By Doug Porter
As California goes, so will go the rest of the country. State Republicans, fearful of obvious signs the party is declining into irrelevancy, circled the wagons over the weekend in Sacramento for their 2013 convention.
The theme of “fighting back” was continuously raised throughout the weekend.
Friday night concluded with a presentation on ‘how to track the billions of dollars fleeing California.’ GOP shills have been pounding the “Taxifornia” meme through the news media in recent months, pointing to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s forays into the Golden State as evidence that economic doom and gloom are just around the corner with the Democrats in control of state government.
Local GOP big dog Tony Krvaric reported on the confab thru his blog:
Attendance is above average, there is cautious optimism in the air and Ruben Barrales’ GROW Elect organization is being met with a lot of enthusiasm.
The San Diego County delegation is 114 strong this cycle, with about 1/3 being brand new participants. Good delegates who are ready to get to work on the resurgence of the California Republican Party.
The confab was larger this year than in the recent past, with controversial (among Republicans) guest speaker Karl Rove serving as the drawing card at a Saturday luncheon. The consultant to former President George Bush told delegates to “Get off your ass” and “Get back in the game and fight.”
Although incoming chair Jim Brulte pulled off somewhat of a coup by getting the GOP strategist to skip his normal six figure speaking fee, the decision was not without controversy.
Rove’s move nationally to channel his fundraising prowess into focus on more ‘electable’ candidates has Tea Party activists incensed. Party unity was kept by booking a certain well-heeled San Diego Congressman as closer for the mid-day event and offering more of a ‘red meat’ line up for Saturday evening. From the Washington Times:
Mr. Rove used to be the enemy of the left, but now he is coming under fire from conservatives who see him as an establishment shill trying to undermine the grassroots. Mr. Rove has his supporters and detractors, but one cannot deny that the GOP was 2-0 in presidential races with him and 0-2 since. The man won at the biggest stage, so a state party on a losing streak was smart to hear him out.
Congressman Darrell Issa wrapped up the luncheon, and was well received (as he always is) by the party faithful.
Nobody seemed to mind that Rove was himself at the center of GOP failures last fall: His American Crossroads super PAC spent $300 million on mostly losing candidates.
The headliner for Saturday night was Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of conservative Breitbard.com and author of numerous tracts decrying liberalism in all its manifestations. Again, from the Washington Times commentary:
His newest book is entitled “bullies,” and he clearly grasps that the only thing bullies understand is force. The left has defined the right, and the right has refused to fight back….
… Mr. Shapiro quickly took the gloves off and did not stop until every liberal bully was metaphorically beaten into submission.
This ‘bullies’ scenario segues nicely into the ‘union thugs’ meme popular in the right wing press and, of course, it’s how the UT-San Diego is now characterizing Mayor Filner. Coincidence? I think not. More like marching orders.
Denouncing the Ugly
The party leadership was quick to denounce the two incidents of ‘overzealousness’ on the part of GOP activists leading up to the confab. They were sorry, truly sorry. From the San Francisco Chronicle politics blog:
It was bad enough that San Bernardino County GOP activist Vera Eyzendooren ripped SF attorney and new party vice chair Harmeet Dhillon on Facebook, saying that because of “her religion, her loyalty is to the Muslim religion….So she will defend a Muslim beheading two men without any hesitation……she is not a Republican.”
But Dhillon is a Sikh…so Vera confused two major world religions, Sikhism and Islam. And then she told Comrade Marinucci, who broke the story, that her Facebook page wasn’t public. Uh, apparently it was. Three strikes and you’re out. Props to GOP leaders up and down who quickly condemned the remarks.
And then there was Ms. Celeste Greig, leader of the California Republican Assembly, which former President Ronald Reagan once called “the conscience of the Republican Party. Everybody was very sorry when she took a wrong turn while trying to criticize GOP candidates’ missteps on women’s reproductive rights when she argued that, while such remarks are insensitive, pregnancies resulting from rape are rare “because the body is traumatized.” I thought we’d cleared that argument up months ago.
After moving past those remarks, she returned to battle for ‘the grassroots’ in her party, saying “Going after the tea party and conservatives will be a huge mistake because it’s the conservatives who deliver the votes, who have the passion and commitment. I want to win elections, but compromising on principle is not going to work very well.”
