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Earlier this year I described my night at the Capitol Hill Club, the exclusive private watering hole for Republican elected officials and their supporters, primarily lobbyists. The club boasts a variety of restaurants and bars, like the “75 Room” which a brochure describes as a “superb venue for viewing House and Senate deliberations, small meetings, relaxing between appointments, or catching up on your messages.” The club also sponsors annual golf tournaments with Congressional leaders, theater evenings, winemaker dinners, holiday brunches, and other events.”
But a big problem has emerged for the club: Republicans are now the minority party in Congress, and are likely to be trounced in the November elections. Hence, fewer people want to join the club or hang out there given that G.O.P. members of Congress have so little power nowadays when it comes to slipping a tax break into legislation or inserting an earmark into an appropriations bill. It’s no coincidence that business is booming at the opposition Democratic Club, which is located just a few blocks away.
Just how bad are times at the Capitol Hill Club? I obtained a July 29 club fundraising letter that paints a pathetic scene. During the first six months of the year, a mere 162 new members joined the club, but 100 people resigned. As a lure to boost membership, the letter–signed by club president Raymond J. McGrath, head of the Downey McGrath Group, one of the most powerful lobby shops in town–offers a half-price deal on new member initiation fees.
Management has also had to add “menu items to enhance the club’s affordability to a greater number of members.” This includes the “Lunch Square Meal Deal” for $10.50. I’m guessing that most Green Party member are able to spend more on lunch than these sad-sack Republicans.
The club remains popular as a spot for G.O.P. fundraising events, but the “average number of guests at those events has declined.” To raise revenues, the letter asks members to sponsor parties at the club–“Weddings, Rehearsal Dinners, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Fly-Ins, Corporate Meetings, and Holiday Parties.” And it gets worse: in an even more desperate effort to staunch the cash-drain, the club is introducing a new line of “retail items to consider as gifts and party favors.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Average number of Americans who are injured by chain saws each year:
A farmer in Kenya bit a python who tried to eat him.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”