Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.


The Job Ahead

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Democratic Party, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Thomas Frank, who is one of my favorite guys, slammed President Obama hard a couple of days ago in Right-wing obstruction could have been fought: An ineffective and gutless presidency’s legacy is failure. The whole article is pretty much in the title. But here’s a bit more –

….In point of fact, there were plenty of things Obama’s Democrats could have done that might have put the right out of business once and for all—for example, by responding more aggressively to the Great Recession or by pounding relentlessly on the theme of middle-class economic distress. Acknowledging this possibility, however, has always been difficult for consensus-minded Democrats, and I suspect that in the official recounting of the Obama era, this troublesome possibility will disappear entirely. Instead, the terrifying Right-Wing Other will be cast in bronze at twice life-size, and made the excuse for the Administration’s every last failure of nerve, imagination and foresight. Demonizing the right will also allow the Obama legacy team to present his two electoral victories as ends in themselves, since they kept the White House out of the monster’s grasp—heroic triumphs that were truly worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Which will be dusted off and prominently displayed.)

At the other end of the Democratic scale, Kevin Drum writes,

I see this kind of thing all the time on the right. If only we had a candidate who refused to sell out conservative values! A candidate who could truly make the American public understand! Then we’d win in a landslide!

It’s easy to recognize this as delusional. Tea party types are always convinced that America is thirsting for true conservatism, and all that’s needed is a latter-day Ronald Reagan to be its salesman. Needless to say, this misses the point that Americans aren’t all reactionaries. In fact, as the embarrassing clown shows of the past two GOP primaries have shown, even most Republicans aren’t reactionaries. There’s been no shortage of honest-to-God right wingers to choose from, but they can’t even win the nomination, let alone a general election.

(Of course you never know. Maybe 2016 is the year!)

But if it’s so easy to see this conservative delusion for what it is, why isn’t it equally easy to recognize the same brand of liberal delusion? Back in 2009, was Obama really the only thing that stood between bankers and the howling mob? Don’t be silly. Americans were barely even upset, let alone ready for revolution. Those pathetic demonstrations outside the headquarters of AIG were about a hundredth the size that even a half-ass political organization can muster for a routine anti-abortion rally. After a few days the AIG protestors got bored and went home without so much as throwing a few bottles at cops. Even the Greeks managed that much.

I think they both make good points. Yes, President Obama let some opportunities slip by him, especially those first couple of years. He could have done a much better job taking his arguments to the American public and making some leverage for himself.

On the other hand, it’s still the case that right-wing politics dominates our political culture as well as news media, and even for those two years the Dems had a majority in the Senate and House, a big chunk of those Dems were Blue Dogs who voted with Republicans as often as not. He never had a majority of progressives who supported him. So there have always been real and tangible limits to what he could accomplish, no matter what he did.

As for “demonizing the Right” — those people are demons, metaphorically speaking. There is no bottom to their nefariousness.

The public, having been fed a near-pure diet of right-wing propaganda since at least 1980, and I would argue longer than that, is leery of progressive policies. It’s less leery than it was ten years ago, as the financial crisis and subsequent economic hardships softened them up a lot. But progressives still have a lot of work to do to sell their agenda to the public.

I still run into lefties who honestly believe the country was ready to embrace single payer health care in 2009 and it was only President Obama who stood in the way. This is proof that it’s not just righties who live with their heads up their asses.

The truth is that there are big chunks of the country in which progressive voices are never heard except by those who go looking for them on the Internet. Public political news and discourse runs the gamut from Ross Douthat to Ted Cruz to Cliven Bundy. This is not to say that there aren’t folks in those places who might respond well to progressive ideas if they ever heard any. But until that happens, we don’t know.

I’ve been saying all along that it’s going to take a long game, several election cycles, and a lot of work to turn things around. That’s still true.

The priority right now is to be sure Dems keep the Senate, which is do-able. In this we should be following Elizabeth Warren:

Meanwhile Warren, the progressive elected the same time as Cruz, is touring the country campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, even some who are more centrist than she is, like Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes and West Virginia’s Natalie Tennant. She’s focused on growing the Democratic Party, not cutting down colleagues who are less progressive.

