We took what we had and we ripped it apart

Obama is planning on pushing for immigration reform. There’s no way in hell the House will pass anything, but it might be help drive more of a wedge between the teahadist wing and the pragmatic corporate lackey wing of the Republican party.

I’m still skeptical there’s an intraparty Civil War, but a couple events of note: Palin may campaign against Mitch McConnell and a bunch of conservative groups (including Club for Growth) are going after the very liberal Thad Cochran in Mississippi.

It’s hard to know what to make of all of this. There’s always been a lot of infighting among Democrats, and I wonder if the Republican infighting is striking because it’s more rare among Republicans or because their lack of practice at infighting makes them particularly inept at it.

114 replies
  1. 1
    Redshirt says:

    The Palin versus The Turtle would be awesome. The nutbaggers will get super frothy in ousting that RINO. And then lo, another Democratic Senator.

    Please proceed, the Palin.

  2. 2
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I wonder if the Republican infighting is striking because it’s more rare among Republicans or because their lack of practice at infighting makes them particularly inept at it

    Both of these, and what makes them even worse at it this time around is that a large fraction of them are rock stupid.

  3. 3
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    as much as I despise McConnell, at this point Palin feels like she’s between Coulter and Nugent on the wingnut food chain. She can embarrass McConnell, but I doubt she moves many votes. I would think a write-in campaign by bitter Paulistas would be a bigger threat in the general.

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  4. 4
    JPL says:

    She campaigned for Karen Handel in GA and Steve Lonegan in NJ. Neither of those candidates won. Her star power doesn’t necessarily mean votes. When she campaigned in GA, there were several females in the audience that dressed like her, which was pretty funny.

  5. 5
    Redshirt says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I disagree, a bit. Yes, the Palin has little influence over a general election. However, I think she has a real influence in a Republican primary. Given that primary voters are generally more motivated partisans, and the Wingnuts are motivated and partisan, the Palin can swing a primary towards the Wingnut if it’s close enough. She’s hailed as a hero among them, believe it because it’s true, and if she goes on the “The Turtle is a RINO” warpath, enough fellow travelers will hear that as music to their ears, and vote for the crazier person.

  6. 6
    dedc79 says:

    Also, the Hastert rule now has so many holes in it (hell, even Hastert is distancing himself from it) that maybe it will get even harder for Boehner to justify not at least letting the House vote on the Senate bill. At which point everybody in the House will have to on record voting for or against.

  7. 7
    NonyNony says:

    @Redshirt:

    However, I think she has a real influence in a Republican primary.

    Give me an example of a Republican primary where she’s backed the winner, and where the winner wasn’t the person already endorsed by the state Republican leadership and then I’ll start to worry laugh at McConnell.

    I don’t know her entire track record, but all of the endorsements I can recall Palin handing out in last cycle’s primaries turned out to be either duds or folks who were already on track to win because they were the establishment candidate anyway.

    As it stands, the idea of Palin campaigning against McConnell would make for some hilarious YouTube clips and Photoshop jokes, but I don’t see her moving the needle against him in the primary.

  8. 8
    Splitting Image says:

    There’s always been a lot of infighting among Democrats, and I wonder if the Republican infighting is striking because it’s more rare among Republicans or because their lack of practice at infighting makes them particularly inept at it.

    Both. The GOP is made up of two main groups: the Chamber of Commerce and the “Religious Right”. The Jesus freaks hate women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, and Muslims, and the big money guys hate poor people. What has made the alliance work so well for so long is the amount of overlap between those two groups. The problem now is that the antics of the teabaggers are costing the Chamber wing money, and the only way they can solve this is to kick the evangelicals out of the party.

    The teabaggers know this and are reacting by trying to kick the money guys out first. That won’t work, so this will end with the Chamber of Commerce still in control of the GOP and the Michele Bachmanns of the party becoming “independents”.

  9. 9
    El Caganer says:

    So the wingnuts want to dump Yertle, one of the only senators they have who actually understands how the government works, and replace him with a teabagger? Sounds like a plan!

  10. 10
    slippy says:

    When I read this first, I thought it meant Palin was going to carpetbag herself into Kentucky and run against McConnell. Had to make sure that was or was not true.

    It will be interesting to see how her dumb plays in Kentucky. I don’t think anyone outside of her fire-breathing fan base of maybe 1,000 people will give a shit. She hasn’t mattered in a long time.

    @El Caganer: Kentucky is going to be a lot bluer by the time 2014 rolls around, since they have a Democratic Governor who implemented a strong state component to Obamacare. LOTS of Kentuckians could use better healthcare.

    If Bevin (or Beavis as I like to think of him) runs against Obamacare he’ll get shit-canned in the general.

    If he doesn’t, he’ll get shit-canned in the primary. Either way, this sounds like an awesome lose-lose for Republicans.

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    @NonyNony:

    I think the Palin might have made a difference in South Carolina, with Governor Nikki Haley.

    Who’s been a disaster. But photogenic.

  12. 12
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I know I should be rooting for internecine warfare/primary upsets/unelectable candidates. But…I just can’t bring myself to root for the CFG in any capacity. They’re like the political equivalent of the guy who rams your car with his porsche and successfully sues you for it. Besides, is there such a thing as an “unelectable Republican” in Mississippi?

  13. 13
    👾 Martin says:

    There’s no way in hell the House will pass anything, but it might be help drive more of a wedge between the teahadist wing and the pragmatic corporate lackey wing of the Republican party.

    Well, yeah. This is Obama/Reid/Pelosi working the field for 2014. Immigration fight in parts take pressure off of ACA by presenting a new shiny penny, but it also allows the GOP to alienate a whole new segment of their constituency in the Dec/Jan hostage taking episode.

    A strategy to shrink the GOP until it’s small enough to drown in 27% of a bathtub sounds just fine to me.

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    @Redshirt:

    Please proceed, the Palin.

    Could be another rotating tagline.

  15. 15
    Petorado says:

    Immigration reform is a very opportune wedge to keep spreading apart the dividing Republican coalition. Rural farming areas, particularly in the South, have suffered under punitive actions against immigrants and need migrant immigrant workers to keep their farms, meat packing operations, and produce plants operating. Way to get solid red areas to quietly find agreement with Obama’s agenda. The money wing and the crazy wing of the Rs are looking at each other like one of them doesn’t get what the party is really about.

