You are browsing the archive for republican party.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman and the Epitome of Anti-Obama Animus

8:59 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

I was scrolling through the various commentaries on offer at TownHall.com yesterday when I spied one written by Newt Gingrich’s daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman titled “Are We Sick of Him Yet?” Being all too familiar with the anti-liberal, anti-progressive and rabidly anti-Obama venue that TownHall has devolved into I wasn’t the least bit surprised when I opened the article to find just what I had suspected to be contained therein. In this stock and shop worn anti-Obama diatribe Ms. Cushman likens Obama’s decline in popularity of late to a story she once heard about a woman who wanted a divorce from her husband, not for any of the usual reasons, but because she had grown sick of him. So much for family values and the sanctity of marriage among conservatives.
OBAMA!!!!!
Cushman went on to juxtapose from the marital to the political: “Relationships that begin bright and shiny can fade into dark and gloomy when events occur that change one’s interactions, perceptions and hope for the future. Hope was gone — the relationship could get no better.” She then went on to try to force fit this juxtaposition, derived from her friend’s failed marriage, into a broad brush analysis of Obama’s present public relations predicament: “He has fallen furthest among 18- to 29-year-olds — down 7 points within the last week to 42 percent. More telling than his 40 percent overall approval rating (Gallup), is his disapproval rating, which has reached 53 percent…the 53 percent disapproval rating marks a new high. Simply put: More people than ever before disapprove of the job that Obama is doing…What can’t be determined is if Obama can get back that loving feeling or if it’s just that finally we’re sick of him. Maybe we need a divorce.” Thus reading Ms. Cushman’s piece we are left to conclude that vast swaths of the American people have grown sick of Barack Obama and are desperately in need of relief from this most onerous, if not debilitating relationship. However, short of impeachment, which is thus far unlikely no matter how strong the flights of fancy on the right are about such a thing, there’s no divorcing Obama for the next three years so get over it.

But as novel an approach to dealing with Barack Obama as Ms. Cushman’s might be seen to be, she has stumbled pathetically in her analysis of our collective gastrointestinal maladies by failing to examine the extent to which the American people have grown sick of Obama’s critics on the right. A simple examination of polling numbers from Real Clear Politics or Polling Report.com on the public approval of Congress shows that while Obama’s popularity has fallen the popularity of the Republicans on Capitol Hill remains stuck near historic lows at 21% and that 73% disapprove of how they are handling their job. While those numbers are off the absolute lows, its only by a few points and that with all of the problems besetting Obamacare already factored into the latest numbers. These results for Congressional Republicans are consistent throughout all of the recent polling, even that of the right leaning Fox News Network. And when it comes to the popularity of the regularly reliable anti-Obama movement that is the Tea Party the results are pretty much where they’ve been for quite some time, at the historic lows in terms of both popularity with the American people and those who consider themselves members of the movement.

Speaking of things that make voters sick, the plight of the political right is hardly anything to cheer about and it’s certainly nothing to be overlooked if your in the business of intellectually honest political commentary, which apparently isn’t the case for Ms. Cushman. Am I being trite in suggesting that it’s probably a good thing that Ms. Cushman isn’t in the medical profession as her methodology when it comes to formulating a diagnosis leaves much to be desired?

In the past few days much has been made among conservative commentators about the numbers of young people who are dissatisfied with the participation mandate of Obamacare. This has given, I believe, many on the right a false sense of hope that they might now capture the votes of those 18- to 29-year-olds. That’s a giant leap of faith when you stop to factor in where these voters are on issues such as climate change, same sex marriage, reproductive rights, immigration, minimum wage reform and voter identification issues, all issues where the G.O.P. is definitely out of step with young voters. Republicans and their fellow travelers still have the albatross of the government shutdown around their necks and the negative aspects of that will far outlast the Obamacare website rollout debacle or a few million cancelled insurance policies as a issue to reconcile before the voters in 2014. Why, because the technical glitches of the ACA website and cancelled insurance policies are far less debilitating politically than are those of the Tea Party afflicted government shutdown or the track record that comes with five years of political obstruction. That being understood, is there any reason to think that these young voters are well on their way to becoming conservative voters? I seriously doubt it. Read the rest of this entry →

For the Tea Party, Another Election, Another Defeat

2:37 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Ever since the high water mark of the Tea Party movement in 2010 the path forward nationally has been nothing if not downhill. The net number of seats held by movement members on Capitol Hill has declined overall. Twice they have cost the Republican Party the Senate. The movement failed to put forth a viable presidential candidate in 2012. Tea Party favorability ratings with the public have steadily sunk to the lowest level since the birth of the movement. Coming off of a fresh debacle in their effort to derail Obamacare via a government shutdown Tea Party Republicans have trundled into yet a new set of defeats in Tuesday’s elections. Not a single Tea Party backed candidate or ballot initiative of consequence was successful.

Tea Revolution 2010 Flag

Another defeat may have Tea Partiers yearning for the good old days.

In Virginia Ken Cuccinelli lost by three percentage points and contrary to accepted wisdom he probably wouldn’t have benefitted from more money. Why? Because Cuccinelli was out of step with the very elements of the electorate that the GOP lost in 2012 so more money would have only advertised his shortcomings that much more increasing his negatives. Democrats won the Lt. Governor race by double digits and they are ahead in the race for Attorney General. Likewise, when the final counts are tallied, Democrats may win the next two most important seats after Attorney General. If Virginia Democrats win all five seats that will be the first time since 1966 that they have done so, a decided setback for the Virginia G.O.P.

Yes the Obamacare rollout has been a mess and that made for a tighter race in Virginia, but the GOP has a hand in that too and that reality will come back to haunt them in the next election cycle. As I have amply pointed out, roughly 35% of the people who are unhappy with the A.C.A. want a single payer system so when you combine that with those who favor the law you get a majority of Americans opposing the conservative plan, if you even want to call it a plan, which it is not. More important in Virginia than Obamacare was the shutdown which, quoting Howard Fineman of MSNBC, affected one out of every three families of whom two out of three blamed the Republican Party and voted for Terry McAuliffe. That said it’s not likely that increasing airtime for Ken Cuccinelli’s would have had much of an effect. In the end, ideology matters and Cuccinelli’s was just too disconnected from the people who’s votes he needed to win the election. The real question is where were all of the ultra conservatives that Cuccinelli needed to secure a win at the ballot box? Do they even exist in large enough numbers in Virginia or nationally, for that matter, to make the Tea Party successful outside of a few southern and rural electoral districts?

Meanwhile a Tea Party backed congressional candidate lost to a pro-business Republican moderate, Bradley Byrne, in Alabama. That defeat, however narrow it might be, speaks volumes to the fading power of the movement within a region where it should be at the peak of power. Yes it is true that in Alabama millions of dollars of outside money via pro-business groups was spent to assist Byrne, but, that said, if the Tea Party is so powerful in the state why couldn’t it mount an effective campaign to put it’s candidate and agenda over the top? The fact is that in Alabama, as is increasingly the case elsewhere, people are falling away from the movement and with that comes a weakened performance on election day.

In the Metropolitan New York area there were two races of significance. The reelection of Chris Christie in New Jersey was a major victory for the moderate and pragmatic Republican message, not the Tea Party version. In fact Christie’s reelection must be seen as a complete rejection of the Tea Party message and approach to politics. Chris Christie was successful by winning the groups that the GOP must win in order to win nationally. He doesn’t deny climate change, He’s not tone deaf on gun issues. He’s not a “know nothing” on the issue of immigration reform. He has a proven track record of working across the aisle and even gave President Obama credit where credit was due for his response to Hurricane Sandy. In his acceptance speech he summed it all up in a single sentence, “When you lead you need to listen.” That’s a far cry from the stock Tea Party language of rejection, fear mongering and obstruction.

