeal to the Silicon Valley crowd. He has been among the most vocal opponents to the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs and he’s talked up Internet freedom. That’s red meat for the tech industry, which has been hit financially by the spying controversies that have boiled over under President Barack Obama.

Tolerance: FreedomWorks’ Deneen Borelli and C.L. Bryant verbally attacked for showing up at the NAACP convention

FreedomWorks' Deneen Borelli and C.L. Bryant verbally attack for showing up at the NAACP convention

FreedomWorks was able to land a booth this year at the NAACP’s annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada where they hoped to share free market ideas. But Deneen Borelli and Rev. C.L. Bryant received some blowback for — gasp! — daring to show up.

A women who identified herself as “Adrian Jones” approached the booth and began berating Borelli and Bryant for their association with FreedomWorks and the Tea Party movement. While the two black conservatives tried to explain what they believed, Ms. Jones barely let them get a word in edgewise.

“They don’t stand for any of the values of what the NAACP stands for. They don’t need to be in here,” Jones said after she went off on Bryant and Borelli. When asked why she was bothered by their presence at the NAACP convention, Jones replied, “The billionaire Koch brothers is funding the FreedomWorks. That’s what has me upset.”

Watch the video below via Progressive Today:

Hey, Leftists, “economic patriotism” should mean getting government out of the way for business owners to succeed

Business owners will do anything to make sure their businesses are successful.

A strong feeling of apathy, sometimes, is the natural consequence of having experienced too many obstacles in the process of getting your idea off the ground. Every now and then, would-be entrepreneurs become frustrated and walk away. Others end up looking for diverse, creative ways of getting around what they deem too complicated.

What all business owners have in common is the urge to make things happen: a kind of acute dedication harbored only by people fired up by a strong sense of purpose. They are everywhere, from your favorite food truck’s owner to Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk. They will go to great lengths to get things done.

While on my trip to Detroit for a series of panels and interviews facilitated by the Virginia-based Franklin Center, I had the opportunity to talk to the owner of a small tavern in the downtown area known as Greektown.

The Firebird Tavern, Tony Piraino said, had gone under a series of small changes to its structure to please the ever-changing city health codes. Every now and then, the city’s health inspector appears to come up with a new thing the owner must do to make sure the place is up to date with the local regulations if he wants to continue to operate legally.

The latest changes, however, cost Mr. Piranio a couple of thousands of dollars. A quantity of cash not all small business owners have at their disposal with ease. And what was so pressing that needed such an urgent change? The doors inside of the tavern, which is housed by a Victorian style building with creaky wooden floor and charming, thick, exposed brick walls, needed panic bars. Were the doors not opening and closing before that just with a slight push?

 


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