Establishment Republicans are wondering how to control this tempest in the Tea Party pot. They could do worse than look at my home state of Wisconsin, where the party’s endorsed candidates not only won but won their primaries handily against non-establishment contenders, some of whom were local Tea Party endorsed. This was true not only in U.S. House races but state legislative races as well. (The Tea Party candidates I met at an event back in March who were running for the state legislature all lost.)
There are plenty of Tea Party activist groups around the state, but what good are activists when there’s not much of an electorate to get activated? Far from being a state with a lot of high-tech voters or any kind of caucus system (like neighboring Minnesota) — where activists can project power greater than their numbers through organization and just by showing up — campaigns in Wisconsin are still run largely on television. And that means whoever can write the biggest check come Labor Day when TV ad buys are made for the fall is generally the winner. The Tea Party-endorsed GOP U.S. Senate candidate Dave Westlake may well have traveled 75,000 miles across the state and marched in every small-town festival parade he could find. But such grassroots campaigning was dwarfed by the millions Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson pumped into his TV ad budget, and the result was Westlake only carrying 10 percent of the vote. Thus, Johnson could stiff Tea Party campaign forums, largely on advice of campaign handlers who wanted to keep the first-time candidate from saying anything stupid, and still won easily because in Wisconsin politics, he who has the most TV ads wins. One of the other candidates in the U.S. Senate primary hardly campaigned at all and still won five percent, half of what Westlake took.
This kind of “checkbook politics” has been going on in the state for some time. Political parties in Wisconsin are supposed to be weak, a design from the days of Robert LaFollette Sr. But without a strong party structure across the state (county and local parties tend either to be decently organized or not at all depending who is in charge), power is increasingly centralized in the hands of the political class in Madison or in well-organized non-party groups like the statewide teacher’s union or the business lobby, who make big TV ad buys that ensure their candidates’ victories in races for school superintendent or the state supreme court because no one else has the money to stay on television. Read More…
The story about how the state of Pennsylvania has employed an Israeli “security” company to check out various subversive groups, to include greens, Catholics, and teabaggers has predictably died without leaving a trace in spite of the valiant efforts of bloggers like Tom Meehan, http://odysseusontherocks.blogspot.com/2010/09/pennsylvanians-palistinians-what-s.html.
But the bigger question is to what extent has the security infrastructure of the United States been outsourced. To be sure, most of the outsourcing has gone to Israeli companies that have been able to exploit their alleged expertise on security issues. They have also benefitted from Congress’ grant of preferential status to Israelis when bidding on US government contracts, meaning that they often are able to undercut US companies because they have few R&D expenses, having either stolen the technology from US competitors or having received subsidies from the Israeli government to enhance their competitiveness. Israeli companies now dominate in the areas of transportation and telecommunications security, both of which are critical national infrastructures that should be restricted only to American companies employing American citizens. One recalls that at the time of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinski scandal there were reports that the NSA had determined that a foreign nation had been listening in to White House phone calls. That foreign nation was Israel, able to do so because several Israeli companies had the contracts to provide various services relating to telephone monitoring. The Israeli companies involved are still active, having changed their names and shifted their business locations to the US, but their ownership and management continues to be Israeli.
Israeli owned airline security companies are also in the game, acting frequently as the local Mossad station. The companies have a number of times been caught isolating and then interrogating passengers who were apparently of interest to Israeli intelligence, but they continue to benefit from large contracts in both Europe and the United States to provided security services.
The last thing a battle hardened killing machine that’s been plucked out of one hellhole in Iraq for another in Afghanistan is prepared for is a test on his social skills, particularly with Dari-speaking, Turbaned men who look like the guys they will likely be shooting at in the near future.
But in yet another insane-sounding twist in today’s insane Long War counterinsurgency policy in Afghanistan, we hear that U.S Marines are taking classes ahead of their deployments on how to break the ice with village leaders. According to a very telling feature in The Washington Post Tuesday, the Marines aren’t exactly sailing to the head of the class, and would probably rather be on the firing range –or anywhere else for that matter.
But for now, they are in a “mock Afghan village on the Quantico Marine base,” attempting to get a passing grade in Rapport 101 with a man playing a Mullah. Sloan Mann, the instructor, is armed with pen and a clipboard at the side. The exchange is cringe-inducing, even for the reader:
Their encounters with the “mullah” felt like bad first dates, with the Americans posing robotic questions about the village. Sgt. Walton Cabrera, 25, an aspiring police officer from Southern California, sat before the mullah but couldn’t ease into a groove. “So . . . how’s everything in the village so far?” he asked. “Has the population changed?
