After big wins in the Utah, Nevada and Alaska primaries, the tea party hopes candidate Christine O’Donnell can pick up the Republican Senate nomination in Delaware. Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express shares why she backs O’Donnell, and Del. Republican Chairman Tom Russ explains why candidate Mike Castle is right for the job.
HUNTLEY – The Huntley Tea Party will host a rally on Saturday.
The Upstate New York Tea Party is afraid if Doug Hoffman loses to Matt Doheny in the N.Y. Congressional primary but Hoffman stays in the race as a third-party candidate, he might be a spoiler.
The Southwest Pennsylvania Taxed Enough Already or TEA Party returns this weekend to Bushy Run Battlefield in Penn Township.
HELENA, Mont. – Several members of a Montana tea party group have resigned after the association’s president was dismissed over an exchange on Facebook that appeared to condone violence against gays.
If this were simply a battle of ideas, then, perhaps, the conservative insurgent would be galloping ahead, with the washed-out moderate left choking on tea-party dust. Delaware’s Republican Senate primary, however, has devolved into anything but an ideological scrap. Instead, strange gaffes and party infighting have turned the race into a must-watch mud-fest.
Christine O’Donnell, a former GOP operative, is the tea party’s crusader du jour. With her easy charm and big-dollar backing from the Tea Party Express, O’Donnell presents real trouble for Rep. Mike Castle, the nine-term congressman known for hugging the colorless center of American politics. Yet Castle has been able to blunt her challenge in recent weeks, by throwing salt on her self-inflicted wounds.
#ad#Unlike Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who played nice en route to primary defeat last month, Castle has gone full-Atwater, airing scalding ads about O’Donnell’s foibles. “We’re not just going to sit by and let her destroy Mike Castle,” explained a Castle campaign source to the National Journal.
With a tea-party wave potentially heading toward Rehoboth, Castle is doing what he can to stack sandbags around his campaign. In Castle’s latest spot, a baritone-voiced narrator zings O’Donnell for her back taxes, college bills, and campaign debt. The ad’s tone — gloomy and suspicious — is reminiscent of Harry Reid’s line of attack against Sharron Angle in Nevada, except this time, of course, it is Republican versus Republican. There is no mention of any policy position held by Castle, who owns a lowly 52.49 lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.
Castle’s ads have gotten buzz, leaving O’Donnell, the party’s nominee against Sen. Joe Biden in 2008, on the defensive. Castle, who has avoided debates and kept a low profile on the trail, has ridden the rumblings about O’Donnell’s viability to a lead in the polls. With less than a week until Republicans head to the ballot box, a Rasmussen poll shows Castle in a far stronger position to defeat Democrat Chris Coons, a county executive, in the general election. Castle leads Coons by 11 points, while O’Donnell trails Coons by the same margin. For O’Donnell, the tumble has been devastating: In July, Rasmussen had her leading Coons by two.
Still, O’Donnell is far from finished. A survey by NSON Opinion Research, commissioned by the Tea Party Express last week, shows her trailing Castle by just two points among likely GOP voters. To gain momentum, however, O’Donnell will have to shake off Team Castle’s depiction of her campaign as “delusional.”
Shifting the spotlight back to the issues of Washington will be tough. According to the Wall Street Journal, O’Donnell reported less than $6,000 in income last year and still owes her 2008 campaign nearly $10,000. Questions about her finances bubble up daily. To make matters worse, O’Donnell appears to have let Castle’s sharp questions rattle her.
#page# In an odd interview with The Weekly Standard last week, O’Donnell claimed, without proof or a police report in hand, that her home and office were vandalized by Castle apparatchiks. “They’re following me,” she told reporter John McCormack. “They follow me home at night. I make sure that I come back to the townhouse and then we have our team come out and check all the bushes and check all the cars to make sure that -- they follow me.”
Indeed, as her campaign has gained national attention, O’Donnell clearly has become spooked, to the chagrin of her enthusiastic supporters. She has accused a conservative talk-radio host, who previously had endorsed her, of being “paid off,” and questioned the integrity of Rasmussen’s latest poll because, well, its numbers show her losing. A former senior aide for her campaign has also muddied the field with an unseemly web video that asks whether Castle has been unfaithful to his wife. O’Donnell, for her part, quickly distanced herself from the video, but the taint remains.
#ad#O’Donnell’s complicated résumé has also done her few favors. It was reported by Politico last week that she received her bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University this summer — after previously claiming that she was already a graduate. Her past explanation for the lack of a diploma — her unpaid loans — was also debunked by the political website, which discovered that unfulfilled coursework also played a part. To add to the hurt, it was discovered that O’Donnell was previously mired in an uncomfortable gender-discrimination lawsuit with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative organization in Wilmington.
All of these distractions have left O’Donnell flailing for a narrative. Conservative superstars like Sarah Palin, whose endorsement was critical in helping Joe Miller upset Murkowski, have stayed on the sidelines — though Palin did highlight a supportive Twitter message about O’Donnell from conservative talk-radio host Tammy Bruce on Wednesday. (The Hill called it a “tacit endorsement” from Palin.) Other GOP leaders, like Dick Armey, the chairman of the grassroots group FreedomWorks, have refused to get involved. Even Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who loves to tangle in GOP primaries, has sat on his hands. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, the Right’s newest hero, has come out for Castle.
