Mickey Kaus, moderator Jonathan Garthwaite, and Ann Coulter "Debate" ImmigrationI’ve made it pretty clear that Conservatism Inc. exists for the benefit of its wealthy donors, not to protect the interest of its voters. But protesting participants tell me that this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, which I discussed here, took price gouging and abuse of the loyal grass roots to new lows. The Beltway Right increasingly resembles the hitman antihero of the film Killing Me Softly, who concludes at the end of the movie: “America’s not a country; it’s just a business. Now f***ing pay me.”
As even the Leftist Main Stream Media has discovered, major corporations don’t just fund CPAC—they set its agenda. [Why CPAC isn’t as grassroots as you think, by Eli Clifton, Slate, March 7, 2014] Chief among the donors: oil, tobacco, and gun companies. Xbox, Motion Picture Association of America, and even Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook (!!!), also had booths at CPAC, part of the increasing corporate presence. CPAC now really stands for Corporate Political Action Conference.
But while the Left usually loves to bash Big Business, it is silent about the consequences of this corporate corruption—because it approves of the political consequences: above all the blatant repression of immigration patriots and the steady drumbeat for Open Borders and mass immigration.
Of course, in order for this plan to work, "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) has to control not only the views presented from the main stage but the organizations that participate in the Exhibit Hall. Over the past few years, the sponsoring American Conservative Union (Al Cardenas, caudillo) has steadily increased prices, limited access, and discouraged grassroots participation to make sure no unapproved views are aired at its swanky party.
This year, "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) dramatically cut down the hours in which paying exhibitors could display their booths: just 11 AM - 4 pm during Thursday and Friday, and 10 AM to 2 pm on Saturday. That's only 14 hours for small groups that paid $4,000 to attend the event just to have a booth—nearly $300 an hour.
For the second year in a row, the main stage where the speakers talk was on a different floor from the Exhibit Hall. Many people now never bother to go down to visit the Exhibitor Hall because they spend their whole time in the main Ballroom.
But at least last year exhibitors had a nice view of the harbor from the exhibit hall, and there were big-screen TVs in the hall so attendees could follow events. In contrast, this year all exhibitors were closed off from views, TV’s were eliminated, and “side events" also took place in the noisy Exhibit Hall, rendering them hard to hear and all but ignored. Small groups paid huge amounts of money for no perks, receiving as consolation prizes only "free lunches” and live music in the Exhibit Hall, which no one listened to. The obvious intent of all of this was to actively discourage participation by the grassroots.
Many exhibitors feel insulted by the way they were treated. Some libertarian groups are disgusted but take in stride because they think they are making a “hostile takeover” of the Establishment conservative movement. If the gray old men are eventually forced out by socially liberal, openly hostile left-libertarians, they have only themselves to blame given the way they treat their own supporters. Rather than a meeting place for a movement, "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) has become a gathering place for opposing tribes of con artists plotting how to exploit each other.
"CorporatePAC" (CPAC)’s venue, the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center, is very far away from any Metro subway station. This makes it very hard or expensive for people who do not have cars to attend the event. The obvious target is students, once seen as the very heart and soul of the annual event. CPAC claimed to have shuttle buses running from Union Station, but they were shut down at about 8:00 pm on Friday, making it all but impossible for students to stick around for late night events. The younger libertarians grousing about this in their “Stand With Rand” T shirts speculate that the Gaylord Hotel was chosen to make it difficult for the Ron Paul/Rand Paul student brigades to swamp the vote for their candidate.
This failed—Senator Paul won the straw poll this year, as he did the year before. Still, "CorporatePAC" (CPAC)’s manipulations have ensured that the Paulistas will continue to view Beltway Right leaders as enemies, rather than elder statesmen to learn from.
The online ballot for this year’s straw poll, organized by the polling firm of Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, was another clumsy attempt by "CorporatePAC" (CPAC)’s organizers to guarantee preferred outcomes, especially on immigration. Questions were deliberately vague or incomplete. For example, it asked attendees:
“Which ONE of the following comes closest to your core beliefs and ideology?”An attendee wrote me:
- My most important goal is to promote individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into the lives of its citizens.
- My most important goal is to promote traditional values by protecting traditional marriage and protecting the life of the unborn.
- My most important goal is to secure and guarantee American safety at home and abroad regardless of the cost or the size of government. [PDF]
“Well, for me, immigration is my Number One concern. Can you find it, even something close to it, among that list of choices? I voted “Don’t Know,” although I knew exactly what issue was at the top of my list. It was as if the organizers were calibrating the questions in such a way to avoid any nationalist sentiment or paleoconservative sentiment.”If you object to American taxpayers defending Asians and Europeans, how could you vote for option 3? It implies Americans should even be paying for Pomeranian grenadiers in the Balkans.
