Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.

The Every Operative for Himself Party

Republican Party

Republicans are great at attracting money, but they don’t seem to know what to do with it.

Democrats had the help of a major ally in the quest to modernize their campaigns: unions. The labor movement might seem like an odd generator of cutting-edge tactics but, squeezed by declining membership and funds, it has turned into an innovation factory for the party. Michael Podhorzer, the AFL-CIO’s political director, was a founder of the Analyst Institute, a group dedicated to testing the best methods for voter contact and persuasion.

Republicans don’t hurt for allies. But many of them, like the Karl Rove-founded super PAC American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, follow a simple formula: Raise a bunch of money and spend it on TV ads. It’s not exactly a revolutionary way to conduct campaigns. “What is the third-party group that is equivalent to the labor movement on our side?” Lundry asked. “Is it the chamber? Probably not.”

Unlike unions, those GOP-leaning groups don’t invest much in the ground game, which, to many GOP operatives who do work in the field, is part of a bigger problem. The GOP’s political class simply doesn’t value that kind of work, even if it’s increasingly important in the 21st century.

Most young Republican operatives view organizing as a mere entry point to a career that will eventually lead to bigger, and better-paying, gigs. “Democrats actually set up and train people to think about those jobs as careers,” said Brian Stobie, a partner at the GOP data-management firm Optimus. “A field-organizing roll can be a career over there. In our world, it’s a $27,000-a-year job you can’t wait to get out of.”

This is a fascinating article, but it seems to me even the Republicans who are trying to “change the culture” are still oblivious about what their real problems are. For example:

A few GOP consultants say the party’s conservative philosophy hinders the sharing of its best ideas—both with other Republican campaigns and within individual campaigns themselves. “We are so individualistic on the Republican side, both in our philosophy and policy,” Harris said. “It definitely bleeds over into how we are managing and structuring campaigns. And we have to break that.”

This is BS. The problem is not that they are too “individualistic.” The problem is that they are too “narcissistic.” It’s not the same thing.

Young Democrats are working for something. They’re working for economic justice, racial and gender equality, reproductive and marriage rights, the planet itself.

What are young Republicans working to achieve, other than winning elections? What noble cause can they dedicate themselves to? Other than some people (preferably them ) getting rich? Some of them are working against economic justice, racial and gender equality, etc., of course. But for them it all boils down to maintaining the privileges of the privileged, in hopes of being privileged themselves, if they aren’t already.

If it doesn’t occur to them to innovate or share information, it’s probably because, deep down, they don’t give a bleep about anyone but themselves. So they’re given a task, such as raising X amount of money or electing X candidate, and they’ll work to do that, but without inspiration, purpose and idealism it won’t occur to them to innovate or see the bigger picture beyond their particular task. Because people who innovate and who are always looking for ways to serve the larger cause have to have a larger cause to serve first.


Everything You Need to Know About the GOP Base

Republican Party

Poll: Huckabee Is Now The GOP’s Top Choice For 2016 After Libido Remark


The GOP Crazy Arcade

Obama Administration, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Most of the reviews of the SOTU coming from non-rightie media are describing it with words like “cautious,” “modest” and “conciliatory,” which tells me I didn’t miss anything interesting. According to the wingnuts, of course, the President as “Kommandant-In-Chef” — something like that hot-tempered British fellow who stars in all those cooking shows on cable, perhaps — announced tanks in the street and a new Politburo of Central Planning.

“The world is literally about to blow up,” Lindsey Graham (R-Drama Queen) said.

There were four Republican responses, two official and two not. Sensitive to the fact that women laugh at them but incapable of comprehending why, the Party called on two women representatives — Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Stockholm Syndrome) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (likewise) to give Republican responses in English and Spanish. The womenfolk were assigned the task of sounding sane and reasonable without getting into specifics, and I don’t doubt they carried out their mission. But it seems the guys went their own way.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Bagger), who appointed himself to speak for the Tea Party, has noticed that “income inequality” is the new new buzz phrase, and he spoke of it in spite of not being entirely sure what it is.

