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“The Tea Party Scam”: Reminder To Republicans, The Tea Party Is Stealing Your Money

After David Brat pulled a stunning primary upset over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in Virginia’s 7th congressional district on Tuesday, Tea Party groups almost immediately began dancing on the deposed incumbent’s grave.

“The grassroots are taking their seat back at the table and returning accountability to Washington. Votes on Capitol Hill will be heard back in the district,” FreedomWorks for America president Matt Kibbe wrote. “If you stop representing your voters, they will hold you accountable at the voting booth. We are proud to stand with Dave Brat in his election and look forward to working with him to reform Washington, D.C.”

Madison Project policy director Daniel Horowitz took to Twitter to gloat:

Daniel Horowitz @RMConservative

Hey if GOP establishment wants they could move to Mexico and run for office

9:22 PM – 10 Jun 2014

And perhaps nobody enjoyed the victory lap more than Tea Party Patriots chairman Jenny Beth Martin, who penned an op-ed in the Daily Caller bragging that Brat “blew up” the narrative that “grassroots conservatism is on the wane, that the tea party movement has run out of steam and is destined for the ash heap of political history.”

“[A]ctivists who belong to a variety of tea party groups coalesced behind a strong candidate and carried him to victory,” Martin wrote. “It is with them that Brat shares the credit.”

Brat may question how much credit he owes to the variety of Tea Party groups credited by Martin, however. While they are more than happy to spike the football after Brat’s win, Tea Party groups spent exactly nothing to help him during the primary campaign.

Zero dollars.

Brat wasn’t ignored for lack of trying.

“I met with them all,” the Republican nominee said of the major Tea Party groups in a February interview with The New York Times. “But it’s tough. Everybody just wants to see the polls, how much money you’ve raised. But they do not know what’s going on on the ground.”

At least Martin was decent enough to learn Brat’s name before attempting to co-opt his victory. In her statement on election night, Martin congratulated “David Brent” on his win, praising him for defeating “the man many consider to be one of the most powerful member [sic] of the House, second only to Mitch McConnell himself.”

Memo to Republicans: If you give political donations to a woman who doesn’t know the difference between Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, or the House and the Senate, you aren’t a fiscal conservative.

Of course, this is nothing new for Tea Party groups, which have never fully put their money where their mouths are. But in recent years, the Tea Party scam has reached Nigerian prince levels. As The Washington Post’s Matea Gold reported in April, “Out of the $37.5 million spent so far by the PACs of six major tea party organizations, less than $7 million has been devoted to directly helping candidates.”

Tea Party Patriots had a particularly dismal record; of the $7.4 million that the group had raised at the time, just $184,505 went to supporting political candidates. By contrast, TPP paid Martin a $15,000 monthly fee for strategic consulting, in addition to $272,000-plus yearly salary as president of the its nonprofit arm.

Brat’s upset victory proved that right-wing activists can still shake up Republican politics to startling degrees. But it also proved that they don’t need the do-nothing Tea Party groups to do so. That’s a lesson that Martin and her fellow Tea Party leaders hope that the grassroots never learns — because after all, traveling the country to rant about wasteful spending isn’t cheap.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, June 11, 2014

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Eric Cantor, GOP, Tea Party | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Eric Cantor Rebranded Himself Out Of A Job”: Like A Golden Retriever Who Tried To Run With A Pack Of Coyotes

It should have been Boehner. It’s not hard to imagine that those were the thoughts going through Eric Cantor’s head Wednesday night as he conceded defeat in his Virginia congressional primary to the Tea Party activist David Brat. After all, it was less than three years ago that Cantor was the foremost champion of Tea Party opposition to the fiscal grand bargain President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were trying to hash out during the debt-ceiling fight. And when Cantor, the House majority leader, successfully sabotaged that deal through a series of Machiavellian maneuvers, he appeared poised to capitalize on the Tea Party’s gratitude and take the speakership from the squishy Boehnerif not that very moment, then some time in the not-too-distant future. Even Obama gave voice to that belief. “You know Cantor’s trying to get your job,” the president taunted Boehner during their 2011 debt-ceiling talks.