To fight back, O’Donnell and the Tea Party Express will take to the local-radio airwaves on Thursday to sponsor a two-hour O’Donnell-a-thon. “This is a year where citizen activists are getting behind citizen politicians,” O’Donnell tells us. “This is about principles and the heart and soul of the party.”
“Like so many people around the country, I have struggled at times,” O’Donnell says. “But many Americans have been in similar situations and are sympathetic.” Castle’s votes for the bank bailouts and for cap-and-trade legislation, she hopes, will matter more than how she has handled her checkbook and campus credits.
“I’m very hopeful that we can win,” O’Donnell says. “In races across the country — Rand Paul, Sharron Angle — you see people getting behind constitutional conservatives.” We’ll know next Tuesday whether Delaware is ready to take a chance.
-- Robert Costa is a political reporter for National Review.
During his first post-Restoring-Honor-rally show last Monday, Glenn Beck demonstrated the "contempt" of The Huffington Post by showing his audience some of the photos included in a HuffPost slide show titled "Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor Rally: The Most Ridiculous Messages," which showed some of the messages on the clothing and buttons worn by rally attendees.
Beck, of course, in showing how "contemptible" HuffPost is, didn't show the slide show photos of the people in their "Got Tea?" and other Tea Party t-shirts, or the "Give me Liber-TEA," "I Love My Gun," and "Obama's Worst Nightmare" buttons. After all, Beck had insisted that this was not going to be a Tea Party rally, and had asked the attendees to leave their Tea Party and anti-Obama signs at home. And, following the instructions of their leader, they did. They just displayed their Tea Party messages on their persons instead. So, Beck carefully selected a few photos of people merely looking suitably patriotic in their red, white, and blue and rally-themed "Restoring Honor" attire, and then questioned how anyone could possibly think these people were ridiculous.
But the photo that caught my attention was one of the back of someone's t-shirt, which Beck showed twice, saying, "This is a quote from George Washington -- ridiculous."
Well, Mr. Beck, I would never call a quote from George Washington ridiculous, but I will call the one on that t-shirt what it is -- a fake! Your new pal David Barton should be able to tell you all about that, since even he himself tells his followers not to use this quote. Of course, good old David didn't say anything when John Hagee used this same fake quote on your show a while back, although he was also one of your guests that day, and sitting only a few feet from Hagee. So, you might just want to go to your pal David's own website, where he has his list of "Unconfirmed Quotations" -- a list of quotes that he himself tells his website readers to "refrain from using ... until such time that an original primary source may be found." This George Washington quote is #2 on the list.
Here's that clip of John Hagee using this fake quote on your show, Mr. Beck:
Now, your pal David will probably say that when he put out his list of taboo quotes over a decade ago, it was merely because he had decided, being such a diligent scholar, to raise the academic standards of his work. But nobody actually buys that. Plain and simple, he got called out by some real historians on some of the bogus quotes that he had used in his 1988 book The Myth of Separation, largely because of Rush Limbaugh's repeated use of one of these bogus quotes. So, he put out his little list of quotes he wasn't going to use anymore, fine-tuned many of the other lies from his 1988 book, and put out a new book, Original Intent, that didn't contain those particular quotes. (His new book still contained plenty of misquotes -- just not those particular ones.)
Of course, Mr. Beck, despite what he says on his website, you should know that your pal David doesn't really want his followers and minions to stop using the quotes on his list, as evidenced not only by his silence when John Hagee used one of these quotes on your show, but by the fact that six of these quotes were included in the National Council On Bible Curriculum in Public Schools curriculum, a curriculum whose advisory board includes ... um ... David Barton.
HELENA, Mont. — Several members of a Montana tea party group have resigned after the association's president was dismissed over an exchange on Facebook that appeared to condone violence against gays.
The party issued a statement over the weekend saying the board voted to kick president Tim Ravndal out of the party.
During a Big Sky Tea Party Association meeting Tuesday, board member Tom Baird called the decision a "knee-jerk reaction" and said he was resigning. The Independent Record reports the group's secretary she would also resign, and several association members called for a new board.
The dispute stems from a Facebook conversation on Ravndal's page that alludes to the 1998 of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was murdered because he was gay.
Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com
On Tuesday, the progressive blog Daily Kos alleged that Thomas Kubica, a paid intern working on Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul's campaign, had been pretending to be a left-leaning member of the online community for political gain; however, according to the Tea Party-backed hopeful's camp, the accusation lacks merit and is entirely untrue.
"This phony," wrote Paul aide Gary Howard in an e-mail to the Huffingotn Post on Wednesday morning. "The person is not our intern, someone used our intern's info from his LinkedIn page to pose as him on Kos and post stuff. He even sent us an email through our website email form pretending to get 'caught' working for us."
Howard passed along the following submission, which was apparently made to Paul's campaign website:
Your Name Tom Kubica Email Tom@randpaul2010.com Subject Replacement Category Social Networking Message I was discovered and banned at DailyKos. I suggest we immediately pull in all of our covert operatives. I'll need someone to replace me at Daily Kos as well.