“Today, Americans know in their hearts that something is wrong. Much of what is wrong relates to the sense that the ‘American Dream’ is falling out of reach for far too many of us,” Lee said. “We are facing an inequality crisis — one to which the President has paid lip-service, but seems uninterested in truly confronting or correcting.”

“But where does this new inequality come from? From government — every time it takes rights and opportunities away from the American people and gives them instead to politicians, bureaucrats and special interests.”

“Special interests,” like, I don’t know, the 1 percent, perhaps? OK, senator, and you keep favoring special interests, because . . .?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Rand Paul) gave his own response, which I understand was videoed before the White House had even released the text of the SOTU. Paul evoked Ronald Reagan, blamed the 2008 financial meltdown on the Federal Reserve, and promised economic utopia through “economic freedom zones,” a plan that’s been tried already and doesn’t seem to work.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Looney Tunes) had a meltdown on Maddow’s show after he was called out for some Tweets he posted while the President was speaking. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Flunked Anger Management) threatened to break a reporter “in half.”

And Sen.Ted Cruz (R-Pure Unadulterated Bullshit) today is in the Wall Street Journal waxing sad about the “imperial presidency.” Do we want to talk about “obstruction,” and “refusing to govern,” Senator?


Fickle Fingers of Fate

Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

I’ve passed the 15,000 words mark in the ebook, and I think it’s going to take me another 10,000 words to say everything I want to say, although probably not more than that. So it’s cooking.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of things to read together. Charles Pierce quotes a Romney fundraiser who is still angry about “the hug” between Chris Christie and President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. The fundraiser thinks “the hug” gave the election to Obama. Pierce writes,

Part of me wants to point out that, apparently, the utterly self-centered cluelessness of the candidate spread pretty widely throughout all levels of the Romney campaign. (Christie was supposed to let his constituents fight each other for bottled water rather than accept help from the federal government? People on the Jersey Shore were supposed to live in lean-to’s until Willard closed on that new place in D.C.?) Part of me wants to point out that this is yet another indication that the prion disease afflicting the collective brain of the Republican party rages unabated. But a much bigger part of me wants to laugh and laugh until I fall down.

The point being that the clueless wonders who supported Romney never understood that elections are about governing. The whole governing thing seems to elude them.

At Salon, Elias Isquith argues that Christie’s tendency to stoop to governing now and then, or at least talking about it, is what’s behind the Tea Party’s intense dislike of him.

The difference in framing between how Christie’s describing his job and how, say, Sen. Rand Paul or Sen. Ted Cruz or Rep. Paul Ryan or even Gov. Scott Walker would describe their job is subtle but important. If Paul or Cruz or Ryan or Walker were bragging about their accomplishments in a victory speech — the moment above all others when a politician can “campaign in poetry,” as Gov. Mario Cuomo once said — they wouldn’t wax rhapsodic about their own management of the state. They wouldn’t make the point, as Christie did, that government is there to “give” and “work with” and “work for” its citizens.

On the contrary, they’d say something about “Getting government out of the way” or “Removing government’s barriers to liberty” or “Liberating the American spirit from big government’s red tape.” At most, theirs would be a grudging acknowledgement of the necessity of government, a recognition that much as they’d like to live in a world without an activist state, they’re willing to accept one, reduced to a minimum, all the same. Similarly, while Christie as governor has come to accept Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and was too smart —and too pragmatic — to continue mounting a doomed bid to stop same-sex marriage from becoming a reality in his state, other top-tier Republicans, the ones the Tea Party actually likes, would more likely flaunt their ideological rigidity and relish the chance to fight a losing battle in the name of true conservative principles.

The rhetoric difference is also the difference between New Jersey and, say, Mississippi. You can’t win a statewide election in New Jersey by promising to shut down abortion clinics or promoting concealed or open carry laws or spouting homophobic nonsense. There’s a strong fiscal conservative streak in New Jersey, however, so yelling about the teacher’s union can get you some votes.

