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“Republicans At Risk”: Tea Party And John Birch Society Are One And The Same

When James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, looks at the Tea Party today, he flashes back to 1964 and sees the John Birch Society.

“The Tea Party, these right wingers are basically the modern-day John Birch Society,” he told U.S. News. “They are being extremists.”

The John Birch Society gained traction in the early 60s with its vehemently anti-communist rhetoric and distrust in government.

Hoffa says just like in the early 60s when the John Birch Society pushed for Barry Goldwater, who was the more conservative candidate, to be the Republican presidential nominee, the Tea Party has forced the GOP further to the right.

“It’s just like in 1964 when Goldwater ran against Johnson and the John Birch society was calling the shots.”

Hoffa says the strong voice of the Tea Party in Congress has forced the Republican leadership to ignore party centrists, which ultimately could put Republicans at risk among the general electorate this November.

“These people are so far to the right that they are putting themselves off of the field,” Hoffa says.”The Republican party and the Romney, Ryan combo have veered so far to the right that they have lost their credibility on almost any issue.”

But while Hoffa insists their ideas are too radical for the country, the one advantage that the Republicans have these days, Hoffa says is a financial one.

Hoffa argues the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case, which allowed people to donate unlimited amounts of campaign cash in the name of free speech, gave Republicans an edge and left the party vulnerable to being held hostage to radical far-right interests.

“We cannot have one person underwriting an entire campaign,” Hoffa says.

Republicans have countered the argument by accusing the Teamsters of dumping millions into elections on behalf of Democrats.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, a group that tracks election spending, public sector unions alone have spent $139 million in the election so far.

While the Teamsters are big donors, Hoffa says it’s an unfair comparison.

“There is no million dollar guy on the Teamsters giving money,” he says. “Everyone puts in $50 or $20 and they find a way to get the job done.”

 

By: Lauren Fox, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, September 4, 2012

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Eye Of The Storm”: The Sudden Disappearance Of The Welfare Lie

It began on August 7. The Romney campaign launched a major offensive on welfare policy, accusing President Obama of “gutting” existing law and “dropping work requirements.”

The attack was as obvious a lie as has ever been spoken by a presidential candidate. Mitt Romney had made this up, but proceeded to repeat the lie in every stump speech, and in five separate ads released over the course of two weeks. This one, racially-charged, entirely-made-up claim had quickly become the centerpiece of the entire Republican campaign.

And then something interesting happened. It disappeared.

Sahil Kapur reported the other day that Romney, in his convention address, chose not to repeat the lie, and the claim wasn’t included in Paul Ryan’s convention speech, either. When I checked the transcripts for Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Condoleezza Rice, and Jeb Bush, not one of them made even the slightest reference to the welfare lie.

But wait, there’s more. Romney has given three speeches since his convention address, delivering remarks in Lakeland, Jacksonville, and Cincinnati. The combined total of references to welfare in those speeches? Zero.

Also, I spoke this morning with a Democratic source who confirmed that the Romney campaign’s television ad featuring the welfare lie is not currently on the air.

So, over the course of about a week, this one transparent falsehood went from being the most potent attack in the Republican arsenal to a lie Romney and his team suddenly didn’t want to repeat.

What happened? For now, we can only speculate — the campaign has not explained the shift — but I wonder whether the allegations of racism started to take a toll.

Not only had every independent analysis proven that Romney was blatantly lying, but there was a growing consensus that the Republican was deliberately trying to exploit racism to advance his ambitions.

On Wednesday, the day before Romney’s speech, National Journal‘s Ron Fournier wrote a lengthy piece making clear that the GOP candidate has been playing a carefully-crafted racial game, and given Fournier’s credibility with the political establishment, his analysis was widely noticed, and raised questions anew about how far the former governor would go to base his campaign on an ugly, divisive deception.

It’s quite possible Romney found it easier to switch to other falsehoods, rather than risk alienating the American mainstream by sticking with his racist lie.

Or maybe I have this backwards and this is merely the eye of the storm. Romney will reportedly launch its next round of ad buys tomorrow, and maybe the welfare lie will be up front and center once again. As of today, however, the absence of the lie is hard to miss, given how invested Republicans were in the false accusation a week ago.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 4, 2012

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Unvarnished Negativity”: The Romney Campaign Continues To Lack A Positive Message

Since the Republican National Convention wrapped up last week, the Romney/Ryan campaign has abandoned its brief pretense of running a positive campaign based on leveling with the American people about serious issues. It’s back to all attacks on President Obama, all the time. On Tuesday they issued multiple press releases gleefully celebrating President Obama’s giving himself a grade of “incomplete” on his first term. On the campaign trail and in interviews Ryan has repeatedly asserted, as Romney argued in his nomination acceptance speech at the RNC on Thursday, that President Obama cannot tell the American people they are better off than they were four years ago. (As Media Matters points out, cable news channels, especially Fox News, have complicitly repeated this charge without offering context of the economic freefall we were in when President Obama took office.)

A close examination of the GOP’s major speeches from last week shows that even their nominally affirmative case for small government was internally inconsistent. The crucial applause lines actually undermined their arguments. Between that, and their immediate return to unvarnished negativity, it is clear that the Republican Party simply does not have a positive conservative message for this election cycle.

The RNC was supposed to be filled with homage to the virtues of private enterprise. But both of their main speakers on Thursday night—Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mitt Romney—implicitly made the case for the necessity of government instead.

When it comes to exhorting a nation to collective democratic action, private equity investment can seem a bit lacking. As anyone who watched the biographical video of Romney on Thursday night noticed, investing in a chain of office supply stores just isn’t that inspiring.

Perhaps that’s why Romney tried to summon memories of America’s supposed mid-twentieth-century greatness, he talked about a government program. Although he never actually used the acronym NASA, that’s what he was talking about when he said:

When President Kennedy challenged Americans to go to the moon, the question wasn’t whether we’d get there, it was only when we’d get there.

The soles of Neil Armstrong’s boots on the moon made permanent impressions on OUR [emphasis in original text] souls and in our national psyche. Ann and I watched those steps together on her parent’s sofa. Like all Americans we went to bed that night knowing we lived in the greatest country in the history of the world.

God bless Neil Armstrong.

Tonight that American flag is still there on the moon. And I don’t doubt for a second that Neil Armstrong’s spirit is still with us: that unique blend of optimism, humility and the utter confidence that when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.

Nothing about this reflects the advantages of limited government. The space program is a governmental endeavor, not the work of some plucky businessman. Its success illustrates the virtues of collectivism, not individuality. Indeed, Romney’s kicker: “you need an American,” makes no sense. Neil Armstrong did not get to the moon by himself. What the moon landing shows is that for “the really big stuff” you need the American government.

Similarly, Rubio said, “Mitt Romney knows America’s prosperity didn’t happen because our government simply spent more. It happened because our people used their own money to open a business.” But as anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of the modern economy knows, the vast majority of new businesses are not opened entirely with the proprietor’s own money. Rather, they borrow money from a bank or—as Romney would surely point out—venture capitalists. This in turn, necessitates a functioning banking system. As we have learned over the years, a functioning banking system requires governmental institutions such as the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

As President Obama might have said, with regard to everything from the monetary system to the space program, “you didn’t build that.”

Meanwhile, one of the most oft-repeated anti-Obama talking points was taken to its logical conclusion, and its absurdity was thus demonstrated. Republicans like to joke that President Obama has never had a “real” job, meaning one in the private sector. This has even morphed into a shorthand that he has never had a job before the presidency at all. For example, Tim Pawlenty joked in his speech in Tampa: “Barack Obama’s failed us. But look, it’s understandable. A lot of people fail at their first job.”

Strictly speaking, this is not actually true. Besides the fact that most people would probably consider community organizer, law professor, book author, state senator and US senator to be jobs, Obama worked for several years after college at the Business International Group, a publishing and advisory firm that assisted US companies abroad. (It was later bought by the Economist Group and is now part of the Economist Intelligence Unit.)

But current Republican ideology holds that jobs in the nonprofit sector or public sector are not real jobs. And since Obama never talks about his brief foray into the for-profit sector, Republicans figure they can assume their listeners won’t know about it. So, in his acceptance speech at the RNC, Mitt Romney said, “[Obama] took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business. Jobs to him are about government.”

Even just a cursory examination of this claim shows it makes a lot less sense than Romney—and his audience, which cheered enthusiastically—assumes it does. Business is a broad category: a teenager who spends his summer flipping burgers at McDonald’s works “in a business.” Is Romney seriously suggesting that such work experience would make one better qualified for the presidency than serving in the United States Senate and teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago? Taken literally, Romney’s comments would mean just that.

Coincidentally enough, Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan and his cheerleaders in the conservative media have actually cited the summer Ryan spent working at a McDonald’s as evidence of his real-life experience. That’s because, if you accept Romney’s standard of presidential qualification, his running mate is otherwise badly unqualified. Ryan has spent his entire professional career working in politics and political advocacy. And yet this does not bother Romney nor his supporters.

It shouldn’t. There is absolutely no reason to think that Herman Cain—a successful businessman in the fast food industry, who has a ridiculous tax plan and demonstrated disturbing ignorance of international affairs—would make a better president than Paul Ryan. The president’s effect on the economy comes through macroeconomic policy making. One can understand that well, or poorly, from a variety of backgrounds. Republicans know this. That’s why they’ve nominated career politicians for the presidency or vice-presidency before, and they happily nominated Ryan this year. There is nothing wrong with that. But it means there is something very hypocritical about their attack on Obama’s work experience.

Given the rank hypocrisy of their convention rhetoric, and their reversion to one-note economic attacks on Obama immediately thereafter, it looks like Romney’s hopes of reinventing his image and reframing the race will surely be dashed.

 

By: Ben Adler, The Nation, September 4, 2012

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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