The election of Bill de Blasio represents a distinct pendulum swing back from the excesses of the Bloomberg years and the fêting of the mega rich while the average New Yorker struggled to get by. Yes it’s true that we can’t tax the rich out of existence but there’s plenty of tax fairness that can be put back into the tax code to lessen the strain on middle and working class. This can be achieved without significantly affecting the rich and in so doing we could address some of the issues of income inequality that are sure to be a topic of discussion going forward. Besides, there’s no clear link between taxes and prosperity anyway and for all of the benefits to the economy that were supposed to flow from lowering the taxes on the “job creators” where are all the jobs?

Read the rest of this entry →

The Tea Party and the G.O.P.: From Rescue to Wreck

7:58 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

In the immediate aftermath of the 2010 mid-term elections, Peggy Noonan, tireless cheerleader for all things conservative, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “The Tea Party to the Rescue” In it Noonan gushed effusively as to how the emerging Tea Party movement had miraculously injected new energy and direction into a politically lethargic G.O.P. Coming just two years after the decisive 2008 defeat and after a period of strident conservative reaction to the Obama administration’s handling of the 2008 economic crisis, federal spending increases and the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Noonan, like so many others, had misinterpreted the 2010 elections. In these events she saw a return to a more conservative national trend seeing the election of Barack Obama as an aberration. As history played out it would be just the opposite. Today, in the wake of the stunning defeat of the Tea Party backed government shutdown and its failure to derail Obamacare one could reasonably conclude that, for the G.O.P., the rescue had turned into an undeniable and abysmal political debacle. In the words of conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer: “For conservatives this was a complete defeat. They will not try to shut down the government again. They’ll have less leverage in the next round.”

The defeat of the Tea Party backed government shutdown is just the latest setback to be sustained by the Tea Party backed Congress and along with it, the G.O.P. The question is how we got to this point. The answer is to be found in that now famous statement uttered before the Civil War by Kentucky Senator Henry Clay; “If you can’t compromise you can’t govern.” The need to compromise when operating under divided government has been completely lost upon congressional Tea Party Republicans. In fact, they reject compromise-seeing obstruction as a viable and operative strategy. This refusal to compromise in favor of continued obstruction has only worked to guarantee continued political defeat. To quote conservative columnist Ross Douthat opining on an earlier deficit spending impasse: “The inability of the Republicans to make even symbolic concessions has turned a winning hand into a losing one.”

Looking back since Obama was first elected we can see the futility of the original Republican goal of obstruction politics. The goal of making Barack Obama “a one term President” failed in 2012. The G.O.P.’s failure to accept defeat in 2012 and to go on pretending that elections do not have consequences and that Obamacare could be destroyed through defunding or delay has only further deepened their predicament. Likewise, the same is true of their unwillingness to accept the Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The present Republican dominated congress is on track to be less productive than the last, which was the least productive on record. Congress has failed to pass a farm bill or appropriate needed infrastructure spending. Immigration reform is sidelined and forty some odd attempts to repeal Obamacare stand as a public record of wasted legislative effort. In an opinion piece titled “House Republicans prefer sabotage to real solutions” conservative commentator and Fox News regular Juan Williams pointed out, “There is absolutely zero chance that ObamaCare will be repealed while Democrats control the Senate and President Obama is in the White House. Reality also compels some mention of the fact that the GOP has never held a vote on any alternative plan for dealing with the nation’s out-of-control healthcare spending. But reality is a nuisance to Congressional Republicans intent on a brazen strategy to trip up the healthcare program before it can take its first step.” Likewise Newt Gingrich in an interview with Bloomberg News pointed out that Republicans had “zero answers” as to how they would replace Obamacare. Thus the government shutdown, engineered in another forlorn effort to upend Obamacare, can only be seen as the latest act in the thus far failed policy of obstruction politics, a strategy that has been years in the making.

In the political “Danse Macabre” that is political obstruction the government shutdown left ample room for both sides to posture and politic until that fateful moment during the second week of October when the reality of the Republican mistake came more clearly into focus. During that week the political poll numbers showed that, despite the public’s disgust with Washington in general, their dismay with the Republican Party specifically and more specifically with the Tea Party was just too much to be ignored. Citing a NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll: “By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama… Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll… Yet what is perhaps even more worrisome for the GOP is the “boomerang” effect: As the party has used the shutdown and fiscal fight to campaign against the nation’s health-care law and for limited government, the poll shows those efforts have backfired.” The net effect of these poll findings is that President Obama’s ratings went up as did support for the A.C.A. In fact, Obamacare was seen to be more popular than both the G.O.P. and the Tea Party. Disapproval of the Republican Party topped 70 percent vice 59 percent for the Democrats and 48 percent for the president.

The sinking popularity of the Tea Party was replicated in other polling results: “A Pew Research Center poll released this week showed public favorability for the Tea Party dropped to its lowest level since driving the Republican takeover of the House in the 2010 elections. An AP-Gfk poll showed that 70 percent now hold unfavorable views of the Tea Party.” The Gallup findings, which replicate other polling further found that there is a growing ambivalance among Republicans for the Tea Party that was supposed to be it’s savior. Whereas three years ago when two thirds of Republicans supported the Tea Party today it’s down to 38 percent as per the latest Gallup Poll. The agony of public opinion would turn out to be too much to bear for the Republican esthablishment and it’s media supporters. Gone were the usual defelective commentary about an “oversampling” of “progressives” of the usual allegations about a liberal bias in the polling. A good barometer of how things are going within the conservative movement is Fox News and the arrival ot this disquieting news led to a distinct change in the commentary on that channel. Conservative stalwarts like Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Stephen Hays and Kristen Powers went from the usual scathing criticisms of Obama and the Democrats to publicly bemoaning the self destruction of the House Republicans to a veiled appeal to Obama himself not to rub their noses in defeat by spiking the ball in the end zone and dancing when compromise was finally in view.

The fallout from the Tea Party backed failure to defeat Obama via government shutdown is by now well documented and amply referenced below. The single best analysis that I found came from Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report: “They got nothing. This was a disaster for them. They picked a fight that they could not win. Moreover, in fact, all the political benefits accrue to the president and to the Democrats. The Republicans caved. The president did not have to compromise, so the Republicans start off with a weaker hand when they have to engage again. The Democrats are going to benefit from recruiting in congressional races. Republican money may dry up. I mean, this is a mess for Republicans… primarily the chaos in Washington and the fact that the Republicans are now more easily demonized and defined as the guys who are against anything and everything. Republicans are worried about both small-dollar fund-raising and big-dollar fund-raising. They’re concerned with the small-dollar folks because those are the true blue grassroots Tea Party conservatives who now have nothing — there’s no benefit from — the Republicans caved. They didn’t get anything…And the big donors, who are more pragmatic, are petrified at the thought the Republicans are going to drive the party and the country off the economic cliff. If you looked at — you also have to look at what the Republicans gave up. They gave up arguments over the past few weeks about the rollout of Obamacare and what a mess it was. And they’re just in an inferior position now.”

In the end, the Tea Party achieved nothing except inflicting further damage on an already ailing conservative movement, the American people and the economy as well. I predicted in a piece written before the 2010 elections, “An Impending and Inevitable Train Wreck” that what we have just witnessed would be the most probable outcome of the rise of the Tea Party Movement. I believe that my prognosis has proven to be far more accurate than that of Ms. Noonan who apparently is still in rescue mode. In her latest piece on the shutdown, “Now Obama Rescues the GOP” Noonan once again misses the mark in suggesting that the mistakes, and hence the consequences, to both sides are equally the same and thus the GOP will be bailed out this time, not by the Tea Party but by Barack Obama himself. Of course nothing could be further from the truth as the polls and the post mortems reveal. The debacle that has now befallen the GOP extends far beyond the pale of public opinion polling to responsibility for inflicting billions of dollars worth of damage to the economy, figures range from $3.1 billion to $24 billion as estimated by Standard and Poors and a shaving of one half of one percent of growth from GDP.