  16. 16
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @slippy:

    Grimes is already running pretty close to McConnell. Against Bevin, who is basically McConnell with twice the stupid and none of the benefits of seniority and leadership? Remember, Rand Paul only won by 10 points in a wave year when most Southern Republicans were winning by 20.

  17. 17
    Redshirt says:

    @NonyNony: Christine O’Donnell in 2010? That was probably going to be an R seat until the NOT A WITCH got the Republican nomination. Palin was involved.

  18. 18
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @Redshirt:

    Joe Miller, basically a male Palin, that same year. And Sarah Steelman in Missouri in ’12, who couldn’t even beat Todd Akin in a primary.

  19. 19
    Yatsuno says:

    Not to mention immigration reform brings out their racist crazies nothing else. Should be quite interesting.

  20. 20
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Maybe shoulda gone logical song on this title, “they’ll be calling you a radical, / Liberal”

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:

    WaPost 2010 story with unnamed GOP sources saying Nikki Haley had surged prior to the Palin’s endorsement as a “mama grizzly.”

    But what I really liked about the WaPost story was this reader comment, attached:

    The Palin Phenomenon is truly puzzling. She quit one job and lost the other, and in the process became more powerful than she ever would have been in either of them. Failure has made her a success. So why isn’t Walter Mondale Emperor of the Universe?

    I miss the Post’s old commenting software. Much easier to read and load.

  22. 22
    the Conster says:

    The Palin has gone well past her sell by date. Of course in addition to not retaining anything of value she learned while with the McCain troupe, she forgot how they did her hair and makeup, and clothes. You’d think that after stealing all those clothes she could put a better look together, but now she just looks like she’s been ridden hard and put away wet, including her shrill voice. The Palin is starburst FAIL. She’s crossed over into cringe territory.

  23. 23
    catclub says:

    “are going after the very liberal Thad Cochran in Mississippi. ”

    I got the joke, but Cochran is 76, so either this or the next term will likely be his last.
    Whoever challenges him first will be first in line when he retires.

    It is similar to the trick described in Nixonland – Nixon campaigned in 1966 against all the Democrats who had won marginal districts in a wave election in 1964 – so he was bound to look good as the wave washed back.
    This is similar. I think MS voters _know_ that the federal government butters their bread and that Thad Cochran brings it in better than anyone.

  24. 24
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: if I recall correctly, that race was quite close until the aquabudha advertisement. Apparently undecideds in Kentucky are busy and if you waste their time with stuff that happened 20 years ago, their opinion sours.

  25. 25
    aimai says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I think this is quite right. Palin has become an entertainer and star turn for a certain set. She adds a kind of hillbilly grifter glitter to, say, a campaign event but she won’t move the dial anymore than the opening band does.

  26. 26
    Jeffro says:

    @Splitting Image: I tend to see the IGMFU/”libertarian” teabaggers (i.e., the 45-and-under ones) as a third group that barely overlaps with either the CofC circle or the RRight circle. Reagan’s zombie grandkids, in other words.

  27. 27
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The racist scum that are the teatards cannot resist the sweet sweet immigration reform candy that Obama is serving up for them.

    Obama knows precisely what he is doing, and he’s playing these rubes like a violin, and they cannot, cannot stop themselves.

    It’s brilliant.

  28. 28
    Trollhattan says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:
    Yup, and what about whatzername in Nevada who somehow lost to Reid? You know, the one who was nuttier than the chickens-for-healthcare trixie.

  29. 29
    NonyNony says:

    @Splitting Image:

    The GOP is made up of two main groups: the Chamber of Commerce and the “Religious Right”. The Jesus freaks hate women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, and Muslims, and the big money guys hate poor people. What has made the alliance work so well for so long is the amount of overlap between those two groups. The problem now is that the antics of the teabaggers are costing the Chamber wing money, and the only way they can solve this is to kick the evangelicals out of the party.

    Don’t mistake the Tea Party with the Religious Right. There is overlap there, because the voting base of both groups is that same “Know Nothing” and “Anti-Masonic” and “John Birch Society” and “Dixicrat” core that has existed in the US since the Dawn Of The Republic. But they’ve got different leaders and if the Chamber of Commerce types do end up getting pushed into the waiting arms of the Democratic Party, the next thing that would happen is a massive slapfight between the Tea Party and Religious Right groups over whose stooge gets to be the Minority Leader of the House for the next decade.

  30. 30
    Lee says:

    @NonyNony:

    Give me an example of a Republican primary where she’s backed the winner, and where the winner wasn’t the person already endorsed by the state Republican leadership and then I’ll start to laugh at McConnell.

    Cruz was decidedly not the establishment candidate.

    IIRC, She back Cruz.

  31. 31
    NonyNony says:

    @Lee:

    Fair enough – folks have come up with a number of examples of Palin backing winners who came from the Tea Party.

    Of course then there’s the question of which came first – the chicken or the egg. Did they win because she endorsed them, or did she endorse them to further her grift and she was smart enough to pick a number of winners?

    Either way – if I were McConnell I wouldn’t worry too much about Palin. If he’s already in the territory where her endorsement can convince people to vote against him, he should write the election off as lost and retire.

  32. 32
    johio says:

    Didn’t Palin back Ted Cruz against the incumbent and establishment favored Lt Gov Dewhearst (sp)? I don’t know at what point she endorsed him, though. Could have been jumping onto an already leading team?

  33. 33
    Lee says:

    I agree. If her endorsement of a primary challenger would cause McConnell to lose the primary, he was probably not going to win the general.

  34. 34
    PreservedKillick says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Obama knows precisely what he is doing, and he’s playing these rubes like a violin, and they cannot, cannot stop themselves.

    This. They hate him so much that they’ve given him near absolute power over them.

    I’m sure there’s tacit, maybe even explicit, agreement about this with Boehner and McConnell, too. They all hate the teahadi.

  35. 35
    Lee says:

    @johio:

    Cruz was behind in the polls until the endorsement. He then got tied with Dewhearst and then barely squeaked out the win.

