Tea Party Chickens Come Home to Roost

It’s the Amero, Amigo
Alex Jones: Rand, I want to ask you about John P. Holdern, the science czar. Generally the social planners admit they want socialized medicine; they want carbon taxes, he says, to carry out eugenics. And even the forced drugging of the water to sterilize us. That sounds like Nazi Germany. What would you do in the Senate about this?Rand Paul: Well if I were there we would get to expose it before he’s gotten a hearing—during his hearing; that’s what these hearings are for, to expose this before he gets approved.

Alex Jones: Dr. Paul, do you think the New World Order is going to succeed?

Rand Paul: One way to look at it, 30 years ago nobody thought there would be one currency in Europe. Right now, most people don’t think there will be one currency in our country [sic]. And yet the talk of the Amero is out there. They pooh-pooh it. They try to describe us as crazy off the wall. But they are talking about it.

 

Radio talk-show host Alex Jones interviewing Republican Senatorial candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky, July 23, 2009

NEWT SAYS 70. That’s the number of House seats the former Republican speaker—and possible presidential candidate in 2012—predicts his party will pick up in November. Newt Gingrich came to his brief tenure as speaker by way of the 1994 elections, when Republicans picked up 54 seats and took control of the House after 40 years in the minority.

Gingrich thinks and talks big, even if accounts of his big thinking are overstated. (For two years he has been warning of a crippling electromagnetic pulse attack on the United States, based on a novel he’s flogging.) As for his big talk, it’s a safe bet that Republicans will not pick up 70 House seats in November.

The Democrats holding the House is not such a safe bet. I spent a half-day at Gallup’s Washington offices, listening to election wonks handicap the 2010 elections. Almost all of the news for the Democrats is grim.

The party of the sitting president almost always loses House seats in off-year elections. Democrats hold 53?House seats that were held by Republicans in 2008 or 2006. And 48 Democrats are defending seats in districts that John McCain carried in 2008.

Other factors are working against the Democrats. Unemployment numbers are grim. The broader economy is only beginning to turn around. The federal deficit is at record levels. Since Barack Obama took the oath of office, Republicans have almost unanimously opposed Democratic legislation, often by placing it in the larger context of the president’s “socialist” agenda. A movement of angry white men with tea bags and muskets is eroding confidence in the president, which bears directly on Congressional popularity. Republican enthusiasm for the 2010 elections is high (61 percent), while pollsters have a hard time finding Democratic voters’ pulse. And campaign donors are betting with their checkbooks, particularly Wall Street rats abandoning the Democrats’ sinking ship, as Republicans suddenly have an advantage in corporate campaign contributions.

All this is reflected in Gallup’s generic ballot poll, which in June had the Republicans leading Democrats by 46 percent to 45 percent after two months of a dead heat. A statistical dead heat would be good news for Democrats, with a comfortable 255-177 majority in the House, if Republicans didn’t always turn out stronger in mid-term elections. Because of the turnout gap, Democrats need a five-point lead in the generic ballot poll to stay in the game.

Gallup’s Jeff Jones was specific. “At 50 percent, or 49 percent, or maybe 48 percent of the vote … Democrats hold onto 216 seats, leaving Republicans two seats short of the majority,” Jones said. Anything below that is a problem for Democratic House races, and since early April Democrats have been locked in at about 45 percent of the generic vote.

COOK’S RULES—I’ve always been a fan of Charlie Cook’s “The Cook Political Report,” which tracks Congressional races. I’m also a fan of Charlie, if for no other reason than that he’s not a stiff, like most statisticians. He speaks American English—even better, with a Louisiana inflection. I expected him to downplay Gallup’s generic ballot, if only to add value to his own portfolio.

“I didn’t used to believe in the generic poll,” Cook said. He said he had always bought Tip O’Neill’s line that all politics is local, so with 435 local House races, a national generic poll wasn’t a critical predictor. “Then came 1994,” he said. (Gallup’s 1994 generic ballot had the Republicans winning 52 seats. They won 54.) “I now believe that all politics is local, except when it’s not,” Cook said.

Generic ballots are most useful when the election is a “wave election,” as in 1994 when Republicans turned the election into a referendum on Bill Clinton’s policies. This year is beginning to look like a “wave”—with a lot of indicators that Democrats are going to get washed away.