Politically the GOP is seen to be adrift and rudderless, wracked from within, in full public view, by intensifying conflict between the Tea Party faction and the Republican esthablishment. Having twice lost in retaking the Senate there is talk about losing this opportunity a third time and an outside chance that they will lose the House in 2014 as well. Alexandra Jaffe writing for The Hill noted,…” polls showing voters primarily blamed Republicans for the crisis have even GOP strategists acknowledging that the prospects of a Senate takeover have dimmed.”

Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report has said that 14 existing seats in the House are now more likely to swing to the Democrats in 2014. Fears of a drop off in campaign contributions to the GOP are now very real as is the prospect that the Party won’t be able to recruit atteactive candidates for 2014. Meanwhile the Democrats have seen an increased interest among those willing to run as well as the money flowing into the party in political contributions. While the Tea Party and the G.O.P. were going down to defeat on Capitol Hill, their candidate in the New Jersey special election for the Senate was defeated by Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Their candidate for Virginia Governor is trailing in the polls while the moderate Chris Christie of New Jersey, who said that the Republican dominated House of Representatives was “the definition of failure” is surging in his reelection bid. And even more consequential is the change in tone among business leaders who feel shut out of the political process by the very allies they bank rolled. From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to industry trade groups down to individual C.E.Os there is talk about primarying Tea Party radicals with conservative centerist candidates.

One of the grat ironies of the Tea Party era is that for all of their commentary about taking the country back to the principles of the founders they have shown little in the way of respect for the political process they purport to defend. They have willingly and knowingly disregarded the results of elections and the decisions of the Supreme Court when those decisions don’t suit them. They have willingly and knowingly misrepresented public opinion polls claiming that a majority of Americans oppose Obamacare while ignoring the fact that a third of those who do, favor a single payer system, which in turn means that a majority of Ameiricans oppose their ideas on scuttling Obamacare. To some they have threatened the very essence of the democratic process. Tom Friedman in a pair of articles, referenced below, opined “What is at stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule…When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled.” Friedman in his second piece went on to compare the Tea Party to extremists in the Middle East saying: “The Tea Party is not a terrorist group. It has legitimate concerns about debt, jobs and Obamacare. But what was not legitimate was the line it crossed. Rather than persuading a majority of Americans that its policies were right, and winning elections to enact the changes it sought — the essence of our democratic system — the Tea Party threatened to undermine our nation’s credit rating if the Democrats would not agree to defund Obamacare. Had such strong-arm tactics worked, it would have meant that constitutionally enacted laws could be nullified if determined minorities opposed them.”

So what in the end did the Tea Party do to the G.O.P. and the rest of the country? Far from rescuing, it wrecked havoc on the party and the political process as well. Democratic political systems rely on the competition of ideas to move society forward or keep it from moving radically off course into the dangerous waters of extremism. The Tea Party has effectively crippled the Republican Party’s ability to compete politically on a national scale, in the process it has bailed out both the Democrats and Obama as all they need do is point to the chaos on the right, and ask the majority of the electorate if that is what they want. There is distinctly less need for politically competitive ideas to come out of the Democratic Party or the Obama administration in this political enviornment. Yes, it is true that the G.O.P. has made great strides in statehouses across the country but many of those state governments have parted company with the Tea Party movement choosing to participate in the federally funded expansion of Medicare and setting up health care exchanges. And it’s also true that most of the core Tea Party congressmen and women come from gerrymandered safe seats but in the long run that won’t save the movement either. Why, because what we just saw in crafting the compromise that ended the shutdown was moderate Republicans joining with Democrats to move legislation forward. This could be the template for the future that will effectively sideline the Tea Party faction and allow the Republican Party to function more effectively going forward. The unrelenting tide of demographic change will also, in the long run, work to change the voter composition in many of those districts now seen to be reliably Republican.

The politics of extremism have also sabotaged much of the original conservative agenda of 2010 and that is bad news for the Tea Party. Quoting political analyst David Fahrenthold, “Now, after forcing four national crises, the House GOP can count one major victory. One major defeat. And a large number of opportunities lost.” Has all of this affected the public perception of the G.O.P. in a politically dangerous way, the answer seems to yes or at least things may be trending that way. A recent CNN/ORC poll that came out after the shutdown showed: “A majority of Americans think it is bad for the country that Republicans control the House of Representatives, and even more want House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to be replaced by another Republican…Fifty-four percent think it’s bad that Republicans control the House. That’s up from 43 percent in December 2012, during the last fiscal standoff. The figure is the first time a majority thought Republican control was bad for the country since CNN started asking in December 2010.” It appears that things are only getting worse for both the G.O.P. and the Tea Party on Capitol Hill. Commenting on the latest Washington Post – ABC Poll, the results of which were published today, Dan Balz writes: “The survey highlights just how badly the GOP hard-liners and the leaders who went along with them misjudged the public mood. In the aftermath, eight in 10 Americans say they disapprove of the shutdown. Two in three Republicans or independents who lean Republican share a negative view of the impasse. And even a majority of those who support the tea party movement disapprove… There was little in the findings for the GOP to feel good about. The party’s image has sunk to an all-time low in Post-ABC surveys, with 32 percent of the public saying they have a favorable opinion and 63 percent saying they have an unfavorable view. Almost four in 10 Americans have a strongly unfavorable view of the GOP. The tea party fares just as badly. Barely a quarter of the public has a favorable image of the movement, the lowest rating in Post-ABC polling.”

I have many friends and family members who belong to a Tea Party organization and they truly love their country and are legitimately concerned for it’s future. But what seems to be lost on so amny within this movement is that they don’t represent a majority of what the rest of the people want or how they want to achieve it. Ted Cruz stated after the shutdown defeat that the leadership on Capitol Hill had ignored the will of the people. But how could Cruz or anyone else make such a claim when 70 percent of those responding to opinion polls show disatisfaction with the Tea Party movement and only 21 percent view it favorably? If the Tea Party were so popular they would have a president in the White House and control both houses of Congress but they don’t. If you don’t control the government you can only be successful through compromise and the Tea Party can’t abide such a thing so they’ve effectively put themseleves out of the business of effecting positive change thereby opting instead to participate by subverting the democratic process. While this may be an essential tenent of the movement and it’s stated goal of cleaning house in Washigton in the long run it’s counter to American political culture. This strategy can only lead to further defeat and a further weakening of the Republican Party. Far from being the saviors of the G.O.P. the Tea Party is politically an albatross round it’s neck.

In his farewell missive to Indiana voter’s Senator Richard Lugar pointed out the problems that result from extremist politics and positions and in doing so he echoed that long ago phrase of Henry Clay that is still relevant today and that the Tea Party crowd just dosen’t seem to understand, “ If you can’t compromise you can’t govern.” Does that mean that we are witnessing the G.O.P. in its death throes? Not neccesarily but there’s no denying that the Party and the conservative movement is politically behaind the proverbial eight ball. However, all factors considerd, one thing is for sure, and that is there’s nothing to say that a given political party has to last for ever. Vote for any Whigs or Federalists lately?

