Saturday Reads

Good Morning!

I thought I’d take a brief look at the “regrouping” efforts of the the GOP after their major shellacking in November. It seems a few Republicans are looking to fight the extremists.  One long time GOP Senator who is likely facing a tough primary but has decided to fight things is Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.  He’s not what I’d consider a middle of the road senator by any means.  But, by today’s Republican party standards, Saxby Chambliss is a blasphemer.  He’s going after Grover Norquist.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said that fixing the nation’s debt problem may require breaking Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, telling a Georgia television station Wednesday that “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.”

“If we do it his way then we’ll continue in debt, and I just have a disagreement with him about that,” Chambliss told 13WMAZ. Chambliss said Norquist’s opposition to increased revenue adds to the debt and is a “fundamental disagreement.”

Chambliss admitted that Norquist would likely turn against him for abandoning the pledge in his 2014 re-election bid. “But I don’t worry about that because I care too much about my country. I care a lot more about it than I do Grover Norquist,” Chambliss said. “I’m willing to do the right thing and let the political consequences take care of themselves.”

Guess we’ll have to see how that works out.  The WSJ is reporting that the tea party is regrouping and working to throw folks like Chambliss out of office.  It thinks the problem is the folks that aren’t ‘conservative enough’.

The tea-party movement is trying to regroup after taking some licks in this month’s elections. Several groups already are setting their sights on 2014 congressional races, in which they plan to promote their preferred candidates and hope to weed out Republicans they consider insufficiently conservative.

Many tea-party activists say they remain dumbfounded by the Nov. 6 defeat of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and favored GOP candidates for the Senate, and opinions are swirling over how the movement should push forward.

In Virginia, organizations that canvassed aggressively for Mr. Romney are now girding for next year’s election for governor. Many are moving to support Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in his GOP primary contest against Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

Conservative groups also are considering potential challenges to GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Lamar Alexander in Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, whom some activists view as not conservative enough.

Fortunately, the truth behind the movement is out and the Tea Party is no longer doing well in the country at large.

Support for the tea-party movement has flagged since its 2010 heyday.

In a national exit poll of more than 5,000 voters in the November election, about 21% said they supported the tea-party movement, while 30% said they opposed it. Some 42% said they were neutral.

So, the tea party is just rebuilding and hoping they can catch fire again.  Then, there are other Republicans using the way-back machine to the Bushes.  Yup, guess who is on the 2016 radar?

Now that the Obama and Romney campaigns have closed their headquarters in Chicago and Boston, the attention of the political world is shifting to an office suite tucked behind the colonnades of the Biltmore Hotel complex here.

The suite is where former Gov. Jeb Bush manages his consulting business, his education foundation and, now, the (very) early decision-making process for a possible presidential run in 2016.

When former President Bill Clinton rolled through here while campaigning for President Obama, he speculated about Mr. Bush’s intentions with Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and friend of Mr. Bush. It was no idle topic for Mr. Clinton, given the possibility that his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, could seek the Democratic nomination.

When Senator Marco Rubio of Florida held a strategy session here to discuss his own political future last week, the question of Mr. Bush, a mentor, hung over the room; a decision by Mr. Bush, 59, to seek the Republican nomination would almost certainly halt any plans by Mr. Rubio, 41, to do so or abruptly set off a new intraparty feud.

Mr. Bush is said by friends to be weighing financial and family considerations — between so many years in office and the recession his wealth took a dip, they said, and he has been working hard to restore it — as well as the complicated place within the Republican Party of the Bush brand. Asked this week about whether his father would run, Jeb Bush Jr. told CNN, “I certainly hope so.”

For now, however, “It’s neither a ‘no’ nor a ‘yes’ — it’s a ‘wait and see,’ ” said Al Cardenas, the chairman of the American Conservative Union and a longtime friend and adviser to Mr. Bush. “It continues to intrigue him, given how much he has to share with the country.”

Karl Rove thinks the Republican Party can regroup if it can grab the attention of Hispanic voters who might be drawn to social conservatism as long as the party will loosen up on its immigration stance.  There are some problems with this strategy.

