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They don't like it up them
December 2, 2013 11:49 PM   Subscribe

But the wrath is not solely reserved for Needham; his employer now inspires plenty of disgust among conservatives, too. Increasingly in Washington, “Heritage” has come to denote not the foundation or the think tank, but Heritage Action, Needham’s sharp-elbowed operation. Instead of fleshing out conservative positions, says one Republican Senate staffer, “now they’re running around trying to get Republicans voted out of office. It’s a purely ideological crusade that’s utterly divorced from the research side.” (“If Nancy Pelosi could write an anonymous check to Heritage Action,” adds the House aide bitterly, “she would.”) -- Julia Ioffe on how the Heritage Foundation's new leadership is tearing the think tank apart.

Alex Pareene argues that actually what's happening at the Heritage Foundation is no more than what they themselves have long prescribed should happen to e.g. public schools:
Yes, what happened to Heritage — what has old Heritage hands appalled and quitting or talking to liberal New Republic reporters — is what Heritage has long argued should happen to basically all large American institutions, from the schools to the government to corporations. They are gutting the place and remaking it according to business school rules divined from decades of corporate consulting and leveraged buyouts. The overpaid, underperforming old-timers obviously don’t like it, but the new Heritage is more efficient without them.
posted by MartinWisse (47 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Rich white conservatives who want to make sure that the poor in their country don't have access to affordable health care. I'm still reading it, but this just makes me sick. I hope their strategy works and they tear the whole thing apart, and when the whole business model fails, they come looking for a bailout and there isn't one, because while they might be using banker's strategy, they aren't a bank. I hope, but hope is a dangerous thing.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:57 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tearing things apart is all that lot is good at, so it makes sense I guess.
posted by Artw at 12:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ask not for whom the MBA comes...
posted by jaduncan at 12:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


These fucking guys. If they didn't have so much power they'd be laughable. The willful blindness is kind of hard to believe. Like, it's actually just a diversionary tactic and next week we'll turn around and be like, "Wha? Now they can remote-control the moon?"
posted by From Bklyn at 12:31 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I hope their strategy works and they tear the whole thing apart, and when the whole business model fails..."

Recall that when the Republican party moved to the far right in 1964 they did tear the whole thing apart.

"Barry Goldwater not only lost the presidential election yesterday but the conservative cause as well. He has wrecked his party for a long time to come it is not even likely to control the wreckage." Thus wrote James Reston in the New York Times of November 4, 1964, in a post-mortem of one of the worst defeats ever suffered by a major Presidential candidate."

Led by William F. Buckley, a new intellectual center was formed around the National Review magazine, the GOP expunged the far right John Birch Society from their ranks and the patient got a whole lot better in a very short period of time. The GOP went on to win the Presidency in 1968, 1972, and with a brief interlude after Watergate again in 1980, 1984, and 1988.

Barry Goldwater: The Most Consequential Loser in American Politics.

"Let us pause to acknowledge that there would have been no Reagan without Goldwater."

"Thousands of young people entered and stayed in politics because of Goldwater—among them the president of The Heritage Foundation, Ed Feulner."

And now it is the Heritage Foundation playing the role of the John Birchers and bringing things full circle for the GOP.
posted by three blind mice at 12:40 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


So they are being structurally readjusted? They are, in the vernacular, IMF'ing themselves?
posted by eustatic at 1:06 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like all good revolutionaries, Michael Needham had a sterling upbringing, the kind that allows a young man to pursue ideological purity free from worry about consequence or reality.

Whipsong is such beautiful music.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's a fitting irony that the Heritage Foundation's greatest success before their fall from grace was Obamacare.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:37 AM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


People often criticise politicians for abandoning their principles to win elections, but these guys: they're what you get when you replace politicians with ideologues.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:12 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


They've got nothing to worry about; peoples' memories are about two minutes long these days. I have Facebook friends who have been urging people to like the Heritage Foundation because they're against Obamacare. Never mind that Obamacare was their idea in the first place. Or that the idea had an incredible amount of conservative support. Just another thing that makes me want to put my head through a wall.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:58 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is an aside: I always hear about how the Heritage Foundation, and other right wing 'thinkers', basically created the health plan that became Obamacare. I'm not skeptical by any means, but can anyone refer me to a general account of how this happened?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:44 AM on December 3, 2013