Armed with a pen and report card, Mann, 36, handed up harsh feedback. “No rapport,” he wrote. (snip)
At Quantico, Mann seemed frustrated by the Marines’ inability to schmooze, through interpreters, with Dari-speaking strangers. As Cabrera interrogated the mullah, one of several Afghan role players hired by a contractor, the questions bounced joylessly from subject to subject.
“What kind of needs do you have?” Cabrera asked the mullah.
“As you can see,” the mullah said, “we don’t have much food and water. There’s not enough schooling. There’s no doctor.”
A few seconds passed in silence. Cabrera looked down at his notebook, searching for something to say. “With that being said, has the population changed?” he asked.
There are so many things wrong with this picture, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Read More…
Interesting piece in Salon about how New York’s Conservative Party wound up nominating middle-of-the-road Republican Rick Lazio as its gubernatorial candidate, while the GOP nominated the more right-wing Carl Paladino. The
ConstitutionConservative Party thought Lazio would win the Republican nomination and preemptively nominated him for the CP line as well — the better to garner votes for the CP in November and presumably to curry favor with Lazio and the Repubs also. This cynical strategy has backfired: now if Lazio folds his campaign, which is realistically what one would expect, the CP will have a hard time getting 50,000 votes on its gubernatorial line — that’s the threshold a party has to meet to get automatic ballot access the next time around.
It’s quite a turn of events when a third-party winds up fielding an establishment candidate, though I guess the same would have happened in Alaska if Lisa Murkowski had been able to convince the Libertarian Party to take her.
Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., defended the U.S. financial-company rescues of 2008 and told students that people in economic distress should “suck it in and cope.”
“You should thank God” for bank bailouts, Munger said in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”
“Hit the economy with enough misery and enough disruption, destroy the currency, and God knows what happens,” Munger said. “So I think when you have troubles like that you shouldn’t be bitching about a little bailout. You should have been thinking it should have been bigger.”
Germany was unable to stabilize its financial system in the 1920s, and, Munger said, “We ended up with Adolf Hitler.”
Implausible — and offensive — as this may be, Shedlock points out that the substance of Munger’s remark is even worse than the hyperbole:
The ridiculous Weimar comparison was not the Munger’s most galling statement, however.
This is: “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”
The one thing we desperately need is a culture change. Instead, we made too big to fail, too bigger to fail. We preserved a culture that benefits billionaires like Munger and greedy CEO’s that helped cause this mess. That culture benefits no one else.
Read the rest of what Shedlock has to say here.
“Blacks for Gray, Whites for Fenty,” ran the nuanced headline on page one of the Washington Examiner.
The story told of how black Mayor Adrian Fenty, who got rave reviews for appointing Michelle Rhee to save District of Columbia schools, was crushed six to one in black wards east of the Anacostia River, as he rolled up margins of three to one in the white wards west of Rock Creek Park.
In Fenty’s political obit, it was said, he devoted too much time and gave too many appointments to non-blacks in a rapidly gentrifying city where black folks are still the majority.
After one term, Fenty is out. And there may a lesson here for the black man in the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
For, at a weekend gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a commission is preparing a report card on how our first black president is dealing with issues of concern to black America.
Last week, an open letter came from public policy scholar Dr. Boyce Watkins, who gave it to Obama with the bark on.
Black unemployment last month hit 16.7 percent. Among black teenagers, it is 45 percent. Blacks, wrote Watkins, “bear the brunt of this economic crisis in ways that are unimaginable to other Americans. Our homes are being foreclosed on more often, and we are less able to rely on a source of background wealth to help us get through.”
Yet as this crisis deepens for black America, Obama and Sen. Harry Reid are pursuing an amnesty called the DREAM Act for 2 million illegal aliens, as a prelude to full amnesty for 12 to 20 million.
These illegals hold 8 million jobs that would otherwise be available to black Americans. Read More…
Christine O’Donnell had a good comeback this weekend to reports that she’d “dabbled” in witchcraft as a teenager: “There’s been no witchcraft since. If there was, Karl Rove would be a supporter now.”
