Eric Cantor

War And Peace: The Tea Party And The GOP

It’s not completely clear why Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, which he created in the wake of Obama’s election, has decided to hold an annual conference in Washington, D.C.  After all, the conservative Christian voters his group works to identify and mobilize already have the Values Voter Summit, the much larger fall event sponsored by the Family Research Council and a gaggle of other right-wing groups.

One reason may be for the once-disgraced Reed to show off his political access: last week’s Road to Majority conference was thick with Republican officeholders and presidential wannabes, and I lost count of how many times Reed told participants how impressed they should be by the lineup.  For the lobby day that preceded the conference itself, he was able to get face time for his participants with Religious Right and Tea Party heroes from the Senate -- Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and  Marco Rubio – and House of Representatives – Louis Gohmert, Steve King, and David Jolly – along with “establishment” Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen John Cornyn.

In fact, the conference may be seen by Reed as a way for him to play peacemaker among the sometimes warring factions within the Republican Party and encourage unity going into the election year. At last year’s conference, RNC head Reince Priebus had a chance to tell attendees, many of them skeptical, that he was indeed one of them, as a Christian and a conservative; this year he made an appearance via video.

Last Saturday, on panel on the 2014 elections, conservative pundit and author John Fund predicted that Thad Cochran would be defeated by Chris McDaniel. Fund said it would mark a second “humiliating defeat” for the Republican establishment (after Eric Cantor’s stunning primary loss) and should lead to a demand from the grassroots for McConnell and Boehner to work out a “peace treaty” with Tea Party activists so they could stop spending an “insane” amount of resources on internal fights. “The real enemy is in November,” he said.

Of course that’s not what happened on Tuesday. With a boost from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, and ads by football great Brett Favre – and more notably with a direct appeal to African American voters – Cochran squeaked out an unexpected victory.

The “humiliating defeat” was now pinned on Tea Party groups and there was little talk about peace negotiations.  Chris McDaniel’s already infamous non-concession speech turned into a rant against the Cochran campaign and Republican officials who sided with him:

There is nothing dangerous or extreme about defending the Constitution and the civil liberties therein. And there’s nothing strange at all about standing as people of faith for a country that WE built, that WE believe in. But there is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual, about a Republican primary that’s decided by liberal Democrats.”

“This is not the party of Reagan,” he declared. “But we’re not done fighting. And when we’re done it will be. We have fought too long we have fought too hard to have a voice in this party. And today, the conservative movement took a back seat to liberal Democrats in the state of Mississippi. In the most conservative state in the republic, this happened. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere. And that’s why we will never stop fighting.”

McDaniel was backed heavily by FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, which denounced as “disgraceful” the money spent by the NRSC to back Cochran.

National Review’s Eliana Johnson, who moderated the 2014 panel, said the Establishment / Tea Party split has been vastly overblown by the media slapping the Tea Party label on every gadfly challenger.  But on the night of Cochran’s Democratic-voter-assisted victory, Sarah Palin was talking about a third party.

For those of us outside the movement, who see the overlapping Tea Party and Religious Right movements relentlessly pushing the GOP further to the right, it can be hard to understand why there is so much anger directed at the establishment.  After all, it’s not as if Eric Cantor and Thad Cochran are some kind of liberal Rockefeller Republicans.

But even these conservative leaders are not enough for grassroots activists who imbibe a steady ideological diet, from right-wing media and movement leaders, calling for a radically limited federal government and viewing compromise made in the process of governing as complicity with tyranny. Republican leaders who encouraged an angry grassroots uprising against the “tyranny” of health care reform are now reaping the whirlwind.

If there were a unifying message from Ralph Reed’s conference, it was, “America is in decline and the world is going to hell and it’s all Obama’s fault.” The solution offered was a combination of spiritual and political warfare. While right-wing groups have a common enemy in the White House, and will certainly work together this year to try to give Republicans control of the Senate, it is clear that we haven’t yet seen the end of the struggle over  just how far to the far right the Republican Party will be pushed.

Paul Gosar Cites Eric Cantor's Defeat As A Reason House GOP Should Try To Impeach Eric Holder

Paul Gosar, the Republican congressman from Arizona who recently called for the impeachment of Attorney General Eric Holder, told WorldNetDaily’s Greg Corombos yesterday that Holder should be impeached over Benghazi, immigration, Fast & Furious, Guantanamo Bay and “violating criminal smuggling laws.”