Where’s the good news for Democrats? Probably in the 12th District of Pennsylvania, where Mark Critz won the seat left vacant when Democrat Jack Murtha died in February.

The 12th District is located in the “Alabama part of Pennsylvania”—conservative, white, working class, and not highly educated. A district that might have been gerrymandered for Tea Party favorite Tim Burns. Burns turned the election into a referendum on Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid—the Republican Party game plan for 2010.

On the day of the Pennsylvania election, Cook said all of the district demographics pointed to a Republican win. “It shouldn’t even be close,” Cook said.

Yet Democrat Critz went on to dispose of the teabagger Republican by an eight-point spread in a district that seemed tailored for a Republican win. Pennsylvania’s 12th District is 94 percent white, working class, and only 16 percent of its residents have college degrees. Republicans dominate elections where voters are white and without higher education (which makes the Republican Party’s aversion to education funding look like institutional wisdom).

Critz didn’t campaign in American Revolutionary drag. He ran as an anti-abortion, pro-gun conservative against a Tea Party extremist from a party more and more dominated by Tea Party extremism.

Does one election in Pennsylvania trump Gallup’s numbers? Not exactly. But it suggests that Democratic candidates can win in districts where all the numbers point to a Republican win.

Cook was hedging his bets before the results from Pennsylvania were in. He had said on the morning of the Pennsylvania election, and has since written, that he’s not writing the Democrats off, because they have won 10 consecutive special House elections since Obama took office. Cook said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “seems to have cracked the code of how to organize, plan, message, get out their vote and execute.”

It could be that Cook isn’t giving the Republicans enough credit. Consider two of those 10 elections, the Pennsylvania 12th and the Upstate New York district now represented by Democrat Bill Owens, who won a special election in 2009. In both districts Democrats faced opponents so extreme that the Democrats could run as conservatives and win.

In New York, Republicans selected Dede Scozzafava, but Tea Party favorite Doug Hoffman split their vote by running as a third party candidate. Hoffman is running in the Republican primary and refusing to rule out a third-party candidacy if he loses. In Pennsylvania, Burns conceded the center and center-right to Critz.

SEND IN THE CLOWNS—Life might get worse for Republicans. Now queuing up for the November elections is a field of exotics better described by cultural anthropologists than by journalists.

Anyone who believes that political extremism isn’t a congenital condition might want to look at the news coverage of Rand Paul, son of libertarian obstetrician and Republican Congressman Ron Paul. (Is there a John Galt Paul?)

After winning the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, Paul denounced the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act—moot issues and losing positions, as neither law is going to be repealed. He came to the defense of BP, arguing that the Obama administration is too aggressive in its attempts to manage the ecological disaster in the Gulf. Paul also has warned of a 10-lane highway, rail line, and pipeline right-of-way that will connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada, and create a “borderless mass continent” that augurs the end of the United States as a sovereign nation.

You won’t find the NAFTA Superhighway on a map. Yet it’s easy to locate on the Alex Jones radio program. Based in Austin and broadcasting to two million listeners, Jones warns of cameras mounted on utility poles to track citizens in “kill grids” when the federal government begins eliminating large segments of the population; FEMA camps that will be used as concentration camps for American dissidents; government labs cooking up pathogens and viruses to use against U.S. citizens; and a small global elite in possession of an anti-aging treatment that allows them to live beyond 120 years of age while turning working Americans into a slave class.

Jones’s sponsors include gold sellers, survival-garden seed catalogues, and Alex himself pitching an EcoloBlue atmospheric water generator that will provide homemade potable water so patriots can avoid the drugs the government is putting in the water supply to control us.

Jones has staked out a position well beyond the lunatic fringe of American politics. Yet both Ron and Rand Paul have appeared as guests on his program. (See “It’s the Amero,” pg. 1.) If Rand Paul has gone around the bend with Ayn Rand, at least he gets most of his facts right.

Vaughn Ward doesn’t. A teabagger Republican endorsed by Sarah Palin in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, Ward described Puerto Rico as an independent nation, lifted five of 10 campaign positions word for word from the Web sites of other candidates, plagiarized a 2004 speech by Barack Obama, and fabricated an endorsement by Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo. Ward briefly embraced the Tea Party line on repeal of the 17th Amendment, which provides for popular election of U.S. senators, but backed down when it polled badly.

