The Republicans simply don’t care.
They don’t care that they lie. They don’t care that their lies are obvious. They don’t care that their lies wouldn’t fool an underpaid substitute Social Studies teacher in a public middle school…They don’t care that their history is a lie and that, by spreading it, they devalue the actual history of the country, which is something that belongs to us.”
That Esquire‘s estimable Charles Pierce writing on the first day of the RNC, and he hadn’t even heard Paul Ryan’s ridiculously falsehood-filled screed of night two. I’ve already said all I need to say about this clownshoes, but still: It’s amazing what a congenital liar this guy is. (As you know, people in real life don’t “accidentally” lowball their marathon time by an hour — especially not Type-A gunner physical trainer types.)
Of course, Republicans have lied before — Their 2004 convention, for example, was devoted to turning a bland Vietnam war hero into a brie-eating surrender monkey and the Democrats at large into an Al Qaeda sleeper cell. But I can’t remember hearing another speech by a major-party nominee so rife with statements that were easily and demonstrably untrue.
As Winston Smith wrote in his diary, “Freedom is freedom to say 2+2=4. If that is granted all else will follow.” And that is exactly the freedom Ryan launched a full-scale assault upon in his convention speech. In short, this was a new low for the GOP.
“‘I think he’s a guy who’s willing to get down into the weeds,’ said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, who is No. 4 in GOP leadership. ‘Because he immerses himself in that and understands it so well — the positions he adopts may not always be the ones that everyone else in our conference comes to.’“
Hmmm, that explains a lot. In trying to explain why Sen. Bob Corker has been bucking the GOP line on financial reform of late, Sen. John Thune gaffe-tastically concedes that it’s because Corker actually tries to figure out what he’s talking about. “When Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama started working on a draft outline of a GOP alternative to the Democrats’ bill, Corker said he didn’t plan on spending ‘any time’ on it. ‘At the end of the day — look it’s a messaging piece, isn’t it?’ Corker smiled.“
“In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as “Operation Condor,” preceded by the words “(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN.” The cable states that ‘secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo’ Uruguay ‘and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter’…The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger’s role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots,’ Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive’s senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday.‘”
Another piece of evidence for the prosecution in the trial of Henry Kissinger: A recently declassified 1976 cable has Kissinger canceling a warning to Chile about political assassinations, one day before the Pinochet regime murdered another critic in downtown Washington DC. And let’s not even get started on Allende…
“The whole thing basically went like that: Republican asks obnoxious question rooted in Glenn Beck-ian talking points; Obama swats it away, makes the questioner look silly, and then smiles at the end. It got so bad, in fact, that Fox News cut away from the event before it was over.”
My issues with the SotU notwithstanding, the president’s sallying back-and-forth with House Republicans on Friday clearly indicate that, whatever our problems are within the party, the GOP are just not ready for prime-time right now. (I also get the sense that this will mark the definitive end of the Republican’s goofy “teleprompter” meme.) [Full transcript.]
To his credit, the president made his political opponents seem like the blatantly hypocritical ideologues they in fact are. Which begs the “common ground” question once again: Why should we try to meet the “Party of No” halfway, particularly when we know that they move the goalposts every single time you try to take them seriously?
“That’s happened with increasing frequency at the FEC lately. Election-law experts, supporters of campaign-finance regulations, and even some members of the commission itself are expressing growing concern about a string of cases in which the three Republicans on the commission — led by Tom DeLay’s former ethics lawyer — have voted as a block against enforcement, preventing the commission from carrying out its basic regulatory function.” Pete Martin and Zachary Roth of TPM Muckraker delve into how Republicans antithetical to campaign finance reform have effectively sabotaged the FEC. “The FEC, he said, has been made ‘ineffective’ — and not by accident. ‘This is what McConnell had in mind.’“
“Of course, the one person who could do the most to get the commission back on track is President Obama…Most experts believe that the White House supports stronger campaign-finance laws as a goal, but, with a host of other issues on its plate, is reluctant to pick a fight with the GOP Senate leader. ‘They’re picking their priorities, and they don’t want to take on Mitch McConnell right now,’ said Hasen. ‘I consider that unfortunate.‘” Anyone else sensing a pattern?
“This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house – Sept. 11, 2001.” Now, there‘s a surprise. To be honest, there’s not much to be said about Dubya’s dismal farewell speech last night, which had been touted earlier in the week as potentially something interesting. [Transcript.] Rather than go the statesman route a la Eisenhower, Dubya chose to spend his last few moments with the nation’s ear dispensing trite, self-serving, and patently idiotic bromides about the world that will do nothing to alter his status in history as one of our worst presidents, if not the worst president, to-date.
I hope to spend very little blog-time in the future attempting to parse the immature, inchoate worldview of this soon-to-be ex-president. But, for example: “When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror.” Uh, they don’t? (No, then it’s called regime change. [rimshot].)
By the way, was America not “free” in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or were Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, and other duly-elected architects of ugly institutions like indian removal and slavery all just part of ye old axis of iniquitye? Now, put your keyboards down, crazy right-wing Freeper-types. (How’d you end up here anyway?) I’m not arguing that the U.S. is evil — I love America (I just hate flag pins.) But I am arguing that it’s never been satisfactorily proven by world events that ostensibly freedom-loving people aren’t capable of horrible atrocities from time to time.
This is the same ridiculous note Dubya struck constantly in his second inaugural (“Freedom, yeah!”), and it still rings false. When people live in freedom, they can willingly choose anything they want, including paths and policies deeply at odds with the direction we — or even common humanity — might want them to go. News flash: Dubya’s windbreaker-clad nemesis, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is — along with being a certifiable, Holocaust-denying nutjob — the freely-elected president of Iran. So let’s stop pretending that the introduction (or imposition by force) of a western-style democracy to a region is a sudden and immediate cure-all for that area’s problems. Even after eight years in the world’s most powerful office, Dubya once again showed us last night that he harbors the black-and-white, absolutist worldview of a child…or an ex-alcoholic. Good riddance.
Update: See also DYFL on this Dubya chestnut last night: “Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Um, yeah.
“For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.” Well, golly. Just in case anyone didn’t already think she was Cheneyesque enough, the Branchflower Report, i.e. the Alaska state inquiry into Sarah Palin’s firing of her public safety commissioner, finds that the Governor (and her husband) abused her powers of office to pursue a personal vendetta. “‘Gov. Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda.” In regards to Palin’s early defense that said ex-brother-in-law was a physical threat to her family, “‘I conclude that such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palins’ real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family reasons,’ Branchflower wrote“
It should be noted, by the way, that the Branchflower inquiry was not only initiated and authorized by a GOP-run state legislature, but released on Friday thanks to a unanimous vote by a committee of 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats. This seems to be in keeping with what we’ve seen in recent days, where any right-leaning talking head with even a modicum of intellectual honesty, from Chris Buckley to David Brooks, is now repudiating and rejecting Palin as “a fatal cancer to the Republican Party.” That she is…although, not to assail Brooks’ NYT-and-PBS-certified powers of punditry, it really shouldn’t have taken him over a month to realize it.
“‘I’m not a big fan of the prosecution’s charges, but I think he’s got some ethical issues that put a cloud over him,’ Stibitz said. ‘So, I’d probably go with Begich.’” Thank you, Alaska Republicans: Embattled Senator Ted Stevens — he of the recent indictments — has managed to win the GOP primary in Alaska, meaning he’ll face off against popular Anchorage mayor Mark Begich in November, and — if the polls bear out — will likely lose. From what I gather, almost any other Republican candidate could’ve probably held the seat in this predominantly GOP state, so this is good news for us.
“We had hoped our Committees’ subpoenas would be met with compliance and not a Nixonian stonewalling that reveals the White House’s disdain for our system of checks and balances…The veil of secrecy you have attempted to pull over the White House by withholding documents and witnesses is unprecedented and damaging to the tradition of open government by and for the people that has been a hallmark of the Republic.” In a “barbed” letter to the administration, Judiciary Committee Chairmen Conyers and Leahy demand that Dubya explain his rationale for executive privilege (which he invoked earlier in the week to thwart subpoenas concerning the persecuted prosecutors case.) Thus far, the White House has described the letter as “another overreach.“
“The story isn’t who picked on a sick guy or even who did or didn’t break laws. The story is who gets to decide what’s legal. And the president’s now-familiar claim, a la Richard Nixon, is that it’s never illegal when he does it.” Dahlia Lithwick drives home the disturbing message of last week’s Comey revelations. And, also in Slate, Frank Bowman offers another reason why Alberto Gonzales should be impeached: the firing of David Iglesias. Update: In related news, Specter thinks Gonzales will soon quit, particularly if the Senate passes a no-confidence vote on him. (The White House, thus far, disagrees.)
As Dubya bequeaths another “heck of a job” upon his embattled attorney general, it comes to light that Alberto Gonzales apparently lied about his conducting meetings concerning the firing of federal prosecutors. Said Sen. Chuck Schumer of the revelations: “If the facts bear out that Attorney General Gonzales knew much more about the plan than he has previously admitted, then he can no longer serve as attorney general.” Update: “He has said some things that just don’t add up.” Republican Senators start to pile on, among them Hagel, Graham, and Specter.
With even Republicans such as Senator John Sununu now calling for his firing as a result of the furor over persecuted prosecutors, embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gets the usual heck-of-a-job from Dubya: “I’ve heard those allegations about political decision-making — it’s just not true…What Al did, and what the Justice Department did, was appropriate.” Meanwhile, side-stepping Gonzales’ misdeeds, Salon‘s Sidney Blumental sees the hand of Karl Rove at work in the firings.
With even the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary close to revolt over the issue of the persecuted prosecutors, the Dubya White House and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are forced into an uncharacteristic retreat. “Gonzales…will no longer oppose legislation limiting the attorney general’s power to appoint interim prosecutors. Gonzales also agreed to allow the committee to interview five top-level Justice Department officials as part of an ongoing Democratic-led probe into the firings.“
“Who is this tiny, tiny fellow? Not more than 5-foot-7, to my eye. Sleek and slight like a kitten. Wears a digital watch with a Velcro band. Also wears a little beaded bracelet around his wrist. And writes semiperverted novels set in 1903 Japan. I admit it: You fascinate me, sir.” While GitM has been on hiatus this week, the aspens have been turning in Washington over at the Scooter Libby trial, and old friend Seth Stevenson, among others, has a ringside seat for Slate.
“‘Whether or not you’ve served your constituents well, on some level you have seriously betrayed the public’s trust and abused your power as a congressman,’ Huvelle told Ney. ‘You have a long way to go to make amends for what’s happened.’” Casino Jack flunky and former House GOP poobah Bob Ney gets thirty months in prison for his role in Abramoff’s operation. Ney, meanwhile, is still blaming it on the booze: ““I will continue to take full responsibility for my actions and battle the demons of addiction.” Um, at what point between opening the beer and it touching your lips did taking bribes enter the equation? Save that stuff for Oprah…Most people hopefully realize that Ney’s corruption had less to do with the demon rum than with standard operating procedure under Boss DeLay and the Republicans.
A new minority staff report by the Senate Finance Committee concludes that “[f]ive conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, ‘appear to have perpetrated a fraud’ on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” Among the organizations called out are Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy (sheah), an outfit created by Norquist and former Dubya Interior Secretary Gail Norton, whose office was already waist-deep in ill-gotten Casino Jack loot. (In fact, Abramoff’s point person in Norton’s office was CREA’s president, Italia Federici.)
Update: In related news, Abramoff flunky Bob Ney pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and making false statements (without, mind you, resigning his seat in Congress.) While he didn’t speak with reporters, Ney’s written statement noted that the “treatment and counseling I have started have been very helpful, but I know that I am not done yet and that I have more work to do to deal with my alcohol dependency.” Ok, one more time, people. Alcoholism means you drink too much. It does not mean that you bilk the public, indulge in bribes, or send teenagers dirty IMs.
“Before I liberate the speaker so he doesn’t have to stand up here for that long, Speaker, I want to say this to you…I am proud to be standing with the current speaker of the House who is going to be the future speaker of the House.” Hmm…I wouldn’t be so sure. As Dubya bequeaths a “heck of a job, Denny” upon an increasingly embattled Hastert, the GOP moneymen are nevertheless hedging their bets, and are pulling cash out of several races around the country to try to hold the (Maginot?) line in Ohio, Missouri, and Tennessee. The financial “jousting will continue into the final days, but what is clear at this point is that Democrats are playing very little defense in the House and the Senate.“
“The fact is, even prior to the existence of the Foley e-mail exchanges, I had more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest levels of the House of Representatives, asking them to intervene when I was informed of Mr. Foley’s inappropriate behavior.” Foleygate update: Any hope of the GOP leadership coasting through the ugliness likely ended yesterday when Foley’s former Chief of Staff Kirk Fordham announced he told them about Foley in 2003. Now, with the House Ethics Committee grinding into action, Dennis Hastert says sorry, but I’m not going anywhere. Well, Mr. Speaker, I get the sense the decision may soon be out of your hands.
Ostensibly to “catch her breath,” Interior Secretary Gail Norton resigns from the Cabinet, effective at the end of the month. Besides opening federal lands for oil drilling whenever possible, Norton’s office also appears to have traded access for bribes from Casino Jack, through aide Italia Federici. “Abramoff boasted in e-mails of having an inside track in Norton’s department. Norton posed for a photograph with Abramoff in her office in 2002.“
The Frist SEC probe moves along, with a subpoena forcing the Senate Majority Leader to turn over documents related to his HCA holdings. In addition, it now appears Catkiller made tens of thousands of dollars from HCA stock outside of his “blind” trust, through a partnership controlled by his brother. So much for avoiding a conflict of interest.
By way of Looka, did Catkiller Frist pull a Martha? “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family’s hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent…To keep the trust blind, Frist was not allowed to know how much HCA stock he owned…but he was allowed to ask for all of it to be sold.” Update: The Post has more: “The notion that you have a blind trust but you can tell your trustee when to sell stock in it just doesn’t make any sense. It means you have a seeing eye trust and not a blind trust. It’s ridiculous.” Update 2: The SEC steps in, and subpoenas start flying.
“What they’re looking for is how many names can they give — and by names I mean members of Congress or other prominent people — and what kind of message do they want to send.” Republican lobbyist and Boss DeLay flunky “Casino Jack” Abramoff is indicted for conspiracy and wire fraud, paving the way for further inquiries into congressional criminality. Let’s hope the prosecutors are able to sidestep the GOP powers-that-be and ascertain just how deep this rabbit hole goes…
Much to the consternation of the Dubya White House, a handful of GOP Senators, including Gang of 14′ers John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), are trying to establish congressional oversight over prisoner treatment at Guantanamo and elsewhere. McCain’s proposed amendments include restricting interrogation techniques to what’s in the Army field manual, stopping the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” forcing the government to register all detainees with the Red Cross, and prohibiting “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody no matter where they are held.” For his part, Graham’s amendment appears just to rubber-stamp the current Dubya policies…but apparently even that’s too much legislative oversight for Cheney, Rummy, and the rest of the admin whip-hands, who are trying to enlist their Senate allies to offer up a watered-down, smoke-and-mirrors version instead. For shame.
Federalist Society or no, John Roberts now seems almost assured of winning confirmation as the Supreme Court’s newest justice (barring an eleventh hour revelation of impropriety, of course.) So, the Dems plan for the next best thing, which is to use the Roberts hearings as political theater with which to expose general right-wing looniness. Hmmm. Might work, I suppose. Hopefully, the Dems will keep their eye on the ball and make sure any gamesmanship on Roberts doesn’t suck the press away from the still-growing White House felony investigation, which now seems to include possible perjury and obstruction of justice charges for Rove, Libby, et al. Update: Wilson’s revenge? Salon suggests the operative law in the Rove case may be the Espionage Act of 1917, which isn’t what you’d call one of progressivism’s better moments.
“When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: ‘He’s a Democrat.’” From a few days ago, the LA Times looks into Karl Rove and Scooter Libby’s aggressive campaign to discredit Joseph Wilson (as seen on Tim Noah’s latest Rove Death Watch.)
“‘I fully recognize that I showed poor judgment when I sold my home in Del Mar to a friend who did business with the government,’ Cunningham told supporters.” Um, yeah, for starters. As federal investigators close in on his several shady dealings (re: kickbacks and bribes) with defense contractors before his committee (as well as other ne’er-do-wells), Six-term congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), who recently invoked the fallen of 9/11 to flog his flag-burning amendment, has announced he won’t seek re-election in 2006. Good riddance…and take a gander, Boss DeLay.
“The emerging GOP strategy — devised by Mehlman and other Rove loyalists outside of the White House — is to try to undermine those Democrats calling for Rove’s ouster, play down Rove’s role and wait for President Bush’s forthcoming Supreme Court selection to drown out the controversy, according to several high-level Republicans.” In other words, the GOP is playing it by the book.
“Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers…I don’t know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground.” No, Karl, you felt confusion and stark abject terror…or is there some other reason why our Fearless Leader spent that fateful day (post-Pet Goat, of course) AWOL in the skies over Louisiana and Nebraska, leaving Mayor Giuliani to rally the nation?
At any rate, I’m sensing a pattern here…Soon after a GOP rep invokes 9/11 to flog a flag-burning amendment, White House strategist Karl Rove wallows in 9/11 and liberal-bashing before a GOP crowd here in NYC. Phew, talk about a Hail Mary. That dated soft-on-terror swill isn’t going to get lame duck Dubya’s domestic agenda off the ground, Karl. So you’d best start scroungin’ through that bottomless bag of dirty tricks for a different silver bullet. This outrageous claptrap is sad, pathetic, and demeaning…even coming from a right rotten bastard like Rove. Update: The Dems respond, and the White House digs in.
Here’s an oldie-but-goodie from the GOP…by a margin of 286-130, the House pass another variation on the anti-flag-burning amendment. “‘Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World) Trade Center,’ said Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, R-Calif. ‘Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment.’” Yes, I’m sure the victims of that day were calling their loved ones by cellphone during those horrible moments to voice their support for a freakin’ flag-burning amendment. Have you no shame, Mr. Cunningham?
The GOP attempts to break PBS grow murkier, as Dems unearth a right-wing stooge secretly on CPB President’s Kenneth Tomlinson’s payroll, assigned to track “bias” on Bill Moyer’s NOW. Nebraska Senator Byron “Dorgan said that data concluded in one episode of ‘Now’ that Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, was a ‘liberal’ because he questioned the White House policy on Iraq and that a second ‘Now’ segment on financial waste at the Pentagon was ‘anti-Defense.’
“‘This could literally put us out of business,’ said Paul Stankavich, president and general manager of the Alaska Public Radio Network, an alliance of 26 stations in the state that create and share news programming.” Well, that’s the idea. The House GOP moves to kill off the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, getting rid of liberal Bill Moyers and that lesbian-loving rabbit in one fell swoop. “‘Americans overwhelmingly see public broadcasting as an unbiased information source,’ Rep. David Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, said in a statement. ‘Perhaps that’s what the GOP finds so offensive about it. Republican leaders are trying to bring every facet of the federal government under their control…Now they are trying to put their ideological stamp on public broadcasting.’“
Ambitious Dems Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. and Governor Mark Warner try to establish their presidential bona fides by joining in on the anti-Dean pileup. I wouldn’t have used Deans’s “white christian” line — We shouldn’t be in the business of reinforcing the GOP’s hold on white Christian voters, particularly when so much of the Republicans’ bellicose, intolerant, and avarice-fueled agenda is flagrantly anti-Christian in any real sense. Today’s GOP may talk the talk of Jesus, but their leaders continually prostrate themselves before the altar of Mammon. As any good Christian knows, you can’t serve them both.
All that being said, it’s highly dismaying to watch the Dems eat their own like this. Obviously, our lazy, cowed excuse for a national newsmedia is going to leap at every possible note of intemperance to emanate from Dr. Dean, because it’s an easy story that won’t tick off the White House and doesn’t involve much in the way of reporting. So every two-bit Democratic official that wants to start generating some media buzz and moderate cred for a 2008 bid is currently mouthing off to reporters about the former Governor of Vermont.
Do Republicans do this? Not hardly. I don’t remember GOP officials rushing to lambast Bill Frist for his “against people of faith” photo-op, or Tom DeLay for all the garbage that routinely comes out of his mouth, to say nothing of all the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Coulters, etc. But one Dem uses stronger rhetoric than usual to characterize the opposition and we fall over each other to condemn him in the name of electable statesmanship. It’s pathetic. Word to the wise, Dems: Let Dean be Dean — we didn’t pick him for his social nicety — and concentrate your rhetorical firepower on the opposing trench.
So, apparently Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA), Dubya’s new pick to head the SEC, is — wait for it — yes, yet another right-wing freakshow, this time of the corporate stooge variety. “Mr. Cox – a devoted student of Ayn Rand, the high priestess of unfettered capitalism – has a long record in the House of promoting the agenda of business interests that are a cornerstone of the Republican Party’s political and financial support. A major recipient of contributions from business groups, the accounting profession and Silicon Valley, he has fought against accounting rules that would give less favorable treatment to corporate mergers and executive stock options. He opposes taxes on dividends and capital gains. And he helped to steer through the House a bill making investor lawsuits more difficult.”