There’s a pattern here

The good news is that the Republican county committee for Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, wants to kick out it’s white-supremacist member.

The bad news, obviously, is that there’s a white supremacist now serving on the Republican committee for Luzerne County. Or, as Rebecca Schoenkopf put it, “Pennsylvania GOP Now Just Straight Up Electing Actual Curb-Jobbing Nazis.”

That Wonkette headline accurately describes Steve Smith, who is co-founder of a racist skinhead group called Keystone State Skinheads, and member of several other hate groups. But it’s not true to say that the “GOP” elected this idiot.

Apparently, Smith wrote himself in as a candidate and received just a single vote, his own. As Leah Nelson reports for the SPLC’s Hatewatch:

The seats [were] apparently not hotly contested: Pittston City Ward 4’s other GOP committee member was elected with two write-in votes.

Once the Luzerne County GOP realized who this guy was, they set about trying to find some way to get rid of him. The party is not thrilled to have Steve Smith serving as a Republican official.

Nor was the Idaho Republican Party thrilled to have Shaun Winkler run as a candidate for sheriff in Bonner County. Winkler is a racist loon and belongs to a branch of the deadliest terrorist organization in American history:

Shaun Winkler, a Republican candidate for sheriff in [Bonner] County, Idaho, showed off a slice of his family life last Friday. After clearing it with friends and family, Winkler allowed reporters to attend a monthly get-together at his compound. Winkler, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and a former staffer for the Aryan Nations, was hosting an old-fashioned cross-burning.

Winkler got crushed in the Republican primary, finishing a distant third.

Idaho Republican leaders also denounced Winkler’s views forcefully and unambiguously: “The philosophy of racism and racial superiority is not acceptable here,” Bonner County Republican chair Cornel Rasor said.

So these stories have at least two things in common: 1) Men espousing hardcore, Reconstruction-era racist beliefs ran for office as Republicans; and 2) The Republican Party wishes they hadn’t.

Here’s a third example, this one from a U.S. Senate race in Wyoming.

Thomas Bleming, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Wyoming, has posted anti-Semitic videos on his Facebook page.

Among Bleming’s postings is a video he labeled “the eternal Jew, updated for 2010.” “The Eternal Jew” is a notorious Nazi propaganda film that described Jews as “parasites” intent on world domination.

The video posted by Bleming, who announced last week that he would challenge incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) for his seat, appears to use the original script with contemporary images.

Bleming is a Republican. But you already knew that.

You read that bit about his expressions of extreme bigotry and you knew he was a Republican. Or, rather, you knew that he surely wasn’t a Democrat. You read about a guy like Bleming and you realize that he hates the Democratic Party. You know that he despises the Democratic Party and is certain that it despises him and his views in return.

So you suspect that he’s a Republican, because you know that guys like this are attracted to the Republican Party and that — despite consistent condemnation from Republican officials — they suspect the Republican Party is also attracted to them and to their views in return.

Why is that?

Let’s be clear: These guys are all whackjobs and they in no way represent the official views of the Republican Party or of the majority of Republicans. Whackjobs aren’t rational creatures, and they can choose to attach themselves to any larger institution whether or not that institution welcomes them.

Yet there’s a clear pattern apparent to anyone who looks at this particular form of racist whackjobbery: These guys all consider themselves Republicans.

Why would this be? Why are racists — outright, proud, explicit racists — attracted to the Republican Party? These guys sound like President Andrew Johnson, yet they’re not drawn to Johnson’s party, the Democrats. They are, instead, drawn to the part of Lincoln. The Republican Party condemns their views, explicitly and consistently, yet they remain convinced that, despite such official pronouncements, it reciprocates their affection.


I think it’s because they’re paying attention. No matter how many Republican officials condemn and denounce their views, they also see many other Republicans in good standing espousing the same ideas in slightly more subtle forms. They thus perceive that Republican officials don’t really oppose the substance of their views, only the style in which they are expressed.

After all, they’ve seen others say or suggest the same things they believe, or endorse the same policies they endorse, without such statements and actions drawing any criticism from the party.

Some examples of what I mean:

Republican candidate Jesse Kelly just lost a congressional special election in Arizona. The tea-party favorite “accepted the endorsement of an anti-immigrant group called ALIPAC, which has been accused of having ties to white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”

Republican Rep. Joe Walsh says that African Americans are “dependent on government,” and that Jesse Jackson is trying “to keep African Americans down on some plantation.” Jackson, Walsh said, is a “race-hustler.”