  36. 36
    Redshirt says:

    @NonyNony: I don’t know. The Teabaggers probably are also one of the most motivated groups to work on campaigns. If they’re against you, it makes it that much harder to get things done.

    Also, there’s this: TEABAG!

  37. 37
    Trollhattan says:

    Speaking of the Queen of Methmatics, Wonkette has a clip of her drunk as a skunk on Fox, with a barely contained Megyn Kelly.

    http://wonkette.com/532021/on-.....last-night

    As much as I enjoy watching the world’s most drawn-out trainwreck, this is just sad.

  38. 38

    Was reading through that Carville focus group last night and am more convinced than ever that “moderate” republicans are just teapeople/evangelicals without the courage of their convictions.

  39. 39
    AnonPhenom says:

    Interesting times.
    I know everyone here is not a DFH, but speaking as; I’m ‘feeling a change in the wind’.
    The congressional progressive caucus best not be taking shit for granted here.
    A rebirth of the Blue Dogs/DLC/Moderate Republicans bullshit seems very possible – leaving not only the teatards, but also progressives out in the cold.
    The CPC needs to be looking at getting a little ‘something-something’ in the way of seats at the table in return for support right about now.

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:

    I wonder if the Republican infighting is striking because it’s more rare among Republicans or because their lack of practice at infighting makes them particularly inept at it.

    I think it’s also something of the downside of the massive Republican media presence. The media is used to acting as a megaphone for right wing pressure groups, and they’re keeping at it. Now, though, the different right wing pressure groups are saying different things, so the media is amplifying their infighting instead of for their carefully constructed talking points.

  41. 41
    Chris says:

    @NonyNony:

    I always thought the Tea Party Movement was basically a broad, catch-all term for the Republican base. Plus a rebranding. The “religious right” used to be the biggest chunk of the GOP base, but this is vaguer, so more people can relate.

  42. 42
    Joel says:

    Nice Springsteen reference, Doug.

  43. 43
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I agree, I can almost feel pity for her.

    Almost.

    I’m pretty sure that she and Todd are in a position now where they MUST keep the grift going to maintain their new lifestyle, because the millions they earned from various ventures from 2009 onwards are gone in a spending splurge, and they’ve got to keep up the cash flow just to pay off the interest for their compound in Wasilla.

    She could have, with sensible planning, been set for life with that bonanza, but she’s like one of those wild spending lottery winners who wind up bankrupt and destitute due to their own folly.

  44. 44

    @Splitting Image:
    Problem: Without the Michele Bachmanns, the GOP cannot win any election ever again. Forget the Presidency. You can’t cut a third to half of your party out, the most reliable voters, and expect to function. The 1% have a little problem at the voting booth – they’re only 1% of the population.

  45. 45
    gvg says:

    somebody commented that the teaparty and evangelicals aren’t the same group. I disagree. from what I can see, they are the same. They pretended to be different, but in practice the be the same.

  46. 46
    feebog says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I watched that clip earlier today and didn’t see anything different from her usual word salad nonsense. I think she might be more coherent if she was drunk.

  47. 47

    @gvg: The difference that the democracy corps paper notes is that they care about different things. Social issues for evangelicals.

  48. 48
    fka AWS says:

    It’s hard to know what to make of all of this.

    The FSM is smiling upon us.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gvg:

    I think there’s a very strong overlap between the two groups, but I don’t think they’re absolutely congruent.

    Close enough for government work, though.

  50. 50
    geg6 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    That’s what I think, too. He’s going to spend the next seven or eight months bringing up shit they hate just so they can go off the deep end over whatever it may be, hopefully culminating in a huge Tea temper tantrum just before November 2014.

  51. 51
    The Other Chuck says:

    @Trollhattan: I dunno, she kept the same even nasal tone with very clear diction to her word salad monologue throughout. I did just skip through chunks of it, since I felt my muscles tightening and my testicles pulling up when listening to her for more than five seconds at a time, so is there a moment in the clip where she seems especially snockered? If it’s the glazed look, she looks like that _all the time_.

  52. 52
    Yatsuno says:

    @Suffern ACE: That was a mistake by his opponent. Conway kept bringing it up over and over and ended up looking petty. He hammered on that point and didn’t sell himself at all after that ad came out.

  53. 53
    RaflW says:

    @Trollhattan:

    As much as I enjoy watching the world’s most drawn-out trainwreck, this is just sad.

    Jeez. I haven’t seen the Palin in a long time. I’ll say this, she’s able to memorize eleventy disconnected talking points and can string them together after 5 mai tais. Immmmm-pressive!

  54. 54
    Violet says:

    @Trollhattan: She’s got to have some kind of substance abuse issue. She’s gotten so thin. And she doesn’t look remotely healthy. If it turned out she was an alcoholic or had a meth problem (drug of choice in Wasilla) or even cocaine, I wouldn’t be surprised. She looks a shadow of her former VP-candidate 2008 self.

  55. 55
    Violet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Save your pity for her kids. If Sarah Palin’s life collapses, that’s her problem. But she’ll take her family down with her, and some of those kids are not yet adults. Save any sympathy for them.

  56. 56

    @Violet:
    Hate also carves you. She has that look.

  57. 57
    Trollhattan says:

    @Violet:

    My takeaway too. She once worked in broadcasting and certainly knows that the rolling head, eyes darting off-camera, talking over your co-host/interviewer, etc. etc. are NOT how it’s done. She was on-camera talent before she was a politician–the opposite of how it normally progresses.

    So she either simply doesn’t care or, I think more likely, is losing it, either to substance abuse or actual illness.

  58. 58
    Violet says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: She does indeed. She’s always been a mean girl–women picked up on that pretty quickly in the 2008 election. She projects that hate all over the place, but probably saves the worst for herself, since that’s how it usually works.

  59. 59
    dogwood says:

    I’m interested in seeing how strong the teaparty is in southeast Idaho. Mike Simpson has a primary challenger in a race that will go GOP no matter what. Simpson voted with the “surrender caucus”, and it will be fun to see if he can fend off the crazy. I’ve had ex-students who have worked in his DC office who say he runs a professional operation. He’s known for being great at constituent services. We’ll see how far that gets him.