Nevertheless, if Christie hadn’t responded to Hurricane Sandy as he did, the state would have been done with him. He knew that. Everybody in New Jersey knew that. The fact that baggers nationwide can’t even fathom that tells me that Romney supporters aren’t the only ones who are clueless.


Troubled Bridge Over Ft. Lee Water, Update

Republican Party

Is it me, or did the Right drop the “U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman is a Democrat” meme rather quickly? I’m not seeing much follow up, although I don’t know what’s being said on Faux News. The Wall Street Journal actually published a positive profile of Fishman.

Did it occur to someone that stirring up a U.S. Attorney scandal on behalf of Chris Christie might be counterproductive? Hmmm.

Meanwhile, it appears Christie may not get away with claiming he had no idea what was going on. See, for example,

Christie Tried to Slow Down Investigation

What Did Christie Know and When Did He Know It?

Bridge Scandal Papers Point to Cover-Up by Chris Christie Allies


Do You Really Want to Talk About U.S. Attorneys, Righties?

Republican Party, U.S. Attorneys, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

When I went to bed last night, conventional wisdom was that Chris Christie was on the ropes. But now I see the Noise Machine magicians have pulled a distraction out of a hat:

CNN, likely reporting on an email received last night from Reince Priebus:

Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. attorney tasked with looking into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge controversy, has donated to several Democratic politicians and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Most notably, Fishman – who was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama in June 2009 – donated to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign on June 30, 2007. At the time of the contribution, Clinton was battling then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Fishman donated $2,300 to Clinton, according to the FEC.

Steve M says,

You know how this will be spun on the right, don’t you? Eric Holder’s Justice Department is now investigating Christie after refusing to investigate blah blah blah blah blah. Now the right has a liberal enemy in this matter. Game on

Because there’s nothing righties love more than painting themselves as the innocent victims of evil liberal oppression. Yesterday, the baggers saw Christie as a RINO. Within a few hours he’ll be Holy Saint Martyr Christopher of Blessed Persecution, or something.

But do indulge me as I take a little trip in the wayback payback machine to an item in the Maha Archives:

Further into the Kirkpatrick & Rutenberg article we find:

In New Jersey, Mr. Rove helped arrange the nomination of a major Bush campaign fund-raiser who had little prosecutorial experience.

That would be Christopher J. Christie.

Mr. Christie has brought public corruption charges against prominent members of both parties, but his most notable investigations have stung two Democrats, former Gov. James E. McGreevey and Senator Robert Menendez. When word of the latter inquiry leaked to the press during the 2006 campaign, Mr. Menendez sought to dismiss it by tying Mr. Christie to Mr. Rove, calling the investigation “straight out of the Bush-Rove playbook.” (Mr. McGreevey resigned after admitting to having an affair with a male aide and the Menendez investigation has not been resolved.)

Christie’s name popped up in another post from 2007, which led me to this NY Times editorial:

The Justice Department has been saying that it is committed to putting Senate-confirmed United States attorneys in every jurisdiction. But the newly released documents make it clear that the department was making an end run around the Senate — for baldly political reasons. Congress should broaden the investigation to determine whether any other prosecutors were forced out for not caving in to political pressure — or kept on because they did.

There was, for example, the decision by United States Attorney Chris Christie of New Jersey to open an investigation of Senator Bob Menendez just before his hotly contested re-election last November. Republicans, who would have held the Senate if Mr. Menendez had lost, used the news for attack ads. Then there was the career United States attorney in Guam who was removed by Mr. Bush in 2002 after he started investigating the superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. The prosecutor was replaced. The investigation was dropped.

Of course, if you point these inconsistencies out to righties they curl up into a fetal position and play the martyr well enough to make Joan of Arc at the stake look like a slacker.

