The GOP rebranding strategy for 2016

It’s 2014, which means we’re gearing up for the 2016 presidential election. (Yeah, we have the midterm congressional elections coming up, but now is when the messaging for 2016 actually begins.

So which Republicans are among the likely presidential contenders, and what are they doing?

From the Washington Post:

Since giving up on cowboy boots (the arched heels agitated his back) and wearing hipster glasses, [Rick] Perry has a look more bookish than buckaroo — and more in keeping with his attempt at intellectual reinvention.

What was it that Rick Perry did that made him look dumb, anyway?

Yeah, glasses. That’ll fix everything. Because we all know that people who wear glasses are smart. Here’s what the site Eye Candy Optical says:

Scientific research has shown that we do perceive people who wear glasses as more intelligent when compared to those who do not wear glasses (As an aside, we also view people who wear glasses as more competent, and more industrious according to a recent article in Psychology News and Reviews).  Count me in!

Although perception is not a reality, you may give yourself a leg up just by putting on a proper pair of specs.  Let’s face it….it couldn’t hurt! In today’s competitive world anything that gives us a little extra boost (real or perceived) is worth a try.

Rick PerryNow there’s a smart looking man!

And since looking intelligent is part of the strategy for potential Republican presidential candidates, what other ways will they present themselves to the American voter?

Again from the Washington Post:

The last time Republicans began running for president, there was a race to be the most confrontational, the most unbending. Mitt Romney said he was “severely conservative” and got caught mocking the “47 percent.” Rick Perry called the Federal Reserve “treasonous.” Rick Santorum said he was “for income inequality.”

What a difference a disastrous election, two years and terrible polling make. If 2012 was a contest to be the toughest, the 2016 presidential Republican primary is likely to include a competition to appear the most compassionate.

The rebranding effort is taking center stage this week with pleas for more compassion from four potential GOP presidential candidates: Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. The Republicans are working to redefine the GOP as kinder, more connected to the daily economic anxieties of poor Americans — and better able to win national elections.

Remember the last compassionate conservative?

But how do you look compassionate?

image11406142490That’s Paul Ryan on the right at a heroin clinic, looking compassionate. The GOP message had been, “You use heroin, you go to jail.” Now, let’s pull a gem from the past, quoting George Bush (the smarter): “Message: I care.”

We are not dealing in substance anymore. This is all about illusion. Nobody is going to read these guys speeches or cross reference their statements in newspaper articles. This is the first step in the Fox News election strategy.

We know what the message will be, and how they’re going to present it. So what can we do?

Why you should vaccinate your kids

Apparently, there’s an epidemic of whooping cough on the West Coast, even though there’s a vaccine that can wipe it out. (Via USA Today):

Scientists are searching for clues to the resurgence of whooping cough, a nearly forgotten childhood infection causing outbreaks around the country.

California last week announced a whooping cough epidemic, reporting more than 800 cases in two weeks, along with two deaths in infants. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 10,000 cases so far this year of whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

Although whooping cough is cyclical, peaking every three to five years, cases have soared in the past decade, with 48,277 cases in 2012, the largest number in 50 years.

The best defense against whooping cough is vaccination, says Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health.

The reason: There are people in this country who, when faced with getting their medical advice from either a Nobel Prize winner in medicine or a former Playboy centerfold figure the boobmeister has a better grasp on health issues.

I don’t know. I guess that’s God’s way of thinning out the herd.

Anyway, listen to this. It makes sense.

Stop listening to the kooks.

The right’s new hero

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Did you notice how when the GOP’s favorite rancher and Tea Party terrorist, Cliven Bundy, got in touch with his inner racist, Benghazi all of a sudden became the urgent Fox News/Republican talking point? That and new criticism of Hillary Clinton?

Karl Rove suggested at a conference Thursday that Hillary Clinton suffered a “traumatic brain injury,” according to the New York Post’s Page Six.

“Thirty days in the hospital? And when she reappears, she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury?” Rove told the audience, as quoted by the Post. “We need to know what’s up with that.”

The Post reported that Rove repeated the claim several times at the conference, where he was speaking alongside former Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs and CBS correspondent Dan Raviv. He urged Republicans to continue pressing for answers about the Benghazi attacks and said voters deserve to know about the former secretary of state’s health issues if she decides to run for president, according to the Post.

The scumbaggery never ceases to amaze. (You know, of course, that the New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdock, who, coincidence of coincidences, owns Fox News.)

Divide and conquer: The GOP solution to the poor

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis in action:

Do you really need a translation? When a Republican says:

And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government and say at some point, “You’re on your own. We may end up taking care of those babies, but we’re not going to take care of you.” And we’ve got to start having that serious discussion.”

These people means “those people” because for a GOP crowd it’s always a matter of Us vs. Them. And for a Republican, who might “them” be?

Let’s stop pretending we don’t know when Republicans are speaking in code. Tillis gets away with what he’s saying because he knows how to use the code words. Listen to the message: Thom Tillis is saying EXACTLY THE SAME THING Cliven Bundy is saying. The difference? Bundy was just using the language of the past, when you could run as a politician in the South against the “nigra”.

