Sifting Through The Swamp - Earlier this year, we rolled out our Weekly Primers — 500 word briefings for Prime subscribers on the topics TPM...
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A Boston man allegedly told police that he beat and urinated on a homeless man early Wednesday because the man was Hispanic, citing real estate mogul Donald Trump's comments on undocumented immigrants as justification for the attack.
In response, the Republican presidential candidate said that "it would be a shame" if his anti-immigrant campaign rhetoric inspired the beating. He immediately pivoted from the mild condemnation to praising his "passionate" supporters' commitment to restoring America to greatness. ...
"I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate," he continued, as quoted by the Herald. "They love this country. They want this country to be great again. But they are very passionate. I will say that.”
In 2013, conservative reality TV star Josh Duggar—of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting fame—was named the executive director of the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying group in D.C. which seeks “to champion marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society.” During that time, he also maintained a paid account on Ashley Madison, a web site created for the express purpose of cheating on your spouse.
In May 2015, Duggar was forced to resign after In Touch Weekly reported that he had molested five young girls (four of whom were his own sisters) beginning in 2002. When the accusations became public, the family went into crisis mode, insisting that Josh had reformed and that the media covering the claims was intent on “exploiting women.”
The Missouri legislature would like to continue its internship program despite the program being marred by the recent sexual harassment of interns.
The idea the lawmakers have come up with? Imposing a dress code for the interns to "help everyone keep their focus on legislative matters."
Missouri state Rep. Kevin Engler (R) sent a memo to his colleagues Monday night with suggestions, including minimum number of credit hours for participation and mandatory sexual harassment training for both interns and lawmakers, according to the Kansas City Star on Tuesday.
The move came after two legislators, including former Missouri House Speaker John Diehl (R), resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment of interns.
State Rep. Bill Kidd (R) responded to Engler with a suggestion of his own: "Intern dress code," he wrote, according to the newspaper.
Rep. Nick King (R) agreed, the newspaper reported. ...
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said establishing an intern dress code would put responsibility for the harassment on the interns when it should be on the harasser.
In letters to the Missouri lawmakers, McCaskill (who once worked as an intern at the state legislature) wrote that the proposed solution "bitterly disappointed" her.
I refuse to stand by idly while any suggestion is made that victims of sexual harassment in the Missouri State Legislature is the responsibility of anyone other than the legislators themselves. It is the responsibility of you and your colleagues to uphold the law, protect the young people working in our state’s capital, and confront and change a culture that excuses sexual violence. This problem has nothing to do with how interns are dressed.
On June 9, The New York Times ran a useful, detailed consideration of the finances of Marco Rubio. Publicly, the Florida senator describes his everyman’s struggle to “finally pay off his law school loans.” Privately, according to state records unearthed by the paper’s Steve Eder and Michael Barbaro, he spent “$80,000 for a luxury speedboat.”
The detail revealed a larger pattern: Rubio has been financially in the hole for nearly his entire adult life. The reason this mattered, noted the Times—whose work on Rubio has been a welcome exception to the rule of bad campaign reporting—was that it “has made him unusually reliant on a campaign donor, Norman Braman, a billionaire who has subsidized Mr. Rubio’s job as a college instructor, hired him as a lawyer, and continues to employ his wife.”
These details were explained in the Times a month earlier. The same two reporters described the 82-year-old Braman, an almost comically plutocratic figure who sells Rolls Royces and Bugattis for a living, and almost single-handedly recalled Miami’s mayor. Braman, who implored the Times reporters, “I don’t consider myself a fat cat. Don’t make me out to be a fat cat,” has been able to call the tune for the 44-year-old Rubio.
Then came Politico’s bubble-headed media reporter Dylan Byers with a scoop: Rubio’s “luxury speedboat” was “in fact, an offshore fishing boat.” Speedboats, you see, are for rich swells; fishing boats, even ones costing almost $100,000, are for jes’ folks.