Supporting the Good
Not everything about this weekend was a downer. There was the $2500 check presented to outgoing chair Del Barraro for expenses towards his upcoming trip to Italy. Again, the Chronicle:
As [incoming chair]Brulte noted when he presented the check, the party’s finances aren’t in great shape ($800,000 in debt), but they wanted to honor the outgoing chair. Uh, OK. As one cynic noted: “Was that a nice gesture or did he just want to get him out of town faster?” Ouch!
And the party’s public relations machine was in full ‘nice guy’ mode.
In the past, we’ve mocked the GOP conventions for barely offering water in the press room. It was the Gitmo approach. But new chair Brulte, with a huge assist from [media relations guy] Standriff, was aghast when he heard that. He knows that a quick way to (temporarily) soothe the jackals is to feed them. (Oh, yeah, you bet we’re easily bought off by some coffee and half a salami sandwich.) On behalf of some of our colleagues who feel that they are above acknowledging such largesse, we thank you GOP for stocking the press room with some food. Bout damn time.
The Sacramento gathering was a good reflection of the demographic dangers the GOP faces; the party in California is 82% white in a state where Caucasians will soon being a minority group. In November President Barack Obama won California’s Latino vote by 45 points, Asian-Americans by 58 points and African-Americans by 93 points. From today’s Los Angeles Times:
Trend lines for the California GOP are in free-fall. For example:
• Republican numbers have fallen to 29% of registered voters. Independents have grown to 21%. Democrats are at 44%. At the current rate, independents will surpass Republicans before the end of the decade. And independents tend to vote and think a lot more like Democrats than Republicans.
• Meanwhile, the gap between Democrats and Republicans who actually vote nearly doubled from 2000 to 2012. The advantage for Democrats over Republicans widened from 8 percentage points to 14 points, according to the California Business Roundtable, which has been closely monitoring the ailing GOP.
• Women — especially Democratic women — turn out significantly more than men. A million more women than men voted in Californialast November, according to the roundtable. “Men seem to be more disaffected and women more engaged,” says Tony Russo, the group’s political analyst.
Fighting for the Future
There were two straw polls that got some press over the weekend at the annual California GOP convention.
First, GOP word-guru and Fox News guy, Frank Luntz, asked participants at a luncheon to clap for the candidate they liked best — what you might call an “applause straw poll.”
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. The Sacramento Bee says Sarah Palin also got a “good amount of applause”, too.
From what I been able to discern, the California GOP’s “fighting back” plan comes down to ‘improving their message’ and ‘making more personal contact with communities of color.’
Some people never learn. I don’t yearn for a political system dominated by one party, I really don’t. But I can’t help but wondering if that’s where we’re headed.
Good News! Corporations are Ready for Sequestration. (Too bad about the rest of you)
Ah, the dreaded sequestration is here. There are reports already this morning of flight delays at major airports including Los Angeles and Chicago. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the delays will get worse as the month rolls on as cuts in overtime and furlough notices for TSA employees become effective.
Not to worry though, Washington’s lobbyists are rallying the troops to end this mess. From The Hill:
Lobbyists believe pressure on Congress to reverse the sequester will increase as worker furloughs and government cutbacks take hold across the country.
I think pressure is going to grow over time,” said Erik Hansen, director of domestic policy for the U.S. Travel Association.
The travel industry group — whose members include hotels, cruise lines, convention centers and state tourism authorities — has already set up a text message service for frustrated travelers. People experiencing delays can text “DELAYED” to a phone number set up by the trade group and receive instructions on how to get in touch with their member of Congress.
On the other hand, maybe those outside the travel industry don’t really see this situation as such a bad thing. From today’s New York Times:
With the Dow Jones industrial average flirting with a record high, the split between American workers and the companies that employ them is widening and could worsen in the next few months as federal budget cuts take hold.
Corporate earnings have risen at an annualized rate of 20.1 percent since the end of 2008, he said, but disposable income inched ahead by 1.4 percent annually over the same period, after adjusting for inflation.
“There hasn’t been a period in the last 50 years where these trends have been so pronounced,” Mr. Maki said.
At the individual corporate level, though, the budget sequestration could result in large job cuts as companies move to protect their bottom lines, said Louis R. Chenevert, the chief executive of United Technologies. Depending on how long the budget tightening lasts, the job cuts at his company could total anywhere from several hundred to several thousand, he said.
Wealth Inequality in America
A most amazing video.
SDFree Press Calendar Up and Running
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltrán, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1789 – The first Congress of the United States met in New York and declared that the U.S. Constitution was in effect. 1877 – The Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” debuted. 1933 – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt gave his inauguration speech in which he said “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”
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