Time to quote the godfather of racial code Lee Atwater:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

For anyone running against the GOP, it isn’t a matter of divide and conquer. There’s no difference between the sophisticates and the troglodytes in that party. The focus has to be conquer.

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-Adultery)

What a wholesome politician:

Oh, yeah. What was it he did a couple of days ago?

Anything else we need to know?

Aides to McAllister confirmed to The Post that the staff member, who had recently joined the staff at the time of the romantic encounter, has been dropped from the congressman’s payroll.

According to Legistorm, a congressional staff salary database, the staffer in the video worked part-time and earned less than $22,000 a year. She is one of the only members of McAllister’s staff who is not a holdover from the staff hired by former congressman Rodney Alexander (R), who resigned last year and now serves as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

So, family-values Republican Christian protector of the unborn smooches with a staffer who is not Mrs. family-values Republican Christian protector of the unborn. The said non-Mrs. loses her job. The horny family-values guy will keep his.

And the Republicans don’t understand why they have a problem with women voters?

Anyone want to add anything else? Hit Girl?

 

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Another family values Republican caught in the act

From Talking Points Memo:

The video was published online Monday by The Ouachita Citizen, a conservative-leaning newspaper that endorsed McAllister’s opponent in last November’s special election to fill Louisiana’s 5th District seat in the House. The newspaper, which has a paid circulation of 5,200, credited an “anonymous source” with providing the surveillance video of what it described as an “extramarital encounter.” …

McAllister issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that he was asking for forgiveness “from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve.” The statement did not directly address the content of the video itself, or the identity of the woman in it.

Because?? Freedom!!

 

Paul Krugman and “Equivalences”

In light of the Supreme Court ruling that people with lots of money can spend as much as they want to get the people they want elected, Paul Krugman takes a look at “Equivalencies”:

There are definitely times when it seems that our winner-take-all society is also a whiner-take-all society; it’s really amazing how quick billionaires are to portray themselves as victims because some people say nasty things about them.

One remarkable aspect of this whining is that the nasty things aren’t really all that nasty. Saying that the Koch brothers are using their wealth to promote a political agenda that will make them even wealthier is a substantive claim, not character assassination; it’s not at all the same as, say, suggesting that Hillary Clinton is a murderer. Yet the Kochs and Perkinses act as if this kind of thing were utterly vile, an attack on their liberty.

The other remarkable thing is the instant escalation of hurt feelings into a Godwin’s Law violation. You see, liberals criticize the Kochs; that makes them just like Hitler and Stalin, who murdered their opponents.

But wait, there’s more. What I’ve been hearing from Koch defenders is that people like me have no standing to ridicule billionaires. You see, I sometimes say sarcastic things about the arguments of people who disagree with me, and even question their motives when they say things I consider obviously wrong. And that’s just like comparing such people to Hitler.

The thing is, I don’t think the crybaby thing is an act, put on for strategic purposes. I think it’s real. Billionaires really are feeling vulnerable despite their wealth and power, or perhaps because of it. And the apparatchiks serving the .01 percent are deeply insecure, culturally and intellectually, so that ridicule cuts deep.

It’s kind of sad, really – but also more than a bit scary: When great power goes along with fragile egos, seriously bad things can happen.

Hungry like ‘the Wolf’

I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago, and really enjoyed it:

It was truly a celebration of rich people behaving badly, and Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent in it.

Technically, it’s not supposed to be an inspirational movie. You know, bad people doing bad things and all that. Apparently, some stock brokers don’t see it that way (from the London Evening Standard):

Cinemas across London are preparing to welcome thousands of bankers, brokers and traders to bespoke private screenings, the Standard has learned, and a cinema booking company says there is more corporate demand for this film than any they can remember.

With one company planning to dress up Nineties Wall Street-style for the occasion, the City’s buzz about [Jordan] Belfort has the ring of an enthronement. It is tempting to think that DiCaprio’s character might be a new cult hero for a new generation of bankers, as Gordon Gekko (protagonist of 1987’s Wall Street) was to their bosses. You can imagine the Square Mile’s new generation quoting Belfort’s corny phrases about money, drugs and women like their pre-crash predecessors did Gekko’s.

A comedy email flying around between bankers in London and New York this week makes the link, plotting a market index since the Eighties with arrows showing major price falls on the release dates of Wall Street and its 2010 sequel Money Never Sleeps, and a Wolf of Wall Street arrow pointing at today’s high price. Will the Wolf consign so many bankers and traders to therapy and rehab that the markets will plummet on its release, the jokes goes. At least I think it’s a joke.

For those of you not familiar with international financial markets, “the City” referred to here isn’t London. The City is what the Brits call their version of Wall Street. They’re treating this movie like it’s a blueprint for success. Maybe they’re thinking all they have to avoid will be the drugs, the prostitutes and the money laundering. That way, they can steal people’s money legally, I guess.

Oh, by the way. The Wolf lives. Jordan Belfort is now a motivational speaker in California. Here’s an interview with him:

Got to admit. The guy is smooth.