"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Can the Republican Party be Saved?

Any Republican saying the party is NOT in trouble has a reading comprehension problem IMHO.  Over the last six years, state parties are gradually being taken over by the hard right 'radicals' to use Sen Hatch's word.

In my own state of Oklahoma, there was a fight at the OK GOP State Convention in May where a punch was thrown along with chairs and paper, delegations were shut off from voting, and the Convention adjourned before it was complete.  Made the national news.  Imagine being in the delegation the Convention is discussing to make a decision that affects the delegation, but then having the curtain drawn to separate you from the main Convention so you are allowed to vote  The hard right has taken over the OK GOP from all accounts.  If you want proof look no further that the OK GOP website where the Chair of OK GOP has this picture on the site:

In checking into the background of today's Minuteman, I discovered
The Minuteman Project is an activist organization started in April 2005 by a group of private individuals in the United States to monitor the United States – Mexico border's flow of illegal immigrants. Co-founded by Jim Gilchrist, the name derives from the Minutemen, militiamen who fought in the American Revolution. The Minuteman Project describes itself as "a citizens' Neighborhood Watch on our border", and has attracted media attention to illegal immigration.
The project (Minuteman)  has generated controversy, drawing criticism from former Mexican President Vicente Fox and former United States President George W. Bush, who expressed dislike for "vigilante" border projects.  In the 1960's the Minuteman along with the John Birchers were the biggest anti-John F Kennedy groups operating openly with rallies against him.  Both groups were investigated in the 60's by the FBI.

Militia and Minuteman in the 18th century were  two separate groups but today many people use them  interchangeably.  Still haven't figured out why we need a militia today when we have the National Guard.  The ones in the Texas Hill Country frankly frighten me reminding me of neo-Nazi's as I have witnessed how they goosestep march:

Although the terms militia and minutemen are sometimes used interchangeably today, in the 18th century there was a decided difference between the two. Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion and ravages of war. Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly. Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength. Usually about one quarter of the militia served as Minutemen, performing additional duties as such. The Minutemen were the first armed militia to arrive or await a battle.
Last I checked, Oklahoma was not a border state which brings into question why have the Minuteman symbol on your website.  Do they honestly think the Federal Government is going to try and take over the State?  What minority in their right mind would want to be a member of a major political party whose symbol has become the Minuteman?

When I first moved to Oklahoma, I used to tell friends from other states that they would not believe this GOP as it was unlike any other.  Then I decided to get involved after the 2000 national election thinking I could make a difference and along with others who had recently moved to Oklahoma bring some common sense to the GOP.  We were wrong.  After  I became totally involved, it dawned on me the radical right was gradually taking over the party and nothing anyone could do because the State Party had sold out to the religious right and social conservatives leaving those with common sense out in the cold.    It was not worth getting upset after sitting through two State Conventions where it was all about fighting with the hard right and accomplishing very little.  When the former Chair resigned to run for statewide office, any hope of common sense returning had gone out the window.

Found this article from Senator Hatch on Utah while researching for this article and discovered the 'radical' right movement has spread:

Orrin Hatch: ‘Radicals’ Could Overtake Utah GOP
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told the Deseret News that "radicals" who don't share Republican Party values could overtake the state GOP.  
“Thank goodness they’re not the majority,” Hatch said in an interview, published Wednesday. “But we’ve got to watch that or we’ll end up with a state dominated by radicals.” 
Hatch voted in favor of the fiscal cliff deal, but he told the paper he understands why some of his Utah colleagues did not. “Those who voted against it did so to protect themselves, I guess, from some of these radical outside groups," he said. “I don’t find any fault with the delegation because we’ve got a special climate out there that is very difficult.”
We have a United States Senator discussing the climate in Utah for any member of the House going against what the 'radical' groups want as 'difficult.'  How many other states have the same problem?  Has the Republican Party allowed the John Birchers, Minuteman, Militia, hard right social and religious conservatives, along with anti-government types to take over?  Is that why some House Members who we thought had some common sense are now acting like people we don't know?  Are they afraid to lose their seats and be replaced by this radical right group which would make it worse?  These are questions that need answers.  Senator Hatch spoke out but will others?

