March 4, 2019
How Young Conservative Activists Party at CPAC
More than a quarter of the attendees at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference were students, but, walking around the Gaylord National hotel and convention center, in National Harbor, Maryland, the proportion often seemed much higher. Early on Friday, the second day of cpac’s main-event program, Senator Ted Cruz was mobbed by young people as he left the area outside the main convention hall. Some wanted to speak with him or offer prayers for him and his family. Most wanted pictures, including a particularly determined young woman who circled around the crowd clustered near Cruz and tried to cut him off.
“Senator Cruz!” she shouted. “It’s my birthday. I can show you my I.D.”
Cruz obliged her the photo—no verification necessary. “It legit is my birthday,” she said afterward, to no one in particular.
Although the inflammatory speeches of the main-event program capture the public’s attention, inside the convention center, well-funded youth groups battle for the loyalty of more than two thousand student activists. Perhaps the most prominent of these groups is Turning Point USA, a nonprofit that has a close relationship with the Trump family, and that, as Jane Mayer reported last year, may have violated campaign-finance laws in its support for Republican campaigns. It has also embraced some of the most pernicious forms of Trumpian identity politics, hosting events for the former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Mayer revealed that, in the summer of 2016, Turning Point’s national field director at the time sent a text to another staff member, saying “I hate black people.” But on the first night of cpac, none of these controversies appeared to have slowed the group down, as it threw a buzzy party where Donald Trump, Jr., was a featured speaker and Cruz was a featured guest.
The party, called “Americafest,” was held at Cadillac Ranch, a Western-themed bar-and-grill. The walls were adorned with images of American flags and cowboys, guitars and cacti. For the evening, the restaurant also featured cardboard cutouts of figures of both admiration and derision: Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Benjamin Franklin, Tim Tebow, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeb Bush, Monica Lewinsky, Hillary Clinton. In its own corner of the bar, a cutout of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was set next to a table piled high with loaves of plain white bread—for a “socialism bread line,” a nearby sign explained. By the end of the night, someone had scrawled the word “pendeja” (idiot) on her face.
Around 8 p.m., Donald Trump, Jr., appeared with his girlfriend, the former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, on a stage next to a gyrating mechanical bull. He spent much of his speech leading the assembled young people in chants of “Build the wall!” and “U.S.A.!,” but he also took time to sing the praises of Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, whom, as he told a laughing audience, he initially regarded with skepticism, when he was asked to meet him during the campaign. “We don’t know what the hell we are doing,” he said. “And we don’t need someone else who doesn’t know what they’re doing!”
Kirk seems to know what he’s doing. Since founding Turning Point, in 2012, at eighteen, he has become one of the conservative movement’s most prominent pundits, speaking regularly on Fox News. During his rambling address that closed this year’s conference, Donald Trump called out to Kirk, and announced a forthcoming executive order on Turning Point’s signature issue, campus speech. Kirk, also spoke at cpac, during which, in addition to the usual bromides against leftism on college campuses and rote praise for President Trump, he inveighed darkly against liberalism broadly speaking, dropping his student-government-president affect and pinching up seemingly every corner of his face with disgust.
“What I find is that we as conservatives say, far too often, ‘Well, we want the same thing as liberals. We just have a different way of getting there,’ ” he said. “I don’t want to live in the country that the socialist left wants to create,” he continued, wagging a finger. “We are not going in the same direction as the Democratic Party. I don’t want to live in a country where it’s O.K. to execute a newborn child. That’s not the country I want to live in.”
Candace Owens, Turning Point’s communications director, was also given a prime speaking slot. Owens, who is African-American, used her time to make the argument she is best known for: that African-American Democrats have been bamboozled into supporting a party that is as racist as it was during the Jim Crow era. One example of the Party’s racism, she said, was its support for abortion. “A hard-hitting truth,” she intoned dramatically, “is that the most unsafe place for a black child is not on the streets. It’s not when they see a police officer. It’s in their mother’s womb.”
This kind of sloganeering can go awry. Last month, a clip of Owens at an event in London, where she defended nationalism, went viral. “If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, O.K., fine,” she said. “The problem is that he wanted—he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize.” Afterward, several Turning Point chapters called on Owens to step down.