“People are human and mistakes get made,” Ward’s campaign manager told Talking Points Memoeditor Josh Marshall.

They are and they do. To err is human. To elect Republican primary candidate Tim D’Annunzio to Congress would be all too human. D’Annunzio hopes to replace North Carolina Democratic Representative Larry Kissell.

D’Annunzio’s campaign is straightforward:

“Abolish the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Energy, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Transportation, Treasury, and Home Land Security. Any duties remaining that are Constitutional should be rolled into other Departments.”

Sounds like a plan.

At least it was when D’Annunzio posted it on the “Christ’s War” blog site(http://christswar.blogspot.com), which you might want to visit before you mail this guy a campaign contribution.

You also might want to check out divorce filings in which D’Annunzio’s ex-wife alleges her ex claimed he was the Messiah, tried to raise his stepfather from the dead, and claimed that God was going to turn Greenland into the New Jerusalem—which seems odd if only because D’Annunzio said he found the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona and that God plans to drop a 1,000-mile-high pyramid on Greenland.

FOWL PLAY—In Nevada the two frontrunners in the Republican primary managed to close the 20 point lead both of them held over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Sue Lowden led the assault on her party’s double-digit advantage by suggesting that low-income patients might consider offering doctors, say, a chicken, in exchange for services. Plucky Democrats responded with chicken ads and chicken suits, and the chicken debate went national when late night comic Jay Leno picked it up.

Remarkably, Lowden managed to revive the issue and egg on her critics when she defended her chicken-bartering comment two weeks before the June 8 primary—describing it as a policy position.

“You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say ‘I’ll paint your house,’ ” Lowden said on the popularNevada Newsmakers TV program. “I mean, that’s the old days of what people would do to get health care from their doctors. Doctors are sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that position.” (“Has Sue Lowden lost her mind?” a Reid spokesman asked.)

Democratic activists kept the story alive, crying foul when the state’s attorney general banned chicken suits within 100 feet of polling places. The ruling was flouted by feathered voters who walked into polling places, protected by a state law that prohibits officials from barring someone from voting if they are wearing political insignias that cannot be removed or covered.

If Lowden amused Nevadans, Sharron Angle scared them. “I am the Tea Party,” said the former state legislator. Angle advocates abolishing the 16th Amendment, which established the income tax. She would also abolish the Internal Revenue Code and the federal income tax. Reporters from the Nevada Sun reminded readers that the IRS will collect $935.8 billion in individual income taxes and $156.7 billion in corporate taxes this year, and that Angle didn’t offer much of a plan to fill that gap. Lowden’s campaign reminded voters that “a huge number of retirees” in Nevada depend on Social Security and might find Angle’s position unsettling.

Even as some of the crazies are thinned out (Ward lost as I write), the Republican Party needs to remain vigilant for sex scandals that can tarnish its brand and cost it House seats.

Indiana Congressman Mark Souder resigned in May, after fellow Indiana Rep. Mike Pence tipped off both the Republican leadership and the House Ethics Committee that Souder was involved with a married staff member. Souder, a married Evangelical Christian, had made an abstinence-education video with the staff member he had come to know in the biblical sense, with whom he also did a regular morning segment on a Fort Wayne Christian radio station. At least she was a woman. And he got out of town before the Ethics Committee got involved in his intimate life.

The house on C Street is always a concern. No one knows when the next loafer is going to drop in the Capitol Hill home for Christian congressmen. Among its alumni are South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who misplaced his virtue somewhere between the Appalachian Trail and Buenos Aires; Nevada Senator John Ensign, who seems to have paid off the husband of the staffer with whom he was keeping company (Ensign does have a wife); and former Mississippi Rep. Chip Pickering, whose now-former wife filed divorce papers alleging he was in an extramarital affair while he resided at the home owned by a Christian organization.

Chicken bartering, raising the dead, plagiarism, sex, and the Amero. As Alex Jones says when he makes stuff up: “Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.”

A deadlocked generic poll might be a constant. Risible and randy candidates are variables the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee can’t control. My own November betting line has Democrats holding the House by a five-seat margin, after which legislating really gets ugly.