Yesterday on Twitter, I found a link to the Republican Main Street Partnership naming former US Rep Steve LaTourette (R-OH) who just retired from the House to lead their group.  At the same time they dropped "Republican" from their name which speaks volumes.  Rep LaTourette called the Grover Norquist Tax Pledge "Crap" last fall which made me laugh.  He represented the people of his District well along with the State of Ohio -- would have loved to see some group tell him how to vote as that would have been worth the price of tickets.  The sad part is that Rep LaTourette is just the type of Republican we needed to keep in the Congress who brought some common sense to the House.  Maybe he can do more as President of this group to bring common sense back to the GOP.  His first statement as the new President of Main Street Partnership (MSP) (formely Republican MSP) is a great start (my bold in the article):
Former U.S. Rep Steve LaTourette (R-OH) Statement on the New Main Street Partnership 
January 8, 2013 By
(Washington, D.C.) – “Earlier today, the Board of Directors voted in favor of changing the name we do business under to simply the ‘Main Street Partnership.’ 
“While we have changed our name, we have not changed our values or our mission. We will continue to be a right of center organization and continue to represent the governing wing of the Republican Party. 
“Partisanship has become deeply poisonous to the process in Washington over the last few years.  As someone who just left Congress, I understand this more than most. 
“We at Main Street understand that to begin to turn back this tide and to begin to restore the American people’s faith in Washington we must celebrate – not attack – those on both sides of the aisle who are willing to work together to find solutions to the serious challengers we face as a country. 
“While we remain Republicans, we are committed to reaching out to fair-minded members of the Democratic Party. We understand that bipartisan compromise – by it’s very definition – means working with members of the other party. 
“Compromise doesn’t mean surrendering – it means success.  Compromise is not an act of political cowardice – indeed it is the exact opposite, it is an act of incredible political courage.
“We need more voices in Washington willing to put the best interests of the American people above petty partisanship. That is what we have done at Main Street over the years and that is what we will continue to do. 
“We look forward to working with our centrist Republican members in the months and years ahead and engaging fair-minded independents and Democrats who want to help do what is right for this country.”
This 'Statement' of the MSP is about all Americans not just a select few and should be what governs the RNC which has its head buried in the sand pretending nothing happened on November 6, 2012.  RNC would do well to adopt the same 'Statement' but that would mean telling State parties to rid yourself of 'radicals' which this Koch Brothers Chair doesn't have the nerve or backbone to do IMHO.

The Main Street Partnership is dedicated to promoting and building a pragmatic, thoughtful, fiscally conservative, and inclusive “Governing Majority,” where political debate is encouraged to promote solutions to improve the lives of all Americans. Embracing the full spectrum of center-right ideologies and values in order to build coalitions, the Main Street Partnership is the largest organization of elected leaders who are in the mold of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. For more information on the Main Street Partnership, visit our website at www.republicanmainstreet.org.
Yesterday a link to an article about the RNC co-Finance Chair came in my email which led to today's post, Can the Republican Party be Saved.  Decided to include the article to show that not all the RNC are happy with what happened in the 2012 election cycle even though the current Koch Brothers RNC Chair doesn't seem to get it.  Now maybe it will wake him up (not holding my breath) with the RNC Co-Finance Chair, Georgette Mosbacher, hitting the ceiling about the Republican Party.  She speaks for many of us who are furious what we are seeing out of today's Republicans who refuse to acknowledge they got shellacked on November 6, 2012, making all kinds of excuses why they lost.  Mosbacher nails the reasons they lost:
Mosbacher: I’m Furious at My Own Party