According to IP Address information sent to HuffPost, the message sent by "Tom Kubica" came by way of Massachusetts, not Kentucky as had been suggested by the Daily Kos one day earlier:
IP Address Country Region City Latitude/ Longitude ZIP Code Time Zone 188.8.131.52 UNITED STATES MASSACHUSETTS FRAMINGHAM 42.3019 -71.428 01701 -05:00 Net Speed ISP Domain DSL PSINET INC COGENTCO.COM IDD Code Area Code Weather Station 1 508/774/781/978 USMA0147 - FRAMINGHAM
"Populist" has been used throughout the world in a variety of ways over the past two centuries, but in the United States today there is some consensus on the term's meaning: populists side with "the people" against elites.
In our new Gilded Age, the gap between the many below and the few at the top is growing, and a populist sensibility is naturally on the rise. Oddly, though, the rich are seldom targets of popular wrath.
Instead, on the right, ill-defined class animosities are channeled into culture wars, where they simmer until political entrepreneurs stir them up into virulent political movements. Left populists misdirect their animosities too, but in a less confused way.
Meanwhile, for decades, philosophers have subjected notions of equality to intensive scrutiny. These efforts have not been in vain; much has been learned about the concept and its implications. But what has been achieved has had almost no effect on public consciousness. Ours is a culture in which the academy flourishes at the same time that the ideas generated in it, when not directly serviceable to governing elites, are effectively sequestered.
This is unfortunate. But it is not necessary to be knowledgeable about recent philosophical advances to see how defective populist purchases on equality are. Being for the (undifferentiated) people and against (similarly undifferentiated) elites, one would expect all populists to be egalitarians. Left populists generally meet this expectation, though in a defective and ultimately disabling way. Right populists effectively support inequality without realizing it.
The action these days mainly is on the right - where, thanks to corporate connivers, a risible and motley concoction calling itself the Tea Party has emerged. Those who conjured it into existence had an easy time of it. With the economy in disarray and the Obama administration doing precious little to turn it around, there were plenty of potential Tea Partiers out there waiting to be mobilized.
Not long ago, the consensus view among their critics was that right-wing populists, the GOP's "useful idiots," were "values voters" for whom commitments to ideals trumped economic interests. If so, good for them; better to be moved by values than to be simple-minded dupes. But putting values first is estimable only to the extent that the values themselves are defensible. Right-wing populist values generally are not.
Thus, for most "pro-lifers," abortion should be proscribed because fetuses have "souls" that confer upon them an infrangible "right to life." Or they oppose abortion because, at some level, they realize that its availability enhances women's' control over their own bodies in ways detrimental to male domination. There is no denying it: values voters have bad values. But values voting isn't all that is going on with them, not by a long shot; resentment, born of social instability and dislocation, is running the show.
This is why right-wing populism morphs easily into culture wars in which nostalgia for ways things never were contends with the cultural by-products of secular and progressive ideologies organized around conceptions of equality. This is ironic inasmuch as those ideologies, liberalism excepted, have lately fallen into eclipse. It is also dangerous. It was resentment of the kind that the Tea Party feeds upon that made classical fascism possible, and that has enabled virtually all authoritarian regimes of the right.
For both theoretical and political reasons, it would be well to move from populism to a political orientation cognizant of class structure and class struggle. But, as long as vague populist attitudes remain unavoidable, populisms that reflect the real interests of the people, left-populisms, are a good counter for populisms of the right. But for them to do much good, or even just to prevail against Tea Party thinking, they will have to rid themselves of some glaring shortcomings.
For one thing, they must become philosophically aware enough to fault inequality for compelling reasons, not just vague and unarticulated intuitions. Left populist intuitions are generally sound. It is indeed unseemly that the rich get richer and that they flaunt their wealth, especially when they immiserate others. And those who accept huge bonuses or obscenely high salaries ought to be ashamed, and they should certainly be condemned. The consequences of increasing inequality are many and they are almost always lamentable. But it would help if left populists had a better grasp of why; in other words, if they had some purchase on what inequalities, if any, are defensible and how, if at all, wage and salary differentials can be justified.
In the end, though, a truly cogent left populism would transcend the horizons of populism altogether. For it is not enough just to stimulate and channel outrage; what is needed, for outrage about inequality to become constructive, is understanding of the factors causing it and affecting its waxing and waning. Outrage can be justifiable, even in the absence of justifications and, for mobilizing political support, it is indispensable. But it is ultimately of no avail if it is not grounded in a theory and practice aimed at undoing the conditions that underlie it and that make it appropriate.
To put the point in an ostensibly old-fashioned but more than ever timely way, it is urgent to do what left populism only suggests: to put capitalism itself in question. As we inveigh against "malefactors of great wealth," it is important not to lose sight of what is most essential: that it's not them, loathsome as they may be, but the underlying system that is the problem; or, as one might say in the Carville dialect of Clintonese, "it's the economic structure, stupid."
With the smug incomprehension in which it takes so much pride (can’t understand – won’t understand!), the BBC sets about the American Tea Party Movement as if it were a cross between the Klu Klux Klan and the German neo-fascist brigade. Not once in all the demonic depictions I have seen and heard (last week’s Newsnight package was particularly outrageous) have I heard a mention of what the TPM is actually about: taxation. (Note to BBC editors: the movement is named after the Boston Tea Party because it is protesting...
HuffPost reporter Amanda Terkel joined Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" Tuesday night to discuss the possibility that tea party extremism may hurt Republicans in November's midterm elections.
