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“David Vitter, God Bless The Koch Brothers”: The Most Patriotic Americans In The History Of The Earth

It stands to reason that Republican politicians are going to celebrate Charles and David Koch. After all, the billionaires’ generosity is critically important in conservative politics right now and may ultimately be the deciding factor in which party has power in Congress.

But Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) is willing to take his appreciation for the Koch brothers to a pretty extraordinary level, as evidenced by a town-hall event in Shreveport this week. American Bridge posted the above video (http://youtu.be/-7mStFMk6og), and for those who can’t watch clips online, the conservative senator told constituents:

“I think the Koch brothers are two of the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth. […]

“God bless the Koch brothers. They’re fighting for our freedoms.”

Sure, Republicans are bound to be grateful to the billionaires for saturating the airwaves with anti-Democratic attack ads, but Vitter’s effusive praise seemed a little over the top.

Burgess Everett saw an even longer version of the clip and reported that Vitter, as part of the same discussion, said he’s “not defending big money in politics.”

No, of course not.  He’s just grateful that the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth are fighting for our freedoms.

It’s worth noting that Louisiana will host two major elections in the next two years: Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is running for re-election this year, and she’s already facing attack ads from the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity, and Vitter is running for governor next year, and likely hopes the Kochs’ operation will support his candidacy.

But there’s an even larger context to this: what is it, exactly, the most patriotic Americans in the history of the Earth hope to receive in exchange for their political investments?

The New York Times reports today on the bigger picture.

As [Americans for Prosperity] emerges as a dominant force in the 2014 midterm elections, spending up to 10 times as much as any major outside Democratic group so far, officials of the organization say their effort is not confined to hammering away at President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They are also trying to present the law as a case study in government ineptitude to change the way voters think about the role of government for years to come.

“We have a broader cautionary tale,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity. “The president’s out there touting billions of dollars on climate change. We want Americans to think about what they promised with the last social welfare boondoggle and look at what the actual result is.”

Leaders of the effort say it has great appeal to the businessmen and businesswomen who finance the operation and who believe that excess regulation and taxation are harming their enterprises and threatening the future of the country. The Kochs, with billions in holdings in energy, transportation and manufacturing, have a significant interest in seeing that future government regulation is limited.

Indeed, Wonkblog reported just yesterday that a Koch Industries subsidiary is the biggest lease owner in Canada’s tar sands, covering an area of 1.1 million acres. The piece added, “Separately, industry sources familiar with oil sands leases said Koch’s lease holdings could be closer to 2 million acres.”

This helps bring into sharper focus why the Democratic fight with the Koch brothers has become so important. The dispute isn’t about some misleading AFP attack ads about health care reform; this is about a broader agenda.

As Greg Sargent explained this morning, “The real purpose of the Dem strategy is to create a framework for a broader argument about the true goals and priorities of the actual GOP policy agenda. It’s about tapping into a sense that the economy is rigged against ordinary Americans, and in favor of the one percent, and dramatizing that the GOP’s economic agenda would preserve that status quo, blocking any government policies designed to address stagnant mobility and soaring inequality. Or that, as Jonathan Chait puts it, the GOP has ‘built a policy agenda around plutocracy,’ and its primary ‘organizing purpose is to safeguard the economic interests of the very rich.’”

And it’s against this backdrop that David Vitter proclaims, “God bless the Koch brothers. They’re fighting for our freedoms.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 20, 2014

March 23, 2014 Posted by | Election 2014, Koch Brothers, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“McConnell’s Tea Party Nightmare”: He Can’t Kill Them Because They Run His Party

OK, Sen. Mitch McConnell wasn’t brandishing a rifle at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday in order to shoot Tea Party marauders. The unpopular Senate Minority Leader was just trying to avoid being booed by the crowd, using the most reliable prop on the far right, a gun (President Obama in handcuffs would probably work well too). But the embattled leader did go ballistic this weekend, figuratively, on his party’s restive far-right activists. The Tea Party is not going to be able to knock off GOP senators in red states, McConnell warned.

“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell told the New York Times. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”

Not surprisingly, McConnell is starting with his own Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin. He released a new ad trashing not only Bevin but the Senate Conservatives Fund that’s backing him, charging the group “solicits money under the guise of advocating for conservative principles but then spends it on a $1.4 million luxury townhouse with a wine cellar and hot tub in Washington, D.C.” Wine and hot tubs, you know what that means – these folks are probably just uppity liberal hypocrites in conservative clothing!

But McConnell’s crusade comes a few years too late. Clearly the Tea Party is already the mainstream of his party.  Just last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that Republican voters say a candidate’s Tea Party ties make it more likely they’ll support them, by a margin of nearly 2-1. Unfortunately for the GOP, Tea Party affiliation makes the broader electorate less likely to vote for a candidate by about the same margin.