And yet, Boehner’s job is safehe easily won his primary last monthand Cantor is now out of his. In a way, Cantor was the victim of his own ambitions. When he was elected to Congress in 2000, he was an Establishment Republican who strongly supported George W. Bush’s agenda. As a member of the House whip team, he helped persuade his fellow Republicans to vote for many of the bills the Tea Party would later decrymost infamously the 2003 Medicare prescription-drug legislation. He was also a staunch and vocal defender of Tom DeLay against corruption charges. But, in 2006, when it looked as if the House GOP leadership was about to lose its majority, Cantor recast himself as a reformerdenouncing the corruption that had consumed his caucus and even swearing off earmarks. Then after Obama’s election in 2008, Cantor, who’d rode his reputation as a reformer to the post of House Minority Whip, began staking out more obstinately conservative positions and became the face of GOP opposition to the new president’s agenda. In 2010, he worked to recruit similarly obstinately conservative Republicans to run for the House, ultimately helping to elect 87 of them. It was those House freshmen whose frustrations and grievances Cantor was channeling during the 2011 debt-ceiling fightand it was those House freshmen, Cantor and his allies assumed, who’d eventually elevate Cantor to speaker. But when Obama was reelected in 2012, Cantor adjusted yet again. The Tea Party had become a liability and Cantor, while not quite going back to his Establishment roots, began striking more moderate notesespecially on immigration, which Brat used to great effect in his primary campaign. In the end, Cantor rebranded himself out of a job.

During his 14 years in Washington, Cantor reinvented himself so many times that I ultimately lost count somewhere around Cantor 6.0. And that was ultimately the reason for Cantor’s downfall. The serial reinventions left Cantor with few allies and myriad enemies. He was the worst thing a politician could be: someone who inspired great passion, but only negative ones. As we’ve seen this year with Boehner and with Senator Mitch McConnell, Establishment Republicans can withstand Tea Party primary challengers. But Cantor couldn’t because, unlike Boehner and McConnellwho despite their opposition to Obama never entirely cozied up to the Tea Partyhe attempted to be something he was not. Cantor was like a golden retriever who tried to run with a pack of coyotes. For a while, he was able to rely on their shared canine ancestry and fit in. But eventually, the coyotes recognized him for the domesticated creature he was. Then they ate him.

 

By: Jason Zengerle, The New Republic, June 11, 2014

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Eric Cantor, Tea Party | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Politicking With Matters Of National Security”: From ‘Grand Old’ To ‘Shameless New’, Trading National Security For Political Gain

One would think that on the weekend of the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy – a day on which almost 10,000 fathers, brothers, and sons of our greatest generation were killed as they began the liberation of Europe – the Republican political establishment would at least press “pause” on partisan attacks that use our men and women in uniform as political pawns. Even Vladimir Putin, bogeyman du jour, paused his nationalist rants to recognize the occasion.

Rather than stopping to consider those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, supporters of New York State Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Astorino launched an ad that used the graves of U.S. soldiers as a backdrop and urged viewers “to honor their sacrifice” and “remove tyrants,” with the latter message plastered over pictures of Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. Instead of commemorating an epic struggle between fundamentally good and evil forces, Astorino’s supporters ran with the much simpler message that Cuomo is a modern-day Mussolini or Hitler.

This is, however, not an isolated event. The GOP establishment – both elected members and their media arms – have been on a roll of politicking with matters of national security of late. This circus detracts from critical policy discussions and legitimate critiques.

As with anything the Obama administration says or does, a political firestorm has erupted surrounding the return of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Afghanistan earlier this week. While there are legitimate debates to have over how the White House prosecutes the war in Afghanistan, handles detainees at Guantánamo, and works with Congress, the tenor of the attacks has been outwardly partisan and at times disrespectful of our men and women in uniform.

