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“Facing A Groundswell”: The Plotting And Scheming Of An Assorted Cast Of Cringe Worthy Conservative Clowns

If you’ve ever found it curious that far-right media activists all seem to say the same thing at the same time about the same issues, it’s not your imagination. David Corn offers an explanation.

Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington — including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner — has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell — including aides to congressional Republicans — cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders.

There’s quite a bit to Corn’s scoop, including the fact that Groundswell really has no use for Karl Rove’s effort to protect more electable Republicans in GOP primaries.

There’s also quite a cast of characters at play, led in part by Ginni Thomas, and including an ignominious assortment of cringe-worthy clowns, including former ambassador John Bolton, former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), Ken Blackwell, Frank Gaffney, Jerry Boykin, and Capitol Hill staffers, including a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”

That may make Groundswell sound kind of scary, but there’s reason to believe these right-wing activists — surprise, surprise — aren’t especially sharp.

Notes from a February 28 Groundswell gathering reflected both their collective sense of pessimism and desire for aggressive tactics: “We are failing the propaganda battle with minorities. Terms like, ‘GOP,’ ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Conservative’ communicate ‘racism.'” The Groundswellers proposed an alternative: “Fredrick Douglas Republican,” a phrase, the memo noted, that “changes minds.” (His name is actually spelled “Frederick Douglass.”) The meeting notes also stated that an “active radical left is dedicated to destroy [sic] those who oppose them” with “vicious and unprecedented tactics. We are in a real war; most conservatives are not prepared to fight.”

The right’s preoccupation with manufactured fake scandals, however, is coming into sharper focus.

The notes from the March 20 meeting summed up Groundswell griping: “Conservatives are so busy dealing with issues like immigration, gay marriage and boy scouts there is little time left to focus on other issues. These are the very issues the Left wants to avoid but we need to magnify. R’s cannot beat Obama at his own game but need to go on the offense and define the issues.” The group’s proposed offensive would include hyping the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking controversy, slamming Obama’s record, and touting Benghazi as a full-fledged scandal.

To be sure, there’s nothing illegal or necessarily untoward about this kind of coordination, but the fact that these folks feel the need to get together to plot and scheme, as part of their perceived “war” with the left, explains quite a bit about the problems with much of the political discourse.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 25, 2013

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A Never-Ending Gravy Train”: The GOP Civil War Is Going To Make Both Sides Rich

If you haven’t been paying attention to rubbernecking reports on the most recent “GOP civil war,” because you’ve been paying attention to more important stories like the DoJ targeted-killing white paper or the disastrous retooling of once-promising NBC sitcom “Up All Night,” here’s what you’ve missed: A couple of well-funded conservative groups made a big deal about being mad at a new well-funded conservative group, giving all the groups involved a wonderful new sales pitch for their fundraising efforts.

Most stories are presenting the fight as a war for the soul of the Republican Party, with sellout pragmatist Karl Rove and his “Conservative Victory Project” on one side and the purist conservative groups like the Club for Growth on the other. In a radio interview, a CVP spokesperson referred to venerable conservative huckster Brent Bozell as a “hater,” which led to a very overwrought open letter signed by two dozen huge conservative movement players, from Frank Gaffney to Ginni Thomas, demanding the spokesperson’s firing.

This isn’t actually an ideological battle. It’s mainly an argument about strategy. Karl Rove is savvier than most of the people he’s warring with. He’s in many respects the best friend the conservative movement could have, if they actually listened to him: Rove’s “pragmatism” means electing as many Republicans as possible, so that the conservative movement can implement its conservative agenda. Rove knows that moderate Republican elected officials give true conservatives power. Rove’s CVP is going to attempt to aid electable Republican Senate candidates in party primaries, to avoid Todd Akin situations. The Club for Growth exists to push already-elected Republicans to the right, by threatening to fund primaries against them. The groups don’t necessarily have to be at odds: The Club for Growth’s model has effectively kept the Senate in the hands of the Democrats. It’s also, in its defense, pushed the party, and Congress, closer to a purer conservatism.

Karl Rove is smarter and more accomplished than most of the people who signed this letter, if we’re talking electoral politics. If we’re talking list-building and fundraising, though, you can’t do much better than these signatories, most of whom belong to think tanks or publications or “activist groups” of very questionable influence. These are people who’ve spent years perfecting a scheme in which conservative people send them money, for accomplishing next to nothing to advance conservatism.

The conservative movement is a massive and elaborate moneymaking venture. Numerous nonprofits exist almost solely to raise money, which they spend on their own salaries and, obviously, more fundraising. A conservative civil war is great for business. Karl Rove throwing money at “electable” Republicans is a wonderful opportunity for people to raise money for groups that promise to elect crazies. More primary campaigns means more jobs for consultants. More third-party groups fighting for the soul of the party means more desperate pitches to gullible millionaires and billionaires. Plus more crappy books sold in bulk to conservative book clubs!

Rove’s super PAC and dark money nonprofit spent more than $300 million losing the last election. He obviously intends to raise even more money over the next two cycles. And the more his ostensible competitors will raise, which is why they all sound suspiciously like cartoon Tex Avery wolves audibly salivating in their quotes for this Politico story:

[FreedomWorks] CEO Matt Kibbe welcomed the prospect of squaring off against the Conservative Victory Project, asserting, “The guys who fund groups like Rove’s want to re-establish that they’re in charge, but they just don’t understand the inevitable decentralization and democratization of politics.”

And Club for Growth President Chris Chocola added that Rove and Law have gotten CFG donors’ attention and “may energize the groups that they view as ‘the problem.’”

He said, “When you think about a Republican primary, and you think about a principled conservative versus a moderate Republican — well, our model wins more often.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said his group will focus on a few races — primarily in the Senate. He said it’s just as well that “the moderate Republicans who have been involved in these primaries behind the scenes [are] making it clear that they intend to engage in primaries and defeat conservatives.”