While packing the Senate with less-progressive Dems in order to hold on to it is not ideal, letting the GOP have it would be much worse.

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Why Geezers Probably Should Not Draw Conclusions From Polls About What the Young Folks Think

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Republican Party

Thomas B. Edsall, who is even older than I am and definitely a geezer, writes that today’s young people might not grow up to be Democrats, after all. That’s because a new Pew Research poll says the young folks are more interested in personal and sexual autonomy than in economic inequality.

Geezer Dude: This is because they are young folks. You could have said the same thing about the Boomers when we were young folks, including the left-wing antiwar ones. Economic issues were not on our radar at all, as I remember. This was partly because the economy had been, on the whole, pretty sweet through most of our lifetimes, and we naively assumed nothing could screw that up. The 1960s- and early 1970s-era New Left was even opposed to labor unions, mostly because unions were run by old white guys who fought integration and badmouthed affirmative action, and partly because we didn’t appreciate what could happen without unions.

Teens and young adults are always primarily concerned about personal and sexual autonomy, because that’s the standard life phase associated with being a teen or young adult. It’s normal. If you’re still struggling with those things when you’re 50, though, that’s a problem.

Teens and young adults also may not yet fully appreciate how screwed up The System is and how everything is skewed to favor the socially and economically privileged. People who are privileged their entire lives often never learn that lesson, of course. They build on familial wealth and connections and consider themselves to be “self-made men” (or women).

Much of the Boomer generation was reasonably well insulated from real hardship in part because of the accumulation of wealth from the end of World War II to 1972, when it all peaked and started to slide backward. And even those of us who missed the economic security boat often were well into middle age before we realized our assumptions were wrong, that we were never going to catch up to where we expected to be, and that economic injustice is terribly and ruthlessly unjust, indeed. If anything, seems to me, the young folks are learning that lesson a whole lot sooner than we did.

In short, I seriously doubt a majority of today’s 20-somethings who aren’t already libertarian randbots will ever embrace some future warmed-over version of Reaganomics. While there is no way to predict where today’s 20-somethings will be when they are 50-somethings, I doubt it will be anywhere today’s Republicans want them to go.

Related: Matt Yglesias asks, How long can the GOP last as the cranky oldster party?

There’s something very oldsterish about contemporary conservative politics. The constant bickering about Ronald Reagan is very odd to anyone too young to have any particular recollection of the Reagan years. Calling a group of people “Beyoncé Voters” as an insult is weird. Some of this oldsterism is just tics, but some of it has policy implications. The sort of budgetary priorities that call for huge cuts in all domestic spending, except no cuts at all for anyone born before 1959 is kind of weird. The huge freakout over New York City starting a bicycle program last summer was bizarre. It’s easy to imagine a political party that’s broadly favorable to low taxes and light regulation without sharing this particular set of tics. And then there was the time George Will wrote a column-length rant against blue jeans.

They do all want to pretend the 1960s either never happened or that they can still be avenged against it (remember the brilliant campaign to get college students to burn their Obamacare cards?). Recently Re. Renee Ellmers (NC-R) actually said,

Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and how, you know, the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that … we need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life — that’s the way to go.

The Congresswoman was born in 1964, Wikipedia says. This is the same year Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique.

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Reform This

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conservatism, Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The 2014 Texas Republican Party Platform really says this:

We strongly support a woman’s right to choose to devote her life to her family and children.

Ed Kilgore provided this quote, and I could not rest until I had verified this and seen the entire context for myself. And here it is –

Family Values – We support the affirmation of traditional Judeo-Christian family values and oppose the continued assault on those values. We strongly support a woman’s right to choose to devote her life to her family and children. We recognize her sacrifice in the face of the assault on the family. Additionally, we recognize the challenges of single parents and applaud their efforts in creating a stable and moral home.

This is the entire “family values” section. From here it goes on to saying human trafficking is bad.

If this were a game show, our choice would be Door Number One and, um, that’s it. Door Number One.

