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“Let Me Count The Ways”: How Many G.O.P. Racial Pathologies Can Fit In One News Story?

Jonathan Martin’s excellent front-page story in The New York Times on Sunday is ostensibly about T.W. Shannon, the Oklahoma Republican running for the Senate. Shannon is half black and half Native American, and his father is from the Chickasaw tribe, which, Martin explains, is “the most influential tribe in a state where Native Americans are not merely the inheritors of a poignant history but also collectively constitute the state’s largest nongovernment employer outside of Walmart.” This might all seem unexceptional, except for the fact that Martin’s report on Shannon’s candidacy ends up exposing an absurd number of Republican racial pathologies. In no particular order…

1. Suspicion of Dual Loyalty: “‘Btw, the Indians aren’t Oklahomans,’ Robert Dan Robbins, a rancher and prominent supporter of Mr. Shannon’s chief primary opponent, Representative James Lankford, wrote on his own Facebook page. ‘They are a member of their own nation and are suing the state of Oklahoma over water rights and other things as well.’  A Tea Party group, in an open letter about Mr. Shannon, warned, ‘He has too many masters to serve,’ and listed ‘Indian tribes’…among his suspect influences.”

2. Dislike Of Multiculturalism: “Mr. Shannon is more cautious when discussing his background. In an interview…he emphasized that he was ‘very proud’ of his heritage, while carefully noting that it does not define him entirely.  ‘I’m an American first, and that’s the most important thing,’ said Mr. Shannon…Mr. Shannon recalled advice from [J.C.] Watts, who told him, ‘If you make it your issue, if you make it the focus of your campaign, then it will be.’ His racial background, Mr. Shannon said, ‘is just one part of my experience it’s not the defining moment.'”

3. The Party’s Racial Problems Can Be Solved Merely By Running Non-White Candidates: “His name alone!’ Sarah Palin exclaimed at a large, nearly all-white rally of supporters for Mr. Shannon in Tulsa last month. ‘The Democrats accuse us of not embracing diversity? Oh, my goodness, he is he’s it. He is the whole package.'”

4. Talking About Race Is In Poor Taste: “But other conservatives are plainly uncomfortable with such tactics. Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who was also at the rally, said in an interview, ‘Rather than engage in identity politics and smear campaigns, which is the specialty, sadly, of the modern Democratic Party, we ought to be discussing how to turn this country around.'”

5. Skepticism Of Outsiders Who Succeed Too Much: Mr. Lankford [see item 1] acknowledged that the financial backing Mr. Shannon had received from the tribes had given his opponent a boost. ‘They’ve been pretty clear that they want to have a tribal member in the Senate,’ said Mr. Lankford…’Most people didn’t worry about the Indians in part because they were everywhere, they sort of looked like everybody else, they sort of lived like everybody else,’ said Keith Gaddie, a University of Oklahoma political science professor. ‘Nobody cared about Native Americans until they got money.’ [Italics Mine]


By: Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic, May 4, 2014

May 5, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Racism, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“When Conservative Isn’t Conservative Enough”: A Signal To The GOP Base That Even The Radicals Aren’t Radical Enough

With Sen. Tom Coburn (R) retiring at the end of the year, well ahead of the scheduled end of his term, there will be a Senate special election in Oklahoma in 2014. Given the fact that the Sooner State is one of the “reddest” in the nation, it’s very likely the seat will remain in Republican hands. The question is which Republican.

Rep. Tom Cole (R) and state Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) quickly withdrew from consideration, but Rep. James Lankford (R) launched his campaign yesterday, vowing in his announcement speech to “continue Dr. Coburn’s conservative legacy.”

In theory, the right-wing congressman, elected in the 2010 GOP wave, would appear to be exactly the kind of candidate far-right activists would hope for. Conservative groups don’t quite see it that way.

[T]he Senate Conservatives Fund, a key pressure group, took the stark step Monday morning of saying – even before Mr. Lankford’s official announcement – that he will not be getting their support.

“We won’t support Congressman Lankford’s bid for the Senate because of his past votes to increase the debt limit, raise taxes and fund Obamacare,” said Matt Hoskins, the group’s executive director. […]

The Madison Project, another group that directs attention and money to the campaigns of anti-Washington candidates, said Mr. Lankford is the wrong candidate for the party. In a blog post, the group said Mr. Lankford isn’t a “purely liberal Republican,” but said he is “a quintessential status quo Republican.”

This isn’t an intra-party dynamic in which the Republican base rejects an electable, mainstream candidate, boosting Democratic chances of picking up a competitive seat.

