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November 2, 2013

let's you and him fight

Here's a bit of interesting political news that's not going to make it to the front page anytime soon: the establishment Republicans just upped the ante in their struggle against more conservative factions threatening to primary sitting senators and representatives:
In a warning shot to outside conservative groups, the National Republican Senatorial Committee this week informed a prominent Republican advertising firm that it would not receive any contracts with the campaign committee because of its work with a group that targets incumbent Senate Republicans.

Even more striking, a senior official at the committee called individual Republican Senate campaigns and other party organizations this week and urged them not to hire the firm, Jamestown Associates, in an effort to punish them for working for the Senate Conservatives Fund, a group founded by Jim DeMint, then a South Carolina senator, that is trying to unseat Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and some other incumbents up for re-election next year whom it finds insufficiently conservative.

It's no secret that it's pretty much open civil war within the Republican Party.  (Exercise: pick any southern district with a Republican primary, and you have your instant Struggle for the Soul of the Party piece.)  The Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business interests are bankrolling incumbents, and the hair-on-fire Tea Party orgs like the Heritage Foundation are backing the opposition.

But spending money on an election is a lot different that what the NRSC is doing.  It's not a much-discussed topic, but American elections are extraordinarily expensive — federal elections in 2012 cost six and a quarter billion dollars.  There is an entire industry that did not exist forty years ago that only "does" elections: polling firms, media placement concerns, direct mail companies, consultants, lobbying organizations, etc.  And some are non-partisan, but others specialize in one party or the other.  And for one GOP faction to signal that all these businesses, whose only purpose is to be employed by GOP candidates, will be blacklisted if they take Tea Party business, that is a marked escalation of hostilities.

You know, it's one thing to bicker about ideology and force each other into ridiculous purity tests, but MONEY, that's supposed to be the thing that unites everyone.  That's not the game the Tea Party thought it was playing.

And I'm not trying to concern-troll anyone on this.  Obviously, there's a Schadenfreude issue when it comes to internecine strife in the GOP.  But for the NRSC to bigfoot Jamestown Associates in such a manner — strife just got a whole lot strifier.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:12 PM

October 31, 2013

if at first you don't succeed, obstruct, obstruct again

The really fascinating thing, if you have been following national politics for the past couple years, is that the Republican Party is almost like an independently sentient organism.  Like a puppy or a baby, it's really interesting to watch the GOP navigate circumstances, reasoning their way around obstacles, and generally learning from their mistakes.
Republicans are threatening a mass blockade of President Barack Obama's three most important judicial nominees ahead of an expected Thursday vote on the first of them.

Ahh, I'm just kidding.  I know that the right is very much opposed to filling vacancies on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, as it is the court that is thought of as the gateway to the Supreme Court (as far as cases go), and there's nothing the right likes less than an unstacked deck.  But you'd think that the idea of obstructing/shutting down the government being a not politically popular thing would've sunk in by now.

Or not.  Surf's up, I guess.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

October 29, 2013

I was talking with a friend last night, and I realized that when I write something of an obituary tone for the Awl (or anywhere else, I suppose), I do so because I had genuine feelings/respect for the deceased, plus also I believe that I have something to offer that you won't see repeated ad nauseam on your feed.

It's a pretty short list, so far — Danny Stiles, Warren Christopher and Carmine Infantino.  Household names none.

Well, over the weekend, right before obvious household name Lou Reed passed, Hollywood director Hal Needham died at the age of 82, and while everyone else was quantifying the New-York-ness of Reed, I wrote a small appreciation of him for The Awl.  He quite clearly contributed something to my personal aesthetic, growing up watching his films, and I would also argue that he contributed to American culture in general.

And here is a fun-fact that I left out of the piece (along with any mention of Adrienne Barbeau): when Needham was purely a stuntman and stunt coordinator, he was basically a drug dealer.  He knew that some of these cowboy film sets are miles from anywhere, and that no sane stuntman could function without one thing: percocet.  So he'd bring a suitcase of it, dole it out to his boys, because, you know, no sense in not working because you got a bruise, or a strain, right?  (Or a punctured lung, or a broken back, etc.)

And the thing of it is, he makes it sound so fun.


Posted by mrbrent at 10:21 AM