The Morning Jolt

Tex-Men, Unite!

 

Rick Perry endorses Ted Cruz:

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is endorsing Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, Perry told POLITICO in an interview Sunday night.

Perry, who also sought the GOP nomination before dropping out in September, said he now sees the race as one that is between Cruz, a fellow Texan, and Donald Trump. Through phone calls and during a December day spent driving around his Round Top, Texas, home in his truck with Cruz, Perry said he found the senator to be a good listener who respects the Tenth Amendment, “knows what he does not know” and is more conservative than Trump.

“Of those individuals who have a chance to win the Republican primary, at this juncture, from my perspective, Ted Cruz is by far the most consistent conservative in that crowd,” Perry said. “And that appears to be down to two people.”

Perry, who is famously skilled at retail politics, will campaign with Cruz Tuesday across Iowa, and will join Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King to stump for Cruz again Wednesday. Perry and King will both join Cruz at a Des Moines rally Wednesday night.

(Because I’m using this awesome illustration above, I should note that Greg Abbott hasn’t endorsed anyone yet, and may very well not endorse; he said last year he didn’t know if he would endorse before the Texas primary.)

Speaking of endorsements . . .

On Sunday, the Rubio campaign announced that [Iowa senator Joni] Ernst would join Rubio at a rally in Des Moines on Monday. Though at least one other campaign is also working to schedule an event with her in final days before the caucuses, Ernst was adamant on Saturday that while she would appear with candidates, she would not put her thumb on the scale.

“I won’t endorse,” Ernst told reporters after her event here, repeating the assertion she has made for months. “I will welcome candidates. I am happy to go to events with candidates. Both Senator [Chuck] Grassley and I have discussed that, and if somebody asks us and we can fit it into our schedule, we’re going to welcome them to Iowa.”

Our Alexis Levinson points out that Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Chuck Grassley have both quasi-endorsed Trump; Branstad by trashing Cruz’s stance on ethanol and Grassley by appearing with Trump and declaring that he, too, wants to “make America great again.”

What’s the point of the quasi-endorsement? If you think somebody is the best choice, why not say so?

Report: Hillary’s Inner Circle ‘Cut and Pasted’ Classified Information

If this is true, the Department of Justice should be spitting out indictments like a Pez dispenser:

The FBI is investigating whether members of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle “cut and pasted” material from the government’s classified network so that it could be sent to her private e-mail address, former State Department security officials say.

Clinton and her top aides had access to a Pentagon-run classified network that goes up to the Secret level, as well as a separate system used for Top Secret communications.

The two systems — the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) and Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) — are not connected to the unclassified system, known as the Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNet). You cannot e-mail from one system to the other, though you can use NIPRNet to send e-mails outside the government.

Somehow, highly classified information from SIPRNet, as well as even the super-secure JWICS, jumped from those closed systems to the open system and turned up in at least 1,340 of Clinton’s home e-mails — including several the CIA earlier this month flagged as containing ultra-secret Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Programs, a subset of SCI.

SAP includes “dark projects,” such as drone operations, while SCI protects intelligence sources and methods.

Meanwhile, our Andy McCarthy explains what it means when you hear Hillary Clinton is not the “subject” of the investigation:

In an ordinary case, that would not be a point worth making. The FBI routinely conducts major investigations in collaboration with Justice Department prosecutors — usually from the U.S. attorney’s office in the district where potential crimes occurred. That is because the FBI needs the assistance of a grand jury. The FBI does not have authority even to issue subpoenas, let alone to charge someone with a crime. Only federal prosecutors may issue subpoenas, on the lawful authority of the grand jury. Only prosecutors are empowered to present evidence or propose charges to the grand jury. And the Constitution vests only the grand jury with authority to indict — the formal accusation of a crime. In our system, the FBI can do none of these things.

No Justice Department, no grand jury. No grand jury, no case — period. As a technical matter, no matter how extensively the FBI pokes around on its own, no one can be a subject of a real investigation — i.e., one that can lead to criminal charges — unless and until there is a grand jury. That does not happen until the Justice Department hops on board. Regular criminal-justice procedures have been suspended by the explosive politics of the Clinton investigation.

Is this building up to the DOJ deciding to ignore all of the FBI’s recommendations? How does the top staff at the FBI respond if that happens?

The End of Small-Government Conservatism

Erick Erickson, formerly of Red State, now creator of The Resurgent, concurs with last week’s point that a big part of the problem for small-government conservatism is that a lot of people who like small government in the abstract resist anything resembling it in practice:

We say we want conservative changes, but we also want our Sugar Daddy Uncle Sam to foot the bill, so we keep running back to first base. Every conservative candidate wants to focus on securing our borders, keeping us safe from terrorists, restoring religious liberty, and dealing with taxes.

Ted Cruz wants to abolish the IRS, but then who will collect federal revenue? When President George W. Bush set up the Department of Homeland Security, there was great fanfare — it’s easy to create new agencies. The EPA, Department of Education, Department of Energy, DHS — none of them existed before 1973, and the government was still big even then.

It will take a generation to kick the habit of agency addiction, and no president can do more than cut some fat and slow the growth. Even that will hurt someone who depends on their fix of federal services. They will have to learn to do without, and when babies lose their pacifiers, they cry. Congress hates crying babies (who vote them into office).

I don’t think the country has the stomach for the kind of change it will take to actually be conservative. I think this is the reason Trump is so popular. He talks about all these things, but he doesn’t really mean it. He makes everyone feel better, but everyone really knows — wink, wink, nod, nod — it’s all just talk.

Can you recall Trump ever talking at length about making the government smaller? He accused Republicans of “attacking Social Security — the Republicans — they’re attacking Medicare and Medicaid” and he praised the infrastructure spending in the stimulus. His health-care plan is, “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. The government’s gonna pay for it.”

Why do we need that in the Republican presidential nominee? We already get that from the Democratic nominee.

A reader noted that the three guys who left the GOP presidential race first — Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindal — were the ones who campaigned most explicitly on smaller government. As I noted when Jindal dropped out, for most of his term, Jindal did exactly what the conservative grassroots say they want their leaders to do — he cut taxes, he cut spending, he privatized government institutions, he stood up for the state’s right to set policy and against dictates from Washington. He said he wanted any tax increase proposal to be “revenue neutral” — i.e., offset by a cut somewhere else. Eventually, you cut government in ways people notice. Museums were open fewer days. Student fees at universities were going to go up, later offset by a tax credit — lots of state legislative Republicans griped about that one.

The donor class doesn’t want smaller government — and certainly isn’t willing to endure the messy sequester brinksmanship and government shutdowns that are usually required to get cuts of any size. Rural “conservatives” don’t want to give up farm subsidies or ethanol mandates. Hugh Hewitt, a man I respect enormously, contends that Department of Defense waste isn’t important enough to mitigate calls for more spending at the Pentagon: “Small government grinds who point to stupid expenditures in the Pentagon in the tens of millions of dollars betray a fundamental, indeed disqualifying myopia about a budget of more than $600 billion yet still less than 3 percent of the nation’s GDP.”

ADDENDA: I’m supposed to appear on CNN around 11 a.m. this morning with former Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett, discussing Trump, Bloomberg, the Democrats’ Town Hall, the Des Moines Register endorsements, and Rick Perry’s endorsing Ted Cruz.

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