  60. 60
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Violet: exer-rexic living on protein bars and “skinny” white mochas (remember when they tried to make that “a Sarah”?)

  61. 61
    Violet says:

    @Trollhattan: She was on camera “talent” for about fifteen seconds in the 1980’s. Whatever she learned about that job is probably mostly gone from her head by now. Add in the drug or alcohol problems, and it could be totally gone.

  62. 62
    EconWatcher says:

    @Violet:

    Mean girls usually don’t end up with press secretaries.

    My absolute favorite Palin moment was while she was still governor, when her press secretary was engaged in an extended war of words in the media with Levi Johnston. Imagine hiring a professional to issue press releases, using classic PR language, to lob public criticisms at the unemployed 19-year old who knocked up your daughter.

    I still shake my head in amazement.

  63. 63
    Violet says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yeah, maybe. I don’t believe she runs as much as she said. There was the race in the Seattle area people showed up to see her in, and no one ever saw her. Then her people released a photo of her purportedly in the race that had clearly been Photoshopped. I think her claiming to run is part of her brand.

    Her downhill slide in looks over the last five years has been dramatic. I don’t think that could be chalked up to exercise and coffee. Something has happened to her and it’s not good. This photo is a good example.

  64. 64
    beltane says:

    @EconWatcher: And yet even in that effort she was outsmarted by Levi’s sister Mercede.

  65. 65
    WereBear says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: She (Palin) could have, with sensible planning, been set for life with that bonanza, but she’s like one of those wild spending lottery winners who wind up bankrupt and destitute due to their own folly.

    Sorta. Because she has the kind of high, random expenses, like children’s bail and plane rides, that would tax sensible outgoes.

  66. 66
    Maeve says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    Joe Miller, basically a male Palin, that same year. And Sarah Steelman in Missouri in ’12, who couldn’t even beat Todd Akin in a primary.

    Joe the Miller won the Alaska Rep. Senatorial primary. Then lost the general to Incumbent (R) Lisa Murkowski who ran as a write-in candidate (and even got people to spell her name right (or close enough that voters intent was clear, as the court decided when Joe the Miller appealed).

    Personally I’m hoping that Sarah decides to run for Senate in Alaska. Although I’m not sure she has enough pull here. The most frequent term people have for her here in Alaska is “the Quitter”, but she may still have enough fans in the closed R primary. But then she’d lose the general to incumbent (

  67. 67
    Violet says:

    @EconWatcher: No, they have minions who do their dirty work. And that’s exactly what her press secretary and other employees are. They’re not traditional political professionals–they’re people she sort of trusts or at least has dirt on that she gives jobs to. That’s it. The real professionals have left her employ and have told stories of what she’s like to work for. She’s a classic mean girl.

  68. 68
    Violet says:

    @Maeve: Doesn’t she basically live in Arizona now?

  69. 69
    Mike in NC says:

    Obama is planning on pushing for immigration reform.

    Nothing gets the wingnuts more spun up than this. They’ve been convinced for the past decade that swarms of Spanish-speaking thugs are surging over the Rio Grande looking to steal their shitty jobs, guns, and white women.

  70. 70
    MCA1 says:

    @Xecky Gilchrist: I think it’s neither of those reasons. DougJ says that it’s novel to see it happening amongst Republicans instead of Democrats, but Democrats haven’t in recent memory cleaved off into two wholly separate camps, where the radicals were threatening to leave the party if the establishment Speaker didn’t accede to their every crazy demand. Pelosi and company were never in this sort of open warfare with the triangulators back in the day, not many Democrats have been primaried for not pushing for single payer, and there’s not been a separate “brand” within the party that comes anywhere close to the Tea Party. HRC and Obama were a hare’s breadth from each other on just about every issue in ’08. As with everything, though, the inertia of the “Democrats in disarray” metastory is just hard to overcome, since it took hold in the formative years of a lot of the pundits in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, which is the last time we actually saw the amount of foment we’re seeing in the GOP right now, in the Democratic Party.

  71. 71
    West of the Rockies says:

    Anyone else contend with DougJ’s notion that there is no intraparty war in the Republican party? With a little taste of power and camera-time, it strikes me that the TP/Constitutionalist/Libertarian group is itching for a dust-up with their supposedly moderate party members. I could well be wrong, but I hope not because such a battle would prove very good theater!

  72. 72
    Maeve says:

    @Violet:
    I don’t think she’ll run anyway since she is having too much fun being a grifter and not having to deal with all that boring work.

    After she quit, even republican state legislators talked about the meetings in which she was disengaged and how she didn’t know the difference between a capital budget and an operating budget.

  73. 73
    Trollhattan says:

    @Violet:

    True. I’ve seen a few Sarah Heath videos and can’t fault what she does in them–basically a decently competent, young, small-market sportscaster talkin’ hockey without cuttin’ off her “g”s. It’s actually a pretty tough hill to climb to even land that job, as the competetion was/is fierce.

  74. 74
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @EconWatcher: There’s not much than can amaze me anymore about that hate-chiseled harridan. (Thank you Frankensteinbeck for the reminder of that process).

    In a masochistic moment I watched the tape and she has a bit of CNS depressant slur, more in terms of timing than of verbal incoherence, which is her native language. Or, as Dick Cavett once noted, her lack thereof – I think it was along the lines of “Sarah Palin talks like someone who has no native language.”

  75. 75

    I can’t believe that they’d run a serious primary challenger to Cochran. Oh, wait, I misspoke, yes I can. I wouldn’t have believed it even ten years ago, though.

    The guy is the highest ranking Republican on the agriculture committee, and he’s two on the appropriations committee, but he could be the highest there if he chose to give up his first spot on the agriculture committee. And if the Republicans took back the Senate, he’d get to choose which committee to take the chairmanship of. They’d be dumping him for some dumbass backbencher. Smart.

    It’s true that he’s “only” the 30th most conservative Republican out of 46, but all it takes to be ranked that low is to vote against his party’s position on important votes 3.68% of the time. Think about what that means. A better than 96% lockestep record in the Senate is enough to get somebody rated as a “sellout” or a “RINO” or a “moderate” or “weak”. Speaking more broadly about the Republicans, it’s scary that you have to go (from most to least conservative) through 35 senators before you find one who splits with his party as much as 5% of the time. It takes 42 senators before you find one who breaks even 10% of the time. The most “liberal” senator, the ever-lauded Susan Collins, votes with her party 72.47% of the time.