Even some Republicans who the media oddly place in the “moderate” or pragmatic camp don’t belong there. Wisconsin’s scandal-challenged Gov. Scott Walker has bragged about being the original Tea Party in Wisconsin.” In a popular CPAC session using Wisconsin as “the model” for union-busting and right-wing coalition politics, the RNC’s Reince Priebus credited “total and complete unity between the state party, quite frankly, Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party groups, the Grandsons of Liberty. The [Glenn Beck-instigated] 9/12ers were involved. It was a total and complete agreement that …everyone was going to run down the tracks together.”

And while it’s true that Congressman Paul Ryan, endorsed in 2012 by the Tea Party Express as “the strong Tea Party candidate for Vice President,” has had tension with Tea Partiers since he partnered with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray to pass a budget, at CPAC Ryan downplayed the notion of a rift between himself and the party’s right, comparing intra-party debates to a “family reunion” among Irish-Americans. (Actually, nobody in my family wants to take lunches away from poor children, not even the Republicans among us.)

Now it is true that Tea Party challengers in three red states – Kentucky, Mississippi and Kansas – are having a hard time getting traction against reliably conservative GOP senate incumbents. One poll has McConnell up 42 points over Bevin; another has his lead at 26 points. Thad Cochran and Pat Roberts are likewise leading their Tea Party challengers.

But oddly, McConnell – and the Times – don’t even mention Georgia, where five extremists have been virtually tied for the lead in the GOP senate primary to succeed retiring Saxby Chambliss, competing for the opportunity to run against Michelle Nunn. The most extreme of the five, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, just pulled ahead in the last PPP poll. Broun would abolish the IRS, the EPA and the Department of Education, and wants the U.S. to pull out of the United Nations. He’s called evolution and the big bang theory “lies from the pit of hell.” Interestingly though, Broun is the only GOP candidate with a (slight) lead over Nunn in an early head to head match up; the others trail her. Presumably, in a one on one race, Nunn and the Democrats would have a lot to work with battling Broun. He is an early contender to be the Todd Akin of the 2014 cycle.

“I know this: Politics doesn’t like losers,” McConnell told the Times, suggesting defeats in primaries in places like Kentucky and Mississippi would discourage Tea Party insurgents. “If you don’t have anything to point to, it is kind of hard to keep it going.”

But while McConnell has a big lead over Bevin, he’s trailing his Democratic challenger, secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes. It’s far too early to count McConnell out, but it’s worth asking whether the far-right’s animus towards McConnell will make him the ultimate loser in November.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, March 10, 2014

March 11, 2014 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Purpose Driven Lies”: Crocodile Tears From The Koch Brothers

They may say otherwise, but the evidence is clear: Republicans had no interest in Obama’s success.

The latest campaign from Americans for Prosperity—the Koch-funded conservative group—is a $7 million ad buy meant to highlight the disappointment of various Obama supporters. The commercial, which runs for one minute, will air on broadcast and cable in 11 battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. CNN has a few excerpts:

“I had hoped that the new president would bring new jobs–not major layoffs, not people going through major foreclosures on their homes,” one woman says in the ad.

Another voter adds: “He said he was going to cut the deficit in his first term. I’ve seen zero interest in reducing spending. He inherited a bad situation, but he made it worse.”

Piling on, a third voter says: “I still believe in hope and change. I just don’t think Obama is the way to go for that.”

At the Washington Post, Greg Sargent calls this an “emerging GOP tactic for dealing with Obama’s personal popularity.” He paraphrases, “We didn’t want Obama to fail; we shared his high hopes for his presidency; but …”

If Republicans go this route, I hope reporters take a page from Michael Grunwald, who details GOP obstruction of the stimulus in his just-released book The New New Deal, and reveals the extent to which the GOP never intended to work with Obama, regardless of what he did. This anecdote is typical of how Republicans approached Obama from the beginning of his administration:

In early January, the House Republican leadership team held a retreat at an Annapolis inn. Pete Sessions, the new campaign chair, opened his presentation with the political equivalent of an existential question:

“If the purpose of the Majority is to Govern…What is Our Purpose?” […]

“The Purpose of the Minority is to become the Majority.”

The team’s goal would not be promoting Republican policies, or stopping Democratic policies, or even making Democratic bills less offensive to Republicans. Its goal would be taking the gavel back from Speaker Pelosi.

“That is the entire Conference’s Mission,” Sessions wrote.

Grunwald shows how Republicans developed a strategy of maximum obstruction before Obama even took office, and stuck to it throughout the first two years of his presidency. As this election unfolds, conservatives will try to mournfully attack Obama, as if they wanted him to succeed.

They’re lying.

 

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, August 15, 2012

August 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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