Very clever, Fabrizio, Lee, hats off to you.
At the same time, "CorporatePAC" (CPAC)’s included questions tilted towards the legalization of marijuana, as if it wanted the outcome to be pro-marijuana and thus make news in the MSM and with all those "young people" it’s desperately trying to reach. "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) wants to reach young people—but no talk about fundamental questions like immigration, military intervention, and national sovereignty.
But if "CorporatePAC" (CPAC)’s “youth events” are any indication, it failed anyway. Its lame mixer for "young people" on Thursday night reeked of "try-hard," with the pop band Carolina Liar in the role of Spinal Tap. An attendee writes: “I could only stay ten minutes, because it was embarrassing for me and for them. Hopefully, Carolina Liar can one day regain their street cred again as a cool pop band.”
Most younger attendees said they were going to avoid the heavily-sponsored Reaganpalooza event—usually a bar-driven event at a club in downtown DC for College Republican and Young Republican types. Most said, "Nah, last year it was a $10 cover to get in, and once you got in it was pretty lame." This year, there was a $15 cover to buy overpriced cheap beer and listen to rap. Ca-ching!
Fortunately, spontaneous eruptions of youthful exuberance spilled over into the bars across the street. This is proof that capturing lightning-in-a-bottle is very hard, even for the marketing wizards at CPAC.
The takeaway: the only reason to sponsor "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) is if you can put up the high six figures. This allowed the likes of Helen Krieble to have her own event. She wants “Red Cards” in addition to Green Cards—and the rest of the country be damned in the process.
Krieble's panel was lopsidedly pro-amnesty, with only one lone Heritage scholar allowed to argue against it. Richard Spencer, of the National Policy Institute (NPI), tried to upset the apple cart by asking a question about the 1790 and 1924 immigration acts and why they could be considered "immoral." But his question clearly went over the heads of the panelists. Only the Heritage Foundation scholar tried to address his question.
It was amusing to see former Arizona Republican Congressman John Shadegg at this panel. He's now reduced to scurrying around as a corporate-shill lobbyist for Helen Krieble. He chased after Richard Spencer and asked bewildered questions about what he meant by the 1790 and 1924 Immigration Acts. Shadegg has a long way to go.
Interestingly, the new Heritage Foundation "Chief Economist" and libertarian/Open Borders propagandist Stephen Moore showed up after the "debate" to give high-fives all-around to the pro-Amnesty shills. They all hung out in the hotel lounge area afterward for cocktails. Presumably, Stephen Moore gave no "high-fives" to his Heritage colleague who had opposed Helen Krieble on the panel, albeit weakly.
A further result of having a conference dictated by corporate lobbyists: not just misdirection, but boredom. On Saturday, attendees had to sit through interminable speeches of conservative boilerplate—"Cut Taxes! Reagan! National Security! Values!"—before getting to the good stuff.
Still, the depressing reality is that most of the Middle American attenders of CPAC still eat up this Conservatism Inc. boilerplate.
A key dispenser of this pseudo-right wing prolefeed: former California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, former head of Hewlett Packard. Fresh from her disgraceful defeat, she is now listed as a board member of "CorporatePAC" (CPAC). Of course, one big reason Fiorina lost in California is that Sen. Barbara Boxer exposed how she originated outsourcing American jobs to China at HP to generate great profits for herself. [“CA-Sen: Boxer Ad: ‘Carly Fiorina: Outsourcing Jobs, Out for Herself’”, Real Clear Politics, September 16, 2010]
Fiorina didn't talk much about jobs during her speech, unsurprisingly. She declared herself a "pro-life woman", but also implied that abortion is bad only after five months of a pregnancy. It wasn’t clear the audience noticed: she still generated applause, perhaps because they were just grateful to be hear the term “pro-life.”
Incidentally, another "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) board member is Suhail Khan, identified simply as "Microsoft." What does Mr. Khan do for Microsoft? From what many have observed, he schmoozes a lot, dates lots of naive white young Christian girls in the "conservative movement," and wears lots sharp suits while living in fancy downtown DC. He seems to be Grover Norquist's ward, probably how he got the Microsoft job in the first place.
Suhail gained notoriety by saying that “the early Muslims loved death, dying for the sake of almighty Allah, more than the oppressors of Muslims loved life. This must be the case when we are fighting life’s other battles. "
He made that speech while accepting an award from a notorious Hamas leader. No wonder Frank Gaffney is irate [“Now Look Who Else is Infiltrating CPAC,” by Brian Fitzpatrick, WND, January 4, 2011]. But Khan’s career within the Beltway Right shows no signs of slowing down. [“Who Is Suhail Khan,” by Paul Sperry, FrontPageMag, January 20, 2011’].