    In contrast, there are only 9 Democrats who vote with their party 95% or more of the time. Another 13 break 90%, 7 more break 85%, there are 4 more over 80%, another 9 over 75%, 2 over 70%, five over 65%, two between 60 and 65%, two between 55 and 60%, and the most conservative Democratic senator, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, has a 52.50% rating.

    This is something that just goes over tens of millions of Americans’ heads, but I think it’s a huge part of what makes American politics so poisonous right now. This isn’t a case of “both sides do it!” This is a Republican problem. Democrats range from 100 (the new guy from massachusetts, who’s only been there a few months) all the way down to 52. Republicans go from 100% Republican (there are five of those) only to 72%. Republicans average 95.71% unity; Democrats average only 78.48%. I don’t think a lot of people know this, and they think that, say, Thad Cochran is “moderate” because he doesn’t behave like Ted Cruz. But when you break down their votes, there’s only 3.68% worth of difference between them.

  76. 76
    fuckwit says:

    My god, why must it always be a fucking horserace???!! Jeeebus fuck. Have you been watching too much corporate “news” (that is, political hacks discussing campaigns 24/7)?

    Maybe Obama is pushing immigration reform BECAUSE THE NATION NEEDS IMMIGRATION REFORM!

    Maybe he’s pushing immigration reform because a bipartisan, reasonable, comity/compromise/obviously-the-right-thing-to-do bill has already passed the Senate, and, IF OUR CONGRESS WAS FUNCTIONING, it would have sailed through the House already.

    Maybe his fucking 11th-dimensional political scheming genius move is to JUST DO HIS FUCKING JOB, and to expect– and pressure– Congress to do the same?

    I mean, these schmucks are getting paid fucking $175k/year. What the fuck are they getting paid to do??

    We have a motherfucking country to run. DO YOUR GODDAMNED JOBS CONGRESS and pass the fucking legislation we are fucking paying you to pass! It’s bipartisan, it’s compromisey, it’s probably even loaded with the pork you fuckheads love so much, so PASS THE FUCKING THING ALREADY.

    This is not hard. It’s not even political. It’s responsible. There is zero reason why this bill shouldn’t already be the law of the land.

    Oh, and next, pass a gun background checks bill that like 80% of the country agrees with. And the oceans are melting while you are sitting around getting paid $175k/year, so pass a fucking carbon tax. And raise the fucking minimum wage to $15/hr so that people that aren’t making $175k/year can fucking afford to live.

  77. 77
    Violet says:

    @Maeve: I don’t think she’ll run either. She’ll flirt with it in an attempt to fill her coffers, but that’s it. Sarah Palin doesn’t do work and running for office is work.

    The only way she’d run is if she needs the money. She’d then start up a campaign, take in plenty of money from her idiot followers who would be so excited they’d liquidate everything they have to give it to her, and then drop out with some excuse of fighting the fight by getting other people elected or something.

  78. 78
    Fair Economist says:

    @Violet:

    She’s got to have some kind of substance abuse issue. She’s gotten so thin. And she doesn’t look remotely healthy. If it turned out she was an alcoholic or had a meth problem (drug of choice in Wasilla) or even cocaine, I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Skinny and world-salad just reeks of some kind of amphetamine abuse. Not so much alcohol. Meth or coke are certainly possible, but you can get the same effect from prescription diet pills too.

  79. 79
    Maeve says:

    @Violet:
    Then she’d have to give the money back, as happened already to one of her funds when she quit as governor.

    There were rumors at one time she was moving to Arizona, but that was before Fox News built her a TV studio in her Wasilla house and she discovered Alaska reality shows paid off. A grifter’s gotta grift.

  80. 80
    West of the Rockies says:

    Well, Sarah does look leaner and far more brittle than she did back in ’08. Maybe she hired a personal chef and nutritionist. I’d be surprised if she started abusing drugs because some reporter somewhere would have sniffed it out and reported it. That is WAAAAY to “sexy” a story for the press to ignore.

  81. 81

    Maybe Obama is pushing immigration reform BECAUSE THE NATION NEEDS IMMIGRATION REFORM!

    We need a lot of things, but some things we need are better political tools than others. Plus if we get out the hispanic votes in 2014, we might actually accomplish immigration reform.

  82. 82
    Maeve says:

    Okay – more about the fun house of Alaska politics (cut off from my previous post due to iPad, switched to a real keyboard now)

    The current Republican senatorial race has 3 candidates, including Joe the Miller (T). They will run against Mark Begich (D) – who won a tight race against the late Ted Stevens (a convicted felon at the time of the general election, said conviction reversed due to misconduct by the prosecution, said prosecution initiated by the Justice Department under Bush). I personally take credit for Begich winning because in 2008 I canvased in our town of 9,000 for Obama/Begich, encouraging early voting, and when I heard the race when to manual counting and was still too close to call and there were 2,000 uncounted early votes from our town I knew Begich had won.

    That said Alaska is becoming redder – due to population growth in the Anchorage area (which includes Palmer/Wasilla) outpacing rural growth – the urban/rural divide is backwards in Alaska with rural being bluer.

    So Begich has a tough fight no matter what – but the Republican party is in disarray. They got taken over by Libertarians (registered as R) when the Libertarians got there people out to the 2008 caucuses and they also stayed for the “boring” part after the presidential nomination fan-out when most people leave and party officials get elected. Since then the Libertarian chair and other party officials have been ejected but the official party is broke and disorganized.

    Independents out-number both R and D in Alaska (actually they are unaffiliated – the Alaska Independence Party in another thing – the part Todd Palin belonged to at one time which advocates succession from the US because we have so much oil money what could go wrong?). the Dem primary and caucuses (which happen in presidential years) allow a couple of other parties to vote and you can register at the door as D – the Rep primary and caucuses are closed – you have to already be registered as R.

    So who knows what will happen?