With regards to the Bergdahl situation, Fox News commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle argued on air that Bowe Bergdahl was lucky that his rescuers didn’t bring him home “in a body bag.” The insinuation – even the mere suggestion – that members of the U.S. military would deliberately murder their own and betray the oaths they took to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States is so offensive that it defies words.

In perhaps the crown jewel of the week’s insensitive behavior, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), after noting that Hillary Clinton’s “involvement” with Benghazi should “disqualify” her from being president, had the extraordinarily poor taste to say on Friday to the Republican Party of Texas Conference: “Mr. President, let’s set up a new trade. Instead of five Taliban, let’s trade five Democrats.”

Paul’s lack of deference cheapens the lives of Americans in captivity by “laughing” away the importance of bringing home American personnel who have endured brutal conditions in Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. The notion that the Commander-in-Chief’s responsibility to “leave no man behind” is somehow a joke – or in any way conditional – truly does disqualify someone from being president.

Perhaps the saddest thing about all this damning rhetoric is that these are the logical conclusions of a broken system rather than a particularly bad but isolated day for Republican messaging. From calling the President of the United States a “Socialistic dictator” and the “Kommandant-in-Chef [sic],” to the never-ending part-kangaroo court, part-fundraising circus surrounding the tragic events in Benghazi, to the continued narrative that President Obama hates or even “wants out” of America, the far right simply cannot stop itself from spouting vitriolic and divisive rhetoric.

There was a time when national security was the exclusive purview of the Republican Party, and any attempts by Democrats — no matter their credentials — to penetrate that sphere were either squashed by flagrant politicking or flopped on account of disastrous PR blunders. Conventional wisdom simply insisted that Democrats were “soft” and Republicans were “tough.”

However, nothing drives home the resurgence of a progressive foreign and defense policy more than the insensitive, disrespectful, and frankly out-of-touch messaging coming from the loudest voices on the right. The Republican establishment has apparently lost its respect for the office of the presidency and the United States military, and it is up to moderate voices to correct the gross excesses of the day.

There can be genuine disagreements over our military and national security, including on the subject of recent events in Afghanistan. Likewise, politics – even partisan politics – are an important part of the American political system. But we must remember those brave souls at Normandy gave their lives 70 years ago this week for the principles and values that sustain that system, and their efforts will be in vain if it continues down a track of such perversion.

However disenchanted members of the political minority may be with the current state of American politics, language of disrespect to those who serve and have served shown by all of these radical individuals crosses the line. It is our responsibility to voice our collective outrage and demand accountability for these ugly statements purely and poorly aimed at producing partisan gains.

 

By: Dr. Mark R. Jacobson, Senior Advisor to the Truman National Security Project; The National Memo, June 11, 2014

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Bowe Bergdahl, National Security, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In The Land Of Conservative Forgetting”: The Right Didn’t Mind When Bush Paid A Ransom To Terrorists

The Bowe Bergdahl story moves to the hearing stage this week, so we’ll be treated to the sight of preening House Republicans trying to press Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on when it was that he, too, started hating America. Meanwhile, over in the fever swamps, speculation is growing about an alleged “ransom” the Obama administration may have paid to bring Bergdahl home. That Ollie North, of all people, started this talk is one of those laugh, cry, or shoot-the-television moments that now assault our synapses with such regularity; it’s like Judas calling John or James a traitor, or Bernie Madoff aspersing Warren Buffett as a swindler.

North aside, the charge is picking up steam. Fox “News” “reported” that a ransom was on the table last year. The Free Beacon the other day quoted a “senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press,” who “speculated” that a cash payoff to the Haqqani Network, Bergdahl’s captors, surely had to be involved; the whole story made no sense otherwise. Get the picture? The typical evidence-free allegation, oxygenated by rife speculation from the usual suspects, who have no knowledge of anything but just want to get a meme started. So far, among elected officials, only House GOPer Steve “I’m Even Too Out There for Texas Republicans” Stockman has uttered the r-word.