He also pointed to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary defeat as a reason that congressional Republicans should pursue Holder’s impeachment: “This is growing by leaps and bounds. People are fed up, we saw the election last night, people are scared and they are angry.”

Tom DeLay Hails Eric Cantor's Loss As A Victory For Christian 'Spiritual Revival'

Former GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is praising the primary defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor, who before becoming majority leader himself was involved in one of DeLay’s casino gambling campaign financing schemes, as a victory for a Christian revolution.

DeLay told the Washington Times’ Andy Parks today that far-right challenger David Brat’s victory was a “spiritual revival” and a sign that pastors and “a lot of Christians that had never been elections before got involved” in politics.

“I’m not trying to be arrogant or a know-it-all but this is what I’ve been calling for well over a year now: spiritual revival and a revolution for the Constitution. I saw this as a manifestation of that,” DeLay said. “As I travel around the country what I hear from people, particularly Christians, is that they want to bring God back into the public arena, they want a revolution for the Constitution, they want constitutional government and they have a huge thirst for leadership.”

DeLay also described Cantor’s defeat as a loss for the progressive movement and the separation of church and state. Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, was actually a reliable Religious Right ally.

“People of faith are standing up now and they’re saying no more, enough is enough, we’re going to fight for what we believe in, we’re going to fight for our Christian — Judeo-Christian — values and we’re not going to take it anymore,” DeLay told Parks. “We need to defeat those who want to get God out of the [public] square and it’s happening, it happened last night with the Brat-Cantor race.”

David Brat Says Liberals Are 'Nervous' About Countries 'Feeding Their People,' Claims Win 'Came Straight Out Of Heaven'

Glenn Beck, who only recently began promoting economics professor David Brat’s primary campaign against Eric Cantor, hosted Brat on his radio show today to discuss his unexpected victory and purported media attacks.

After insisting that he is not a far-right candidate since he is part of the “compassionate party,” Brat said that progressives are getting worried about falling hunger in developing countries: “China and India are feeding their people in the first time in human history due to free markets and the left knows that and it gets them nervous.”

In another interview with American Family Association radio host Dan Celia, who said his win was the work of God and conservative talk radio hosts, Brat claimed his victory “came straight out of Heaven.”

He similarly told Fox News that “God acted through people on my behalf” in his primary victory.

Eric Cantor Pushes GOP To The Edge Of A Cliff, Falls Off

The headline of a New York Times article responding to Eric Cantor’s startling primary defeat last night read, “Cantor’s Loss a Bad Omen for Moderates.” That would be true if there were still moderates in the House Republican Conference to speak of.

But there aren’t, and you can thank Eric Cantor for that.

House Republicans are now heavily skewed to the right, including a large wing that refuses to ever collaborate with President Obama or congressional Democrats on anything. Cantor, of course, was one of the chief architects of the GOP’s hardline politicking and far-right shift.

Cantor helped sink bipartisan debt deals, including the 2011 budget “grand bargain,” and engineered the Republican strategy of manufacturing fiscal crisis after crisis by putting a ransom on must-pass fiscal bills.

As Bill Burton told the New Yorker in 2011, “Cantor has had an outsized influence on how poisonously partisan Washington has been these last couple years.”

Cantor also was behind the Republican Party’s decision following the 2012 election disaster to resist any calls to moderate or begin working, even slightly, with Obama. Instead, the GOP moved to rebrand itself by attempting to change its image, beating back on the (accurate) perception that it had become an extremist, uncompromisingly ideological entity.

Vanity Fair just this month ran a piece on Cantor’s attempt to seem more moderate, respectable and bipartisan — even while sticking to his old extreme policies. “[I]f people see you for what you really are, that’s a failure on your part,” Michael Kinsley wrote of Cantor’s rebranding attempt. “Success is when people see you as what you wish you were.”

In March, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza noted that Cantor, “the creator of a strategy to oppose and obstruct the Obama agenda” who has a “reputation as a Tea Party leader,” only sought to make “short-term adjustments in public relations” rather than to temper his increasingly unpopular, and unhinged, fanaticism:

Since the 2012 elections, the Republicans have been divided between those who believe their policies are the problem and those who believe they just need better marketing—between those who believe they need to make better pizza and those who think they just need a more attractive box. Cantor, who is known among his colleagues as someone with strategic intelligence and a knack for political positioning, argues that it’s the box.