“Donate to us or Karl Rove will defeat true conservatives” is a great pitch. Maybe even better than “donate to us if you actually want Republicans to win elections.” While only an idiot would send any money to FreedomWorks, an organization that currently pays Dick Armey a six-figure salary to not work there, the last cycle showed how many well-heeled idiots are out there asking to be fleeced.

It was hilarious last week watching respectable right-wing commentators like Peggy Noonan and Rich Lowry slobber over the inane Super Bowl ad featuring the disembodied voice of the late Paul Harvey, a right-wing huckster par excellence. Harvey was a broadcasting legend not just for his longevity, but also — maybe primarily — because of the apparent sincerity with which he hawked completely useless crap to the Social Security-collecting set. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, neither of whom have qualms about ripping off their audiences, are his spiritual heirs despite their narrower appeals.

The entire modern conservative movement these days seems like a successful experiment in getting rich people (and lots and lots of non-rich people, whose donations are less coveted but accepted nonetheless) to pay an ever-growing number of pundits, think tank “fellows” and “scholars,” failed campaign hacks and people like Ginni Thomas who seem to serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Like Paul Harvey, the super PACs and nonprofits know it doesn’t matter if your products — in this case, ideas and candidates and electoral strategies — are worthless, as long as you push the crap convincingly. Whether Rove succeeds or fails in helping the Republican Party, his campaign will be great for the movement.

 

By: Alex Pareene, Salon, February 11, 2013

February 12, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“America’s Sweetheart, Ginni Thomas”: Did A Justice’s Wife Leak Supreme Court Drama?

NPR legal reporter Nina Totenberg spoke to Bloomberg Law yesterday about the Supreme Court’s recent healthcare reform decision and the subsequent series of stories on the deliberations based on leaks to reporters from court insiders. She made this interesting observation:

“[The leaks] had the earmarks of somebody — somebody or two bodies — who are very angry. Now that’s not necessarily a justice. Could be a justice, could be a law clerk, could be a spouse of a justice.”

Totenberg goes on to say that of course she never tries to learn the identities of other reporters’ sources, but that’s still an interesting bit of … fairly specific speculation, there.

Of course, there is only one “spouse of a justice” that anyone has ever heard of, and it’s America’s Sweetheart, Ginni Thomas.

We already know her husband, Clarence Thomas, is an extraordinarily angry and bitter person, thanks to his memoir, “I Am Still an Incredibly Angry and Bitter Person on Account of That Time Anita Hill Told the Complete Truth About Me.” (And Clarence Thomas is apparently buddies with CBS’s Jan Crawford.) And Ginni made a living, for years, touring the nation telling everyone how awful and unconstitutional healthcare reform was, which means she was probably pretty upset when her husband told her John Roberts voted to kill liberty forever. She’s also known for having really poor impulse control, if her still-hilarious early Saturday morning voice mail for Anita Hill is any indication. So let’s all just assume she’s leaking everything, because she and her husband are so mad and crazy.

(Though Ginni Thomas is still doing video interviews in which she inexplicably doesn’t actually appear for Tucker Carlson’s “The Daily Carlson,” so why didn’t she leak to one of the Caller’s many fine reporters, like Mickey Kaus or the guy who says a black person probably stole his bike? She is an enigma!)

 

By: Alex Pareene, Salon, July 12

 

July 13, 2012 Posted by | U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Less Than Forthcoming”: Clarence Thomas’s Wife Continued To Lobby Against Healthcare In 2011

Last week, a meme made its way around the Internet asking why Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was planning to rule on the healthcare law when his wife, a conservative lobbyist, has made so much money challenging the law.

Now, just days after healthcare law was upheld (with Clarence Thomas dissenting), new financial forms show that Thomas’s wife, Ginni, continued to rake in a profit from opposing healthcare reforms in 2011—even after she previously came under fire for doing so.

According to Thomas’s 2011 financial disclosure report form, filed on May 15 and obtained Friday by Whispers, Ginni Thomas made up to $15,000 working for political lobbying firm Liberty Consulting. The firm lobbied actively against the healthcare law, according to liberal news magazine Mother Jones.

Ginni formed Liberty Consulting after she was criticized for her work at Liberty Central, a non-profit tea party organization that also lobbied against the health care law.

In March of this year, Liberty Central was the subject of a letter sent to the IRS by Common Cause, a nonprofit that works for government accountability. The letter argued that Liberty Central violated the proportionality rule for non-profits because the majority of its activities were designed to help Republican candidates.

Ginni later stepped down from Liberty Central, but her involvement in conservative politics extends beyond these two groups. Among Ginni’s former employers is the Heritage Foundation, another vocal critic of the healthcare law. She also currently works as a “special correspondent” for the conservative website The Daily Caller.

In January 2011, Justice Thomas “inadvertently” left out information about his wife’s employment, including earnings over the past 13 years that added up to as much as $1.6 million.

Thomas himself has also been criticized for his links to the Republican party, most notably in a October 2010 New York Times story about a Republican donors event bankrolled by the conservative Koch brothers, which listed the Supreme Court justice as an attendee.

As a result of these “questions of candor, accountability, and ethics,” a new Change.org petiton, started by Garrett Troy, a recent graduate of the University of Washington, is calling for Thomas to resign. A similar petition created earlier on CredoAction.com has nearly 225,000 signatures.

“You have been less-than-forthcoming on matters concerning household fiduciary interests,” states the petition. “Justice Thomas, do you think you belong here?”

A request for comment from the Thomas’s office was not immediately returned.

 

By: Elizabeth Flock, Washington Whispers, U. S. and World Report, July 2, 2012

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Health Reform | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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