Sunday, February 22, 2009

Looks Like Arnold Schwarzenegger Isn't Being Invited To CPAC, The Extreme Right's Big Annual Powwow


Michael Steele, Mike Huckabee and John Boehner???

Next week hard core extremists and obstructionists from around the Beltway will descend on Washington's Omni Shoreham Hotel again for their annual ritualistic embrace of a kind of uniquely American fascism. Today's Washington Post features a dizzy, if not delusional, preview by GOP media shill S.E. Cupp. She fights back against the conventional wisdom that this year's get together will be a bust because of the lack of star power, many respectable conservatives distancing themselves from the fanatics, Know Nothings and radicals-- the Ann Coulter wing of the Republican Party-- who dominate the conclave. But Cupp, who will be signing her childish book, Why You're Wrong About the Right next Saturday, disagrees completely: "See, in my world," she writes, "stars don't come any bigger than Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Mitt Romney and Mike Pence (if there were a congressional version of Teen Beat, the Indiana congressman would be on its cover every month). Michael Steele, Mike Huckabee and John Boehner are the Jonas Brothers of conservative celebrity."
Am I the only one who gets excited at the thought of a two-hour discussion on "Protecting the Secret Ballot" or "Taking Action Through Citizen-Led Reform" in the Regency Ballroom? When I see such clever lecture titles as "Will Congress Take Your Guns?" and "Are We All Socialists Now?" I start salivating. Will it? Are we? I can't wait to find out.

Just announced-- Mario Lopez is speaking! Okay, it's Mario Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, and not the hunky headliner of Saved By the Bell and Dancing With the Stars, but still-- he's going to be great, I just know it.

And doesn't everyone want to have "Breakfast With Phyllis Schlafly"? Just me?

...I'm also looking forward to drinking boxed wine with such friends and colleagues as Tucker Carlson, Stephen Baldwin and Andrew Breitbart during the forced socialization of conference happy hours. You'd be surprised how many big deals are done over pigs-in-a-blanket and cubed cheese. And yes, I just totally name-dropped.

Even Sarah Palin, "the Angela Jolie of the GOP," is staying away-- although she will address her adoring fans with a video especially for them. Instead of Rudy Giuliani, Dick Cheney, John McCain, George Bush, Bobby Jindal, Charlie Crist-- or even Arnold or chief House obstructionist Eric Cantor, the nuts and loons will have to make do with some sorry scrapings from the bottom of the barrel: Rush Limbaugh, Coulter, Rick Santorum, the 2 bizarre Micheles-- Bachmann and Malkin-- John Shadegg, Jim DeMint... and, fingers crossed, internationally acclaimed neo-Nazi, racist and right-wing posterboy Geert Wilders. And, in a nod towards Obama's sense of post-partisanship, there will be an award ceremony honoring doddering former progressive George McGovern for his anti-union rantings. (He isn't doddering enough to bother to show up in person though. Perhaps anti-labor lobbyist and Republican stalwart Rick Berman will accept the honor on his behalf.)

Rick Moran knows exactly what he is-- which is why he named the demented Republican Party blog he runs Rightwing Nuthouse. His essay on next week's CPAC convention appeared in another virtual nuthouse, though, The Next Right. "The theme of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)," he begins, "should be 'Cocooning our way to Irrelevancy' or perhaps 'How to lose the next 5 elections in 10 easy steps.'”
From my point of view, it really is that bad. With the exception of some effort to bring conservatism into the 21st century communications-wise, the program appears to be an excellent panacea for what ailed conservatism in about 1980. It’s as if the debacles of 2006 and 2008 never happened. Does it matter that the very same people who helped get us clobbered the last two election cycles are running seminars and roundtables at the conference? Not if you’re a movement still in denial that it will take more than “message tweaking” and better utilization of the internet to bring conservatism back and make it relevant to a large portion of Americans again.

...My idea of “reform” is probably a helluva lot different than most conservatives. But maybe we could start with the recognition that in elections, the way you win is by getting one more vote than the other side. And no matter how you want to add up the numbers, the 30% of so of the nation that identifies itself as “conservative” will always fall short of 50% + 1. I hate to break this news to my fellow conservatives; you can use any kind of mathematical hocus pocus you wish but there just aren’t enough of us to only allow “true conservatives” a place at the table. The absence of conservatives like David Frum, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, and others who probably agree with 90% of conservative positions on the issues but have been driven from the movement for their apostasy-- real or imagined-- is as incomprehensible as it is depressing.

This is the way back? It’s not a question of being “moderate” or “true-blue” but rather how long does conservatism want to wander in the wilderness? Ideas on how to reform conservatism-- and I speak of real reform, not the cosmetic solutions that appear will be offered at CPAC-- must come from as many sources as possible. Some conservatives might not like the smell inside the “Big Tent” but turning up your nose at people who disagree with you on one or two issues is just plain nuts. “Litmus tests” and the like are all well and good unless you are a minority, getting smaller and less relevant, and don’t wish to find a way back in order to compete in the marketplace of ideas.