Two days after Latino voters broadly rejected the Republican Party, Charles Krauthammer saw reason for optimism. Latinos, he said, “should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example.)”  George W. Bush and Karl Rove found a way to approach 40 percent of the Latino vote; Romney barely netted half that. So Republicans, facing a demographic time bomb as their base of white men ages, have comforted themselves by thinking all they really need to do is perform as well as Bush did among Latinos to get near the White House again.

Whether or not Republicans have any chance of capturing more than a tiny fraction of the Latino vote, Krauthammer (and the straw-grasping Republicans who echoed him) shouldn’t take Latinos’ conservatism, including their views on abortion, for granted.

First of all, being religious doesn’t mean you vote according to the dictates of your church, and Latino voters have consistently told pollsters that they don’t. Last December, a Latino Decisions poll  found that 53 percent of Latinos said religion would have no impact at all on their vote. And only 14 percent agreed that “politics is more about moral issues such as abortion, family values, and same-sex marriage.” In fact, exit polling from the election this month showed that Latinos were  more likely  than other voters to support same-sex marriage recognition.

Polling on abortion rights is notoriously hard to characterize and can fluctuate  depending on how the question is asked — from framing it in terms of legality to asking about the fuzzy labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” Some polls have  shown less support for abortion rights from Latinos, especially foreign-born Latinos, than from the general population. In a Pew survey last year, 58 percent of immigrant Latinos said abortion should be mainly illegal, compared with 40 percent of second-generation Latinos. In another poll conducted by Univision around the same time, only 38 percent of Latinos  said they believed abortion should be legal in most cases, compared with 49 percent of the general population.

Looking to candidates like Mark Rubio may not help either.  He appears to be a major whacko as pointed out by Paul Krugman in this blog post.

Earlier this week, GQ magazine published an interview with Senator Marco Rubio, whom many consider a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, in which Mr. Rubio was asked how old the earth is. After declaring “I’m not a scientist, man,” the senator went into desperate evasive action, ending with the declaration that “it’s one of the great mysteries.”

It’s funny stuff, and conservatives would like us to forget about it as soon as possible. Hey, they say, he was just pandering to likely voters in the 2016 Republican primaries — a claim that for some reason is supposed to comfort us.

But we shouldn’t let go that easily. Reading Mr. Rubio’s interview is like driving through a deeply eroded canyon; all at once, you can clearly see what lies below the superficial landscape. Like striated rock beds that speak of deep time, his inability to acknowledge scientific evidence speaks of the anti-rational mind-set that has taken over his political party.

By the way, that question didn’t come out of the blue. As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Mr. Rubio provided powerful aid to creationists trying to water down science education. In one interview, he compared the teaching of evolution to Communist indoctrination tactics — although he graciously added that “I’m not equating the evolution people with Fidel Castro.” Gee, thanks.

What was Mr. Rubio’s complaint about science teaching? That it might undermine children’s faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.

The most obvious example other than evolution is man-made climate change. As the evidence for a warming planet becomes ever stronger — and ever scarier — the G.O.P. has buried deeper into denial, into assertions that the whole thing is a hoax concocted by a vast conspiracy of scientists. And this denial has been accompanied by frantic efforts to silence and punish anyone reporting the inconvenient facts.

But the same phenomenon is visible in many other fields. The most recent demonstration came in the matter of election polls. Coming into the recent election, state-level polling clearly pointed to an Obama victory — yet more or less the whole Republican Party refused to acknowledge this reality. Instead, pundits and politicians alike fiercely denied the numbers and personally attacked anyone pointing out the obvious; the demonizing of The Times’s Nate Silver, in particular, was remarkable to behold.

I just notice that the same old patterns are still there so far in all of this supposed soul searching.  Meanwhile,  Michigan Republican lawmakers want to give tax deductions for fetuses.  The Ohio GOP is targeting Planned Parenthood.  Whatever happens, the war on women at the state level will continue.  Joe Conason argues that the Republicans will not change, learn or compromise.

At the Republican Governors Association conference last week, for instance, the favored explanation for the voting public’s emphatic rejection of Mitt Romney had nothing to do with issues or ideology, but only with more effective Democratic Party organizing and communicating. According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors’ meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.