RNC Finance Committee co-chair Georgette Mosbacher tells Michelle Cottle that she’s “mad as hell” about what Republicans have done to themselves.  
Best not to ask GOP fundraising legend Georgette Mosbacher about the state of her beloved party unless you want an earful. The co-chair of the RNC’s Finance Committee (and CEO of Borghese cosmetics), Mosbacher is “mad as hell” about the myriad ways the “brand has been tarnished”: the sorry state of the presidential primary process, the ongoing alienation of Latino voters, the “outrageous” Senate candidates that the party ran this cycle, the epic failure of the fiscal-cliff negotiations, and, most recently, the House’s dithering over disaster aid for the victims of superstorm Sandy. 
“I’m angry!” fumes Mosbacher. “I’m angry about the stupid mistakes that were self-inflicted.” It’s this last part she finds the most enraging. Though she believes the party has “unfairly” been defined by its recent mistakes, she is very clear about where the ultimate blame lies: “We did it to ourselves.” 
Mosbacher is, of course, not alone in her ire. Postelection, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a hastily assembled group of Republican leaders laboring to figure out where the party went wrong last cycle and how to get it back on track. So far, however, Mosbacher is unimpressed by their efforts. 
“I have not seen an honest postmortem assessment yet,” she told me. “I have not seen anything that gives me any comfort right now.” 
This is an unfortunate development for the GOP, because, as Mosbacher explained it to me this weekend: “I’m not writing any checks, and I’m not asking anyone else to write any checks until I hear something that makes sense to me.” 
The root problem, as she sees it: the sorry state of the party’s leadership in Washington.
Read more of the article at The Daily Beast
Will the RNC take Mosbacher's words to heart or will they continue their trek to the hard right.  If the first few days of the new Congress are any indication, they didn't learn one thing from November 6, 2012, and are continuing down the path to destruction of the Republican Party as more and more people question why they are in a Party that is so hard right declaring war on about every group around.  Yet they do not believe in the Government unless it is for their own personal cause as evidenced by Republican House Members who voted for disaster relief aid for their home states in the recent past but not for Hurricane Sandy victims from NY/NJ.  Guess you could say they don't want to help people from blue states but a lot of Republicans live in those blue states as well who they are treating like chopped liver.

Earlier in December former Utah Governor John Huntsman who was a candidate for President as a Republican gave a scathing interview saying the Republican Party is "devoid of soul" which I happen to agree with as we have seen up close and personal recently with the Hurricane Sandy vote.  Before that it was the jobs bill for veterans, farm bill to help drought victims from last summer, women's issues, veteran's issues, and the list goes on of groups that have been dissed by the Republican Party in favor of the wealthy this last few years since they took control of the House:

Former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman took a critical look at his own party, asserting that it is “devoid of a soul.” In a lengthy interview with the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Huntsman elaborated on what he viewed as missteps, and offered some advice going forward. 
It’s “troubling” that the party currently doesn’t have a leader or a “defined agenda.” But the good news, he said, is “that will come in time” through the “reformation process.” The GOP must “return the system to the people,” Huntsman argued.
Where is a leader?  No one seems to want to step forward and take control moving the party back to the center right.  Are they that afraid of the Tea Party who only 8% of the Country identify with according to Rasmussen or are they afraid the Koch Brothers and their allies who run the Tea Party and other hard right groups?  Are they are afraid to stand up against the Koch's and other hard right fringe groups demands  which could lead to being primaried and a freeze on donations to their campaigns?  Thought this excerpt below from an article about the 8% was interesting hitting the mark about the Tea Party that many activists have been saying for several years.  We never saw most of these people working campaigns in the past but then they took over and basically told longtime Republicans to hit the road -- they didn't need our help or expertise.

The Koch Brothers front organization, Americans for Prosperity, are doing the dirty work of the Koch's.  Noticed in my state when they would speak at Republican functions, they didn't seem to have a grasp of how Government works but just repeated their talking points.  When you asked a germane question, you would get a blank stare and they would go on to the next question.  In talking to friends around the Country, they had the same reaction.

This excerpt gets it right about the Tea Party IMHO.  Some people have become rich off the scams being perpetrated by today's conservatives.  Ask Bill Kristol what he thinks of the scams by conservative groups.

You can attribute much of their dwindling success to the information put out by Move On , Occupy Wall Street. and many of the progressive blogs.  These groups banged heavily away with the facts regarding the true organizers behind the Tea Party and their other affiliated groups and people such as “Americans for Prosperity” and “Freedomworks”–none other than the right-wing fanatical plutocrat Koch Brothers. 
Initially, many of the members of the Tea Party were sincere Americans from the working class who were and still are fed up with business as usual in Washington and the leadership of the Wall Street  investor class.  They fell like easy prey for the propaganda financed by the Koch brothers.  It sounded good and also much of it played on their racist fears that the browns and blacks were getting all the “good” jobs and being given government handouts.  All the Tea Party cries of sending all the illegal immigrants back to Mexico and/or putting them in jail perfectly suited the goals of the plutocrat leaders as such solutions 1) raised hatred and anger of the Tea Party members thus making them easier to manipulate; and 2) meant more money for the instigators in terms of growing the prison population in the USA for the Wall Street corporations who now manage our prisons.  They never drew the line connecting the money going to support these prisoners as coming out of the taxpayers pockets, but Move On and Occupy did–again and again and again.  Eventually people have come to understand what an utter sham the entire Tea Party was and continues to some extent to be. 
Ironically, all the while the Tea Party was on the rise, it was the leaders of this movement who were after the government handouts--in the form of relaxed EPA requirements for their operations (thus more “freedom” to pollute our air and waters with impunity);  more agricultural subsidies for corporate agra-businesses and Park Avenue “farmers”; more tax breaks skewed for the rich; more more more–but all for them, not the majority. 
Gradually, the people came to realize these phonies for who they are.  I suspect that most of the 8 to 12% remaining are the hard core plutocratic right wing millionaires and billionaires such as Donald Trump and Sheldon Adelson.  They were the plants in the audience.  The funny thing now is that they are fast becoming the only ones left to listen to the sound of their own lies and bullshit.
The Koch Brothers and their cronies are the ones destroying the Republican Party of the center right for their own selfish whims IMHO.  They want no EPA or regulations on their business but yet want to keep subsidies on oil and gas and big conglomerate farms which benefit them.  They are more then willing to take handouts when they are the recipient but not when members of the middle class are involved -- we are on our own.  In the small minds of the wealthy GOP donors, the middle class is supposed to give up our benefits from the Government so the wealthy can keep theirs.  In their small world it is every senior citizens for themselves with no safety net even though they paid into social security for years and it is not part of the budget.  It doesn't stop the wealthy donors from wanting to do away with the program as we know it.