Seriously, this document is distilled and concentrated crazy. Hendrik Hertzberg and Charles Pierce, with all their rhetorical skills, still were challenged to describe how crazy this thing is, although Pierce has the stronger conclusion: “We allow ourselves only two major political parties. One of them is completely out of its fcking mind. This is a national problem.” Please read either Hertzberg or Pierce, though, so you can fully appreciate the truly epic nature of the crazy.

The other thing I’ve been reading about today are the “Reformicons,” described by Paul Waldman:

A small band of thoughtful conservatives has been saying, for some time, that if the Republican party is going to survive—and, more specifically, win a presidential election in the next decade or two—it has to change. It has to get serious about policy again, grapple with contemporary economic and social realities that simple appeals to free markets and small government don’t address, and find a way to attract voters from outside the demographic of old white people.

That sounds grand, but the actual members of this “small band,” according to Sam Tanenhaus, include people like Kate O’Beirne and Ramesh Ponnuru. And according to E.J. Dionne, the reform standards are being defined by the likes of Ross Douthat — called one of the “founding fathers” of reform — Michel Gerson, and David Frum. From what Dionne writes about it, this crew isn’t really coming up with groundbreaking new policies as much as repackaging the same crap they’ve been selling for years. Dionne writes,

At times, reform conservatism does seem more concerned with the box than its contents—more infatuated with the idea of new ideas than with new ideas themselves. But it’s also true that the Obama years produced such a large lurch to the right within conservatism that many Reformicons accept the need for readjustment and for something that looks like a governing agenda.

“Looks like” being the operative term here. This appears to me to be mostly an exercise in rhetoric rather than reform. For example –

Douthat offers a two-part test in the form of principles: First, that while our “growing social crisis” can’t be solved in Washington, “economic and social policy can make a difference nonetheless”; second, that “existing welfare-state institutions we’ve inherited from the New Deal and the Great Society … often make these tasks harder” by crowding out other forms of spending, hindering growth, and contributing to wage stagnation. So, says Douthat, “we don’t face a choice between streamlining the welfare state and making it more supportive of work and family; we should be doing both at once.”

What the hell does any of that mean? Is this anything other than arguing that we have to cut “entitlement” programs to please the several fairies of conservative dogma — the Fiscal Discipline Fairy, the Incentive to Get a Job Fairy, and probably Paul Krugman’s favorite, the Confidence Fairy?

It hardly matters, however, because however skillfully the reformicons dress up their weak tea to make it look like actual policy, the base will shoot it down. Actual government policy? The Texas platform calls for eliminating the jobs of all “unelected bureaucrats” in the federal government, which presumably means all federal public employees who are not in the military. This is not a crew interested in “reform.” They just want to destroy. Obviously, “reform” amounts to posturing for news media, which desperately wants to believe that Republicans can be reasonable, and for sucking in a few voters who are not old white people.

Pierce:

It seems almost pointless to mention this but there is simply no state Democratic party in any of the 50 states that is so clearly, obviously demented. This is the Republican Party. Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru are not. In fact, I think all those bold conservative thinkers of whom the New York Times thinks so much should bring their Big Ideas down to the next Texas state Republican convention and see how far they get. John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell, and especially obvious anagram Reince Priebus, who nominally presides over Bedlam, need to be asked every day which parts of the Texas Republican platform they support and which parts they don’t. They don’t get to use the crazies to get elected and then hide behind fake Washington politesse when the howls from the hinterlands get too loud.

I agree completely.

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Why the Tea Party Is Doomed, and Why It Won’t Go Away

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Republican Party, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

The baggers continue to demonstrate why they will always and forever be a movement of bigoted, white bitter-enders.

As the dust settles on the recent Cochran-McDaniel Mississippi Senate primary, those looking at the data say that it appears African-American voters gave Cochran the victory. This does not surprise me; you could see it coming as soon as the baggers announced they were sending “poll watchers” to keep an eye on those sneaky Mississippi (and mostly black) Democrats.

And it didn’t hurt Cochran that McDaniel’s self-promotion sales pitch is well-larded with racist dog whistles.