Steven J. Gulitti
10/22/13

Sources:

Peggy Noonan: “The Tea Party to the Rescue” Wall Street Journal 10/22/10

Compromise as Liability; http://swampland.time.com/2011/07/14/compromise-as-liability/?artId=52271?contType=article?chn=us

Ross Douthat: The Republican Retreat; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/opinion/18douthat.html?emc=eta1

Taboo in Today’s GOP? Realism and Compassion; http://www.alternet.org/story/153205/taboo_in_today%27s_gop_realism_and_compassion

Farm bill setback opens House GOP up to new attacks about ability to lead; http://thehill.com/homenews/house/306981-farm-bill-setback-opens-gop-to-attacks-about-ability-to-lead

The dysfunctional House; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/farm-bill-dysfunctional-house-93137.html

Juan Williams – Opinion: House Republicans prefer sabotage to real solutions; http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/juan-williams/299227-opinion-house-republicans-prefer-sabotage-to-real-solutions-

Gingrich Scolds Republicans for Not Offering Alternatives; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-15/gingrich-scolds-republicans-for-not-offering-alternatives.html

Tea party lawmakers see the culmination of years of effort in shutdown; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-shutdown-tea-party-lawmakers-see-the-culmination-of-years-of-effort-to-downsize-government/2013/10/02/3207126a-2ab3-11e3-8ade-a1f23cda135e_story.html

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/us/a-federal-budget-crisis-months-in-the-planning.html

GOP lawmakers bridle at calling Affordable Care Act the law; http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/325277-gop-lawmakers-bridle-at-calling-obamacare-the-law

Obamacare fight reenergizes tea party movement; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obamacare-fight-reenergizes-tea-party-movement/2013/09/27/f88ce6c8-2796-11e3-ad0d-b7c8d2a594b9_story.html?hpid=z1

NBC/WSJ poll: Shutdown debate damages GOP; http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/10/20903624-nbcwsj-poll-shutdown-debate-damages-gop?lite

Poll: Six in 10 would replace every member of Congress; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/327933-poll-republican-approval-sinks-to-24-percent

Support for tea party slips; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/tea-party-support-poll-97385.html

Tea Party Support Dwindles to Near-Record Low; http://www.gallup.com/poll/164648/tea-party-support-dwindles-near-record-low.aspx

Senate Republicans: GOP Didn’t Gain Anything By Forcing Shutdown; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/16/senate-republicans-government-shutdown_n_4109845.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

House GOP extracts no concessions; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/house-gop-extracts-no-concessions-government-shutdown-debt-ceiling-deal-98443.html

Republicans grapple with stinging defeat; http://thehill.com/homenews/news/329005-republicans-grapple-with-stinging-defeat

Winners and losers of the debt-limit fight; http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/328977-winners-and-losers-of-the-debt-limit-fight

Republicans reassess after shutdown debacle; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-reassess-after-shutdown-debacle/2013/10/17/e312159e-375d-11e3-80c6-7e6dd8d22d8f_story.html

Fiscal Crisis Sounds the Charge in G.O.P.’s ‘Civil War’; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/us/fiscal-crisis-sounds-the-charge-in-gops-civil-war.html?ref=todayspaper

Shutdown showdown widened GOP-tea party rift; http://bigstory.ap.org/article/shutdown-showdown-widened-gop-tea-party-rift

House tea partiers not anteing up for 2014; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/tea-party-house-members-snub-gop-in-2014-98568.htm

GOP unity frays, frustration builds; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/republican-unity-frustration-debt-ceiling-government-shutdown-98032.html\

An Impending and Inevitable Train Wreck; http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_j_gulitti/2010/10/31/an_impending_and_inevitable_train_wreck

Peggy Noonan – Now Obama Rescues the GOP; http://blogs.wsj.com/peggynoonan/2013/10/06/now-obama-rescues-the-gop/

Shutdown to Cost U.S. Billions, Analysts Say, While Eroding Confidence; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/us/shutdown-to-cost-us-billions-analysts-say-while-eroding-confidence.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Gridlock Has Cost U.S. Billions, and the Meter Is Still Running; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/business/economy/high-cost-to-the-economy-from-the-fiscal-impasse.html?_r=0

Pelosi to GOP: Was tantrum worth $24B?; http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/329161-pelosi-was-gop-temper-tantrum-worth-24b

While GOP ‘picked a fight that they couldn’t win,’ Democrats emerge reunited; http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/politics/julydec13/shutdown2_10-16.html

The GOP is adrift, floundering; http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/judd-gregg/326821-opinion-the-gop-is-adrift-and-floundering

G.O.P.’s Hopes to Take Senate Are Dimming; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/us/politics/gops-hopes-to-take-senate-are-dimming.html?ref=politics&_r=0

Fiscal Armageddon could remake Hill in 2014 elections; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/debt-ceiling-continuing-resolution-fiscal-armageddon-congress-94785.html

Far-Right Republicans Could Hit A Tipping Point As Support Falters; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/06/far-right-republicans_n_4055431.html

Democrats hope GOP chaos in fall will help them win back House;

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/318331-dems-hope-fall-chaos-will-help-them-take-back-house

GOP In Danger Of Losing House As Popularity Plummets; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/11/gop-losing-house_n_4083775.html

Democrats Have A Shot At Taking Back The House As Republican Popularity Continues To Drop: Poll; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/20/democrats-take-back-house_n_4133836.html

Election prospects put a spring in the step of Senate Democrats; http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/329755-election-prospects-put-a-spring-in-the-step-of-senate-democrats

Opinion: Independents desert GOP; http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/juan-williams/328165-opinion-independents-desert-gop

Conservative groups struggling to recruit candidates in key 2014 races; http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/308825-conservatives-groups-struggling-to-recruit-in-key-races

GOP fears fundraising disaster; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/gop-fears-fundraising-disaster-96679.html

Republicans’ issues give Democratic recruiting a boost; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/gops-issues-give-democratic-recruiting-a-boost-98583.html

In budget and debt fight, White House finds unlikely alliance with business groups; http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/in-budget-and-debt-fight-white-house-finds-unlikely-alliance-in-business-community/2013/10/11/5840060e-32a0-11e3-8627-c5d7de0a046b_story.html?hpid=z1

Businessweek’s Ted Cruz Cover Will Haunt Your Dreams; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/18/bloomberg-businessweek-ted-cruz-cover_n_4122022.html

Business Voices Frustration with GOP; http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304384104579139903054309502

Majority Of Americans Think It’s ‘Bad For The Country’ That Republicans Control The House; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/21/republicans-control-house_n_4135328.html

October 2013 Post-ABC poll – Obama, Republicans and shutdown fallout; http://www.washingtonpost.com/page/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/10/22/National-Politics/Polling/release_272.xml

Poll: Major damage to GOP after shutdown, and broad dissatisfaction with government; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-major-damage-to-gop-after-shutdown-and-broad-dissatisfaction-with-government/2013/10/21/dae5c062-3a84-11e3-b7ba-503fb5822c3e_story.html

Tom Friedman – Our Democracy Is at Stake;

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/opinion/friedman-our-democracy-is-at-stake.html

Tom Friedman: From Beirut to Washington; http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/opinion/sunday/from-beirut-to-washington.html?ref=todayspaper

David Fahrenthold – Amid four national crises, many of GOP’s goals after retaking House have been ignored; http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/amid-four-national-crises-many-of-gops-goals-after-retaking-house-have-been-ignored/2013/10/19/741b4c32-3802-11e3-80c6-7e6dd8d22d8f_story_1.html

GOP Could Pay a price for Gerrymandering; http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/gop-could-pay-price-for-gerrymandering-93597.html

Cruz: No surrender; http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/329505-cruz-no-surrender

The Importance of Dick Lugar’s Farewell Warning; http://swampland.time.com/2012/05/09/the-importance-of-dick-lugars-farewell-warning/

The Growing Revolt Against Grover Norquist

1:57 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Grover Norquist - Caricature

Grover Norquist - Caricature

Two weeks ago I penned a short piece titled “Grover Norquist Collateral Casualty of 2012?” where I broached the question of whether or not Norquist would become a casualty as a result of the coming fiscal cliff negotiations and where I said, “…look for Grover Norquist to politically take a major hit in the resolution of the fiscal cliff crisis.” The way things are playing out I think that we can pretty much assume that Norquist is already taking on water and his support and influence seems to be fading with each passing day. Let’s review a few recent developments, staring with this:”Grover Norquist: Washington Enemy No. 1 :The man who enforces the no-new-taxes pledge is under fire like never before. Why he still expects Republicans will hold the line”; To wit: “Republicans are facing an avalanche of pressure from the White House, the media and even many on Wall Street to abandon their antitax principles to avoid a “fiscal cliff…The pressure on Republicans to repudiate this oath has never been as intense as it is now. Mr. Obama is claiming a voter mandate to raise taxes, while the media and liberals are declaring that the days of “Norquistism,” as they derisively call it, are over. A New York Times story this week claimed that more Republicans are ready to violate the pledge. After the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle, the election losses and the prospect of getting blamed for going over the fiscal cliff, the conventional wisdom is that the GOP has no choice but to fold…I remind Mr. Norquist that the election exit polls show that voters, for the first time in two decades, favor higher taxes on the rich.”