BTW, the investigation into Menendez was closed by the Justice Department in 2011, but not in a way that made Christie look any less like a bully. Menendez had been collecting rent from a nonprofit community activist organization and had also helped the group secure a lot of federal grant money, so there was an appearance of quid pro quo. This was the matter that triggered the subpoena. But the rental arrangement had been pre-approved by the House Ethics Committee, so it’s not clear to me what Menendez was doing that warranted a subpoena, or that couldn’t have waited until (ahem) after the election.

BTW, the U.S. attorney who was originally assigned the Menendez case was Paul Fishman. But the newly appointed Fishman recused himself because Senator Menendez had backed him for the post.


Do They Think We Have Amnesia?

economy, Republican Party

Apparently the Republicans are rallying behind the argument that Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty failed, so it’s time to give them a turn at running the government.


WASHINGTON — Senator Marco Rubio says the American dream has become “unattainable.” Senator Mike Lee says reforming government benefits programs should be the country’s “first priority.” And Representative Paul D. Ryan says the government safety net has “failed miserably.”

Fifty years after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty, the message from Republicans in Congress is that the government has foundered in its efforts to address the problem.

“While we have programs in place that help deal with the pain of poverty, they don’t deal with the structural problems,” Mr. Rubio of Florida said in an interview.

And who caused those “structural problems,” toots? Answer me that! Whose economic/governing philosophy has dominated Washington and federal policy since, oh, about 1980 or so (and arguably earlier)?

Mindful of polls that show many Americans see them as detached from or indifferent to the hardships faced by the people most affected by the recession and slow recovery, Republicans have begun to speak publicly on the issue of poverty and to propose their own, more market-based solutions.

In other words, the same crap that got us into this mess.

But at the same time that the party is shifting its focus to poverty, many Republicans are pushing for deep cuts to food assistance programs and unemployment insurance, while 11 million Americans are jobless and poverty rates remain elevated in the wake of the recession.

One way to reduce poverty is to starve the impoverished, I give you that. It worked pretty well in Ireland awhile back.


But you know the Republican establishment is nervous when they bring in the empathy coaches.

House Republican leaders sent a memo this week to the entire GOP conference with talking points designed to help rank-and-file Republicans show compassion for the unemployed and explain the Republican position on unemployment benefits. In the memo, which was obtained by The Washington Post, House Republicans are urged to be empathetic toward the unemployed and understand how unemployment is a “personal crisis” for individuals and families. The memo also asks Republicans to reiterate that the House will give “proper consideration” to an extension of long-term insurance as long as Democrats are willing to support spending or regulatory reforms.

Of course,

Last year they tried to empathy coach Republican politicians about women, and I can’t see that it helped. But why are they so worried now? Joan Walsh writes,

Maybe because of polls like the one just completed by Hart Research (on behalf of the National Employment Law Project). Surveying likely 2014 midterm voters the pollsters found they overwhelmingly supported extended benefits 55 to 34 percent. Significantly, key Republican groups like seniors and white non-college educated voters were among the most supportive; white women, a swing group that leaned to the GOP in 2012, support maintaining the benefits 53-33 percent.

And by some non-coincidence, many Washington politicians who are most adamantly against extending benefits are from states with the highest number of jobless constituents. Funny how that works, huh?

Unfortunately for them, Paul Ryan spilled the beans last month when he declared he wanted to end jobless benefits so that people would be compelled to go out and find a job. But the average American is at least a few shades brighter than Ryan — hell, there could be varieties of dieffenbachia that are brighter than Ryan — and understand that it’s a bit tricky to go out and get a job when there are no bleeping jobs to get.


Crossing Christie

Republican Party

Top Christie Staff Sought Lane Closing as Revenge.” Hurricane Sandy was so last year. But the Christie that yells at schoolteachers and refuses federal infrastructure funds is the one the Right fell in love with.


Live by the Grift; Die by the Grift

Karl Rove, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Richard Viguerie has declared civil war on the Republican establishment and has vowed to root out traitors to the conservative cause, such as Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Reince Priebus. Yes, we weep and we mourn, not so much. But Rod Dreher at The American Conservative is really upset about it.

