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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Republicans 'Coming Unglued'

GOP's Utah and Maine conventions show a party coming unglued
By Dana Milbank
Future historians tracing the crackup of the Republican Party may well look to May 8, 2010, as an inflection point.
That was the day, as is now well known, that Sen. Robert Bennett, who took the conservative position 84 percent of the time over his career, was deemed not conservative enough by fellow Utah Republicans and booted out of the primary.
Less well known, but equally ominous, is what happened that same day, 2,500 miles east in Maine. There, the state Republican Party chucked its platform -- a sensible New England mix of free-market economics and conservation -- and adopted a manifesto of insanity: abolishing the Federal Reserve, calling global warming a "myth," sealing the border, and, as a final plank, fighting "efforts to create a one world government."
One world government? Do our friends Down East fear an invasion from the Canadian maritime provinces? A Viking flotilla coming from Iceland under cover of volcanic ash?
I was pondering this mystery while on the elliptical machine this week and watching Glenn Beck (I find he increases my heart rate), when I heard him inform his viewers that "they" -- President Obama and friends -- "are creating a global governance structure."
"Social and ecological justice and all of this bullcrap," Beck told his viewers, "is man's work for a global government." Beck -- who is second in popularity only to Sarah Palin among the type of Tea Party activists who hijacked the Maine GOP -- tossed out phrases such as "global standards" and "global bank tax" -- all part of a conspiracy by the "global government people." He further provided the news that "Jesus doesn't want a cap-and-trade system."
Not once did Beck refer to the big news events of the day, such as Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to the White House or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It was as if he had created a parallel universe for his 2-million-plus viewers. Similarly, on Monday, when Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, Beck omitted that news in favor of a fanciful administration attempt to restore the broadcast Fairness Doctrine. On Tuesday, USA Today had the headline "Tax bills in 2009 at lowest level since 1950" (the nonpartisan Tax Foundation put it at 1959); Beck skipped that, instead saying he doesn't want changes to the Internet "at least until people aren't worshipping Satan, you know, in office." (Beck maintained later that he really wasn't "saying that Obama was a Satan worshipper.")
Beck justifiably credited his viewers for "what happened to Bob Bennett in Utah." He warned: "People in Washington, you should be terrified."
We should be terrified -- particularly the Republicans, whose party is turning into this One-World-Government, Obama-worships-Satan, Jesus-opposes-climate-bill mélange. And Beck is only part of the trouble. Consider these GOP milestones of recent days: LinkHere
Although Maine is known for its two moderate Republican senators — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — last week’s state GOP convention showed the growing influence of far-right activists. An “overwhelming majority of delegates” voted to “scrap the the proposed party platform and replace it with a document created by a group of Tea Party activists.” Maine Politics called it “a mix of right-wing fringe policies, libertarian buzzwords and outright conspiracy theories.”
The Republican convention was at the Portland Expo, but participants went to the nearby King Middle School to hold their caucuses. While there, they went through eighth-grade teacher Paul Clifford’s items, opened sealed boxes, stole a prized poster, and vandalized the room with Republican slogans. Some details on what they did:
– For seven years, Clifford has had “a collage-type poster depicting the history of the U.S. labor movement” on his classroom door. He uses it “to teach his students how to incorporate collages into their annual project on Norman Rockwell’s historic ‘Four Freedoms’ illustrations.” When Clifford returned to his classroom on Monday, after the GOP caucuses, the poster was gone; in its place was a sticker reading, “Working People Vote Republican.”
– Republicans opened a “closed cardboard box they found near Clifford’s desk” and later objected to the fact that it contained copies of the U.S. Constitution donated to the school by the American Civil Liberties Union.
– After the caucuses, “rank-and-file Republicans who were upset by what they said they had seen in Clifford’s classroom” began calling the school, objecting to student art they had seen and a sticker on a filing cabinet reading “People for the American Way — Fight the Right.”
Although some of these callers said they supported the fact that Clifford’s poster had been stolen, the Maine Republican Party’s leadership has taken a more conciliatory approach, apologizing to the school and promising to return any stolen materials it finds. “King Middle School was kind enough to allow the (party) to use their facilities and we are deeply concerned about the lack of respect shown to the faculty,” said Maine GOP Executive Director Christie-Lee McNally. Local Knox County GOP Chairman William Chapman agreed that the vandalism was inappropriate, but added that it was disturbing that there was “nothing” in Clifford’s room “that appeared to give a more balanced view.”
Even some students are appalled by the GOP caucus-goers’ behavior. Simon Thompson, a graduate of Clifford’s eighth-grade class, wrote an open letter saying that Maine Republicans had gone too far: LinkHere


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