Late Night No-Surprises Open Thread: “How We Killed the Tea Party”

TL; DR — it died for ‘our’ sins. “Campaign finance lawyer” Paul H. Jossey goes to Politico to drum up some free media, get revenge on former employers/competitors, and incidentally blow the gaff on his fellow grifters:

As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.

What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds…

Today, the Tea Party movement is dead, and Trump has co-opted the remnants. What was left of the Tea Party split for a while between Trump and, while he was still in the race, Ted Cruz, who was backed by Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots. In 2014, the Tea Party Patriots group spent just 10 percent of the $14.4 million it collected actually supporting candidates, with the rest going to consultants and vendors and Martin’s hefty salary of $15,000 per month; in all, she makes an estimated $450,000 a year from her Tea Party-related ventures. Today, of course, it’s all about Trump, but Trump rallies are only Trump rallies, not Tea Party rallies that he assumed control of. There are no more Tea Party rallies.

A recent poll showed that just 17 percent of Americans support what was once known as the Tea Party—the lowest number ever. The bailout-Obamacare-driven grass-roots revolt has vanished. Various autopsies have offered a number of causes: IRS targeting, bad candidates, hostile media, and even some hazy form of moral and political victory, in that the Tea Party pushed the GOP to take tougher stances on some issues. All have at least some merit.

But any insurgent movement needs oxygen in the form of victories or other measured progress in order to sustain itself and grow. By sapping the Tea Party’s resources and energy, the PACs thwarted any hope of building the movement…

There’s a lot more detail — much of it fairly damning, including Jossey’s only-virgin-at-the-whorehouse tales of his own PACery. Most of it is stuff us filthy Democrats / progressives / liberals have been saying about the ‘Tea Party patriots’ any time since the movement was astroturfed to distract the rubes and Media Village Idiots in 2009. When he’s not deploring the unearned success of all those other PACmasters, he’s fluffing the Koch brothers (“true believers and they don’t need your money”) and Erick “Resurgent” Erickson. But I get the distinct impression that Jossey may be an early adopter of the Next Big Conservative Idea — that Trump had nothing to do with the “real” Republican Party, which he hijacked for his own immoral purposes:

… At its best, the Tea Party sought a return to the nation’s philosophical roots of government of the people, by the people and for the people. In sad irony, the Tea Party was hijacked by those who mirrored its critique of government: bloated, inefficient and looking out only for themselves.

If there is a Tea Party 3.0 it must unshackle itself and rise again as a grass-roots movement.

And Mr. Jossey will be more than happy to offer his advice, for a fee befitting his status as a seasoned campaigner. I’m sure he’ll have plenty of company outside the smoking ruins of the GOP, come November 9th (if not sooner).

Early Hours Open Thread: Trump Is What They Are

Running mate Mike Pence followed with a comment to NBC Philadephia that Trump was simply “urging people around the country to act consistently with their convictions in the course of this election.”

Katrina Pierson, the campaign’s national spokeswoman, told CNN that Trump was “talking about unification and coming together to stop Hillary Clinton,” who she called a “gun grabber.”

And when Sean Hannity explained to his viewers Tuesday night that Trump meant that “if people mobilize and vote, they can stop Hillary from having this impact on the court,” Trump agreed that there could be “no other interpretation” of what he said at the rally. But Trump’s remark was still widely interpreted as a suggestion that gun owners could assassinate Clinton if she is elected president. MSNBC’s Kate Snow pressed Pierson on Trump’s phrasing Wednesday morning, noting that the order of his remarks made it seem like Trump was suggesting what “Second Amendment people” could do once Clinton was elected.

That’s when Pierson offered a completely different interpretation of Trump’s comments. She argued he was referencing the ability of the National Rifle Association to convince senators not to support any Supreme Court nominee appointed by Clinton…

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), an early endorser of Trump, also defended Trump by dissing the Republican nominee’s speaking skills.

“He is not a politician. He is not a person like you who’s very articulate, very well spoken,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday evening. “He’s a business person who’s running for president. So I don’t think the way he said that, and the sequence of his statements, I’m not going to judge him on that, because I don’t think that’s what he meant. And I think he can be inarticulate at times.”

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Early Hours Aggregation/Aggravation Open Thread

Betcha Susan Collins is feeling pretty smart right now…

Barely 24 hours after Donald Trump delivered a speech intended to reset his staggering presidential campaign, his off-the-cuff suggestion that people resort to violence against his opponent has him right back in the ditch.

At a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday, Trump applied his signature sarcasm to a political third rail, stating that “the Second Amendment” may be the only way to stop Clinton from getting to appoint federal judges if she defeats him in November…

Trump’s surrogates, already positioned on television sets, were left without any plausible response as media coverage of the presidential campaign focused on the GOP nominee’s latest misstep. “Mr. Trump was saying exactly what he said,” spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said on CNN. The campaign itself put out a “statement on dishonest media” that did not even attempt to clean up Trump’s comment…

Official NRA statement:

Guy who ghost-wrote Art of the Deal:

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Late Night “But Seriously” Open Thread: Donald Trump Is ONLY JOKING, Everybody!

Jason P. Steed is getting some deserved attention for his series of tweets on Trump’s “Second Amendment remedies” *joke*. Excerpts here, stripped, for those of you whose refined sensibilities can’t deal with Twitter:

… 4. Which is to say, humor is a way we construct identity – who we are in relation to others. We use humor to form groups…
5. …and to find our individual place in or out of those groups. In short, joking/humor is one tool by which we assimilate or alienate.
6. IOW, we use humor to bring people into – or keep them out of – our social groups. This is what humor *does.* What it’s for.
9. This is why, e.g., racist “jokes” are bad. Not just because they serve to alienate certain people, but also because…
10. …they serve to assimilate the idea of racism (the idea of alienating people based on their race). And so we come to Trump.
11. A racist joke sends a message to the in-group that racism is acceptable. (If you don’t find it acceptable, you’re in the out-group.)
12. The racist joke teller might say “just joking” – but this is a *defense* to the out-group. He doesn’t have to say this to the in-group.
13. This is why we’re never “just joking.” To the in-group, no defense of the joke is needed; the idea conveyed is accepted/acceptable.
14. So, when Trump jokes about assassination or armed revolt, he’s asking the in-group to assimilate/accept that idea. That’s what jokes do.
15. And when he says “just joking,” that’s a defense offered to the out-group who was never meant to assimilate the idea in the first place.
22. But I think it’s pretty clear Trump was not engaging in some complex satirical form of humor. He was “just joking.” In the worst sense.
23. Bottom line: don’t accept “just joking” as excuse for what Trump said today. The in-group for that joke should be tiny. Like his hands.

Vox‘s Zack Beauchamp posts the whole tweetstream, adding:

This is a broader problem with Trump’s candidacy. Even if he never makes it into the White House, it’s not clear how much damage his penchant for shattering norms against explicit racism and calls for violence is doing to American politics…

Side Note Open Thread: Roger Stone, Less Than Meets the Eye

Kudos to Media Matters for spotting this, which might’ve gotten some traction this morning if Trump hadn’t decided to start calling for his supporters to shoot people:

QUESTIONER: With regard to the October surprise, what would be your forecast on that given what Julian Assange has intimated he’s going to do?

ROGER STONE: Well, it could be any number of things. I actually have communicated with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his documents pertain to the Clinton Foundation but there’s no telling what the October surprise may be.

Stone was working for Richard Nixon when the original October surprise may or may not have tipped the election to the Repubs (at the cost of many innocent lives, but what does that matter to the GOP?). He’s never stopped using that particular street-cred tidbit to inflate his resume, and his fees. Anybody can say he’s “communicated” with Assange — if you include public comments about the man, half the people on this blog have ‘communicated’ with Assange — but anything beyond posting YAY JULIAN YOU GO GUY on social media implies (a) Roger Stone has access; (b) Julian Assange cares about what Roger Stone wants; (c) Julian Assange can be asked/forced/bargained into compliance with anyone’s agenda other than Julian Assange’s (if that). It’s bullshit, fed to an audience eager to pay for it.