Take these clips from his radio show, circa 2006, where he mocked complaints of racism, railed against hip-hop as a “morally bankrupt” culture that “values prison more than college,” and promised to stop paying taxes if reparations were ever passed: “How you gonna make me pay for something that I had nothing to do with? How you gonna do that to me? I don’t get it.”

As a state senator, McDaniel has spoken to gatherings of the Sons of Confederate Veterans—a neo-Confederate group that promotes present-day secessionists—and delivered the keynote to a SCV event last fall. Indeed, his rhetoric decries the rise of a “new America” and pines for days of old. “There are millions of us who feel like strangers in this land, an older America passing away, a new America rising to take its place,” he said in a speech after the June 3 election. “We recoil from that culture. It’s foreign to us. It’s alien to us. … It’s time to stand and fight. It’s time to defend our way of life again.”

His voters get the message, lashing out against those people who siphon dollars from hard-working Americans. Here’s the Times with more:

Still apparently insensitive to what the phrase “poll watchers” stirs in the hearts of African Americans, and still apparently not realizing that black voters heard those dog whistles, too, the baggers and their spokesmouths are blaming the loss on the ignorance of African American voters.

I wonder what the campaign slogan was in Mississippi the past few days, ‘Uncle Toms for Thad’? Because I thought it was the worst thing you could do as an African American, vote for a Republican. The worst thing you could do,” Limbaugh said on Wednesday. “But somehow they were made to believe that voting for old Thad would be fine and dandy. And why? Because they were told Thad’s done a lot for black people in Mississippi. Must be the first time they were told that.”

It’s like Rush thinks “they” live in a separate media universe and aren’t seeing exactly the same news and advertising as “us.”

And many on the Right are blaming a flier proclaiming that “The Tea Party intends to stop blacks from voting on Tuesday.” I don’t know who printed and distributed said flier, but I suspect it was superfluous. The announcement from the baggers that they were sending “poll watchers” proclaimed the same message, loudly and clearly.

McDaniel still has not conceded, I don’t think, and plans to “investigate” the votes. He “knows” many of those “crossover” Democrats voted illegally? And how would he know this? Ed Kilgore explains:

How do we know these are “crossover” voters, since there’s no party registration? Because they are African-Americans! Can’t have African-Americans voting in our White Man’s Primary, can we?

That’s right; there is no party registration in Mississippi. People are just registered voters, not registered Republicans or Democrats. So, strictly speaking, there can be no “crossover” voting unless you assume one can tell what party a person “belongs” to some other way. Like, maybe, race.

Demographic projections tell us that a “white people’s party” is not politically sustainable in the U.S. except in the short term. So we can watch these guys and note how utterly insensitive and purely clueless they are about how they come across to anyone who isn’t them. And we can look at their string of mostly failed election campaigns and assume they can’t keep this up.

However, we’ve had these “populist” right-wing reactionary movements in the U.S. pretty much all along. Over the years they’ve given themselves different names and sometimes vary the specific issues they care about. But, like the phoenix, they keep rising from the ashes.

We use the term repressive populist movement to describe a populist movement that combines antielite scapegoating (discussed below) with efforts to maintain or intensify systems of social privilege and power. Repressive populist movements are fueled in large part by people’s grievances against their own oppression but they deflect popular discontent away from positive social change by targeting only small sections of the elite or groups falsely identified with the elite, and especially by channeling most anger against oppressed or marginalized groups that offer more vulnerable targets.

Right-wing populist movements are a subset of repressive populist movements. A right-wing populist movement, as we use the term, is a repressive populist movement motivated or defined centrally by a backlash against liberation movements, social reform, or revolution. This does not mean that right-wing populism’s goals are only defensive or reactive, but rather that its growth is fueled in a central way by fears of the Left and its political gains.