"What I think we're seeing the White House doing is saying [to voters] look, you may be more conservative than us, but these candidates like Sharron Angle don't really represent your conservative values," Terkel said. "Calling for abolishing the Department of Education or cutting back on Social Security -- these aren't conservative proposals, these are very radical, and the White House is trying to say look, if you put these people into office, that's what is going to happen."
WILMINGTON, Del. — GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell derided her primary opponent as an Obama Republican on Tuesday as tea party activists rallied to defend her from harsh criticism by the GOP establishment.
About 60 people gathered at a Wilmington hotel for a tea party gathering where O'Donnell made a surprise appearance and accused U.S. Rep. Michael Castle of mudslinging.
"My opponent is an Obama Republican who can't defend his liberal voting record, so he's resorting to mudslinging," O'Donnell said. "It's a shame that an incumbent congressman has to stoop that low."
O'Donnell has become a target of withering criticism from the state GOP establishment, which sees Castle as its best chance of winning the seat vacated when Democrat Joe Biden became vice president. The primary is Sept. 14.
The GOP, stunned by what happened in Alaska when tea party candidate Joe Miller upset Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary there, is taking no chances in Delaware.
Among other things, state Republican officials have called O'Donnell a liar who has trouble paying her bills, misuses campaign funds, and had made false statements about her education and the support she received in previous Senate campaigns.
State GOP chairman Tom Ross has dismissed O'Donnell as a perennial candidate unworthy of being elected dog catcher, and even some fellow conservatives have turned on her.
During a testy interview on a conservative talk radio station in Delaware last week, O'Donnell questioned whether the host, who had endorsed her previous campaigns but now questions her veracity, was being paid off by Castle.
"What's so exciting and energizing about all this is that you're not being duped," O'Donnell told her supporters Tuesday.
"Since he's started his mudslinging, our poll numbers have gone up and our online contributions have increased," added O'Donnell, who did not provide any specifics and refused to speak to reporters after the event.
O'Donnell instead thanked tea party activists from other states for coming to Delaware "to give us the reinforcements that we need."
Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, said the group has committed $250,000 to support O'Donnell's campaign and is paying for television and radio ads on her behalf.
"The time has come for us to put down the protest signs and pick up the campaign signs and get engaged," Kremer said. "We have stood on the sidelines for long enough protesting."
Castle, a former two-term governor and the longest serving congressman in Delaware history, has refused to debate O'Donnell.
"Voters in Delaware have come to expect O'Donnell's misrepresentations of the congressman's record, the personal attacks on his family, and wild accusations," Castle campaign manager Mike Quaranta said in a statement. "Castle is one of the most accessible legislators in the state and is engaged with voters every day. Christine has trouble with the truth and we aren't giving her a forum to further spread lies about Mike Castle."
Tea partiers suggested that Castle is part of a political aristocracy whose members believe they are entitled to hold office and refuse to listen to citizens they are elected to represent.
"This is the republic of Delaware, not an aristocracy," said Tiffiny Ruegner, director of field operations for the Tea Party Express. "... We have a fellow commoner here in Delaware, and her name is Christine O'Donnell."
The primary winner will face Democrat Chris Coons in November. Democrat Ted Kaufman, who was appointed to replace Biden temporarily, is leaving the seat. Biden's son, state Attorney General Beau Biden, was once thought to be a likely Democratic contender, but he decided not to run.
The blend of tea leaves with which this political movement is brewing are tainted by elements that contribute misinformation, ignorance and divisive, violent rhetoric. Sprinkled with a note (well not actually a note, more like a plangent wail) of racism, a pinch of flim-flam and an unsavory dose of Fox News, this tea is downright toxic.
And what about the water we're using for this brew? Do tea party candidates support safe, clean water? It seems not. In general, the candidates and leadership range from indifferent to outright hostile to the environment. To see what's at stake for the environment in this election, it's helpful to look at a few candidates supported by the Tea Party.
Carbon dioxide is natural. It occurs in Earth. It is a part of the regular lifecycle of Earth. In fact, life on planet Earth can't even exist without carbon dioxide. So necessary is it to human life, to animal life, to plant life, to the oceans, to the vegetation that's on the Earth, to the, to the fowl that -- that flies in the air, we need to have carbon dioxide as part of the fundamental lifecycle of Earth.
Representative Bachman has also called for an "armed and dangerous" opposition to climate change initiatives which she considers "voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax."
Pat Toomey, running for the Senate in Pennsylvania has a 0% rating by the League of Conservation Voters as a Representative from from Pennsylvania's 15th District. He's received almost $300,000 so far from the oil and gas industry and supports drilling for oil in Lake Erie, as well as continued deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. He supported oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, voted no on raising fuel efficiency standards, no on tax incentives for alternative fuels and supported the Bush-Cheney national energy policy. The Tea Party loves him!
Like many Tea Party Candidates, Marco Rubio running for Senate in Florida supports dirty and dangerous energy sources as a priority. From his web site:
I support a comprehensive energy plan that encourages nuclear energy, exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and environmentally safe leasing of oil and natural gas fields in the outer continental shelf and on federally owned lands with oil shale in the West.
Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul believes "We have a president who is forcing the EPA down our throats." He says, "we're not going to get jobs with a busybody EPA that's in our way." Not surprising for a guy who wants coal substantially deregulated and prefers "more local over federal" oversight (i.e. stop bothering us with those damned environmental safeguards and worker protection laws).
Polling shows that tea party voters are driven by their passion and willat a much higher rate than your average middle of the road, liberal or progressive voter. The left, disappointed that the president has done things that they don't like, or has failed to deliver on some expectations, are feeling apathetic about the election. Snap out of it! Don't you remember the previous eight years?
The Tea Party Movement is dangerous to core American and human values. They are dangerous to health and safety, to the environment, to the poor, to the stability of our economy and the safety of our communities. Fueled by anger, fear and a feeling of powerlessness, they are being managed by Fox News and its pundits and funded by a handful of self-interested billionaires.
If they get a foothold in our government it will be because we didn't vote in November and we didn't work between now and then. We didn't campaign for their opponents, we didn't fund advocacy groups and join campaigns to rise up against the noise and challenge the fundamentally dishonest messages that they are trying to force down America's throats like so many EPA officials in Rand Paul's Alternate Universe Kentucky.
There are two tea party models in popular culture, the Boston Tea Party, after which this current crew aspires unsuccessfully to model themselves, and The Mad Tea Party from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. In the latter, the Mad Hatter was based on hat makers of the era who had given themselves brain damage by ingesting mercury. That might be a better model for the new tea party since, if environmental regulation was degraded consistent with their values, we'd have an even greater number of cases of mercury poisoning to contend with.
In the words of the late Bob Marley: "Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights." In the words of Walt Kelly: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Note: Click here to see Clean Water Action's political endorsements. If you want to join our professional canvass and be part of the opposition to anti-environment candidates, click here.
Finally! Jane Mayer's identified the engine and the mind of the PR blitz know as the Tea Party. She's blown Charles and David Koch's cover sky high, doing the work we should expect of a reporter. First, a boundless "Thank You!" for "Covert Operations: the billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama" (The New Yorker, 8/20/2010). Here's why this exemplary journalist heartens me: truthfulness is the antidote to the lies, half-truths and distortions which pour from the Tea-Bangers via their dangerously inattentive or obtuse agents: the main stream media. (Fox appears to be an exception; the network seems willfully dishonest.)
Now. We have an election to win. And here's what the bad guys envision for us if we fail to do the work required -- required -- to win it.
"We have a radical philosophy," chief brother Charles Koch told an editor at the libertarian magazine Reason. His goal? Tear government "out by the roots." Public be damned, including the sheep Kochites push around, the frightened fringe that chants words they've been programmed to believe without considering or understanding the consequences, or knowing they're being led astray.
Who are these guys? Why are they so intent on annihilating both our Constitutional government and everything progressive about the United States? And what of their privately-held Koch Industries, oil-drenched and unreasonable profitable?
Ms. Mayer sums it up with admirable restraint: "The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry -- especially environmental regulation." Here's the other shoe. Charlie and Dave have been "giving money to 'educate,' fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, turning their private agenda into a mass movement." (The Koch's deny that they directly fund Tea Party activity. Ms Mayer connects the dots ... it's Koch money laundered through "non-partisan" non-profit organizations.)
Don't be fooled by the seductive "libertarian" label. These guys hide behind the reference to "liberty" and they abhor our very American embrace of "...liberty and justice for all." Their advocacy is liberty for me and mine without government interference*. It's a notion that's functionally nonsensical at best, at worst totally antagonistic to what is best about the United States. John Donne summed it up exactly right, a long time ago: "No man is an island."**
Libertarians seek a "Night Watchman" state. They appear to believe that the one -- and only -- legitimate action of government is to protect protect private property and its owners, i.e., themselves. Libertarians are one step away from anarchists, who preach a gospel of no government whatsoever. None.
To further Koch Industries' parochial, self-aggrandizing and destructive interests, the Kochs exploit the naivety and ignorance of people frustrated by the damage we've all endured during the rule of Republicans.
Put another way, the extremism of these ideologues and their retainers is indistinguishable from their will to maximize their own profits, at the expense of the rest of us. Anything that gets in their way (specifically government) must be brought to heel. Or eliminated.
The only effective check on the power of great wealth is the collective will of the people whose forbearance has made that accumulation of wealth possible. The people's will can be manifested in a mob or in government. I prefer the latter.
In a republic, attacking the government is ultimately an attack on the people. If the government has failed, its failure represents a failure of the citizens it represents and in whose name it acts. This is the genius and the danger of representative government. All prattle to the contrary, this is what the Constitution is all about.
Though not a secret, it has not been well known that these two Kochs have so much money that their combined fortune is rivaled only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Fortunately, The New Yorker gave Ms. Mayer plenty of room to show some of the consequences. Let me whet your appetite:
Why would Kochs hate environmental regulation? Koch Industries is among the nation's top ten polluters.
Fossil fuels are the backbone of Koch Industries. The record shows Kochs fund climate change deniers. Big time. The Smithsonian Institution displays the "David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins" which pushes the Koch-theory that climate change is good for you.
Profits from fossil fuels are greatly enhanced by other Koch businesses, including Georgia Pacific. It produces and relies on formaldehyde -- a known carcinogen -- while David Koch sits on the National Cancer Institute's National Cancer Advisory Board.
