Sunday, August 01, 2010

All's Fair In Love And War? And, Believe Me, This Isn't Love


I can't over-emphasize how important it is to read the entire piece in the new Playboy entitled Rogues of K Street-- Confessions of A Tea Party Consultant. It's not just about manipulating a bunch of angry and ignorant Glenn Beck fans. (Like Wisconsin and Kentucky enfants terrible and certifiable imbeciles Paul Ryan and Rand Paul, "They may not read much, but they all know their Ayn Rand.) It's about overthrowing what's left of democracy in the United States. He talks about "scaring the crap out of the left," but by "the left" he's talking about the quintessentially moderate middle of the road Obama Administration, as financed and slavishly indebted to Wall Street as any Republican Administration. If that's who we have fighting the progressive battle, we surely are doomed. Forget the asshole personality that comes through as you read the first person account. Just keep in mind he's talking about what he wants to do to our country.
I hold as many meetings as possible over Tanqueray and tonics at the St. Regis hotel on K Street in Washington, D.C. The bar is dark and private, with comfortable couches. Even the gin tastes better there. On weekday afternoons the only people in the bar are foreigners and political consultants long past caring about who actually wins.

"You’re going to see something spectacular," an old friend who has a knack for black-bag operations said as he proudly downed his vodka. "About a month from now you’ll see ACORN explode from within." Right on schedule a video was released that showed undercover conservative activists James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles getting advice from employees at the Baltimore office of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now on how to smuggle underage El Salvadoran girls into a fictitious brothel.

That’s when I realized this isn’t an average fringe movement. This one is credible, legit and-- for the first time in a decade-- scaring the crap out of the left. In my years as a campaign hack and then as a consultant, I’ve created more than my share of fake grassroots organizations. Some were downright evil but effective beyond expectations. Did you get an automated call from the sister of a 9/11 victim asking you to reelect President Bush in 2004? That was me. Did you get a piece of mail with the phrase supports abortion on demand as a means of birth control? That may have been me too.

Conservatives had been trying to take down ACORN for three decades. Where they failed, and my friends succeeded. In one magnificent explosion, a loose group of troublemakers, libertarians and Republicans took its first scalp. Sonja Merchant-Jones, former co-chair of ACORN’s Maryland chapter, told the New York Times in March, "That 20-minute video ruined 40 years of good work."

The ACORN blood tasted good. Shortly after, a core group of about 30 of us convened for the first time. It was the kind of conference call during which no one, except the handful with nothing to lose, offered last names. But it didn’t matter. I’d been around long enough to know many of the people by voice. Most of our talk was devoted to rants about the K Street lobbyists who are ruining the GOP. There I sat, in the quiet corner of a coffee shop on K Street, listening to a conference call beating the shit out of the people who keep me in business.

The cynical among us think it’s a group of peasants with pitchforks controlled by an underground cabal of Glenn Beck, wealthy donors and the guys who killed JFK. But the worst thing I can say about the Tea Party I work for is that it can make lots of noise but can’t win without professional help. I love the irony of helping run this organization from the St. Regis Bar.

...We are tremendously plugged in to and its stable of writers. Our news cycle is measured in minutes, not days. Combine the DNA of a flash mob, a news addict and a conservative who feels betrayed by the spending excesses of George W. Bush, sprinkle in some anxiety and you’ve got my people.

The campaign plan for one of the organizations I help uses the phrase black arts when talking about how we’ll win in the fall. It’s not a document filled with dirty tricks but a plan to create a nonprofit organization called Ensuring Liberty Corporation. It uses unconventional methods to get our message out and support grassroots conservatives: "Ensuring Liberty’s relationships run deep into the new media and use of cloud computing and innovation along with the black arts of campaign management. That is not to say that [we] will undertake actions that contravene any legal or ethical principles; however, the use of surprise, investigative journalism and other key experience will allow for rapid deployment of strategies that many candidates simply do not understand or take advantage of during their actual election campaign." Of course, the Tea Party is not as cohesive as anyone thinks. It’s not a party or even an organization. You have to understand the state of the Republican Party to understand how there can still be oxygen in the room for the Tea Party. Bush mangled the GOP brand into a grotesque form that conservatives haven’t recognized in five years.

Conservatives now live in the political-party equivalent of Mad Max. Law and order inside the Republican Party has deteriorated, leaving regional warlords to scavenge over what’s left. The trouble is that some of the regional warlords are nuts or crooks. Among the better-known scavengers is Eric Odom’s Tea Party-related PAC, Liberty First, which I believe will be able to raise and spend millions this fall.

...The mail you’ll see from me this fall won’t have much to say about gays or the unborn. We have new foils, such as the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Leveraging rage about a bailout for mega-millionaires and an $800 billion "stimulus" that has barely moved unemployment below double figures is a cinch compared with explaining why Bobby and Joey’s marriage is bad for America. Designing a thank-you note from an imaginary Wall Street executive to working-class taxpayers is so much more rewarding than most other messaging campaigns. With new variable-print technology, the postcard can be personalized and won’t look as though it was printed overnight at Kinko’s.

Dear [insert name],
I received my Troubled Asset Relief Program check from you and other taxpayers and wanted to personally thank you for your money. I will now be able to keep the third car and vacation home by [insert name of nearby vacation area].
I particularly want to thank [insert name of congressman] for ensuring billionaires like me do not have to worry about petty things like mortgage payments and retirement. [insert name of congressman] has been instrumental in making sure billionaires like me are protected.

Warm regards,
[name of Wall Street billionaire]

P.S. [insert name of our candidate] opposes runaway government spending. He will vote to protect taxpayers, not billionaires like me.

It gets better. Read it all and read it again. And keep in mind, of course that most Republican senators, 34 of them to be precise (including several who are up for reelection in November like Richard Burr in North Carolina, Chuck Grassley in Iowa, John McCain in Arizona, John Thune in South Dakota, Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, and Johnny Isakson in Georgia) voted for Bush's no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout (TARP). And, don't forget that over in the House, where the TARP bailout was originally defeated 205-228 and passed a week later because Tea Party heroes like Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Joe "You Lie" Wilson, Mary Fallin, Gary Miller, Dan Lungren, John Campbell and, most of all, Randian Paul Ryan were able to "persuade" 26 corrupt Republicans-- like Charlie Dent-- to switch their votes and get onboard the Wall Street gravy train. Obviously that doesn't matter to the people, like our author, who are pulling the teabaggers' strings.

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