Immediately, this supposed error became the shiny bouncing ball the political media decided to chase.
Politico covered Boatgate eight times over the next two weeks—Byers twice in two consecutive days. They didn’t mention Braman once.
The name of today’s game is TV commercials, not endorsements, door-knocking armies, and “walking around money.” TV is costly and it takes don’t-call-me-fat-cats like Norman Braman, Sheldon Adelson, and the Brothers Koch to pay those kinds of bills.
The bottom line is that the penumbras and emanations of Citizens United are changing the campaign game in ways that throw all previous understandings of how Republicans nominate presidents into a cocked hat. To see how it’s working on the ground, come with me to Southern California, where last year David and Charles Koch convened one of their dog-and-pony shows, where the aspirants lined up to stand on their hind legs to beg before their would-be masters. Politico spoke to two people who were there, and offered the following account of the performance of Ohio’s Governor John Kasich.
“Randy Kendrick, a major contributor and the wife of Ken Kendrick, the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, rose to say she disagreed with Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage, and questioned why he’d said it was ‘what God wanted.’” Kasich’s “fiery” response: “I don’t know about you, lady. But when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have to answer what I’ve done for the poor.”
Other years, before other audiences, such public piety might have sounded banal. This year, it’s enough to kill a candidacy:
“About 20 audience members walked out of the room, and two governors also on the panel, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, told Kasich they disagreed with him. The Ohio governor has not been invited back to a Koch seminar.”
Which is, of course, astonishing. But even more astonishing was the lesson the Politico drew from it—one, naturally, about personalities: “Kasich’s temper has made it harder to endear himself to the GOP’s wealth benefactors.” His temper. Not their temper. Not, say, “Kasich’s refusal to kowtow before the petulant whims of a couple of dozen greedy nonentities who despise the Gospel of Jesus Christ has foreclosed his access to the backroom cabals without which a Republican presidential candidacy is inconceivable.”
If the winnowing of front-runners from also-rans has traditionally been a financial process (when the money dries up, so do the campaigns) Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas and Macau began tearing up that paradigm in 2012 by shoveling money to Newt Gingrich; $20 million total, including $5 million dispensed on March 23, three days after Gingrich won 8 percent in Illinois’s primary to Mitt Romney’s 47 percent, keeping Gingrich officially in the race more than a week after the RNC declared Romney the presumptive nominee.
Now, four previously unheard of super-PACS supporting Ted Cruz, who has no support among the GOP’s “establishment,” raised $31 million “with virtually no warning over the course of several days beginning Monday.” The New York Times reported this shortly after reporting that “[t]he leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reigning in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign, which could generate a record $10 billion in spending.”
The Koch Brothers, you can learn if you take a deep enough dive into the relatively obscure precincts of campaign coverage, are battling to take over a major functions of the Republicans National Committee.
And all this, admittedly, gets reported, in bits and pieces. But all this noise doesn’t amount to an ongoing story by which citizens can understand what is actually going on. Not just concerning who might be our next president, but what it all means for the republic. And not just concerning the candidates, but the behind-the-scenes string-pullers whose names, really, should be almost as familiar to us as Mr. Bush, Mr. Rubio, and, God forbid, Dr. Carson.
Instead, we get the same old hackneyed horse race—like, did you know that Rick Santorum is in trouble? Only one voter showed up at his June 8 event in Hamlin, Iowa. The Des Moines Register reported that. Politico made sure that tout Washington knew it. Though neither mentioned that Santorum is still doing just fine with the one voter that matters: Foster Friess, the Wyoming financier who gave his super-PAC $6.7 million in 2012, and promises something similar this year. “He has the best chance of winning,” Friess said. “I can’t imagine why anybody would not vote for him.’’ Which, considering only 2 percent of New Hampshirites and Iowans agree with him, is kind of crazy. And you’d think having people like that picking the people who govern us would all be rather newsworthy.