Republican SuperPac funder Joe Ricketts’ first plan for a $10 million negative-ad campaign targeting President Obama was a series of Scary Black Man ads involving Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Republican local councilwoman Deborah Pauly is most famous for her anti-Muslim protests. She’s now running for the Orange County (Calif.) Board of Supervisors and her campaign has the support of Republican businessman Robert Walters, who sent Orange County voters a mailing endorsing Pauly that was printed on “Wallace for President” letterhead from the late Alabama governor’s segregationist campaign in 1968.

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said, “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. … He’s just not an American.”

Republican Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett spent a couple of weeks pretending that President Obama might not be qualified to be on his state’s ballot. “I’m not a birther,” Bennett said, while promoting birtherism.

And let’s not forget the recently concluded 2012 Republican presidential primary race, which contained lots of implicit and explicit statements about the supposed inferiorities of “blah people.”

Some of that primary talk was defended — as with Ron Paul’s infamously racist newsletters — as simply a pose meant to appeal to certain voters. As Mitt Romney said recently to explain why he won’t denounce the racist birtherism of Donald Trump, “I need to get 50.1 percent or more.”

Flirting with the racist fringe in order to get to “50.1 percent or more” is not a new idea. It’s been Republican strategy for nearly half a century.

As Charlie Pierce wrote a while back, “Appearing to Be a Racist’ — a Strategy Still“:

It was more than Lew Rockwell and Ron Paul, boys. It was the entire Republican party, and the conservative “movement” that energized it. It’s why Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign talking about “states rights” in Mississippi, not half-a-mile from the spot where murdered civil rights workers were buried in a dam. It was welfare mothers driving Cadillacs and young bucks buying steaks. It was the slandering of Lani Guinier as a “quota queen.” It’s all those ID laws in all those states, and the phony ACORN scandal, and virtually everything said by every GOP presidential candidate on the subject of immigration and, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s an awful lot of the problems your people have with Barack Obama. It’s what the pathetic Willard Romney is talking about when he talks about “the entitlement society.” It’s too late to get out from under it now. Without “appearing to be racist” as a good political strategy, there would be no modern Republican party. Modern conservatism would have ceased to exist after the debacle of 1964. Don’t be fobbing it all off on poor Ron Paul.

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  • JonathanPelikan

    Engaging with you is completely pointless. Take your IfOnlyBotSieds false equivalence and shove it.

  • ReverendRef

    The actual song title is “Carrot Juice is Murder.”

    I had NO idea there was a song with that title.

  • In re: the Tea Party – the research seems to indicate that there are two elements here. One is legitimately grass roots, if perhaps inspired by members of the elite. The other is clearly astro-turf – Dick Armey and the Kochs and etc. Armey and the Kochs have tried very hard to link themselves to the grass roots, get out in front of the message, and direct the movement, but the people on the ground have, on several occasions, rejected the advances of the big guys.  Both groups support the Republicans, generally, but the grass roots groups are pushing their representatives in one direction while the astroturf folks are pushing in a different (but not necessarily opposite) direction. 

  • Tricksterson

    He wasn’t impeached by the South, at the time they had no political power precisely because of Reconstruction.  He was impeached by a group of Republicans (He was a pro-Union Democrat) for what they felt was a watering down of Reconstruction.

  • Tricksterson

    The conservatives think he is.

  • Tricksterson

    And it’s pretty damn funny.

    Hope that works

  • Tricksterson

    It didn’t, never mind.
    Just go to youtube and type Carrot juice arrogant worms

  • When I first heard of the “Tea Party” and how suspiciously swift its rise was AFTER Obama got elected, I smelled the lovely odor of a helluva lot of astroturf. Its leaders are conspiciously absent, for one thing. Right-wing organizations like the Tea Party (or a more staid Canadian equivalent the National Citizen’s Coalition) tend to obscure the details of their leadership and funding in order to create the “appearance” of a grassroots movement rather than one under tight command-and-control whose sole function is to distort and bog down the political process.

  • More like small enough to get in our bodies. Especially if we can get pregnant. Especially if we try to say words in public. 

    The Republican party is consistently, flat-out  disallowing women from speaking these days, denying women legislators the right to speak (Michigan), threatening women who do speak with violence (“throw acid”, Limbaugh’s tirades), and not allowing any women to speak about our own bodies in front of all-male legislative bodies.

    Republicans are, at this moment, actively hurting people. They are actively taking away my right over my body, passing misogynist, classist, racist, homophobic, and just generally evil legislation. This is what Republicans are doing to all of us, including those people who vote Republican because they think the Republicans will at least keep those “other people” down so that Republican voters can continue to hold onto whatever position in society they have, with fingernails and toenails.