Here’s her 1999 “Politically Incorrect” appearance with the witchcraft admission:
Is the Republican establishment losing it?
Is the party leadership capable of uniting a governing coalition as Richard Nixon did before Watergate and Ronald Reagan resurrected in the 1980s?
Observing the hysteria and nastiness of Karl Rove and the GOP establishment at the stunning triumph of Tea Party Princess Christine O’Donnell, the answer is no.
This party is not ready to rule.
Consider. In its grand strategy to recapture a Senate that George W. Bush and Rove lost in 2006, the GOP Senate leadership endorsed all its own caucus members for re-election, if they chose to run, then picked out all its favorite candidates for the open and Democratic seats.
Conservatives and tea party activists, however, had other ideas. They began to pick their own candidates. And, again and again, the Senate’s chosen were rejected in favor of tea party challengers who had the endorsement of Sarah Palin or South Carolina’s Jim DeMint.
Arlen Specter was rejected by the Pennsylvania GOP and left the party. Rand Paul routed Sen. Mitch McConnell’s man in Kentucky. Charlie Crist was challenged by Marco Rubio in Florida. Crist, too, departed. Sen. Bob Bennett was denied renomination in Utah. Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost her primary in Alaska to a little-known fellow named Joe Miller.
But Delaware was the stunner. Rep. Mike Castle, a former two-term governor who had been winning elections for 40 years, was a certain victor in November.
Challenger O’Donnell, however, ended all that.
Yet, though her conservative credentials are far superior to those of Castle, O’Donnell was made the object of a wilding attack by National Review and The Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer, who lashed out at Palin and DeMint for “irresponsbility,” and Rove, who on Sean Hannity’s show went postal as soon as the returns came in. Read More…
No, there’s no secret connection between the conservative youth organization born at the Buckley home in Sharon, Connecticut 50 years ago this month and left-communitarian author of Rules for Radicals — no connection, that is, except that TAC is presently spotlighting lively new reviews about each of them, courtesy of Jesse Walker and David Franke. Walker draws out the decentralist lessons the Right can learn from Alinsky, while Franke, who was present at the creation of YAF, ponders what has happened to the conservative movement in the course half a century.
James Antle celebrates extinction of the “RINOs” — “Republicans in Name Only” – in his write-up of Mike Castle’s downfall:
What’s happening? Conservatives have gotten tired of electing Republicans only to get bigger government and massive deficit spending. They are tired of giving their votes and campaign contributions to GOP politicians who pursue conservative goals halfheartedly if at all. They are disgusted that liberal gains, from new government programs to crazed federal court decisions, are seldom reversed but conservative policies like the Bush tax cuts come with an expiration date.
He adds a caveat, however:
few RINOs are as brazen as Castle or Scozzafava. They now have learned to talk like conservatives and check the right boxes on conservative litmus tests even as they expand government once in power. The George Romneys have become Mitt Romneys, the George Bushes George Ws. Will conservatives be as demanding of them?
For now, the answer is probably “no.” The Tea Parties did not want to pick a fight with the Republican establishment to begin with — Tea Party Express, for example, has spent its contributors’ dollars targeting outright liberals like Lisa Murkowski and Mike Castle. It has not taken aim at John Boehner or called for Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn to step aside from their leadership positions. The Tea Parties have tried to play nice, but they now find themselves earning the ire of Karl Rove and other Republican bigwigs. The establishment doesn’t care whether a liberal Republican or a Tea Party Republican gets the nomination in a deep red state like Alaska, but nominating an almost certainly unelectable candidate like O’Donnell in a blue state threatens what Rove and company really care about: returning themselves to power. So now the Tea Parties are coming in for criticism, and if Republicans underperform relative to expectations in November, we know exactly where the Weekly Standard will apportion blame.
This has the potential to goad the Tea Parties into really taking on the establishment. But there’s a lot more to politics beyond elections, and this is where the Tea Parties may find themselves quickly co-opted: after November, legislation and policy will once again be the focus, with journals and think tanks shaping the “conservative” agenda. But these key policy-selling institutions are all in the hands of people who would like to curb the Tea Parties’ anti-establishment impulses and direct their fire against safe targets — preferably Obama. (Think back to the early years of last Republican epoch in Congress, where whatever anti-government impulses the grassroots and their representatives had were blunted by being channeled into mere Clinton-bashing. The dangerously political was transformed into the harmlessly personal.) Read More…