Note from Allison: Man, I always forget how evil Karl Rove is until I see his nefarious accomplishments laid out in list form. Then, I revert back to amazement that this little cave troll has (thus far) avoided prison.
Last night on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, former Bush adviser Karl Rove brazenly claimed that he never used his White House position to threaten anyone.
Host Bill O’Reilly caught Rove off-guard with this question: “Now in the Bush White House, did you guys ever threaten anybody who disagreed with you?” Rove hesitated, sputtered, and responded, “Not that — not that — you know — not that I recall.” O’Reilly pressed the point:
O’REILLY: So you never threatened?
The smirk on Rove’s face suggested that even he had a hard time believing his own answer. Watch it here.
Rove — the political architect of dirty tricks — clearly did use his position in the White House to engage in vindictive political attacks against his perceived enemies:
– Drove a politically-charged prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman
– Pressured the Texas Secretary of State to fire an attorney in his office for making comments that reflected poorly on him
All this does not even include Rove’s alleged role in the Swift Boat smears against John Kerry, the whisper campaign against Ann Richards that questioned her sexuality, and the attacks on John McCain’s mental health in South Carolina in 2000.
In 2007, Rove also issued this public threat against House GOP congressmen who dared to criticize Bush on Iraq. “Nobody can risk looking disrespectful to the president without paying a price, and they need to understand that,” he said.
Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, has announced his resignation as the company’s CEO. The move comes weeks after the company changed its name to Xe in an attempt to rebrand the firm. Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, assesses the latest developments.
Video Guest: Jeremy Scahill, award-winning investigative journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
The New York State Assembly is set to vote Wednesday on legislation that would allow judges to send drug offenders to substance abuse treatment instead of prison. The legislation would also allow thousands of prisoners jailed for nonviolent drug offenses to have their sentences reduce or commuted. It’s the latest step in a long campaign to repeal the draconian Rockefeller laws. The laws impose lengthy minimum sentences on drug offenders, even those with no prior convictions. The laws have disproportionately targeted people of color, while giving prosecutors de facto control over how long convicts are jailed. [includes rush transcript]
Kirk James, served nine years under the Rockefeller drug laws as a first-time offender. He’s now a social justice activist.
Caitlin Dunklee, coordinator of the Correctional Association’s Drop the Rock, a grassroots campaign to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws.
Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, Representing New York’s 35th Assembly District in Queens, has led efforts in the New York state legislature to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws.
This is how bad things are in the Republican Party. The following 3-minute clip from 13-year-old Jonathan Krohn is considered the “highlight” of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC.) That’s right, this whining, vaguely condescending stump speech (complete with funny voices) from a child is the highlight of CPAC.
Don’t get me wrong, Jonathan has exceptional stage presence, and wrote a good speech about the so-called moral righteousness of the Republican party. I don’t really want to pick on Jonathan here. Who I really want to tear apart is the Republican party.
Really, guys? THIS is the best you can do? Things must be really bad over there in Republicanland if you’re putting all your Hope Eggs in the basket of a child, even though he is very brainwashed well-trained intelligent. You know he won’t be able to run for president for another twenty-two years, right?
It is very appropriate that the Republicans are now turning to a wunderkind as their messianic leader. They already tried an old, white dude, a woman, and not one (but TWO!) men of color, and nothing has reversed the course of their party’s renegade locomotive from speeding toward that cliff. It’s almost like their ideology of deregulation and fucking the poor is, like, not working or something.
Quick, THROW THE KID UP THERE! I’M THINKING! WHY AM I THINKING?! Put him in a little suit!!!
Watching Jonathan do his thing up there, I couldn’t help but feel deeply satisfied. It was like someone had ripped open William Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, or Newt Gingrich, and the screaming, petulant child that lives inside streaked out. The Republican party has finally become a living metaphor of itself: a lost, little boy, who thinks he’s a cowboy, and who really believes a society can be built upon an ideology of selfishness.
I saw Jonathan’s CPAC debut as more than a pageant. I felt like I was watching the Republican elephant give birth to the culmination of all its years of irresponsibility, greed, immorality, and pathetic tough-guy grandstanding.
Note from Allison: This is Joseph Stiglitz. He’s the most cited economist in the world, a Nobel Laureate, and the guy who first price-tagged the Iraq war at $3 trillion. As you’ve probably already gathered, he’s a genius. Also, he’s smart, which is different than genius because it means he possesses the gift of “breakin’ it down,” and speaking simply so we mortals can understand him.
He very clearly explains why Obama has devised a plan to help the banks, and not the bankers, and he also details what we need to do in order to change our financial system. Well worth the watching.
Watch the videos here.
Update (May 6, 2009): Amity Shlaes linked to this article in her most recent Bloomberg.org article. I respond to her accusations that bloggers are afraid to debate here.
Note from Allison: The stupidity just keeps rolling in, and I’m loving it.
Well, it just gets better and better. As you know, we’ve been tracking the debunking of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s tall tale about being right there on the front lines fighting government bureaucracy with Sherif Harry Lee while the boat rescues were still taking place in the aftermath of Katrina. Well, today, the New Orleans Times-Picayune has a gentle but pretty clear run-down of what happened.
In so many words, in Jindal’s speech Tuesday night he said he was there and part of the story as it unfolded — Sherif Lee was trying to mobilize civilian boats for roof-rescues and government bureaucrats wouldn’t let them head out without proof of insurance and registration. Lee put his foot down and dared the bureaucrats to come arrest him. And when Jindal put his foot down too Lee said they should come arrest Jindal too.
Only, Jindal’s staff now admits that that actually didn’t happen. Instead of being there and being part of the story, Jindal’s reps now admit that days later Jindal overheard Lee telling the story to someone else. And Jindal retold the story he’d been told while inserting himself into it as part of the story.
It’s not really any different from a lot of tall tales we’ve probably all heard at one point or another when someone takes a fun story they’ve heard and retells it making themselves one of the central characters.
Now, Jindal’s reps are still in high dudgeon over this, saying Jindal was totally on the level, claiming some mix of it not making any difference whether Jindal made up his role in the story or not or that what Jindal actually said was never meant to imply that he was part of the story rather than someone who heard about it later. But that’s pretty preposterous if you look at what Jindal actually said.
But now there’s this. TPM Reader EA just flagged this youtube video that appears to show Jindal telling the same story last year, only with even more embroidery about his own part in the drama ..
Watch the video here…
Soooo…this really happened.
After a long day at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele gave a speech asserting that the party is “alive and well.”
Although he emphasized that the conservative movement must become a revolution and transform America, he conceded that the party had made mistakes: “We know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”
According to CNN, Steele was then praised by Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
As Steele concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”
“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.
In related news:
Looks like the game is up.
Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night — about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?
Turns out it wasn’t actually, you know, true.
In the last few days, first Daily Kos, and thenTPMmuckraker, raised serious questions about the story, based in part on the fact that no news reports we could find place Jindal in the affected area at the specific time at issue.
Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee “during Katrina,” and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn’t have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, “that’s ridiculous,” prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.
But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone “days later.” The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.
This is no minor difference. Jindal’s presence in Lee’s office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story’s intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn’t there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.
There’s a larger point here, though. The central anecdote of the GOP’s prime-time response to President Obama’s speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up.
Maybe it’s time to rethink the premise.
Late Update: Politico‘s Ben Smith has updated his post with the following:
UPDATE: I’d initially misunderstood Sellers to be saying Jindal and Lee didn’t meet while rescue efforts were still underway. In fact, she said, the conversation took place in the aftermath of the storm, but after the boat incident.”Bobby and I walked into harry lee’s office – he’s yelling on the phone about a decision he’s already made,” Jindal chief of staff Timmy Teepell recalled. “He’s saying this is a decision I made, and if you don’t like it you can come and arrest me.”
Teepell said the exchange took place in the week following Katrina, when Jindal visited Jefferson Parish multiple times.
“He was boots on the ground all the time,” he said.
This doesn’t seem to bear on the key question. As we said, the key elements of Jindal’s story were that he was in Lee’s office during the crisis itself, and that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. Neither of those things was true, it now seems.
Late Video Update: Here’s the relevant section of Jindal’s speech.
President Obama delivered a fantastic speech Tuesday night. It’s tone alone will go a long way toward reassuring a nation mired in economic crisis.
And amazingly, there were many moments of bipartisan applause, like when Obama tackled corporate greed: “I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.”
This was music to my ears, but as Robert Scheer astutely pointed out at The Nation, the problem Obama had in discussing regulation to fix our financial woes is that many of his top economic advisors, including Lawrence Summers, were responsible for gutting the regulatory system that helped cause this mess in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, Obama’s speech was strong, and hopefully it will symbolize a fundamental change in thinking from his economic team. But I’m just glad we have someone like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to help Obama make good on his demagoguery.
The independent senator from Vermont says we need a new Wall Street. He wants to confront the culture of greed head on, get rid of the CEOs of these corrupt financial institutions and establish a much stricter regulatory process.
Sanders has been a vocal critic of TARP spending from the beginning, and last month he called for the congressional TARP Oversight Panelto expand its focus and dig into the causes of the financial crisis, using subpoena power to expose the roots.
Sanders’ vigilance and frankness, coupled with Obama’s rhetoric Tuesday night, gives me hope.
ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.
I just received this e-mail from Eileen Clancy, an activist and member of the watchdog group, I-Witness.
We have begun the process of filing suit regarding our treatment at the hands of law enforcement in St. Paul during the RNC. A press release is attached.
Six months after the RNC, the government has charged only 15 percent of the 800 people the police arrested in that period. On Friday, the St. Paul City Attorney announced that he would not prosecute 323 people arrested in a single round-up on the final night of the convention.
Since most potential RNC litigants are approaching the 180-day statutory deadline for giving notice to municipalities in Minnesota, we should have a better sense of the scope of the civil lawsuits contemplated in relation to the RNC fairly soon.
Eileen and I-Witness were routinely harassed at the Republican National Convention (RNC.) By the way, this is the same RNC during which Amy Goodman was violently arrested. During the RNC (and after some initial harassment from local police, including the suspicious mass arrest and release of I-Witness,) I received an urgent email from Clancy.
The police were surrounding her office…again.
Police have arrived at our office in St. Paul. They say that they have
received reports of hostages barricaded in the building. We are behind a
locked door. Lawyers are outside dealing with them.
That was the second encounter I-Witness had with police at the RNC. The first encounter occurred on August 30 when seven members were preemptively detained at the house where the group was staying. The police were basically harassing the protest group, who are peaceful, and whose only intent was to videotape the protests.
Such was the general chaos of the RNC. I was routinely e-mailed by journalists, who were fairly certain of their impending arrest.
I had my own run-in with St. Paul’s police state when I was trying to gather information about Amy Goodman’s arrest for Huffington Post.
Something called the Joint Information Center was set up to monitor all of the hubub that occurs when — ya’ know — a city jails hundreds of activists exercising their right to freedom of speech and protest. My name and press credentials were taken down a few times by various ominous, anonymous foot soldiers.
These are the notes I took during the investigation. I was making inquiries as to the whereabout of Amy Goodman, and the two Democracy Now producers (Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar) with whom she was arrested.
11:00PM EST: The Ramsey County Jail redirected me to something called the “Joint Information Center.” Under a little pressure, the operator finally revealed his name (Sgt. William Palmer,) though he asked for my name (had me spell it twice) and asked for my phone number in exchange. Friendly stuff.
Palmer informed me that Kouddous and Salazar will be held in jail overnight until they are taken to court tomorrow. No one knows what they are being charged with, but Palmer attributes their arrest to “suspicious behavior.”
Kouddous and Salazar are still being held without any formal charges.
11:22PM: Apparently, one of the job qualifications for working at the JIC (Joint Information Center) is that you must have the scariest voice in the world. I spoke with a Coast Guard named Chief Bauman, who again took down my information: name, phone number, website I write for, etc. He had me spell my name twice and repeat my phone number three times.
The JIC seems to exist less to help media representatives and more to intimidate the hell out of them. For instance, I wondered aloud why I couldn’t directly speak to a media representative and first had to pass through Bauman’s filter. Bauman explained he was a conduit between reporter and information.
I then asked Bauman why the JIC was staffed with police officers and Coast Guards seemingly naive to the ways of media. He informed me that he was working at the JIC for “security purposes.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, I see there’s a lot of security at the RNC.” He didn’t laugh.
Bauman said he didn’t know what court Kouddous and Salazar are being taken to in the morning. He said he would get back to me.
This is the state of modern protest. You can protest, but only if you have a permit, you stand back 500 feet from the target of your dispute, you stay behind the barbed wires, and only use a bullhorn if you have another permit. It’s neutered dissent. And even if you obey all their little rules, you get bullied and harassed like Eileen Clancy and Amy Goodman.
And Clancy and Goodman weren’t even protesting. One is a representative of a watchdog group, and the other is a highly respected journalist. Imagine what they do to the poor kids and students, who are usually doing nothing more than operating inside the guidelines of the law, when the cops pick them up off the street.
If the dull tool of bureaucracy hasn’t chipped away enough from America’s monument to civil disobedience, the watchful Sauron-esque eye of the government is threatening to blast it into smithereens. As I wrote over at Huffpost, last year’s DNC and RNC were both laboratories for the newest, most high-tech toys for the intelligence community. Denver dropped $50 million on the police state project.
In an interview with Democracy Now, Erin Rosa, a reporter for the Colorado Independent, explained that Denver seemed to be seriously bracing for a stand-off between the police and protesters [during the DNC], to the point where the Colorado Army National Guard constructed a makeshift barracks in the far east region of the city:
They’re not saying what the purpose is for nearly 400 people to be stationed in this private university. They’re actually going to be stationed at Johnson & Wales University in the eastern region of the city, you know, more than 400 troops in that one area. They rented more than 500 rooms across the city. And they’re not saying what the purpose will be for, but they have confirmed that it will be all Colorado National Guard personnel.
So while Denver would be immersed in a total police state, what sort of behavior could individuals expect from their new intelligence and censorship overlords? In the same interview, Mike German, National Security Policy Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, warned protesters that new guidelines for what constitutes suspicious terrorist-like activity may include some pretty basic elements of protesting:
The Los Angeles Police Department issued an order compelling their officers to report criminal and non-criminal suspicious behavior that can be indicative of terrorism, and they listed sixty-five behaviors…One of the precursor behaviors to terrorism that’s identified in the order is taking video. And we put in our report a couple of instances where people taking video were stopped by police officers simply for taking pictures or video. And in some cases, particularly where they’re taking photographs or video of police, it actually resulted in arrests.
I argued this would put quite a damper on many grassroots responses to this kind of intelligence/police state bullying, particularly I-Witness, a group created to protect citizens from the attacks of overzealous police authorities. Clancy, the founder of I-Witness Video, explained that it’s important to keep a video log of every protest (complete with date and time displayed clearly on the camera) should the footage be needed as evidence in later court hearings.
Clancy also explained that the Deputy Chief of Operations in Denver testified before the House subcommittee that they see the DNC fusion center as an opportunity to make permanent a “super fusion center.” Clancy said the Denver crew is going to take their government allocated $50 million and “play with their new toys,” and they are going to build a permanent and more powerful surveillance apparatus for Colorado.
At the time, Clancy offered these words of wisdom to future generations of activists:
“The federal government is trying to criminalize video because it has tremendous power to expose bad acts by the police and federal agents. The best way for people to document police misconduct is to band together in video activist groups such as I-Witness Video, work in pairs or affinity groups, protect their footage by making back-up copies, publish their work in the media or on the Internet, and vigorously challenge any arrests, detentions and police orders to erase photos or videotapes. The First Amendment offers tremendous protection to people videotaping the police at work, but we must fight to maintain our right to shoot.”
Now it’s time to see if Eileen Clancy and the members of I-Witness will receive some delayed justice, and if the police and government officials in St. Paul will acknowledge any wrong-doing.
Please remind Mr. Coleman and Mr. Pawlenty that the behavior of law officials was (at best) overzealous, and at worst, totally fascist and unnecessary:
Contact Mayor Chris Coleman at: 651-266-8510 or e-mail him.
Governor Tim Pawlenty can be reached at: (651) 296-3391 or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-Witness press release: First Step in RNC Lawsuits Taken.