    Are you an extremely wealthy white cisman who can at least pretend to be straight, and who doesn’t care about anyone who is not exactly like you in every single way? If the answer is “no”, then everything the Republican Party is doing is anti-you. Even if you’re so incredibly lucky that they don’t directly harm you, they are directly harming people you care about, and they’re doing it on purpose. 

    I live in a supposed democracy in which I would not be allowed to speak about my own body in front of the men who are making legislation about my body. Because of Republicans — nothing and no one else. But I am allowed to speak on Fred’s blog. And so here, I am allowed to talk, and say that anyone who spends one second on the “equivalency” bullshit needs to seriously re-examine their lives. And anyone who thinks there isn’t much difference between Republicans and Democrats seems to have forgotten that well over half the country exists.

    While the War on Women is the most obvious Republican douchebaggery right now, the Republicans are actually undertaking a War on America. It’s about time we acknowledged that fact. 

  • There isn’t a unified leadership of the Tea Party, though. The individual groups around the country have leaders, sometimes, but they’re not necessarily all moving in the same direction at the same time.  If it weren’t that they wanted such odious and damaging things, and if they were willing to accept basic facts, the whole thing might be admirable.

  • VCarlson

    One of the reasons I enjoy it. It’s funny, and clever, and pokes gentle fun.

  • One thing I’m surprised nobody’s done yet is  to try and follow the money. Where are all these Tea Party branches getting their money from? It can’t all be donations from individual members; some serious corporate funding has to be backing them up, especially given how much media exposure and gentility of treatment they’ve gotten from all and sundry compared to the Occupy movement.

  • Dan Audy

    The local branches are mostly self funded (if one externalizes the free advertising provided by Fox) but the core of the movement is funded by the lobbyist ‘think tanks’ Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works who are in turn funded by the Koch brothers and other influential Republican lobbyists.  Particularly interesting (IMO) is how Freedom Works raised over $600,000 in funding through fraudulently selling insurance policies.

    SourceWatch (as usual) has a fairly good look at their funding and operations.

  • Theda Skocpol debates the “core” and “branches” model. She suggests that the core – the astroturf – is functionally separate from the local groups in terms of money and leadership, despite the efforts of the “core” to appear in control of the situation. 

  • dr ngo

    I goofed (badly) on Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction – too many years since I looked at it, and some key mental wires got crossed.  He did indeed try to block much of the Reconstruction planned by Radical Republicans, who burned him for it, as several commentators have noted.  Sorry for misleading anyone on this.

      On the other hand, I’m still not convinced AJ’s a good model for the “outright, proud, explicit racists” referred to in the previous sentence of the OP.  As I reread his record, it looks as if he was a compromiser with, and facilitator of, racism, but I’ve seen no evidence he was “outright, proud, [or] explicit” about it, at least not in comparison with many other leading US politicians of the time – or even well into the 20th century.

  • erikagillian

    It is ‘small enough to fit in my vagina’ and it’s been heading that way for a long time.  I have a t-shirt from a march in maybe ’92 that says US Out of My Uterus.  And when they finish with Roe v Wade and Loving v Virginia and start on the decision legalizing sodomy you can start talking about fitting up your ass.

    And I know Fred is starting from first principles for a reason but states’ rights always has been and is a dog whistle for let us keep our racist laws just as in California *anything* about immigration has been about keeping them brown people in their Barrios.  Not that they truly want to get rid of them, who would clean their house or mow their lawn?  But they use it to get the racists to vote for them.  Of course now it’s so so so much clearer and uglier.

    And I knew law and order stuff was usually racist but now with the private prisons basically being used for slave labor and we know who gets more often and longer sentences.  I don’t know if the law and order is still used against the poor and homeless but I’m pretty sure it is.

    Now the Carrot Juice is Murder earworm has switched over to Kris Kristofferson’s Law is for the Protection of the People)  And what a cogent song that is.  And to bring it back to the blog itself is the last verse.  “We don’t need no riddle speaking prophets, scarin’ decent folks like you and me.”

  • Huh! That said, has the core necessarily failed in their objectives?