In the Senate, several prominent Republicans have already broken ranks with Norquist publicly, Lindsey Graham (R-SC): “When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece, and Republicans — Republicans should put revenue on the table…We’re this far in debt. We don’t generate enough revenue. Capping deductions will help generate revenue. Raising tax rates will hurt job creation…So I agree with Grover, we shouldn’t raise rates. But, I think Grover is wrong when it comes to [saying] we can’t cap deductions and buy down debt…I want to buy down debt and cut rates to create jobs, but I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country, only if Democrats will do entitlement reform.” Tom Coburn (R-OK): “I’m all for the very wealthy paying more taxes…Senate Republicans — and many House Republicans — have repeatedly rejected Mr. Norquist’s strict interpretation of his own pledge, a reading that requires them to defend every loophole and spending program hidden in the tax code…As a result, rather than forcing Republicans to bow to him, Mr. Norquist is the one who is increasingly isolated politically.” John McCain (R-AZ) said Sunday, “that he would support limiting deductions.” Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) who said last week that “the pledge is outdated and unhelpful for reducing the national debt…I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.” Bob Corker (R-TN): “I’m not obligated on the pledge…I made Tennesseans aware, I was just elected, the only thing I’m honoring is the oath I take when I serve, when I’m sworn in this January.” The senior Republican Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander said that the only oath he’s taken is his oath of office.” Regarding taxes Alexander said’ “I think Republicans have done plenty of talking about revenues on the table…We’re ready. It’s time for the president to step up.”

Of even greater significance is the fact that the defections have now moved beyond the Senate, where Republicans are in the minority, to the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Even fiscal hawk Eric Cantor (R-VA) has publicly distanced himself from Norquist, “When I go to the constituents that have reelected me, it is not about that pledge…It really is about trying to solve problems.” While Cantor, like Graham isn’t a fan of raising the tax rates he is unequivocally in favor of increasing revenues and he doesn’t necessarily tie that to matching adjustments in deductions as required by the Norquist pledge. Peter King (R-NY) said, “everything should be on the table in negotiations to avert the “fiscal cliff.” Jeff Flake (R-AZ): “The only pledge I’d sign is a pledge to sign no more pledges…We’ve got to ensure that we go back and represent our constituents in a way — I believe in limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility. I don’t want higher taxes. But no more pledges.” Quoting the political magazine “The Hill” on the comments of Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK): “Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a respected party strategist and former chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, became the most prominent House Republican to suggest that the GOP do what has long been unthinkable within the party: lock in the George W. Bush-era tax rates for annual incomes up to $250,000 without simultaneously extending them for top earners.” Diane White (R-TN): “I answer to my constituents, not to a pledge.”
Read the rest of this entry →

Who’s Beholden to Foreign Ideas?

4:55 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

A caricature of Ayn Rand

One of the Republican Party's many foreign influences (Image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr)

Ever since Sarah Palin ran around proclaiming that Barack Obama is a “Socialist” there has been an unrelenting effort by the right to portray the president as someone beholden to foreign ideas. Whether it flows from the fever swamp of right wing media or from the lips of Mitt Romney and his surrogates there has been a concerted effort to define the president as un-American. Furthermore there has been a noticeable lack of political courage among Republican Party leaders in denouncing these attacks. What’s even more interesting is that when it comes to being out of step with the American people a recent NBC / Wall Street Journal Poll shows that 54% of the respondents see Obama’s views as being in the mainstream vice 51% for Mitt Romney. However it might just be worth looking into just how beholden some of Obama’s critics are to foreign ideas and influences.

Let’s start with Paul Ryan and his conservative fellow travelers. A recent article detailing Ryan’s formative years, “Conservative Star’s Small-Town Roots”, stated of Ryan’s path to individual responsibility and maturity: “It followed him into college, where he immediately took a passionate interest in the canon of conservative economic theorists and writers — Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises — who inspired the up-and-coming generation of libertarian-minded activists and lawmakers.” Odd but with the exception of Milton Friedman there’s not an American among those from whom Ryan draws upon for his fundamental principles. Both Hayek and his mentor von Mises, were born in the late 19th Century and are major contributors to the Austrian school of economic thought. Ludwig von Mises formulated his theories in a world where there were relatively few industrial but many agricultural or undeveloped economies. India was a still a British colony, Brazil largely agricultural and China was still dominated by European spheres of influence. Globalization as we now it today was unheard of and hardly imagined. The ideas and influence of von Mises would significantly affect Friedrich Hayek.

Ayn Rand was born in Czarist Russia in 1905. As Jennifer Burns, a Stanford professor, points out Ryan’s affinity for Rand is somewhat odd as she would have found plenty to critique in Ryan: “Mr. Ryan’s advocacy of steep cuts in government spending would have pleased her, she would have vehemently opposed his social conservatism and hawkish foreign policy. She would have denounced Mr. Ryan, as she denounced Ronald Reagan, for trying “to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics”…Mr. Ryan’s rise is a telling index of how far conservatism has evolved from its founding principles. The creators of the movement embraced the free market, but shied from Rand’s promotion of capitalism as a moral system. They emphasized the practical benefits of capitalism, not its ethics. Their fidelity to Christianity grew into a staunch social conservatism that Rand fought against in vain.” As Burns puts it, Ryan and the conservative embrace of Ayn Rand reveals “a window into the ideological fissures at the heart of modern conservatism.” To Burn’s observation one could legitimately add that Ryan’s affinity to foreign ideas, as propounded by Rand and others, may be more than a little out of step with American society today. Moreover, the essential economic question is, are economic theories formulated in an era before globalization still really relevant today?

Read the rest of this entry →

True Republican Mavericks‏

1:21 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Retiring Republican Senator from Maine,  Olympia Snowe seems to be taking a parting shot at the right wing extremism currently infecting the G.O.P. She recently said that she will not necessarily give her $2.36 million dollar war chest to another Republican. Quoting an article from the Kennebec Journal “outgoing Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) may be using her campaign cash to aid candidates of her choice rather than her party. In a letter written last week but released Tuesday, Snowe told campaign donors that she planned to give leftover cash to candidates in the “sensible center” rather than pledging that money to Republicans, signaling that the eventual GOP nominee may not be moderate enough for her taste.”

Olympia Snowe. Photo by John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV.

Snowe’s profile in courage in standing up to radical rightwing extremism was picked up by the leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a guy named Matt Canter, who opined: “Mitch McConnell and national Republicans have disenfranchised moderates in Maine and across the country…So it should not be a surprise that Sen. Snowe is questioning whether to give her money to support the extremist, right-wing Republican agenda.”

