Sunday, September 16, 2007



Last year during his unsuccessful re-election big Rhode Island's senior senator, Lincoln Chaffee, a mainstream Republican reminded voters that he had not voted for George W. Bush for president. It didn't matter to them, as a Republican senator he had helped enable a far-right, neo-Confederate takeover of Congress, by, among other things voting for radical rightists like Trent Lott and Bill Frist for the Senate's leadership and by largely rubber-stamping the very policies and nominations that led him to publicly claim he hadn't voted for Bush himself. Rhode Island voters replaced him (53-47%) with Sheldon Whitehouse, who has turned out to be the most progressive new member of the Senate, and the one to vote least frequently with the Bush Regime. Had Chafee won, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would be the Majority Leader of the Senate and Bush and Cheney would be even less inclined towards modest compromises-- like signing the minimum wage increase-- than they are today.

Yesterday it became public that after the election, in the summer, Chafee disaffiliated from the Republican Party he and his father had led in Rhode Island. He opposes the Bush Regime's agenda in Iraq, the overly greedy tax cuts for the wealthy and their anti-environmental policies.
Yesterday, he criticized Republican leaders for abandoning fiscal conservatism, once a mainstay of Republican politics, by passing tax cuts without spending cuts to balance the resulting loss of revenue.

He said the “starve the beast” strategy that Republicans have used in an attempt to shrink government has undermined social programs that bolster a strong American middle class. He mentioned Pell grants, which help needy students attend college, and Head Start programs, which support the education of low-income children. Instead of supporting those “good social programs,” he said, the party’s approach was “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.”

The National GOP, including Bush, had to support Chafee in a tough primary before he was trounced by Whitehouse. He had been challenged by Stephen Laffey, a far right-wing loon more in tunr with Cheney than with moderate Rhode Island, the state that gave Bush his highest disapproval ratings. They felt if they had any chance to hold the Rhode Island seat (and Senate majority status) it would be through Chafee. It didn't work out that way. They embittered their own extremists and lost seat. Ironically, Chafee would certainly have kept his seat if he had followed his convictions a couple years sooner-- the way Jim Jeffords had-- and quit the GOP back then.

Unlike Chafee (and Jeffords) Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) is no moderate. He's a pretty garden variety right wing rubber stamp on everything except the war in Iraq. Lot's of fake Republican moderates talk about opposing the war-- Chris Shays (R-CT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Judy Biggert (R-IL), James Walsh (R-NY), Phil English (R-PA)-- but when it comes to voting, they're always there foir Bush and Cheney, no matter how heinous and unpopular the legislation being pushed. Not Jones. He's the Republican who has most come around to the view normal Americans hold on Bush's Iraq war policies. He sometimes votes with the Democrats; and he's the only one in the House who does (other than slightly loony libertarian Ron Paul).

The far right end of the GOP down in NC-03 is after Jones' scalp. He won the district by 69% last year, by 71% in 2004 and was unopposed in 2002. The carefully gerrymandered district is overwhelmingly Republican (R+15). He has a primary opponent in Joe McLaughlin, a radical rightist who says he "hangs out with liberals" and doesn't support the troops.

Jones' father represented the district as a Democrat for 26 years and Jones started out as a conservative Democrat. He switched to the GOP before running for Congress. Except on Iraq, his voting record is pretty right-wing: anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-consumer, anti-worker, anti-environment... Of course, in North Carolina, that also describes the right wing Democrats Mike McIntyre and Heath Shuler. So the Democrats are trying to convince Jones to do what Chafee did-- but before the election.

A few days ago, we did a post about a couple of Kentucky state legislators switching from the GOP to the Democrats. One, Milward Dedman, like Jones, used to be a Democrat, switched to the GOP, and came home. Today's Washington Post recognizes a similar kind of sentiment popping up in Colorado's Republican heartland, not necessarily with officeholders yet, but with voters. GOP anti-environmental greed is turning off many of the party's core supporters and has turned a red state purple and leaning blue.


The very worst of the GOP, Republican closet case and neo-fascist maniac Patrick McHenry looks like he has an opponent for his congressional seat. Our pals at BlueNC report that Daniel Johnson-- not the musician, the 31 year old decorated military hero-- is running against lil' McNutcase. With McHenry looking like he is somehow connected to a series of gay murders and a gay escort and porno ring, a clean cut, All-American hero might be just what this district is looking for as an alternative. We'll be following this race closely; I promise.

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At 4:23 PM, Blogger DavidEhrenstein said...

One thing's for sure, McHenry will DEFINITELY want Johnson's emial abnd cell phone number.


At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My God. Chafee mentioned the words "starve the beast strategy" out loud, and in public? That's like divulging the secret handshake! Cripes, the only thing worse for a Republican to do is to publicly admit to the existence of the Southern Strategy.

He really has changed, hasn't he?

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of McIntyre what's with his campaign site - it is full of broken links and fund raising events from 2006. It even invites people to his victory party last November. Is he running? Will anyone primary him?


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