    They’ve managed to do what they essentially wanted in the first place – to effectively crystallize free-floating anti-Democratic sentiment into anti-Obama sentiment specifically (or perhaps the other way around?) and doing so by carefully nurturing racist sentiments in order to create a ‘noise machine’ that effectively throws sand in the wheels of the normal functioning of politics. Look at how Obama’s attention was inevitably drawn away by constant yammering about how he’s not really from “here”* and he’s not qualified to be President (just like all the Jesse Helms-ian anti-Affirmative Action dogwhistle advertising)

    On top of  that has been Republican politicians who have been using dogwhistle “Party of No” tactics to use appeals to racism to gain popular support for policies which would not advance the United States one iota. They wouldn’t have been able to as effectively do this if it hadn’t been for the way latent racism was crystallized into the Tea Party as an effective vehicle for all the free-floating ragecakes about “I DON’T WANNA GIVE NONE OF MY TAXES TO THOSE PEOPLE GODDAMNIT” sentiments.

    I suspect that the only reason the ‘core’ wants to seem in charge is so that the ‘branches’ don’t overstep themselves like Santorum nearly did quite a few times. It takes a lot of the steam out of a movement when many of its members are just this side of being stupid enough to call Obama a n-word on national TV and think it won’t come back at them.


    * Given that I’ve heard of people who seem to be blissfully unaware that Hawaii is a bona fide US state….

  • re:  “core” v. “branches” in the Tea Party – the big lobbying groups have been pushing for some fairly specific business related legislation which hasn’t gained traction at the local level. Further, what the local groups claim that they want is largely at odds with what the money folks claim the Tea Party wants.  The local groups are the ones which are having a significant legislative impact in terms of GOTV and such – the big national groups are good at funneling money (which is influential, of course) but not so good at changing opinions.

    The problems are two. One, some of what the local groups claim they want is grounded in fears that they have as aging white folks. Skocpol and Williams (her co-writer) found very little overt racism in the groups, and very little support for social control type issues (abortion and etc), but a great deal of economic unease. The economic unease comes largely from distant memories of the Great Depression and a strong sense from the membership that they have something to lose – they are comfortably middle class or better right now, but they feel like that could be taken away. Because this issue is fear based, though, the Tea Partiers are grabbing at anything which seems designed to calm their fears, and that means they aren’t evaluating things particularly well. Also, you know Yoda was right – fear turns to anger, turns to hate – there’s a lot of anger and hate there. Not necessarily racial hate; more class and age based hate.

    Second, while the local groups have developed a solid (enviable!) understanding of the legislative process – who to talk to, when to talk to them, how to talk to them about specific bills, what to say in order to convince them that you know what you’re talking about, etc – they are otherwise woefully un- or mis-informed about what’s going on in the country and the world. They live, as has been suggested, on a fact free diet.  This is why they drop the utter howlers about what’s in bills, or what Democrats “actually” want.

  • Rockione23

    What I hate about this is the more we bash the extremely crazy republicans, the more we sound just like them. Everybody has their fringes, democrats aren’t all socialists who want the government invoked in every single aspect of their lives, like a giant super nanny because we’re all too stupid to take care of ourselves. Conversely republicans aren’t all back woods reckneck racist libertarians who think that anarchy would be best and that the government should stay the eff out of everything ever-except gay marriage cause that offends their conservative ‘Christian’ racist sensibilities.
    50% of the country believes gay marriage should be legal, (per NY Times polls) yet
    Only 33 % of ppl ID themselves as Democrats in 2008. Clearly there are plenty of republicans out there that don’t believe in this racist and gay bashing shit. 53% of ppl supported /approve of abortions (in some cases) in 2009, again there are clearly rational republicans out there. When we start painting entire groups of people with generalized stereotypes we are doing the exact same thing we critique criticizing them for,
    Calling all republicans racist homophobes is no better than calling democrats baby killing junkies. Neither statement is true and everybody just looks stupid in the end!

  •  Who said that? The criticisms I see in this article aren’t, “all Republicans are racist homophobes” but “the Republican Party leadership has created an environment where racists and homophobes are disproportionately likely to feel comfortable and welcome”. Obviously not all Republicans are like this (as the article explicitly points out, Republicans are fighting to kick out the white supremacists and the other freaks out of the positions of leadership that they’ve managed to take over. But the problem is that, because their leaders generally tolerant (not necessarily supportive, but tolerant) of race-baiting and gay-bashing as long as it’s not too graphic or vivid,

    Rush Limbaugh calls a woman testifying before Congress a “slut” and a “prostitute”, and all Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum could do is timidly suggest that he soften his tone.

    Barack Obama expresses empathy with the parents of a black teenage boy, and Newt Gingrich launches into a hateful tirade.

    Newt Gingrich gives a speech condemning “judicial activism”, and the case that he chooses to attack is, Cooper vs. Aaron, the case that prohibited racial segregation in public schools. Was that an accident?