  83. 83
    NCSteve says:

    Follow the money and the strings on the shadow puppets to their origin and its quite clear what’s going on. What we’re really seeing is civil war between the Kochs and DeMint and their allies, the liberarian plutocrats who think the best form of oligarchy would be neofeudal warlordism, and the Big Finance/Big Defense/Big Healthcare and Pharma/Big IP people who believe the oligarchy should take the form of a strong centralzed kleptocracy.

    The two factions have gone as far right as they can together. Now the paths to the form of extremism each wants to take the country have diverged.

  84. 84
    Mullah DougJ says:

    @fuckwit:

    But there’s no way it can pass, so the only relevant angle is the horse race.

  85. 85
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:Heh, heh. He’s gonna get them to shoot their own wounded.

    Praise the lord and pass the ammunition!

  86. 86
    fuckwit says:

    @NonyNony: Modern Rethug coalition was put together by Grover Norquist in the 80s and is starting only now to fracture. It’s the Corporate 1% elite, the Chamber of COmmerce, the military-industrial complex, the racist confederates, and the religious fundamentalists. Lots of overlap between them, but also lots of differences. The main thing they all had in common was deep hatred of the Evil Federal Gummint, and a strong desire to drown it in a bathtub.

  87. 87
    fuckwit says:

    @Mullah DougJ: That may well be the end result, but I don’t think giving up is an option, for him, or for us. Hell I thought the CR wouldn’t pass. Maybe he can get this through too. But not trying shouldn’t be the default option. The legislative part of the government has been shut down too long and it needs to stop.

  88. 88
    Roger Moore says:

    @Maeve:

    Then she’d have to give the money back, as happened already to one of her funds when she quit as governor.

    It depends on how she asks for the money. If she forms any kind of official campaign committee, then she has to spend any money it gets on official campaign stuff, with all the annoying limits on what it can be spent on. If she kind of hints that she might run and asks people to donate to Sarah PAC, there are many fewer limits on what she can do with the money.

  89. 89
    johnny aquitard says:

    @PreservedKillick:

    They hate him so much that they’ve given him near absolute power over them.

    Man that is so true.

    Wasn’t that an old adage or wise saying or something? I do recall something about the end result of hating someone means you are giving that person absolute power over you.

    If we ever needed a proof, there is it.

  90. 90
    Botsplainer says:

    @West of the Rockies:

    Well, Sarah does look leaner and far more brittle than she did back in ’08. Maybe she hired a personal chef and nutritionist. I’d be surprised if she started abusing drugs because some reporter somewhere would have sniffed it out and reported it. That is WAAAAY to “sexy” a story for the press to ignore.

    I’d hit it (always had a weakness for the crazy), but only if she promised not to talk. That voice grates on me.

  91. 91
    danimal says:

    I don’t care much if Yertle wins or loses in KY. I just hope that both factions are relatively even matched and have enough resources to blast each other to smithereens prior to the general election. In general, when Republicans are spending money fighting each other, it’s a good day for the Dems.

    Does this mean I’m rootin’ for a GOP Civil War? You betcha!

  92. 92
    Maeve says:

    @Roger Moore:
    “It depends on how she asks for the money. If she forms any kind of official campaign committee, then she has to spend any money it gets on official campaign stuff, with all the annoying limits on what it can be spent on. If she kind of hints that she might run and asks people to donate to Sarah PAC, there are many fewer limits on what she can do with the money. ”

    In this case it was the “Sarah defense fund” for her defense against ethical charges as governor (including some complaints she brought against herself because while the investigation was going on the records were closed)

    So since the wording was “defense fund for the governor” she had to give the money back when she quit. Simlilary a PAC, although it would allow her to spend money not just on her own campaigns but on other candidates or causes, couldn’t be used personally. So reality TV shows and compensated speeches are the way to go.

  93. 93
    hoodie says:

    There’s always been a lot of infighting among Democrats, and I wonder if the Republican infighting is striking because it’s more rare among Republicans or because their lack of practice at infighting makes them particularly inept at it.

    Do you think that’s really the case, at least in any ideological sense? I don’t recall any serious Dem ideological infighting since the early Clinton years, and nothing really bad since the Viet Nam era. Sure, there’s some stuff like Rahm and “retarded”, but those seem to be relatively minor dustups. Firebagging is nothing compared to the teabagger outbreak. Seems to me that Republicans are reverting to their mean that existed before Reagan was beatified, the old fights between the birchite elements and the corporate/professional pol types. Reagan smoothed that all over and it remained suppressed for quite a while.

    I think teabaggers and their bircher precursors have always had some unconscious sense they’re being conned by the GOP establishment, hence you have this inherent tension in the GOP coalition and the kind of infighting we’re seeing now as charlatans and demagogues like Cruz and Palin try to take advantage of the tension. Dem interest groups tend to get tangible benefits from their establishment, even though that establishment is pretty plugged into the economic elites, so they are more accommodating to party leadership. Unlike dem interest groups, the GOP base isn’t getting much that’s tangible, and have to find their satisfaction in the psychic balm of making people they don’t like suffer, even though that does them no particular tangible good. Immigration is a good wedge issue for exploiting that rift, because the GOP establishment doesn’t want to completely estrange itself from a growing demographic group, but hate of immigrants is like filet mignon to the base. The problem for the GOP now is they can’t pay off their constituents with pork because they’ve trained them to like the taste of spite.

  94. 94
    Splitting Image says:

    @NonyNony:

    Don’t mistake the Tea Party with the Religious Right. There is overlap there, because the voting base of both groups is that same “Know Nothing” and “Anti-Masonic” and “John Birch Society” and “Dixicrat” core that has existed in the US since the Dawn Of The Republic. But they’ve got different leaders and if the Chamber of Commerce types do end up getting pushed into the waiting arms of the Democratic Party, the next thing that would happen is a massive slapfight between the Tea Party and Religious Right groups over whose stooge gets to be the Minority Leader of the House for the next decade.

    The thing is: the “Religious Right” is itself a rebranding of the Know-Nothings and the John Birch Society. It was deliberately built to draw in Dixiecrats and conservative Catholics. The Tea Party is simply what the “Religious Right” looks like when the veneer of respectability that the hippie from Nazareth gave it starts to wear off: mean and rotten to the core. I think they had the idea in 2008 of using the Tea Party to pivot away from the old culture war issues towards a form of “I got mine, fuck you” that would appeal more to less-religious young people, but it hasn’t been working.