The first U.S. populist movement we would unequivocally describe as right wing was the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan, which was a counterrevolutionary backlash against the overthrow of slavery and Black people’s mass mobilization and empowerment in the post-Civil War South. Earlier repressive populist movements paved the way for right-wing populism, but did not have this same backlash quality as a central feature. [Adapted from Chip Berlet and Matthew N. Lyons. 2000. Right–Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort. New York: Guilford Press]

The Tea Party brand may fade from view eventually, but the movement is not going away.

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Not With a Bag

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Obama Administration, Republican Party

Bagger candidate Chris McDaniel is refusing to concede to incumbent Thad Cochran, who narrowly won the Senate primary in Mississippi yesterday. McDaniel supporters are considering legal challenges to the election as well as a write-in campaign.

I don’t think we know for certain that Democrats voting in the Republican primary (which is legal in Mississippi, as long as they hadn’t voted in the Dem primary) gave Cochran the victory, although many appear to assume it did. If it did, we may learn that African Americans were incentivized to vote more by news of teabagger poll watchers than any love for Cochran. One suspects such voters will abandon Cochran in November.

Conservative public intellectuals such as Sarah Palin and Erick Erickson have sads. Palin asks why there is a Republican Party at all, if Cochran could win an election by acting “like a Democrat.” Studmuffin Erickson writes,

… this becomes a longer term problem for the Republican Party. Its core activists hate its leadership more and more. But its leadership are dependent more and more on large check writers to keep their power. Those large check writers are further and further removed from the interests of both the base of the party and Main Street. So to keep power, the GOP focuses more and more on a smaller and smaller band of puppeteers to keep their marionettes upright. At some point there will be more people with knives out to cut the strings than there will be puppeteers with checkbooks. And at some point those people with knives become more intent on cutting the strings than taking the place of the marionettes.

Wow, you might assume Erick Son of Erick was a big supporter of campaign finance reform. I suspect you’d be wrong, though. He continues,

Unfortunately for the Republican Party the fight continues. And as grassroots activists feel further and further removed and alienated from the party, it will become harder and harder to win. The slaughter the GOP will inflict on the Democrats in November will be a bandaid of built in momentum. When the GOP inevitably caves on repealing Obamacare, opting instead to reform it in favor of their donors’ interests, we may just see an irreparable split. Then, and even worse, if party leaders and party base voters cannot reconcile themselves to a common candidate in 2016, God help us.

I continue to oppose a third party. I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes. That’s not much of a platform.

That last paragraph is likely to earn Erickson a visit from Men in Black to persuade him that what he really saw was the planet Venus.

See also an explanation of what the hell is the difference between the baggers and the GOP, considering their stated positions line up pretty neatly. Also, too, Dave Weigel.

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Faithless Faith

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Religion, Republican Party

The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Washington DC ends today. An annual event, this year’s shindig turned into a contest over which potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee could blow the loudest dog whistles.

The biggest headlines from the event so far told us that some genius put Obama bobblehead dolls in the men’s urinals. And the speeches seemed to be on about the same intellectual level. One speaker after another declared unquestioning loyalty to the Coalition’s dogmas: abortion must be criminalized, same-sex marriage must be stopped, Barack Obama is evil incarnate, and Christians must be restored to their rightful place as the dominant tribe of the U.S.

[Update: And what else is there to say but ... Ralph Reed?]

There were reports a few meek voices spoke up to suggest the attendees ought to recognize America’s religious diversity, but it seems they were mostly shouted down.

Groupthink just doesn’t look like “freedom” to me, no matter how many “don’t tread on me” T-shirts one may spot in the herd. It also seems to me that the attendees espouse a peculiarly faithless faith.

This faithless faith rests on the proposition that the reality of God depends on a literal interpretation of scripture. If evolution is true, for example, then God is not real. It’s a faith with conditions.

And for all their expressed devotion to the Bible, their “God” seems more to be based largely on their own projections. He all-too-perfectly reflects and confirms their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies.

I wonder what they’d do if Jesus himself materialized at the conference and said, you know, you’ve got God all wrong, and you’ve entirely missed the point of everything I taught. I bet some of them would boo their Lord and Redeemer off the stage.