Kochs have deliberately undermined our national integrity. A few examples:
They've funded the notorious Federalist Society. It's been key to how we've ended up with a Supreme Court that declares corporations are people, never mind that corporations live forever, can't be jailed, have tax-convenient multiple addresses overseas, and can buy any policy or politician they choose. ( Admirably focused, Ms. Mayer chose not to explore this particular thread.)
Koch money stokes and soaks think tanks from the Cato Institute (their money funded its launch in 1977) to the Heritage Foundation.
They've bought their way into mainstream academics. Consider the Mercatus Center. It's buried deep in Virginia's publicly funded George Mason University and is reputedly the epicenter of anti-regulation fervor across the Potomac.
There's more. Lots more.
I certainly welcome and applaud this exemplary journalism. With equal fervor, I am appalled this it is "news" at all.
Is Jane Mayer the only reporter who learned anything from Watergate and its mantra, "Follow the Money"? OK, so we'll never get a full accounting of all that the Kochs have spent until we tighten the tax code. Ms. Mayer found plenty that's public information and readily available. She also did the reporterly thing, she asked questions. Where was everybody else? Apparently reading and watching one another's detritus, while the "tea party" floated in a sea of oil and formaldehyde ... nasty, toxic stuff.
Mainstream media's monumental failures have cost us as dearly on the domestic front as even it acknowledges it's cost us on the foreign one. They've vastly inflated the importance of this sideshow when they should and COULD have known better.
So President Obama's considerable accomplishments are all the more praiseworthy. Aided and abetted by a willfully uncritical media, he's been forced to grapple with a misinformed public, a misguided (or worse) Congress and a totally obstructionist "Republican" party. We elected this President. A new team in Congress is required -- required -- to get what we, the vast majority of Americans, demanded on that historic day.
Check out Jane Mayer if you haven't. Internalize her findings: we've been Koched. Then spread the word. Contrary to the prior administration and to the fevered rhetoric of extreme right wingers, this President does not believe that he makes laws. Writing laws is the responsibility of Congress. It's up to us to help elect a Congress ready to support President Obama. After all, we elected him to get us out of the deep hole the Republicans dug and pushed us into. We've always known that corporatists and their retainers will do whatever is necessary to hold onto the power they have and to grab more. We now have hard -- and oh, so current -- evidence.
Despite the clairvoyance professional magpies claim for themselves, the outcomes of the November midterm elections are NOT foreordained. The magpies are bought. We are not. With letters, emails and phone calls, challenge your local media to follow the money. Do the same to national media. Find the candidates who best represent YOUR understandings and values. Support them with donations and time.
And, most importantly, talk to everyone you know. Help them see that we're being Koched. And that the tea is toxic.
*-- "Our vision is for a world in which all individuals can freely exercise the natural right of sole dominion over their own lives, liberty and property ... ." -- from the Libertarian Party website.
**-- "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee" -- John Donne, from Meditation XVII
For all of his grand-standing and sustained demands for jobs, Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-8) might not seem like one fearing the loss of his own job. Even in an Ohio that has been among the hardest hit by the economy, John Boehner has not let job insecurity threaten his tireless devotion to protect the rights of Wall Street executives and lobbyists. In a curious defiance tacked on to the anti-government Tea Party movement, it has been a persistent point of pride for Boehner to loudly fend off the U.S. Government from exercising any restrictions to campaign finance or any effort to regulate the financial markets which led to the economic crash, and instead sought to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 so that more federal money could be earned off working Americans.
In a campaign year galvanized by the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, allowing unlimited corporate spending on elections without requiring disclosures, John Boehner stands to take in more money than ever before for himself and his party. The business of saying "No" to whatever comes from a Democrat has only become more rewarding for the man who cried out "Hell no!" on the House floor during the health care debate.
Indeed, John Boehner's histrionics may be more well-known than his Snooki-like tan. It is entirely possible that no other current or recent member of the U.S. House of Representatives has wept as much while addressing Congress as John Boehner.
So it is with interest that many have taken to watching the race in southern Ohio's 8th Congressional district, where newcomer Justin Coussoule has stood up to challenge U.S. Rep. Boehner in this fall's elections. A West Point graduate and attorney, Coussoule's assured demeanor strikes a marked contrast with Boehner's trademark hysteria, and his ability to discuss politics while not becoming unbridled suggests an unflappable leader not prone to pander to polarizing tactics.
In this exclusive interview at his family's home in Ohio, Coussoule shared with me his reasons for running, his concerns about a representative devoted to out of state donors instead of constituents, and how he hopes to restore civility and practicality to Washington, calling John Boehner an embarrassment to the citizens of Ohio's 8th District.
Justin Coussoule's website: www.coussouleforcongress.com
Republicans have been doing a poll dance in expectation of taking back the House and Senate in November. Yet every election cycle I write the exact same thing that always happens: the public doesn't start paying attention to elections until after Labor Day. They're on vacation, kids are out of school, some candidates have not yet even been decided. Early polls are an indication of sentiment, to be sure, but not results.
Mainly, we're seeing the honored traditional of the "out" party relentlessly bashing the "in" -
daily, unchallenged. So, of course Democratic numbers would go down. Only after Labor Day is there reason to finally respond. When the campaign begins.
