Three Pillars of Conservative Power are Teetering

New Orleans        I’ll be honest I’m enjoying reading every line of this.

Page 6 of the Wall Street Journal had another article on the high-life high jinks of Wayne LaPierre, the chief muckety-muck of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Earlier they had reported on some $270,000 worth of clothing that LaPierre had charged to a vendor.  Today, they revealed that the vendor was Ackerman McQueen, the Oklahoma City based public relations and media contractor for decades to the NRA, and a company with whom LaPierre had historically been thick-as-thieves.

The other shoe that dropped was not related to haberdashery, but travel.  A letter was leaked that Ackerman McQueen had sent the NRA board about $240,000 worth of travel expenses that LaPierre had charged to the company’s credit card without adequate documentation.  The junkets included trips to the Bahamas and Italy.  All of this could be grist for the mill in the New York State investigation about the NRA’s tax status of course.  It also indicates the wounds are still bleeding in the internal disputes within the NRA over the falling out between LaPierre and his forces on the board versus the Ackerman McQueen allies.  Hey, LaPierre had their credit card for a reason, and I would bet money that none of these half-million bucks worth of expenditures would have every hit the light of day if they hadn’t fallen out.  Meanwhile LaPierre was being paid $1.4 million a year according to the 2017 IRS 990 filing for the NRA with the IRS.

That’s not all of the good news.  The scourge of workers and people-first policies in the name of business, the Chamber of Commerce, was front page news in their fall from influence, if not grace.  Executive salaries are up of course but lobbying expenditures and corporate donations are down in recent years.  Reportedly Trump wouldn’t shake their lobbyists hand, because they didn’t back him in the 2016 race.  Furthermore, his wild-right roll has made their traditional business-first conservationism passé.  Republican congressmen and senators were routinely quoted saying their emperor has no clothes anymore.  Meanwhile they are having an internal shake up as well, because they were out of step with big corporate power on social issues like gender and sexual discrimination.  They even have had to revise their vote-scoring system to boost the scores of some of the hated Democrats.  Their boss, Thomas Donahue, made $6.6 million in 2017, travels in a chauffeured SUV in DC with a two-man security detail, flies the chamber’s private jet to his Florida vacation home, and brings his doctor along on overseas trips.

Nonprofit DC lobbying is great work if you can get it, or so it seems.

All of this was in the businessman’s daily news source, Rupert Murdoch’s The Wall Street Journal.  The editorial and op-ed pages can still peel paint off a car, but the rest of the book is burning up the track.

Old line conservatives and Republicans of all stripes must be screaming in the middle of the night when central pillars of their house like the Journal, the NRA, and the Chamber of Commerce are showing deep cracks and roof cave-ins, leaving them few of the usual places to hide.

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Please enjoy Kris Kelly’s Birthplace.

Thanks to KABF.

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Signing up for the Taylor Swift Fan Club

Grenoble     I haven’t been a big Taylor Swift fan.  Even when she was country, she was poppy.  Now that she’s all pop, I can’t really keep up.  I know she sells a lot of music, and that she is often mentioned in the same breath as Beyonce, but who can tell from day to day.  Beyonce seemed to have some politics, but Taylor Swift had seemed all bubble gum and whatever.  Now, I may have to re-examine this whole thing given the fact that Swift has jumped into Tennessee – and therefore national — politics with her boots on and is kicking it.

If you were on the moon or just reading the front pages you may have missed this.  Swift came out of nowhere with an announcement that she was going to vote Democratic in the midterm elections.  At first it was just a bit of a blip on the screen coming from the right wing.  For some reason, many in the right-side media had just assumed Swift was a gun-toting, card-carrying “one of them.”  This out of nowhere Demo-thing caught them off guard, though there was no evidence that it was a betrayal, since Swift had never come out from behind the pomp and glitter and declared herself one way or another.

Turned out that was nothing.  She then clearly injected herself into the elections in Tennessee where this Pennsylvania girl now lives as a woman.  She didn’t pull any punches in her endorsement for the Senate seat to replace Bob Corker by opposing far right Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn by saying to her more than 100 million Instagram followers,

“Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.  She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Then she dropped the microphone and according to Voter.org there was a record surge of more than 166,000 new registrants among young people 16 to 24 in 48 hours after her posting, including 6200 in Tennessee.

`Did she take a risk?  I doubt it.  Swift is smart.  She stood up to a stalker in court in Colorado and won.  She can afford to have a poll.  She kept within the lines by focusing on women’s issues in a time when women are hyper-aware, and given her history confronting stalkers her position on the Violence Against Women Act was something that no one could argue is not an issue where she was an expert.  Even her position on gay rights is solidly within the majoritarian views of Americans.  She wasn’t trying to be Jane Fonda in Vietnam or the Dixie Chicks on Iraq where some Americans could claim she had no business.  She was walking closely on her marks on the stage where she sings and that includes about women’s empowerment.

I’m not knocking her.  I’m just saying she knew what she was doing, and she did the right thing by speaking up and telling her public and the rest of us where she stood.

We need a lot more people like Taylor Swift standing up for what they believe, and not just counting followers, but actually proving they know when and where to lead them.

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