CALIFORNIA GOP TO PUNISH MODERATES…. It’s amusing to consider how the beginning of this excerpt relates to the end of this excerpt. (thanks to reader G.B. for the heads-up)

The 1,400 Republican activists heading to Sacramento this weekend for the twice-yearly GOP convention will be united by a single concern: how to lift the state party out of the deep hole it’s dug in recent years.

Reeling from their failed attempt to block tax increases in the state budget, their worst presidential defeat in decades, losing seats in the Legislature and watching party membership shrink, California Republicans know something has to be done soon if the party wants to hang on to what’s left of its statewide clout.

“We have to get out of the doldrums from the November election,” said Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette, the party’s vice chair. “We need to rally people.”

That won’t be easy. The convention opened Friday, just a day after Democrats — and Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — steamrolled over GOP opposition and managed to pass a state budget plan that included tax hikes opposed by all but a handful of Republican legislators.

Convention delegates are expected to vote Sunday on a motion to censure the six Republicans who voted for the tax increases.

I’m not generally in the habit of giving state Republican Parties advice, but if the California GOP wants to understand why it’s in a deep hole, it need look no further than the vote on a censure resolution, punishing six Republican state senators for doing the right thing on the state budget.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.