There were no signs of angst around Turning Point’s corner of cpac’s exhibition hall, where on Thursday students gathered to take some of the group’s free gifts—including buttons that read “BDS = BS” and “Big Government Sucks”—and to buy the group’s popular “Socialism Sucks” T-shirts. Turning Point wasn’t the only group hawking freebies. The booth for Young Americans for Freedom, an affiliate of the Young America’s Foundation and one of the oldest conservative student groups, offered “Ben ShapHERO” buttons. (Ben Shapiro, a prominent young pundit, did not speak at cpac this year, and spent much of the event criticizing Trump’s negotiations with North Korea on Twitter.) Last June, the Washington Examiner leaked a memo from Young America’s Foundation warning its members that Turning Point USA would damage “conservative students and the conservative movement,” citing Kirk’s knack for self-promotion and the group’s ties to “racist and Nazi sympathizers.” The memo was in keeping with Young America’s Foundation’s public criticisms of Turning Point, including a May release in which the organization castigated Turning Point for grossly inflating its membership numbers and framing itself as an umbrella organization for other conservative youth groups.
When I asked a student manning the Young Americans for Freedom table about the growth of Turning Point, he declined to talk about the group and instead spoke in broad terms about the importance of building a youth base for the conservative movement. So, too, did Alec Sears, the young vice-president of Lone Conservative, a Web site that publishes writing by conservative students, and a prolific critic of Turning Point on social media. (“Ironic,” he tweeted on Tuesday, “that, like socialism, TPUSA only works on paper or within small ethnically homogenous communities.”)
“It’s always good to share conservative values, and there’s different ways of marketing those and different ways of bringing people in,” he told me. “As long as they’re bringing conservatives in, training them, and equipping them to do well in life and in politics, then more power to them.”
At the mention of Turning Point, a smartly dressed young man at the booth for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, ready to discuss the conservative books and journals that the group promotes, smiled wanly. “We’re trying to educate,” he said. “There are a lot of groups out there fighting the fight for free speech, but what can get lost in all that are some of the great thinkers.”
The effort against supposed liberal indoctrination on college campuses has an extraordinarily long history in the conservative movement. A Washington Postarticle from 1956 reported the bemusement of some University of Virginia students about a contest run by William F. Buckley’s young National Review, which offered a hundred dollars to students willing to expose liberal “classroom indoctrination” from their professors. Five years earlier, Buckley’s first book, “God and Man at Yale,” had tackled the liberal biases purportedly imposed at that school, from which he graduated in 1950. According to the article, one U.V.A. professor responded with “a contest of his own, offering $5 for a documented essay on who Buckley is.”
Today, of course, conservative student activists venerate Buckley. One of the primary goals of cpac is to connect young conservatives with opportunities to replicate his pathway to prominence on the right, as Kirk and many others have. At the booth for the Leadership Institute, which counts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell among its alumni, affable members told attendees about the training and workshops on offer in public relations, public speaking, debate, and television. The Leadership Institute runs a student news Web site called Campus Reform, which, on a flyer, boasted of graduating journalists into conservative media and also outside of it, to places like Politico and CNN. “Expose Liberal Abuse, Change Your Campus, Start Your Career,” it read. Next to the literature, Campus Reform had installed a rudimentary television set, with a logoed backdrop, a camera, and a light stand, ready to illuminate America’s next young conservative pundits. Source
March 2, 2019
The Republican Party is dead: GOP strategist stunned by reception to Trump’s ‘unhinged’ CPAC speech
Appearing on MSNBC with host Alex Witt, GOP strategist Rick Tyler was visibly upset at what he heard from Donald Trump during his speech at CPAC, and even more so by the enthusiastic reception the president was receiving.
“It’s interesting about CPAC,” Tyler began. “It used to be the confab of conservatives who would get together once a year but it’s not CPAC anymore — it hasn’t been since 2016. It’s now Trump-pac and should be TPAC.”
“The people there talk about being pro-tariffs, anti-justice, anti-law enforcement, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, pro-Russia, pro-autocrat,” he continued. “It’s unrecognizable what Donald Trump has done to the party and what he’s done to the conservative movement — it’s a shame.”