Their real faith isn’t in God, or even the Bible. It’s in their fears, biases, resentments and various social and psychological pathologies, which they cling to the way someone cast into an ocean might cling to anything that floats.

It’s through those fears, etc., that they define themselves and make sense of the world. It’s the conceptual box they live in. Whatever is outside the box terrifies them, because if the box is destroyed the “me” they’ve always believed in and the world they’ve constructed in their heads would disappear.

This isn’t freedom, and it isn’t faith, either. As I wrote in my book, Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and Science-affirming World,

The notion that Christianity is mostly about arranging one’s mental furniture in accord with a belief system would have been alien to most of the great Christian theologians of history. “Faith” to early Christian theologians — and many recent ones, for that matter — was not at all a synonym for belief. It was more about love of or trust in a God whose nature and opinions were beyond human understanding. To declare you know what God thinks about anything, including which politicians he supports, would have been blasphemy to them.

It’s possible to have great religious faith with no God-object at all (see, for example, Buddhism). Genuine faith does not demand the world conform to one’s belief system; just the opposite. According to many great theologians, genuine faith requires trust, compassion for others, and sometimes self-sacrifice. Not a lot of that on display at the “Faith and Freedom” conference.

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Prosecutors Closing in on Scott Walker and the VRWC

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Republican Party, Wisconsin

See Wisconsin Governor at Center of a Vast Fund-Raising Case and John Doe prosecutors allege Scott Walker at center of ‘criminal scheme’. No indictments yet.

Prosecutors in Wisconsin assert that Gov. Scott Walker was part of an elaborate effort to illegally coordinate fund-raising and spending between his campaign and conservative groups during efforts to recall him and several state senators two years ago, according to court filings unsealed Thursday.

The allegations by five county district attorneys, released as part of a federal lawsuit over the investigation into Mr. Walker, suggest that some of the governor’s top campaign aides directed the political spending of the outside groups, most of them nonprofits, and in effect controlled some of them.

The documents made public on Thursday threatened to cloud the political prospects of Mr. Walker, who is seeking election to a second term this fall and is mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016. They provided a rare view of the inner workings of a far-flung network of conservative nonprofit groups that have come to play a decisive role in national and state elections, secretly moving hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns by avoiding traditional political action committees, which typically face tougher disclosure requirements.

This is bigger than Scott Walker. Very briefly, it is alleged Walker, his aides, and political operatives connected to Club for Growth were coordinating the spending of various outside interest group, such as Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Bro’s outfit. By law, such groups cannot directly be in contact with political campaigns. Karl Rove’s name comes up, but it’s not clear he was in on anything.

Right-wing bloggers (Althouse, Instapundit et al.) still insist the investigation is nothing but a witch hunt directed by Democratic political operatives to stop Scott Walker from becoming president. Evidence? what evidence? Althouse is so upset by the “prosecutorial aggression and overreach” that she is tempted to renounce “the liberal values I believe in.” I’m not linking to this, as I’m afraid the bullshit could leach into my laptop and cause a system crash.

Other right-wing bloggers are calling the charges false, because. They’ve taken the position that the investigation itself is an outrage.

Angry Bear recalls,

Mind you, this did not happen in the last day or so. This has been an ongoing John Doe investigation in 2014 which Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth have been attempting to quash. Wisconsin District Judge Randa agreed with Walker’s group and ordered all documentation destroyed. The case was appealed to the 7th District COA where Judge Easterbrook and two other judges over ruled Randa. “Federal Judge Rudolf Randa is a member of the Federalist Society and his wife donated often to Walkers campaign. Judge Randa’s Judicial Assistant is the wife of Scott Walkers lawyer.” Hey, its all in the family.

“Federal Appeals Judge Frank Easterbrook unsealed the court documents Thursday as he reviews a lawsuit attempting to end the John Doe probe. Two unnamed individuals this week tried to intervene in the case to prevent the release of the records, but Easterbrook rebuffed their request.” I wonder who that could be?

One alleged Scott Walker email with Karl Rove was released by Easterbrook in the ~250 pages.