Few would deny that Olympia Snowe has the courage of her convictions and she can only be seen as a leader of what’s left of the “sensible” right. Is she a fading voice in the wilderness or is she one of the first among an emerging element of Republicans who are seeking to “take their party back” from the political amateurs on the far right? Could it be that those radicals who may have shot their bolt in 2010 and whom have since proven only that they can succeed in obstructing government when the American people want bipartisan compromise and results have created an opening for the sensible conservatives to reassert themselves?

Read the rest of this entry →

Mr. Fiscal Responsibility

8:34 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Remember how Newt Gingrich so reverently and so often spoke about the need to be a good steward of the public’s money? Odd but the principle of fiscal sanity doesn’t seem to apply to Mr. Gingrich himself. Of late it’s come to the fore that Newt Gingrich is costing the American taxpayer $40 Thousand dollars a day for Secret Service protection according to Liz Marlantes of the Christian Science Monitor, who appeared on this morning’s Chris Matthews Show.
 
Gingrich, who’s campaign for the Republican nomination is effectively over, a fact that’s obvious to everyone save Newt himself, has now come under fire from tax activist groups as well who can’t help but point out the fiscal irresponsibility of Gingrich’s continued use of Secret Service protection: “For a guy who for all intents and purpose, and isn’t doing a lot of campaigning, needs to suspend his Secret Service detail,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance in Alexandria, Va. “He needs to do what’s right for the taxpayer and say, ‘I’m done with Secret Service protection…Gingrich has the “Camp David” package of Secret Service, which includes but is not limited to six cars, six federal agents, four state troopers at a campaign stop, four local agents when the candidate arrives and a press agent if there is a press bus, a person with knowledge of the Gingrich campaign said. Although the cost to keep the Secret Service detail on the Gingrich campaign couldn’t be determined, it includes agents’ meals, hotel stays, transportation and salary. The person with knowledge of the Secret Service and the campaign said Gingrich’s protection might be helping him stay in race because the cost is borne by taxpayers.” What that last sentence means is that there are numerous and sundry expenses that the Gingrich campaign need not lay out due to being protected by the Secret Service. These outlays would include costs related to: vehicular transport, drivers, gas, advance staff to prepare the next campaign stop for the candidates arrival as well as private security for the candidate which costs $50 thousand dollars a month. Thus in effect taxpayer money flowing into the Gingrich campaign via the Secret Service is in a large part keeping this moribund effort alive and sputtering forward all on your dime.
 
But its not just the American taxpayer who’s getting stiffed by Newt Gingrich, its many a small business owner as well. Now isn’t that odd, that Gingrich, who has so often extolled on the virtues and importance of small business would have no problem leaving these same people holding the bag as a result of his failure to pay bills for services rendered? Quoting Dan Eggen of the Washington Post ” Newt Gingrich, whose quixotic presidential bid has been dogged by financial problems, racked up nearly $3 million in new debt for private jet flights, security consultants and travel costs in March even as his campaign teetered on the edge of collapse, according to new disclosures. The former House speaker entered April with $4.3 million in total debt, up from $1.5 million the month before, according to reports filed late Friday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC)…The disclosures outline what has become a typical scenario for Gingrich in his topsy-turvy, year-long campaign for the White House, which nearly imploded last summer amid runaway spending and staff defections. Financial problems also have swallowed the private consulting empire he built after leaving the House in the late 1990s, including a private health-care think tank that filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.” So not only has Gingrich shortchanged a number of private business, he’s also destroyed much of his own business enterprise as well. As such I think its safe to say that its a God send that this political charlatan isn’t about to secure the Republican nomination for president, least he be elected president. Based on this self inflicted personal financial debacle can you just imagine what kind of damage he might wreck on the nation as a whole? One things been proven out by Gingrich’s latest political misadventure and that is that he’s no fiscal Einstein.
 
In the final analysis this latest Gingrich denouement is but a sad commentary on the politics of ego and vanity as well as the poisonous effect of Citizens United which allowed a single contributor, Sheldon Adelson, to fuel the egotistical drive of a man who was easily the most unsavory candidate, in terms of ethical and marital trespasses, of the entire Republican field. Perhaps Newt Gingrich should take some of his speeches on fiscal responsibility, stand before a mirror, and reread his own words while periodically looking into that mirror so as to come to terms with his own hypocrisy. I think its fair to say that Mr. Gingrich’s rare second act in American Politics is at an end, save for his next cable news gig. Such is the pathos of ego, vanity and ill conceived fiscal folly.
 
Steven J. Gulitti 
 
4/22/12
 
 
Sources:
 
 
Gingrich Urged to End Secret Service Detail at Taxpayer Expense; http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/04/gingrich-urged-to-end-secret-service-detail-at-taxpayer-expense/
 
Newt Gingrich goes deeper in debt as campaign disintegrates; http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/22/politics/newt-gingrich-goes-deeper-in-debt-as-campaign-disintegrates/

The Alinsky Obsession

4:37 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Have you ever wondered why the right is so obsessed with Saul Alinsky and why they always try to tie Barack Obama to him? Well for one thing perhaps they have finally come to the realization that Reverend Wright’s use to them has faded but they seem to have an affinity for Alinsky that just won’t go away. In fact, their attraction to Alinsky is so firm that they themselves have used his “Rules for Radicals” and have fully embraced Rule 13, something they appear reluctant to talk about.

There was an interesting discussion on MSNBC’s Hardball last night (1/27/12) between host Chris Matthews, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times and Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post where it was pointed out that Newt Gingrich has referenced Alinsky’s name so many times in his campaign speeches that it would be easy to lose count of same. It was also pointed out that Dick Armey had handed out copies of “Rules for Radicals” throughout his Tea Party umbrella group FreedomWorks so as to better equip his lieutenants and acolytes with Alinsky’s tried and proven tactics. What’s even more interesting is the historical footnote that Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, when Governor of Michigan, called in Saul Alinsky to counsel his political leadership cadre after the Detroit riots in the 1960s. After conferring with Alinsky George Romney told his advisors that they “should listen to Alinsky.”

Now the right has tried to paint Alinsky as a radical bent on destroying American society and in some convoluted way tried to pin the same tag on Barack Obama. But let’s look at Alinsky’s biography: “Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909 – June 12, 1972) was an American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing, and has been compared to Thomas Paine as being “one of the great American leaders of the nonsocialist left. He is often noted for his book Rules for Radicals. In the course of nearly four decades of political organizing, Alinsky received much criticism, but also gained praise from many public figures. His organizing skills were focused on improving the living conditions of poor communities across North America. In the 1950s, he began turning his attention to improving conditions of the African American ghettos, beginning with Chicago’s and later traveling to other ghettos in California, Michigan, New York City, and a dozen other “trouble spots”. His ideas were later adapted by some U.S. college students and other young organizers in the late 1960s and formed part of their strategies for organizing on campus and beyond. Time magazine once wrote that “American democracy is being altered by Alinsky’s ideas,” and conservative author William F. Buckley said he was “very close to being an organizational genius.” Can you conclude from the above that Alinsky has as his goal the complete and utter destruction of the American way of life? I can’t.

Lynn Sweet, a Chicago native stated that “Saul Alinsky never wanted to destroy the system, he just wanted everyone to have a seat at the table” when it came to formulating solutions to this country’s problems. Sweet alluded to two other facts, one is that, in a general sense, the right has fully embraced and employed the tactics of Alinsky’s Rule 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it…In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and ‘frozen’…Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the ‘others’ come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target…”One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.” Now if this doesn’t sound like the tactics that the right has used against Obama since he arrived in Washington what does?