By refusing to temper — and even encouraging — the party’s sharp far-right swing, Cantor helped to fashion a party that views even the perception of bipartisanship as blasphemy.

Take immigration, for example: While Cantor was actually blocking the House from voting on immigration reform legislation, he still tried to make it seem that the party was open to some reforms, knowing that a majority of Americans and the quickly growing Latino community strongly favored reform legislation. Cantor tried to make the GOP’s strict stance against any immigration reform palatable to the public, which eventually allowed his primary challenger to campaign against his supposed support for “amnesty.”

After encouraging hard opposition to any fiscal deals with Obama unless the president caved to their every demand, Cantor paved the way for a GOP where simply voting to lift the debt limit in order to avoid economic disaster or supporting relief for hurricane victims gives you the much-dishonored title of RINO, “Republican In Name Only.”

Cantor pushed the party so far to the right that even political posturing that had little to no effect on actual policy was too much for GOP primary voters, and now the politician often seen as the more conservative alternative to Speaker Boehner has become a target of the militant wing he helped create.

David Brat Sought Endorsement Of Anti-Immigrant Hate Group ALIPAC

David Brat’s upset victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in yesterday’s Republican primary in Virginia’s seventh congressional district was driven in part by Brat’s no-compromise position on immigration reform, which put him even farther to the right than the not-exactly immigration-friendly Cantor .

Among those celebrating Brat’s surprise win is William Gheen, head of the anti-immigrant hate group ALIPAC , who used some of his group’s meager funds to send out a robocall in the district in the days before the election, playing up the fear that undocumented immigrants would “vote with or against you in future elections.”

While the robocall was an independent endeavor, Brat had actively sought ALIPAC’s endorsement.

In February, Brat’s campaign manager filled out ALIPAC’s candidate survey, which asked prospective endorsees to choose between the enforcement of “immigration laws as the U.S. Constitution requires for the protection of American jobs, elections, taxpayer resources, health and lives” and immigration reform, which it said would “lead to a new voting bloc of 11-20 million illegal immigrants, which would in turn destroy any future hopes of border or immigration law existence or enforcement.” Brat chose the former, and earned Gheen’s endorsement .

Gheen — who is ALIPAC’s chief cook and bottle-washer — is a fringe extremist, even in the already extreme anti-immigrant movement. Here is just a smattering of his paranoid, racist rhetoric, that would have been easily accessible to the Brat campaign through a quick Google search:

William Gheen Robocall Warns South Carolina & Virginia Voters That Immigrants Will Take Their Jobs, Welfare And Votes

Updated

Despite his group’s perpetual financial woes, William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC has managed to scrape together enough funds to deluge 122,000 households in South Carolina and Virginia with a robocall attacking Rep. Eric Cantor and Sen. Lindsey Graham for supporting immigration reform, Brietbart reports today.

“Remember that a vote for Cantor or Graham is a vote for tens of millions of illegal immigrants to get amnesty, jobs, welfare payments and a vote with or against you in future elections. Remember who to thank for amnesty. Thank Eric Cantor and Lindsey Graham” Gheen says in the robocall, which he tells Breitbart will reach 26,000 Republican households Cantor’s Virginia district and 96,000 in South Carolina.

Cantor, meanwhile, hasn’t explicitly endorsed immigration reform and is actuallyfundraising off the claim that he blocked reform from moving forward in Congress.

Gheen is one of the most extreme figures in the anti-immigrant movement, who has warned of a violent revolution if the immigrant “invasion” can’t be stopped and said that immigration reform would amount to “national rape.”

UPDATE: It looks like Gheen’s South Carolina calls violate state law, which of course gives Gheen another opportunity for self-aggrandizement. The State reports:

State law bans automatically dialed calls that deliver unsolicited, prerecorded consumer or political messages without assistance of a live operator, S.C. Republican Party chairman Matt Moore said in a memo sent out last month as a reminder to campaigns.

Graham’s campaign spokesman, Tate Zeigler, said of the automated calls, “We don't do illegal robo calls.”

Americans for Legal Immigration president William Gheen said his robo-calls comply with federal law. Gheen was not familiar with S.C. law. After reading it, he said he would turn himself in if any prosecutor decided to charge him.

He also said he would beat any charges.

“I feel quite confident in my ability to defeat this in a court of law,” Gheen said, adding he is defending his right to engage in political speech. “For our republic to function, people need to be able to communicate with voters.”

