Politics of the United States

CPAC, Congress and 2016: How Immigration Continues to Pull the Republican Party Down

(Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP via AP Images)
(Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP via AP Images) Former Governor Rick Perry (Republican of Texas) speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National at National Harbor, Maryland on Friday, February 27, 2015. I f you want to understand the challenge Republicans face in their two goals for the next two years—to keep their control of Congress from turning into a disaster, and to win back the White House—all you have to do is look at the way they've handled the issue of immigration. They've spent the last few years trying to find their way to a coherent policy consensus that helps, not hurts, their electoral fate in the near and far future. It isn't as though no Republicans have any ideas. But every time it comes up, they just seem to be digging themselves into a deeper hole. The explanation has to do with where the party's center of gravity lies. As Tom Schaller details in his new book The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress But Surrendered the White...

CPAC 2015: Right-Wing American Dream Kind of Crappy

Republican politicians are rarely shy about expressing some hatred of the government, and Mia Love is no exception.

(Photo: C-SPAN)
(Photo: C-SPAN) (L-R) Raffi Williams of the Republican National Committee, Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, U.S. Representative Mia Love and U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, appear on a panel about millennials and the American dream at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 26, 2015. W hat is the American dream? Is it owning a house and having a job you love? Perhaps you want to be able to have children and send them off to school? Well, this year at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, members of the Republican Party are promising to help you make your dreams come true. On Thursday morning, CPAC—an annual gathering at which a broad range of right-wing constituencies are represented—officially started as presidential hopefuls, political pundits, conservative activists and college students filled the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of the nation’s capital. Because both political parties go through great lengths to...

CPAC: Is Carly Fiorina the GOP's Anti-Hillary?

Will the former CEO be the designated nemesis to the presumed Democratic presidential candidate? The optics couldn't be better.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 26, 2015. C arly Fiorina is almost certainly running for president. At first glance, Fiorina doesn’t seem like much of a 2016 presidential contender. Despite that, organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference gave her a desirable speaking slot on February 26, the conference's opening day—just after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and before right-wing favorite Ted Cruz. If elected, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard would not only be the first woman president; she’d be the first not to have held an elected post. She lost her only political race—by double digits—to incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer in a 2010 U.S. Senate race. Her only other politics foray was as a surrogate for John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008. In a series of faux pas, she embarrassed the Republican nominee . As the first female CEO...

National Security and the 2016 Election

(Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)
(Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv) Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Israel in November 2012. This article originally appeared at the Huffington Post . Y ou may recall a campus slogan from another era, "Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Western civ. has got to go." That was at Stanford University in 1987, part of a wave of demands to limit traditional courses featuring dead white males, in favor of cultural pluralism. Sure enough, many colleges a generation later have more varied courses. Today, however, there are people out there who feel that western civilization really does have to go — not the courses but the thing itself. And they seem to be gaining. Call me sentimental, call me privileged, but I have a certain fondness for western civilization. Let me count the ways. I like the rule of law. I like the Enlightenment sensibility that a wide variety of religions and viewpoints must be accommodated. I like the connection of free speech and free inquiry to the scientific...

A Talent for Storytelling

Rick Perlstein tells how Reagan imagined his way into the American psyche.

(AP Photo)
This book review is from the Fall 2014 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here. Simon & Schuster The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan By Rick Perlstein 880 pp. Simon & Schuster $37.50 I n 1959, as the Cold War heated up and the economy cooled down, President Dwight Eisenhower received a letter from World War II veteran Robert J. Biggs. Tired of hearing the president explain the complexities of the modern world, Biggs begged Eisenhower to lead the nation with firm assertions rather than “hedging” and “uncertainty.” The former general responded that such guidance by authority was imperative in a military operation but fatal in a democracy. Self-government demanded that men reject easy answers and instead carefully weigh the often contradictory facts about great issues facing the nation. Just as Eisenhower did, Rick Perlstein’s new book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan , illuminates the deadly attraction of...

Why Progressives Shouldn’t Overreact to Scott Walker’s Rise in Polls

What might make the Wisconsin governor attractive to Republican voters in the early contests could easily work against him as the primaries progress.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum in Washington, D.C.,Thursday, January 29, 2015. Walker is expanding his political operation as he fights for early momentum in the increasingly crowded field of GOP White House prospects. This article originally appeared at AlterNet . O ne week after Scott Walker was re-elected as Wisconsin’s Republican governor last fall, he told Fox News something he surely doesn’t want to hear now: that in “the past four or five” presidential elections, “people who poll high at the beginning are not the people who end up being the nominees.” Last week, as pundits like the New York Times’ David Leonhardt were giving great weight to Walker’s rising appeal in polls among Republicans in 2016’s early caucus and primary states (he is leading in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire ), it is worth recalling what Walker said, because it still holds true for the crowded GOP field. There's no denying Wallker has...

Will House Whip Scalise Disavow David Duke's Latest Claim About Him?

The white nationalist and former Klansman says the House Republican "agreed with all my ideas."

(AP Photo/Burt Steel)
(AP Photo/Burt Steel) Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to supporters at a reception Saturday, May 29, 2004, in Kenner, Louisiana. This article originally appeared at Right Wing Watch , the website published by People For the American Way. L ast month, [former Ku Klux Klan official] David Duke stopped by the white nationalist radio show “The Political Cesspool” to discuss his relationship with House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who reportedly spoke at a 2002 gathering held by Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization when he was a state lawmaker in Louisiana. Duke blamed the controversy on the supposed Jewish establishment, which he claimed controls the media and wants to throw “European-Americans” into gulags, and which he said sees Scalise as a potential threat down the road. Duke said that he consistently won “over 60 percent of the popular vote in [Scalise’s] congressional district” in his various campaigns for elected office, and therefore people who...

Did Koch Brothers Just Doom America to a Future of Crumbling Roads and Tunnels?

First, their minions called for Chris Christie to cancel a much-needed rail project, and he did. Now they've set their sights on Congress to do much the same.

A.M. Stan
It was never going to be easy for the Republican-controlled Congress to pass an increase to the federal gas tax—a tax that finances the Highway Trust Fund and pays for roads and bridges around the country. Last raised in 1993 to 18.4 cents per gallon, the tax has since lost much of its value , especially with the rise of fuel-efficient cars. With the Highway Trust Fund running huge annual deficits, plans for many infrastructure projects and repairs have been left hanging out to dry. But there were signs that raising the federal gas tax was possible, as when Republican Senators John Thune of South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in early January that a gas tax increase couldn’t be ruled out , and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, later agreed with him. Well, forget it. Because last week more than 50 conservative groups, a number of them funded through the Koch brothers’ network, sent a...

Are the Elites Catching Up with the People?

(Rex Features via AP Images)
I nequality has at last arrived as the issue that mainstream politicians can’t ignore. You see it in Obama’s better-late-than-never embrace of “middle-class economics” as the signature theme in his State of the Union address; and in a surprisingly leftish report of a commission co-chaired by former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. The new report by the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity , convened by the Center for American Progress, is frank in its acknowledgment of the inequality crisis. “Today, the ability of free-market democracies to deliver widely shared increases in prosperity is in question as never before,” the report declares. It calls for several measures of the sort that the labor movement, the Economic Policy Institute, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and others on the left edge of Democratic politics have been urging for years. What’s surprising is not what’s being said but who’s saying it. For instance, the commission offers a frank statement of what’s wrong with...

Jindal's Prayer Rally Brings Together 'Prophets,' Bigots and Right-Wing Activists

Once hailed as the GOP’s top intellectual and reformer, the Louisiana governor headlined a gathering organized and sponsored by some of the most extreme figures in the party.

(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during a prayer rally, Saturday, January 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. A version of this article first appeared at Right Wing Watch , the website published by People for the American Way. L ouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who only a few years ago was lamenting the GOP’s decline into “ the stupid party ,” is now staking out a position on the party’s far-right fringe in apparent preparation for an expected run for the presidency. Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported...