Sweet’s second conclusion is that of all the Republican contenders it is Newt Gingrich who has most closely adhered to the principles of Saul Alinsky. Gingrich rails against the “elites” in the liberal media, the Democratic Party and even those in the Republican establishment, by tapping into the populist anger on the right in exactly the same manner that Alinsky tapped into liberal outrage back in the 1960s. The great irony of this is that Newt Gingrich is the ultimate Washington insider who has now cloaked himself in the rhetoric of the far right so as to hide his past and hijack the current wave of ultra-conservative populist discontent in an attempt to win the presidency. The leadership of the Republican Party and their major allies within America’s conservative elite know this and you can fully expect that they will work vigorously to derail Newt Gingrich’s hopes and dreams. These conservative elites know that Gingrich is the Goldwater of today, a fact evident in Bob Dole’s comment: “In my opinion if we want to avoid an Obama landslide in November, Republicans should nominate Governor Romney as our standard-bearer.” The other compelling question here is just what does the far right hope to achieve by throwing their lot in with the political charlatan that is Newt Gingrich? As Joe Scarborough said on Meet the Press recently “Newt Gingrich is no conservative, all you have to do is Google his name to see his record isn’t that of a conservative.” So are America’s fired up conservatives about to be taken for another ride by a professional politician who is more than happy to use them to further his own megalomaniacal agenda while offering them nothing in the way of a guarantee that he will honestly serve them if he gets elected? Looks like it.

Steven J. Gulitti

1/28/12

Sources:

Saul Alinsky; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Alinsky

Rules for Radicals; http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/communism/alinsky.htm

The Tea Party’s Empty Dance Card

11:27 am in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Well there you have it, another onetime Tea Party favorite has dropped out of the 2012 race to be America’s president thereby shrinking the field of “viable” candidates that a Tea Party true believer could vote for this coming November. In fact one should even ask the question of whether or not there is a candidate still in the race that a true Tea Party member could legitimately support. Political columnist E.J. Dionne, to some degree, asked a similar question in: “Where are the Republican populists?” Quoting Dionne: “Members of the Tea Party insisted they were turning the GOP into a populist, anti-establishment bastion. Social conservatives have long argued that values and morals matter more than money. Yet in the end, the corporate and economically conservative wing of the Republican Party always seems to win.” That will leave members of the movement with a truly tough choice this November: Is there any candidate left in the race for which a real Tea Party supporter could vote without a compromising of one’s principles? Unless a third party candidate favorable to the Tea Party emerges, not exactly a development that would guarantee victory, the choices available to Tea Party members will be reduced to voting for a moderate Republican in Mitt Romney, not voting, giving up on the presidency and hoping that a rear guard electoral effort will maintain the House Tea Party Caucus or voting for Obama as a protest. The last choice is something the true believers would never do.

Presently it appears that rank and file Tea Party members have already started to compromise their principles. A recent Boston Globe article, “Tea Party’s opposition to Romney weakens” states: “The Tea Party and its dislike of the Massachusetts health care plan and Romney’s moderate record as Bay State governor were considerable impediments to his candidacy throughout 2011. But none of the Tea Party’s darlings – Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, or Gingrich – has been able to sustain a surge, highlighting limitations of a nascent movement that couldn’t extend its 2010 congressional successes onto the presidential stage…The latest polls suggest a good number of Tea Party supporters are getting behind the party’s most likely nominee [Romney], despite qualms about his record, because their overriding goal is removing Obama from the White House.” Likewise, just as the G.O.P.’s 2012 field is unsettled so are members of the Tea Party when it comes to who they currently support: “CBS reports that voters who identify with the Tea Party movement are similarly divided, with 29 percent supporting Romney, 28 percent supporting Gingrich, 18 percent supporting Santorum, and 12 percent supporting Paul.”

The fact that almost one third of the Tea Party members are backing Romney shows just how far principles on the hard right have eroded at this point in time. Likewise real conservatives would take umbrage with Newt Gingrich’s claim that he is the only true conservative in the race. Gingrich has a track record of clashing with conservatives on many issues. He called Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget reform ideas “right-wing social engineering”, has supported health care insurance mandates, been rather liberal in his views on accommodating illegal immigrants, admitted that climate change is real and needs to be addressed and even criticized the far right publicly on the issue of ideological purity saying: “You can have a very, very intense movement at 20 percent. You can’t govern. To govern, you’ve got to get 50 percent plus one after the recount.” And now in what could be a Herman Cain like moment Gingrich’s second wife is going public in her criticism of him in an expose that is hardly flattering and which will do nothing to endear him to social conservatives, particularly women.

Thus for the Tea Partiers we’re down to just two alternatives, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. If Ron Paul is anything it’s unelectable. His isolationist stance on foreign involvement and libertarian views on drug use are an anathema to the Republican establishment and most likely to the majority of the electorate as well. Paul’s libertarian views can be summarized as follows: “Paul believes: Gays should be allowed to marry; America’s foreign policy contributed to the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks; U.S. defence spending should be slashed by 15%; Drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine should be decriminalized, and the United States should not come to Israel’s aid if it starts a shooting war with Iran.” With views like these we can effectively dismiss Ron Paul as a serious candidate for president.

That leaves us with Santorum and his acceptability to the Tea Party. One problem Santorum has always had is that he’s been a one trick pony, his overarching theme has been one of social values, something that helped him tremendously in Iowa. “CBS News entrance polling showed that Tea Party conservatives who participated in the caucuses largely supported Santorum. Among those who said they support the Tea Party movement, 29 percent caucused for him, compared with 19 percent for Paul and 19 percent for Mitt Romney.” But Iowa is atypical of the larger political landscape, its whiter, more evangelical, less urban and less affected by the Great Recession due to a strong demand for its agricultural produce. Just how well do the Tea Partiers know Rick Santorum? Since Iowa it’s come out that he was a master at earmarking federal largesse for western Pennsylvania, supported Medicare Part D, was a regular supporter of foreign aid and voted for No Child Left Behind, a federal program that “greatly expanded the federal government’s role in education.” Referencing a Ron Paul advertisement, Santorum is “another serial hypocrite who can’t be trusted.” It targets Santorum for voting five times to raise the debt ceiling, voting in favor of the notorious “bridge to nowhere,” and taking lobbyist cash, among other things.”

A good synopsis of Rick Santorum’s career on Capitol Hill can be found in Sheryl Stolberg’s recent article “Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider” Quoting Stolberg: “But a look at the arc of Mr. Santorum’s political career, from his days as a fresh-faced College Republican to his bruising defeat for a third term in 2006, reveals a side of Mr. Santorum beyond that of reformer and abortion foe. He emerges as a savvy operator and sharp tactician, a climber who became a member of the Washington establishment that he had once railed against.” Thus can any true believer in the principles of the Tea Party movement consider Rick Santorum to be a bona fide upholder of the movement’s agenda? Not really. Does Santorum fit the description of a Beltway outsider who can be trusted to champion the agenda of the Tea Party movement? Not in the least, that is, if you want to be honest about whom Santorum is and what his past track record is all about. Once you peel the onion down a few layers past the exterior of standing up for family values what you’re left with is a professional politician and that’s hardly in line with the general tenor of the Tea Party movement.

Conservative columnist David Brooks points out much of what comprises Santorum’s world view is not exactly congruent with Tea Party principles. ”His worldview is not individualistic. His book, “It Takes a Family,” was infused with the conservative wing of Catholic social teaching. It was a broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism in favor of one that emphasized family and social solidarity. While in Congress, he was a leader in nearly every serious piece of antipoverty legislation…He is not a representative of the corporate or financial wing of the party. Santorum certainly wants to reduce government spending. He certainly wants tax reform. But he goes out of his way in his speeches to pick fights with the “supply-siders.” Now many on the far right consider Brooks a “progressive” Republican but few would say the same of Erick Erickson who runs the ultra-conservative political blog RedState and who’s article “What a Big Government Conservative Looks Like” states: “Rick Santorum is a pro-life statist. He is. You will have to deal with it.  He is a big government conservative.  Santorum is right on social issues, but has never let his love of social issues stand in the way of the creeping expansion of the welfare state.  In fact, he has been complicit in the expansion of the welfare state… Santorum is a conservative. He is. But his conservatism is largely defined by his social positions and the ends to which government would be deployed. But he has chosen as the means to those conservative ends bigger government. We see big government conservatives most clearly when they deviate from the tireless efforts of people like Mike Pence and Jim DeMint and the others who were willing to oppose George W. Bush’s expansion of the welfare state. Rick Santorum was not among them.”

