Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
"This is — the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president." – Hillary Clinton, Matt Lauer interview on The Today Show, January 27, 1998
Hillary Clinton was right. There really was (and is) a vast right-wing conspiracy of think tanks, non-profits, right-wing media outlets and pundits funded by a few dozen conservative billionaires first suggested in a memo dated August 23, 1971 by Lewis Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, who went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. The Powell Memo (or the Powell Manifesto): Text and Analysis.
And of course, there is Roger Ailes, a media consultant to Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign that pursued the Southern strategy
of appealing to racism against African-Americans and white grievance to
create a racially polarized electorate.The 1970 plot by Ailes and other
Nixon aides for "A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News" was the
beginning of FAUX News. Roger Ailes' Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News – Gawker.
David Corn at Mother Jones has a lengthy exposé on the latest from the "vast right-wing conspiracy." Inside Groundswell: Read the Memos of the New Right-Wing Strategy Group Planning a "30 Front War":
Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group
of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme
Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has
been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points,
coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for "a 30 front war seeking to
fundamentally transform the nation," according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.
Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of
Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these
hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of
Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle
plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration,
congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the
Republican establishment and "clueless" GOP congressional leaders. They
devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi
controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism.
And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized
effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit
Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks. (For more on
Groundswell's "two front war" against Rove—a major clash on the
One of the influential conservatives guiding the group is Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, a columnist for the Daily Caller
and a tea party consultant and lobbyist. Other Groundswell members
include John Bolton, the former UN ambassador; Frank Gaffney, the
president of the Center for Security Policy; Ken Blackwell and Jerry
Boykin of the Family Research Council; Tom Fitton, the president of
Judicial Watch; Gayle Trotter, a fellow at the Independent Women's
Forum; Catherine Engelbrecht and Anita MonCrief of True the Vote; Allen
West, the former GOP House member; Sue Myrick, also a former House
GOPer; Diana Banister of the influential Shirley and Banister PR firm; and Max Pappas, a top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Among the conveners listed in an invitation to a May 8 meeting of
Groundswell were Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News
Network; Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who resoundingly
lost a Maryland Senate race last year (and is now running for a House
seat); Leonard Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society;
Sandy Rios, a Fox News contributor; Lori Roman, a former executive
director of the American Legislative Exchange Council; and Austin Ruse,
the head of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Conservative
journalists and commentators participating in Groundswell have included
Breitbart News reporters Matthew Boyle and Mike Flynn, Washington Examiner executive editor Mark Tapscott, and National Review contributor Michael James Barton.
Groundswell has collaborated with conservative GOPers on Capitol
Hill, including Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Cruz and Rep. Jim
Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a leading tea partier. At its weekly meetings,
the group aims to strengthen the right's messaging by crafting Twitter
hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID,
immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful
scandals; and developing "action items."
A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell's efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag,
a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role
of certain advocates should be kept "off of the Google group for OPSEC
[operational security] reasons." This "will avoid any potential for bad
press for someone if a communication item is leaked," the message
explained. (The Groundswell documents were provided to Mother Jones by a source who had access to its Google group page and who has asked not to be identified.)
* * *
Critics have contended
that [Ginni] Thomas' work as a lobbyist opposing Obamacare posed a conflict of
interest for her husband, who would rule on the constitutionality of the
health care reform initiative. (Clarence Thomas joined the Supreme
Court minority that favored striking down the law.) And Common Cause has
maintained that Justice Thomas had a conflict of interest when he participated in the Citizens United
case because his wife at the time was running a conservative nonprofit
fighting the "tyranny" of President Barack Obama that would benefit from
removing limits on such groups' spending and fundraising. With her
involvement in Groundswell—which zeroes in on contentious issues that
come before the high court, including voting rights, abortion, and gay
marriage—Ginni Thomas continues to be intricately associated with
matters on which her husband may have to render a decision. Ginni Thomas
did not respond to requests for comment.
Note (Previous Post): "Supreme Court Justices and their spouses traditionally are not politically active nor actively involved in anything remotely
controversial that could bring disrepute upon the Court or give cause
for the public to question the impartiality and fairness of the Justice
or the Court." . . . "Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginny have 'gone rogue," ignoring judicial ethical canons of conduct longstanding traditions of the Court.
They are trying to make it acceptable for a U.S. Supreme Court Justice
and his spouse to be politically active and politically involved in
controversial organizations. This will only bring disrepute upon the
Court and give cause for the public to question the impartiality and
fairness of the Justice and the U.S. Supreme Court." (Repost) Recusal! More than just an 'appearance' of impropriety.
The participation of journalists in coordinating messaging with
ideological advocates and political partisans raises another set of
issues. Conservatives expressed outrage when news broke in 2009 about
Journolist, a private email list where several hundred
progressive-minded reporters, commentators, and academics exchanged
ideas and sometimes bickered. (I was on Journolist, mainly as a lurker.) The late Andrew Breitbart once offered $100,000
for the full Journolist archives and denounced it as "the epitome of
progressive and liberal collusion that conservatives, Tea Partiers,
moderates and many independents have long suspected and feared exists at
the heart of contemporary American political journalism." The
Groundswell documents show conservative journalists, including several
with Breitbart News, colluding on high-level messaging with leading partisans of the conservative movement.
The 31-page kit put together by the House Republican Conference is Here (Scribd).
Steve Benen observes in Facing a 'Groundswell', "To be sure, there's nothing illegal or necessarily untoward about this
kind of coordination, but the fact that these folks feel the need to get
together to plot and scheme, as part of their perceived "war" with the
left, explains quite a bit about the problems with much of the political
discourse." Benen is correct, with the exception of the judicial ethical misconduct of Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife "Ginni."
The U.S. Supreme Court is largely self-policing on matters of ethical
conduct. They do not answer to any bar association. But Congress has the
power of oversight and could investigate the ethical misconduct of Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Clarence Thomas has an Abe Fortas problem.