In semi-related news, I still {heart} my senior Senator…

I’m collecting tweets about “Second Amendment solutions” for an aggregation post later tonight, incidentally. Brace yourselves…

Late Night Open Thread: The Bush Family Once Again Demonstrates Its Principle

Because, let’s be honest, they have but one: Whatever keeps the Bush clan in the game.

Patrick Svitek reports for the Texas Tribune:

Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who has not endorsed Donald Trump, is now asking Texas Republicans to support the party’s presidential nominee.

Addressing state GOP activists Saturday, Bush said it was time to put aside any lingering animosity from the primaries — where Trump defeated Bush’s dad, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, among others — and get behind Trump.

“From Team Bush, it’s a bitter pill to swallow, but you know what? You get back up and you help the man that won, and you make sure that we stop Hillary Clinton,” Bush said, according to video of the remarks provided by an audience member.

Bush was speaking in his capacity as the Texas GOP’s victory chairman, who is responsible for overseeing the party’s statewide campaign in November. Bush had been criticized for taking the role without backing the party’s presidential nominee…

Since the end of the primaries, many members of the Bush family and its network have declined to offer any support for Trump. They include Jeb Bush, former President George W. Bush and former President George H.W. Bush.

The old bulls have run their last races. George P. is the rising star; he’s no doubt sad that Trump pantsed his dad so brutally, but business — after all — is business.

Remember that brief happy moment when we allowed ourselves to believe that ‘Low Energy’ JEB!’s public embarrassment at the hands of a manic carnival barker meant we might never hear from the Bush Crime Syndicate again?


Late Night Open Thread: Working the (Political) Refs

We need to make this a landslide for Hillary Clinton. It won’t stop the most committed/dumbest Repubs from whining about ‘rigged’ precincts, but the bigger her margin, the less believable their unskewed polls complaints.

On that topic, a performance review by Dave Weigel, at the Washington Post:

“The Trump Card,” the latest work by the monologist Mike Daisey, begins and ends with an unprintable word. After they settle into their seats, the members of Daisey’s audience are told that they are “f—ed.” (There’s an implication that we knew this already.) After two or so hours of a performance that dives and bobs from Daisey’s childhood to the legal career of Roy Cohn and the latest Donald Trump outrage, Daisey shares the moral: Democracy is imperiled when people say “f— it.” (There’s an implication that we know this, too.)

Profanity has played a role throughout Daisey’s career, but in “The Trump Card” it carries a sort of profundity. More than ever before, Daisey has a subject he can inhabit. He has been delivering movie-length monologues off a few yellow pages of notes for 15 years, and now someone is running for president using apparently the same tactic. Trump, Daisey explains, is a “performer” who befuddles journalists and intellectuals but makes perfect sense to artists. “He has a performer’s card and he is abusing the s— out of it,” Daisey says….

The format resembles most of his works, including “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” That 2011 work made Daisey famous after a large section was recorded for “This American Life.” It made him infamous after some journalistic digging revealed that incredible scenes from the monologue, of Daisey talking to slave laborers who made Apple products, were inventions based on third-party human rights reports.

Daisey has plowed ahead, but the bitter lessons of “Steve Jobs” and the “This American Life” retraction are reflected in “The Trump Card.” He mentions the scandal at one point; on Thursday night, he quickly clocked his audience to see who did and didn’t remember it. The most revelatory stuff in the new monologue is about the nature of truth and what it takes for people to throw away decorum because they think they’re being wronged. Daisey is fascinated by how Trump’s lies work and wry about how the media can’t unravel them. In what might be the most useful analogy for how “Trump has hacked the media,” Daisey compares him to the hero who outwits a fairy by throwing a handful of sand in the air. According to fairy law, the creature must count every grain before he can focus on the hero, “and by that time he’s in the next town.”…