So with the abovementioned in mind, am I going out on a limb in pointing out that the Tea Party movement is effectively without a viable candidate for 2012? I don’t thinks so, not if by “viable” you mean a candidate that will put the principles of limiting big government’s influence in our daily lives at the forefront of their policy agenda and who actually has a chance at appealing to that vast raft of independent voters and being elected. If the CBS poll numbers are indicative of anything they show that three quarters of the Tea Party movement’s respondents are supporting a candidate other than one who espouses true Tea Party principles in either positions taken on past policy or personal behavior. Which get us back to E.J. Dionne: “Think about Romney’s rise in light of the overheated political analysis of 2010 that saw a Republican Party as being transformed by the Tea Party legions who, in alliance with an overlapping group of social and religious conservatives, would take the party away from the establishmentarians.

Certainly some of the movement’s failures can be attributed to a flawed set of competitors and the split on the right, especially Paul’s ability to siphon off a significant share of the Tea Party vote. That has made a consolidation of its forces impossible…But there is another possibility: that the GOP never was and never can be a populist party, that the term was always being misapplied, and that enough Republicans are quite comfortable with a Harvard-educated private-equity specialist.” If E.J. Dionne is correct, and I believe he is, then the members of the Tea Party movement have a rendevous with reality in Novemeber that will leave then feeling jilted with regard to having a true candidate in the race and, if a Republican wins the presidency, with having that old sinking feeling of having been used for their votes with little propsect of seeing their agenda advanced by the professional politicians who run the Republican Party.

Steven J. Gulitti

1/20/2012

 Sources:

Perry suspends campaign, endorses Gingrich; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mdvje9Fr-uY

What doomed Rick Perry’s campaign; http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/politics/perry-rise-fall/index.html

Where are the Republican populists; http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/romneys-rise-puts-the-lie-to-a-populist-gop/2012/01/18/gIQAoPqG9P_story.html

Tea Party’s opposition to Romney weakens; http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2012/01/19/opposition-from-tea-party-begins-fade-mitt-romney-gains-support-more-conservatives/JrU4fS9Gy5BF44dEfEkQoM/story.html

GOP Race Remains Fractured, Tea Party Supporters Divided: http://www.decodedscience.com/gop-race-remains-fractured-tea-party-supporters-divided/9673

Gingrich Has Record Of Clashing With The Right; http://www.npr.org/2011/11/29/142868567/gingrich-has-record-of-clashing-with-the-right

Newt Gingrich wanted ‘open marriage,’ ex-wife says; http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/politics/gingrich-wife/index.html

Paul’s candidacy thrives on the unconventional; http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Paul+candidacy+thrives+unconventional/5776016/story.html

Can Rick Santorum claim the Tea Party mantle?; http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57354522-503544/can-rick-santorum-claim-the-tea-party-mantle/

Santorum Rose Quickly From Reformer to Insider; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/20/us/politics/santorum-rose-quickly-from-reformer-to-insider.html?_r=1&hp

Workers of the World, Unite! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/opinion/workers-of-the-world-unite.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

What a Big Government Conservative Looks Like; http://www.redstate.com/erick/2012/01/09/what-a-big-government-conservative-looks-like-2/

Rick Santorum and the Tea Party; http://thepoliticalzealot.com/2012/01/09/rick-santorum-and-the-tea-party/

For the Radical Right, a Defeat in New Hampshire

10:46 pm in Uncategorized by SJGulitti

Tonight’s outcome in New Hampshire represents a significant setback for the fortunes of the Tea Party movement along with the rest of the radical right as Republican moderates have captured the bulk of the votes cast in the contest. When you combine Romney’s take with that of Gingrich and Huntsman what you see is that collectively Republican moderates received a total of 65.6% of the total vote count. Conversely those candidates who are popular with the radical right were only able to secure 39.3% of the votes cast. That means that two thirds of the voters voted for a candidate that’s not likely to do anything for a radical conservative agenda or its supporters other than use them for their vote and thereafter bid them farewell a la Senator Scott Brown (R-MA). See the graph from Associated Press below.
 
While nothing is ever cast in stone in the world of American politics, no candidate in modern times who ever won both the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary failed to win his party’s nomination. Suffice it to say that the leadership of the Republican establishment can only be much relieved by these results as it suggests that voters may be moving back to the center after having flirted with the Tea Party and the radical right. That Tea Party affinity may have produced dramatic electoral gains in 2010 but it has also created gridlock in Washington, a tarnished image of the Republican Party and electoral defeats in 2011. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Republican establishment, which is well aware of the Congressional G.O.P’s low standing in the eyes of the public, attributes much of that low standing to the impact of the Tea Party caucus on Capitol Hill. Now with Mitt Romney’s fortunes apparently on the rise the Republican leadership can only hope that he can power past right-wing radicals in most of the remaining primaries thereby rendering any prospect of a Tea Party backed candidate moot. With that development the Republican Party can plan a campaign to defeat Barack Obama in November that would have been otherwise futile had a Tea Party backed candidate been the front runner.
 
In a prescient article that appeared before the 2011 elections, Matt Bai interviewed uber-Conservative William Kristol who said a “large number of Republican primary voters, and even more independent general-election voters, will be wary of supporting a Republican candidate in 2012 if the party looks as if it’s in the grip of an infantile form of conservatism.” Bai himself noted the following: “Given such fast-deteriorating conditions, [in the economy] many Republican veterans have come around to the view that they aren’t really going to need the perfect presidential candidate, and perhaps not even a notably good one. With Chris Christie having taken himself out of the running — again — earlier this month, the field of candidates now appears to be pretty much set, and none of them are likely to inspire any reimagining’s of Mount Rushmore. But maybe all the moment requires is someone who can pass as a broadly acceptable alternative — a candidate who doesn’t project the Tea Party extremism of Michele Bachmann or the radical isolationism of Ron Paul. “If we have a Rick Perry versus Mitt Romney battle for the nomination, it’s a little hard to say, ‘Ooh, the party has really gone off the rails,’ ” Kristol told me just after Perry entered the race, a development that essentially ended Bachmann’s brief ascent. Establishment Republicans may prefer Romney to Perry, but their assumption is that either man can be counted on to steer the party back toward the broad center next fall, effectively disarming the Tea Party mutiny.” Well it goes without saying that tonight’s results bring the Republican Party a step closer to the establishment’s goal of a party that appeals to the broad middle of the American electorate, particularly the non aligned independents, while at the same time adding increased downward momentum to the faltering Tea Party movement. Thus it would appear that tonight’s real winners are the old line establishment Republicans and the real losers are the Tea Party crowd, the Ron Paul libertarians and the rest of the radical right.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
1/10/12
 
 
 
Results for New Hampshire Republican Primary (U.S. Presidential Primary)
Jan 10, 2012 (92% of precincts reporting)
Mitt Romney 90,918   39.3%
Ron Paul 52,842  22.9%
Jon Huntsman 38,963  16.9%
Newt Gingrich 21,742     9.4%
Rick Santorum 21,562 9.3%
Rick Perry
1,612
0.7%
Michele Bachmann
 325
0.1%
Other
3,104
1.3%
 
Sources: