Category Archives: republican party

Belling: Paul Ryan’s GOP “Opponent” Is An Invention

PAUL RYAN’S GOP OPPONENT IS AN INVENTION
Virginia political operative creates Nehlen campaign

By Mark Belling
July 20, 2016

The Freeman, Waukesha County, Wisconsin

My longtime panelist on my old TV show “Belling and Company” Walter Farrell must have barked every other week: “it’s about the money, Mark. It’s always about the money.” It was hilarious because he was always right. And, Walter’s explanation is the only one that holds water for the weirdest political campaign of the summer – the bizarre challenge in next month’s Republican primary to House Speaker Paul Ryan by an odd duck that nobody has ever heard of and even fewer have ever seen.

The overwhelming evidence is that “candidate” Paul Nehlen’s “campaign” exists almost entirely so a shady operative from Virginia can make money. Let’s follow the money.

Dan Backer, who lists a business address of Arlington, Va., sets up myriad political action committees, or PACs, to support supposedly conservative causes and candidates. By law, these PACs don’t have to disclose where their money is coming from or how they spend most of it. This is different from actual candidate campaigns, which have to spell out everything. Paul Nehlen and his weird campaign against Ryan seem to exist for the sole purpose of allowing Dan Backer to set up a PAC.

PACs can spend money pretty much however they want. Some legitimately pump almost all of their money into supporting specific candidates. But others exist primarily to pay the salaries of the people who set up [the PACs. Dan Backer, by all indications, pays himself a huge pile of money to run all of the PACs he sets up. Fake campaign finance reformer Russ Feingold did the same thing after he was voted out of office six years ago. He set up a PAC and immediately put former staffers on its payroll, essentially paying them to continue to do the political work of Russ Feingold.

The Backer-Nehlen connection gets even slimier. If you look at the sparse federal filings of Paul Nehlen’s campaign, you see a couple of addresses of Alexandria, Va. That’s the same place Dan Backer’s PACs are based. And, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice recently reported that Backer is actually the campaign treasurer for Nehlen! So, following the money, Backer sets up a PAC to back Nehlen and then sets himself up as the treasurer of the actual Nehlen campaign. Federal law prohibits coordination between a PAC and a campaign and Backer’s people are quoted in the Journal Sentinel as saying Backer doesn’t know what the PAC he started for Nehlen is doing for Nehlen. OK.

The Journal Sentinel story effectively exposed Virginia’s Dan Backer as the ventriloquist to Paul Nehlen’s dummy. But it doesn’t stop there. Everywhere Dan Backer pops up so do a handful of other figures. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin has endorsed Nehlen and magically seems to show up in support of other Backer-invented candidates. The Breitbart website, which has veered sharply to the weird since the death of its founder, constantly promotes stories attacking the candidates Backer’s PACs are opposing.

Remember Walter Farrell’s manta. “It’s about the money, Mark. It’s always about the money.” Backer has set up a powerful alliance with prominent voices on the right to promote the agenda he is pushing and the candidates his PACs are backing. A website called opensecrets.org has reported that one of the PACs set up to supposedly back Paul Nehlen has spent virtually all of its money paying the PAC’s staff and expenses.

Where does the money come from? Donors. Of course, we don’t know who the donors are because PACs don’t have to spell them out. No doubt much of the money comes from sincere conservatives who respond to flashy fundraising appeals. These folks probably have no idea that much of the money goes to salaries and expenditures of political operatives and that the actual candidates and causes may exist solely for the purpose of inducing people to give money.

But that might not be all. It’s hard not to notice that virtually every politician Backer attacks is a prominent Republican. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and now Paul Ryan are among Backer’s targets. There’s nothing wrong with going after leaders of the Republican establishment who don’t advance a conservative agenda aggressively enough and I have spent much of my own career doing just that. But the reality is that the people who benefit most from constant demonizing of Republican leaders are liberals. How much of Backer’s money is coming from leftist interests? It’s a legitimate question and one that could win some intrepid reporter a Pulitzer Prize if they actually started digging into who is giving money to self-styled “tea party” and other groups that purport to be conservative but do nothing but attack actual conservatives.

Sincere conservative individuals are donating their money to groups that claim to care about their interests. Some of these groups are above board and do outstanding work. But others, dubbed “scamPACs,” exist to make money for their operators and attack the leaders of the conservative movement. There’s a reason nobody knows anything about Paul Nehlen. He’s essentially a mirage. He’s an invention of a guy who is in it for himself.

(Mark Belling is the host of a daily WISN radio talk show. His column runs Wednesdays in The Freeman.)

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Governor John Kasich Addresses NAACP Convention

Kasich With all that was happening on this Sunday afternoon, it was pretty easy to have missed Governor John Kasich addressing the NAACP Convention in Cincinnati. It’s less than 15 minutes and worth your time, the Governor is pragmatic and thoughtful. Republicans need to do more of this.

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Filed under 2016, John Kasich, republican, republican party, republicans, Uncategorized

Winning AmRen Client Gilbert Pena Feature In Sunday Paper

Theodore Schleifer of the Houston Chronicle wrote a Sunday feature on American Renaissance Political Consulting Group client Gilbert Pena’s upset victory in November.

Houston Chronicle

TEXAS POLITICS

Perseverance, work ethic define area’s newest state rep

By Theodore Schleifer

December 27, 2014

Gilbert Pena American Renaissance Political Consulting

By the time Harris County’s conservative leaders fished for their car keys at their Election Night watch party, there were few candidates left to congratulate. Nearly every Republican had won, and each had earned a handshake or name-check from the movement’s political class. Every one, that is, but Gilbert Pena.

Pena finally had triumphed in his fifth run for political office to score the biggest local upset of the evening, but his name remained unsaid. Amid the post-election jubilation, the new state representative was unnoticed. Pena’s supporters would argue that’s because he had been underestimated – again.

“If you underestimate Gilbert Pena, you’re making a mistake,” said his treasurer, Bill Treneer.

Pena, an unassuming retiree derided as a perennial candidate by those Republican signal-callers, rode a GOP wave to oust Pasadena Rep. Mary Ann Perez by 155 votes in November. Pena struggled to woo any donors or political support – Perez’s war chest was 250 times the size of his – but the short and reserved man is used to upending how others perceive him.

The 65-year-old rose from a hardscrabble early life to become a new legislator thanks to a work ethic that can make him impossible to ignore.

Learning to read

Neither of Pena’s parents was in the picture when he moved to Houston in first grade to live with his aunt. She spoke only Spanish, and that showed in the classroom.

Teachers would ask the future state representative to read English – which he insisted he could – and when he inevitably failed his teachers’ challenges, he had his first experiences with racism and hatred, Pena said.

“You can’t read,” his first-grade teacher said, according to Pena. “Don’t you ever tell anybody you can read.”

He continued to tell them just that, even if he had to spend three years in first grade. He sat in the back of classrooms, avoiding pesky classmates as he taught himself quietly to do what other kids had done for years. When he reached Ms. Walker’s seventh-grade classroom, he believed he had made some progress with his reading.

“How come Gilbert’s just reading a book?” one classmate asked Ms. Walker.

“Don’t you worry about what Gilbert’s doing,” Pena recalled her saying. “I got him on a special assignment.”

After Walker’s first year with him, she no longer separated him from the rest of his T.H. Rogers Junior High class.

“If God told her, ‘Ms. Walker, you can’t make it into heaven unless you can tell me one person you did good by,’ ” Pena said wistfully last month, “she could point down to me and say – ‘Gilbert, right there.’ ”

He finally had learned to read, but that skill wouldn’t help support his aunt at home. So, Pena began busing tables for 50 hours a week at El Patio on Westheimer Road. At 50 cents an hour, Pena’s weekly paycheck meant his aunt no longer had to pick cotton to make the same $25 a week.

“We did anything to make a dollar for our parents,” said Ben Pena, Gilbert’s first cousin. During the summers, Pena and his two younger brothers would visit Ben’s family in Wharton County to pick cotton and pecans from sunrise to sunset.

To make those dollars, Pena admits he short-changed his education, which he began to view as merely offering a bus ride to his job at the country club. When he had washed the last dinner dish there, he would walk the three hours home.

‘I had to do something’

He soon dropped out of high school to work three or more jobs at once. A paper route in the morning. An eight-hour shift at a steel company in the afternoon. Cleaning offices at night. Odd job led to odd job for the next two decades. Before long, inevitable layoffs would slide Pena down the ladder back to minimum wage work, erasing any gains he had made since high school.

“I had to do something that would better my life,” he said. “I’m getting to an elder age and I’m thinking, how much longer am I going to have to work like this?”

A drunken driver whose vehicle busted through the median on Interstate 10 accelerated his timeline. The accident wrecked Pena’s left knee, but it also forced him out of his newfound trucking job and created time for college – something no teacher, not even Ms. Walker, believed he could enter or finish. He earned a political science degree from Texas Southern University at age 47.

Pena later found some financial stability installing refrigerators across Texas, working weeks at a time on trips that capitalized on his work ethic and built the bank account to raise his four kids. He spent any free time he had feeding, bathing and tending to his special needs son, who today is 25 and still lives with Pena and his wife.

“I don’t think I could do that 24/7,” said Ben Pena. “But he does it with a smile on his face.”

As he became more secure, the Pasadena resident’s thoughts began to turn to politics as he saw rising taxes cut into what he had earned. He ran for state Senate in 2008 to “get my name out,” he said, and his performance in the Republican primary encouraged him to run for state representative in 2010. His retirement in 2011 enabled him to treat the campaign like a full-time job in 2012. He lost then, too.

Almost no funds raised

Pena said he was unsure about running for the Legislature a fourth time this year. He decided he would make a bid only if he received assurances from Austin power brokers and political action committees that they would financially support him.

And he received those assurances, he said.

But when Pena’s campaign manager, Temo Muniz, presented Pena’s proposed path to victory to Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Associated Republicans of Texas, two of the state’s premier conservative PACs, neither one cut checks, Muniz said.

So, Pena worked even harder. He raised virtually no money and had none of the professional frills that typically accompany a legislative race in one of Texas’ few competitive districts. Instead, he knocked on doors for around four hours every day, almost always by himself and pitching the district’s Hispanic voters a socially conservative message.

“I’ve never seen a guy who works that hard from dawn till dusk every day,” said Treneer.

And he won.

Pena does not have any policy experience or expertise – he does know he plans to support Joe Straus for speaker and that he cares most about education issues – but he said that his “hard times” separates him from the lawyers and businessmen who dominate the Legislature. Many of them have called him to offer their congratulations, but he said he will remember that the Austin establishment never had his back.

“I want to be able to come back and say, ‘You didn’t believe in me,’ ” Pena said. “I’m waiting. They’ll come knocking.”

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Filed under gop, houston, republican party, republican party of texas, republicans

SAP: Big Data And The 2016 US Presidential Election

I was recently interviewed for this piece by business and IT writer Debra Donston-Miller about Big Data and 2016. I’ll have more to say about the subject soon enough, but for now, enjoy this article.

SAP Forbes logo GPH Consulting

Big Data And The 2016 US Presidential Election

By Debra Donston-Miller, May 7, 2013

If big data was something of a secret weapon during the presidential election of 2012, it promises to loom large as we run up to 2016.

There’s no doubt that big data is playing an increasingly big role in business, politics, healthcare, education, retail and numerous other industries. With the right tools and expertise, organizations can slice and dice data to reveal trends and other information that will inform decisions about future strategy and direction.

“[Big data] is the idea that we are finally able to do with a huge body of data things that were impossible to achieve when working with smaller amounts, to uncover to new insight and create new forms of economic value,” said Kenneth Cukier, co-author with Viktor Mayer-Schönberger of “Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think,” and data editor of The Economist. “So, for example, the reason we have self-driving cars or very good computer translation is not because of improvements in processors or algorithms, though they are useful, but because we have vastly more data from which the computer can calculate the probability that a traffic light is red and not green, or which a word in one language is a suitable substitute for a word in another.”

During the 2012 election, big data was used to great advantage—namely, by Barack Obama, in his re-election campaign.

A November 2012 article in Time magazine, “Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win, reported, “Data-driven decision making played a huge role in creating a second term for the 44th President and will be one of the more closely studied elements of the 2012 cycle. … In politics, the era of big data has arrived.”

Cukier said campaigns have always been run on information, but in 2012 big data helped optimize that information and activities around it.

“Obama’s data scientists made pioneering innovations on applying big data to politics,” said Cukier. ”They learned through testing what the optimal sum was when requesting a donation. Every piece of promotional literature online and offline is tested before it goes live at scale. They micro target down to subgroups of the population that were otherwise not picked up by campaigns in the past because it was hard to get granular information on those groups and what moved them to vote a certain way. As a result, campaigns try to tailor their activities down the seemingly ‘individual’ level — not broad, lumpy categories like the ‘soccer moms’ used in Clinton’s campaigns in the 1990s.”