Sort of.
WSJ has more
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:51 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The weird thing to me is that I always thought that ideological strong-arming is what party organization is for -- making sure that party-affiliated officials literally toe the party line. But in the US, at least for conservative politics, we seem to have outsourced this, with predictably bad results. After all, elected officials are elected and need to pay attention to their constituents, which the party is slightly insulated from, but which think tanks are completely out of the loop on. Maybe we should make think tank funding subject to public referenda....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 AM on December 3, 2013


MisantropicPanforest:

The legislative history background section of the Wikipedia article on Obamacare has a pretty good short summary.
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, Saunders made his money in private equity and, before that, as a Wall Street hustler in the heady 1980s. Press reports from the time describe him as a sort of Gordon Gekko meets Rhett Butler, “a relentless salesman whose aggressiveness would be insufferable if it were not softened by a Virginia gentleman’s manner.”

I dunno, that " Gordon Gekko meets Rhett Butler" would lead me towards "an egotistical monster profiting off of misery with a thin veneer of oily charm" more than their comparison, but, hey, whatever. Can we stop pretending that manners make the gentleman?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It’s a purely ideological crusade that’s utterly divorced from the research side.

My goodness, I wonder how they could have thought this would be a good idea? Where, where could they have possibly gotten this message? I will sit down and think about this for a while. It's a tough one.
posted by rtha at 5:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


I would argue that outsourcing of one kind or another is the source of the majority of our problems.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:00 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I could have sworn this was a double, but it seems new to the Blue in any case. I might have found it in a comment on a different thread, possibly.
posted by JHarris at 6:00 AM on December 3, 2013


I would argue that outsourcing of one kind or another is the source of the majority of our problems.

We have so many problems, and they all reinforce each other, circularly. If we could get up the legislative will to solve just some of them, they'd ease some of the others. But we can't, and so they don't, and we have to muddle through, and everything goes to hell.
posted by JHarris at 6:01 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heritage Foundation tearing itself apart?

Good. Fuck 'em.
posted by notsnot at 6:02 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


The failure to clearly delineate money, authority, and organization among Heritage and Heritage Action “gave Mike and Tim a lot of running room to wreak havoc,” says the scholar. They were approaching Congress on their own, fund-raising on their own, without any Heritage supervision but using the Heritage brand. According to the former Heritage staffer, “There was a growing sense among policy folks that there was a rogue group using the Heritage name and doing things they didn’t know about.”

Huh. Lack of regulation and oversight, and the "free market" came into play. What are they mad about?
posted by rtha at 6:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [22 favorites]


"I hope their strategy works and they tear the whole thing apart, and when the whole business model fails..."

Recall that when the Republican party moved to the far right in 1964 they did tear the whole thing apart.


My fear is that they neither tear the party apart nor bring it back to power. Unless the left manages to organize the local/state parties into effective electoral and political forces, the nasty racist/sexist/homophobic/punitive conservatism will maintain a stranglehold on implementation of their goals. It also means that they control the Census, and therefore districting, and maintain a hold on those governments as well as the US House. Combined with voter suppression, they don't have to worry about the desires of their constituents at all.

Modern American conservatism is purely about sabotage and retribution against up-and-coming majorities, which ironically enough means that they are the radicals. We shouldn't be worried that they'll gain power, we should be worried that they're fatalistic enough to destroy the country to do it.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:14 AM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Mommy mommy we fed the baby dragon too much and now it's eating us!
posted by Rykey at 6:41 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could have sworn this was a double, but it seems new to the Blue in any case. I might have found it in a comment on a different thread, possibly.

This was a related thread from a few weeks ago, I posted this article as a comment long after the thread was dead (no hat tip? I demand satisfaction!).
posted by dsfan at 6:55 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


What we're talking about here is just a change in tactics, not a change in philosophy. Heritage has always been a bunch of evil bastards pulling the strings of government from behind, it's just that the new guys aren't as subtle about it and don't care about trying to paper over the bullshit with a faux-intellectual academic veneer. They've traded in their dog whistles for trumpets but they're still playing the same song.
posted by octothorpe at 7:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


My favourite line from the article, that refers to Needham:

“I consider him a friend,” says the college classmate, “but he’s a huge asshole.”