    Not all Republicans are racist, homophobic, or misogynist, but it’s clear that those things have no negative impact on your chances of becoming a major national leader in the GOP… as long as you don’t actually join the KKK.

  • The latest load of misogyny is this one:

    US politician banned for saying ‘vagina’ in abortion bill debate

    Oh, and when another woman proposed a vasectomy ban? The Repubs went ape shit and tried to shut her up.

    As noted on my own blog entry, the way some men go fucking batshit apoplectic when any aspect of their status quo precious male privilege is questioned is just ludicrous and disgusting.

  • PJ Evans

    as long as you don’t actually join the KKK

    I’d say rather ‘as long as you aren’t publicly identified as a member of the KKK’. Because I suspect some of them are, but only in private.

  • Sleepin0809

    Yes because “the leadership” is directly responsible for every whack job that claims affiliation with a party. I could start a movement tomorrow and within months people would twist and bend the foundation of said movemeng to fit their own twisted agenda. I appreciate Fred’s attempts to try to be balanced but it falls short when there are then 5 other links saying OHHHHH look what THEY are doing wrong now. Its highschool BsS not on Fred’s part but on the attitudes that seem to be so easily and carelessly applied on both sides- against both sides. If we cannot discuss differences w/o name calling and pulling every person as an ‘example’ out of the wood work claiming to be Reb or Dem we’ll never get anywhere. Rush is a shinning example for the BS Reb crap that needs to stop, it makes everyone look stipid ehenBoth sides need to just cut out the pettiness. And that’s why I’m an independent….

  • Yes because “the leadership” is directly responsible for every whack job that claims affiliation with a party.

    If you’re only here for this false-equivalency garbage, you might as well cut it out now.

    I did not say that the leadership was responsible for every whackjob that merely “claims” affiliation with their party. I am saying that the leadership is responsible when prominent, high-profile whackjobs — the Rick Santorums, the Newt Gingriches, the Rush Limbaughs, the Michele Bachmanns — not only claim to be Republicans but are given high positions within the party and are treated as members in good standing no matter how many racist things they say.

    If we cannot discuss differences w/o name calling and pulling every
    person as an ‘example’ out of the wood work claiming to be Reb or Dem
    we’ll never get anywhere. Rush is a shinning example for the BS Reb crap
    that needs to stop, it makes everyone look stipid ehenBoth sides need
    to just cut out the pettiness. And that’s why I’m an independent….

    Don’t give me that rancid bullshit. It’s not “namecalling” to point out someone who makes hateful comments in public and advocates governmental policies explicitly intended to hurt specific minority groups is a hateful bigot. It’s called telling the truth and it’s the first step to resolving any issue. Pretending as if it somehow doesn’t mean anything that the national Republican Party is firmly and enthusiastically opposed to equal rights for gay people (to choose one example) and has worked tirelessly on the state level (various constitutional bans) and on the federal level (DOMA), to pretend that this doesn’t imply anything about their feelings towards gay people, is silly and pointless.

    Is that all Republicans? No; you still have the Log Cabin Republicans doing some good work out there. But it is absolutely fair to criticize the Republican Party for the official positions held by its leaders. How else are we supposed to judge politicians, if we can’t cite what they say or what they do in office?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Who are the most extremist members of the Democratic Party in leadership positions? Let me compare.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Bernie Sanders has a profile among political nerds outside the US. Is he considered at the extreme of the Democratic Party, for example?

  • Ikeyman

    What does it mean when some people (conservatives) describe the democratic party as democrat party. I realize that they use it as a derogatory remark but I don’t understand how.

  • dan

    FBI stats actually show the deadliest terror organization in American history was the Black Panthers. I too am a writer, but I find actual research preferable to writing whatever I can pull out of my rear.

  • AnonaMiss

    I call bullshit on that:

    1. The Black Panthers were active for a period of about 15 years. The KKK was active for a century.

    2. For obvious reasons it is safe to assume that a substantial portion of killings by the KKK were never reported or, if reported, were never recorded. There is no reason to believe this about killings by the Black Panthers.

    3. The FBI has had a very poor record on racial issues, including targeting MLK’s nonviolent wing of the Civil Rights Movement. LBJ overrode the FBI’s recommendation to crack down on the CRM in signing the Civil Rights Act.

    Full disclosure: I’m pretty good friends with the son of a former Panther.

  • Jared James

    Partly because they can’t be bothered to pronounce the “extra” syllable in the other party’s name; mainly because they despise democracy, and to describe a person or party as a Democrat is an insult they cherish every opportunity to deliver.