Asked by host Witt, “What can be done to resurrect the Republican Party as it was — or is that gone?” Tyler said the party is dead.
“Rest in peace,” he lamented. “No, it’s over. The problem is that the Republican Party has no grounding governing philosophy anymore because they’ve signed on to all these things as I just mentioned that were antithetical to the conservative movement.”
“So it’s the Trump party,” he conceded. “When Trump passes on, one way or the other, the party will no longer exist and the Republican party will have — it has no fundamental belief. You have to believe in something, and I don’t know what the Republican Party believes in or what its message is anymore.”
Commenting moments later, MSNBC regular Zerlina Maxwell labeled Trump speech as “unhinged.”
Watch the video below:
February 25, 2019
Chesco GOP picks slate for countywide offices
WEST CHESTER — The slate of endorsed candidates for Republican Party nomination to county row offices and judge on the Court of Common Pleas includes a mix of incumbents and newcomers.
The Chester County Republican Committee members met at an endorsement convention Thursday, Feb. 21, to consider candidates for the six county offices and two Common Pleas judgeships that will be on the ballot in the upcoming May primary.
As expected the committee gave its endorsement to incumbent county Commissioners Terence Farrell and Michelle Kichline to lead the top of the party’s ticket. It will be Farrell’s fourth run for the office, which runs for a four-year term, and Kichline’s second.
“Our candidates represent diverse interests and bring a wealth of experience to county government,” said the new committee Chairman Rick Loughery. “Chester County is the best place to live, work, raise a family, and retire, and this is not accidental. Republican leadership has made Chester County the envy of Pennsylvania and our team of candidates have the ideas and vision to take Chester County into the future.”
The other incumbents who were endorsed by acclimation include District Attorney Tom Hogan, making an unprecedented third run for that office; Prothonotary Matt Holliday, seeking his second term; and Register of Wills Terri Clarke, marking her third run.
In one unopposed race, newcomer Amber Little-Turner of Coatesville was unanimously endorsed to succeed Loughery as county recorder of deeds.
But in other races, the committee held endorsement ballots in which multiple candidates ran.
In the race to replace outgoing county Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, West Goshen resident and former FBI agent Jim Fitzgerald bested former Deputy Sheriff John Freas and current Deputy Colin Meisenhelter, with 222 votes for endorsement on the first ballot. A total of 196 votes from the committee were needed for the endorsement.
For Common Pleas judge, candidates Andrea Cardamone of Malvern and Charles “Chuck” Gaza of East Marlborough, both member of the district attorney’s staff, were nominated after multiple rounds of balloting. It is the first run for public office for both.
Their opponents through the process were attorney Megan Kampf of Tredyffrin and Lou Mincarelli of East Brandywine. Cardamone was endorsed on the third ballot in one race, while Gaza was endorsed on the second ballot. A fifth attorney, Andrew Rongaus, who had taken part in candidate interviews, withdrew his name from consideration before balloting began.
Also endorsed for retention of a 10-year year term was Judge William P. Mahon.
Candidates for magisterial district judge who were endorsed include Hans Klotzbach in Phoenixville, P.J. Redmond in West Goshen, and incumbent Judge Nancy Gill in Parkesburg.
“The Republican Committee of Chester County is committed to continuing the legacy of excellent leadership on behalf of all Chester County residents and we are very pleased to endorse an outstanding and talented slate of highly qualified candidates,” said Loughery.
The Chester County Democratic Committee is set to hold its own endorsement convention in March. Source
January 10, 2019
Chester County Leadership: Rick Loughery, Recorder of Deeds, Republican Committee of Chester County Chair
On Monday evening, Rich Loughery was unanimously elected to succeed Val DiGiorgio as Chairman of the Republican Committee of Chester County. Several weeks ago, Rick, who is in his final year as Chester County’s Recorder of Deeds, spoke with VISTA Today about growing up in Phoenixville, witnessing and contributing to the borough’s renaissance, and developing an interest for acting and theatre.
He also discussed the important lessons he learned from working a variety of jobs as a youngster, attending West Chester University, his work for the Republican Committee of Chester County, and his favorite accomplishments in his current position of Recorder of Deeds.