(Just look at what happened in Arizona last week. Finally, the gubernatorial campaign officially started and had a debate - and Republican Jan Brewer had an on-air meltdown, only to run away, literally, afterwards when questioned for the first time by her opponent. One debate, and already her campaign is stumbling.)
Republican poll numbers have been high all summer. But a political admonition is not to peak too early. The thing is, summer is early. Whether it's too early, that's what campaigns are for.
There's another admonition to remember. First, though, some background:
During the summer, periodic victories by "Tea Party" candidates have garnered headlines about its supposed growing power. But what we've seen are primary victories solely within the cloistered walls of the Republican Party. It's the political-equivalent of preaching to the choir.
A radical, far-right agenda that includes killing Social Security might be a winning argument in a GOP primary, but stepping outside the protection of those insulated walls and arguing the same thing to the rest of world is a completely different matter. And it risks disaster.
The party out of power during an off-year election nearly always gains seats. And Republicans will gain this year. But in their hubris, allowing the far-right to dominate their party and put up candidates so far from the mainstream they need a GPS to find it, many of them scary lunatic, Republicans took a potential wave and have poised it instead to become a trickle.
That admonition that Republicans forgot? "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."
Republicans got the far-right, outlandish "Tea Party" candidates they wished for. And now they have to live with the results.
When asked by CNN's John King, "Would [someone born that day] perhaps grow up in an America where there is not a federal Social Security program if you got your way?", the Republican Party's "Tea Party" nominee for Senate, Joe Miller, answered "Absolutely." Given that Alaska is the most heavily federally-subsidized state in America, the general public there might not respond well to a Senate candidate running on eliminating the most popular government program in the United States.
Republicans felt confident of defeating Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid when they thought Sue Lowden would be his opponent. But then she imploded with her chicken-based healthcare plan, and Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle won the GOP primary. What was once almost a sure victory faces defeat, as Ms. Angle talks about her candidacy being "God's plan" and her desire to eliminate the federally-funded Social Security - and runs away from reporters.
The Republican candidate should have been a shoe-in this year, replacing an outgoing Republican seat. But with "Tea Party" favorite Rand Paul getting the nomination and expressing his opposition to parts of the Civil Rights Act that allow discrimination in private businesses, his candidacy took such a pounding that he stopped making national TV appearances. He compounded problems by blasting the two most popular government programs, Social Security and Medicare, as "a Ponzi scheme" and "socialism" - and wants to abolish the Department of Education. Even the most rabid conservative would acknowledge that these views are not consistent with mainstream America.
The GOP itself has finally started to get concerned. Look at efforts by the Delaware Republican Party to ward off surging Tea Party-backed candidate, Christine O'Donnell (who has argued against the sin of sex - and masturbation) from getting their party's nomination. An official state GOP release referred to her as a "troubled perennial candidate," while conservative radio host Dan Gaffney took her on with a blistering interview over credibility issues.
This is just a small sample of the "Tea Party" group that pushed the GOP to the far-right fringes.
But it's not just these "Tea Party" candidates within their party who are causing headaches for the GOP. In the Colorado governor's race, Republican nominee Dan Meas had to back off his claim that he'd worked undercover with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, acknowledging that the comments "might have been incorrect comments." And Republican nominee Mark Kirk was the prohibitive leader in the Illinois Senate race - until he admitted exaggerating his military experience and honors. The race is now even.
All parties have problem candidates, Democrats included. The difference is that the Republican Party has seemingly been courting such people. It's not that they're exceptions, it's that the GOP is allowing them to lead the party's direction.
By all accounts, the Republican Party should of course pick up seats in November. There's a general unhappiness at the economic situation. But as Tip O'Neil famously said, "All politics are local." It's one thing to be generally "Unhappy," and it's another to vote for a real person actually on your ballot.
It's now past Labor Day. The campaign has now finally begun. Now, things matter. The Republican Party is telling the public that it wants to get rid of health care reform, Wall Street reform, Social Security and the 14th Amendment, and hold an avalanche of hearings.
And they got the "Tea Party" and far right fringe candidates they wanted.
Be careful what you wish for. You might not get the results you expect.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The candidate who defeated U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Republican primary has been cited for his role in a recent three-car collision in Fairbanks.
Joe Miller was involved in the crash in his hometown three days after the Aug. 24 election and before the conservative lawyer's surprise victory in the tight race was confirmed last week in the counting of thousands of absentee votes and questioned ballots. Murkowski conceded Aug. 31 to Miller, whose campaign is backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express.
Alaska State Troopers said Miller's vehicle rear-ended a vehicle driven by Denali Park resident James Raisis, who then rear-ended a car driven by Mark Lewis of Fairbanks. Miller was cited last week with failing "to exercise due care to avoid a collision" in the Aug. 27 wreck on Geist Road.
Troopers said no one was hurt in the collision, although Lewis said he had some cervical stiffness and numbness in some fingers.
Lewis also was cited – with stopping on a highway.
Miller's campaign manager, Robert Campbell, said Monday he doesn't think Miller will challenge the citation.
Campbell said Miller was two cars back and had no time to avoid the collision after the middle vehicle braked suddenly behind the first car, which was at a "completely dead stop."
He said Miller, 43, was traveling at only 35 mph.