  95. 95
    RaflW says:

    @Violet: Her breathing also looked really weird in that video. Kinda like she was excited/nervous, which doesn’t make any sense given how much TV she’s done.

  96. 96
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Chris:I really don’t think there are very many fundies who are not in the TP. I’m thinking the base of the GOP is the Teaparty and the base of the Teaparty is the religious right.

    The emotion and the fury and the self-righteousness and the stoopid and the discernible bigotry is just like the religious right’s because the RR is mostly in the TP.

    edit: @Villago Delenda Est: Ok, more like this. Big overlap. RR is the TP’s base, and TP is the GOP’s base.

  97. 97
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @RaflW: One thing she’s always had in common with the Idiot Princeling of Walker’s Point is a weird combination of arrogance and insecurity

    @Mullah DougJ: I’m not so sure. I’m not cheerfullly optimistic, but if the crazies keep making spectacles of themselves, if the pragmatists start to fear general elections more than primaries, if some of the old guard just gets sick of their shit… a lot of bit ifs, I know, and the biggest one of all being Latino and other non-traditional off-year voters looking like they’re getting ready to show up, I think it could pass. It’s possible.

  98. 98
    Roger Moore says:

    @Maeve:

    Simlilary a PAC, although it would allow her to spend money not just on her own campaigns but on other candidates or causes, couldn’t be used personally.

    But PACs can hire people, pay consultants, rent offices, etc. You can bet that a lot of the money that goes to Sarah PAC winds up pay for Sarah’s salary, covering the cost of her fundraising trips that just happen to be close to places she wants to be for other reasons, providing jobs for other family members, etc. There’s a lot of room for grift in politics, which is why it attracts people like Sarah Palin.

  99. 99
    Chris says:

    @NCSteve:

    Interesting point. I wouldn’t mind a thread or two on the subject of their intra-elite conflicts.

    Historically, hasn’t there always been a divide like that between “heartland” elites (socially conservative, small government/states’ rights supporting, fanatically ideological) and those based in the Northeast (more pragmatic, more modern, more in favor of a strong federal government)?

  100. 100
    Maeve says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Yeah – but it’s still too much work! ;)

  101. 101
    p.a. says:

    Isn’t it nice to be wielding the wedge issues at last? Remember all the ‘genuflect before the flag or you’re a mooslim commie’ stuff!

  102. 102
    Jeffro says:

    @johnny aquitard:I’m thinking the base of the GOP is the Teaparty and the base of the Teaparty is the religious right.

    I think half of the Tea Party is pretty old, white, right, and religious. I think the other half is the IGMFU-thinks-of-themselves-as-libertarian (and not particularly religious) under 50 crowd. They, like the fundies, know that they are getting shafted by the corporate half of the GOP (i.e., the Chamber of Commerce/Wall Street half)…but instead of considering themselves moderate Democrats and being ok with a decent safety net for all, they seem to think they can improve their lot by checking their brains at the door and fighting harder over scraps.

    In other words, they’ve probably internalized a lot of anti-left rantin’ & ravin’ from their parents (who might perhaps be those older fundies?) and can’t bring themselves to admit the DFHs have been pretty right all along…

  103. 103
    Jose Arcadio Buendía says:

    @MCA1: As recently as 2000, enough “liberals” voted for a third party to put Shitferbrains in office and the two cycles before that Perot got some votes, though not necessarily as a split of the Dems.

  104. 104
    West of the Rockies says:

    So I just watched the Kelly/Palin interview… Palin looks less thin than she did a few months ago, so I’m disinclined to think she’s a substance abuser, but she seems even more unhinged than usual. She went in with a clear list of talking points (scrawled on the palm of her hand or the sole of one foot perhaps) that she just HAD to spew out, lest she lose her train of thought completely.

    Okay, so it’s not so much a “train” of thought as an apple-cart of thought. With a broken wheel. And a dodgy axle. In which the apples are moldering and covered with fruit flies. Stuck in a pile of dung. In Greenland.

  105. 105
    Chris says:

    @Splitting Image:

    I think it’s more accurate to call the religious right a rebranding of the Southern Democrats rather than an appeal to them from outside. Their founding fathers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were both Southerners and Southern Baptists born and raised and Falwell cut his teeth on the segregation issue in the fifties and sixties, arguing for the racists (even inviting George Wallace and Lester Maddox to speak). Haven’t found what Robertson was doing at that time, but he was pretty vocal in favor of the apartheid regime in South Africa when that came up.

    The religious right matches the “Dixiecrats by another name” profile probably best out of all the factions in our politics, IMO.

  106. 106
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @fuckwit:

    You don’t understand.

    Immigration reform IS an important policy that must be addressed, but there is ALWAYS a political calculus involved in order to get the policy you think is the most utilitarian in place.

    Obama’s got both the policy and the politics covered on this. The upshot is, encouraging GOP self-immolation (as he’s doing by dangling immigration reform out in front of the teabaggers) assists in getting the policy implemented.

    It’s win win. There is ALWAYS a political element to this, and all your gnashing of teeth about horse races will not change that aspect of it.

  107. 107
    PsiFighter37 says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I honestly don’t know if Obama is counting the political aspects of it – I never got the sense he was a big Democratic Party cheerleader, but maybe he realizes he needs a Democratic House if he wants any part of his second term to be more than simply holding back the crazy.

    Whatever causes the House GOP to set their approval ratings on fire and lower them even further, I am all for.

    Also, too, that video linked above with Princess Starbursts was pretty startling. I concur with those who thinks there’s a substance being taken when it’s not supposed to be taken in her case.

  108. 108
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Splitting Image:

    Yeah, the “religious right” didn’t emerge as a force until the late 70’s when Jimmy Carter forced their hand by imposing honest to gawd in heaven Christianity on them, and they balked, in the form of going after the “Christian Academies” on taxes which were set up primarily to evade integration.