The Kochs and other wealthy GOP donors seem to have a warped sense of what it means to be an American IMHO.  The fact they started the Tea Party to take over the Republican Party should scare everyone.  We need two major parties or the Democrats will run amok just like the GOP when they were in charge of all branches of Government.  I have a hunch right now though that if Democrats were in charge of the House, they would do a lot better as it is fresh in their minds how they blew it in 2010.

This says it all about the Koch Bros Tea Party and their agenda they are now forcing on what used to be common sense Republicans in the House:

Tea Party Absolutism: The High Cost Of Hating Government 
January 7th, 2013 5:27 pm 
Nicholas Wapshott 
The tourniquet applied by the outgoing Congress to the economy allows a two-month breather before we are consumed by the next deadline. The president and his party can allow themselves a brief moment of celebration for imposing higher taxes on the richest Americans, but the next stage in fixing the nation’s fiscal problems may not be as easy. By the end of February, lawmakers must find enough cuts in public spending to allow the debt ceiling to be raised. Two more months of uncertainty will prevent businesses and consumers from making spending decisions that would bolster the economic recovery. 
The devil is not so much in the detail of the arguments to come as the big picture that frames the debilitating running debate. 
While the difference between the sides is ostensibly over taxes and public spending and borrowing, the more profound division is over where government should begin and end. For many of the Republican Party’s Tea Party insurgents, the choice is even more fundamental: whether there should be a government at all. Their unbending position, demanding an ever-diminishing role for the federal government, has levied an enormous unnecessary cost on everyone else. 
Since Republicans regained control of the House in the 2010 midterms, when the Tea Party tide was in full force, they have attempted to freeze the size of government, coincidentally putting a brake on economic recovery. They have vetoed attempts at further economic stimulus, encouraged America’s economy to be downgraded by the ratings agencies by threatening not to extend the debt ceiling, and tried to veto any and every tax increase in the fiscal cliff talks. 
Their aim is to shrink government by starving it of funds. Such uncompromising absolutism has led to the dampening of business confidence and investment that would have created jobs. 
It is not just the economy that has suffered from the absolute positions held by the anti-government rump in the GOP. Their insistence that the Founding Fathers intended us to be allowed to carry guns of any sort, including the rapid-fire assault weapon that killed 20 children and six adults in Newtown, CT, last month, continues to hamper attempts to curb the nation’s murderous gun violence. Ghosts from the 18th century are preying on our schoolchildren, abetted by those who believe that compromise on amending our gun laws is surrendering to the forces of big government. Such unbending absolutism costs human lives.
Are the Koch Brothers and their unending quest for power over today's Republican Party payback for President Reagan kicking out the John Birchers who their father helped found?  Would they be that shallow?   Since the John Birchers have been brought back in the Republican Party, I believe they would.  Some on the right call the Tea Party movement the new John Birchers which should give everyone pause.