QED
posted by Artful Codger at 7:29 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The blurred line between caricature and reality
It’s become a running joke: when Republican get bored with the latest manufactured outrage of the day, they turn to the Benghazi and IRS “scandals” as a standby. Indeed, it’s been widely assumed over the last several weeks that as the Affordable Care Act improves, GOP lawmakers would have no choice but to return to their favorite faux political controversies.

They are nothing if not predictable. Here’s Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) yesterday:
“Since the terrible tragedy that took four American lives in Benghazi, we’ve had difficulty, to put it mildly, trying to get to the bottom of this,” the second-ranking Senate Republican said during a Google Hangout session he held while the Senate is on recess. ”Now the goal is to talk to the Benghazi survivors – people who were actually there who could tell the truth and expose what happened and hold the people responsible accountable. This has been a cover up from the very beginning.”
And here’s House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) soon after:
The House’s chief investigator says the FBI is stonewalling his inquiry into whether the agency and the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative group True the Vote for special scrutiny, and Rep. Darrell E. Issa is now threatening subpoenas to pry loose the information from FBI Director James B. Comey Jr.

Mr. Issa, California Republican, and Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, are leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IRS inquiry. They also said the FBI is refusing to turn over any documents related to its own investigation into the IRS, which began in the days after an auditor’s report revealed the tax agency had improperly targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute

That explains a lot. VMI was where all the bullies and third-tier assholes from my "southern preppy" high school went. The ones who weren't quite as well dressed and didn't get very good grades.

(The first-tier assholes went to UVA. I don't know, I can't think of any second tier assholes. I guess you're either really good at being an asshole or truly pathetic. There's no in between there.)
posted by Naberius at 8:27 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Maybe we should make think tank funding subject to public referenda....

Wow. If you've got a Red Guard badass enough to make that happen I'm sure there'll be other projects higher on their sic 'em list than that one. If you don't, though, if it's just an idle afternoon's muse-upon-this topic, don't forget to save some of that copious free time to think about why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.
posted by jfuller at 8:28 AM on December 3, 2013


I (stupidly) hadn't ever connected the MBA/business crowd with the preference for acting and marketing over thinking and discussing.
posted by jaguar at 8:32 AM on December 3, 2013


And here’s House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) soon after:
The House’s chief investigator says the FBI is stonewalling his inquiry into whether the agency and the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative group True the Vote for special scrutiny, and Rep. Darrell E. Issa is now threatening subpoenas to pry loose the information from FBI Director James B. Comey Jr.

Mr. Issa, California Republican, and Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, are leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IRS inquiry. They also said the FBI is refusing to turn over any documents related to its own investigation into the IRS, which began in the days after an auditor’s report revealed the tax agency had improperly targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny.


Oh, Issa. Here's the really stupid thing about him as investigator: if there were a real horrible conspiracy and coverup in the Executive branch, he'd be the last guy you want investigating it because he'd be the easiest guy to play. He doesn't want to find the truth (and I doubt he's actually capable of it), he just wants to be thrown a bit of red meat now and then.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:35 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Darell Issa burned down his business for the insurance money. He now heads the House Oversight Committee, because that's what Republicans are.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:03 AM on December 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


This is a great article very insightful about the inner workings of think tanks. I look forward to the follow up which details the inevitable collapse of this probably irreparably damaged institution.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013


Cue "HAH-HAH" from Nelson the Bully from the Simpsons.
posted by edheil at 9:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't think of a single liberal action even remotely equivalent to something like this, let alone one perpetrated by the official party apparatus of the largest state in the country while using taxpayer money:

CA Assembly GOP Puts Up Fake California Health Exchange Site
In the past two weeks, GOP Assembly members have sent mailings out on what appears to be the state's dime to their constituents about health insurance. Only, they don't direct those people to CoveredCA.com to sign up. Instead, they send them to their own astroturf version at the URL CoveringHealthCareCA.com.

On their version, there are links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site.
[...]
If you click on the "Don't have health insurance" tab on the front page, you're taken to a page that puts all the focus on the penalty and none on the benefits. In fact, they have a "penalty calculator" on that page, rather than a premium calculator.

