Saturday, October 23, 2010

Teabaggery And The GOP


We haven't even had the election yet and people-- from Johns Cornyn and Boehner to a good 70-80 Democratic candidates (some of whom haven't had a competitive race in decades)-- are wondering if the GOP's embrace, albeit reluctant at times, of teabaggery has hurt the party more than it's helped it. Now, there can be no denying that in deeply red Utah, that 18 year incumbent Robert Bennett was defeated in a contentious primary by a deranged teabagger, Mike Lee, who, like Bennett, will have no trouble winning the seat. Net partisan effect: zero. Utah will have less seniority and will be taken less seriously but it won't change the number of Republicans one way or the other. A steaming pile of dog turd running as a Republican would beat a Democrat in Utah. But this week political scientist Brendan Nyhan explored how badly the teabaggers are hurting Republicans. He doesn't think it's as bad as it appears.
With a few inexperienced Republican Senate candidates struggling, some analysts are suggesting that the Tea Party damaged the party's chances in November by helping weak candidates win primary elections. That may be true in the Senate, but the GOP has always been more likely to regain its majority in the House. Despite the influence of the Tea Party, Republicans actually have more candidates who have previously held elected office than the Democrats in competitive House races. On candidate quality, Democrats are still at a disadvantage.

Last week, the New York Times's Kate Zernike examined all the Republican candidates running nationwide and identified 129 House candidates and 9 Senate candidates who are closely affiliated with the Tea Party movement. She notes that "the Tea Party has ... handed opportunities to the Democrats by nominating candidates who have struggled"-- particularly Senate nominees Christine O'Donnell (Delaware), Sharron Angle (Nevada), and Rand Paul (Kentucky). However, in terms of candidates, the movement's impact may be overstated. As Zernike notes, "the bulk of the Tea Party candidates are running in districts that are solidly Democratic."

A good example would be Boehner's favorite Nazi, the guy who likes dressing up like an SS Officer on weekends, Rich Iott, who also makes believe he's in the U.S. military (no, not even a vet, just another phony Young Gun). Here he is defending "valiant" SS volunteers as defenders of "freedom" and "liberty," exactly the same twisted way some people-- basically Republicans-- claim Republicans are defenders of freedom and liberty. Freedom and liberty for the rich and powerful to exploit the vulnerable? Oh, yeah-- that's just what a normal person thinks of when they think about freedom or liberty!

Nyhan's point would be that neither Iott-- nor any other Republican, teabagger or not-- ever had any realistic shot at displacing the popular Marcy Kaptur is a very Democratic district. Boehner has donated several thousand dollars personally and Iott has written his campaign a check for $1,673,100. His total as of October 13 was $1,893,012 (almost all of it from himself and the Nazi-sympathizer who would be Speaker). Kaptur, an anti-special interests crusader, can hardly go to Big Business for campaign help and has raised only $529,047. The GOP took Iott seriously enough to add him to their Young Guns program, supposedly the crème de la crème of this year's crop of Republican House candidates.

Does it rub off and tarnish the Republican brand? That's the real question. They have the guy a couple districts from Iott, Tom Ganley, who lured a campaign volunteer, a mother of four whose children he had met, up to his office where he sexually assaulted her and tried to drag her into a bathroom to rape her. He's one of Boehner's, Cantor's and Session's favorite candidates and, unlike Iott, they didn't bother throwing him out of the Young Guns. In fact, Boehner's personal PAC gave him $10,000 and Ganley's raised $2,646,969 this year. Of course bad attitudes about women have never been a problem for the American Taliban GOP. How else could you explain why no one in Party seems upset that violent, thuggish teabagger Allen West-- who was also the recipient of a $10,000 check from Boehner's PAC-- is guarded by a pack of criminals who routinely refer to women as oral relief stations?

And speaking of thugs and guards... there's Joe Miller in Alaska, where violent proto-fascism might be popular but... well it just could be tarring the GOP in the Lower 48.
[Miller's] private guards roughed up, handcuffed and detained an online journalist covering one of his campaign events last week. The Miller goons seized Alaska Dispatch blogger Tony Hopfinger as he tried to ask the candidate a question at a forum in a public school-- which they later described dishonestly as a "private event"-- and pushed around a couple of other reporters as they captured the incident on video.