Our dire situation doesn’t seem to have sunk in yet. This is evident by how many sessions are scheduled that appear to have been lifted from the agenda of a decade or more ago.

He goes on to bemoan speakers from the fringes of American politics like North Carolina neo-fascist Virginia Foxx, Illinois' two most extreme congressional wingnuts, Aaron Schock and Peter Roskam, Phyllis Schafly, and Ralph Reed and warns his fellow rightists that "fleeing the mindset that re-enforces the notion that there isn’t much really wrong with conservatism that a dab of message clarification here and a spot of renewed enthusiasm there won’t cure" isn't going to help them reach outside of their delusional drooling base. "Accepting the fact that there are fundamental problems is the first step toward recovery. Unfortunately, CPAC fails miserably in that regard."

Perhaps instead of a forward-looking strategy they can just cheer themselves up a little in preparation for the disaster that awaits them in 2010 when voters let them know what they think of obstructionism. They could probably start with a hissing session for-- in absentia, of course-- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the elected GOP politician with the most constituents anywhere in America. And do they hate him-- especially now that he's calling on Republicans to put partisanship aside and be team players with Obama! Friday he signed a state budget that includes $12.5 billion in tax hikes.
"Their last gasp has been taken from them," said Larry N. Gerston, a political scientist at San Jose State, citing the unpopularity among most California voters of the party's conservative stands on abortion, illegal immigration and other touchstone issues. "It puts them in a very precarious position."

By repudiating the thrust of his candidacy in the 2003 recall-- "I will not raise taxes," Schwarzenegger stated flatly the day after he won-- the governor has also enraged the conservatives who dominate the party.

For Republicans convening at a state party convention this weekend in Sacramento, it is a wrenching moment. Schwarzenegger is skipping the event to attend a governors' conference in Washington. But his turnaround on taxes has darkened the mood of the hundreds of party loyalists venting their frustration in a hotel where the governor often stays in a penthouse suite.

To be sure, none of the GOP lawmakers who demanded that the state close its $42-billion shortfall without raising taxes detailed the doomsday cuts that approach would entail, nor did the activists who lobbied against the tax increases. If the state had laid off its entire workforce of 238,000-- every prison guard, firefighter and clerk-- it still would have fallen billions shy of a balanced budget.

Still, in a nod to the GOP's internal realities, two of the party's top contenders for Schwarzenegger's job in the June 2010 primary have split with the governor over the tax hikes.

One, former EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman, said they will "kill jobs, hurt families and make future deficits even worse." The other, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, called the budget a "fiasco." The heavier tax burden, he warned, will increase unemployment.

...Like the governor, the six Republican lawmakers who joined Democrats in approving the tax increases are also facing vitriol within the party. Chief targets include Sens. Dave Cogdill of Modesto, whose support of the budget led to his overthrow as Senate Republican leader, and Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, who cast the deciding vote.

Conservative blogger Matthew Cunningham has started a Facebook group, "Never Elect Abel Maldonado to Anything, Ever Again." More threatening, Ernie Konnyu, a former Bay Area congressman, has launched a campaign to recall Maldonado.

Efforts to recall other GOP lawmakers for their break with the party on taxes have sprouted. Conservative purists are pushing the state party to censure them Sunday.

The party's turmoil over taxes comes as Republicans nationwide are still reeling from their 2008 defeat. Their White House nominee, John McCain, lost California by more than 3 million votes in the party's worst presidential rout in the state since the 1930s.

S.E. Cupp has a bizarre imagination

And for Republicans in California-- and across most of the nation-- 1930's-era abhorrence is exactly what they can look forward to. Republican governors are in DC arguing amongst themselves whether or not to reject the Stimulus money that would help people who have lost their jobs, the "not" position being championed by right-wing maniacs like Bobby Jindal (LA), Haley Barbour (MS) and Mark Sanford (SC). The kind of last gasp obstructionism being put in place by these crazies plus your Jim DeMints, John Cornyns, Jim Bunnings, Richard Burrs, Johnny Isaksons, Tom Corburns, Eric Cantors and John Boehners-- and being cheered on and even demanded by the lunatic fringe CPAC core-- is exactly what led to the GOP with 16 members of the Senate in 1936 and jut 88 members of the House.


Could I just underline the point made above by self-identified rightwing nut Rick Moran? The conservative movement has apparently become so loony that it has no room for people as loony as David Frum, Peggy Noonan, and David Brooks.

Okay, those may not be Rick's exact words. Still, that's some kind of loony!

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