Where were you born and where did you grow up, Rick?
I was born the oldest of three children and the only boy in 1984 in Phoenixville. My family lived in Phoenixville until I was in 5th grade and then we moved to Schuylkill Township, not too far outside the borough.
What did your parents do?
My mom has been a stay-at-home mom for most of my life. My dad is an executive at a pharmaceutical company.
What do you remember about growing up there?
I went to Holy Family School on 3rd Avenue in Phoenixville. In the early 90s, we weren’t allowed to go downtown by yourself. It was desolate and a lousy place for a kid to go at the time.
Phoenixville’s boom happened around 2006-2007. I am very fortunate to be able to say that I was there to witness and even played a small part in helping turn Phoenixville around.
When did you realize Phoenixville was turning around?
I graduated from West Chester University in 2006 and moved back to Phoenixville. When my friends and I started going downtown to the bars and restaurants – there were about two at the time – it was just beginning to pick up.
There was an influx of people, which was so different from when I was little. All of a sudden, people were going downtown, and restaurants and shops began opening. You could see the resurgence happening little by little. It was a gradual process.
Did you play any sports growing up?
I played a lot of sports in grade school – football, baseball, basketball. I began acting in high school and won a few awards for that. I went to West Chester University on a Theatre Scholarship.
I was good at football, but I ended my football career in high school to focus on acting.
What got you into acting?
A few of my friends and I decided to audition for a play my sophomore year of high school. It turns out I had a knack for it. I was able to understand the text and conceptualize it for the audience.
What skills did you take away from your acting experience that you use today?
I learned how to relate to and connect with an audience. I also learned how to channel emotions in a constructive way, leading the audience where I want their thoughts to go.
In high school, I wanted to become the next Elvis Presley and star in Hollywood movies. When I got to college, however, it was not a career that I seriously wanted to pursue. I realized it was just a hobby at that point. I decided to make a transition into politics.
I still enjoy seeing shows. I am happy the Uptown! Theatre came to West Chester.
What was your first job?
My first job was in grade school manning the phones at the rectory of St. Ann’s Parish in Phoenixville. I continued that into high school. Through high school, I bagged groceries at Acme, and I mowed lawns on the weekends. I made pizza at a local pizzeria. I was always working. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me early on in life.
My dad did not have a college degree. He went right out of high school to his current company. He started at the bottom of his current company and worked his way to the top. He went to night school and years later earned his bachelor’s degree. He set an excellent example for my sisters and I by always working hard.
My father wanted my mom to stay home and take care of us so that we’d always have that influence in our daily lives. She was always there to make sure we did our homework, take care of us when we were sick and pick us up from practice.
What lessons did you take from those jobs that stick with you today?
Sometimes you have a good boss, and sometimes you don’t. You have to work some undesirable jobs to understand what it means to start at the bottom and work your way up. I always wanted to remember where I came from and have that appreciation.
What kind of music were you listening to in high school and college?
I have a very eclectic music taste, which I get from my parents, especially my mom. I have always loved going to live concerts. My first concert was Aerosmith with my mom when I was fifteen.
I’ve seen Imagine Dragons, Eminem, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, One Republic, Fleetwood Mac, Beyoncé, Mumford & Sons just to name a few. I love some oldies too, especially Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
Did you have a favorite concert experience?
My most recent concert was Mumford & Sons, who I have seen three times now and is one of the best live bands. Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake put on an incredible joint stadium tour a few years ago. I’d also add Fleetwood Mac and my boyhood crush, Britney Spears, to that list.
You went to West Chester on a theater scholarship, did you look at other schools?
I did. Like many other kids who grew up here in Chester County, I initially discarded the idea of going to West Chester University as an option because I thought the school was too close to home.
I was looking at schools in New York because of my interest in acting. My parents and I visited NYU and Wagner, as well as a few other schools up there. I graduated high school in 2002, and my mom was a little hesitant about sending me to New York after the events of September 11th the year before. I looked at Shippensburg and Penn State as well.
I did not originally visit West Chester, but I applied to the University because of their theater scholarship. When I got the scholarship, I took a tour of the school and fell in love with the campus.
What drew you to West Chester?