But what starts with Stockman rarely ends with Stockman. And so I predict this charge is going to become a central talking point on the right in the coming days and weeks. Why wouldn’t it? It’s as high-voltage an allegation as Republicans can muster up. It carries, in its crude form, a subtext not only of colossally naive misjudgment but quite possibly of treason: the idea that not merely did the Manchurian president pay too high a price in the form of the Taliban Five to get back a good-for-nothing deserter, but now he (the theory will go) paid cash money to an evil terrorist network, thus helping to finance the group’s operations against America. As North, who knows whereof he speaks on the subject of abetting terrorists, put it: “Was there a ransom paid? Did the government of the United States, either directly or indirectly, finance a terrorist organization?”

This would all be quite shocking if proved true, right? And maybe even legitimate grounds for impeachment. Funny, though—it somehow wasn’t either of those things in 2002, when the Bush administration did it.

We turn now to the Philippines, where the Abu Sayyaf terror network—Islamic fundamentalist, al Qaeda-linked, occupant of a slot on the State Department’s official terrorist-organization list since Bill Clinton put it there in 1997—was rampaging around the southern archipelago and taking Westerners hostage. Two such hostages were an American husband-and-wife missionary team, Martin and Gracia Burnham. They were kidnapped in May 2001. Their captivity was a pretty big story for a while, but then came September, and the inferno of Lower Manhattan.

The Abu Sayyaf M.O. was the normal one—to demand large (or oddly not so large; the original demand for the Burnhams’ safety was $1 million) sums of money for their captives’ safe return. There were talks, and they bled into 2002. In April of that year, Bush gave a speech that included the line: “No nation can negotiate with terrorists, for there is no way to make peace with those whose only goal is death.”

A nice line. But of course, at that exact moment, the United States was negotiating intently with Abu Sayyaf for the Burnhams’ release. And not only that: The Bush administration arranged an indirect payment to Abu Sayyaf of $300,000, as reported a little later by ABC’s John McWethy, the veteran Pentagon correspondent, and even by Fox’s Brent Baier, whose phrasing had it that “the U.S. government facilitated a ransom payment to al Qaeda-linked terrorists.”

It seems that the payment was indirect rather than direct. But these days, that’s good enough for Ollie North (go reread his quote above). Even an indirect payment by the Obama administration to the Haqqani Network would clearly have these people screaming for impeachment hearings.

But then? Well, that was different. It was after 9/11. Bush was our Churchill. We were strong then, united! And sure enough, I find little record of conservative talking heads or elected Republicans criticizing Bush then, and alas not even any sense that cowed Democrats said much of anything. Those were the days of watching what you said, watching what you did.

Oh. I forgot one detail. We “facilitated” the ransom, but even then we still failed: Poor Martin Burnham was killed in a skirmish when the Philippine army stormed the compound to rescue the couple. Gracia lived, and lives on now. But just imagine that Obama had “facilitated” a ransom to Haqqani, and yet Bergdahl had been killed during a rescue mission. I don’t think I need to complete that thought.

And so here we are again, in the land of conservative forgetting. I do hope, as these hearings commence and House Republicans start raising questions about a possible ransom, that some of their colleagues remind them.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June10, 2014

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Bowe Bergdahl, House Republicans, Terrorists | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Emboldened Mob”: To Right-Wing Nutjobs, Ordinary Voters Are The Enemy

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

–Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues.

So the Bonnie and Clyde of the great Bundy ranch standoff thought they could start a national uprising by murdering two cops in a Las Vegas pizza joint. After executing Officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo in the most cowardly way possible, would-be freedom fighters cc draped the officers’ bodies with a Nazi flag and the “Don’t Tread on Me” banner flown at Tea Party rallies, and left a note proclaiming a new American Revolution.