This strange constellation of Muslims, Open Borders advocates and crony capitalists keep promoting this stuff, while smearing patriotic immigration reform groups as "baby killers" to deceive the rank-and-file conservatives.
But significantly, some conservative activists are responding to repression and corruption by hosting their own events. This included the National Policy Institute’s “Unconference” and Breitbart’s second installment of “The Uninvited.” Eventually, an entire parallel conference structure may emerge.
The one bright spot at "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) this year: the triumph of Ann Coulter. For some years, Ann Coulter has traditionally given her remarks without a moderator or "liberal balance.” But this year, "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) insisted she needed to debate a liberal, to Coulter’s stated displeasure. When the issue was forced, she cleverly chose one of the few immigration-restrictionist liberals around: Mickey Kaus. Thus the "debate" was more of a senatorial colloquy, in which both agreed mass immigration was killing conservatism and the Republican Party.
Kaus played the role of "liberal" very well. He mocked the Religious Right by noting how California was now completely free of debates over abortion, homosexual marriage, and other social issues—thanks to being a one-party Democratic state. He credited this to the 1986 amnesty. This caused murmuring from the crowd, unsure what to think about this. Kaus added he thought all Republican candidates for 2016, including Ted Cruz, would eventually sell-out on Amnesty. (He's probably correct). This produced some jeers. [Complete video: CSPAN | YouTube]
Kaus said he began as an old "Marxist," concerned about the proletariat and Working Class in general regardless of color, but that the 1960s radicals shunted the Old Left types like him aside, focusing on blacks and browns as the new way to transform capitalist America. A correspondent says: “I got it, though I'm not sure if the rest of the audience got it at all, primed as they may have been, thanks to Fox News Channel, to hate all “liberals.”
Asked by the moderator how he thought the Democrats could win in 2014, Kaus responded that he didn’t think they could win. This generated cheers from the audience. Sources said later that people around them were scratching their heads in puzzlement, saying, "This guy doesn't seem that liberal."
Coulter used her opportunity to be as blunt as possible. She said to the audience: “Certainly they’ve noticed on MSNBC, where they are celebrating the “browning of America.” But if you don’t celebrate it you’re a racist.”
She mocked those "conservatives" and "libertarians" who say we need mass immigration to make sure Social Security and Medicare stay solvent. She speculated that a largely nonwhite America in the future—thanks to mass immigration—will not be eager to make sure that old white people are getting their Social Security and Medicare benefits paid.
She slipped that one in, but it’s actually devastating. Most of the "CorporatePAC" (CPAC) attendees are salt-of-the-earth types, who had traveled long miles from Middle America to attend this conference at great financial cost. These (overwhelmingly white) people still sincerely believe in the Constitution, the Bible, and the Free Market. They seem genuinely bewildered that other groups (i.e., most blacks, most white urban liberals, many Hispanics, and many Asians) do not agree with them. This audience seemed never to have considered that demographic change could challenge the political climate they took for granted. The concept that this new nonwhite America may not be willing to take care of them in retirement seemed deeply unsettling to them.
On a cheerier note: Ann and Kaus both talked approvingly of Charles Murray's books, which must have raised the ire of the SPLC. Ann Coulter even cited Steve Sailer on the contrast between the iconic 1971 Crying Indian PSA and the Politically Correct silence on today’s rampant Hispanic littering. [YouTube] Needless to say, this went over the heads of most conservatives and libertarians in the room.
Ann could have enlightened the group to the fact that over 1 million immigrants come to America legally each year—overwhelmingly from the Third World. The audience would have had no idea. But instead, Ann kept a laser-like focus on defeating the amnesty of 30 million illegals. And maybe that is enough for now.
When the Kaus-Coulter debate ended, many patriotic immigration reform activists in the hallway exits were passing out copies of Phyllis Schlafly's new monumental work from Eagle Forum: How Mass (Legal) Immigration Dooms a Conservative Republican Party.
But this was a coup, not something generated by CPAC itself. Ann Coulter will probably not be permitted even a debate next year.
CPAC 2014 makes it all too clear: Conservatism Inc. is no longer a misguided movement, a hijacked cause, or a collection of “beautiful losers.” It’s simply a scam.
Care about the historic American nation? Well, the Beltway Right is no place for you.
Now f***n pay them.
James Kirkpatrick [Email him] is a Beltway veteran and a refugee from Conservatism Inc.