GOP civil war

Liberty movement activists sing praises of anti-establishment Republicans

In a town known for power-hungry establishment politicians and lobbyists who are constantly trying to exert their influence, there is a burgeoning group of young liberty movement activists who are working behind-the-scenes to change the status quo in the nation’s capital.

Mostly in their 20’s and early 30’s, D.C.-area liberty-minded activists hold jobs in congressional offices on Capitol Hill or in some of the town’s most well-known grassroots organizations. These young people have made their presence felt in the Washington-area political scene, and they’re doing so in an unorthodox way.

Many from this crowd meet-up at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Arlington, Virginia for what they call “Liberty Karaoke,” a weekly tradition started a few years ago by a group of like-minded friends. It’s not unusual to find 50 or more activists hanging out and singing some of their favorite tunes on any given Tuesday night.

“D.C.-area liberty movement young people have been attending weekly karaoke for over three years,” Matthew Hurtt, a 26-year old grassroots activist, told United Liberty. “It was really organic. It’s been a weekly place to unwind and hang out.”

But the group has found another purpose for Liberty Karaoke by using it as a fundraising opportunity for certain candidates whom they support.

In early December, for example, the group hosted a fundraiser for Rep. Justin Amash, a 33-year-old Michigan Republican who has become one of the most vocal critics of the Obama Administration, domestic surveillance programs, and, at times, his own party’s leadership.

GOP, crony allies plan efforts to undermine conservatives

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Christmas which explained in detail how Republican leaders and the United States Chamber of Commerce are looking to diminish the influence of conservatives both in and outside of Congress. This gives us a glimpse at the latest battle, if you will, in the ongoing Republican civil war.

You may remember that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at conservative groups that opposed the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It turns out, though unsurprisingly, that this public admonition of conservatives was just scratched the surface. It turns out, as the Journal explained, that Republican leaders were threatening members with loss of committee assignments if they voted against the budget deal:

Mr. Boehner’s deputies took steps behind the scenes to end internal dissent, including among GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles. In the run-up to the budget vote, Mr. Boehner’s deputies warned chairmen who were tempted to oppose the deal that doing so could jeopardize their committee posts, said people familiar with the discussions.

The goal was to reverse a trend in which chairmen, who typically earn their post by hewing to the party line, voted against priority legislation. Six chairmen had voted against an initial version of a farm bill earlier in the year, causing the legislation to collapse on the House floor, and 11 voted against the pact this fall to reopen the federal government and extend the country’s borrowing authority into 2014.

Floundering Old Guard Republicans re-launch attacks on Rand Paul

Back in March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) propelled himself to the forefront of Republican politics when he led an inspiring 13-hour filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan.

For the entirety of his procedural protest, Paul and several of his colleagues, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), highlighted the constitutional problems with President Barack Obama’s drones policy, which is largely consistent with the views of his hawkish predecessor and many of today’s conservatives. Paul would go onto win the CPAC straw poll the following week and has been a frequent voice of opposition to the Washington political establishment on foreign policy.

The reaction from the Old Guard Republicans was expected. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) both sided with President Obama on drones and foreign policy and admonished Paul from the Senate floor with the latter referring to his colleague from Kentucky a “wacko bird.” Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Paul’s foreign policy views “dangerous” and tried to label him as an “neo-isolationist.” Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s token Republican, has also taken shots at Paul on foreign policy, though with little effect.

Mitch McConnell escalates rhetoric against Tea Party, then tries to walk it back

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made no secret of his contempt for the Tea Party movement and insurgent primary challengers looking to take down a handful of Republican senators.

There is a lot of bad blood between McConnell and Tea Party and conservative groups backing primary challengers to Republican senators.

McConnell, who seems poised to defeat a primary challenger of his own, has declared war on one group in particular, the Senate Conservatives Fund. He told the Washington Examiner late last year that this group, which endorsed his primary opponent, is “giving conservatism a bad name” and “ruining the [Republican] brand.”

One would think that McConnell would temper this sort of rhetoric as Republicans enter a crucial election year in which control of the chamber is on the line. But rather than appeal to a sizable chunk of the Republican base, the Minority Leader escalated his anti-Tea Party rhetoric in an interview with The New York Times.