Rather, this is the latest evidence that for GOP-affiliated organizations hoping to influence elections, being conservative is no longer conservative enough.

To hear the Senate Conservatives Fund and its allies tell it, Lankford is some kind of RINO. I poked around the ThinkProgress archive this morning to get a sense of some of the congressman’s greatest hits and found a few gems:

* Lankford believes sexual orientation is a “choice,” so employment discrimination against gay Americans should be legal.

* He believes climate change is a “myth,” pushed by those seeking to “control” people.

* He blamed “welfare moms” for gun violence.

* He wants the United States to defund and abandon the United Nations.

The Senate Conservatives Fund and its allies think this guy just isn’t conservative enough. Perhaps some folks are just tough to please.

In the larger context, though, the organizations’ dissatisfaction with James Lankford does help explain the growing tensions between the Republican Party and these extremist outside groups. When this congressman can’t meet the activist groups’ standards for conservatism, it signals to GOP leaders that there’s simply no point in trying to cater to their demands – even radicals won’t be seen as radical enough.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 21, 2014

January 24, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Right Wing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Impoverished Republican Poverty Agenda”: Republicans Don’t Know Where They Are Headed Or What They Can Sell

What are Republicans for? We know they are against health-care reform. They voted en masse against it, shut down the government to stop it and have voted nearly 50 times to defund it. We know they are against government spending. They’ve voted for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s draconian budgets, which would slash spending so deeply that even some Republicans are in increasingly open revolt. But those budgets don’t go anywhere. So what do Republicans propose that actually addresses the challenges facing the nation or its people?

Republican leaders are clearly concerned that their policy house is largely vacant. In his dissection of the lost 2012 campaign, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus noted that Republicans suffer a “major deficiency” – the “perception that the GOP does not care about people.” He urged a renewed effort to become “the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder.”

All that advice was lost in the anti-Obama venom that unifies Republicans. But after the government shutdown sent Republican poll numbers plummeting to new depths, a new effort – or at least a new public relations push – has been launched. The early reports make the administration’s botched health-care takeoff look smooth by comparison.

Politico noted that Republicans trooping into House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office received a paper titled “Agenda 2014.” The paper was blank. As of now, Politico reported, details are scant, but Republicans seem to be focused more on identifying the problems than the solutions. “The beginning should always be what are the problems we’re trying to fix,” said Republican policy chair James Lankford (Okla). Or as a GOP aide involved in the planning sessions was quoted: “Cantor wants to take us in a new direction, which is good. The problem is that we don’t know where we are headed, and we don’t know what we can sell to our members.”

Luckily, Cantor isn’t the only game in town. The Post published an adoring article on Ryan, Mitt Romney’s former running mate. The Post reported that Ryan and his staff have been “quietly” visiting “inner-city neighborhoods” and conservative think tanks, looking for creative ways to address poverty that can replace the “bureaucratic top-down anti-poverty programs” that Ryan’s budget would gut.

But the new ideas can’t include any new taxes or new spending – Ryan is staunchly against both. That doesn’t leave much. According to The Post, “his idea of a war on poverty so far relies heavily on promoting volunteerism and encouraging work through existing federal programs, including the tax code.” He’s repackaging private-school vouchers. And Ryan assumes that charity might take the place of the food stamps he’s cutting. “You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul,” he told a Heritage Foundation forum. “Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.” Prayer is good, but when it comes to public policies, as The Post story concluded, “Ryan’s speeches have been light on specifics.”

Some of those “specifics” are being offered by the tea party. Ryan and Cantor may be casting about for ways to look compassionate, but the tea party remains on the hunt. Politico detailed that Rep. Tim Heulskamp (Kan.) and a group of conservatives are gearing up for yet another assault on health-care reform. Assuming that the budget negotiations don’t reach an agreement by the December deadline, Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution by mid-January to keep the government open and funded. Huelskamp and his allies think that’s a perfect time to cut $20 billion out of Medicaid and transfer it to the Pentagon. That would eliminate Medicaid expansion – the one part of Obamacare that is working well – and placate Republicans worried about the cuts the military faces next year.

Cut health protection for the working poor and give the money to a Pentagon that is the largest center of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government? Or slash food stamps while fending off every effort to close the tax dodges that allow companies like General Electric to avoid paying any taxes? The Republican “war on poverty” looks a lot like a war on the poor. It will take a lot of charity and volunteers and a lot more than “messaging” and “rebranding” to erase that indelible “deficiency.”


By: Katrina vandel Heuvel, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, November 26, 2013

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Poverty, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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