The role of big data will only increase in the 2016 presidential election, with practitioners using technology to hone in on data much more granularly than ever before. In addition, say experts, the use of big data will overlap with social media and other platforms.

“For the 2016 presidential election, we can expect big data to play a much more central role than ever before,” said Cukier. “[We’ll see] micro-targeting of individuals and narrow subgroups of the population, tailored messages over social media platforms, instant feedback loops to the campaign about what works and what doesn’t to move voters, and data collected from the private sector to build predictive models of what works best for fundraising, activating the base of supporters and the get-out-the-vote activities.”

Pay attention to some of the hotly contested issues and the preparation for 2014 Senate elections, and you will see big data at work and a preview of what’s to come in 2016.

“There will be data testing in the run-up to 2014,” said Steve Parkhurst, political consultant, GPH Consulting. “There have already been debates this year on issues like the sequester, the Second Amendment and immigration, for example, and I’m sure the big data databases are filling up with usable data. The data drill-down is no doubt tracking where voters are looking and what those voters are saying, especially online.”

All of this is not to say that the process will be easy. Analysis of big data is a highly complex task, and at this point in time it requires a very specialized—and often expensive–skill set.

“Not just everyone can set up a big data shop,” said Parkhurst. “The people who are really good at it are going to charge a premium price.”

Luckily, technology providers are heeding the call for products and services that can tame the big data beast. Indeed, said Cukier, two of the biggest barriers to big data are narrow thinking and a dearth of leadership.

“The only real obstacle is one of mindset,” said Cukier. “We need to think creatively about what we can do with the data and how important it is. It takes both ingenuity and leadership.”

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Peggy Noonan Gets It Right…Again

For the second Saturday in a row, Peggy Noonan has written the only thing we actually needed to read, everything else was just gravy.  You may recall, last week I also posted her weekly column in its entirety.

Here is the latest offering from Noonan, published in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal (highlights are my own):

Oh, for Some Kennedyesque Grace
Obama makes his campaign strategy clear. It’s divide and conquer.

These are things we know after President Obama’s speech Tuesday, in Washington, to a luncheon sponsored by the Associated Press:

The coming election fully occupies his mind. It is his subject matter now, and will be that of his administration. Everything they do between now and November will reflect this preoccupation.

He knows exactly what issues he’s running on and wants everyone else to know. He is not reserving fire, not launching small forays early in the battle. The strategy will be heavy and ceaseless bombardment. The speech announced his campaign’s central theme: The Republican Party is a radical and reactionary force arrayed in defense of one group, the rich and satisfied, while the president and his party struggle to protect the yearning middle class and preserve the American future.

This will be his campaign, minus only the wedge issues—the “war on women,” etc.—that will be newly deployed in the fall.

We know what criticisms and avenues of attack have pierced him. At the top of the speech he lauded, at some length and in a new way, local Catholic churches and social service agencies. That suggests internal polling shows he’s been damaged by the birth-control mandate. The bulk of the speech was devoted to painting Washington Republicans as extreme, outside the mainstream. This suggests his campaign believes the president has been damaged by charges that his leadership has been not center-left, but left. This is oratorical jujitsu: Launch your attack from where you are weak and hit your foe where he is strong. Mr. Obama said he does not back “class warfare,” does not want to “redistribute wealth,” and does not support “class envy.” It’s been a while since an American president felt he had to make such assertions.

The speech was an unusual and unleavened assault on the Republican Party. As such it was gutsy, no doubt sincere and arguably a little mad. The other party in a two-party center-right nation is anathema? There was no good-natured pledging to work together or find common ground, no argument that progress is possible. The GOP “will brook no compromise,” it is “peddling” destructive economic nostrums, it has “a radical vision” and wants to “let businesses pollute more,” “gut education,” and lay off firemen and cops. He said he is not speaking only of groups or factions within the GOP: “This is now the party’s governing platform.” Its leaders lack “humility.” Their claims to concern about the deficit are “laughable.”

The speech was not aimed at healing, ameliorating differences, or joining together. The president was not even trying to appear to be pursuing unity. He must think that is not possible for him now, as a stance.

There was a dissonance at the speech’s core. It was aimed at the center—he seemed to be arguing that to the extent he has not succeeded as president, it is because he was moderate, high-minded and took the long view—but lacked a centrist tone and spirit.