“The documents include an excerpt from an email in which Walker tells Karl Rove, former top adviser to President George W. Bush, that Johnson would lead the coordination campaign. Johnson is also Walker’s longtime campaign strategist and the chief adviser to Wisconsin Club for Growth, a conservative group active in the recall elections.’

‘Bottom line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin,” Walker wrote to Rove. “We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like running 9 Congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities.)’” No crime there yet; but, it is a smoking gun.

Walker and the Wisconsin Club for Growth are accusing the state prosecutors of violating their rights to freedom of speech due to the gathering of this information which reveals the names of donators to pro-Republican/Conservative funds. They accuse the prosecutors of violating elections laws.

The 7th District COA with Judge Easterbrook as the chief judge of a panel of three is reviewing the case. Like Posner, Easterbrook is not so easily swayed by politics. It should get interesting.

Update: See Simon Maloy, “GOP Is Falling to Pieces.”

The funny thing is that as Republicans team up with pundits to chisel out Obama’s epitaph, the Republican Party itself is falling to pieces right before our eyes. . . .

. . . Now Christie and Walker are implicated in criminal investigations. Prosecutors in Wisconsin placed Walker at the center of a “criminal scheme” to coordinate campaign spending with outside groups. In New Jersey, the investigation stemming from the George Washington Bridge scandal is reportedly closing in on Christie himself. For both men, once considered potential saviors of the GOP, the political future looks considerably dimmer.

Losing two top-tier presidential candidates (and potentially two governorships) would be bad enough, but the party also has to deal with the Tea Party/establishment fight that flared anew with Eric Cantor’s downfall earlier this month. The House leadership elections yesterday were quick and uneventful: Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy replaced Cantor as majority leader, and Rep. Steve Scalise replaced McCarthy as whip. Hardcore conservatives felt that Cantor’s defeat at the hands of a Tea Partyer would send a message to the leadership that RINOs (it’s still amazing they consider Eric Cantor a RINO) would not be tolerated at any level of government. The leadership heard that message, ignored it and installed McCarthy, whom the hard right considers even more of a squish than Cantor.

The media are conditioned to spew out the “Democrats in Disarray” narrative, whether the Dems are disarrayed or not. But as Maloy points out, right now about the only thing holding the Republican Party together is pathological hatred of Barack Obama.

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David Brat in La-La Land

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Republican Party

The Wall Street Journal (???!!!) has dug up some snips from David Brat’s writings that might cause one to question his, shall we say, cognitive coherence. This bit is typical:

Can Christians force others to follow their ethical teachings on social issues? Note that consistency is lacking on all sides of this issue. The political Right likes to champion individual rights and individual liberty, but it has also worked to enforce morality in relation to abortion, gambling, and homosexuality. The Left likes to think of itself as the bulwark of progressive liberal individualism, and yet it seeks to progressively coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule. Houston, we have a problem. Coercion is on the rise. What is the root word for liberalism? (Answer: Liberty)

Like many Ayn Randbots, Brat ultimately has no use for representative democracy (“coerce others to fund every social program under the sun via majority rule”). And he goes on and on about how the state has a monopoly on violence –

It does not mean that the State alone uses violence, but it does mean that when push comes to shove, the State will win in a battle of wills. If you refuse to pay your taxes, you will lose. You will go to jail, and if you fight, you will lose. The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military. Do we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice? Is that what history teaches us about the State?

Is he saying that we should not make criminal justice a function of government? Who else should be doing it, then?

But is he also saying the Right is wrong to enforce its views on morality? Certainly I think it is, but what the Brat think? And why is he making “pro-life” noises on his issue page? Although they aren’t very clear noises –

Uphold Human Life
Human life is sacred, as proclaimed by our founding documents, and I will always support laws that protect life. Our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness precede the existence of government and come from God, the Author of Nature. These core constitutional rights have been usurped by the Judicial and Executive Branches and must be returned to the people and their representatives.

You can parse that a lot of different ways, but I think he may be calling for returning abortion law to the states, where women are more likely to be coerced to continue unwanted pregnancy by majority rule.