Gheen said he has one request for anyone who plans to arrest him: “The only thing I ask is that they do it before Election Day, please."

UPDATE II: Gheen has issued a press release hyping his own martyrdom, even though there has been no indication that he will even be charged under the rarely-enforced South Carolina law:

The President of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC William Gheen is facing possible charges and arrest after bumping into a unique, obscure, and unenforced state law banning automated campaign calls that are designed to warn South Carolina and Virginia voters about how the immigration reform amnesty plans of Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Eric Cantor will affect them.

...

"I know that nobody likes robo-calls, but isn't it ironic that I might be charged for violating an obscure unenforced state law curtailing freedoms of political speech while more than 12 million illegal immigrants flagrantly violate numerous federal laws designed to protect Americans from real damages?" said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "A few seconds of an annoying call is nothing compared to the millions of devastated American lives that are a result of Lindsey Graham's and Eric Cantor's support for amnesty for illegals."

Bachmann, Blunt and Cantor Listed as Special Guests at Religious Right Inauguration Event

The organizers of the so-called Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, which is not an official inauguration event, are touting the participation of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). Others slated to make an appearance alongside these Republican leaders include televangelist Pat Robertson, musician and conservative activist Pat Boone and birther leader Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily.

The keynote speaker will be Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who believes that the Bible prophesied the September 11, 2001 attacks, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and America’s imminent destruction due to “tolerance for immorality,” teaching “sexual immorality in public schools,” abortion rights and Obama. Cahn believes that America is experiencing divine punishment and has shared his message with right-wing broadcasters like Robertson, Glenn Beck, Sid Roth, Jan Markell and Jim Bakker. Farah even made a movie about Cahn’s book.

Cahn told Robertson towards the end of his 700 Club interview that America has between ten to twenty years before God destroys the country:

Sex, Lies, and Bloodlust: What the Values Voter Summit Tells us About the Religious Right and the Republican Party

During this past weekend’s Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion of the far right, RWW posted many memorable video highlights. What does it all tell us about the Religious Right and today’s Republican Party? First are foremost, Republican leaders are unwilling to distance themselves from the far-right fringes of their base, especially in an election year in which conservative evangelical voters are not tremendously excited about Mitt Romney. Romney took a pass this year, and it’s not hard to understand why. Last year, organizers maliciously put him on stage right before the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who had ridiculed Romney’s Mormonism. A supporter of Texas Gov. Rick Perry denounced Mormonism as a cult, and the flap over Romney’s faith was the dominant story coming out of the gathering. It was much safer to let Paul Ryan represent the ticket this year, and to have other speakers like Rick Santorum and Rick Scarborough ensure evangelicals that voting for Romney was in fact a good thing. Romney did send a tepidly-received video, which seemed almost an afterthought. What is motivating these activists is not enthusiasm for Romney but their hostility toward the Obama administration.

Jews Must Be Converted: FRC Vice President

Bad news for Eric Cantor. He’s speaking tomorrow at the Values Voter Summit, but he’s apparently still going to hell. Let me explain.

Jerry Boykin is the Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council and Tony Perkins’ right-hand man. FRC is hosting the far right conference that the House Majority Leader, who is Jewish, plans to address tomorrow.

Boykin, much like Bryan Fischer, has a penchant for saying exactly what’s on his mind – things which others know not to say, even when they’re thinking the same thing. While you may know Boykin from his prolific Muslim-bashing, he also has some interesting things to say about Jews.

In a 2009 speech on “Why We Must Stand with Israel,” Boykin spoke out against pastors who say that “the Jews don’t have to come to know Jesus,” complaining that those pastors were “destroying the efforts” to lead Jews to Christ:

Last year, Boykin said that “one of the most disgusting things I hear is for people to call Hitler the extreme Right” because he was “an extraordinarily off the scale leftist.” He then lamented that “many Jews in America, for example, can't identify with the Republican Party because they're called the party of the Right, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth."

Boykin also said that President Obama is creating a Hitler-sytle Brownshirt army to force Marxism on America. And in 2003, then-Lt. Gen. Boykin said that the U.S. was fighting a war “in the name of Jesus,” prompting a rebuke from the ADL and President Bush.