The duo then proceeded to Walmart, where they also died in the most cowardly way possible — a murder-suicide, saving the slain officers’ colleagues the unpleasant necessity of shooting them dead.

Along the way the pair encountered the proverbial “good guy with a gun,” Joseph Robert Wilcox. They killed him too. Wilcox’s mistake was to pull his own concealed handgun without firing. It’s something combat instructors say one should never do, although it’s a decent human being’s first instinct — one good reason ordinary citizens shouldn’t carry.

You can’t learn combat shooting skills in a few hours with a retired deputy. It’s a potentially fatal mistake to try.

But I digress. Can anybody say they didn’t see this coming? The day before the Las Vegas tragedy I’d told a friend that between now and Labor Day, I expect to see a large scale firefight between crackpot right-wing militia types and police and/or federal authorities somewhere in America — Ruby Ridge, Waco, possibly even Oklahoma City all over again.

We’d been talking about those “open carry” geeks parading around in Fort Worth restaurants; also the self-appointed Texas posse that vowed to forcibly prevent Bowe Bergdhal’s Idaho hometown from throwing a welcome-home celebration for the recently released POW.

What the truth is behind the murky circumstances of Bergdhal’s capture by the Taliban, nobody really knows. However, Fox News and CNN succeeded in raising an electronic lynch mob. In essence, these jokers pronounced themselves willing to kill or die to prevent President Obama from getting a bump in opinion polls — the proximate cause of the sickening right-wing media freakout over Bergdhal’s release.

But back to Bonnie and Clyde. Supposedly, the Millers were asked to leave the Bundy ranch because of the male half’s criminal record. But definitely not because the duo was any crazier than the “Mountain Men” and other armed zealots eager to fight it out with the Bureau of Land Management over Cliven Bundy’s God-given constitutional right to graze free government grass.

“I was out there but they told me and my wife to leave because I am a felon,” Miller wrote on his Facebook page. “They don’t seem to understand that they are all felons now for intimidating law enforcement with deadly weapons. We sold everything we had to buy supplies and quit our jobs to be there 24/7. How dare you ask for help and shun us dedicated patriots!”

Posing as a rancher, Miller did a TV interview sounding no crazier than Bundy. “I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to come in here and try to push us around or anything like that,” he said. “I really don’t want violence toward them, but if they’re gonna come bring violence to us, if that’s the language they want to speak, we’ll learn it.”

Sounds like something Kevin Costner might say in a movie, right?

Miller was right about the law, though. Pointing a gun at a federal agent is a serious felony, and you wouldn’t want to live in a country where it’s not. No doubt the BLM was right not to risk a firefight over a couple of hundred scrawny cows. But it definitely emboldened the mob.

Of course there are also deeper long-term issues at play.

“In our recent history,” writes Paul Waldman in the Washington Post, “every election of a Democratic president is followed by a rise in conspiracy-obsessed right-wing populism. In the 1960s it was the John Birch Society; in the 1990s it was the militia movement shouting about black UN helicopters, and during the Obama presidency it was the Tea Party.

It’s also clear that President Obama’s race has a lot to do with far-right hysteria. Indeed, the most striking thing about Miller’s Facebook page is its sheer banality: Benghazi, Hillary, Nancy Pelosi, the global warming conspiracy, the tyranny of Obamacare, Agenda 21, fluoridated water, gun confiscation, etc.

I get chain emails about this nonsense every day. Along with veiled, and sometimes not so veiled, threats.

To the nutball right, ordinary Democratic voters have become the main enemy. Their apocalyptic theology requires a Satanic enemy, and it’s the majority. Some won’t rest until they get the violent confrontation they think they want. Then look for the professionals to take down the amateurs, with prejudice.

It’s the American way.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 11, 2014

June 12, 2014 Posted by | Cliven Bundy, Right Wing, Tea Party | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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