Brat’s campaign manager is a real peach. Among other things, he wants to protect boys from the poisonous influence of women by banning them from teaching except in all-girl classrooms. One suspects this guy will be replaced for the general election.

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The Virginia 7th District Congressional Election

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elections, Obama Administration, Republican Party

The Democratic nominee is Jack Trammell, who is a professor at Randolph-Macon College. Here is his Wikipedia page and his “faculty focus” page. He has written a bunch of books and has a particular interest in addressing education discrimination and disabilities.

It appears Trammell was caught a bit flat-footed by Cantor’s defeat; he doesn’t even have a proper “Trammell for Congress” web page, just a donation page. If you want to throw him some money to get a proper campaign going, here is his Act Blue page.

The Republican nominee, David Brat, also is a professor at Randolph-Macon. He does have a proper “Brat for Congress” site, and here is his “issues” page. You can see it’s pretty much a wingnut checklist.

Along with a Ph.D. in economics Brat, a Catholic, has a master’s in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary. The new Rick Santorum? According to Brat’s Wikipedia page, his published papers include “God and Advanced Mammon: Can Theological Types Handle Usury and Capitalism?” and “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” I seriously hope those go online sometime. See Steve M for more on Brat’s connections to the Church of Ayn Rand.

David Weigel’s analysis of how Brat defeated Cantor is essential reading. A lot of people are focusing on the education reform issue, but Weigel shows there’s a lot more to it than that. In a nutshell, the baggers and the lunatic fringe — Allen West, Laura Ingraham, et al. — are interested only in total opposition to President Obama. They are no longer interested in enacting conservative policies if doing so means compromising so much as a hair. Cantor was caught trying to please the U.S.Chamber of Commerce / ALEC / American Enterprise Institute crowd — the GOP’s chief sponsors — and in doing so he ran afoul of the bagger agenda, which is that Washington must do NOTHING that requires Democratic votes to pass. And as long as Dems hold the Senate, that pretty much means Washington must do NOTHING.

But Cantor made the mistake of trying to do SOMETHING.

In 2013, Cantor and the counter-establishment flew apart. Less than a month after Obama’s second inauguration, Cantor debuted a vision for a new GOP that would “make life work.” What if the GOP incentivized people to buy better health care and seek more useful college degrees? What if it went a little easier on immigrants? “It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” Cantor said at a February 2013 speech at the American Enterprise Institute. He pushed through school choice bills (The Student Success Act), and helped amend the farm bill to add more work requirements for food-stamp recipients.

None of this was “liberal,” per se. It just wasn’t what the conservative base had asked for, campaigned for, voted for. It was the agenda of the establishment, simpatico with the Chamber of Commerce. The business community had been there to elect Republicans in 2010 (and with less success in 2012), but in 2013 it was asking for Republicans to pass some sort of immigration reform and avoid a government shutdown. Cantor went with Democrats on a three-day tour to boost reform; he sought out a number of ways to avoid a shutdown, including a failed gambit to split the “defund Obamacare” vote from a separate appropriations vote.

My understanding is that Cantor was the one Republican leader in the House who could most skillfully thread the tactical needle, obstructing President Obama without allowing the GOP to shoot itself in the foot, Ted Cruz/government shutdown style. Without him, the freak flag is more likely to fly. Heh.

I don’t think anyone has any true sense of where this election might go, or if Trammell has even a remote hope of winning Cantor’s gerrymandered district. No matter who wins, though, I think losing Cantor in the House is going to b a huge handicap for the GOP.

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Eric Cantor Has Been Primaried!

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elections, Republican Party

This just in

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated Tuesday by a little-known economics professor in Virginia’s Republican primary, a stunning upset and major victory for the tea party.

Cantor is the second-most powerful member of the U.S. House and was seen by some as a possible successor to the House speaker.

His loss to Dave Brat, a political novice with little money marks a huge victory for the tea party movement, which supported Cantor just a few years ago.

What can one say but …

I don’t know who the Democratic nominee may be. And of course if the baggers prefer this guy Brat to Cantor, Brat’s got to be downright frightening. Still …

HOO-yah.

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