“It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone,” he found. “For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors.”

That would be hard to believe if Goodwyn were not such an excellent and experienced journalist, because it is so stupid, so insulting and makes so little sense. Could it really be true that the nation’s Republican governors—one of whom is quite likely to be the party’s next presidential nominee—are so obtuse and so obstinate that they would reject change even on immigration?

Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed any tax increase, especially on “those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work,” which is GOP code for mega-millionaires and above.

Clearly the Republicans in Congress, too, feel free to ignore public opinion on this question, since Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have offered a “compromise” on fiscal policy that represents no change whatsoever from their earlier positions and the Romney platform. Government can accrue fresh revenues from growth, they say, nothing new or even meaningful there. And government can close unspecified loopholes and deductions to increase revenues, too. Where have we heard that before?

I think we’ll begin to see exactly how serious the GOP is about things come January.  Here’s one hint that they are warming up to Hispanic Voters.

Republican leaders made it clear after the election that the party was ready to get serious about overhauling the nation’s dysfunctional immigration system, a top priority for Hispanic communities. Taking up what is called the STEM Jobs Act during the lame-duck session could be seen as a first step in that direction.

The House voted on a STEM bill — standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in September, but under a procedure requiring a two-thirds majority. It was defeated, with more than 80 percent of Democrats voting against it, because it offset the increase in visas for high-tech graduates by eliminating another visa program that is available for less-educated foreigners, many from Africa.

Republicans are changing the formula this time by adding a provision long sought by some immigration advocates — expanding a program that allows the spouses and minor children of people with permanent residence, or green card, to wait in the United States for their own green cards to be granted.

There are some 80,000 of these family-based green cards allocated every year, but there are currently about 322,000 husbands, wives and children waiting in this category and on average people must wait more than two years to be reunited with their families. In that past that wait could be as long as six years.

The House proposal would allow family members to come to the U.S. one year after they apply for their green cards, but they wouldn’t be able to work until they actually got the card. It applies to the families of green card holders who marry after getting their residency permits.

I actually think this is about the only thing they will give on for awhile.  The radical right has spent nearly 30 years taking over the party.  It won’t give up easily.

10 Comments on “Saturday Reads”

  1. Saxby Chambliss is my Rep…and y’all know I write him frequently to tell him what an asshole he is. Well, this morning I wrote him and told him thank you for telling Norquist to go to hell.

    Chambliss is still an asshole in my book, but it was great to hear him say…

    “I care too much about my country — I care a lot more about it than I do about Grover Norquist,”

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    Great post, kat. Too bad we can’t actually, instead of metaphorically, dissect the GOP. Ah, well.

    Personally, I don’t see the Tea Party going anywhere. They are the foot soldiers of Freedom Works (Dick Armey) & the Koch Bros. The goals of those men has not changed – they want to own, direct & rule the world and as long as they have the money to do it, they will continue to pursue those goals.

    Chambliss is no different. He has achieved power & fame and won’t give that up without a fight. He has no principles & will say whatever it takes to get re-elected. I cannot & refuse to forget what he did to Max Cleland. The turnaround of John McCain where Chambliss is concerned is the best illustration, for me at least, of the 180 McCain has done. Principles jettisoned because it’s all about the retention of power for him now. Neither of these men give a damn about this country. I thought this was an excellent picture of Chambliss:

    Then there is this from Alternet about Kentucky & atheists, in case ya’ll missed it: Can the Christian version of burkas be closer than we think?

  3. NW Luna says:

    …between so many years in office and the recession his wealth took a dip


    Well, then the Republicans can just stay out of office since it pays so poorly.

  4. Prolix says:

    Norquist is the poster boy for the Republican adage, “Never under estimate how much a Republican will over-estimate their reach.”

    Personally, I don’t think the Tea Party “ever was” anything more than a branding sock puppet for Koch Brothers’ conservatism. Goodness knows, Republicans wouldn’t have wanted to besmirch their good name and penchant for intellectual integrity by allowing birtherism to foment within their own ranks — not.