"Anytime you hit the guy in front of you, it's assumed you were going too fast, without taking into account any conditions or any extraneous actions around you," Campbell said.
He noted Lewis also had some culpability.
"If Mr. Lewis was not at fault, he would not have been cited," he said.
Lewis, 49, said he plans to contest the citation. He said he was making a left turn and had his signal on when his sedan was struck.
Lewis said he believes the citation was issued because troopers gave "a lot of weight" to claims by the middle driver that he was straddling the turn and travel lanes. Lewis acknowledged the sun was shining right in everybody's eyes, and said he couldn't say whether the middle driver was correct.
"I just can't see how it could have happened the way he said. But then again, you know, there are anomalies in life," Lewis said.
Raisis, the middle driver, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
We know what Glen and Sarah hate. We know what all the Tea Party candidates hate. They hate taxes. They hate Big Government. They want to see our great nation once again standing on top of the world. You know, like it was in the 1950's, when the magnificent United States of A Plus was the height of our economic power, when we ruled the world, before the Kennedys and the Johnsons, the Clintons and the Obamas came along and just screwed everything up. Back when Republicans had control of the House, the Senate and, best of all, the White House. Those were the golden years.
It wasn't just anyone in the White House then, it was Dwight D Eisenhower, the man who won the big one for us. The man who was elected and reelected in landslides, with Richard Nixon standing right by his side. Man, it was awesome to be an American back and it was exceptionally awesome to be a Republican.
Except not by Tea Party standards. By Tea Party standards, Dwight D. was probably the most evil, awful, terrible creation Joe Stalin could have possibly hoped for, far worse than Osama Obama could ever be. By their measure, Dwight was a freaking twisted, bald demonic nightmare.
Putting aside the fact that he named Earl Warren to the Supreme Court and put Harry Blackmun on the Federal Bench (how could he have known what absolute pansy liberals they would turn out to be?) forgetting that Ike warned us about dangers of the military industrial complex (um, he wasn't talking about Haliburton, was he?) there are much clearer and more dangerous signs of what this Red agent was up to.
First, there was civil rights. that Bleeding Heart Ike actually sent armed forces into Arkansas to make sure that black students could enroll in Little Rock Central High School. Imagine the apoplectic hue and cry that would strike the airwaves if Obama did something similar.
It just gets worse. The biggest piece of legislation Ike passed, The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, was big government at its absolute worst. An enormous public works project that was paid for by, yes, you guessed it, lots and lots of new taxes, gas and diesel taxes mostly. When Obama launches his proposed program for 50 billion in infrastructure spending this week, you can bet nobody on the right will mention its similarity to Ike's idea, which at the time was the largest public works project in American history, costing the equivalent of 197 billion dollars today.
But it gets even more terrifying. Having a lock on the legislative and executive branches of the government should have been an orgiastic tax cutting field day for Republicans. The leaders of the House and Senate sure hoped so, after all, thanks to F.D.R. and Truman, the highest tax rate at the time was an unbelievably high 91%. But that Red Menace Ike completely blocked their play. To quote our Communist Pinko Commander in Chief Eisenhower at the time, "We cannot afford to reduce taxes, [and] reduce income until we have in sight a program of expenditure that shows that the factors of income and outgo will be balanced."
It's worth repeating: the top income tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans was 91%. Right now it's 35%. That's right. Somehow the country still managed to function and prosper, but the rich just happened to pay 56% more in taxes than they do today. They still golfed, drove around in shiny automobiles, and ate caviar in fancy dining cars, but they paid a lot more back to society. Instead of fleeing en masse to Cuba they stayed in Connecticut and sent their kids to boarding schools and private colleges. America rewarded them by becoming a stronger nation, allowing the wealthy in turn to become even wealthier. America rocked.
We have been trained to believe that taxation is the worst ill that can strike a society, and yet for decades our nation prospered while asking those who profited from our strength to give significantly more. Ike understood this and protected our nation's prosperity.
So we can go on listening to Glen and Rush and Sarah fume and rant and whine. They probably won't pipe down. Rupert Murdoch will continue to personally profit from their tirades and people with no sense of history will shout along with their chosen leaders, while fire stations lose funding and bridges collapse. But it's worth remembering that the President who led us through one of the greatest sustained periods of prosperity since World War II, and ironically the man who helped us win World War II in the first place, didn't see the things working the way The Tea Party does. He saw things differently and because of his vision and his discipline, America was stronger, richer, and more powerful.
I think we should all start wearing "I like Ike" buttons. It might just be the way that we can again find some middle ground between moderate republicans and democrats. It would be a nice way to symbolize our belief that politics can offer more that simply obstructionist hysteria. It would be a simple political statement that says we can stand together and build a government that actually works (Ike believed in working together and democratic leader Sam Rayburn famously supported Eisenhower in his run for the presidency.) I hope too that someone will ask the Tea Party candidates like Sharron Angle, Joe Miller and Rand Paul what they think about Dwight. I'm sure the answer will be illuminating.
AP - In the turbulent year of the tea party, Republican Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware set out to jangle no nerves as he ran for a Senate seat long held by Vice President Joseph Biden. It's the way Republican strategists originally envisioned 2010, a roster of seasoned politicians pointing the party toward significant gains in the Senate.