Such hostility to the press was warranted on the part of Mr. Miller, who turns out to have much to hide. The mistreatment of the journalists in Alaska was part of a Miller strategy that included refusing to discuss his career as a judge and his personal background. That strategy ultimately led to the brutalization of Mr. Hopfinger, for insistent inquiries about the candidate's record as a public employee in Fairbanks' North Star Borough-- where he misused computers in partisan politicking. Mr. Miller has also been loath to explain why he accepted the kind of government assistance-- including farm subsidies, Medicaid and unemployment insurance-- that he is so eager to deny to everyone else.

Carl Paladino likes to push journalists around, too, as he demonstrated during a widely publicized confrontation with a New York Post reporter. Rather than rely on hired thugs, the Republican candidate for governor of New York is a thug himself. "I'll take you out, buddy," he snarled at the reporter. Like his Alaskan compatriot, Mr. Paladino prefers not to be asked any questions he doesn't wish to answer, although he feels free to smear his Democratic opponent, Andrew Cuomo, with slurs against his conduct as a husband and father.

The general stance of the Tea Party candidates toward the press (except for Fox News, of course) is epitomized by Sharron Angle, the Republican running for Senate in Nevada against Democratic incumbent Harry Reid. She seems to believe that the sole purpose of media in a democracy is to help her raise money-- and to resent reporters who ask the wrong kind of questions. Explaining why she has avoided mainstream media outlets where she might have to explain herself and her strange policy views more fully, the grandmotherly Ms. Angle said: "We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer, so that they report the news the way we want it reported."

So all the chatter about liberty boils down to an attitude not easily distinguished from any mean little despot of the right or the left, controlling information and deceiving the public. Then again, Ms. Angle talks loosely about "Second Amendment solutions" to her disagreements with Congress, and believes that she was sent by God to run against Mr. Reid.

These are the hallmarks of a drearily familiar authoritarian mind-set on the American right, where figures such as Christine O'Donnell, the Delaware Republican, are deemed to be qualified for the U.S. Senate even though she doesn't understand that the First Amendment forbids the establishment of a state religion. It is hardly surprising that these self-proclaimed advocates of liberty would deny religious freedom to innocent American Muslims. It isn't even surprising to discover that one of these characters dresses up in Third Reich regalia as a hobby-- and says that we are in no position to judge the behavior of the Nazi SS because they believed that they were defending freedom.

The Tea Party candidates no doubt believe that they are defending freedom, too. They just don't have a clue what that word meant to the founders or what it means today.

Are people getting the point? Yesterday a deranged teabagger sent toxic white powder adorned with swastikas to Raul Grijalva's office. (The same handwriting was on an earlier envelope that had delivered Rep. Grijalva a used tampon.) A week earlier, the Tea Party candidate against Eddie Bernice Johnson in Texas's 30th CD, Stephen Broden, proudly boasted that violence against the government-- think about the OK City bombing if you're not sure what he means-- is on the table if Republicans don't get their way in November.

Last week I went with Amato and Digby to watch Markos on Bill Maher's show. Another guest was some right-wing faux celebrity I had never heard of named Dana Loesch. Maher was excited when she offered to "teabag" him, which I think is a cutesy way of saying suck his balls, so he never managed to bring his rapier wit to bear against her in any meaningful way. But, as Digby pointed out yesterday, Elliot Spitzer was less taken in by her dubious charms.

SPITZER: Well, let me ask one more question. Do you want to repeal the provision that permits people with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance?

LOESCH: Do I want to repeal pre-existing conditions? Well, I think you have to look at health insurance, too, in this way, it's a policy against catastrophic situations. It's like, you don't go out and get homeowners insurance after your house is already on fire. So, you have to look at it in a proper perspective. But I do want to say that the separation of church and state wasn't in the Constitution. It was a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of Danbury Baptists.

SPITZER: Say that again. Wait a minute, there is this thing called the First Amendment in the Constitution. But so you do want to repeal pre-existing conditions? I just want to make sure the public understands this.

