Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Republican Party Civil War Heats Up On A New Front: Meet The Congressional Grifters


Much to the chagrin of corporate whores who had infected the DEmocratic Party-- think Rahm Emanuel, Harold Ford, the Blue Dogs and New Dems-- Howard Dean coined and popularized the phrase, "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." Here at DWT we often talk about the corollary, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. Over the weekend, former Ohio Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette, a mainstream conservative, sought to duplicate Dean's strategy by terming the now dominant right-wing extremists in his party as the Grifting Wing. In a post he did for Politico, The Grifting Wing v. The Governing Wing, LaTourette defends Boehner and attacks the Tea Party Republicans for being "busy lining their pockets."

He turns to Vocabulary.com to define Ted Cruz (R-TX), the likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, as a grifter and a con artist, "someone who swindles people out of money through fraud. If there’s one type of person you don’t want to trust, it’s a grifter: Someone who cheats someone out of money." He pretty much likened Ted Cruz to a snake oil salesman "who rolled into town promising a magical, cure-all elixir at a price. The grifter was long gone by the time people discovered the magical elixir was no more magical than water. They were the sideshow con men offering fantastic prizes in games that were rigged so that no one could actually win them. They were the Ponzi scheme operators who got rich promising fantastically high investment returns but returning nothing for those sorry investors at the bottom of the pyramid."

The most important battle being waged in Washington today, asserts the GOP congressman who was first elected in 1994 and served until he retired last year, "isn’t the one about which party controls the House or the Senate, it’s about who controls the Republican Party: the grifting wing or the governing wing."
Political grifting is a lucrative business. Groups like the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots are run by men and women who have made millions by playing on the fears and anger about the dysfunction in Washington. My former House colleague Chris Chocola is pocketing a half-million dollars a year heading the Club for Growth; same for Matt Kibbe heading up FreedomWorks (and I don’t think Kibbe’s salary includes the infamous craft beer bar that FreedomWorks donors ended up paying for). The Tea Party Patriots pay their head, Jenny Beth Martin, almost as much. These people have lined their pockets by promising that if you send them money, they will send men and women to Washington who can “fix it.” Of course, in the ultimate con, the always extreme and often amateurish candidates these groups back either end up losing to Democrats or they come to Washington and actually make the process even more dysfunctional.

Just look at what happened this past week, when hard-right House members with extensive ties to these outside groups, egged on by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, snarled up a sensible effort to pass a bill that would at least begin to address the crisis of undocumented children at the U.S.-Mexico border. It was an embarrassing display of congressional dysfunction, and it showed that the grifting wing has learned nothing from last fall’s shutdown fiasco.

The grifting wing of the party promises that you can have ideological purity-- that you don’t have to compromise-- and, of course, all you have to do is send them money to make it happen. The governing wing of the Republican Party knows that’s a damn lie. Our Founding Fathers set up a system of government that by its very nature excludes the possibility of one party or one ideological wing of one party getting everything it wants. Ted Cruz, who quotes the founders almost every chance he gets, ought to know this.

While the grifters hold a great deal of sway over the Republican Party for now, they are not the majority-- not by a long shot. As with any good Ponzi scheme, there are relatively few grifters; the challenge is exposing their scam.

Exposing the grifters is exactly what is happening in the Republican Party today. Groups like the organization that I head, groups like the Chamber of Commerce, business groups and traditional Republican organizations are working to run the political snake-oil salesman out of town-- or at least out of our party.

This isn’t about ideology. The Republican Party is a conservative party. This fight is about whether we will govern or continue to let the grifters profit off of the dysfunction in Washington.

Our beef isn’t with the rank and file Tea Party members, either. We understand their justifiable frustration with Washington. Our beef is with the grifters who run the organizations in Washington that are fleecing these hardworking men and women.
Except fro Cruz, LaTourette hasn't called out any of his former Republican colleagues in Congress as grifters. So we asked an aid to one of his closest friends still in the House. I wanted to know if he was talking about David Joyce, who took over for LaTourette in northeast Ohio when he retired. "Not at all," he told me. "David does what he's told-- always and without question. He feels the same way about these assholes that Steve does." So who, I asked?

"You know who," he insisted. "King, Bachmann…"

Don't stop there, who else? He didn't want to go any further. But he agreed to shake his head up and down if I hit on any names that he was certain LaTourette considers part of the grifters caucus. These are the ones I guessed right: Steve Scalise. Boehner's Chief Whip, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), and the new kook, Curt Clawson (R-FL), who just took over for the GOP coke dealer who got busted.

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At 5:11 AM, Blogger Al Tecacca said...

Who wore it better?



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