And of course, they also manage to twist what is actually available on the exchange:

Covered California: Covered California offers four qualified health plans similar to those available on the private market today. These plans comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Not so much, Assembly Republicans. There are four levels of coverage, but inside those levels, there are many, many plans available. So many it takes some time to figure out which one works the best.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


The CA GOP has been drowning in its own insanity for years. They keep wondering - it's almost pitiful at this point - why they lose seats in the state legislature. When you are too crazy for California voters - who elected Reagan! And Ahnold! - to vote for, you really need to dial it back. A woman I knew from college (who'd been the editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review) lives here in SF now, and she ran for Tom Ammiano's seat - ha!ha!goodluckwiththat! - but from her billboards and fliers and website you wouldn't have known without a very close reading that she's a Republican (she did not come close to winning that seat). She did run for and win a leadership role on the state Republican party committee, but not without getting a lot of racist "She's a terrorist!" stuff thrown at her from other Republicans because she's Indian American.

I'd almost feel bad for the CA GOP but they made their bed, they can lie in it.
posted by rtha at 11:26 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Many Republicans, who felt less than certain about the defund strategy, felt entrapped, especially when these angry constituents confronted them at town halls. “They created this false narrative,” says the Republican staffer.
Yeah... I can see how that would be annoying.
posted by heathkit at 11:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, if it's good enough for Google...
posted by snickerdoodle at 12:30 PM on December 3, 2013


The weird thing to me is that I always thought that ideological strong-arming is what party organization is for -- making sure that party-affiliated officials literally toe the party line.

Oh no. The reason you have a political party is to win. Win votes in legislatures, win funding, win elections. Now, of course you can only win votes in legislatures if people vote the way they're told to, and to win elections (or at least not-lose them) you need to make sure that your candidates have a consistent message; but those are tactics directed at the main goal, which is to win. The Heritage people are not the Republican party per se and they would rather have a Democratic administration than a Republican administration that doesn't share their values. They reason that they can achieve their goal even if the Republican Party is almost unelectable, because the natural course of politics will probably bring a Republican administration back into power at some stage. If that party is ideologically unfit, though, there is literally no point having them in power. In fact, the election of an ideologically unfit Republican administration simply delays the time when the Heritage policies can be implemented, and gives aid and comfort to the traitors who think that their policies are undesirable.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2013



This is an aside: I always hear about how the Heritage Foundation, and other right wing 'thinkers', basically created the health plan that became Obamacare. I'm not skeptical by any means, but can anyone refer me to a general account of how this happened?


Hard as it may seem to believe, there are conservatives out there who care a lot more about policy than about politics.

A whole bunch of them worked at Heritage until recently. They took note that we already have socialized medicine in this country in the form of emergency rooms, and that if those who used it are made to move to a system that relies on primary care doctors, they would still have to be subsidized, but with a lot less money and with better outcomes. (Oh, and they noticed that several European countries already had something like Obamacare.)
posted by ocschwar at 2:05 PM on December 3, 2013


This is going to be fun:

Heritage Action Bashes Ryan-Murray Budget Framework
"Heritage Action cannot support a budget deal that would increase spending in the near-term for promises of woefully inadequate long-term reductions," the group said in a statement. "While imperfect, the sequester has proven to be an effective tool in forcing Congress to reduce discretionary spending, and a gimmicky, spend-now-cut-later deal will take our nation in the wrong direction."

The group's leader, Michael Needham, said on Twitter that it isn't unequivocally opposed yet. "We have an open, but not empty, mind," he said.

The statement leaves some wiggle room, pending the final deal, but it could spell trouble for the proposal in the House, where Heritage Action and like-minded groups have strong influence among GOP members.
It's as if they looked at the improvements in Healthcare.gov and asked themselves what the best way to get conservatives excited again, and then came up with "Dude, provoking another government shutdown is electoral gold!"
posted by zombieflanders at 2:20 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like that Heritage Action talks like they're the Republicans' bosses demanding changes in their TPS reports, just in case anyone was still wondering who cuts the paychecks.
posted by jason_steakums at 4:00 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Boehner: Conservative Groups' Reaction to Budget Deal Is 'Ridiculous'

Read the comments.
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:03 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boenher has a spine?
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on December 11, 2013


Read the comments.

Oh god... There's one about how politicians are using kickbacks to BUY GOLD.
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


In those comments, at least it's slightly heartening to see they mistrust the NSA as much as we do. (Well, as much as I do.)
posted by JHarris at 3:22 PM on December 11, 2013


Teddy Roosevelt Failed to Save the GOP From Its Crazies in 1912
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:35 PM on December 17, 2013


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