How Bernie Sanders, In New Role, Could Make Wall Streeters Very, Very Unhappy

The iconoclast from Vermont plans to use his place as opposition leader on the Senate Budget Committee in a whole new way.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Senate Budget Committee ranking member Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, holds a news conference on the budget on Friday, January 16, 2015. B ig banks now have to contend with an old enemy in a new position of power. Bernie Sanders, the United States senator from Vermont, plans on using his new position as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee to take on too-big-to-fail financial institutions by advocating for their dissolution. Though a registered independent, Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, allowing him to assume the ranking member role representing the minority party. While normally the domain of the Senate Banking Committee, the oversight of Wall Street, Sanders and his staff believe, is a critical budgetary issue. Democrats need to directly challenge Wall Street’s power, they assert, by boldly reframing the argument against the consolidation of financial institutions in terms of its cost to...

Key to Understanding the New Congress: Gingrich's Contract With America

Republicans never really promised to deploy congressional power to fundamentally change national policy.

(AP Photo/Denis Paquin)
(AP Photo/Denis Paquin) House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, gestures while addressing a rally at Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 7, 1995, on the completion of the Republicans' “Contract with America.” While promising to return next month to take care of unfinished business, Gingrich proclaimed that “this is only a beginning.” A s the 114 th Congress begins, Republicans are signaling their desire to prove their party can not only win elections, but can govern. “GOP goal: Prove it can lead,” was the title of a page A1 story in Sunday’s print edition of Washington Post . “GOP agenda for Congress: Challenge Obama, prove they can govern,” CNN blared the next day. That governing agenda surely includes speeding up energy production, slowing down Obamacare’s implementation, and continued foot-dragging on immigration reform. But top party leaders readily confess their deeper motives. “We have to show that we can be a productive party, and that, I think, will have a direct effect...

The Bush Doctrine Lives

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements
The process of evaluating presidential candidates always involves a lot of speculation and guesswork, because we can't know what conditions a president is going to confront a few years from now. On domestic policy, however, we can at least look at what the candidate says he wants to do, because candidates keep the vast majority of their campaign promises. Barack Obama said he would enact health care reform, and he did; George W. Bush said he'd cut income taxes, and he did. When it comes to foreign policy, though, it can be a lot tougher to discern. First, candidates tend to be a lot less specific about what they intend to do. And second, much of foreign policy involves reacting to developments no one can foresee. So if you're trying to figure out what, say, Jeb Bush would do in foreign affairs, what do you have to go on? Well, you can ask a question like, "Would he be more like his father, or more like his brother?" Which will tell you very little. But Michael Crowley gives it a shot...

Scalise Scandal Rooted in Secret Societies' Hold on Paths to Power -- Through Violence

From campus rape to the House whip's 'need' to address white supremacists, it's starkly clear that American roots of gender, race and sexual violence run deep. So what are we going to do about it?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) In this November 18, 2014, file photo, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, right, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, left, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, following a House GOP caucus meeting. Scalise acknowledged that he once addressed a gathering of white supremacists. Scalise served in the Louisiana Legislature when he appeared at a 2002 convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), which was founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise is the third-highest ranked House Republican. There’s a direct connection between white male secret societies and group violence that roots gendered racism and raced sexism into our nation’s core. As the campus rape crisis, the Senate's CIA torture report , #blacklivesmatter movement and mainstream political acceptance of white supremacist ideology...

Torn Between Two Presidents

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In the 2008 primary campaign, there was a moment when Democrats began to debate Bill Clinton's legacy. At one point, Barack Obama seemed to minimize the significance of the Clinton presidency when he said, "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not." Hillary Clinton and her supporters reacted with horror, accusing Obama of thinking more highly of a conservative icon than a successful Democratic president (though that of course wasn't his point). In the end, that internal discussion—just how good a president was Bill Clinton?—never proceeded too far. But with Hillary Clinton still the prohibitive favorite to be the 2016 Democratic nominee, we could well have the full debate we never quite got in 2008, and in the context of the Obama presidency now entering its final phase. Hillary Clinton, it is said, has to distance herself from her former boss to convince voters that her presidency would be more than a...

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