The campus’ Ivy League feel and the small town atmosphere felt like what a college campus should be. I loved the fact that I was close enough to home, as well as the city of Philadelphia.
Looking back, was WCU the right choice for you?
Absolutely! I’ve gone there three times now! I received my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees from the University.
Looking back over your career, who give you your big breaks?
I worked for the Republican Committee of Chester County in 2007 when Terence Farrell was elected Commissioner for the first time. I worked very closely with Terence and Carol Aichele, who was another Commissioner at the time, to make sure they were elected.
We had a tough Republican primary that year, and a difficult general election, due to the unpopularity of President Bush and the Iraq War. The Party brand was not great. We had to really push our candidates at the local level. After we won the race, Commissioner Farrell asked me to come run his office at the county. I worked for him for four years during his first term.
Commissioner Farrell encouraged me to run for Recorder of Deeds in 2011.
What did Terence Farrell see in you?
I think he saw my ability to take a goal and bring it to fruition. Because we were on a campaign, he saw something in me who could take his ideas and put them into action. Later, he saw my commitment to understanding how county government operates and how to get the ball rolling on a critical project.
Terence is the reason I went for my master’s and doctoral degrees because as part of the requirement of working for him, he insisted that I continue my education. Terence encouraged every member of his staff to continue their education, and the other two individuals that succeeded me in his office went back to school as well.
I went back to West Chester for my masters under State Representative Duane Milne, who was at the time was running the public administration program. After finishing my Masters, I joined the advisory board that was developing West Chester’s Doctoral program. When the Doctoral program began in 2015, I enrolled as a candidate, and I was in the program’s first graduating class in 2017.
Who else helped you along the way?
My parents created an incredible support structure for me. They helped me endure struggles personally and professionally. I’m fortunate to have that. My parents told me that they would pay for my undergraduate degree and anything after that was on me. Graduating from college with no debt is almost unheard of today, so that was a really big deal for me and I very much appreciate the sacrifice they made.
I attended the master’s program from 2008-2010, during the Great Recession, so it was a perfect time to graduate as everyone was looking for a leg-up professionally.
My dad’s philosophy was that he wanted his children to be better off than he was, and in a lot of ways, he has succeeded. I’m an elected official with my doctorate. My sister, who just turned thirty, is a very successful dentist and just had her first child. My youngest sister who is twenty-three years-old is a world-traveler. She’s interning for a marketing firm in Philadelphia, and she’s currently in Australia.
What is your favorite accomplishment as Recorder of Deeds?
After two terms as the county’s Recorder of Deeds, I’m most proud of my outreach efforts to our veterans community. The Recorder of Deeds is legally mandated to record the military discharge for veterans residing in Chester County. After I was sworn into my first term in 2012, I realized that we had a lot of veterans coming into the office to record their discharge papers. So, I decided to open a program to honor their service. Each time a veteran records their discharge with my office, we provide them with a photo ID honoring their service to our country and connecting them with discounts to businesses located across the county. It’s a small way to say thank you, but it has been the most rewarding part of serving in elected office. My staff and I travel across the county attending events to meet more veterans, hear their stories and recognize their service.
On top of that, I’m proud that my office has saved more than $21 million dollars during my tenure and that the office is self-sufficient; we operate based on fees, not tax dollars, enabling us to send funds back to the County Commissioners so they can fund other initiatives like veterans programs and emergency services. I have an incredible staff that works very hard and keep my office running efficiently. I do not plan to run for a third term, so looking back on the past eight years is bittersweet.
Looking forward to the new year, what are your opportunities and challenges?
I walked into the Chester County Republican Party headquarters 17 years ago as a college freshman, and I fell in love with our county party. People like Terence Farrell and the things they’ve done for this county. I want to continue that work. To me, it’s important to show our local voters what the local Republican party stands for. Understanding what our candidates have done and will do for this county is very important.
I think the tribalization and vitriol of politics is detrimental to us in Chester County. What happens in DC, doesn’t always directly impact what’s going on locally; but our courthouse, local municipal governments, and school districts do have a substantial everyday impact on our lives. These are the conversations we need to be having. It should always be about what’s going on in the borough hall, the school district, or the township building. Read more