Republican’s Call Draws Fire Thursday, Mar 31 2016 


–Headline, Washington Post – 3/26/16

Not to beat a dead horse, but when the horse turns out to be a jackass and it’s still braying . . .

When last heard from, I was leaving the Republican Party or what passes in transmogrified form these days for what was once the party of Lincoln. No news cycle passes that gives me reason to regret it. The story beneath the Post headline tells it all.

It appears that Senator Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican running for re-election, had uttered the following at a meeting of the west Kansas Rotary Club: “I think we have the responsibility to have a hearing, to have a conversation and to make a determination on the merit” of President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

On being informed of Moran’s open-minded thought, one Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the local Tea Party chapter, responded: “It’s this kind of outrageous behavior that leads Tea Party activists to think seriously of encouraging someone to run against Moran in the August GOP primary”; to which Moran, regaining his ideological lockstep, immediately backtracked, declaring he was unconditionally “opposed to President Obama’s . . . attempt to put another liberal judge on the Supreme Court.”

Liberal judge? Since being nominated Garland has drawn the support not only of conservative columnist George Will, but of his former colleague on the D.C. Court of Appeals (and Clinton impeachment prosecutor) Kenneth Starr.

Keep in mind, Senator Moran’s departure from the Tea Party line wasn’t that he took Will’s and Starr’s favorable view of Obama’s nominee; only that he thought the Senate had the responsibility to hold hearings on the nomination.

Charge the whole thing off as an isolated incident that doesn’t reflect, as Paul Ryan would say, “the values” of the Republican Party? Only if you ignore the fact that Tea Party “activists” are simply following the our-way-or-no-way line laid down by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after Antonin Scalia’s death left a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

A few weeks ago I had occasion to visit Alabama on the day Senator Richard Shelby was being challenged at the polls by a Tea Party opponent. The opponent claimed that Shelby wasn’t a true conservative – a sign of these Republican times in that the only way one could get more conservative than Richard Shelby is by coming out against the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments; which, given the current direction the GOP is headed, I expect will soon come about in a Tea Party-approved speech before the west Kansas Rotary Club.

Sound bite to remember

“A legal system which can’t convict Al Capone of anything but income tax fraud is apt to make the police rather cynical.”

–Raymond Chandler

Is the Tea Party “Populist”? Sunday, Nov 17 2013 

Its members claim it is, and political reporters describe it as such. But the record says otherwise.

Take the recent race for governor in Virginia. The Republican nomination went to Ken Cuccinelli, the Tea Party favorite chosen not by popular vote in a primary – that was an option, but Cuccinelli and his Tea Party followers rejected it in favor of a closed convention, the old-fashioned party boss way.

Had there been a primary, chances are that Cuccinelli would have lost the nomination to Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, not considered conservative enough for the Tea Party bosses. (And who, if nominated, would by all odds have defeated Terry McAuliffe in the general election.)

But evidence that the Tea Party is simply masquerading as a populist movement doesn’t stop there. Beyond Virginia, there is the national Tea Party movement, spearheaded by the ideological harebrain Rand Paul, to repeal the 17th Amendment of the Constitution, which provides for the popular election of United States senators.

That is, the Tea Party would take the power to choose who represents the people in the United States Senate away from the people and put it back in the hands of state legislators.

The irony – or more appropriately, the hypocrisy – in all this is that passage of the 17th Amendment was and is considered the signature achievement of the grassroots Populist Party of a century ago.

Soundbite to Remember

“No, I took journalism. It was easier.”

 Jets quarterback Joe Namath on being asked by a New York sports reporter whether he had majored in basket-weaving at the University of Alabama (circa 1965)

Barry and the Tea Party Sunday, Aug 5 2012 

Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be constitutional does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.” 
Tea Party favorite Rand Paul on the Supreme Court decision on the healthcare case 6/28/12

Translated: La Constitution, c’est moi. Call it the Tea Party credo, otherwise reflected by Ted Cruz’s notion that the only way to get things done in Washington — or in his words, “Take our country back” — is for everyone to adopt his point of view.

Would Barry Goldwater agree? George Will thinks so. In a column cheering Cruz’s victory in the Texas Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate nomination, Will writes that it is Goldwater’s “spirit” that “infuses the Tea Party.”

To which Barry, if still around, would predictably respond, “B——–!” How can I be sure? Let me put it this way: I knew Barry Goldwater. I was on Barry Goldwater’s staff. And believe me, Barry Goldwater would have nothing good to say about the Tea Party.

Nor, let me add, would the Tea Party have anything good to say about Barry Goldwater. Who can doubt that a political faction that finds Bob Bennett, Orrin Hatch, and Dick Lugar not conservative enough would be fulminating today over a Republican senator who in his autobiography wrote:

“For years, the New Right preached little or no spirit of compromise—political give and take. … Public business— that’s all politics is — is often making the best of a mixed bargain….Our Constitution seeks to allow freedom for everyone, not merely those professing certain moral or religious views of ultimate right.”

So much for George Will’s notion that it’s the spirit of Goldwater that infuses the our-way-or-no-way Tea Party. But then, we have to consider Will’s perspective: While Barry was running for president in 1964, Will was away from the fray, taking his tea at Oxford.

Sound Bite to Remember

“Neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness, and other cognitive problems.” — Tea Party fellow traveler Michael Savage on John Roberts’ vote in the healthcare case

The Tea Party Justice Tuesday, Dec 7 2010 

Who would have guessed Antonin Scalia was a Tea Partier? In a recent appearance at Texas Tech University, Scalia threw his considerable weight behind a pet Tea Party project, repeal of the 17th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

That, in case you don’t have your Glenn Beck-autographed copy of the Constitution nearby, is the amendment providing that U.S. Senators be elected by popular vote rather than selected by state legislatures.

Passage of the 17th amendment in 1913, argues the irrepressible Scalia, was a “progressive” abomination that brought on “the decline of so-called states’ rights throughout the rest of the 20th century.”

Which is to say that allowing voters of a state to choose their senators directly, at the polls, was the first step leading to the expansion of centralized federal power at the expense of the individual states.

Quite a stretch, if you ask me, but who am I to cross juridical swords with the godfather of constitutional originalism? Irrepressible he may be, but give Scalia credit for coming up with an original idea for cutting the cost of U.S. Senate races: The going rate for buying votes in state legislatures – the way U.S. Senators were sent to Washington before 1913 – is a helluva lot cheaper than campaigning for popular support. Just think how many millions Meg Whitman might have saved.

Old McDonnell Had a Forum Friday, Oct 15 2010 

At a Tea Party rally in Richmond last week, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (pronounced Mc DONN-el) and Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli (pronounced KOOK-inelli) took turns regaling the crowd with anti-Washington rhetoric, McDonnell going so far as to endorse a constitutional amendment that would allow states to nullify federal laws.  Throughout the rally, much chatter about “taking our country back.”

I have two questions: First, back to what? Obviously McDonnell has in mind the Articles of Confederation; which leads to Question Two: (more…)