LOESCH: Well, no. You're trying to frame it that I hate anyone that would have any kind of problems of getting health insurance coverage and that's not what I'm saying at all. What I'm saying is that there are-- children, right now, the way the health control law is written, children are even exempt. There are massive loopholes in this health insurance that already discriminates against people that have pre-existing conditions, but that was one of the things that we didn't find out until we passed it, like Nancy Pelosi said.

...SPITZER: OK, can we go back to your other priorities? Are you going to also try to defund or repeal the financial re-regulation bill, Dodd-Frank is the technical name, you going to try to repeal that so we go back to the Wild West of Wall Street craziness?

LOESCH: Well, I don't know. Are Democrats going to try to keep control of Social Security and deny people the choice of investing their own money and growing their own nest egg? I mean, we can do that.
That's going to come as something of a surprise to retirement planners all over the country who think they are quite legally investing people's own money and growing their own nest eggs every single day. But it always sounds good to say that people are being "denied" something when they are actually being guaranteed a benefit... Spitzer then brought up Rand Paul and said she must agree with him that the civil rights laws should be repealed. Like the Brietbartian she is, she launched into an aggressive, hostile denial, saying he was calling her a racist. It ended like this:

LOESCH: Rand Paul wasn't talking about the repeal of the civil rights-- Rand Paul was making an example of the government exceeding 10th Amendment rights and how certain things needed to be dealt with an a state level.

SPITZER: That is why he said he'd repeal...

LOESCH: If you want to be ignorant about the topics and completely gloss over that and say that, well, that's somebody's being a racist, then they are completely misunderstanding A, argument and B, the 10th Amendment practice and the context of that conversation.
See, she's better at obfuscation than Palin, but it's just as nonsensical. (And saying Spitzer the former Attorney general of New York is "ignorant about the topics" is fairly amusing.)

PARKER: All right, Dana, I want to ask you, what I'm hearing in Washington is that what happens on November 3, that is once these Tea Party candidates move into Congress, what happens then depends on what President Obama does. And so, I wanted to ask you what would you like to see him do on November 3?

LOESCH: Oh gosh, the very first thing that I would like to see is an extension of the Bush tax cuts. Because we're going into a new year and businesses, middle class Americans have no idea what's happening with their finances, because we don't know what's going to be coming down the track with this. I mean, this is going to be a huge tax hike by way of repeal of tax cuts, so that's something that has everyone really terrified. And I don't know if we have ever post election, have ever entered a period where we just honestly didn't know what's going to happen. That's really bad for business.

SPITZER: Well, let's get rid of this bogeyman. The Republicans are holding up the extension of the middle class tax cuts to protect the rich who don't need it. This is going to add $1 trillion to our deficit every year. So, where are you going to fund that trillion dollars? Tell me right now, where will you cut the budget? Where you going to cut?

UPDATE: Dave Johnson Suggests A Way To Fight Back Against The Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars In Right-wing Lies Flooding The Airwaves

He suggests that the best way to fight back against false "conventional wisdom" is by combating the myths, person to person, with truth. "If the public votes in a new Congress," he explains, "because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke. If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression. If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse." These are the ones he suggests concentrating on. Think of all the fun you could have at a Sunday dinner with any of your colleagues or in-laws who get all their information from Limbaugh, Beck or Hannity!
1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush's last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama's first reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.

Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the "stimulus" was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.

Reality: While many people conflate the "stimulus" with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be "non-reviewable by any court or any agency.") The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn't work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is "going broke," people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on "welfare" and "foreign aid" when that is only a small part of the government's budget.

And if you want the citations and proof all this is true-- go back to Johnson's orginal post at the Campaign For America's Future where you can follow the links.

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At 11:30 AM, Blogger PurpleGirl said...

I have a friend who's father came to the US after WWII. He had been a partisan fighter in Yugoslavia. At some point the Federal Government sought to deport him back to Yugoslavia on the grounds that he'd been a member of the Communist Party. Mr. S's defense of himself boiled down to "Yes, I joined the Communist Party. At the time, they were the only organized group fighting the Nazis."

Mr. Iott is despicable for trying to defend a unit of the SS.

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This writer is absolutely DELUDED! Better wake up. The country is leaving you JERKS behind.


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