    Same old racist dogshit. The teabagger movement materialized out of thin air in the fall of 2008 when it looked like McCain would lose, and the nominal concern was the deficit. It’s very telling that these same people were not outraged by the deserting coward’s borrowing and spending and evisceration of a government surplus handed to him by American’s First Black President, Mr. Blowjob and Blue Dress.

    The real issue has always been ZOMG an usurper Democrat is in the WH, and he’s near!

  109. 109
    Roger Moore says:

    @Maeve:

    Yeah – but it’s still too much work! ;)

    It’s work, but I think a lot of it is the kind of work that Palin actually likes. She likes the part where you make speeches, appear on TV, and generally get to act like a big shot. It’s the grind of arranging the appearances, dealing with the financing, coming up with policy, etc. that she doesn’t want to do. I think she’s a natural as a figurehead, as long as she can do the talking part of the job with a few slogans and a bowl of word salad.

  110. 110
    johnny aquitard says:

    @Jeffro: The throbbing bass line in the TeaParty dance beat is bigotry. The older glibertarians resonate with it, which is why they’re TP’ers and not Paultards, which is what the younger ones gravitate toward.

    Probably depends on the times in which they were born. Society changed, demographically and socially and politically, and I think the watershed was the period between that demarcated by coming of age during the Reagan years. If you came of age during the Reagan years or earlier, you were born concurrent with the CRA or before it. A whole ‘nuther level of racism was woven into that earlier society. A whole lot less accepting of a society. An Obama was impossible then and that impossibility was’t just at the fringe, it was mainstream.

    Those born during or after the Reagan years and or who came of age in the Clinton years experienced something different.

    Under 30 and libertarian, they’re likely to be humming the Paultard tune, a classic FYIGM with a whiff of submerged racism mixed in via some states’ rights samplings.

    40+ and libertarian, they can’t help themselves tapping their foot to the bigot beat.

  111. 111
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The upshot is, encouraging GOP self-immolation (as he’s doing by dangling immigration reform out in front of the teabaggers) assists in getting the policy implemented.

    The saddest aspect of this is that Republicans can’t help it. Cleek’s Law (*) is to Republicans as the hunt-the-laser-dot-imperative is to cats.
    My cat knows the dot-maker is emerging from the drawer (hears it somehow), waits for it, but can still be coaxed to perform embarrassing failed maneuvers. Republicans now have leaders warning that “it’s a trap!!!” but the warnings are largely useless.

    (*) “today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today: updated daily.”

  112. 112
    Roger Moore says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    My cat knows the dot-maker is emerging from the drawer (hears it somehow), waits for it, but can still be coaxed to perform embarrassing failed maneuvers.

    That’s because the cat thinks chasing the dot is fun. Cats understand what toys are and play with them in spite of knowing perfectly well that they aren’t genuine prey; they’re perfectly capable of ignoring the dot when they aren’t in the mood. The analogy is closer to the way pets (and kids) will get your attention by doing things they know you can’t ignore. My cat knows that I can’t ignore him knocking stuff off my desk in the morning, even if I really want to sleep. The teabaggers can’t ignore immigration reform, even if they know fighting it is going to cause problems within the Republican party.

  113. 113
    Maeve says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It’s work, but I think a lot of it is the kind of work that Palin actually likes. She likes the part where you make speeches, appear on TV, and generally get to act like a big shot. It’s the grind of arranging the appearances, dealing with the financing, coming up with policy, etc. that she doesn’t want to do. I think she’s a natural as a figurehead, as long as she can do the talking part of the job with a few slogans and a bowl of word salad.

    I think we’re actually in agreement – this is the Newt Gingrich model of political participation.

    I was actually astonished (at the time) at how poorly she did in 2008 (in the campaign and Katie Curic interviews) because in Alaska she had done so well in personal contact and campaigning. When she ran for Mayor of Wasilla she campaigned as “Wasilla needs a Christian mayor” – but not on paper – just unofficially – the then mayor was named “Stein” – his ancestory was Lutheran but he didn’t go to church and his wife was used her own name and was on the board of planned parenthood. Sarah didn’t use these in her official campaign but it was behind the scenes. She did remark his name was hard to spell.

    When she ran for Governor it was on a “reform” ticket – the current Governor (Murkowksi) and many legislators where being investigated for corruption and/or being in bed with oil interests. She beat him in the primary – toning down all the right wing/christian rhetoric – and in the legislature cooperated with the Dem/Repub caucus (at the time the state senate was 50:50 split between Dem and Repub and the bipartisan caucus (which all but the most right or left joined) split up committees, proposed legislature etc. It was they that negotiated the oil producers tax which the current governor and now Republican dominated legislature is trying to repeal. After she resigned, I was sitting in a social event here and our local (R) state senator was at the next table saying she was disengaged from actual politics, didn’t know the difference between a capital and an operating budget and it was the caucus that actually implemented the “reforms” she took credit for. (BTW the social event took place at our local high school cafeteria so don’t think I’m involved in high falutin politics – Alaska is a small town)

    So as of 2008, in terms of Alaska politics, Sarah seemed pretty politically savvy and good reading the political mood and adjusting to it – but that all fell apart on the national stage – which is also not surprising in hind-sight – she had spent her whole life in Alaska – except when she spent a year at the University of Hawaii (we had a transfer agreement then) but couldn’t take it because of she couldn’t take being a “minority” (according to her father) and then transferred to the University of Idaho).

    Stepping up to do a job without “official” credentials is part of that in a state of less than 800,000 population and land area that stretches across 2/3 of the continental US – it’s part of our existence for better or worse – but by the same token she didn’t have a clue of what she was getting into and was insecure and flustered by it. It wasn’t at all like preparing for the Miss Alaska pageant! They asked hard questions!

    So that’s why I’m predicting she’ll stay off the official (running for office) political stage and take her grifting (successfully) elsewhere.

  114. 114
    Jeffro says:

    @johnny aquitard: I think we’re on the same page, I just think “40+ and libertarian” doesn’t really exist…they’re not socially libertarian (on drugs, on gays, on women’s issues) and they’re not fiscally libertarian (especially when it comes to their Social Security/Medicare/prescription drugs). They’re just old and want to stop the clock while everyone else works hard and pays for their retirement/health care/quits being gay and/or brown.

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