This excerpted article illustrates the five reasons why America today has a Republican problem which is caused IMO by the Koch's Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity who are out front while the Koch's and other wealthy donors stay behind the scenes pulling strings:
5 reasons why America has a Republican problem 
January 9, 2013  
And as long as the “carried interest” loophole gives millionaire hedge fund managers a massive tax break, we have a revenue problem, too

1. The Republicans’ problem is that the deficit is shrinking too fast. That’s why they want to act now to gut Medicare and Social Security while they have the chance. FACT: The federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such period since World War II. This fact blows away every Republican talking point because it points out 1) George W. Bush created the trillion dollar deficit that the GOP blames on this president, 2) under President Obama federal spending has grown less than any president since Eisenhower and 3) our recovery, which is much better than most of the world’s, is shrinking the deficit. 
2. President Obama has already signed $2.3 trillion in deficit cuts, 3/4 of it spending cuts.Until the Bush Tax Cuts expired and Republicans were forced to deal with revenue increases, President Obama has cut the Bush deficit entirely with spending cuts. These spending cuts hurt the economy much more than tax increases, especially tax increases on the rich. This seems to be the GOP plan: Keep the deficit crisis going to cut the parts of government we don’t like. And keep saying spending is the problem so you don’t have to cuts ridiculous tax loopholes that give away billions to those who need it least. (my bold)
3. We have two long-term problems — long-term unemployment and long-term debt. And only one matters right now.Anyone who tells you that America is like Greece is insulting your intelligence. We have no worries about paying our debt. Republicans have claimed for over 4 years now that borrowing would cause rampant inflation and the world would eventually stop buying our debt. The opposite happened. We will have a serious debt problem in a decade or two as baby boomers retire and live long, expensive lives. And it will be much worse if we don’t deal with our real crisis. 
Our much more serious problem is long-term unemployment. Nearly 5 million Americans have been out of work for over 27 weeks. The longer you’ve been out of a job, the harder it is to find a new one and the less likely it is you’ll ever make up the earning and salary growth you lost. Poorer and middle class Americans will have to work harder and be more dependent on the government. In a sane society, we would be doing everything we could to get these people working, even direct government hiring if necessary. But the future of these Americans is being sacrificed to the Republican agenda. 
4. If our health care costs were in line with costs in other countries, we would be looking at budget surpluses, not deficits.We already pay for each other’s insurance, just in the dumbest possible way. For what we pay for health care we could be covering every American for less if we weren’t forced to deal with the Republican Party’s willingness to prioritize corporations over people. 
5. Fixing the deficit is easy. Just put people back to work.The Bush tax breaks were designed to solve a problem that Republicans had been avoiding for years — a balanced budget. When you have a balanced budget, you can’t cut the programs you don’t like just because you don’t like them. So create a deficit and start cutting! The bulk of our deficit comes from purposely dumb Bush decisions and can easily be rectified by putting people back to work. The fact that we are talking about cutting instead of jobs is a tribute to just how bad our Republican problem really is.
It is sad in my world, when a progressive website makes more sense then conservative ones.  They have the facts not spin/lies of Fox News, Rush, Hannity, Beck, et al who are not giving us the truth.  What do this group of pundits hope to accomplish?  Keep more of their millions while making more off the backs of the middle class?  That is as good of explanation as any because the Fox and talk show rhetoric and lies are so far over the top don't see how anyone can believe them.  Worst part is that they say something on the air and some of today's Republicans go mouth their words.

Beyond disgusting that many of the Republicans in Congress are devoid of common sense today as they are afraid of their own shadows not wanting to be primaried by the likes of the Koch Brothers, Club for Growth, and others who want them to bend to their will or else.  No backbones to stand up and tell the hard right groups to shove it and actually vote for the people of America not worrying about being defeated for reelection.  Many of us would roll up our sleeves to help honest Republican candidates who stand up to the fringe movement get reelected but those Republicans are few and far between as most bow to the Koch Brothers and other wealthy donors.

Can the Republican Party be Saved?  Not until we get some actual leaders with backbones who tell the fringe and hard right to take a hike because it is obvious that the two sides cannot co-exist.  It came out yesterday that Democrats are now the majority of Americans which should shock no one.  Not hard to understand why when lifelong Republicans like me are considering becoming a Democrat.  For now staying to see what happens with the GOP.

One thing is definite -- will not support or work for current Republicans to take back the Senate or keep the House in 2014 as they have not earned that right with their obstructionism which has hurt the economy and the American people.  This group of GOP leaders in Congress has proven they are wimps with no backbones who are  afraid to stand up to wealthy donors and the hard right.  Time for new leadership in 2014 to work across the aisle to get the Country back on track as well as the Republican Party.

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