“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell said in an interview for a story that ran on Sunday. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”

Republicans seek to avoid more election year infighting

Coming off several high-profile legislative battles, beginning in October with the government shutdown and, more recently, last week’s votes to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, it appears that Republicans will spend the rest of the year avoiding hot-button issues that could cause further division in their ranks:

Comprehensive immigration reform, tax reform, tweaks to the federal health-care law — bipartisan deals on each are probably dead in the water for the rest of this Congress.

“We don’t have 218 votes in the House for the big issues, so what else are we going to do?” said Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), an ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio). “We can do a few things on immigration and work on our principles, but in terms of real legislating, we’re unable to get in a good negotiating position.”

Added Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster who works closely with party leaders: “It is an acknowledgment of where they stand, where nothing can happen in divided government so we may essentially have the status quo. Significant immigration reform and fundamental tax reform are probably not going to happen.”

GOP brass in both chambers have shifted their focus to stability, looking to avoid intraparty drama, rally behind incumbents and build Republicans’ ground game ahead of November’s midterm elections, where they hope to be competitive in a slew of Senate races and hold on to the party’s 17-seat House majority.

MI-03: Club for Growth slams Brian Ellis over tax hikes, big government record

 "Fit Right In"

Club for Growth Action is taking aim at Brian Ellis, a Republican running in Michigan’s Third Congressional District (MI-03), for his support for tax hikes, wasteful spending, and budget deficits with a pair of new ads that will begin airing this week.

In what was described as a large, six figure ad buy throughout the western Michigan-based district, the Club for Growth excoriates Ellis, who is running against Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), by highlighting his big government record on the East Grand Rapids School Board. The ads also tie him to unpopular former Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI).

“Have you ever of Brian Ellis? On the East Grand Rapids School Board, Ellis raised property taxes, hiked spending, and left massive deficits. On Jennifer Granholm’s Strategic Fund, Ellis wasted our tax dollars on a golf resort and production of gourmet mushrooms and pet food,” says the narrator. “Now Brian Ellis is running for Congress. Sounds like he’d fit right in.”

John Boehner gives Chris Matthews a thrill up his leg

Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews has found a new politician to adore, at least for now. The MSNBC Hardball host opened his show on Monday evening with a rant about the Tea Party and heaped praise on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for pushing the budget deal through the House, despite vocal opposition from conservatives in and outside of Congress.

Matthews host compared conservatives to whining kids riding and complaining the back seat of a car on a long trip. “That’s the kid’s job, just sit back there blaming and complaining,” he said in his usual angry disposition.

“Well, the speaker of the House, who spent the last months and years speaking for the kids in the back of the car, spoke like a grownup and said, I’ll drive the car, but I’m not going to drive a crazy car, damn it. I’m the speaker of the House. I’m second in line to the American presidency, not the Mad Hatter of the Tea Party. That’s what he said,” Matthews added.

Haley Barbour fires a shot at the Club for Growth


Last week, Karl Rove and American Crossroads raised eyebrows by launching a new political action committee (PAC) aimed at helping so-called “electable conservatives” in primary battles. The news was met with admonition from conservative groups that have helped more fiscally conservative primary challengers, such as Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio.

Another shot was recently fired from the establishment, this time by Haley Barbour, former Governor of Mississippi and a fundraiser for American Crossroads. Robert Costa of National Review reported yesterday that Barbour specifically targeted the Club for Growth during a recent talk at Mount Vernon:

Last week, at a closed-door retreat in northern Virginia, Barbour told a large gathering of congressional staffers, including several leadership aides, that party officials should discourage donors from funding the high-profile conservative group.
“We kicked away four or five Senate seats in the last two cycles by nominating candidates who did not have the best chance to win,” he says. “We ought to talk to Republican donors now, in the off-season before the primaries, and discourage them from donating to organizations that will attack good Republicans.”

“Republican groups like the Club for Growth should stop spending money to defeat Republicans,” he adds. “Politics can’t be about purity. Unity wins in politics, purity loses.”

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