RINO hunt! This is astonishing, and can only be driven by an ideological mindset so impervious to reality that it would rather destroy political conservatism’s chances of actually running the country than succumb to the least impurity in the ranks. The movement types really do believe that the GOP lost because it was stabbed in the back by its own people at Versailles on Capitol Hill. The GOP tribalism is devolving into a Lord’s Resistance Army conservatism, after the fanatical Ugandan cultists who believe that shea butter and their confidence in God makes them impervious to bullets.

The thing about this dynamic is that the purer the activists make the GOP, the weaker the party becomes, and thus the less likely to achieve policy goals. Which just drives the forces of purgation harder. Ted Cruz rules the Jacobin Republicans now, but he should remember what happened to Robespierre.

I do appreciate the reference to Jacobins. But I doubt very much that Richard Viguerie gives a rodent’s posterior for achieving policy goals. Viguerie is a direct mail tycoon who makes a living by stoking the fears and phobias of the rubes to market ideological snake oil. If Movement Conservatism were ever seen as successful, and the marks got complacent, checks might stop coming in.

Indeed, there is a whole class of grifters on the Right whose incomes depend on keeping the crazy well fed. I’m thinking of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Fox News et al. No doubt Michele Bachmann will become a full-time gifter as soon as she’s out of the House. But there are tons of second- and third-tier gifters, all cashing in nicely.

And why not? If bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is, grifters infest the Right because that’s where the gullibility is. People who can be made to believe in death panels can also be sold on dubious investment schemes, survivalist kits and quack arthritis cures. It’s too easy. See especially Rick Perlstein, “The Long Con.”

There are also subcategories of specialized grifters such as the NRA/firearm industry and climate change denialists/petroleum industry. But it’s all of a piece, really.

I wrote recently that the only substantive difference between the “extremists” and the “moderates/establishment” in the Republican Party is that “the ‘moderates’ realize elections have to be won, and the ‘extremists’ don’t know that, or don’t care.” When you look at someone like Ted Cruz, who unlike many others may not be crazy or stupid, one suspects his long game isn’t winning the White House. The long game is making a ton of money. In this country, once you become a reliable supplier of red meat for the Right, you are set for life. Whether you ever actually accomplish anything that’s good for anyone is irrelevant.

The Republican Party set itself up for this, of course, by being willing to sell out anything that might be an actual principle in order to win elections on the cheap (and dirty). I’m sure most of you are aware of the arc of demagoguery that ran from Spiro Agnew to Lee Atwater to Karl Rove. But Frankenstein’s Monster took over the laboratory, and now Karl Rove (who is still making a lot of money, apparently, in spite of his colossal failure in 2012) can’t understand why no one is listening to him.



Let the Brawl Commence

Democratic Party, Republican Party

Charles Pierce — The Democrats Are Bringing Guns to a Gunfight

Senate Democrats are considering leaking emails between Harry Reid and John A. Boehner’s chiefs of staff. . . . I also spoke to a leading Democratic congresscritter over the weekend who told me that, very soon, the Democrats in the Senate will start going through the sequester line-by-line, demanding public votes on funding things like medical research and environmental protections, and sticking Republicans with a choice of being for or against curing, say, Alzheimer’s Disease or cancer. As someone who thought the sequester not merely stupid but Beltway stupid, I applaud this decision as well. Forcing people into uncomfortable votes works both ways. Making John Boehner cry should be a bipartisan affair.

Meanwhile, Fox News is (a) denying there has been a real shutdown; and (b) blaming Dems for rejecting an 11th hour (almost literally) demand to meet for a conference committee. Chris Hayes explains why this is bogus.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The thing is, Republicans going back several years have whined to anyone who will listen that the Dems are ruthless and mean to them, even as by all objective measures the Dems resembled a warm Jello mold. If the baggers keep this up, the Dems of their fantasies may actually materialize.

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