It was obviously not written for applause, which always comes as a relief now in our political leaders. Without applause they can develop a thought, which is why they like applause. In any case, he couldn’t ask a roomful of journalists to embarrass themselves by publicly cheering him. But I suspect the numbers-filled nature of the speech had another purpose: It was meant as a reference document, a fact sheet editors can keep on file to refer to in future coverage. “Jacksonville, Oct. 10—GOP nominee Mitt Romney today charged that the U.S. government has grown under President Obama by 25%. The president has previously responded that in fact the size of government went down during his tenure.”

An odd thing about this White House is that they don’t know who their friends are. Or perhaps they know but feel their friends never give them enough fealty and loyalty. Either way, that was a room full of friends. And yet the president rapped their knuckles for insufficient support. In the Q-and-A he offered criticism that “bears on your reporting”: “I think that there is oftentimes the impulse to suggest that if the two parties are disagreeing, then they’re equally at fault and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” An “equivalence is presented” that is unfortunate. It “reinforces . . . cynicism.” But the current debate is not “one of those situations where there’s an equivalence.” Journalists are failing to “put the current debate in some historical context.”

That “context,” as he sees it, is that Democrats are doing the right thing, Republicans the wrong thing, Democrats are serious, Republicans are “not serious.”

It was a remarkable moment. I’m surprised the press isn’t complaining and giving little speeches about reporting the facts without fear or favor.

I guess what’s most interesting is that it’s all us-versus-them. Normally at this point, early in an election year, an incumbent president operates within a rounded, nonthreatening blur. He’s sort of in a benign cloud, and then pokes his way out of it with strong, edged statements as the year progresses. Mr. Obama isn’t doing this. He wants it all stark and sharply defined early on. Is this good politics? It is unusual politics. Past presidents in crises have been sunny embracers.

The other day an experienced and accomplished Democratic lawyer spoke, with dismay, of the president’s earlier remarks on the ObamaCare litigation. Mr. Obama had said: “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” He referred to the court as “an unelected group of people” that might “somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

It was vaguely menacing, and it garnered broad criticism. In the press it was characterized as a “brushback”—when a pitcher throws the ball close to a batter’s head to rattle him, to remind him he can be hurt.

The lawyer had studied under Archibald Cox. Cox, who served as John F. Kennedy’s Solicitor General, liked to tell his students of the time in 1962 when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Engel v. Vitale, a landmark ruling against school prayer.

The president feared a firestorm. The American people would not like it. He asked Cox for advice on what to say. Cox immediately prepared a long memo on the facts of the case, the history and the legal merits. Kennedy read it and threw it away. Dry data wouldn’t help.

Kennedy thought. What was the role of a president at such a time?

And this is what he said: We’re all going to have to pray more in our homes.

The decision, he said, was a reminder to every American family “that we can attend our churches with a good deal more fidelity,” and in this way “we can make the true meaning of prayer much more important in the lives of our children.”

He accepted the court’s decision, didn’t rile the populace, and preserved respect for the court while using its controversial ruling to put forward a good idea.

It was beautiful.

One misses that special grace.

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Filed under archibal cox, john f kennedy, obamacare, peggy noonan, president obama, republican party, wall street journal

Crazy Ron Paul ENDORSED Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney in 2008

Ron Paul, the guy who endorsed Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney in 2008, is now possibly the Republican nominee in 2012?

See the Wall Street Journal, 9/10/2008: Ron Paul Endorses the Third-Party Field

“Presidential elections turn out to be a charade more than anything else,” Paul said, and so he urged his supporters to vote for candidates who would expand the debate beyond the major party’s platforms.

Ron Paul (far left) at a news conference with third-party candidates at the National Press Club. From left: former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney from the Green Party, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party, and Ralph Nader. (AP)

A phone call from McCain backer Phil Gramm yesterday was not enough to garner Paul’s endorsement and didn’t stop the Texas congressman from gathering the welterweights of the presidential race for an announcement of their common principles.

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Filed under 2008, 2012, cynthia mckinney, phil gramm, ralph nader, republican party, ron paul

Newt Gingrich Interview With Hugh Hewitt

Tuesday Hugh Hewitt interviewed Newt Gingrich for what turned out to be 3 segments. Below you will find all 3 parts of the interview.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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Filed under 2012, 2012 election, hugh hewitt, newt gingrich, republican, republican party