To be sure, the Religious Right hasn’t always had the best relations with American Jews. Jerry Falwell sparked a controversy in 1980 when he said that God “does not hear the prayers of unredeemed Gentiles or Jews.” He was speaking at a press conference in defense of the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who had proclaimed that “God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.”

More recently, however, Religious Right leaders have been careful to stress Judeo-Christian values and avoid explicit attacks. Boykin, however, doesn’t have any use for such niceties.

Yet Boykin was able to meet recently with Mitt Romney, and he has three speaking slots during the conference. He’s even leading a panel on Israel with his good friend Kamal Saleem. Saleem, who is considered to be a fraud, describes himself as a former terrorist who “completed his first bloody terror mission into Israel for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at the age of seven.”

All of this makes me wonder if Cantor’s folks did their homework before agreeing to speak tomorrow. Perhaps something will come up, and he’ll have to decline FRC’s invitation, much like Ann Romney and Cardinal Dolan have done. We’ll find out tomorrow.

 

All of a Sudden, House GOP Doesn’t Like “Issues that Divide Us”

 The National Journal today reports on the rocky progress of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which for the first time this year has become an object of partisan dispute. Why? The Democratic-backed reauthorization includes new protections for LGBT people, Native Americans and undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. That bill passed in the Senate despite 31 no votes – all from Republican men.

In response, the House GOP put together an alternate bill that not only axes the new protections recommended by Democrats but eliminates some protections that are already in the bill. Yesterday, the White House threatened to veto the House bill.

Now, the House GOP is playing the victim, accusing Democrats of trying to make them look bad by including things like help for gays and lesbians and undocumented immigrants in the bill:

The Senate version would expand current protections to gay, bisexual, or transgender victims of domestic abuse, subject non-Native American suspects of domestic abuse occurring on reservations to the jurisdiction of tribal courts, and increase temporary visas for victims who are undocumented immigrants. The House bill was amended on Tuesday to allow illegal immigrant “U visa” recipients to receive permanent residence if the perpetrators of the crimes against them are aliens, are convicted of the crimes, and are deported to the visa holders’ home countries.

But Republican leaders have accused Democrats of adding those hot-button issues to intentionally create a fight for political advantage—and lash out at House Republicans for waging a “war against women.” House GOP leaders—including Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia—say they want to stay away from “issues that divide us.”

That’s right. House Republican leaders – who threatened to shut down the government to stop Planned Parenthood funding, who won’t even consider cutting tax loopholes for giant corporations, who continually go out of their way to express their opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians – are now worried about “issues that divide us.” Like, apparently, protecting gay people, Native Americans and immigrants from domestic abuse.

One “issue that divides us” apparently didn’t turn off some House Republicans. Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia offered an amendment to the bill that, according to the National Journal, would provide “help for convicted domestic abusers who want their gun-ownership rights back.” That one, at least, didn’t make it past the Rules Committee.

PFAW

ALEC Gives Cash to Congressmen?

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) strategy of corporations enact favorable legislation at the state level across the country by wining and dining state legislators at fancy conferences and then presenting them with model bills to shepherd into law is well documented. Apparently, ALEC also sees value in currying favor at the federal level as well.

Common Cause’s Nick Surgey reports that ALEC gave a cash award of $1,350 to Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in 2009 as part of their Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award, according to an investigation of ALEC’s tax filings. This presents a potential breach of ethics because House members are prohibited by law from receiving any cash gift.

While ALEC’s main focus is on pro-corporate state legislation, common cause notes that ALEC’s influence extends far into the realm of the federal government:

Although ALEC’s primary focus is in promoting corporate-friendly state legislation, the group also has a clear federal agenda. A 2005 ALEC document obtained by Common Cause outlines 42 distinct ALEC model bills that attempt to influence federal policy. Those bills include resolutions calling for lower corporate taxes and supporting construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. In effect, corporations working through ALEC are using state legislators to lobby Congress on their behalf. ALEC boasts of the 91 “ALEC alumni” currently serving in the US House, including both Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

As Rep. Cantor graciously accepts his award in this 2009 video, it’s not difficult to imagine how flattery and cash gifts can go a long way in winning the favor of powerful people.

 

Rep. Cantor’s office subsequently released a statement denying that he took the cash and that the engraved bust he received was legal. This still doesn’t explain, as Common Cause notes, why ALEC considered the bust to be a cash gift on their tax filings, unless the value of the bust was high enough that disclosure was required.

Regardless, it smells fishy.

PFAW Foundation
Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious